Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Von Mohnblume Line

A package arrived from Alternative Armies recently and I had the pleasure of being one of the first to see the Von Mohnblume Line , due for release later in August. These are some new sculpts and a new type of Dogman infantry for Flintloque and Slaughterloo.

The pile of minis and bases

Monday, 24 July 2017

Black Powder Slaughterloo

I've recently had the opportunity to reorganise my Flintloque collection, partly due to some nicely discounted plastic storage I was able to buy, and also because of a new 'do something with it or sell it' policy I've adopted. It has got to the point where I just don't have the space or time to devote to projects I am not really that interested in, so I have decided to be firmer with myself. I'm going to work through my projects and ask myself if I would be happy painting something for it right now. If I wouldn't then I clearly don't have much love for it and it needs to go. Fortunately, the Flintloque range doesn't fall into this category, so I have been able to paint a few more commanders to play a game or two of Black Powder.

As a big fan of the Flintloque miniatures and the Black Powder rules, I have wanted to combine the two for a while now and have been working on the stats for the various armies. As the setting is very similar to history, most troop types can be taken from the Albion Triumphant supplements, with a few adjustments to account for the more 'fantasy' elements. I plan to eventually put all of this together in a PDF, but it is still early days and I need to play a few games first.

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Creating a Flintloque Section

For some time now I've wanted to do a bit of a 'step-by-step' guide about how to create a section (i.e. force) for use in Flintloque. With actual gaming opportunities currently limited, I thought that now would be an ideal time!

The Flintloque game is currently divided across three core books (each of which contain the rules but are focused on a different theatre of the war) and Grapeshotte, an expansion which covers artillery and other special rules. For this example, I will use the War in Catalucia book, which covers what is roughly analogous to the Peninsular War in the Napoleonic period. This setting includes the Ferach Elves, Orcs of Albion,   Goblins of Al-Garvy, Joccian Ratmen and much more besides.

There is a one page summary of how to assemble your section in the book, so I will largely follow this through so you have an idea what to expect.

STEP 1 - The army:

Theatre of war and relevant rule book decided upon, the next step is to choose which army I want my section to come from. I always enjoyed the 'standard' Orcs vs Elves idea ever since I saw the cover of the first edition of Flintloque and, as I quite enjoy being the 'baddies' I'm going to decide on the Elves. Now, where other skirmish games might have picking a faction as the main decision, in Flintloque this is very much only the beginning I can now choose from a vast range of Napoleonic-style  troop types. If it existed in history, it has an equivalent here. 

STEP 2 - The type of section:

For this example, I'm going to imagine I have recently bought the Shilling Service Pack for War in Catalucia, which comes with Elf and Joccian figures. The elves you get are Chassuers of the Garde (and one mounted figure which I will not include in the example). Let's imagine that I had done my research and added in another pack of Chassuers with my order. That would give me a total of 8 Elves plus a leader for the section.

Each type of troop brings inherent advantages and disadvantages with it. As the Chassuers are Light troops I get a bonus to my initiative and accuracy and another bonus if I attempt to coordinate actions.  Looking up the Ferach on the National Characteristics table, I find I get an additional bonus when shooting for fielding elves. Light Elf Sections are excellent at picking off the enemy from a distance!

STEP 3 - Experience Levels:

There are 5 experience levels to choose from for your characters and they have an impact on a figure's basic abilities and morale. The rules give different options, including just choosing yourself and picking at random, but I think I will go for the suggested method of having a fixed percentage of each in my new Section. For a section of 9 figures, that gives me 4 Raw, 4 Average and 1 Experienced character. I decide to give the leader the Experienced rating and have the other soldiers as a mix of Raw and Average.

STEP 4 - Skills, Traits and Flaws:

The rules come with a gernerous amount of Skills, Traits and Flaws with which to customise your section. Of course, you are free to ignore these if you want, but they add a great deal of flavour. They are divided into generic ones, which any figure can have, and Race specific ones, giving each nation access to abilities no other has.

Skills can be gained by characters when they gain experience during a campaign. Raw characters may not have any to start with, Average and Experienced characters may have one. I'm going to give my Section Leader Improved Command, which gives him an additional command point to use during a game, and opt to have one of my Average elves Improved Discipline. I think he is a trusted friend of the Leader and will rarely flee from battle.

Unlike Skills, Traits cannot be changed during a game and every starting character can have up to two. I'm going to make one of my soldiers a bit of an eagle-eyed sniper and give him the Good Shot Trait, yet another shooting bonus for this elf! Another can be a religious fellow and have the Prayer Trait, which may give the Leader an additional Command Point if the elevn deity hears the prayers at the start of the game. As I don't want my other Average elf to be left out, he can have the Steady Elf Hand Trait, allowable only to Ferach Elves and giving him a reduced penalty to shooting when moving quickly.

Flaws work the same as Traits, but obviously they are negative! To add a bit of character, I'm going to give one of my Raw soldiers the Coward Flaw and another can be Forgetful, meaning he has to roll a die to see if he can activate if more than 15cm away from the Section Leader!

STEP 5 - Weapons:

The final choice to make is what armaments my Elves carry into battle. To keep things simple, I decide that all of them are carrying a standard Ferach Elf Musket with the exception of the Leader, who can have a Ferach Duelling Pistol and a Sword.

STEP 6 - Points:

Now, Flintloque is a game for gentlemen and ladies and doesn't inherently enforce a points system, but it is often a good idea to know how balanced the forces are (even though most players know any given scenario can throw this balance to the wind!).

I can see from the charts that Raw Elves are worth 15, Average ones are 21 and Experienced cost 29. As they are all Light troops, my Elves add 3 to each of these basic values. All the Skills, Traits and Flaws have points associated with them, as do the various weapons. Totting everything up I get:

  • Section Leader/Experienced/Ferach Pistol & Sword/Improved Command - 45pts
  • 2nd in Command/Average/Ferach Musket/Improved Discipline -  32pts
  • Sniper/Average/Ferach Musket/Good Shot - 31pts
  • Chaplain/Average/Ferach Musket/Prayer - 34pts
  • Scout/Average/Ferach Musket/Steady Elf Hand - 31pts
  • Coward/Raw/Ferach Musket/Coward - 19pts
  • Absent Minded/Raw/Ferach Musket/Forgetful - 19pts
  • Cannon Fodder/Raw/Ferach Musket - 23pts 
  • Cannon Fodder/Raw/Ferach Musket - 23pts 

So my section comes to a total of  257 points. Many Flintloque games allow for 300 points for a starting sections, so I came prety close. Actually, although it is not strictly by the book, I could add in that cavalry trooper that I mentioned came in the starter set.

I'll call him Experienced (29pts) and he has the Cavalry type (+3pts). He is armed with a sword (+5pts) and his mount costs 15pts. This gives a total of 52, bringing my section up to a healthy 309 points in total. Great! Now all I need to do is write up the details on a roster sheet and my Section is good to go.

As you can hopefully see, creating a Section in Flintloque is detailed but not too arduous. In even adding just one skill, trait or flaw to a character the rules help to bring them alive and I do start to wonder how they will work as a team in battle. In fact I might have to try them out and report back on how they perform! Time to hunt some orcs!

[Note: I'd written up this post only to find that I hadn't painted enough of the appropriate figures, so I had to substitute some other light elves for the purposes of the pictures. Below is the contents of the War in Catalucia starter set all painted up. Sorry for the poor pictures, I haven't got the lighting in the new room sorted out yet...]

You can read more about the starter sets and other items available at: All books in the range are available as print copies and PDFs. 

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Happy Birthday, Dad!

This is something of a special post, as my Dad has turned 70 today and I thought I would write something of a tribute to his influence on me as a gamer. Throughout my life I have always been surounded by games of all descriptions, whether they were the board games I got as presents when I was younger, or wargames, either playing them with Dad or seeing him playing with friends. This has fostered an interest which has continued to this day and is evidenced by a room in my home full of boardgames and miniatures.

Here is the earliest picture I have of us as 'hobbyists' together. I was allowed to paint one of Dad's figures for the first time, so here we are, hanging out together in the garden in summer. I'm not sure what happened to that particular model, but it was certainly the start of something!

Here's one of my Dad (left) and one of his best friends who he used to wargame with. Bill used to live in Southend and they would meet up a few times a year for a game. They played AWI and had an ongoing campaign in which they would play out some of the engagements solo and others face to face. I remember Dad's maps and little flags showing the position of various troops, but I also remember their splendid tables of figures and terrain. From my memories, I would say this was gentlemanly wargaming of the highest order!

I was far too young to really be able to play at this point, except for maybe occasionally rolling some of Dad's dice for him, but it wasn't too long before I was playing games myself.

The above picture is one of my earliest memories of wargaming and I remember the moments up to the picture especially well as my Tiger had just destroyed one of my Dad's tanks as it was crossing the bridge, leaving his other vehicles stranded on the other side of the river. Victory was mine that day!

Above is another battle from my childhood. I have no recollection of this at all, or even if I was actually playing or just 'posing' at the top of the photo. Not sure where the rest of my head went! Anyway, it just reminds me how interesting and exciting wargaming seemed to me when I was younger. All the figures and terrain looked splendid, plus they were actual games you played, not just something to look at.

Of course, an interest in historical wargames goes hand in hand with an interest in history, and my Dad took me to plenty of museums, fostering an interest in the subject which remains to this day.

And of course there is living history and reenactment. Below is a picture from when we went to see some jousting. As you can see, my Dad got roped in to helping out, and very good at it he was too!

I'm as much, if not more (depending on my mood), of a boardgamer as a wargamer and Dad has always been willing to give most things a go. Below is one of many intense games of Lost Cities we played one weekend about ten years ago.

My wife took the below picture of one of our many games of Battlestar Galactica and, before the birth of our son, it became a bit of a mini tradition for the three of us to play. I don't think I ever got to be a cylon though...

As fate would have it, my wife and I decided to settle in my old hometown, so I now have many more opportunities to play games with Dad. Here he is pondering how to get his heroes out of a tricky spot during a game of Imperial Assault.

So what I really want to do is just say thanks to my Dad. Thanks for introducing me to the hobby of wargaming, thanks for encouraging an interest in history, thanks for demonstrating the gentlemanly principles of fair play and fighting battles with honour and, most importantly, thank you for being an excellent Dad. I have always enjoyed the games we have played and look forward to many more in the future.

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Monday, 22 February 2016

Month 1 Project

As stated in a previous post, this year I'm picking a random project each month to work on and, as our house move is just round the corner now, I thought it was time to choose the first one, for the month of March. 

I decided to list 6 potential projects and then let a die decide the outcome. The idea is that these will all be things I want to work on, but I can drop the one selected after it has been worked on and replace it with something new if I like. To start with I picked: 

1 Judge Dredd
2 Rogue Trader
3 Muskets and Tomahawks
4 Flintloque 
5 Land Ironclads
6 Mars Attacks

One die roll later and my fate for March was decided: Mars Attacks!

So the question is, what to paint! As the idea is to paint something new and play a game with the selected project, it seemed to make sense to paint the forces for the first scenario in the rule book. That would be 5 Martians and 8 U.S. Soldiers. As that leaves me not too short of a squad on each side, I decided to up this to 10 Martians and 10 Humans. So now I'm looking at:

As each squad has the same paint scheme, it should hopefully not be too tricky to paint these in a batch. Let's see how we go!

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

"Sci-Fi Rules"

A bit of a random post this time. Recently I have had a fair bit of time to do what I should probably have done years ago, and have a good root through some of the things I left at my parents' house when I moved out, with a view to deciding what is worth keeping and what I can do with out.

As part of this process, I stumbled across some a small set of sci-fi rules, conveniently entitled: Sci-Fi Rules. Nothing quite like something saying what it does on the tin... What's more, the Alien on the front cover add to the reader's understanding of what he or she is getting, even before the cover is turned!

Possible subtitle: Not a set of historical rules
Strangely enough, there is no author or publisher information available anywhere in the book, but fear not, all will soon be revealed! Ah, okay then, I'll tell you now... To the best of my knowledge, these are a set of rules published by Warrior Miniatures to accompany their 10mm sci-fi range. The only reason I know this is that, about 15 years ago, I recall buying some of their figures and I am pretty sure I got a set of rules to go with them. Now, I could be wrong, but given they list a set of rules with the range of figures, I'm willing to bet that this is them. Even more so when I see they are listed for the princely sum of £1.50.

£1.50??!! Yes, that is correct. One pound and fifty pence. But before we get too excited, a few things to bear in mind. The production quality is, errrm, let's call it 'quaint'. They could have been produced in the 70s. But I quite like them! Check out the staples holding them together! Secondly they are written in a 'typewriter' font, with some hand drawn tables for good measure. Thirdly, they are only 8 pages long (although they feel deceptively large as they are only printed single sided. And in case you are wondering, they are pretty much A5 size. So they basically fit on 4 sides of A4.

Here's a picture of the first page. I won't show any more as if I show you a second page I'd have just reproduced 25% of the whole book....

But on the plus side, whereas I might break down a review into sections based upon each chapter of some rules, here I can review each page! Let's do it!

Page 1: Pictured above, this gives the background and what is needed to play. Basically it is a simple recreation of an Aliens type scenario. Interestingly, it opts to scale the map at 1cm = 1m, but then overlay it with a 1 inch grid. Nothing like mixing imperial and metric measurements! I'm also not entirely sure where I would get a map of that scale to overlay with a inch grid in the first place... So ultimately, just do your own thing is what I'd suggest...

Page 2: This suggests a couple of objectives for the humans, such as locating colonists or defending an outpost. The rules to govern objectives are pretty loose. For example, under the 'Find a colonist' scenario, it merely says 'randomise level/room of objective.' So again, plenty of scope for adding more detail as desired! In fairness, the second half of the page does give an optional rule for rolling to see if the colonist is okay or impregnated by an alien, but the whole page seems unsure whether there is one colonist to be found or more, or exactly how you determine if they have been found.

Page 3: Outlines the order of play. Which is that Marines move and fire, then Aliens dice for their movement. Human organisation is also mentioned here. Marines are divided into fire teams of between 3 and 6 marines, one of  whom is equipped with a flame thrower or heavy weapon. It also says that a command section 'can' be used, but given the bottom of the page describes how orders can be issued to fire teams under an officer's command, I'd say it was pretty important! It doesn't say what happens if all officers are killed though! What is interesting about these rules is the order system. Orders are issued at the start of a turn and then you roll to see what effect they have. Which brings me nicely to...

Page 4: Possibly my favourite page in the book! This page outlines what the 5 order types are and what might happen when they are issued. Basically they are: 'move toward objective', 'move towards the command section', 'disperse', 'fall back' and 'retreat to the exit'. They are given more interesting titles than that though. But what I really like is that, once an order is issued, you roll a d6 to see if it is followed. Most have a 50% chance of being followed, a 1 in 3 chance of being followed but not as effectively and a 1 in 6 chance of not being followed at all. This actually is an interesting approach and I'd be tempted to use something similar for other games, especially when human soldiers are facing a particularly brown-trouser inducing foe.

Page 5: This page introduces the Aliens. You roll to see how many are encountered, which is either 1x, 2x or 3x the number of Marines... This seems to make for quite varying difficulty so I'd probably stick with the 3x option! Aliens are placed randomly on squares at the edge of the map and this makes me think a smaller map might make for a more interesting game as there will be less option for the Marines to pick off the Aliens as random movement disperses the pack. On the other hand, Aliens have entirely free movement, unhindered by doors and walls, so the Marines may well be lucky to get many shots in before the Aliens are on top of them! Alien movement is determined by a d6 roll. The most likely (33%) result being a move directly toward the nearest marine and the others resulting in movement in other directions (never away), so there is the possibility of being outflanked.

Page 6: This page outlines shooting. Interestingly, it suggests you need a 1cm gap between friends to shoot between them. So although movement is on a grid, placement within the square has some importance. Although perhaps it is just a typo or a hang over from a previous version of the rules? Oddly, an assault rifle shoots 2 squares, giving it a whopping 5 meter range at the ground scale. And you remember the kick ass heavy weapons from the movie? Well they can blast aliens at a distance of 7.5 meters! I think it is probably best to either ignore the ground scale, or adjust the maps and ranges to something the player feels is right. A table gives a d6 score to hit depending on range and weapon used. The shooting section also mentions that Marines are placed to face the side of a square when firing. Now this has an impact on close combat, but I'd have thought it might be best decided during movement. But there you go.

Page 7: Talking of close combat, it is covered on Page 7. It takes place after the Alien move and you basically roll a d6 on one table if the human is facing the Alien and a different table if the human is not. The 'Human facing the Alien' table is hugely generous in that it gives a 5 in 6 chance of the Alien being killed. There is a 1 in 6 chance of the human being killed and a 1 in 6 chance of the human being disabled, which unfortunately is an effect mentioned nowhere in the rules. If the human is not facing the Alien there is a 50% chance they are captured, which means the human is removed and the alien placed on the edge of the map. There is only a 1 in 6 chance of the Alien being killed in this situation. In fairness, I assume the odds of the Alien being killed during a frontal attack on a human represents the effects of shooting as they close. Indeed, there is a -3 modifier if the human is armed with improvised weapons (which I assume means a colonist). There is vague reference to a facehugger counting an Alien victory as an attachment and the human counts this as dead. Given that a 'victory' for the Alien in close combat pretty much means the human is out of the game anyway, this rule seems slightly redundant!

Page 8: For a very simple set of rules, Page 8 is dedicated to special rules, including stairs, lifts, the Alien queen, facehuggers and vehicles. As you might expect, none of these are covered in huge detail, but there is enough to go on.

Well, there you have it! A review of every page! I actually find these rules quite fascinating... They have a few good ideas and are suitably simple for a fun game. On the other hand, they are in pretty significant need of clarification and polishing, or perhaps just more rigorous playtesting. I kind of get the impression that they might have been written with a participation game at a convention in mind, one run by a GM who can adjudicate situations as and when they arise. Ultimately I think you will struggle to find a better set of rules for £1.50, but I would love to clean them up and rework parts of them.

As it is, I'm happy I own them and will probably play them in some form as a simple Alien skirmish. I really like the idea of the how Marines are ordered and how Aliens can use air ducts to avoid having to move normally like the humans do (just like the film). I imagine having Aliens moving closer to you while to try to dash to a larger room so you can get a good shot in would create quite a few tense moments.

Time to start a 15mm Aliens project...

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Plans for 2016

I've been a bit in limbo over the past few months. We have moved down south, but it probably will be at least another month before we move into our new house. So rather than any actual painting and gaming, I've been trying to come up with a plan for the year.

What I've decided upon is to have a monthly focus. At the beginning of each month I will randomly pick one of my projects. Then I will paint something for it, perhaps a new regiment or character, and then play a game or two. This should  be enough for my flitting attention to deal with, while knowing that in a few weeks I will be doing something fresh and new.

So, plan decided, what projects will be part of it? I'm thinking the following:

Judge Dredd
Rogue Trader
Muskets and Tomahawks
Starship Troopers
Land Ironclads
Wild West
Greek Myth

Notable exceptions are Star Wars, because most of my figures are pre-painted for this, and my 15mm Warhammer Fantasy project, because that is a big enough thing to have its own blog. 

Of course, my list might change as time goes by, I might add toand remove from what is 'in the hat' and I've got more than enough projects for one a month! But we shall see how it all pans out and hopefully it will make for some varied reading on my blog this year. Fingers crossed.