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Category Archives: Miniatures
Continuing with the Frostgrave theme, here’s some recent structures I put together for Frostgrave or other skirmish games. Here are three ruined village buildings originally sold as Normandy scenery sold as “Bold Action 28mm Ruined Hamlet” by Warlord Games. These are three identical house kits that can be put together in any kind of way you want to put them together– which is a strength. I find that you kind of have to start with the largest corner pieces to have a second story, so all of mine kind of look similar. No worries, it’s easy enough to make them look different.
I assembled the pieces, primed them grey, went over with a medium shade of gray to bring out the details, glued them to small craft wood bases. Then did a small wash with dark tone to bring out the details. After the glue dried I sprayed with a fixative and sprinkled some white flocking on it to give it that snow fall look.
Here’s Hovel 3 with an Ice troll and a construct for scale.
I wouldn’t want to use these for the internal part of a city but they will work great on the outskirts. The basic philosophy of Frostgrave terrain is to block line of sight to avoid long shots from across the table. These will help!
FROSTGRAVE CULTISTS Warband box
Plastic soldiers, 28mm scale, sold as sprues that are assembled into a variety of poses
Created for the game FROSTGRAVE (Osprey Publishing) but can be used for a variety of skirmish games in the 28mm scale. Not really a good addition to historical army, the fantasy theme is very pronounced.
I picked up a box of Frostgrave “Cultist” figures at the recent Cold Wars convention. This is a big box of assemble it yourself plastic figures– and I mean big, you can make 20 figures with this box. The intent of the plastic soldiers is to quickly give a Frostgrave player suitably Winter-themed troops to rapidly bulk up warbands. I’ll stress up front they aren’t required to play the game– you can play Frostgrave with anything that seems to fit the scale and setting. I got them because they looked pretty good (I love pointy headed cultist heads), they are in scale, and there’s a lot of them.
Details: There are 4 sprues with 5 body variations on them (I think). Essentially a mixture of cloth, leather armor, maybe some studded leather. There are many head variants in this box, most of them with pointy hats, helmets or hoods. Only two bare headed head variants per sprue, I used those sparingly. There is also a few weapon variants sculpted to represent skull heads and skeletal arms. Decent variations for possible weapons– a two handed knobbed club, a bow, a crossbow (two handed), several variations of hand weapons, mostly a Kopesh, a small sword, various daggers, a couple of target style shields, a spear etc. There are some hand-only variations and nice extra bits (like quivers, pouches, sheathed knives etc) to add to the figures to increase variation. Sculpting is excellent here– very detailed and weird looking cultists with a variety that really sells it. The best part of this set is just how well the two-handed weapon sculpts fit on every body type provided, every time, with minimal glue. The plastic type is hard gray styrene, you will need a Testor’s style glue to construct them. Every body provided comes with a matching styrene circular base.
I only have them primed up at the moment but they will take a coat of paint nicely. I’m very pleased with my first “war band” purchase from North Star. I would give this a 4 out of 5, for a few minor nits about weapons choices (I would have liked to have a longsword carried by a human arm, and larger shields so we could indicate Men at Arms types, but that really IS minor).
If you purchase these, and North Star’s other warbands, they should mix very well with the regular soldier types and the follow-on skeletons. Don’t throw away the sprues whatever you do. I had to fix some broken weapons pretty quickly– be sure to use a storage system with some padding as the swords can be a little fragile. Scale wise they mix perfectly with 28mm pewter from the same company, but would also work with Warhammer Fantasy (although they might be a tad chunky in comparison), Reaper miniatures, even older pre-painted monsters from the D&D Miniature and Pathfinder miniatures lines, although the latter may lack detail in comparison.
I’m glad I bought these cultists, they will be very handy going forward with Frostgrave games.
My friend Subir has been working hard on setting up a small but somewhat regular group to play miniature games somewhere near the loci of Fairfax City. We decided on Comics and Gaming in Fairfax City. This is a nice place, catering mostly to the M:TG crowd from appearances. They have a good selection of on the shelf gaming stuff supporting card gaming, board gaming, and mostly the big two or three of miniatures gaming. More importantly they have an annex room with a lot of standard 3 x 6″ tables.
After diving headlong into Frostgrave at the recent COLD WARS convention, I decided to bump up my Frostgrave holdings– I have (most of) the standard wizard types plus apprentices, in the process of being painted (along with a warband of generic soldiers). For Saturday I did a quick black primer of my Cultist figures and used my Necromancer figure, “Slade”, along with his apprentice, “Timmy”, then added a little flesh color here and there so they weren’t TOO embarrassing. Hey, I have my standards.
We are trying out campaign options for this game, which is new to me, since I’ve only run single skirmish games at conventions. This element of the game turned out to be a lot of fun. For starters we had to figure out where the Wizard hangs out (Page 137 of the Rulebook PDF). I chose a Crypt, since it seemed to work well with a Necromancer. Turns out I didn’t “get” what the benefits of a starting location were.. being from the Crypt, I can raise Zombies with a +2 effectiveness! However, since I can only have 1 at a time, what would the point of that be, it would only make a pretty simple spell just a little bit easier.
My main wizard, Slade, was under an overhanging building on the second floor, when someone got a bead on him and nailed him pretty good with an arrow from the second floor. Fortunately, not fatally.. but it did make him very cautious the rest of the game. Timmy made up for it by flinging the BONE DART spell right and left (it was my cheapest spell available). I nearly clobbered the Wizard on one of the opposing teams (dropped him down to 2 HPs), so he was as cautious as I was afterward– maybe more shy, since he exited off the board.
Well, the thing to do when everyone’s acting so danged cautious is act INcautious. SO I rushed the guy on the right and shot some arrows at his Apprentice Mage to threaten him.
The first game ended with us pretty much evenly splitting three pieces of treasure each by mutual consent. The tactical situation was at the point where there wasn’t much we could do to stop that outcome, so it seemed sensible to make good on what we had in hand. This was my first “campaign game” so my level 0 dude went up to 2 with all that treasure and experience rolling afterward.
The second game, it was kind of anti-climatic. The wizard I was up against threw down some wall spells which made excellent cover for me, but basically segmented the game into “this is my half, this is your half”.. so it was more of a treasure grab than a fight per se.
So, yeah, we were done about 9:00 with two games in. This experience confirms that I think Frostgrave is a hell of a lot of fun. We basically had a pick up game here with unpainted dudes, scratch built hodgepodge terrain, and I had a blast. Frostgrave makes for a very entertaining evening– it’s fast, easy to play and easy to teach. I was playing with a couple of guys who had some experience (one about as much as I have, one with a lot more). I don’t regret investing in this system and I look forward to expanding my holdings.
Things I noticed:
1) ash.pikselin.net, the Frostgrave warband maker, is SO DANGED HELPFUL. It keeps an editable warband roster on your ipad, saves it online to your account, and enforces the math of buying a warband. The only thing it doesn’t do (yet) is add the little plusses and minuses of campaigning.
2) I love my new fantasy urban terrain cloth for Frostgrave. It’s perfect (see the pictures).
3) I’m pretty pleased with my Necromancer, Slade, but his spells were bogus. I need to think it through a little better next time. I made some stupid choices.. my opponents loaded up with Push, Teleport, Heal and Leap, very useful for this kind of game, and everything I had was either too hard to pull off or not of much use for getting treasure.
4) I’m also really pleased with the NorthStar figures I bought, but they could easily work with other 28mm fantasy figures too.
So, yeah, that was a thing. I’m liking Frostgrave a lot these days. I’m definitely up for playing more of it with a regular crowd of players.
SLIDESHOW of Game Day pictures.. tons of them are Artemisium which I played in
On January 31, 2016, NOVAG threw it’s usual quarterly Game Day, Winter version. The location was the Centreville Library in the multi-purpose room. There were about ten tables in play. I think we had a pretty good turnout considering the recent weather.
Here are a few pictures!
GAME TITLE: WWII Air Battle
GAME MASTER: Dennis Wang
RULES: Air Force/Dauntless (Note: same system as mentioned in this blog post from 2014)
GAME DESCRIPTION: Air Force/Dauntless with computer assist. 3″ hexes and 1/200airplanes (Wings of Glory scale) with telescoping flight stands equipped with climb/dive,bank, altitude indicators. Bring your tablet/smartphone/laptop equipped with a WWWbrowser. Windows, Mac, Android, Chromebook all OK. Paper and pencil notrequired/used. Novices welcome. Rules PDF free on the Web or at the meeting.
GAME TITLE: Fontenoy
GAME MASTER: Tim Tilson
PERIOD: War of the Austrian Succession
SCALE: 15mmNUMBER OF PLAYERS: 5
RULES: Black Powder
GAME DESCRIPTION: In the spring of 1745, Marshal de Saxe prepared to invade theAustrian Lowlands, and take Tournai. Facing him was an Allied army under the 23 yearold Duke of Cumberland. DeSaxe wanted to defeat the Allied army before starting thesiege. Thus he planned to goad them into attacking him. First he dispatched a columntowards Mons. Cumberland accepted the bait and moved his army there, while deSaxeproceeded to Tournai. Realizing he had been hoodwinked, Cumberland then marchedtowards Tournai where deSaxe awaited him on terrain of his choosing. The French werein an extremely strong +L shaped position, with the village of Fontenoy forming thehinge. The flanks were protected by woods and the river Schedlt. Finally deSaxe hadmade the position stronger with the use of redoubts. At 2:00 a.m. the Allied army wasunder arms and ready to advance.
GAME TITLE: Assault on Hoth
GAME MASTER: Phil Pournelle
PERIOD: A Long Time Ago in a Galaxy Far, Far Away
SCALE: Galoob Micro Machines (1/188)
NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 2-6
RULES: West End Game’s Assault on Hoth
GAME DESCRIPTION: Imperial Forces have arrived to destroy the Rebel hideaway on the ice planet Hoth. The only hope for maintaining the rebellion is to use the Ion Cannons to enable transport ships to evade Imperial StarDestroyers. General Veers and his ATAT forces have been dispatched to destroy the Ion Cannon and the defenders of the base. Luke Skywalker leads Rogue squadron in a desperate attempt to delay the Imperial Forces long enough to for Princess Leia to complete the evacuation and escapein the Millennium Falcon. Will the Rebel Alliance survive? Or will the Imperial Forces prevail? Will Luke be captured and turned to the Dark Side? Take
command of either Imperial or Rebel forces and decide the fate of the galaxy
GAME TITLE: Ranger RECCE
GAME MASTER: Michael Byrne
NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 6
RULES: Force on Force
DESCRIPTION: With all SEAL teams on missions, elements of the elite Ranger RECCEunit and 3/75th Ranger Battalion were tasked to secure a high value target. Aerialinsertion had not worked in the past, so the Rangers would make their attack overlandfrom a staging point. The terrain was more difficult than expected and the attack startedat day break. Can the Rangers capture the high value target or will he escape again?
(I played Artemisum (bel0w) and took lots of pictures of the game in progress.. see them HERE)
GAME TITLE: The Battle of Artemisium – 480 BC
GAME MASTER: Brian DeWitt
NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 8
RULES: Greeks at Sea
TIME: 2 Hours
GAME DESCRIPTION: The Battle of Artemisium was a series of naval engagements over three days during the second Persian invasion of Greece. The battle took place simultaneously with the more famous land battle at Thermopylae, in August or September 480 BC, off the coast of Euboea and was fought between an alliance of Greek city-states, including Sparta, Athens, Corinth and others, and the Persian Empireof Xerxes I. The Greek fleet was protecting the flank of the army at Thermopylae, whilst attempting to not being cut off themselves. The Persians needed to force their way through either at of Thermopylae or Artemisium to outflank either position. The Persians were at a significant tactical advantage, outnumbering the Allies and having “better sailing” ships. The “better sailing” that Herodotus mentions was probably due to thesuperior seamanship of the crews; most of the Athenian ships (and therefore the majorityof the fleet) were newly built, and had inexperienced crews. This scenario represents part of the first day of the battle when the Persians saw the Allied fleet rowing towardsthem and decided to seize the opportunity to attack, even though it was late in the day,as they thought they would win an easy victory.
Notes on Artemesium. This was the same game I played at Fall-IN! 2015, run by the same GM (Brian DeWitt) using the same rules (Greeks at Sea). I chose Persia this time. We started out trying to have a plan, forming a line moving down the table, but that didnt’ last long as the Greeks burst into our formation. It was an embarrassing start for the Persians as my left wing took some casualties from boarding and capturing. I lost two ships to capture — the Greeks get elite marines, and my opponent always seemed to have a “Fierce Marines” chit and a 1 or 0 initiative chit to use handy. Shrug. It is what it is. Even with only 1 damaged ship left, I did do my duty to Ahura-Mazda and rammed one of the Greek hulls, sinking it. I then was trying to maneuver around to ram his other damaged hull, and the game was called. Result was a Pyrrhic victory for our side. We killed 1 more ship than they killed or captured from us, but they sank the flagship. I think the rules are great, but tend to favor the Greeks too much. You just don’t want those Greeks aboard your ship. Gar played as a Persian as well, and was up against a kid who was hand picking his initiative chits (perhaps he was confused about blind drawing?) so he always had the jump on Gar with an initiative of 0 many turns in a row. Still, Gar did some damage on his ships as well, he was no cake walk. He really enjoyed the game. More importantly his buds were texting him during the game and he was sending them pictures. Now THEY want to come to the next game day. Our job here is done!
Oh, I did make a little movie of Artemesium.. have fun.
I rarely reblog another guys article, since there’s always something to write about. However, I was working on a piece on my mystification and bafflement about the disappearance of Alien Dungeon. Blaine Pardoe does a better job than I could, and his observations are spot on.
Background: Alien Dungeon is a small company from MD that specializes in miniature games of a fantasy and/or science fictional subject matter. They have had a few releases so far, mostly funded by Kickstarters. The first big release, Fantacide, was released with a lot of fanfare and some amazing miniatures, but I think it would be honest to say it didn’t catch on.
Their second big hit was ALL QUIET ON THE MARTIAN FRONT, which WAS a big hit. Their first Kickstarter release, which was delayed many weeks, was a major sell out. New units have been released since (also funded by Kickstarters). The last Kickstarter abruptly closed without comment, the website went down, and the company has been out of communication for almost two months now. What happened? Read on.
Three Legged Stompy Fun
Back in May of 2013 Alien Dungeon launched a Kickstarter to fund a new miniatures game, All Quiet on the Martian Front – aka AQotMF. This was a miniatures game of the Martian invasion of the world, ala H. G. Wells, with a hint of steampunk. Taking place prior to WWI in the mundane world, the Kickstarter was a big success, receiving over $300,000.00 of the $50k target goal. The rules for the game were written by Rick Priestley, a seasoned game writer. There was a lot of promise here. Prototypes of the miniatures appeared in the Kickstarter leading us to all believe that the company had laid out all of the groundwork to be successful.
They delivered product too, albeit many months late. Some of the products, like some the big land battleships were not delivered, and other product was cancelled outright – with offers…
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Today’s SMALL WARS post is about FROSTGRAVE, the new-ish fantasy skirmish game set in the frost shrouded city that gives the game its name. Frostgrave is a game of magic, combat, looting and exploration that combines a little old and a little new with a strong fantasy narrative element that fosters both a connected campaign game and good storytelling.
Amidst the frozen ruins of an ancient city, wizards battle in the hopes of discovering the treasures of a fallen empire. In this fantasy skirmish wargame, each player takes on the role of a wizard from one of ten schools of magic, and builds his band of followers. The wizard’s apprentice will usually accompany his master, and more than a dozen other henchman types are available for hire, from lowly thugs to heavily armoured knights and stealthy thieves. Wizards can expand their magical knowledge by unlocking ancient secrets and may learn up to 80 different spells. While individual games of Frostgrave are quick and can easily be played in an hour or two, it is by connecting them into an ongoing campaign that players will find the most enjoyment. The scenarios given in the book are merely the beginning of the limitless adventures that can be found amidst the ruins of the Frozen City. [Osprey Publishing]
[editorial note— I use the phrase “blue line” here to represent most of Osprey Publishing’s recent output of low-cost, introductory miniature game rules on a myriad of subjects, both historical and fantastical, because of their distinctive use of the color blue on the cover. Osprey does not use this term as far as I know]
Frostgrave came out from Osprey Publishing earlier this year (2015), with the usual minimal fanfare I associate with an Osprey wargame release– I knew nothing about this game, then suddenly it was on the Osprey publisher table at wargame conventions, on Amazon, and there was some online buzz associated with it, about as much as any other “blue series” Osprey wargame– one more among the horde of releases, in my opinion. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the blue line series of rules, and I’m happy that Osprey is stepping up to the plate and supporting the natural marriage of great historical art and somewhat okay wargame rules at a very affordable price. I especially like the Kindle releases of said rules, for various reasons. I do think the flood of releases tends to create a “cult of the new” effect, when Osprey Publishing might be better employed releasing fewer rulebooks a year and doing the legwork associated with new entertainment products– building some social media buzz, energizing a fan base, recruiting some GMs to run high-profile demo games, etc. For all I know, this is being done, somewhere, I just haven’t seen much of it in the historical miniatures community. A quick look at the Preliminary Events List (PEL) at a recent Historical theme miniatures convention (Fall-IN! 2015) showed few, if any, games being run from Osprey publishing previous line of blue line rules. That’s including In Her Majesty’s Name, a blue line game release that came out with lots of fanfare, two expansion books and a series of excellent 28mm figures from Northstar Miniatures. In Her Majesty’s Name has only been out since the middle of 2014, and already, well, nada… and it’s a great little game, too!
One game I did start to notice being run at conventions (including Fall-IN!) was Frostgrave, released in the first half of 2015, was not following the “blue line pattern”. First of all, it’s not a thin paperback, not that there is anything wrong with that. The print edition is a large format hardcover, with extensive and vibrant illustration throughout. It’s also 96 pages, which is quite a bit more extensive then the smaller paperbacks. That’s not all fluff and superfluous stuff, either, but lots and lots of supporting material for the game, including campaign options, but we’ll get to that shortly.
To characterize Frostgrave by a certain type, it’s a points-based, fantasy themed skirmish game set in a consistent universe, namely of various parties investigating the ruins of an ancient city of Frostgrave. If that sounds familiar to gamers with longer memories, yes, this has been done before as a game– namely Mordheim, by Games Workshop. Mordheim used a very similar framework for a fantasy skirmish game back in 1999, where small bands of adventurers explored another ancient city for the same motivations– treasure and glory. Mordheim was a big hit back in its day and (in my recollection) a pretty good small skirmish set– I have seen it adapted to many other settings besides fantasy, including a WW2 game I played in. One of the selling points of Mordheim was the continuous campaign concept, which is also a feature of Frostgrave, and I suspect will contribute to Frostgrave having a longer shelf life.
Wizards, Schools, Spells and Warbands
The primary focus of Frostgrave is the individual Wizard character. These are not the wimpy magic users of old D&D. These are tough, hard-bitten specialists that live lives of adventure, plundering ruins, stealing loot, and they are not shy about reaching for some iron when the magic runs low. Wizards study at ten schools of magic. Schools of magic form complex relationships with each other– some being aligned, some being opposed, and some neutral. This effects spells selection,and in a greater sense, how the game will play out tactically.
Table 1: Schools of Wizardy
Each school has a list of spells associated with it (See table 2) and he or she must choose EIGHT of them to start. Three must come from the Wizard’s OWN school of magic, one must come from each of the three ALIGNED schools of magic, and the last two must be from any of the five NEUTRAL schools of magic. Each description of a school has a small table outlining alliances, neutral schools and opposing schools to make it clear.
Table 2: Spell list per School
All of these spells have their strengths and weaknesses. I think this is one of the detail areas that really lends a certain color to Frostgrave games. Most of these spells are firmly within the “flavor” of their School and caster-type. Illusionists rely on perception spells, such as Monstrous Form and Beauty. Elementalists are kind of like magic style Green Lanterns, summoning big Elemental hammers and bolts and shields. Chronomancy spells localize “something” and allow it to pass through time– causing decay, crumbling, and petrification, but also speeding someone up really well. If you are at all versed in fantasy style roleplaying games, you know about all you need to know about the background to Frostgrave’s magic and wizardry. There’s nothing particularly new about it to any avid fantasy geek.
The Wizard’s existence is summed up as a collection of statistics (called a stat line) describing how he performs.. none of that is particularly new to a roleplaying fan– Move, Fight, Shoot, Armour, Will and Health. The higher the number, the better. I’m from the “people move a certain way, swing a sword a certain way, fire shooty things in a certain way, defend in a certain way and run away when they don’t want to hang out any more” school of design. In other words, all the actions defined by the “stat line” are, and should be, generic. There just isn’t a need for that much detail there. Frostgrave gets high marks from me for making all this stuff as simple as possible.
Warbands are another critical element to this game. Wizards may have spells at the ready but it’s suicide to enter the ruins of Frostgrave alone. A smart wizard recruits some cannon fodder erm, hirelings to accompany them into the ruins. The wizard gets 500 gold crowns (GC) to hire muscle on a points/cost basis. A must-have is an Apprentice Wizard for 200 GC. He (or she) is a little insurance for long campaign games where the boss wizard might perish from wounds. The Apprentice can rise up and take the boss’s place, and hire another apprentice! There is a wide range of potential hirelings from the rulebook that can bulk up the wizard’s followers into a proper warband (see table 3). In addition, the FRPG savvy Frostgrave player can probably add anything that seems to fit into this table, as long as it has a workable stat line associated with it.
Table 3: Warband Hirelings (from the Frostgrave rulebook)
This is another area that adds color and customization to the game. I could easily see slinking into Frostgrave, my Wizard being followed by his hireling thief, assassin, and infantrymen.
What do we do with all this stuff?
So you have some miniatures painted, and warbands assembled and some decent terrain put together? What next? You actually get into the mechanics of playing the game. Don’t worry, they’re very easy to pick up.
- Action Phases in this order:
That’s pretty much the bulk of the game sequence. Action Phases allow each active agent to perform two actions– moving, shooting, casting a spell, etc. Combat is pretty simple skirmish stuff. If you have played a skirmish miniatures wargame of ANY kind, including historical, all of this is fairly familiar to you. Movement hampered or boosted by terrain, objects as cover, melee when bases come into contact, etc etc. As I’ve alluded to above, I favor a KISS principle for running miniature skirmish games and Frostgrave is all about simplicity. I’m not criticizing, here. I think the familiarity that many experienced players will bring to this game is a big strength. Frostgrave is like comfort food.. meatloaf rather than Pâté, to be sure, but it’s still a tasty meal. There are some chrome elements of the game– critical hits and the like, and casting spells is a process that can be heavily modified by the tactical situation, but all of this is rather well defined and easy to understand.
Victory (kind of), or the long game
“Winning” is an open ended concept with Frostgrave. You can score points by gathering treasure, but the real winner is the guy with troops (and most importantly, a living Wizard) who live to loot another day. Frostgrave plays very well as a one-off 2-3 hour long skirmish game in a fantasy setting, but I think the game really shows its true colors when you start playing campaigns, which the rulebook concerns itself with from chapter 3 onward. There’s a certain satisfaction watching your characters grow with experience. I haven’t seen that since.. since.. Mordheim, actually! I have yet to play anything but a couple of quick skirmish games, myself, but the game left me wanting to continue my character from game to game. If you want a good workable campaign system for fantasy combat, this is the game for you.
I think Osprey Publishing has developed a great little game in Frostgrave. There’s nothing extremely innovative about the game itself– if I could sum it up in a sentence, I’d say that Osprey has taken the fast melee sequence out of a D&D dungeon crawl and called it a skirmish game. Before I get grief for that statement, understand that I think that’s a great thing. Many people don’t have the time for long drawn out roleplaying sessions where they build the game narrative through repetitive trips to town to buy things, research things, interact with the local tavern and government. Frostgrave assumes this is taking place off screen and focuses on the bare-knuckle brawl once the action starts. I like this approach a lot– it’s about as RPG as I can get at my age and level of commitment. The game is very well supported by Osprey and supporting material is already being published. I just picked up Thaw of the Lich Lord and I believe other publications are about to drop or are scheduled for early 2016. Northstar Figures, whom Osprey partnered with for the In Her Majesty’s Name game (and expansions), is producing quality 28mm figures to represent the primary wizard types, with apprentices, war band soldiers and some summoned creatures. These are in the popular 28mm scale and can be easily supplemented with standard FRPG miniatures or GW Fantasy figures.
Northstar Figures Frostgrave miniatures
I have a few of Northstar Figures wizard packs and will be painting them up shortly and blogging about the project, like one does.
In FROSTGRAVE, Osprey Publishing has found a system with legs that plays fast, can be taught quickly to novices, and is big and colorful with a wide-open fantasy milieu. It’s already being played at conventions and I suspect it will grow in popularity as long as Osprey keeps supporting it. Osprey should probably develop an outrider-style program for GMs who want to run Frostgrave at cons, as I could easily see this game gaining some traction in the upcoming year. Well done, Osprey.
In today’s Small Wars we’re looking at the latest from Ramshackle Games, a great UK company that seems to specialize in items post-apocalyptic, but don’t pigeonhole them with that category as they have a wide variety of other items, mostly Fantasy, SF, Steampunk and (of course) Post Apocalyptic. Mostly 28mm but they have their own 20mm line for adapting to car combat games that utilize matchbox and hot wheels cars, and that’s what I’m looking at today. The “20mm Car Converstion Kit” came in the post yesterday and I have to say, you get a lot of value for your £20.00
Included in the pack are: 8 drivers, in post-apocalyptic rig, driving. 2 turrets for larger weapons (you have a range to choose from), 2 manned gun shields with your choice of huge bulky weapon to insert. 2 bolt on rocket pods. A wide variety of huge heavy weapons, somewhat oversized. Kind of a strap on bolter effect. most of these are sculpted with a flat end for sticking into a turret or manned gun shield, but those that don’t are sculpted with a flat bottom for easy mounting on diecast cars. There are also 8 gunners in various poses, some sculpted firing a support weapon, some sculpted holding an assault weapon at high port.
The crew are interesting and very post-apoc in theme, but also very tiny compared to other 20mm lines. The 20mm post-apoc cultists and gangers put out by Stan Johanssen are larger and somewhat bulkier than these drivers. Here’s the thing though: Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars come in a variety of scales– and there are many cars that just don’t fit a regular 20mm figure well. I think Ramshackle takes this into account– they aren’t huge but they do get very narrow in the hips which will help you fit them into tiny car cockpits. So points for that!
Armor bits for various locations on a vehicle scaled roughly 1:72 or 20mm.
Hands down, this is my favorite part of this package. The conversion parts come with 8 bolt on armor bits, sculpted to be metal slabs with rivets or corrugated metal of some sort. There are also two big Rams roughly shaped like a bulldozer blade, and some “thing” that might be a rocket or a bolt on jet engine. These parts are big, rough, rude and very very Post Apoc in theme! I wish Ramshackle would just double up on these and maybe cut back on something else like the gunner figures. I’m already figuring out what vehicles to use these with.
General comments: The guns are scaled way large for the figures, but that is the Ramshackle style.. absurdly large guns that look kind of like old WH40K bolters. I have no issue with this as it adds a kind of comical element to the finished product, and what the heck, why not? They are larger than Stan Johansen guns, about on par with Brigade Games’ Car conversion pack. The drivers and gunners going to look tiny versus Stan Johansen driver and gunner figures, hands down. However, Stan Jo’s drivers don’t fit every Matchbox and Hot Wheels either, so these might be more useful than you think. The armor is worth the money in itself and I liked the rocket pods. I wish we could get more armor, less gunners, but in any event, I liked what I got. You’ll be fudging it a little bit to get it to work on every car conversion but thats pretty much the case with everything. Kind of a mixed bag, but still very useful. Recommended and a big thumbs up to Ramshackle Games for releasing some very useful bits indeed.
If you’ve been reading this blog for a few years now, you’ll have already noticed.. “Misternizz isn’t the biggest Games Workshop fan”.. and you’d be right. I think they are a gang of bullies, price-fixers and legal thugs. One of the most popular blog posts I’ve ever written was a statement of my disgust with GW back in 2011, after their latest price hikes and attempts to control distrubution (It still gets a ton of hits). It’s not a popular viewpoint to have, but that’s life, go have fun with overpriced resin figures if you don’t agree with me. Frankly, it’s easy to take this stand, so it’s kind of hypocritical.. it’s not like GW really produces a current product that remotely interests me. I think WH40K and WF are simplistic to the core, kind of stupid and they continue to look “creaky” in the face of modern game design. (I’m not going to talk about cost here, I’ve covered that elsewhere). I meant it when I said I said there’s nothing that would tempt me to buy another GW product ever again.
However, even Nixon can go to China.
An intriguing note has been circulating on bulletin boards and websites, allegedly from Games Workshop itself. See below.
What does this mean? That the games that actually DO show some design innovation and originality MIGHT ACTUALLY SEE PRINT AGAIN? Well, sod this.. this is tempting. I’d love to get Epic and Battlefleet Gothic. It’s not that I think they are better designed than a lot of products on the market now, or that they would do spectacularly well in the face of competition in their niche from modern products. There’s a lot more competition now and frankly, from better designed games competing in the same shelf space.
There’s just something so damned cool about those baroque style spaceships in Battlefleet Gothic.. and the giant field crowded with little tiny W40K figures in Epic.
Dang, pretty tempting. And I know they won’t be reprinted after this while I’m still breathing. Hmm… rubbing chin. How easy it is for the Devil to tempt me from the path of righteousness.
MORE INFORMATION HERE: Link
Have you ever come across a line of figures that, really, you’d love to game with because they’re just fantastic, but there’s no real *game* associated with them? This happens to me frequently. There they sit, on the shelf, trying to send you a message and getting under your skin. Like wearing too-tight underwear, it gets annoying, but not in that bad way.
Some TEN years ago I found the perfect Flashman figures. (if the Flashman reference is vague to you, read here, then go and read the books and thank me). They were made by Chiltern miniatures, which appears to have ceased being an independent concern back in 2012. They were beautiful and huge. Not really 28mm, more like 33mm, and not matching anything I currently had in my collection, which was on the upper side of 25mm and lower side of 28mm. They were posed exactly like the old illustrations of the novels. Go to Amazon.com to see the comparison, and check against published pictures here, here and here. It’s impressive sculpting. I loved them and if you read the 2005 blog post, I bought every one of them, admired them, then put them in a drawer.
Why? It’s a favorite character of mine, isn’t it? Sure it is. The problem is how they are cast. I could overcome the “they are huge” factor by fudging here and there, that’s not the real issue. It’s just.. what KIND of game would they ever be used in? A small skirmish? Really? Sure, Flashman is bellicose, but he’s really sculpted for a tableau here– I doubt there are many shoot-em-up war games that require a figure dressed in cricket togs or as the Crown Prince of Denmark. I’m sure I could jam a figure into a full up skirmish game but he’s really sculpted to accompany figures from a pre-defined narrative.. the books. So we’re back to where we started.. what kind of game could I make from these? A roleplaying game set in the 19th Century British Empire? Now that’s possible. Sadly that might require a much bigger supporting cast of figures, and since most of the Chiltern figures didn’t match anything else of mine, into a drawer they went. Maybe I’ll flea market them some day. The problem was I just couldn’t make a game out them.. and not being a rare figure collector, what’s the point?
The pre-written narrative is the challenge. If it’s too restrictive, you can only do so much with it. Another example.. I found a bunch of figures that were designed for Army of Darkness. These were from Leading Edge, a company that specialized in reproducing miniatures directly from science fiction and horror films. I think they are out of business, as well.
Well, there’s the rub.. I could definitely make a game out of it. And that game would have to be something pretty close to “A bunch of undead critters storm a medieval castle in search of an unholy book to steal”. Mind you, I wouldn’t mind that premise, I LOVE Army of Darkness’ final battle sequence. I just can’t see making any OTHER game than the scenario these figures were cast specifically for. I can easily find dozens of skellies, zombies and such in roughly the right scale, and paint them up. I even have a Warhammer Mighty Fortress that might do the trick for the castle. But, but.. is there any OTHER kind of game I could make here? Probably a few smaller scale ideas like skirmish games and such. Ash at the Windmill.. Ash in the desert.. etc. But it would always be what it is, a game about the movie Army of Darkness.. not a bad objective, but it isn’t flexible.
When I was at Fall-IN! 2015, I finally bought a few packs of figures I’ve been passing by for a couple years now. These are in the pulp range in 28mm:
In case you haven’t figure it out, these are figures of: Orthodox priests, Monty Python’s “Nobody Expects the Spanish Inquisition” figures, More modern priests and altar boy figures, Middle Eastern Women with Burkhas, and Orthodox Jews. All with guns.
I’ve loved this line for a long time, and I knew someday I’d buy them (and others like them), it’s just the age old problem.. “Sure these are great figures, but what kind of game can you make with them?” And after having a palaver with Otto Schmidt last weekend, we hit upon a great idea for a game that could every one of these figures and more like them:
What if the Apocalypse had happened? Just not the one you were expecting? What if.. everyone in this figure line was a character in Heaven? Yes, that heaven. Fluffy clouds, Doric Columns, Harp playing (if you want). I love this idea.. the figures are sculpted as if ready for a big gunfight. They all are playing into perceptions of Intolerance.. as if the player is getting a message that ‘to WIN, I must start shooting the nearest THEM group”. What if that wasn’t “winning” at all? What would they do? After all, they are in heaven. God wouldn’t want them to kill each other. It’s heaven! They made the grade! They are here, they made it!
“But, but but… what about that group of people over there? Aren’t I supposed to, you know, hate them?” The ensuing game could be a lot of fun, but I could see where people might resent it. Still, I like the idea and I’m going forward with it. I just need to buy some suicide bombers and virgins now.
LEONARDO and “Leonardo Style” TANK, 15mm.co.uk
These arrived last night, about a week after ordering them overseas from http://www.15mm.co.uk/ 15mm.co.uk is a figure distributor that focuses primarily on Science Fiction and Fantasy miniatures in the 15mm scale, which I am gaming in more and more these days. I like a full battlefield. Gavin Syme appears to be the alpha dog of that operation.
15mm.co.uk recently announced the release of some interesting figures. A single man figure of the great inventor, Leonardo Da Vinci, both standing and riding on a pony (I’m guessing). Concurrent with the Leonardo figure they released a 15mm scale tank based on one of the Great Builder’s most fascinating marginalia sketches:
Leonardo was and is famous for leaving enigmatic drawings like this all over the margins of his notebooks, which provides game designers and fiction writers with all kinds of ideas about armored warfare in a Renaissance age. Sadly, there is no definitive proof that any of these more modern ideas were ever built. That hasn’t stopped people envisioning it, however. I have a 15mm Leonardo army that is pretty much all based for HOTT and painted up.. and suffers from a lack of opponents. I have organ guns and hand gunners and even a glider. The tanks were problematic. I actually made one by using a Motts applesauce container (with a wood grain pattern), turned up side down and with craft wheels added on the bottom and a large bombard made from a craft wood bit. The result looks pretty great, actually.. but NOTHING like the original drawing above. I also tried buying a plastic kit, which looked pretty spiff but it is overwhelmingly large when used with 15mm forces. Needless to say I was quite happy to see this advert from Gavin and company, and ordered a sample forthwith.
Some pictures. The tank comes in two pieces of cast resin, top half and bottom. The cast was mostly clean with minimal flashing which came off with an exacto knife. I didn’t have time to do much with it last night, except glue the top to the bottom with crazy glue. The two sides bonded together reasonably well, but in retrospect it wouldn’t hurt to sand both sides that glue together with fine sandpaper to facilitate the weld a little better. The bottom and top halves are totally flat out of the box and might slide on you. Sizewise, the tank seems smallish next to a 15mm figure but it is probably more accurate than many models I have tried in this scale.
The Leonardo figure combination is of the Great Inventor standing and gesticulating with a drawing (tank blueprint?) in his left hand, as if he is displaying a handbill or trying to make an important point to either a fellow engineer or mercenary captain. I like this sculpt, it has personality. The accompanying riding figure is pretty much Leo riding on a very small horse or pony, giving off a somewhat placid feel.
Sizewise the Leo figure scales well with my Renaissance army, which is a combination of Minifigs, Essex and Rank and File. I think the Vexillia infantry might be a little too substantial but if you gave Leo a thick base he might look the right height.
This is a great addition to my 15mm Renaissance HOTT army. Leo will make a fine leader figure in either riding or standing incarnations. I’m going to keep my applesauce tank because of the heavy bombard. I’ve seen some representations of the classic Leonardo design with a larger caliber gun barrel (mostly in video games) but the tank by 15mm.co.uk is quite rightfully more “historically” accurate. So my applesauce tank will be the heavy siege gun that stays in the back field, lobbing shells, as my armor sweeps forward supporting the infantry. I plan to buy 3 more at least of the tank model, and I sincerely hope 15mm.co.uk plans on expanding the Leonardo Da Vinci line from this great beginning.
Surprisingly, I’m making a fair amount of progress quickly.
23 Pico Armor Fairey Swordfish models are assembled, painted (rudimentary style) and 21 are even mounted on bases precariously on wires. I will bump the final count up to 24 so I can have 8 teams of 3 in the final game. 21 flew the historical mission in two waves. I will have the real pilots names on all the bases (and 3 fictional pilots). I have 8 Fulmar aircraft, only 1 of which is shown above. Records indicated Fulmars flew as combat escorts, I’m not sure how I will include them. It might be fun to have a range of hypotheticals included on the Italian side, including possible support from the Regio Aeronautica. I’ve ordered some period Italian planes to cause havoc in the future. i need to touch up the paint jobs, add some detailing and decals, and they are finished.
I’ve got barrage balloons in various stages of completion, these proved to be easy, but I’ll need another order of them. I have 10 AA tokens painted up, and I just got ten more on EBay. I’m going with an zone style approach to anti-aircraft fire. The Italian response was vigorous but inaccurate historically. The ships all had various AA factors and it seems to be clear that they participated in defensive fire as well as gun emplacements. I might nominate an AA gun range and give each ship a choice of which plane to target per turn, and that plane gets another AA roll against it.
The fleet is done– painted, based and labeled with names.
Next step is to figure out terrain.
Checking in with the Taranto 1940 project, I’ve finished assembling the Fairey Swordfish aircraft from Pico Armor, which were an ungodly pain in the butt to do. The top wing doesn’t fit snugly with the rest of the aircraft, see, so you have to glue it, then hold it until it dries. It’s no a quick process and results in gap filler glue all over your fingers after a while.
Of course, the mounting on flight stand drill isn’t very straightforward, either. I had to drill the holes out a little using a tiny drillbit. Then I’m mounting them on art wire mounted on a series of MDC squares about 30mm wide. I know, they aren’t painted in this picture. I wanted to test the setup. I’m going to paint the rest of them BEFORE mounting them, but I wanted to see if it works or not before going to a lot of trouble.
I like the Pico Armor planes but the Fairey Swordfish is not my favorite– it’s not made very well, the drilling, mounting, drying and fiddling about element is very high.. so this process is going to take a while, lots of hands on piece work involved and I have about 30 planes to mount. The Fullmars by contrast, come together very quickly and seem to balance on the end of the wire better than the Swordfish do. There has to be a better way…
One pleasant surprise were the barrage balloons I picked up from Shapeways, the 3D printer miniatures company. These are in scale with the Italian fleet (and there were about 20 in the air, so this works in terms of scaling). My idea is to mount two per small 20mm MDC round base, and place there here and there around the fleet, adding to the difficulty of making the torpedo runs. The models themselves come mounted 20 per small sprue and pop right off. You knock the stem off and drill right into the base of where the stem was straight up, and it mounts snugly and easily onto the art wire. Finally, something easy!
I still want to find an easier way to mound the Swordfish, this part of the job is pretty tedious. However, I am making lots of progress towards getting this game done. It won’t be ready for Fall IN! but it will be for Cold Wars.
On other fronts, I picked up tokens for Anti aircraft batteries (Axis and Allies AA Guns painted up) and torpedo markers from Litko. I’m slightly disappointed with the torpedo markers.. the ink is very faded and the torpedo is kind of hard to discern, I’ll have to end up touching them up with paint.
I resolved to not make any more WLF vehicles. After all, I have more than 60 of them. No need for any more than that. Then a couple of things happened. Lon Weiss from Brigade models started marketing a series of add-on accessories for Matchbox and Hot Wheels post-apocalyptic vehicles, I discovered the tank commander figure in 20mm which I bought a few of from various sources, and finally I discovered the Tank Commander and Stowage Sprues from Toy Soldier Company, all of it in 20mm. This last bit is a cornucopia of useful in scale bits to add detailing to you post-apocalyptic masterpieces. Tarps, cables, gas cans, pieces of track (why not?), and infantry weapons slung here and there. I like the concept of adding more detail, so I decided, eh, what the heck. A few more won’t hurt, and what I really want to do is retrofit a few of the existing vehicles, particularly with open cockpits, with either tank commander torsos or new weapons. Or both. Both Matchbox and Hot Wheels don’t design their vehicles to accommodate an in scale 20mm driver– they cheat and make the floorboard very narrow on most models. so most actually sitting down figures won’t do the job. Tank commander figures are a pretty good compromise.. nobody is going to notice they are legless.
Herewith are the new and retrofitted vehicles so far:
Well, there you go. I am liking the new accessories in the Brigade Games line, even if they are pretty big!