Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Plain of Crows Part 5 - After Action Review

Lord Thorrir leant upon his Thunder Hammer and gazed about the field.  There were wounds to bind, he thought, and dead to be wrapped up and carried home.  But the madmen had been driven off, and they could return now, those of who his warriors who had lived, to the Thunder Mount in triumph.  A little lightning flickered and thunder muttered far off on the horizon and a drizzling rain began to darken the dust. 

Soon they would be marching home...

...Already some were beginning to sing the old chant of victory, a song in honour of the Ravens and Crows who were already skipping amoung the bodies of the Imperialist dead and dying...It was an old song, and the Dwarves of Thunder Mount sang it well.

It sounded something...

Like this...

Several Points:

1.  Private Weird's idea to try an online Warhammer game was great, and worked out way better than I'd imagined.  I'd love to do it again.

2.  My War Room wasn't really set up well for this kind of thing - photographing my table at night meant schlepping lights and gear up and down stairs which inevitably caused delays and made for a much SLOWER game than I'd have liked-I'm sure it must have gotten on P.W.'s nerves that he had to wait so long between turns...I plan on redoing the war room completely soon, with a few nice lamps with bendy necks for photographing battles in progress in the near future, and that should really clear the road for a lot of fun new on line games, so there's that.

3.  I think this sort of online play is best suited to smaller games because of the big fog-of-war factor.  P.W. and I were playing with 1400 point armies, which actually seemed pretty big once we started playing, just because there's so much stuff to manage.  You can't say "Hey, can you hand me that thing" when the other guy is a thousand miles away, and it's hard to see what he's doing with his guys by squinting at photos on the computer monitor, even when he's done a great job of setting up his table and taking the pictures, as Private Weird did.   Even when you work hard to mirror the other guy's set-up, there are inevitable distortions of distance in the photographs, so it can be hard to accurately gauge the positions of the opposing regiments.  I really think this can be overcome, if you have the patience, by measuring the distance of one or two corners of each unit from your own table edge and one other table edge at the end of each turn, but it is a lot of work.
As well as using smaller armies, I'd also suggest simple terrain.  The terrain we laid out for our battlefield was about as simple as it could possibly be, and there were still discrepancies between our boards.  Sometimes the other guy can get line of site on you on HIS board, but not on YOUR board.  Not much you can do but just embrace the honor system and give him the shot, which is just fine really.  It's just something to keep in mind when you play.

 Captain Borrin Basherson - feeling very cheated out of his prey by the game turn limit

3.  Make sure that yourself and the other guy take the time to get on the same page about key things like deployment limits and game length.  This kind of stuff is pretty obvious when you're playing a game face-to -face but with our game a lot of things somehow slipped through the cracks.  For example - P.W. started with his troops deployed 12" from his table edge, while I deployed 6" forward of my own.  If I had also deployed a full foot into the table, the armies would have come to grips much sooner, and the battle might have looked very different.  Similarly, we jumped eagerly into the game without agreeing as to how long the dang thing would last.  Usually when I play a straight-up fight scenario like Plain of Crows, the 2 sides grapple until one army is wiped out or until one player has had too much beer and whiskey to be able to continue without damaging himself, his models, and the room and house in general. P.W. seems to like to play a game that ends within a pre-designated time limit, which can greatly effect playing style.                                                                                                 

  Ol' Hamm Hanson succeeded in  denying the army's right flank to the Imperialists, allowing Lord Thorrir to pilea disproportionate amount of force onto Lord Asgard's regiment...
4.  For Chrissakes, know the rules of the game you're playing.  It's actually been a while since I'd played Warhammer 3rd edition (Nobody ever wants to actually play it with me), so there were some things I'd forgotten about which surprised me, like how hard it is to hit WS 4, even when you are also WS 4!  I was also entitled to some bonuses to hit for having followed up a push back, and was not aware of them.  If I had actually bothered to research them, Lord Thorrir might have dropped Lord Asgard before the end of the game.

Jenni Troll Spitter did Yeoman work in the Battle, skewering 5 Dwarf Warriors and trimming a wound off Grendir Bagotrix, allowing Ol' Hamm to step up and finish off the Imperialist Wizard.  Hat's off to Jenni and her brave crew!

Anyway, a fun game, well played by P.W. and a great time had by all.  Lookin' forward to the next one!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Knights of the Mittel Mark Pt. 1

"Steel yourselves, boys!  And look not behind ye...There's no reason to look back...I can tell you what is there...your women and children are there...your homes, your sons and daughters are there, and they are all looking back at you...and saying with their frightened eyes,'re all that stands 'tween me and that scum out there..
 Ragghh Ha Ha!  No, Don't look back boys!  Look Forward!  See that?  That's a grand hunt in front of you!  Let's go get them, and when you've filled them full of quarrels, then you'll go home, with their heads swinging at your belts...and when your women and pups see you coming, how their eyes will shine, to see their menfolk coming home, bathed in the blood of the foe...It's a grand hunt, boys...Let's Go!!
                                                                                 - Hans von Hirschfeld at the Battle of Scorpion Point


Shown here are two famous knights of the Mittelmark, or the Middle March, the central portion of the Baron von Refn's realm.  Above is Sir Erich von Nashorn.  Below we see Sir Hans von Hirschfeld....Each is shown with his troop of retainers at the Baron's fortified City-Stronghold, The Refnsberg...doubtless in preparation for a march against the enemies of the realm. 

The Knights of the Baron von Refn's realm, a frontier region on the far eastern fringe of the Border Princes, hail from every corner of the Old World.  Most are Petty Nobles who followed their Lord, the Baron, into exile, but many are adventurers and former mercenaries who came to the Raven Standard in the years after the Baron's conquest of the Black River Country.  Amoung them are many Bretonnians as well as Tileans, Kislevites, even Estalians. Loyalty to the Baron von Refn and his campaign to lay claim to this wild and monster- infested slice of the frontier unite them as a mighty warrior brotherhood, despite their cultural differences.

Sir Hans von Hirschfeld was one of a number of knights who followed the Baron von Refn out of his exile from The Empire.  The von Hirshfeld family for many generations ruled a small fiefdom which encompassed an upland plateau rich with game and known as The Plain of Stags.  The men of the family were and are still known as great hunters, and the red stag's head on white shown on their coat-of-arms commemorates their claim of ownership on the rich hunting grounds of the snowy uplands of the Plain of Stags.  For years after the flight to the Border Princes, Sir Hans cherished the Dream of someday returning to the sacred hunting grounds of his forefathers.  The fact of the matter is, however, that the deer and boar hunting in the wild and untamed regions of the Border Princes is actually better than it was in Sir Hans' much so, that, over the years, Sir Hans has forgotten about reclaiming his ancient birthright. Besides, even when the smokehouses are choked and the larders are full, there are so many Orcs and other things tochase about and spear that, as much as they might resent having been chased from their ancestral home, the von Hirschfelds must admit that they have few complaints in their new lands.
The Baron's knights are men of some wealth and property as well as worldly experience.  Indeed they must be, for they must be able to afford to control and defend their scattered holdings against Orcs, Chaos Warbands, and the occasional Undead incursion quite on their own, or with the help of their neighbors, until  the Baron can arrive with his troops. Unfortunately can often take some time.  Of course they must also be prepared to bring contingents to battle on behalf of their Lord and their friends...

Each knight must thus maintain at all times a contingent of at least ten retainers, which he can bring to the Raven Standard in time of trouble.  This is in addition to any other troops he may need to watch over his holdings while he is away.   The crossbow is a popular weapon in the Baron's realm.  It is powerful, cheap to manufacture and easy for the average man to learn to use. As such, these troops of retainers are quite typical of those brought to The Raven Banner by the Knights of the realm.

The von Nashorn family were an important clan in their region of the Empire, one which bordered on Bretonnia, and the von Nashorns still have ties to that distant country.  The von Nashorn's heraldry, a black unicorn on a yellow field, commemorates a family legend, one involving the mighty Zigurd von Nashorn, who in distant days accompanied the Imperial Crusaders into the lands of Araby.  Having won great renown in the crusades, Zigurd came home bearing with him many souvenirs and trophies, one of which was a huge, one-horned, hairless bull-calf creature which folk called The Nashorn. 

The Nashorn grew to be astonishingly huge and strong.  Attempts to breed the beast to the von Nashorn family cattle herd proved disastrous, but Sir Zigurd found another use for the monster...he learned to ride it, albeit somewhat precariously, and for years he bestrode the beast in battle, to the great terror of the Emporer's foes.  The Nashorn eventually aged and died, but the mighty beast captured the imagination of noble family and volk alike, and the family coat-of-arms was changed to show a great one-horned hairless bull in silhouette upon a bright yellow field which was intended to evoke the saffron sands of Araby.  Over the years, however, various ladies of the family exerted their influence to gradually change the coat-of-arms to a graceful horned horse, rather than a one-horned giant bull, as this rather less brutish device was considered more fashionable in the Bretonnian-influenced Border Country...
Of the three WFB 3rd Edition armies I've been working on, my ambiguously Bretonnian/Empire Army has been the poor relation thus far.  Mostly it's been militia and some halberdiers in greens, browns and whites, so a splash of color and professionalism is a welcome addition...

“Who will say that this is not our land?  Our fathers bought it with their blood; we will hold it with our flesh!  Come, a thousand enemies!  Come a thousand and thousands more!  We shall still stand here…and hand this good soil to our sons and daughters who come after us when we are dead!”                                                                                                    
                                                                                   -Erich von Nashorn at the Battle of Scorpion Point

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A 1970's John Blanche Original...sigh...

Sigh.  When it appeared on ebay a few weeks ago, I had no intention of ever actually attempting to get my hands on was priced at about $800.00 and that was just too much.  Wistfully, I kept an eye on it...and began to have hope as, unbought, it dipped, week by week, from $800 to $700 to $600.00...When it fell, at last, into the $500 range, I began to make serious plans to recruit the wife's aid into making it a birthday present in the coming year...even sent the seller an offer...and the last minute, somebody sniped it for $465.00. Looking back on it, $465.00 seems...very reasonable...if you happen to have an extra $500.00 laying around during the Christmas Season.  I should have just damned the torpedoes and gone for it...sold the dog or whatever it took to raise the cash...Regrets...I've had a few... 
 Sigh. This is really my favorite period by an illustrator I really love...flame-haired space girls in sky-high heels survey an alien landscape of strange green hills and silver water-falls...
There was no Warhammer, at this point, and Blanche was just wandering around in fantastic landscapes ...quite without rules...just doing what he felt...strange worlds and beautiful girls in...really impressive shoes.  It's reminiscent in many ways of Fantastic Planet, a film I really love, but it's far better...because it's Blanche.  Imagine a film like Fantastic Planet, but with Blanche at the helm...
 Sigh.  I try to comfort myself with considerations know...even if I had bought it, it was a very small piece, only about 1 foot by 2 feet, so its not as if it would have dominated one wall of my library or anything...
 ...No, it's not working.  I'm depressed.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Sleekrist Kizzenkillum and the Gorgon

There had always been something wrong with Sleekrist.  That was what his father thought, and often said, even well within Sleekrist's hearing.  The boy was too pale, too unnaturally slender, and the women of the town were frightened by his eyes; they were like bright fires ringed in dark bruises, flecks of blue flame which bespoke something that was like lust, or hatred...or an unflinching recognition of unthinkable truths.  When he reached manhood, he left home without a thought.  Starved in the little towns amoung lonely green hills spotted with sheep, he sought for a feast in the Great City. 
In the Great City, he found a banquet laid for him. A fine feast of corruption laid out upon a bed of debauchery.  The coiffed and painted women of the city were not like the country women.  They loved his dark and  devouring eyes.  "Exotic!" they called him, "Unworldly!"  And in their luxuriant bowers they coupled with him, surrendering themselves to his every perversion...offering up, to him, it seemed, cries that sounded like prayers.  All the cruel delights civilization can offer, Sleekrist sought and sampled.  It was never enough.  He became lost amoung strange streets, searching, with a ravening desperation,  for the great pleasure that would at last soothe the yearning that gnawed incurably at him.  In a dark place, far deeper within the City than ordinary men can venture, he found the hidden temple.  High above him a pair of mighty horns swayed in the shadows.  A key to unworldly secrets and sensations was pressed into his bony hands.  The shadow of the great horns nodded once and vanished in a cloud of perfume smoke and incense.

He knew he wasn't alone, after that.  A great God looked down on him and found his ugliness beautiful, his worthlessness valuable, his sick perversions fine and sacred things.  But the City was old and wicked and full of Secrets.  And the bull headed God was not the only lord who held a fiefdom there.  There, too, was the minor chaos power Settaideh, serpent Goddess of luxury, avarice and ancient secrets beyond the ken of men.  On his travels Sleekrist found her temple, and found, too her high Priestess, Saataveh of The Robe.  From the meeting of these two grew something which fools might mistake for love. 

Twisted and destructive though it was, the devotion of these two Lords of corruption to one another soon aroused the Jealousy of the God of Pleasure.  The Judgement of the Bull-God upon these two disciples who had strayed in their devotions to their respective cults was horrific indeed.  Sleekrist's sensitive skin shriveled and fell from his bones, leaving his unfleshed form nerveless and insensible to pleasure.  Saataveh's body was twisted into something perhaps even more terrible: a dreadful, writhing, sexless, serpent thing, forever unable to give or to receive the delights of the body.
Sleekrist and his lover fled the Great City. They went east, traveling by night...through the wilderness, past the far borders of The Empire, to the very edges of the Old World...the Eastern Frontier of The Border, for a long time, they gnawed at themselves in their despair, Sleekrist's mind decayed in his senseless body, and he became more and more mad, while his lover's own mind became more and more that of an animal and less and less that of a woman.  Yet, their magic remains powerful, and they are loyal puppets of the God who has crippled them. Still they serve him, hoping beyond hope that, should they do enough slaying in his name, Slaanesh will one day return their long-lost forms to them.

Sleekrist Kizzenkillum is a chaos sorcerer in the Chaos horde of Buzzgobb Phesterlick.  He never goes into battle unaccompanied by his 'lover' Saatevah, the Gorgon.  Saatevah's mind has become increasingly less human and more snake-like in recent years, and, to ensure her cooperation in battle, Sleekrist must bind her as a chaotic host before taking the field.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

MST3K - 5,000 Piece Fightin' Men and Monsters Set

I've accepted my posting this here as an inevitability so I might as well just do it now...wonder if the mst3k guys could have imagined that there would be a whole subculture out there who would see this and think  "Great Scott...that would make a fantastic WARGAME!"


Sunday, December 2, 2012

French & Indian War Party

A couple of weeks or so ago my wife asked me for a list of Christmas gift suggestions.  At the top of the little list which I gave to her I wrote, in rather largish letters, Black Powder: Battles with Model Soldiers in the Age of the Musket, by Rick Priestly and Jervis Johnson.  For years I've toyed with the idea of 28mm gaming in French and Indian war and American Revolutionary war settings, I've even bought some buildings and boxes of cheap second hand minis on ebay...but I've never found a set of rules that really drew me into investing in it... Could Black Powder be what I've been looking for?  Well, Hell, Rick Priestly wrote it...that's a point in it's favour, right?

 These seven Coureurs do Bois and four Indian Warriors are all Old Glory figures that came loose in a box along with a bunch of Dixon militia, Roger's Rangers and some very nice, but tragically out-of-scale RAFM British and Mohawks... They didn't come out all that well, but I'm hoping to get better as I get more comfortable with the period...

 I only discovered the existence of the Black Powder book very recently, but the reviews on Amazon sound promising.  Some of the reviewers hint at a set of rules reminiscent of the 40k ROGUE TRADER book...with a reasonably simple combat system and considerable emphasis on character and plot-driven games...just what I'm looking for...The reviews were encouraging enough to move me to dig these guys out of their box and take a stab at painting them...
Rick Priestly admirers will get a chuckle out of a review written by a Warhammer 8th Edition fan, a certain Jman1234, who despairs over the fact that Priestly, the man who "Ruined Warhammer 40k and Fantasy" (?!) should be allowed by someone, somewhere, to write another set of wargames rules...

 If Black Powder shows up under the Christmas Tree, I may
be inspired to begin creating my campaign setting, but right now, I don't have anything other than photos of these French and Indian Warriors.  I don't know who they are, where they live, exactly, or what they are all about..though they certainly look like trouble makers extraordinaire...

Hopefully Santa's Trolls...or is it Dwarves?  Mind Flayers?  Yeah, Santa's Mind Flayers...No, Mind Flayers don't work for Santa, Elves do.  Okay, hopefully Santa's  Elves are bundling up a copy for me as I write...