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Wargaming with Witches

Forty figures to paint by Friday and what do I do? I know, I’ll make a baggage element for my medieval French army! I need infantry and cannon but Mr. Potter decides to show the French hanging their Saint, in front of her children!

Reaching into the “ spares- they’ll come in useful one day” box I find a gallows set from Black Tree. Club night gave me the scaffold from Manticore. “ The Witch/ Saint” from Hasselfree,
I know, it should have been a fire! I didn’t have time for all those faggots!!!!
Not for the faint hearted! They maybe next up????
Drawing and quartering was beyond good taste!
Stand back please!
Easy to finish in three days! We’re off on a family trip tomorrow so it maybe a long night!
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To the Strongest- Suits you sir!

What makes for the best wargaming set of rules? Do you want a simulation of actual combat or a fun “ game” of toy soldiers. Do you see defeating yourself opponent as the goal or else would you wish to embark on an anecdote rich free for all? Most importantly, can you wargame without dice or tape measures?

First step with To the Strongest; learn to shuffle cards! I must admit I’m a real klutz with shuffling but Steve was much better!
Cards! Love them or hate them. Steve gave me that look which says, “ I see you’re trying something new, but really?” look!
The Ottomans arrive!

I was fielding my beloved Ottomans. I love the colour and character of the his late medieval juggernaut. Out front are the Akinji “ raiders” , fast bow armed light cavalry. Two “ madmen” delis light horse units have javelins. Three sipahi “ boys” units add to the firepower, plus finally the sultan’s guard Qapukula horse with lance and bow. The foot naturally contained the elite Jannisaries or “ new troops”, taken from their Christian homes to serve the despots. Those sneaky Hungarians had been selling their wares again to the highest bidder, a massive bombard was the centrepiece of the army. Two units of Arab “ batchelors” skulked uneasily around the camp. A Swiss army type army; manouverable and lots of shooting but how would it do against the barbarian Tartars of the Golden Horde?

Straight from Hell or Tartarus!

The Tartars were all about mounted firepower of course. Six elite light horse units and four noble cavalry units, all with bow and four ammo chits( another welcome game innovation). Their Black Sea possessions also provided a unit of Fryazei Italian mercenary crossbow and a raw unit of raw levy bow. The taciturn Alans also joined the ravening horde; three units of light horse bow.

I was quite confident that my centre could hold but my usual envelopment strategy might be opposed by the Tartars’ own plans. I put my madmen Dellis in the marshes and massed my horse on the left. It was in those marshes that the engagement looked to begin..
The fickle cards! No Tartar attack through the marshes to open the game. It would be the Turk who advanced under the ominous boom of their artillery!
The rules effectively capture a swirling melee. Don’t be offended by the cards, they are taken off at the end of each round!
Obviously the Tartars ( too) feared the big gun too! The Golden Horde considered its options.
The Ottoman left wing horse intent on sweeping away the Black Sea menace. The mercenary Italians shoot from the low hill!
Turn three and finally the Tartar nobles advance. Or rather, one brave unit leads the way towards the ranks of blue.
It’s a miracle, or a palace coup, the jannisaries fail dismally to unhorse anyone.
Battle is joined from left to right. TTS does give you that mass battle effect!
Could the Turkish centre hold? This game was set in the late 1300s so earthworks were not a feature as yet of Ottoman deployment.
The dam cracks! Elite Tartar light horsemen on my left hold the Sipahis charge and then claw their way back. A brave Turkish lad tries to turn the tide but to no avail. Another TTS welcome inclusion; heroes!
But it’s the Turkish right where things are deteriorating fast. After a fierce combat, the Ottoman general is first wounded then captured by the Alan auxiliaries. Two extra victory points are awarded.
Not content with one general, the Tartars wound another Ottoman general. With those cards perhaps the commander should have stayed in the harem!
The last Ottoman general attempts to break through on the left but to no avail. Tartar arrows fly and the breakthrough never happens…
With no flank support, the wily Tartar rolls up the Turkish centre. Double cards are drawn for a flank attack: ouch!
A Tartar victory!

From start to finish, the game had played smoothly and without too much referring to even the QRS. It is a quality set of rules, well suited I would say to multi- player games. We played the standard 130 point game and were finished in about two hours. Our one reservation about the perhaps unsightly cards disappeared when the battle is joined and you start throwing down cards like a Las Vegas card shark. Steve did suggest smaller cards or alternatively I also have chits from Simon Miller’s web store that we could try. Truly a great game and most importantly great fun!!!!

It’s a winner!
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Wargaming: it’s all in the preparation!

The fine lady in the image is a “ knocker” ( singular!). She was employed by the fair denizens of Victorian England to wake up those having difficulty rising in the morning with the shooting of peas at the bedroom windows. The unbearable heat of Wales in Summertime may necessitate the employ of such a professional..

My regular reader will notice that my paint table is strangely tidy, by my standards at least! I’ve developed a new system; parcel of minis arrives , hopefully unnoticed, and figures are cleaned up. Here is the genius bit!!!!!! I then take the minis , and you know there are a lot of them, out to the garage to be undercoated! I know it doesn’t “ sound” revolutionary but I can now at least see the carpet in the front bedroom!

Cleaned and glued and now off to the garage!

During the Winter I had extolled the virtues of pottering, if you have only twenty minutes , try and do some task. Get the menial out of the way and you’d be surprised how the progress mounts up. This is different, this is Summer industrial scale preparation.

The above finishes off yet another “army” ; I have sort of stuck to a completed army per month!
This was a bonus project. The monthly 28mm L’art de la Guerre nights have been great fun. A scaffold set by Manticore caught my eye and hey presto, I had a baggage element for my French Medieval project! There can’t be many hobbies where the virtues of a plastic gallows set make for pleasant evening conversation.
It’s To the Strongest tomorrow and those tricky Black Sea Tartars had Italian crossbowmen; rebasing is easier than painting in the sun. The enemy Ottomans would not be complete without feather topped Dellis; more basing!
Do you like unboxing videos; I don’t!

“ Another parcel for you! “ my current wife sneered. Oh dear! Eight days to finish a medieval army, could it be done? Would my new system cope with the pressure?

Oh good! The crossbows are in two parts and also the pavices are also in bits! “ Not a problem! claymore castings are so good!
Will there be anytime to enjoy the Summer delights of Wales? Will I get two armies ready by tomorrow? Will the French go crossbow- less in to battle? We shall see mon gens braves! Courage!
More from me tomorrow! God I love the Summer!

Hope you too are enjoying yourself


Eight days!

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Wargaming Ragnarok

Ragnarok was a prophecy of what was to come at some unspecified and unknown time in the future, but it had profound ramifications in Norse mythology. It was the end of times but also a new beginning for what comes next. The chaos and destruction of Ragnarok has been likened to the arcane rituals of teaching a new player how to play SAGA with the Cardiff Dice Studz…

It’s those pesky Normans again! Up to no good; worrying the livestock!
How does one describe the process of passing lore to the next generation?

Firstly, John is not that new! He was wargaming at school and in the intervening forty years he has had a few “ issues”! Firstly he is somewhat “ careful” with his money but knows almost every gaming product available. Secondly he tires easily when there are heavy minis to paint or model trees to pack away. At this point , he will enter a Zen like trance until the requirement for physical effort has passed. To be fair, he has now committed to SAGA and bought figures. Could we convince him that here at last was all he could ever need in a wargame, the most fun two men legally in Cardiff on a Tuesday evening?

Sneak through the ville and flank the Anglo-Saxons! What could go wrong?

When a player is new to a system, how do you introduce them to the rudiments? Do you go easy on them? Do you smash them into the ground to show your innate superiority at handling little metal men? Neither option was to happen this evening, John had been watching SAGA Thursday all through lockdown and he was ready!

“ Saxon” bowmen to flank the vile and twelve warriors in a human roadblock to stop the Norman interloper! John had watched the SAGA know your battle board specials and had a manic glint in his eyes!
I decided to show John how combat worked. John’s shieldwall did for my knights! He pulled Saga dice from all points of the compass to gain advantage after advantage!
I would demonstrate the superiority of crossbows. John’s Saxons shot from cover and levelled my mercenaries!
I would lure him into a trap. Another unit of Norman knights to sacrifice; but then I hit him with a super dice charged warlord….
I was drawn forward and then John’s super dice charged Saxon mowed down a unit!!!!!!
It was all I could do not to cry! The Saxon levy archers couldn’t hit me from there! There was only four of them with two attack dice for Woden’s sake! They did and it counted. The Saxon warlord charged and the raid was over!
Next time you offer to show somebody a new game. Don’t let them do any research! Don’t let them beat you with your figures and never, ever let them study for forty years before coming out of the woodwork and beating you hollow!!!!!!!!

If have a John in your club then please share their details so that we might never invite them to Cardiff Dice Studz ever again!!!!!!! only joking, it was a great game and John is on his way to becoming a fully fledged member, just as soon as he gets his own set of figures!

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Wargaming the Horse Soldiers!

Vinyl : worth its weight in gold!

The album above had been bought as a present from my father to my mum when they had been courting! What a generation! You take a lady to see a war film and leave her with an album of American Civil War music! But, to me, just the cover was enthralling and the subjects of many attempts to copy the battle scene. Not quite as many drawings as those of John Wayne’s other classic “ the Alamo”, but close. Well I no longer have a record player but I do have a love of this period!

To add to my 28mm Rebels and Patriots collection, this little lot will go towards refugees using Chamberlain, the ACW variant of Blücher wargames rules. Lyrics from Corb Lund’s “I wanna be in the cavalry!’

lyrics by Corb Lund, music by Stan Rogers / Corb Lund

I wanna be in the cavalry if they send me off to war

I wanna good steed under me like my forefathers before

I wanna good mount when the bugle sounds and I hear the cannons' roar

I wanna be in the cavalry if they send me off to war

I wanna horse in the volunteer force that's riding forth at dawn

Please save for me some gallantry that will echo when I'm gone

I beg of you sarge let me lead the charge when the battle lines are drawn

Lemme at least leave a good hoof beat they'll remember loud and long

I'd not a good foot soldier make, I'd be sour and slow at march

And I'd be sick on a navy ship, and the sea would leave me parched

But I'll be first in line if they'll let me ride, by god, you'll see my starch

Lope back o'er the heath with the laurel wreath underneath that vict?ry arch

Let me earn my spurs in the battle's blur where the day is lost or won

I'll wield my lance as the ponies dance and the blackguards fire their guns

A sabre keen, and a saddle carbine and an army Remington

Where the hot lead screams with the cold, cold steel let me be a cav?lryman

Let 'em play their flutes and stirrup my boots and place them back to front

For I won?t be back on the rider-less black (jack) and I'm finished in my hunt

I wanna be in the cavalry if I must go off to war

I wanna be in the cavalry, but I won't ride home no more
HQ unit- someone to direct the chaos!
Cavalry Brigadier
Who doesn’t love an oversized flag!
Another bullet magnet!
HQ camp- busy with messengers in all directions.

The figures are Lancashire Games 18mm. They are massive minis and I love them. I used contrast paints so they were dead quick. The heavy detail just loves washes of colour, so a lot of shading wasn’t needed. I was going to use Commands and Colors scenarios so I only needed three brigades of horse, but I thought I’d go dismounted too. The Northern infantry were ordered weeks ago but as Buford also found, the time keeping of sloggers can’t be relied upon. Hope you like them!

The Northern army so far!

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Wargaming the Mahabarat

Tradition with a capital “T” is of course all important for all true Dice Studz. Dave Lowrie has scoured the ancient Vendic texts for enlightenment and the revered text disappointed him. Rather than the Aryan supermen of old , he decided upon Ghaznavids from three thousand years later. May my brave charioteer Krishna, have mercy upon his soul , ever to return to Earth. I would stick with the Ancient lore and bring Vendic Indians …

Hardly the organisation I needed for L’art de la Guerre. I went with one corps of bow, hopefully next to an Indus size waterway. The Gods were kind and provided handsomely.
Dave added to the position’s strength with a field ( rough ground)
My gallant foot in the centre would have two elephants to rally around.
The warriors of the Vendic scrolls may have needed Krishna to show them the path of duty. Six chariot units of elite nobles were ready to sweep the untouchables from the field on my right.
The Noble’s elite bows would have to get through the Ghulams armour but they did have numbers on their side( on case where the aristocrat has to concede to the mass?)
Dave’s Northerners we’re not impressed by the Aryans. An advance all across the line was ordered.
Two elephant Death Stars attacked in the centre but went in piecemeal!
The Aryan nobles were forced to fight for their lives but they had a flank and used it to their advantage.
Krishna be praised the battle turned!
Gaining heart from their Noble charioteers, the lower castes too sensed victory!
The Ghaznavid horse had shyed away from the bows. Dave had sent them to the other flank and the bowmen now rolled up the Central battle line.
Victory for the dutiful! It had been a great game. Terrain and troop quality had done for the Northern barbarian! Dave had his revenge though as in the car park my whole army slid out of my hand and bounced unceremoniously on the tarmac. Bad karma had struck! It was time to go home!
If you are a keen player of L’art de la Guerre in the Cardiff area then our monthly 28mm evening maybe for you? Friday 30 th July is the date for the High Medieval period! 5pm assembly!

Thanks for reading!


Beware the Tarmacadam my son!
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SAGA Freya’s Day- Blood on the Strand

But when Biorn came out over the sea, he went south to Engerland, and then south further to the beach at Bournemouth and in those days was Sven Timjiin captain of the Jomsburg Vikings. Foul Baldwin the Norman entered into covenant with them, and was called an ally and friend. When Sven Timjiin demanded tribute from Baldwin, money and succour came there none. The Norman claimed that he had but three times already paid for said land. Sven would retrieve what was owed by point of sword and did battle ensue…….And while Sven was alive he was deemed the best of men and the bravest in all deeds that try a man.

The Saga of Sven Timjiin

Sven’s raiders in newly pillaged finery make landfall on the strand at Bournesmouth.
Many a Fyrdsman would find business elsewhere when they saw the red flag of Sven emerge from the sea.
Baldwin’s archers were a tested asset, possessing volley fire that discomfort the Vikings from two long measures! How the Norman did guide and fumble!
The forest were full of strange fruit in deed. Within the thickets we’re the false weapons of the Frank- the crossbow be cursed!
Sven would have his tribute. Alighting from their ship the Windbreaker, the Vikings form the Sweinshead and advance!
The circle of stones had been a campsite of brothers but now scores would be settled in blood!
Under new masters now, the duplicitous Saxon now threw his javelins under the Norman yoke, happy to loose and run back to the glade.
Angered by the pin pricks from afar, Sven brought up his own bowmen. Many days at sea had made their sinews soft and they would not close with their forest foes.
Rather the younger bowmen did cravenly hide behind the Runestones…
Angered by the impudence of the lowly, Sven sent his whole host of fighting men after the upstart prickles!
What magic is this? The runestones exhaust the crossbowmen with some devilish machination! The Norman warriors are aghast and Baldwin scurries to check said battle board of the heathen invader!
The javelin men return to Harry the Viking magic workers…
Unnoticed by Sven, a retinue of brave Norman knights creep toward their prey.
The knights bounce. What use is a bow against sword and shield. The archers are sorely discomforted and they too seek the shelter of the forest.
Out of that forest, the Viking hearth guard attempt to unblock the path to riches. The Saxon dogs hold and even kill on of the brave Viking sea lords.
But it is Baldwin who is surprised. Much reduced by arrows a small knot of warriors takes the Norman Lord by surprise amongst the stones!
All three Vikings are sent to Valhalla for their audacity!
Sven cannot believe that the Norman without horse is still to be feared
The struggle continues to get the advance moving inland. The blood lust of Sven is boiling over…
And, Sven in a shadowy imitation of the Norman Lord sallies forth to clear the Norman knights but the scorpion has a death lunge! Sven is struck down and the battle of the warlords is at a close!
Thank Odin it’s Freya’s day was a blast! SAGA is such a fun knock about game to play. We’ll be back for more Freya’s day antics in two weeks- more than enough time for Sven/ Steve to get another army painted! My thanks to you the reader, the gallant Steve and all at Firstorm Meade hall!
Upcoming events at Firestorm
Tuesday Dice Studz: L’art de la Guerre 15mm

Friday : Lord of the Steppes To the Strongest

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Friday Night Kali Yuga

It’s been a very long time since some of these veteran gamers had convened at Cardiff’s Firestorm Games but it was the first Friday on the month and that means Kali Yuga night! Named after the fourth and worst period of the Hindu Yugas, the evening brings the more openly competitive 28mm L’art de la Guerre players to our local game store / temple. It’s not for the faint hearted as these players are masters of their arcane tabletop arts, one mistake and your beautifully painted minis will forever be consigned to wargaming history as an anecdote of their brilliance and your foolishness! It is indeed the Age of Iron !

Brother fights brother in a very fertile North Africa!
The Dons immaculate camel riders!
James Churchill’s living barricade!
James gets to grips with version 4 of the rules!

On the second table, Colin and Eddie joined in battle. Colin brought his Spanish juggernaut in the first round against Mark but ever the follower of fashion, he too brought early Arabs against Eddie. Don’t be deceived, Colin may have the looks of an Adonis but his manner leaves a lot to be desired from a gentleman player (below)

Oh dear, not going well for Colin this Friday!
Eddie’s Patricians make short work of the desert warriors!

It was a Late Roman civil war on table three. As Andrew and I placed our commands, it was almost as though we had brought the same two formations; two strong legion corps and one heavy horse corps but the devil was in the detail.

Notice the new fangled integrated artillery!
It was turn two and Andrew was withdrawing his elite legionnaires??????
Unfortunately, he’d played the same ploy last time we’d played! Instead of diving straight into his trap, I too reached for reverse gear!
Our legions glowered at each other and exchanged long range ballista shots! Those hits on Andrew’s men would prove decisive later.
Andrew’s left hook hit my ‘kettle men’ and the battle turned. With my auxiliary and bowmen fighting from cover, the punch disintegrated. My cataphracts turned on Andrew’s legionary centre.
Andrew would go on to call for a general advance but his men faltered all along the line.
The plan is to play 28mm L’art de la Guerre on the first Friday of each month. Next month we look forward to playing in the Late Medieval era. So if you have the hide of a rhino and the brain of a computer come and join us at Cardiff’s Firestorm Games?
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The Baron ( Barren) spell is over!

Boots on the Ground is Cardiff Dice Studz mass battle game night. For myself and Dave it was a welcome return to L’art de la Guerre Wargames Rules. One of the new army lists is Taifa states and Mr. Lowrie appears to have spent the whole of Lock-down painting gaily robed Moslems.

Moslem war elephant now with armour and naphtha throwers!!!
Dave had a mind to try out the new rules for supported spear. I obliged with an Arogonese knightly host with French crusader allies.
It was knights and spear men for Aragon with the only lights ( javelin men) in the right hand orchard
Massed Christian spear defend the camp but I feared they would be flanked!
El CID employed by Saragossa against the Northern Christians. Outbloodyragious!
The confrontation on the plains
My French crusader allies were unsure of the situation- first dice roll meant they were unreliable and stubbornly wouldn’t advance.
Thankfully the Andalusian skirmishes provoked the French to join the advance.
The Muslims advanced in close order…
The clash was palpable!
Initially the Moslems held. The spearmen gain impact against knights and the horsemen lose impact and ferocious charge. Support is now very cost effective!
The whole Christian Spanish left crumpled on impact but…..
The combination of elite French knights and Aragonese javelin men carved through the Muslim spear, horse and reached the camp!!!!!

It had been a great game. We will be returning to L’art de la Guerre in 28mm in the first meeting in July, hopefully with Don, Andrew and Eddie. Remember if you are coming a booking system is operated in Firestorm and you still have to wear a horrible face nappy!!!!! First views of version four though are very favourable!

Victory to Christendom!

Have a great weekend!

Look out for Boots on the Ground L’art de la Guerre get together in July!
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S.A.G.A. : An army in a week; week two!

Forty years and not a miniature figure ready for the tabletop. “Pull yourself together man!” I said. “ You could be ready in a week!”The challenge was set! Could a very average gamer like myself get four SAGA points of figures ready in just seven days? Sunday evening and the miniatures were ordered and they arrived from Wargames Foundry Tuesday afternoon. The clock was ticking….

Tuesday evening and the miniatures, thirty of them were cleaned up.

Wednesday night was my weekly visit to my mother’s house but that didn’t mean that I couldn’t do some glueing of the characteristic Norman shields. I’ve come to use Gorrilla glue for all my minis but I really don’t enjoy this stage. Now attaching the minis to their temporary bases is different and that means Bostik. In true Adrian Mole style I love the smell of Bostik. I didn’t end the session with a model aeroplane stuck on my nose but I was reminded of the 1980s Caerphilly glue- sniffing association of my youth.

It was so nice to have a definate project with an end and a deadline. Motivation is needed to break the project trap though! Bostik may help!
I use old bits of lollipop stick when spraying the undercoat. I used the Games Workshop Contrast white primer without which their excellent contrast paints don’t work half so well.
I’m not a dancer nor a high- flier at work but I like to collect toy soldiers and talk nonsense about History to my pals. I don’t rate myself as much as a painter but Contrast paints are so easy to apply. Just make sure you shake the bottle so that the colour wash is not separated!
By Friday the miniatures were all based and contrast painted. Then the bombshell dropped, I would be playing with my Saxons so only my Norman archers would see the table! Gripping Beast sent me the required dice, again within three days of ordering. I love the modern world.
Then came Half term and the usual Saturday drink at the King Billy! Recovery lasted until Bank holiday!

Here some strategy was needed! How could I keep painting and going back and fire to the garage without raising the suspicions of a higher authority? A joint project was the answer, whilst the boys made a plane, I painted Normans.

And when the plane was done- archery and darts!
You must read this blog!

The rule of three is truly transformational!!!! Before embarking on a new project, you must use the minis at least three times! It’s my new mantra; use the mins you have before the new “ shinny” fever! It had taken ten days but the force was completed! One family trip to the beach to secretly collect basing material and it was done.

Where’s all the basing material gone????

What started out a challenge was quite envigorating! The four SAGA points was complete and I was fired up to play. Has you know who started yet? We shall see! I hope you like the finished minis below. Try the rule of three and see if you too are so inspired!

Ambitious young Norman Lord and nervous standard bearer
One point of Norman hearth guard
More bully boys!
Twelve levy archers; already defeated
Love the Contrast paints
And finally, eight crossbow men!

Have a good week and get painting!!!