Monday, 26 September 2005

Looking for Carolingian Frankish figures

Not one to be deterred by the fact that our current participation game is still in the construction phase ([6 weeks to go]( ), I've come up with a vague plan to do the Battle of [Leuven]( as a demo / participation game next year. This was a little affair back in [891](, the tail end of the Carolingian period, where the Frankish (then) king [Arnulf of Carinthia]( came all the way over to [Leuven]( to beat up a part of the Viking Great Army that had decided to winter there. The resulting battle was a resounding Frankish victory and is said to have coloured the banks of the Dijle red with the blood of the Vikings. Good stuff, in other words.

As to figures for this battle, the Vikings are easy -- after Romans and Celts they must be the most popular subject for miniature manufacturers to tackle, so pretty much everyone and his dog does them. Carolingian Franks (let alone later Carolingian Franks) are a different matter, however. So far, I have found (in the One True Scale of 25-28mm of course):

* [Old Glory]( - [PLC range](
* [Essex Miniatures]( - Ancients range
* [Chiltern Miniatures]( - [Frankish range]( - ex-Whitecross, apparently

For the Old Glory and Essex, I have a fairly good idea of what to expect (filler and static poses, respectively), but I have not seen the Chiltern figures up close. On the pictures (well, picture) on the site, they look a tad goofily posed, so an in the flesh inspection is called for. Luckily, Chiltern is coming to [Crisis](, so I'll have a chance to look at them there.

Are there any readers out there who have experience with any of these ranges, or that know of other manufacturers that do suitable figures? And while I'm at it, are the silly helmets (the inverted boat shape thingies) based on solid evidence or is that just one of those memes that is based on a single source and has been propagated throughout miniature wargamehood?

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Kallistra hex-based terrain

Last week I received my hex-terrain from Kallistra. This terrain system consists of hexes (along the lines of the old Geohex), but smaller, and sturdier. The different hextiles come in groups of 6 connected hexes, they are stackable, and take up a small volume so they can be very easily transported. Also, I ordered some scenic element (hills, mountains) to go with the terrain.

Last weekend we used it for the first time. I transported the terrain to a friend's place, thereby testing the portability of the whole thing, which went pretty smoothly.

The terrain is very well suited for hex-based games such as Memoir44 or Battlecry. Since I'm a big fan of hex-based games these days (they play more quickly, and it doesn't really reduce the resolution of movement and firing ranges), this was one of the reasons I bought the terrain in the first place.

The scale of the hills and mountains might make it a bit unfeasible for 25/28 mm though. It is better suited for 20mm and smaller in my opinion, although your taste in what's visually pleasing might of course be different from mine.

Just to give you a feel of what it looks like, here are some pictures. The first two pictures are from a 6mm SciFi game (a home-made variant based om Memoir44), and the next two are from a 1/300 WW2 game, also played with Memoir44 rules.

The last picture was not part of a game, but shows some 20mm Vietnam figures on the terrain.

SciFi game: View image

SciFi game: View image

WW2 game: View image

WW2 game: View image

Vietnam (20mm): View image

Thursday, 22 September 2005

I'm on TMP!

What's the use of having a blog if you can't shamelessly abuse it for purposes of self aggrandizement? In that spirit, allow me to humbly state the fact that my entry for the [Alpha Miniatures painting competition]( over at [the Miniatures Page]( is published:

[My German Leader at TMP](

The accompanying article lists some information on the painting techniques and paints used on this fellow, which was the first 54mm figure I ever painted.

I expect that you can vote for me, or one of the other competitors of course, somewhere next week when all the entries (five of them in this round) have been put up.

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Wednesday, 21 September 2005

Blitzkrieg Commander - German break-out at Bordelle-de-Roi

So, let's look at the latest in our Blitzkrieg Commander mini campaign.

After last week's game, I set-up the second scenario in the series with the beleaguered Germans trying to break-out of the pocket. A small American force deployed in the centre of the table, basically occupying a wood and fields near the village of Bordelle-de-Roi. On one side of the table was a small German force of armour and infantry (about half of the total German strength). On the other side was a German relief force, exclusively infantry, coming to help their comrades escape.

I reflected the minor victory for the Americans in the first game by giving them additional troops (the scenario in the rules recommends a ratio of 2:1 for the German player) and by causing the German player problems with fuel supply - on the grounds that they were caught in a pocket with little fuel available. To simulate this each of the 5 German armour pieces (a Panther, 2 Pz IV, a STuG 3 and a Puma) had to avoid rolling a 1 on a D6 each turn. Failure meant immobilisation for that vehicle.

I also gave the players four events each that they could play at any stage, and as it turned out these had a dramatic impact on the game.

How did the game go? Well, I won't give a blow-by-blow account but I think it was our most interesting BKC game yet. A huge scrap developed around a sunken road near the village with charge and counter-charge by both sides, with funny results. It resembled more a Roman-Barbarian slugging match than a WW2 firefight. In the end, the Americans drove off the Germans in the village, but I'm sure even Filip (our brave yankee hero), who played boldly and well, would acknowledge that Bart didn't have much luck with command rolls. For two turns the armour was stuck, the panther never got into action for example and the Pz IVs got blow-up by a Sherman. To cap it all, at a crucial moment Bart rolled three command blunders in two turns. Not good.

Here we can see the different positions, with the Germans in the village and the Americans in the nearby wood:

BKC bordelle de roi 010

And here we can see Germans have advanced to the sunken road to counter the sneaky American advance.

BKC bordelle de roi 013

One of the events that I gave to Filip was 'torrential rain' leading to poor visibility and difficulty to get hits (all attempts more difficult though a '6' was still always a hit). The rain could stop at any time but in the event lasted three turns and the Germans found it impossible to score hits on the enemy.

By game end, poor Bart was very despondent and we called it a day after six turns - a fine victory for the American player.

Conclusions? A fine tactical game, with Filip rewarded for bold play ( a clever assault on the village by his outnumbered troops, luring the Germans into counter-attack and eventual defeat). We played with fewer points this time, 1500 for the attacker. This means more room on the table and a more interesting game. Somehow it was more interesting to have two or three tanks per side than eight or nine. I think for the future we will reserve bigger games for multi player contests.

Tuesday, 20 September 2005

Bordelle-de-roi pictures

Just a quickie to note that [pictures of the Bordelle-de-roi game]( are up at the [Schild en Vriend photo gallery](

Beware that this album features pictures of the players.

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Wednesday, 14 September 2005

Blitzkrieg Commander game - Bordelle-de-Roi Pocket

After a month away from gaming (families, holidays and other equally tiresome distractions), life was back to normal last night with a game of BKC. I decided to set-up a mini-campaign, with three linked scenarios. To start with, Filip's Americans would try to encircle a small and disparate force of Germans who were holed up near the strategically important village of Bordelle-de-Roi and the Hill know locally as Mont Mouton.

The American forces were standard, two battalions of infantry and a battalion of Shermans. The Germans had a Tiger, three companies of infantry, including one crack SS company, with the special rule that they never retreat. In addition, Bart rolled on a little table I set-up to get supporting armour. He could have rolled some useful heavy armour, but no, he ended up with a Pz III, a Pz IV, a self propelled AA gun and an infantry gun. Oh dear, he wasn't happy about this.

The table was quite small, about 4' by 4'. We used Bart's beautiful new terrain boards, covered with woods and fields. A further sign of normality returning was the confusion caused when the scenario I set-up contained 'incorrect' instructions about set-up. So after Bart spent 25 minutes deploying (and so brilliantly) we discovered I had mixed up scenarios so he had to start again. In the end he deployed in the centre of the table, with a game objective of exiting the far end of the table. Filip placed two commands of troops, basically two armour and two infantry forces on each side of the table, planning to envelop the escaping Jerries.

A further twist was the chance events I gave to the players. They each had three events (eg 'snipers hold up enemy company', 'enemy tanks run out of fuel', 'heroic company commander over rules lack of command initiative'). They could use one during the game. When Bart used his sniper option but failed to realise that he couldn't then use his other events, I was generous and allowed each player to use two events. I think these events added some colour and some chaos, though inevitably they are not always balanced in effect. Next game I will give the players 4 events and they can use them all.

The game itself was interesting, with Bart making a dash for the table edge with some trops while being indecisive with others. Filip, despite bad command rolls, managed to block the exit and finally broke Bart's army, but not before eight units escaped the pocket.

For the next game, the surviving Germans and some reinforcements will try to break out of the pocket. We will play on a smaller scale, 1500 and 750 points, as 2000 points is a bit too much for an evening. Also it may give more room for manouevre.

Our feeling about the encirclement scenario was that it is very difficult for the defender to escape, but it may be that that different tactics have to be employed, for example a hell-for-leather dash by some units and maybe sacrificial actions by others. Perhaps we can see what others on the BKC forum think about this.

__Update__: (Robartes butting in) [pictures of this game have now been published](

Friday, 9 September 2005

Invicti Iunores Brittaniciani

Invicti Iunores Brittaniciani

Invicti Iunores Brittaniciani,
originally uploaded by robartesm.

Just an experiment with photo editing tools: I took a photo I had lying around of a unit of my Post Roman Britains and photoshopped (I actually used The Gimp) a forest background behind it.

What do you think?

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Monday, 5 September 2005

Crusade 2005 report

Last Saturday, Bart and myself went to Crusade 2005 in Leopoldsburg. It's a smaller convention, organized by the local club 'De Witte Ridder'. Being small, it's fairly easy to talk to different people, and to make a tour of all games on display.

There was the usual mix of games being demonstrated and dealers. Bart and I used our Darkest Africa game, and we did try out our Free Kriegsspiel system we intend to use in full at CRISIS. We concluded it works pretty well. We got a few people involved in the game, and they seemed to like it.

One of the players was a 7 year old enthusiastic player, who asked us whether he could put his figures on the table as well. Never missing an opportunity to convert the young and innocent, we soon saw a 19th century dhow sailing down the mighty Congo river, sporting a mixed crew of an Arab captian, some Askari sailors, a Bretonnian bowmen and an Eldar Scout wielding a lasergun taking shots at some Congo tribes hiding in the jungle. The kid seemed to like the game so much that later on he asked to pose next to the table for some pictures. He even went to the speed-painting table to paint his new figures right there, and I think he even asked Bart for some painting advice! Nice to see a young player so enthusiastic. Sadly, however, I saw him also being shooed away at some other tables.

As for loot, I must say I haven't been buying lead during the last 2 years, thinking I have enough figures already. The only exception is prepainted and ready to play stuff. So I got some boosters for Axis and Allies Miniatures, a dungeon exploration game called Dungeon Twister, and a new piece of scenery from the German modelbuiders that are also at Crisis every year (with the big Minas Tirith model), but whose name I cannot remember right now.

A nice and small convention, definitely worth visiting!