Many years ago, Big Red Bat guru Simon Miller asked me why I didn’t have a blog to support the various games that I took around wargames shows. “Why would I want a blog?” I asked him. “You’ll get followers,” came the reply. I laughed.
I don’t really do this to get followers, but I love swapping ideas and photos with other gamers around the world. I seem to post on social media every week or so, only then to find myself unable to find my own pictures, battle reports or words of advice just a few weeks later. Questions like this crop up all the time: “Have you got any size comparison pictures with different manufacturers?” “What was the paint recipe you used on your wolves?” “Has anyone had a go at converting Elf cavalry/ Cretan gendarmes/ Sikh sappers?” “How does Muskets & Tomahawks II play?” And often, I say, “Yes, but…just let me find it…” Hopefully mogsymakes will go some way towards helping out with these senior moments of social media.
My chum Scrivs claims that one of his main reasons for having a blog is to be able to find his paint recipes several years down the line; I can confirm this, having used several of his colour schemes after looking them up online! I’ve gone for something in between a blog and a website, in that I have different pages and sections where I will hopefully archive posts to make them easier to find. It is still very much in its infancy, so any helpful suggestions about improving access and layout will be quite welcome.
And so, I find myself following Simon’s sage advice: get a blog. I hope you enjoy it!
With Salute 50 out of the way and Partizan coming up, I added a few extra pieces to the ‘Against the Frost Giants’ scenario that we’ll be playing in Newark on May 21st 2023. There will, in fact, be two games on show – the 28mm Against the Frost Giants game (with a Norse myth setting) and the 15mm Battle of Degsastan 603 game (set in the early medieval period).
We’re looking forward to demoing Midgard Heroic Battles again with both games, hopefully showing the versatility of the rule set and running through some examples of play. We have a bigger team than we did at Salute, cheaper (free) parking and better lighting, so we look forward to seeing you there if you can make it!
Note that we (Morris and Chums) have moved from our usual spot in the Demo Zone: as the rules are due to be published by Reisswitz Press (Two Fat Lardies), it only seemed right to move into the welcoming arms of the Lard Zone – see the new map above!
First up is a quick look at the smaller end of the Frost Giant army. I have added a number of new units in the last month, combining a variety of different-sized models. I dipped into the excellent Reaper Bones range of trolls and the like; these were supplemented by Lucid Eye Trolls from the Red Book of the Elf King range (pricy but lovely models) and some plastic Oathmark Goblins given a frosty paint job. The 1/72 soft plastic Trolls from Dark Alliance – incredibly good value at around £8 for a box of 8 – were also pressed into service.
All of the units are based on magnetic discs, which are then attached to an MDF unit base with a top layer of steel paper. As with all Midgard units, the exact number of miniatures on the base is unimportant as long as frontages are consistent (these are on the standard base width of 12 cm). In Midgard terms, these are treated as Warriors with the Big and Impetuous traits.
Some extra terrain pieces have also been added. My only miniatures purchase at Salute was this pair of rune stones from Fenris Games which painted up an absolute treat. This is my first Fenris purchase and certainly won’t be my last!
As a tidy-up after finishing the rainbow bridge centre piece, I created some fantastical ice crystal terrain pieces with leftover items from the Bifrost build. These included some pieces of quartz and also crystals made from cheap plastic Christmas decorations.
There’s not much new for the Aesir but I thought it’d be nice to grab a few shots of some of the protagonists. Here’s Freya by Bad Squiddo Games – she is serving as the Army Commander for the Aesir force, being the goddess of war and somewhat more strategic than good ol’ Thor.
Other Gods featured in the game are Heimdall and Thor, a couple of awesome sculpts from the miniatures for the Blood Rage boardgame.
I’ve provided the Aesir forces with a number of archer units which did great service in our last game. Here’s some Conqueror Models’ Dwarves sculpted by dwarfmeister Colin Patten.
More Bad Squiddo Games minis here in the form of a unit of shield maidens.
And finally some very old but much-loved Foundry Vikings (with a Gripping Beast berserker lurking at back right). Some of these fellas first saw action in the 1990s but have had a recent refurb for the game.
I’ve played this game many times since reading Guy Halsall’s article in Miniature Wargames magazine in the 1980s, and was delighted to hear that he’s just written an updated version due to appear soon in Wargames Soldiers & Strategy magazine! Definitely one to look out for,
Although Martin’s being playing my Midgard Heroic Battles rules since their very first play test some years ago, quite a bit has changed over the last year so a quiet game was a good opportunity to bring him up to date. I still don’t have a release date for the rules but keep an eye on social media and my blog – as soon as there’s an official announcement from Reisswitz Press, it’ll be on here.
This 15mm battle is an ideal introduction to Midgard: the forces are around 300 points each (perfect for an evening’s play) and there’s nothing more fantastical in the game than a pattern-welded blade and the Fated trait hanging over Saxon noble Theobald. (As Theobald died in the historical battle, I gave him a trait which means that he can’t reroll his Risk to Heroes tests – meaning that he’s more likely to be wounded or killed. As fortune would have it, he survived our game to inherit his brother’s kingdom!)
The forces were as follows:
DAL RIADA & ALLIES
Aedan Mac Gabhrain (Army Commander, Level 3 Mighty Hero)
Mael Uma (Irish Warlord, Level 2 Minor Hero)
Domingart (Aedan’s son, Level 2 Minor Hero)
2 Dal Riada/ Irish Hearthguard units (bodyguards for Aedan and Mael Uma)
4 Dal Riada/ Irish Warrior units
3 Dal Riadan units of Mounted Warriors (Noble Light Riders in Midgard terms)
4 Dal Riada/ Irish Skirmisher units
The Northumbrian force was smaller but better-equipped:
Aethelfrith (Army Commander and Level 3 Mighty Hero)
Theobald (Brother of Aethelfrith, Level 2 Minor Hero)
Cerdic (Champion, Level 1 Hero)
Eanfrith (Brother of Aethelfrith, Level 2 Minor Hero)
3 Saxon Hearthguard Warrior units
4 Saxon Warrior units
3 Saxon Skirmisher units
True to form, both sides advanced to the stream and exchanged missiles across it.
Playing Domingart leading the Celtic mounted warriors, I chose to throw in the first charge of the game to gain the maximum Reputation! This was possibly a little optimistic but at that point, there was only a single Saxon unit commanded by Eanfrith holding the Northumbrian left flank. An unfortunate Risk to Heroes roll – made in Midgard whenever a Hero’s unit suffers damage – saw Eanfrith roll the dreaded double one! Fortunately, he was able to expend a Mighty Deed and a Reputation Token from his goblet to survive this, but it was an early boost for the Dal Riadans.
Seeing the danger, wily old Aethelfrith sent some of the Saxon warriors down the line in case Eanfrith should break.
Sporadic javelin fire was beginning to cause problems for the Saxons in the centre and right, so Northumbrian champion Cerdic bravely charged over the stream and into the main Dal Riadan force. Very quickly, the Northumbrians found themselves taking casualties with their friends too far behind to support (the stream provided a movement penalty, making it hard to advance over in good order). Once again, Aethelfrith proved himself an inspiring leader by using his Hold Fast! trait to rally Cerdic’s men and keep them in the fight.
Another Saxon unit followed Cerdic and found itself fighting both Mael Uma and Aedan’s hearthguard units – a most perilous situation.
This is when Aethelfrith stepped up to the mark and crossed the stream, gaining great reputation as his men charged Aedan Mac Gabhrain’s personal guard (Reputation Tokens can be gained for leading units into combat, with bonuses if the Army Commander is involved).
Not only were the Saxons better-armoured, but they had the luck, and Aedan rolled double one for his Risk to Heroes test! He recovered to suffer just a single wound, but his reputation had taken a battering.
With Aedan wounded and his hearth guard taking a battering (reduced to one Stamina point), I desperately needed to get some reinforcements into action. Two Dal Riadan warrior units were rushing to the rescue, but failed their Command Test for charge home. With Aedan having burned all his Mighty Deeds for this turn in the preceding combat, there was nothing I could do!
Reduced to desperate measures and feeling heroic, Aedan challenged Aethelfrith to single combat in the midst of battle. The Northumbrian leader accepted but quickly regretted it as Aedan struck him a wounding blow in the second round – now both leaders were on the ropes.
A draw in the third round of single combat in Midgard inflicts a wound on both challengers…and guess what? Aedan struck Aethelfrith down, but was himself mortally wounded in the act. Both leaders fell dying as the battle raged on around them. This meant a major loss of Reputation Tokens for both sides – the next units to break would decide the game.
Despite the loss of their leader, the Saxons had done exceptionally well to hang onto their troops, although several warrior units were close to breaking. However, Domingart’s impetuous charge on the Dal Riadan right had cost them dear. After Saxon reinforcements had arrived, all three Dal Riadan mounted warrior units had broken in short succession – Domingart was still fighting, but was now wounded and losing Reputation hand over fist. Having lost all his men in the melee, he fought on but was last seen falling under a hedge of Saxon spears. Victory to the Northumbrians!
And so, history was repeated with another Saxon victory. Although I had given him the Fated trait to encourage a heroic end, Theobald survived with a single wound and took over the kingship from his fallen brother Aethelfrith.
We’ll be running this game again at Partizan in Newark on Trent on May 21st 2023 – do come and say hi. You’ll find us in the Lard Zone this time around.
With the rainbow bridge terrain piece complete, on April 22 it was time for the big one: Salute 50! The UK’s biggest miniature wargames show takes place every year at ExCel in Docklands, London; I hadn’t been since 2015 so was very excited about a return to the fiftieth edition of Salute.
Salute is absolutely huge and it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the space, though this year we had tagged along with the Two Fat Lardies on the edge of the Lard Zone – a collection of TFL/ Reisswitz Press participation games.
That said, due to the size of the venue they were still a full spear throw from our table, but we were graced with visits from many of the Lardistas, including Sidney Roundwood himself! (All joking aside, Sid is a terrific chap who influenced me in my Verdun project several years ago and has always been supportive and creative in equal measure).
I was accompanied by two stalwart souls – Pete J and Andy Mac – long term gaming companions who have been separately involved in the Midgard Heroic Battles play testing process. This was fortunate, as I’d had the bright idea of running not just one but two games of Midgard at the show!
Midgard is a highly versatile game, switching easily between figure sizes and different settings. To showcase this, we were running a 28mm Norse myth battle next to a 15mm Dark Ages one.
The 28mm game was the chance for the rainbow bridge to get into action: equipped with lights, snow and a Led Zep soundtrack. this scenario saw Loki leading an army of frost giants in an attack on Bifrost, the rainbow bridge of Norse mythology (and Marvel) fame.
Opposing him were, of course, Heimdall, Freya and Thor with a diverse bunch of Asgardian defenders, including Norsemen, shield maidens, dwarfs and alfar. If you’re interested in the figures and terrain, there is a full blog article here with details of what’s what.
I was blown away by the popularity of the games – we spent a very fulfilling day chatting and fielding enquiries about the rules virtually non-stop. Gaming-wise, we settled for running sections of the Norse myth game for passing players to introduce the basic mechanics of the rules.
Heimdall fought a gripping single combat against Bergelmir the Frost Giant, with both wounding each other but surviving; unfortunately for Heimdall, he had used up all his Mighty Deeds and lost his final Stamina point after being crushed as his Dwarf unit was pushed back by the trolls. Ouch!
The Frost Giants crushed all before them and, despite Freya taking down Bergelmir, she found herself on the losing end of a melee before being sent packing to Valhalla.
The 15mm Battle of Degsastan game proved unexpectedly popular with both Pete and Andy doing sterling work running games for interested players during the day. We were graced with a visit from Dan Mersey who was pleased to see his 18mm Wiglaf Miniatures in action and to hear Immigrant Song blasting from the rainbow bridge!
Overall, a fulfilling if exhausting day out, and such a pleasure to meet so many folk excited for the release of the rules. Editing, artwork, photography and ruler/ token design are all underway, but there is no release date yet. Keep following us on social media and we’ll let you know as soon as there is news!
Massive thanks to Pete J and Andy Mac for their companionship and assistance.
This year’s game for Salute 50 at Excel in London (22.4.23) is going to be a double-header to promote my forthcoming Midgard Heroic Battles rules, currently in editing and pre-production with Reisswitz Press. As Midgard can be played in multiple settings with any scale miniatures, we’re going to have an 15mm Dark Ages (early medieval) historical game next to a 28mm Norse myth one.
The Norse myth game is entitled ‘Against the Frost Giants’ and depicts an attempt by Loki and his minions to storm Bifrost, the rainbow bridge of Norse mythology that connects Midgard to Asgard.
Obviously, pretty much everyone’s seen the Marvel films, in which the rainbow bridge looks something like multiple strands of optic fibre. I decided that I wanted something a little more down to earth, but with some added lighting to suggest its magical qualities.
Practicality was also a consideration (what! I hear you cry) – as the battle was going to be fought around the foot of the bridge – rather than across it – so it would need to be easily transportable. This led me to sketch up a design with a definite arch but not one that would extend 4 feet into the air, fun as that might have been! The final design was sized to be carried in a large shopping bag.
Once I was happy with the shape of the piece, I put together cardboard templates and then cut the three main pieces out of 5mm plywood using an electric jigsaw. The two bridge sides were then split vertically where they join the board in order to be able to create a curved base.
The base was painted with varnish to discourage warping, then I used my rudimentary carpentry skills to assemble the bridge uprights with screws and wood glue. While I could just have glued the whole thing together, I would hate for it to fall apart in transit at some point this year!
The uprights were deliberately positioned 13cm apart – this meant that, on some sections, I could place a wide step that would fit a 12cm wide Midgard unit base or a Hero model. The bulk of the steps were filled in with scraps of 5mm foam board to create an irregular staircase with some gaps in between to accommodate the lights.
I planned to texture the bridge sides using the same techniques from my Elf Tower build, so glued a couple of sheets of 5mm styrofoam to the wooden sides. This stuff is expensive but well worth it for the effect I was after.
With the glue dry, it was time to create the stonework design. Using some Viking/ Saxon metalwork from the loft, I pressed these into the foam to suggest large blocks that had been placed by gods with the areas around filled in with smaller stones. Additional texture was added with a pencil. Once completed, I modelled the edges of the stonework using standard yellow/green Milliput epoxy putty. I could have used more foam, but wanted the edges to be able to resist knocks in transit, so Milliput was the correct tool for the job.
With the bridge walls complete, it was time for an initial coat of paint. A mix of sand, filler and PVA glue helped to blend the steps together, which was followed up by a coat of craft acrylic applied in patches (Deco Art Acrylics, using a blend of Raw Umber, Slate Grey and Black).
Once dry, the whole thing was given a black wash and then lightly dry brushed with lighter versions the original acrylics. Individual stones were picked out in different shades of brown, grey and khaki.
Now the fun really started – time for the lights! I had initially ordered some programmable LEDs from eBay, but these turned out to be incredibly bright and a bit too disco for what I was after. Instead I bought a couple of sets of simple white LEDs and found some coloured cellophane in the bits draw – these would form the basis of my rainbow scheme.
I’d left the inside of the bridge hollow with a pull-out section to allow me to hide the lighting circuit – bundles of LEDs were wrapped up together in sections of cellophane and then pushed into the gaps between the steps. Once I was happy with the lights, I then glued, taped and pinned everything into position.
An entire set of 100 LEDs was used to light the staircase, with another set round the outside of the bridge. I built up a set of rocks using various vac-formed left overs from a previous project, then modelled in glass pebbles and pieces of quartz crystal to give the impression of the area being generally enchanted. Hot glue and Milliput were again used to hold everything together and hide the cracks!
The final steps involved tidying up the groundwork and adding some grass tufts – I used the Gamers Grass winter ones.
It all looked pretty good at this point, but now it was time to add the snow (the bridge is going to be used on a snowy table so I needed it to blend in). This was my usual mix of white acrylic paint, PVA glue and Woodland Scenics snow flock – I added extra paint as the flock comes out translucent if you apply it with just glue. The pictures show the three stages – apply snow mix with a brush, scatter extra snow flock on top, then shake off.
An additional frosty effect was added to areas of the stonework using a tiny amount of PVA and some snow flock.
And finally, it was all done! I can’t wait to see what it looks like on the gaming table at Salute 50. If you’re at the show, you can find us in the Lard Zone at the far end of the hall (marked in red on this floor plan).
Having played a couple of games with other people’s figures, it was time to get my Xenos Rampant space poilus into their first scrap. We’ve started a campaign at the club fighting over the planet Len-Ton and its multitudinous moons.
The first mission for my Vingtième République would be a race against Je-Rem-Ee’s Orks to capture the governor of Central Len-Ton . Fortunately for both sides, the governor had become stranded in the jungle without his bodyguards.
Using Scenario Juliet: VIP Extraction from the XR rules, we set up a 4 x 4’ table using some jungle terrain (plastic aquarium plants with a respray – elephant grass from my Death in the Dark Continent games and bamboo from the WW2 Crete project of 2018). Following the advice of other XR players, we used a lot of terrain to block line of sight, counting it as soft cover and blocking sight 6” in.
The Orks won the initiative roll and got moving. I have to say that I very much prefer the XR activation system to previous variants; The Men Who Would Be Kings introduced the free activation mechanic, and this is taken further in XR with all troop types having a free activation (i.e. not having to pass an activation test to perform some actions). While the friction of the original Lion/ Dragon Rampant can be entertaining (dicing for every single activation), it can also be very frustrating when you fail a string of activations with poor dice rolls. The TMWWBK/ XR model means that you can prioritise more effectively and get some units activating w before you get onto the more risky activations that might not come off. It’s also a better model for scaling up to a bigger battle as you’ll be able to control a few more units without the game grinding to a halt.
Anyway, Pete’s Orks sprung into action, most notably the Gretchin. These little chaps had received a movement upgrade which meant that they could move 12” and be unaffected by rough terrain. With the bulk of the table covered by elephant grass, this unassuming unit turned out to be a game winner.
The French tried to respond, putting units forward as fast as they could go. The Greater Xenomorph and his baguette handler were the designated rough terrain troops (10” move with no penalties), but naturally they got distracted with the Wild Charge rule and ended up in a bloody close combat with Je-Rem-Ee’s personal guard.
The Gretchin zipped through the undergrowth all the way to the governor, scooped him up and scarpered. Faced with this, there wasn’t a lot we Frenchies could do apart from advance and open fire, although actually this started to make an impression on the Orks who had pushed forward towards the river.
The shooting mechanisms for Xenos Rampant will be very familiar to anyone who’s played the other Rampant variants, though in this case, it’s rolling ten dice at full strength and five at half or below. Cover increases Armour value, as does shooting beyond effective range. The latter is a major change to the Rampant canon but works well, though it does mean that blocking terrain around the centre of a battlefield becomes a necessity to avoid a shoot out with little movement.
I was impressed by the thought that has gone into the latest incarnation of the Courage test: you need to take one whenever you are hit by shooting (even if no damage is done) but the modifier is only the number of strength points damage taken, rather than counting back unit loss from the whole game, as it is in Lion/ Dragon Rampant. This felt much more appropriate for a shooting game and was also quicker to play.
Sticking with Courage tests, units in cover get a +1 bonus, and, if failed, will retreat into cover if possible. Both nice touches for a set of rules based around ranged weaponry.
My Greater Xenomorph was well-suited to the terrain and was able to push forwards on my right flank, although he lost a couple of Strength Points (halberdiers, in this case) to fire from Je-Rem-Ee’s unit (Elite Infantry) and the Ork Dreadnought (Fighting Vehicle, Walker). Eventually, though, he was able to Wild Charge the Ork commander. A ding-dong scrap ensued over the next couple of turns, which eventually left the Xenomorph destroyed and the Ork Commander’s unit badly mauled.
This allowed me to target Je-Rem-Ee with the advancing French Commander’s unit (Light Infantry with Heavy Weapons), which stuck enough hits on Je-Rem-Ee to render him inoperable. A neat touch in the campaign rules is a simple table to roll on for commanders being taken out – Je-Rem-Ee rolled a 2 – severely wounded and had to miss the next game.
This late surge for the French continued as my Light Infantry on the left flank engaged the Shoota Boyz who had pushed up to protect the retreating gretchin. Although both units were evenly matched, the French got the better of the dice rolling and forced the Orks to fail a Courage test, thereby suppressing the unit. A bayonet charge followed and the Orks were defeated!
At this point, Pete’s gretchin and the governor left the table, thereby claiming the win. It was something of a pyrrhic victory, but Pete had actually sportingly kept the VIP on for longer than needed to prolong the game. If we play the scenario again, we might modify it so that the VIP slows down the escort as they leave the table (maybe reducing move to 6″ or introducing a random element to make the move more unpredictable, e.g. an ordered activation).
Anyway, XR has had a resounding thumbs up from our group. I’m impressed with the developments in the Rampant mechanisms, and it is unquestionably versatile. It plays quickly and doesn’t get bogged down in layers upon layers of internal detail – although having the specific special rules for your force written on your force roster is pretty much essential for speedy play. Looking forward to the next campaign game!
Having caved in and decided to give Xenos Rampant a go, I initially toyed with the idea of reconstructing my Eldar force from way back when. However, discovering that I only had six figures remaining (having sold the others several house moves ago), I realised that a Weird WW1 force might be easier to put together. Paul W at my club organised a trial game involving his rather nice WWW1 Germans and Brits, so I went home to look at my options.
I felt that some kind of robot/ walker and possibly an alien beast would be fun – Reaper Bones was my first port of call. Although I live remarkably close to the Reaper UK warehouse, it was actually quicker to order from Mighty Lancer Games and get them delivered straight to my door. Ordered Monday morning and delivered Wednesday – these guys are good!
The robot/ walker is an ‘Archer’, a Battletech-style mech that costs only a few pounds but provides an easy Fighting Vehicle with ‘Walker’ and ‘Mechanoid’ traits for XR. While I initially had ideas to convert it, I decided to simply paint it up with a base coat of Army Painter Wolf Grey to match the rest of my French. After multiple washes and plentiful grime added around the legs, it was ready for action.
Reaper Bones is also a fantastic source of giant, well-priced beastie miniatures, and I had great fun hunting down a Greater Xenomorph for the force. Rejecting the giant frogs, man-eating slugs and other more obvious items, I plumped for a ‘Gloom Stalker’. This chap bears more than a passing resemblance to a D&D Hook Horror, but for my purposes, he was going to be a misunderstood but highly dangerous creature that had been captured by the poilus and forced into battle.
Both the robot and the Gloom Stalker came as multi part kits in Reaper Bones’ slightly flexible plastic material. These needed a good wash before assembly using superglue, then I gave them my usual undercoat of Halfords Grey Plastic Primer before a quick spray of Halfords White Primer.
The Gloom Stalker was a very simple paint job; first he had a layer of thinned GW Contrast Skeleton Horde all over. When dry, I blended in more thinned Contrasts (Ultramarine Blue and Black Templar), getting lighter towards the belly and darker towards the back. (Sorry I failed to get photos of the latter stages…this was a busy week).
While single-model units in XR are fine, I wanted a group of handlers to tie the creature to my force and provide an easy way of tracking hits – Greater Xenomorphs have 5 Strength Points, so I needed to add four humans to the unit.
These came in the form of some sprues of Wargames Atlantic WW1/WW2 French (thanks Guy and Wayne for generously providing me with these). I quickly kit bashed three halberdiers and a baguette handler, all with gas masks for that Weird WW1 look.
As well as the handlers, I also added a scattering of sci-fi poilus to bulk out my historical models.
Most were made using the WA French sprue with futuristic weapon arms from the Stargrave Mercenaries kit by Northstar/ Osprey, although I also experimented with a couple of figures from the WA Grognards box. The latter were slightly on the heroic side to match with my previous French but I think they mix in well enough after painting.
The boys in horizon blue got their first XR outing last week, more on which in a future blog post!
Finding myself recovering from illness and with a free afternoon, I managed to fix up a game at short notice with erstwhile chum Matt. A full year ago, we jointly invested in Forged in Battle/ Wiglaf Miniatures to put together some 15/18mm armies for the 7th century – my favourite period of the early medieval age.
However, we’d not managed to actually play a game together yet! It was great to get the opportunity to put that right, and a most excellent afternoon was had by both of us. We managed to crack through four games with plenty of time for catching up and eating cake in between.
In case you’ve not encountered it, Age of Penda is one of Dan Mersey’s self-published quick play rules sets. It’s a ‘top down’ battle game played on an offset grid with a Tactics Board that drives the game play, drawing on both traditional miniatures wargame and boardgame mechanics. (I reviewed it in more detail in this earlier blog post).
Today’s armies were 64 points apiece, slightly less than the sample 80 point forces given in the rulebook but absolutely adequate for a good afternoon’s gaming.
The Saxons were based on an elite raiding force composed almost entirely of professional warriors. This force is almost entirely Wiglaf Miniatures, with a handful of Forged in Battle 15mm.
6 x Armoured Warrior units @10 pts
2 x Skirmisher units @2 points
The Celtic coalition was a more mixed bag, such as may have fought at the Battle of Degsastan 603 CE. The figures were entirely Forged In Battle 15mm.
3 x Armoured Warriors units @10 pts
5 x Unarmoured Warrior units @3 pts
2 x Skirmisher units @2 pts
Although Age of Penda doesn’t have scenarios as such (just some guidelines in the book), I decided to set up a couple of classic situations based around (1) a hill and (2) a river crossing. First up was the hill – maybe an abandoned hillfort? – set across two grid squares in the centre of the table. Matt took the Celts, I took the Saxons, we rolled for initiative and kicked off.
Having played several times before, I knew two things: (1) get the Armoured Warriors stuck in and (2) if there was defensible terrain, get there first. Fortunately, I won the initiative and was able to get Penda and his chums into pole position on the hill.
There was a stiff fight when the Celts arrived, but their skirmishers on the flanks did little, and the Saxons were able to break up the main attack and hang on to win, aided by some fortunate Rally rolls. (There are two opportunities to rally off damage, but both require a random roll to pull it off, and the Celts were certainly out of luck this time around). Victory conditions are simple – your side breaks and loses when reduced to 3 or less Warrior units (or 2 in the case of forces with 6 or less Warrior units, like the Saxons in this scenario).
For game 2, we swapped forces and replayed the scenario. Matt was learning fast and pulled off some clever moves using the Tactics Board, including stealing the initiative off me on several occasions. (The player with initiative takes the first action each turn, which can be decisive). This was a much more even battle, as Matt got his Saxons to the hill first. However, I’d concentrated on bringing up as many Celts as possible so that I had options to reinforce the line. What I managed to get right in this game was swapping out damaged units using two Move actions, as well as successfully making Rally tests. With a little luck, my Scots-Irish king hung in there and broke the Saxons!
For the third game, I stuck with the Celts and Matt with the Saxons. We laid out a river across the centre of the board; following the rules exactly as written, the river created four squares of impassable terrain with a single ford in the centre box (marked by the tree in the pic above).
Reading up on the impassable terrain rule, we realised that this meant no unit could enter the 4 boxes on the river banks, which meant that Skirmishers could not shoot from one side to the other (missile range being a maximum of one box). We decided that it must be a very wide river and played on, but the Skirmishers stayed at the back! Effectively, this was going to be a scrap over a very tight choke point, which would probably favour the Saxons with their greater number of Armoured warriors.
This game wasn’t a long one! We both surged forwards, leading with our best units and taking as many Move orders as possible (Matt also discovered the the ‘Charge’ special activation didn’t have to result in combat, so he used that to get more of his Warriors up in support). Having prioritised getting my three Armoured units to the ford first, I enjoyed a couple of excellent rounds of combat where the attacking Saxons took quite a drubbing (defending some terrain means that your opponent has to roll 5+ rather than 4+ when attacking), but eventually ran out of steam. My king was reduced to a single unit with no-one left in close support, as I had spent all my activations on the combat in the ford! Another Celtic loss.
After a civilised round of tea and cake – closely based on Asterix in Britain – we swapped forces again and plunged into the bloodstained waters of the ford for the final time.
It had been a great afternoon’s gaming, and the dining room table size of the game (my mat has a playing area of 90 x 90 cm) meant that we rattled through the battles. With a similar level of detail to DBA and a very clever decision-making system, I’m enjoying Age of Penda more with every game. As we were playing, discussion turned to a possible mini-campaign, some new ideas for terrain and Special Tactics, and how I definitely need to get some horsemen (still sat in their bag) painted up for the next game. As soon as this blog post is up, I’m going to get to work on that…
PS It has just been announced that Wiglaf Miniatures came in third place in the ‘top indie companies’ category in the On Tabletop awards 2022 – well done chaps!
We don’t seem to be getting tired of Middle-earth at the moment, and indeed, I’m currently re-reading The Fellowship of the Ring for the first time since I was a teenager. However, last week Pete and I decided to plump for the First Age of Middle-earth again as I’d just finished Finrod Felagund and his Elf riders. As a newly-painted unit, I wasn’t expecting much out of the first game, so best to get it out of the way…
The scenario was very loosely inspired by events around Dagor Bragollach, the ‘Battle of Sudden Flame’ mentioned in the Silmarillion. In F.A. 455, Morgoth broke the siege of Angband with a counter attack led by the (wingless) dragon, Glaurung, and Finrod Felagund of Nargothrond was one of the Noldor lords who rode out to oppose the enemy. In Tolkien lore, Finrod was cut off and nearly killed at the Fen of Serech, but I wanted to try out a scenario with even forces and enemy baggage trains to loot. We decided that the Orcs had a number of captives that – along with Glaurung – would be the target of the Elven attack; in turn, the Elves had a small tented camp that could be raided if the Orcs broke through.
Rules, as ever, were my own Midgard Heroic Battles (due to be published by Reisswitz Press – as soon as we have actual news on release dates, you will hear it here).
As it happened, we ended up with a slightly shorter table at the club than I would have liked (5′ wide rather than 6′), so flanking opportunities were somewhat reduced, but in all honesty, my Elves were so focused on taking down Glaurung that we forgot all about rescuing the prisoners! Funny how a large mini dominates your mind as well as the gaming table.
Pete deployed with Glaurung smack bang in the centre of the Orc host, ready to scorch the Noldor with his breath of fire. I went for a chequerboard formation of alternating archers and spearmen, with both heavy cavalry units held back in reserve, and horse archers on the wings. Though I knew that Finrod was unlikely to survive the battle, I didn’t want him running right into the fiery jaws of death on Turn One!
The Orcs went for an all-out advance, which didn’t go too well for them – their best captains were leading from the front, but the rear line failed command test after command test (next time, a Balrog in the back line should whip them into shape). The Orcs on the left flank, however, seemed rather keener and were closer to my Elves than I would have liked.
I let fly with as many arrows as I could, but failed to force Glauring back; then I overcooked it by sending Aegnor – the best archer in my force – into combat in search of some short-term glory. He survived, but ended up embroiled in melee for multiple turns rather than trying to stick an arrow down Glaurung’s throat, as I had planned.
Both sides took some casualties from arrows, but eventually Glaurung got within range and let rip, burning up a unit of Noldor archers and forcing them back. Pete had made some ‘Walls of Flame’ for a spell effect and these came in handy for showing the dragon fire on the table.
There was scarce time for the Elves to draw breath before the warg riders charged and the whole front line became a general melee. On the right flank, an honourable mention is due to the Orc horde unit who beat my elite Noldor twice in a row and forced them back!
Leaving his brother to fend for himself, force commander Finrod unleashed the Noldor riders on the Orcs, crushing two units in short succession.
Glaurung had, by now, charged the Elven archers. Despite being wiped out, they heroically wounded the dragon.
This left the way clear for the counter-punch, delivered by Finrod’s brother Angrod. Surging into battle and calling upon every glamour known to Elf or Gnome, the Noldor rolled impeccably, broke the wingless wyrm and sent him into flight with just a few Elves crushed underfoot. Luck of the dice!
With the destruction of another warg unit, the Orcs were left with no reputation in their goblet and forced to scurry back to Morgoth, who will doubtless wheel out some Balrogs and tell them to get back to work!
It was an interesting game though without any single combats, for once – I think Pete and I were so focused on taking down/ getting Glaurung that it felt like an unnecessary risk! I had gained reputation early in the game by getting the first charges in, and the Orcs were unlucky to lose Glaurung so soon, but overall it was a solid victory for the Noldor.
Three cheers for Finrod Felagund and the newly-painted unit, still alive at the end of the game! 🙂
I’m expecting to take similar forces to the Midgard games that I’ll be running at the BIG Winter Wonderlard event next month (Feb 18th at Bristol Independent Gaming), but Glaurung will be taking a break as I’m not sure he’d be a fair intro to the game for new players!
Since getting tempted into collecting a small Elf force for Middle-earth, it’s been overdue for some extra riders. I already had a number of units of Noldor horse archers and heavy cavalry – mostly created by kit bashing Oathmark Elves with Gripping Beast Arab Heavy Cavalry – but the release of the Victrix Norman Knights in 2022 sent me back down the rabbit hole.
The second source of riders was the astonishing 3D range of El Cid era models by Reconquer Designs (previously Caballero Miniatures, that I looked in this article back in 2021). I had several of their Spanish knights knocking around in the bits box, two of which became standard bearers for the Elves. Mine were printed for me by James P of Fenland Miniatures (Iron Gate Scenery and Grey Green Customs also do them in the UK; the latter also sells versions with Elf heads and plumes which require no conversion).
Visual inspiration came from Tolkien stalwart Graham Green (Grey Green Customs), who converted bucketloads of metal minis into First Age Elves and then wrote about them in Miniature Wargames magazine (and also posts to the Wargaming In Middle-earth Facebook group). I still hark back to the artwork of Victor Ambrus in the 1979 Tolkien Bestiary and the more recent illustrations of Jenny Dolfen.
Since rereading the Silmarillion a few years back, I’ve been fascinated by Finrod Felagund, so I decided to add him as a commander. The rest of my Elven force has a blue/ grey colour scheme and uses the heraldry of Finarfin – which was also used by Finrod – but I fancied creating a a bodyguard unit of Elves using Finrod’s personal device. To match the white, yellow and green of this symbol, I went with a largely green colour scheme and green shields.
Alongside the ten models I was working on for Finrod’s unit, I used the last remaining four Victrix Normans to create a few more horse archers in my regular blue/ grey scheme.
I snapped up the Victrix Normans as soon as they became available; they are superb models, but the first moulding had some issues with fitting the horses together, which I understand has now been rectified. This meant that I had some trimming and filling to do. Some of the horses had plumes added from the Oathmark Elves kits.
All of the horses were sprayed with Halfords Matt White Primer as a base colour which was then given a coat of GW Contrast Apothecary White. When dry, I highlighted this with a white acrylic.
Some of the muzzles received a layer of GW Contrast Gulliman Flesh and I picked out socks and hooves in acrylic dark greys and black. Reins and saddles were added with GW Contrast Cygor Brown – this dark colour is ideal for this job.
Saddlecloths were done using a mix of Contrast and regular acrylics, after which I sprayed all the horses with a coat of matt varnish.
The riders were kit bashed using a variety of plastic parts, all using the Victrix Normans as a base. The Oathmark Elves kits (both heavy and light infantry) saw extensive use of arms, heads, plumes and shields. From working on previous horse archers, I had a number of spare parts from the Gripping Beast Arab Heavy Cavalry kit; the most useful of these were the scale-armoured torsos, which fit well with the Victrix legs and Oathmark arms. Some spare cloaks from Fireforge Knights also came in handy to add a dynamic look to the charging riders.
With all this done, I went round and filled various gaps with green stuff.
Due to the high level of armour, I decided to spray the riders separately with a black undercoat (Halfords Matt Black again). After this, they received a dry brush of Army Painter Shining Silver acrylic over the armour, and I tidied this up with black acrylic.
Skin, clothing and leatherwork were all filled in with various acrylics (I can’t remember them all), trying to keep a green/ yellow/ white theme to match the heraldry.
Like the rest of my Elves, I did the shield devices by snipping and printing the artwork onto regular printer sticker paper, cutting them out neatly and sticking them onto the basecoated shield (any corners that didn’t quite stick down had a dot of PVA to hold them in place). With some painting and shading around the device, it’s not perfect but does the job for me.
The two 3D prints from Reconquer Designs became Finrod himself, waving his flag, and an additional standard bearer for his unit.
I spent a little longer on the paintwork on these two, although I can claim no credit for the banner, being a piece of lovely Tolkien art that I found online, snipping and resizing it before printing it out onto regular paper.
The unit was based up on Warbases 25x50mm pill bases, with Finrod and his champion on larger 50 and 40mm round bases. Tufts and flowers are from Gamers Grass supplied by Northstar, as ever.
Despite having taken me far longer than I was hoping, I’m really pleased with the unit and look forward to charging it to its doom on the gaming table! I’d like to add a couple more infantry units and will then be calling it done, although the temptation of acquring some more Reconquer Models may be too much to resist…
This game came about as a result of two Petes: Pete D had requested a game of Midgard Heroic Battles, and Pete J had been busy building a Rohan mounted force, so it seemed only right to put the two together for the first game at the pub of 2023.
I quickly threw together a straightforward Middle-earth scenario – Orcs invading the Riddermark in the Third Age – and we got things underway. (Apologies if the photos are a little dark – I’d like to say it’s the smoke of burning Rohan homesteads, but actually the pub lighting wasn’t too bright last night).
The Two Petes took command of the army of Rohan, featuring a force of light and medium cavalry commanded by some familiar faces and with a mysterious unnamed wizard. Although some of our El Cid outings have involved a lot of cavalry, I think this was the first time we’d fielded a fully-mounted force. Pete J has been steadily creating unit trays for all his GW LOTR miniatures which are looking marvellous.
I brought my usual host of Orcs, with a couple of units of Warg riders, a Troll Captain and a Nazgul riding a Fell Beast.
The game opened with the traditional single combat, with Eomer inviting the Orcs to ‘get orf my laand’ (poor Rohan accent there, sorry). Azdak, Captain of Trolls, came at him with his (very) big club but did no more than wound the Hero before getting decked by his legendary weapon.
Only slightly deterred, the Orcs hurled themselves forward at the Rohirrim. After failing a stack of command tests, this was revised to a fractured advance in the centre. The Two Petes actually had a PLAN (unsporting or what!) and split their force to try to get round the Orcish flanks.
This actually worked exceptionally well, with the speed of the riders and disorganisation of the Orcs adding to the overall effect of battlefield chaos. The Orcs in the centre were missing Akdar to tell them what to do.
Rohan light cavalry rode up to the front lines and caused mayhem with some spectacular (beginner’s luck, obvs) shooting from Pete D. Then Pete J did the same on the other flank!
At this point, I abandoned my ‘sensible’ plan to have the Nazgul lurking on the ground just behind the line where he could help control the Orcs, and sent him out on a swooping attack against Eomer and his personal guard. This was definitely the Orcish high water mark of the game, as the hooded menace and his pet tore apart Eomer’s horsemen and flew off scot-free. Unfortunately, Eomer survived the carnage and rode off to join some of his other mates.
The pressure from the riders on the flanks continued as one of my Warg units got destroyed by a pair of Rohirrim light cavalry and the arrows just kept pouring in. By now, the Orcs had been forced to turn to face, creating a most interesting formation (resembling Cannae, as Pete D dryly noted).
Some Orc counter-charges followed, but they were disjointed and badly-led. This was an obvious opportunity for one of my Orc Captains to challenge a lower-ranked Rohan commander to single combat, only for me to realise that he bore a worrying resemblance to Viggo Mortensen! He rolled dice like him too, quickly rendering my Orc an ex-Orc.
The Nazgul went off on another swooping attack which went spectacularly badly – he chewed up a unit of Rohirrim, but the Fell Beast took a belly full of spears as he passed over and was driven back.
This left him vulnerable to the attentions of the unnamed wizard, who blasted the struggling creature with smoke and flame. Although surviving the assault, the beast failed its command test and fled the battlefield, taking the servant of Sauron with him.
Despite the Orcish collapse, the game was an absolute hoot in great company. It was excellent to watch Pete D picking up the mechanics so quickly and very enjoyable to see Pete J’s Rohirrim out on the table.