Some Dark Age* and Bronze Age figures

Not like me to do much of the ‘sharp stick’ side of wargaming but it would be dull if life didn’t havea bit of variety every now and again….

As a group we are slowly working on some Dark Age figures, everyone has some Vikings, Evanis going for Welsh and I’ve gone for Normans as my main army. We plan to use the Saga rules, in fact we had a quick game of it this evening, it showed how effective crossbows are if nothing else.


I painted up a group of 12 Gripping Beast plastic Saxons, still trying to perfect my palette of colors for the Dark Ages.


The leader, standard bearer and two warriors.



The spearmen.


For reasons that are mostly explained by whim and the fact I read an interesting book on the subject a while back I bought from ebay some of the Wargames Foundry European Bronze Age figures.


5 figures from the ‘command’ pack.


I’m not sure if I’ll get anymore. Whilst low level clan warfare would be interesting, there isn’t much of a figure range available so a lot of repetition of poses would creep in. Also it wouldn’t be much different at a skirmish level to the Dark Ages. I know that we are talking about very different cultures and technologies but at the man to man level the mechanics of swinging and axe into someone is pretty much the same. I happily use the same low level skirmish sets for WW1 to present day games, it is only as one widens the scope of the battle to look at how armies operated and fought that one sees the difference. The Marne was fought very differently to Op. Goodwood…


… I think more reading is in order.






*I know that the term Dark Ages isn’t a particularly useful, descriptive or even accurate term and ‘early medieval period’ is preferred, typing Dark Ages is just quicker.


Some Elhiem figures.

I’ve painted up some example of Elhiem’s [clicky] work that I’ll share with you. One of the good things about Matt the guy behind Elhiem is that he is very responsive to customer requestsd and suggestions, he has a Facebook page just for to post ideas to. The first group of figures is one that I said I’d be interested in when the idea was broached an a now defunct forum.


This are men and women in suits, ideal as bodyguards for some VIP. I painted their clothing a fairly light grey to contrast with the dark weapons; unfortunately the silver paint for the mirrorshades didn’t worth that well, I may yet got back over it with black….


This next group is 12 near future/  SF Amerrican types. Wearing full face helmets and advanced armour, they have exo- skeletons to give them a boost. It is a nice touch that only the LMG gunners have the exo- skeleton extending down their arms.


To distinguish the different fireteams I painted each group of four’s guns different colours: here we have the ‘greens’…


… the ‘tans’…



… and the ‘greys’. 


There are some suggested rules for near future tech in the recent Osprey rules Black Ops so I will dig those out to. Also revisiting the novel Ghost Fleet should provide some inspiration for games.  I found this video too that gives me some ideas. I’ve got 12 near future Russians too to paint up so they’ll have some potential opposition. 20mm science fiction figures are rather thin on the ground so these area nice addition. I wouldn’t mind some more poses for both ranges, Officer and NCO types would be useful as well as some with rocket launchers of some kind….





Chile ‘ 73- Board game review.

I noticed on Saturday on Brian Train’s blog [clicky] that he has released a new game “Chile ’73” [clicky] and it was available as a print and play edition from Wargames Vault for a very reasonable $8.99 (price I bought it at) [clicky] so I bought myself a copy and got printing.


Unfortunately I’ve had a viral infection in my ear that effected my balance, cognitive abilities and motor skills (much better now though) so I made a bit of a hash of assembling the components, not everything is straight or wrinke free. No worry I thought: if I like the game enough I’ll print the pages out again and have a better go at it.


I decided to run through a quick game on Monday evening with Paul [clicky]  , as I know he is working on a coup/ Juntas inspired megagame at the moment, and see what we made of it. The game is based around the 1973 coup against President Allende, events which ultimately lead to Pinochet becoming President (spelt d- i- c- t- a- t- o- r in his case). Other than that I know nothing about the events that are being simulated so I can offer no opinion on how well the game works in simulating history.



Chile ’73 is a game of two halves:  pre and post coup. Players, 2 or more no upper limit is specified, start by deciding which faction that they want to play and also which hidden agenda they want to follow, this matters only with 3 or more players as it determines who on the winning side claims overall victory. In the pre coup turns players  get 3 actions try to amass forces on to their side by drawing randomly from a cup (your own faction is easier to recruit), moving units on the map or collecting/ using action chits. The action chits can be used to thwart opposing player actions, spy on them or saved for later.

This continues until one player (me in our playthrough) decides the time is right to launch a coup. If there was more than just the two of us players would have to declare which side to support but in a 2 player run through Paul defaulted to the loyalist position, also in a 2 player game they have a 50/ 50 chance of getting the remaining units onto their side. From now on the game is a fast playing urban combat game that continues until only on side remains in play. In our run through my coup attempt was succesful due to superior numbers but I paid a heavy price from Paul’s air attacks. The placement of units in the pre coup phase is important as it is possible to convert some civilian units to armed units if key areas are held. Likewise keeping hold of an aiport is vital if you want some air support (something I neglected to do). In the case of two or more players on the same victorious side a victory points table is consulted to see who can claim overall victory.

All of the mechanisms are simple enough but give you enough choices and create the right thematic atmosphere. There are a few negatives though, there are a few ommissions in the rule book, stacking limits for units in a city area aren’t defined clearly but it can be inferred from a rule on staelmate that it is three. A few of the counters don’t have the correct backs on the sheets provided but it isn’t too muchof a problem. Fortunately these can be rectified and updated files posted on wargames vault. I think that we didn’t get the most out of the game with only two players, with more the pre coup phase wouyld be more interesting as you would be trying to work out other players agendas through the employment of action chits, that combined with the greater uncertainty of possible allegiances would make for more tension. Likewise competing with a ‘team’ for overall victory would add an other level of play.

EDIT- Ignore my comments onthelack of stackinglimits- I was writing bollocks- my illness addled brain missed the rules even though they are clearly marked; as the rules designers has pointed out inthe comments below.

The question is will I be printing it out again. The answer is yes, my current thining is to blow the board up twice as big and the counters one and a half times the size to facilitate a multiplayer game. I’m looking forward to a game with at least 5 of us….





NormandyTrip: Back to England and Bovington Tank Museum.

The overnight ferry from La Harve to Portsmouth was uneventful, I spent it either reading or watch films on my tablet, also it was the longest I’ve ever spent on a ship. As we arrived early on Friday morning I went on deck as the boat docked to see what was moored up in Portsmouth Harbour. The two historic ships HMS Victory and HMS Warrior were visible along with a fair few contemporary RN vessels including the new HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier.


HMS Warrior, undergoing some restortation.



HMS Victory.



HMS Queen Elizabeth, Britain’s biggest ever warship, I have to admit feeling a little underwhelmed by it.



A Type 45 Destroyer HMS Dragon.There were at least 4 Type 45s berthed when I was there.

After docking we drove a hour and a half westwards to visit Bovington Tank Museum, a place that has been on my must visit list for a long time. The number of vehicles on display is mind boggling. Divided up into different sections it takes you through the development of the tank then we went through the Trench Experience covering WW1 and from War Horse to Horse Power and much more including the Tiger exhibit bring together a Tiger and Elefant, two Tiger IIs and a Jagdtiger. I took so many photos I can’t upload them all but I’ll put up a representative sample. If anyone has anything in particular they want to see let me know and I’ll post it.


A view of the first hall we went in, Centurion front and centre.



WW1 Mk IV ‘female’ tank.



British Crusier tank from 1940.


A Panzer III painted up in Africa Korp colours.



A Sherman Firefly with Cromwell in the background.



Moving on to modern stuff we have a T72 with a Patton in the background.



A Saladin Armoured Car



British Challenger.



Another shot of the Firefly and Cromewll with the front ofa Chruchill peeking in.


In the WW1 section we have a MkII tank.



A Mk IV male with fascine.


Austin Armoured Car of the type used in Ireland during the Anglo-Irish war.



Tiger II with Porsche turret and Jagdtiger.


Tiger II with Henschel turret.



Elefant (all the way from the US) and Tiger 131.



Hetzer SPG in front of a Jagdpanther.



Protype of the Tortoise SPG- a British proposal to attack the Siegfried line.



A T34/76 in Finnish colours.



The ridiculous TOG II- a British failure from WW2, very cool all the same though.



British heavy metal.



The Sherman used in the recent Brad Pitt film ‘Fury’ still with its sfx weathering.



Not all of the vehicles that are in the Bovington Collection are on public display- this is a view of part of the storage shed.

Going round Bovington took all day; all that was left was a long drag on a journey North back to Yorkshire to end Dad and I’s holiday.





A few plastic kits.

Given the weather at the moment it has been too cold to go into the shed so I’ve been working on a few model kits inside. It is easier just to bring my making and gluing tray in rather than all my paints; it also gives me a chance to get caught up on my back log of plastic kits.

Yesterday I had a bit of a blitz and assembled all of these:


From left to right we have the Hobby Boss Merkava IV, Two Bedford trucks by Airfix, the Revell re- issue of the Matchbox Sherman firefly and finally a Dark Age hut from Warbases.

The Merkava kit is a pleasure to put together, and the old matchbox kits are no drama at all. I think, however, that the Sherman would benefit from some aftermarket stowage and possibly a crewman. The two Airfix trucks were a little disappointing; given that they were a recent kit I found that they weren’t as well fitting as a new kit should be imo. Still with two in a box they are good value if you see them for sale. The Warbases kit was bought as an example of their range, simple to assemble and easier than cutting out a foamcore one myself. I’ll add some texture to the walls and a fake fur roof too. to finish it properly.

Not bad for a few hours work whilst listening to some CDs.






Normandy Trip: Merville Battery.

After Dad and I had finished our look around the Pegasus Bridge Museum we headed east a few miles to the Merville Battery, our final visit before driving to Le Harve and catching the overnight ferry back to Portsmouth.

The battery is quite low key and somehow more sober as a result which is fitting given the bloody events of the early morning of 6th June 1944.. The four bunkers, housing 100mm guns originally, are spread out in a managed grassed area with only a Dakota and a couple of British artillery pieces standing over them. The some of the bunkers are open and have display boards or in one case a rather oversold audio/ visual display.



A Dakota was brought to the site and restored. The Paras would have been carried in aircraft such as these on the night of D Day.


You can always recognise the classic lines of a Dakota. The inside of the aircraft was open to the public.


The front of one of the casemates.


Information boards spread out around the site tell its story as you move around.


The rear of the casemate showing the door through which the gun could be removed and put into an open emplacement.


The now ubiquitous 5.5″ howitzer.


A 25pdr field gun.


Memorial to Lt. Col. Otway. OC of the assault.


One of the reasons that the 150 attacking paras suffered 50% casualties in the assault. The 150 were all that could be mustered from the 750 that had been dropped that night.





Cockroaches, Copper and Cows: A Mexican Revolution megagame.

This Saturday saw the first game of the year for Pennine Megagame. Jonathon Pickles gave us ’Cockroaches, Copper and Cows’ based on the Mexican Revolution of 1913. Set in the world of Pancho Villa and the film ‘The Wild Bunch’, I have to admit it is something I know nothing about.


Unlike most megagames that I have seen that have the players, representing different historical characters, organised into teams in advance CCC only had a few players in a single team at the start of play. The remainder were free agents who could form join or leave as many teams (representing different competing political parties) as they wanted over the course of the day, this was one part of the game I was a bit unsure of as I’d not seen it done before. The individual briefings that each player got outlined their characters background and political orientations; the onus was on the players to get out there and talk to each other and find common goals and form parties/ teams around that. To facilitate this the half hour turn was split into two parts: the first fifteen minutes was the time that players could act on the map. Moving their guerrilla base, attacking and capturing facilities, making money and fighting each other, the second half of the turn was where the players could move about and talk to each other and hold conventions where they were assumed to be meeting up face to face. It was at these conventions that players could help each other build up support (a logarithmic scale that represented a mixture of political following and military might that was the key statistic for the players and also try sneaky things like assassination.


My role for the day was to run one of the 7 maps that made up Mexico, mine was the very north east of the country up by the Texan border. It was a simple role really. I had to monitor the actions of the players as they took their turns. In the early stages of the game the players were finding their feet and expanding their territory on the map trying to get the best resources nailed down under their control whilst sounding out nearby players for their character’s political leanings.  Some of the resources were oil plants or other industrial/ economic sites that were run by American companies. Trying to take these over had the potential to cause a minor diplomatic incident, taking them over completely and kicking out the Americans altogether had the potential to really anger the Americans. In fact, the first invasion of Mexico was at Vera Cruz to secure American interest. Those players who had angered the American had to pay reparations and make a public apology.


North East Mexico at the start of the game.

The players on my map were quite civil, they were happy to fight the federales for territories to capture but were reticent to fight each other early on. This changed towards the second half of the game as they joined parties and coordinated their activity with what was going on other tables. Rail road links to border towns and ports being vital to generate large amounts of income as goods sold there were worth double.


Pickles had a very nice and simple mechanism to limit the number of actions at the map that each player could make. Apart from a few free actions, anything major that the players did gained them a fatigue marker, to take any action after the first they had to pay $10 per fatigue marker that they had. Consequently, taking more than four actions was very rare.



To keep the players informed on what was going wrong Becky bravely took and the role of three different papers, one revolutionary, one reactionary, one American and published an A4 page a turn. Some of which I’ve reproduced here with her permission; go check out here rather good blog here: it has loads of megagame material on there and much more besides including some great recipes. This became especially important as elections were being held to put up a president and stabilse the country towards the end of the game.


About to look for arms on a cross border raid- what could go wrong?

In a bold display of obstinance and nationalism one of the players on my table, Tes, decided to raid across the border to the American town of Laredo in search of arms. This brought Tim over to my table, he was plumpiring all the different American interests in the game and accordingly was wearing four character cards pinned to him. This time he was ‘Black Jack Pershing’ leading a punitive expedition to get the guns back. Combat between players was done by a card-based system, both player put down a card with a numerical value and the added it to their support rating, highest winning; the cards had different suits and they could cancel out some or none of the other suits. In such cases it was an instant victory. Given the might of the US army Tes was lucky to get this result with her first combat. At this point I mentioned to Tim that he needs to do enough in the raid to get a tank named after him… Although after this Tes wasn’t so lucky losing heavily. The US advanced just into Mexico and occupied Nuevo Laredo. A couple of turns later Tes decided to push her luck and appropriate an American run oil field. This time the US forces launched a big raid deep into Mexico to bring her to justice.


The results of America’s punitive raid after the seizure of an American oil field.

Whilst this was going on a vicious back and forth battle erupted between a Zapatist player and a Constitutionalist for control of a couple of key road junctions, both were needed by the players respective parties to get goods out of the country. Using all manner of artillery, machine guns and even armoured trains; the fighting went on for a couple of turns.


The game was wound up with an election, often a bad way to end a game as it produces a clear “winner”, something that megagames usually try to avoid, partly as there would be nothing to argue about in the pub afterwards. However, in this situation if seemed right. The constitutionalists were put in office and the American observers declared it free and fair so the result stuck. This wound up a great days gaming, it was a good game to umpire and the players seemed to really engage with it putting paid to my early reservations.


As always look at Pennine Megagames on both the web and on Facebook: