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Wargaming the Sagas! Dice Valhalla

In Norse mythology, Valhalla (/vælˈhælə, vɑːlˈhɑːlə/;[1]from Old Norse: Valhǫll “hall of the slain”)[2] is a majestic, enormous hall located in Asgard, ruled over by the god Odin. Chosen by Odin, half of those who die in combat travel to Valhalla upon death, led by valkyries, while the other half go to the goddess Freyja‘s field Fólkvangr. In Valhalla, the dead warriors join the masses of those who have died in combat (known as the Einherjar) and various legendary Germanic heroes and kings, as they prepare to aid Odin during the events of Ragnarök.

The start of the quest for glory- adolescent skirmishes pepper the Normans!

In Cardiff, we have Firestorm Games as the centre of mortal combat. The hall of the slain has been replaced by a wonderful burger bar and our hall is a former motorcycle showroom by the famous Cardiff City ground. Our Dice Stud heroes meet regularly in Freya’s honour on a Friday and tonight was a wonderful display of Dark Age miniature toy warfare.

Steve’s Normans we’re gnashing at the bridle but the Norsemen were ready!

The SAGA battle board is an absolute delight. My recommendation is to always have “Loki” covered. If your opponent wants to use an ability or burn a fatigue then the Vikings gain two attack dice each time! “Frigg” and “Heimdall gain you three and five attack dice respectively. The result of beserkers with such a combination is truly awesome!

Never charge naked men dressed in bearskin! A maxim especially true in Cardiff city centre.

Asgard allows you to remove a fatigue and charge as fresh as a daisy. I’m not quite sure that this is an appropriate description for a charging Viking host but you get the picture!

Two hearthguard skewer the crossbowmen!
Rollo the Viking is slain but his legend will echo through the halls!
The sulking archers shoot the Norman warlord and the Vikings swarm to victory!

A great night and a great board. You must try Vikings ; they are truly awesome!

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Virtus 2021 and Godendag 2022 : the state of play

Thoughts and comments are needed urgently! The first proposition is to organise Virtus as a one day but three game 28mm L’art de la Guerre competition. Firestorm Games can accommodate us on the 18th December. We would need to decide on the era( s).

Andrew Whitby has already commented;

“there are several competitions in November, , at least two, Brixham and Warfare, both of which will attract a lot of the competition circuit players. Three games needs a very strict and tight timetable. As to a theme, how about the green section of the rules, covers arabs, Byzantine, hairy german armies , Vikings and some of the eastern ones which should allow a reasonable spread of armies. Brixham is pre knight, warfare is knights!

With regards to Godendag, the date offered is the 22nd and 23rd January. We are proposing 15mm doubles L’art de la Guerre. Kevin Johnson commented that 300 points would get more than enough troops on the table. We could maybe run to 325 points if we go Medieval.

Andrew added;

– I know of one definite and one possible competition both in early February. The Plymouth club have yet to make a decision, Del says there is a meeting “soon” to decide. If it runs, and we can attract enough players, it is likely to be the first weekend of February. The second weekend of February is Beachead in Bournemouth which I suspect will attract most of the London based players, maybe to the detriment of PAW which really means early Jan for Godendag.

Theme for PAW if it runs is pre alexander, no pike, no elephants, no far eastern armies, not seen a period for Beachead)

I’ve just got in touch with the other system leaders and would really like to get moving on forming up arrangements by the early part of next week.



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Alone together!

I’ve always spent far too much time on You-tube and Twitter- face. Anti- social media has robbed me of so many hours. It started with music , transitioned through YouTube talks and most recently has arrived at what I call the hobby personality blogs.

The original hobby genius!

Atom Smasher and Tabletop Minions will always have a special place in my heart. He will sometimes venture into the historical area but his wider hobby vision is far reaching. One of the most endearing aspects is that you actually get to see his face and not just the widely gesticulating hands of other gaming sites.

Atom has expanded to different media but it’s his Saturday morning show that has broken new ground I think. It’s only usually Atom talking to camera for sometimes a few hours but he has mastered the genre.

Tony and Mitch: kings of DBA

Tony Aguilar’s De Bellis Antiquitatis site has been required viewing for years but I’ve got to really like his drop in painting sessions. Tony sits painting and responds to viewers’ comments. The format has so much potential and engenders a real sense that you know the host.

Just what can be done with the format is exemplified by the Eons group!

I think Eons is great. Now edging to twenty five episodes, it is such an upbeat tonic to other more self important sites. The team are so prolific and it is this that I hope to emulate. I don’t think the world is ready to see me talk to camera but the intention is to post here on the blog on a daily basis and start to film weekend and tournament games.

So until tomorrow! Keep scaling the lead pile and fighting the Grey (plastic)!


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My family, and other animals…..

According to the original conception, the family is neither a naturalistic nor a sentimental unity, but an essentially heroic unity. It is known that the ancient denomination of pater derives from a term which designated the leader, the king. The unity of the family already for this reason appeared therefore as that of a group of beings joined in virile manner around a lord, who to their eyes appeared invested with a brute power, but also with a majestic dignity, such as to arouse veneration and fidelity.

Julius Evola

My pater was out in the car park. Our bearer of the sacred family flame had eaten too much and was intent on upsetting those diners in window seats. It had been one of those family occasions that everyone would rather forget. Whilst most grandmothers might show some interest in their grandchildren, my own dear mater needed to recount her misadventures with the Sky remote for what seemed an hour. She may have been given a new television for free but that doesn’t mean she can be grateful.

But the buttons on the remote controller are a curse!

I wonder how many gamers become gamers because their families are, well, how do I put it, a bit of a let down? When the head of the household can’t move off the sofa , you may well think that an alternate universe is preferable! The wonderful thing about such a role model is that the “other world” has to be better than the real. As my father finished his visit to the vomitarium it was time to leave. with the bill paid by yours truly, another birthday was over.

Same time next year?

God I’m glad I have a hobby! The younger generation may call it their “ safe space” but, it’s more than that. You may see wargamers as emotionally stunted but if tonight’s festivities are what can be expected when families meet, I think I’ll stay in my own heroic unity thank you very much!

Sanity! Of a kind!

Please feel free to attach your own happy family memories that led you to being a hobby nut below!

He did what in the car park?
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In memoriam

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

W. B. Yeats

Twenty years separate the two images but one could be forgiven for thinking that nothing had changed in the intervening time. Whilst the West has torn itself apart with what pronoun/ toilet to use, those who know exactly which gender they are, divide up their “spoils.” Whilst the West has tortured itself over its History, those with worse records divide up the map. Those who have no children, or backbone, are told by children, that their cars must go and their boilers must be replaced.

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Back to work… Yeah, right!

What a mad week! Twenty years of nation building and the President decides that it wasn’t that vital anyhow and we can run off. Poor old Britain decided that they really should leave but we must get the pets home before our local supporters! And France is arguing if it’s military need to work more than eleven hours a day! I wish I hadn’t turned the television on….

Don’t forget to leave enough kit to arm the victors and promise to pay them for good behaviour!

I love being in the hills. It was hard work this year but sometimes you need a break. The castles on the Beacons way are still as intriguing as ever, the lakes as mysterious but the hills are definately harder work…

Carreg Cennen- west Beacons
Tumult on the Mynydd du
The Lady of the Lake was out!
Forest Fawr and the set for the film Young Winston: this was the train track with the Boers on the ridge

Little did I realise what was happening in the World where modern day hill dwellers were about to put the clock back in Central Asia.

Why don’t we just give up on modernity?

Whilst the news is bad for female students and those who believe the promises of politicians, we here in Cardiff are blessed with the Grand Opening of Firestorm Games.

It’s amazing! Two floors of gaming for the 21 st century!
We have followed Firestorm games from basement, to warehouse, to this! Congratulations to Rob for this amazing achievement! Firestorm Motorbikes!
Gaming tables on two floors supported by a bar and restaurant! Heaven in Cardiff!
First class food ! Yours truly was actually part of the chef interview so you know it’s going to be fine fayre!
So, the real world maybe going mad but an oasis of calm exists! Did I really say calm?

Join me tomorrow for in depth analysis of my first defeat! Keep reading for the ambitious plans of Cardiff Dice Studz! What ( else) could possibly go wrong?

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S.A.G.A. Ironman – Bristol Training Day

The best day out for any Dice Stud must surely be the visit to a friendly competition in a great venue. Like Vikings of old, we descended on the Lindisfarne of a MacDonalds. We were “ a Viking’ and it felt good……

After a quick breakfast we arrived at Bristol Independent Gaming, hungry for victory and repute!

B.I.G. is shortly to be moving so we did intend in setting fire to the car in true Viking style but the car was Steve’s mum and wasn’t insured. Richard Keenan, puts on these Ironman events quite regularly to spread the SAGA faith and advertise the wonderful Gripping Beast mini ranges.

Steve had a working knowledge of SAGA, John is going to pick up a copy of version one when the price drops and I had a quick run through when I was driving on the straight bits of the motorway. Richard provides all that is required and after a quick run through , we were off!
A good turn out with a great atmosphere!
The tables were fixed terrain with battle boards and army lists all readily at hand. Any special rules were typed out on cards and explained by our host ( below)
Richard explaining elephant combat to the newbies!
Each player was promised two games of the new Age of Hannibal. John in fact had three games of the new supplement.
In game one, I commanded Carthaginians and went for a massed citizen horse flank attack!
On other tables, the Welsh surround the invaders! An ominous event.
Dark Age colour on other tables
An elephant in distress against the Numidian.
John in distress as his pretty Greeks meet stiff opposition.
Richard provided all the minis and they were all beautifully painted.
My Carthaginians had stalled to a draw against the Republican Romans but in game two my Welsh superheroes tabled the Saxons. Eight hearthguard with javelins can make a lovely dent in any opponent!
Welsh nobles: the battle winner!
Ever the picture of generosity, Richard awards me a prize for archery! A mongol general as booty and leading the competition going into round three!
My warband assaults the woods but I am deterred by the Goth arrow storm!
I had intended to clear the woods with my war dogs but you can’t risk man’s best friends!
Visigoth mercenaries take on my hearthguard and win!
He will need his warlord to finish off my guard!
My wardogs take out a Goth warrior unit!
The heartless Goth commander kills my hounds!
Elsewhere Steve rampages through the opposition to steal third place. I was happy with two places below that though😓😓😓😭😬😭😅😳🦅
Thinking the day, we had learnt a lot; we hadn’t been playing incorrectly on club nights but we had picked up a number of pointers. Two shots from archery before fatigue sets in was my abiding lesson, that and the utility of a war dog pack ( no terrain negatives and your opponent can’t burn their fatigue!
SAGA is such a great game and Richard has promised to bring his ironman day to Cardiff soon! We were all pleased with our competition placing and look forward to our next event. John was a little dejected but once we had explained you no longer had to pay bridge tolls on the Severn Bridge, he recovered.
What a day! Thanks to all!A memorable outing!
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Wargaming West of the M5

What’s a middle aged man to do on a Sunday? Mow the lawn? Woodwork? Football on the Telly? For the Dice Studz, the answer can only be wargaming. The focus of our efforts was of course Thornbury Leisure Centre “ the cradle of dreams!”……..

An early start was needed for a kick off time of anywhere between nine and ten dependent on who you asked!
Once through the M4 Aust turnoff, it was plain sailing through quaint 1970s semis and the detritus of the nuclear power industry. Here and there were lonely Harvester restaurants with idyllic views across the Severn. Occasionally a pheasant would stir, nervous of the noises from the local dogging group. It’s like the Cotswolds without the tea rooms, or the filthy rich!
You can always be assured a warm welcome from the locals. Here the local landowner Andrew Unwin DCA, Keith the organiser. ( seated) and a menacing Berkeley hooligan form the reception committee!
Here an inquisitive local seeks knowledge from Paul and Mark. The arcane language of these top wargaming personalities is, I’m afraid, lost on the simple rural dweller…
The hall was filling up now with plastic kits brought from near and far. Some we believe, came as far as Chippenham and Marlborough. But, for us the show meant wargaming.
My Late Roman force faced everybody’s favourite driving instructor, Richard Walker in round one. Could my legions get to his 100 years war bowmen?
The Romans made a brave show of it, taking Henry V to within one point of destruction.
The overall quality of the minis was first class. Ghulams by Keith McGlynn
Gallic horse purchased by Lord Unwin’s off- shore earnings.
And it was Andrew that I faced in round two. He sent a small corps of Celtic light horse and chariots to face my foot. Meanwhile a massive sledgehammer of woad warriors slammed into my flank.
The Gallic hug!
Testing the rules to the limit: Asterix would have been proud of the antics of his wheeled dare devils.
It was my favourite Roman general who had to hold back the horde but not with that dice roll. Thankfully young Flavius had left the kettle men to their own devices the turn before! a narrow losing draw to the Romans.

And then the climax of the day! Rome against Bedouin! Steel versus horse flesh. Or rather the gentlemen against the wargames ogre of the Western marshes.

Mountain warriors made up Keith’s foot command….
But, Keith had put all his faith into his impact cavalry. Acting in combination with archers and artillery, the Roman horse sliced through the Mounted wing. A victory for Rome to end the day!
It was a tense gathering for the prizes but all were well deserved. I was happy with my placing. A hundred points adlg is great fun and my next army revision would change my heavy cavalry wing into a shoot light or medium horse Hun corps.
Paul Frith stole third place with his immaculate Mongol host. His style of play was described as “ trying to catch quick- silver in a gloved hand!”
Great brushwork from Paul the Mongol
Second place – Richard grabs Keith’s helmet surrounded by adoring fans.
But it was Weston Dice Stud Andrew who won through in the end, even defeating Tim “ the Madaxeman” Porter in the final.
It was time to pack up and leave the field. What a great day. The hundred points format really works and it wasn’t a push to get three games in over the course of the day.
As I left the car park, I really felt that normality has returned! Our thanks to our generous host Keith and we look forward to many more tournaments of such quality!
Join us next Saturday as three Dice Studz head to Bristol Independent Gaming for SAGA Ironman! What could possibly go wrong? Photo from the 2019 trip to The Portland of the West Country!
Colston returns!
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Wargaming the Byzantine Art of War with Mark Fry

Well …. my first face to face L’art de la Guerre 28mm competition gaming in over 18 months, courtesy of Keith McGlynn*, was enjoyed on Sunday at the Thornbury IPMS show.

Mark Fry , the David Niven of wargaming!

We managed three games of one hundred points LadG, to the new v.4 rules & lists with 28mm armies. There was a good range of armies:

2 x later HYW English; a Samurai; Thracian; Ancient German; Mongol; Scythian, Bedouin Dynasties, Beja, Classical Indian; Ancient Brit; Late Roman and I am sure I have forgotten a few others.

Andrew Unwin’s beautiful Gallic force

I took my Nikephorian Byzantines – consisting of:

1 x Competent General

4 x Tagmatic HC – lance & 1/2bow (the new v.4 designation)

1 x Pechenga LC bow

1 x Competent General

3 x Skoutatoi – HF mixed spear & bow

1 x Menaulatoi – MF swordsmen with polearm (a new addition to the lists & a new weapon category)

1 x Psiloi LI javelins

1 x LI fire-syphon (a new addition to the lists & a new weapon category)

and a standard unfortified camp (with an army BP:11)

Beware the Greek fire!

My ‘theory’ had been to ensure that every unit could shoot and aside from the Menaulatoi (which I might have been better replacing with Peltastoi – Javelinmen – with hindsight) everything had a missile weapon of some sort.

28mm fire throwers!

Game 1) verses Beja (bloody impetuous camels!) …. this was a disaster of a game. My opponent won the initiative and chose to attack me (in the Plains) – his army is a mix of elite MC, LC impact, impetuous camels and then a host of MF swordsmen & LF javelins or bows.

If I could have got my HC opposite his foot & my foot opposite his mounted troops I might have stood a chance, but it was not to be.

The dreaded Beja!

On the restricted 100ap playing area, there is nowhere to run or manoeuvre and my mounted division was ridden over by the camels and elite MC/LC impact combo rather quickly. I also lost a general in melee (I don’t normally put generals into combat!!!) which sealed my fate. My infantry scored some good shooting hits but the enemy MF swordsmen kept out of combat. So I lost in 3 game-turns – a credible 7-11. The 4 impetuous camels are the business against other mounted troops, and the 2 additional MC elite gave him overlaps and are adequate in melee if required to fight frontally.

Game 2) verses a Bedouin Dynasties (commanded by Keith). I’d look at this army myself – as the combo of good quality HC impact elite, plus 3 LC impact and a MF infantry block consisting of a mix of Daylami elite MF impact swordsmen and Sudanese MF mixed spear bow gives you some flexibility and good quality fighting troops.

Keith went all out with the impact horse!

Again, I lost the initiative and was attacked in the Plains (NB: it appears that in the 100ap game winning the initiative is critical, as is opting to attack – as with only 2 commands and a lack of space to maneuver and limited time to redeploy, you need to be facing the right troops against the right opponents from the outset). Keith deployed his cavalry wing against my cavalry and his infantry v my infantry (the smart way to do things). I deployed back on my base line (to buy me some time) and to use the terrain in an attempt to funnel his cavalry to reduce the risks to my flanks from his 3 LC impact.

The feared Byzantine heavy horse

I initially had the advantage in the missile exchange with the infantry, but once the Bedouin infantry got stuck in things went pear-shaped quickly. The Menaulatoi went down & routed on impact (a 1-6 dice roll didnt help) to a charge from the Daylami with an engaged general, which then caught my LF fire-syphons in the rear as they attempted, unsuccessfully to evade (a schoolboy error). The Sudanese & Skoutatoi exchanged shooting and casualties pretty much equally. In the cavalry melee, my Pechenga LC had disintegrated on impact by a unit of Bedouin LC and in the protracted melee, despite my numbers & armour, and a good impact result against another of those pesky LC impact; in the end Keith’s dice and his elite status prevailed and I broke.

The less than impressive Byzantine foot head homeward!

I think the result was 8 (or maybe 9) – 11.

Game 3) Ancient German – this is an interesting army in that it was fielded as a the MF impetuous option with a Strategist commander. My opponent, who’d been reasonably successful in his previous games had opted for a command of all MF and a command of all MC elite, with a fortified camp. This time I won the initiative and the German defended in Forest. Woods are not great for me, as most of my troops get penalised for shooting in or out of them. However, the terrain ‘gods’ were kind to me and most of the terrain fell on the flanks with only a Gully in the centre. I had the edge on deployment and so deployed my mounted wing against the MF and my Foot against the German cavalry (perfect). My opponent has placed an Ambush in the gully and so I sent the Pechenga to investigate. There were a couple of German MF lurking in it, which promptly charged out to try & catch the Pechenga (who evaded successfully). This left those MF exposed to a charge, in the open, by my Tagmatic HC – which dealt with them in short order (HC impact, with overlaps catching MF swordsmen in the open, is a receipt for disaster for the MF). However, the disaster was compounded as the German commander had brought up the rest of the MF division right behind the ambushing units, which spread havoc by routing back through their ranks. There then occurred a stalemate, as the MF division would not leave the Gully and the Tagmatic HC would not charge into it, but the Tagmatic HC had the advantage of being able to rain arrows down on the MF. However, with a Strategist general in command, there were plenty of German PIPs to attempt to rally these off.

German lurkers!

On the other flank, the German MC played cat & mouse trying (unsuccessfully) to avoid the Scutatoi archery and the Byzantine LF had a disastrous encounter with some German LF javelins in a wood. In the end, the Pechenga managed to get into the enemy’s rear &catch a unit of German LF in the rear destroying them, and the luck of the German general ran out on dicing-off the archery casualties.

So a victory 14-4 (my only losses were my 2 LF). I think my opponent should probably have taken the risk to try and come out of the gully, as he had an overlap. Or maybe risked throwing his MC elite into my HF Scoutatoi, which would have fought as Mediocre in the melee. But both were not the best options.

Mediocre? outrageous!

So lots of good learnings … I suspect my good final victory might have placed me about mid-table in the rankings.

I like the Nikephorians – they have flexibility and the missiles can give you an advantage (sometimes). The new list have pulled their teeth slightly – the new 1/2 bow category (which is a realistic interpretation) is not so good as the v.3 list, but it makes the army more affordable.

Horse against heavy German foot!

I think I could do with maybe another LC to aid my scouting points and I will also replace the Menaulatoi next time (maybe with some Armenian MF spearmen), as they ended up not really doing what I had intended them to to do, which was to protect my flanks in terrain. I am also not sure about the LF fire-syphon – it is a gimmick and as it has to get within 1UD to shoot it is not very effective. But I had an extra 1point to use up.

I like the 100ap format – it gives a really fast and usually decisive game. It also allows some armies that wont work at 200ap to be used.

Got to love Big Boys’ Toys 28mm

Looking at the way that other players were playing, Berkeley tends to play with distinctive commands (generally all Foot or all Cavalry) – Clevedon does similar. Some of the other players (Birmingham & SLWG) play with mixed commands – but I am not sure how that worked in the rankings.

Thanks for Keith for putting it on. It was a good reintroduction to table-top gaming.

It would be good to see the list of armies and the scores. ( next post ; Editor)