Monday, January 11, 2021

In command

 Hi all,

Happy New Year!  Production has been a little slow over the last week or so, as the holidays gave way to frantic preparations to get back to work (and get caught up on everything that piled up while I was on holiday).  I did, however ,manage to finish up a command stand for my Scots covenanters.  This will serve as a brigade commander for Pike and Shotte, and a force commander for Pikeman's Lament.

The figs are all from Old Glory.  The mounted fellow is one of the Leslies, though I'm not clear on whether it's supposed to be David or Alexander.  The fellow with the flag is one of their foot command, converted to hold a pike.


I also added in a space mustketeer, to fill out the base.

I'm quite enjoying the OG figures.  They're a little chunkier than the warlord figs I got for Christmas, but with loads of character and detail.


My experience with the OG15s I painted for ancients was that they looked so-so in bare metal, but "painted well", and my experience with their 28s has been similar.


Fairly chuffed with how this turned out.  I'm picking away at another musket stand now, and will then be one stand away from a core force of infantry for Pikeman's Lament.



Monday, December 28, 2020

What now?

 Hi all,

Christmas has dwindled into that vague, twilightish state of existence where I slowly realize I've eaten too much rich food, lost track of what day of the week it is, and have the foreboding sense that every day spent "resting" translates to that much more work piled up when I get back to it.

I was a good boy.  Santa said so.

That said, it was a pretty good Christmas.  The kids made out like bandits, The Beloved seems pleased, and on top of the stuff I knew I was getting (Pikeman's Lament, the Warlord ECW starter, and a character for my GW Ogors), I got a couple of lovely books from my sister (one on Midway I'm eager to get into, and Samin Nosrat's "Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat"), a few more from the Beloved (including the two recently released Harry Dresden books, which I've devoured), and assorted baking odds and ends (including some spring pans - so cheesecake might be in the offing).  A buddy also ninja gifted me a Ghorgon for my Beasts of Chaos, which was a delightful surprise, although there's evidently several photos of a rather confused me floating through the ethertubes now.

So many models.  Leaning towards parliament.

What a crazy year.  I keep reminding myself that here in Monkeyland, we've been ridiculously fortunate to date, in so many ways, but I've given up pretending that there hasn't been a toll.  Seems like a good year to hug our kids extra tight, and maybe cut ourselves a little extra slack.  If you made it this far, good on you.

Some new reading material too.

Ogor cook, and cooking stuff.  Not sure if this was a message?

In hobby terms, it's been a reasonably productive and enjoyable year, all things considered.  I kept track of my "bought vs. painted", and ended up painting just under 200 "28mm equivalent" models this year at time of posting (bigger models count for more, smaller scale counted units as 28mm model equivalents, etc.).  

Karanak, doggo of Khorne.  For use in both 40k and AoS, so cool beans there.


Of course, I bought around 200+ 28mm equivalents, (mainly due to a couple of great deals I got from local gaming buddies), and I've not factored in the big historical swap, which saw me trade out a bunch of painted figures for a bunch of un- or partially-painted figs, nor a gift from my dad at Christmas that saw me get a pile of Warlord plastic ECW (see above - will do a dedicated post on them, compared to the OG figs, at some point).  As much as I got done, the lead pile definitely grew this year, but I'm okay with that.  All the growth was in stuff that I enjoy painting and playing, and generally was able to use in games.  All in all, a pretty good year.

Fleshhounds of Khorne, aka Khornedogs.  


I do seem to have met the goal I set for myself at the end of last year, to basically stop worrying, and just paint what I felt like.  Looking over the list of stuff I completed, there's three different scales of historical figures (and multiple projects), multiple AoS armies, some 40k, and some Lord of the Rings.  I'm slowly learning that when something stalls, it's okay to put it back in the cupboard, and pull out something that feels fresh.  I'm also incredibly fortunate to have options in my projects, and space to store all this stuff (although, predictably, that's shrinking).

Beginning of the Scots pike block.  Plan is to have 16 pike, and 2 wings of 12 shot as the standard unit.

Reasonably okay with how the flag turned out.  Will do until I spring for fancier ones.

I did reasonably well with my prognosticating last year, although 6mm took more of a back seat than I expected.  I hit a wall with the little guys in late spring, but have been feeling the itch lately, so who knows, there could be some progress on them.  Gaming this year was curtailed, for obvious reasons, but I still managed to play.  Cub and I got in a game of 40k fairly regularly (including a fun "narrative" campaign over the summer), and his growing interest in Flames of War (and collection of Finns) means we're playing some of that on occasion as well.  Over the summer, I managed to get in some games in the backyard against buddies from the local GW scene, and played 40k, AoS, and even some LotR before the weather turned, and Covid counts started to climb again.  Being able to do that was fantastic, and I much appreciated my friends taking the time to come by and play.  In the fall, another friend and I managed to get in several DBA games via videocall, and are planning some more for over the holidays.  I've also been picking away at my Ayyubids (the one 15mm army I didn't trade), and hopefully once things loosen up, he and I get some games in, in person.

First wing of shot.  Some depth of field issues here, apologies.


In terms of next year, I don't know what gaming will look like.  I'm assuming some of the same patterns will hold, but I can't help but hope that by the summer, I can at least get some outdoor games in again, and that by the Fall, things might return to something we recognize as normal.  In the mean time, I suppose we'll just keep doing what we've been doing.  Adapt, be patient, and do what we can to help each other.

Austrians finally got a commander.  Russians are staring at me accusingly from the "to do" queue.

For next year?  Well, there are some likely possibilities:

1. 28mm English Civil War

The Big Trade with Jura means I have enough lead in various stages to supply an army of Scots, never mind paint one.  The Old Glory sculpts, as I think I've said before, are wonderful (see above), and there's all manner of treasures to putter with.  Add in that Christmas (and my dad) brought me the ECW starter box from Warlord, and the Scots should see some opponents painted up over the year, and hopefully some games (Pikeman's Lament, most likely) by summertime.

Beastman chariot.  Fun, but fiddly.

2. 40k (probably Khorne).

40k should see traction for much the same reasons as last year, or rather reason; this is the Cub's main game, one he likes to play regularly, and even if I didn't enjoy painting and playing it (which I do), getting in games with him while he's still willing to spend time with his old man is pure gold.

Good for summoning in game, as they can "tag" a unit I don't want to deal with.

3. Flames of War

The purists will object to this, but they'll survive.  FoW is a fun game, it's another one the Cub wants to play, and I have no objection to picking away at my 3rd (4th?) Soviet army in 15mm.

Tzaangor Shaman, in decidedly non-Tzeentch colours.

4. Age of Sigmar

AoS has been my main game of late, and should things loosen up and normalcy return, I will play the bejesus out of it.  Should that happy circumstance not emerge, I have a ton of stuff to paint for multiple armies (including a new Slaughtermaster for my ogors from Santa), and have been pretty good about picking away at all / most of them, to some degree.  Exactly how often AoS rears it's head probably depends on the rate at which we get a handle on Covid, but what doesn't, these days? 

I like how the feathers turned out.

There's also several projects that are likely to see some activity, albeit at a slower pace.

1. 6mm something or other.

I have Russian and Austrians for SYW (plus EVEN MORE French and British should the mood strike), and Russians for Blucher.  Sooner or later, I'll get the itch to paint the little fellows, and I'll knock some of them out.  Gaming depends on too many factors to predict.

The disk was fun to paint as well.

2. Lord of the Rings

I have painted armies, and like the game.  If things loosen up, I will almost certainly play some of this. I can also see picking up a few new models, especially if we get gaming in the bottom half of the year.

Some old school figs.  Gave the beastlord bigger axes, because axes.

3. DBA, or other random historicals

Again, this is likely contingent on the great plague receding, but we seem to be building towards a critical mass locally, and I have high hopes of getting 3-4 people around a table for something.

I love the derpy old Brayshamans.

Beyond that, who knows?  Life has been feeling a bit narrower lately, if you follow me, and I'm slowly learning not to try and look too broadly, or too far ahead.  If we get through the next year in the same shape - working, more or less healthy, and in contact with loved ones, then I'll have no grounds for complaint.

Ogor standard bearers.

I wish you all (assuming the lack of another post), the very best of the new year.  Stay safe and healthy, and enjoy the hobby.


Gotta bring snacks to the fight.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Happy Christmas

 Hi all,

The baking is finished, and the presents are wrapped.  The Cub arrived for holidays Sunday, so we have both kiddos here for Christmas proper, and unlike this time last year, the Gronkasaurus now pees outside quite reliably, although her presence means the logistics of snacking in the living room have become more complicated ;)

Said Gronkasaurus; just a little bigger than last year.

This is our second Christmas in the house, and things here have been steadily settling in, despite all the craziness this year.  I ended up spending more time here than expected, having been working from home since February, and the hobby room / office has seen a lot more office action than hobby, but I still managed to get some things done.  We are all well, and while we miss our wider family terribly, they are also well, and phone / video calls are scheduled.  Given how things might have gone this year, all I can think about right now is how fortunate we have been.

Christmas is likely to be fairly low key this year.  We'll do Christmas dinner (though I'm keeping it simple with a ham and roast veggies), and I have all manner of savouries (and sweets!) pre-made, and ready to be warmed up, but my plan is to spend the next several days doing as little as possible, with a libation in hand.  I figure I've earned it, and I imagine you all have as well.

I'll have a hobby post up after Christmas, with some updated pics on the ECW scots, and the traditional year-in-review rambling, but until then, stay healthy, and be kind to yourselves.  It's been a long year people; we could all use a little peace on earth, and good will to men.  

Happy Christmas, everybody.


Saturday, December 5, 2020

Wee likkle laddies

 Hi all,

So, I went and did something dramatic.  As my last post indicated, I've been feeling a bit . . . disengaged from the historical side of the hobby of late, so after a bit of back and forth, decided to shake things up.

By trading away (almost) my entire stock of 15mm ancients.

Mess of unpainted Scots, plus a bunch of different cavalry.

Antigonids gone, Spartans gone, and a big bag of unpainted lead gone (to a good home).

What I got in return was a pile of Old Glory ECW stuff, mostly Scots, in a range of conditions.  Also, I have it on good authority that Santa is bringing me the Warlord ECW starter box and a copy of Pikeman's Lament (which my buddy Chris in NFLD has recommended).  The upshot is I've been reading a fair bit of Robbie Burns (out loud when I can get away with it), along with whatever I can get my hands on about the ECW, especially the Scots elements.

Also a mess of Scots in various stages of completion - but being based, I can get in some test games.

The Scots seem to have had an interesting arc through the wars, more or less fighting a) their own war, for religious and political autonomy, against whatever English authority threatened it, and b) their own civil war while interacting with the mess down south.  Which means, conveniently, the same troops could work against multiple opponents (and allies) depending on when in the war(s) you put them.

Closeup of the guys in back.  Some Scots, some in floppy hats and helmets, which suggests "not-Scots" to me.

This, of course, has me puttering about with rules, and figures.  The OG figs are wonderful - full of character.  Haven't had a chance to scale them with Warlord (as that's put away until The Day), but I have some ideas about that.  I've pulled out four musketeers for a test base, and am messing about with possible colours.  The Scots were distinct in the conflict in that they had a "uniform", although not exactly in the sense that we'd mean in later eras, with more standardized and industrial manufacturing.  Aside from weapons, etc., standard equipment included clothes of grey "hodden", and the ubiquitous blue cap.  My initial poking about, however, suggests that hodden is more or less homespun, or at least the most basic form of undyed wool cloth.  It's a simple grey cloth made by mixing white and black wool.

Some test minis - Scots musketmen

I think the approach I'll take to painting hodden is similar to what a lot of people do for USCW Rebel butternut - lots of desaturated brownish-grey tones, so that while individual figures aren't, in the Beloved's terms, "matchy-matchy", they do  "go together".  That lets me play around a little while painting, while the blue caps should tie things together nicely.  

The other issue with the scots is going to be the plaids.  Most of the OG figs have plaid wraps, and I'm going to need to find a way to paint them a) in a way that doesn't make me go blind, and b) in a way that makes bunched up cloth look recognizably plaid.  Been searching the interwebs, and found this excellent how-to, so might try it out.  Part of me wants to paint historical plaids that "fit" with the regiments I model, and part of me wants to stay sane(ish).  Stay tuned to see how that turns out.

Update.  I tried out the "faux plaid" technique.  Works pretty well for my purposes, given that there's more entertaining ways of going blind.

In terms of project planning, Marston Moor was a combined Scots and Parliamentary force (on the good guys side).  I have a good force of Scots, but some figs that can serve nicely as parliamentary troops, along with the inbound Warlord box.  Short term goals would be to use the already painted figs from the trade batch to try out some Pikeman's lament (post-Christmas), while painting a bunch more myself.  If I build towards an approximation of Marston Moor, I should end up with a mix of Scots and Parliament forces that can fight each other in small Pike and Shotte games at home, or be combined into a single early war side for big games with other players - and the rumor has it that there's at least a few people around with playable forces for the period.


Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Khorne Cares Not . . . for novelty?


 Hi all,

Been an odd couple of months in Monkeyland.  We are all well, everyone's healthy, and I'm still working, so everything that matters is okay, but I have to admit, the ongoing slow-burn catastrophe that's been 2020 seems to be finally grinding me down a little, leaving little motivation for pictures or posts.

Khorne Daemons, about to unpack a can of whoop-ass

I've been picking away at a range of painting projects, mostly GW related, but have really struggled to muster the energy for anything historical.  While medium to long-term prospects are still good, in the short term, it's been hard to coordinate games (this time of year is really busy for me), and I find I need that impetus to get painting finished.  It doesn't help that my main chance to read, my transit commute to work, has disappeared due to working from home.  No games plus no history kind of cuts the legs out from under historical projects, it seems.

It looks like a Ghorgon, but it's pretending to be a bloodthirster.  Was, sadly, unimpressed.

Despite having a range of historical projects in 6mm and 15mm I'm at least theoretically interested in pursuing, I keep musing about some kind of Big Boy project in 28mm.  This has been, for those of you following, a running theme here for about a decade, but never quite seems to get off the ground.  While I picked up a box of the Victrix carthaginians a while back, and was quite excited when I did, they haven't caught my imagination the way I had hoped they might.  Might be early winter doldrums, might be a reality to confront.

Salamanders seconded a Blood Angels rhino.  Didn't help ;)

With Christmas coming, and my associated annual guilt-free hobby indulgence opportunity coming with it, I've been musing on a range of possible projects.  One, which has also been a "one day" theme here for a while is something SAGA-ish.  A bag each of the Victrix vikings and saxons is in budget, are nice figs, and are useable in a game system I know I like - if I can get games.

Cub's salamanders are coming together.  I think our most recent game was fully painted.

Another project I've mused on is something pike and shot era.  The Cub expressed interest in ECW, and I may have sold him on it as a 6mm project, but the reality is that he'd have to paint a side of this, and I don't know if I have the bandwidth for yet another project in 6mm - especially if I eventually want napoleonic French to go up against my Russians.  I could do this in 28mm; a local(ish) game shop has a pike and shot starter box that's appealing, I quite like the Warlord Black Book games, and the books themselves are generally gorgeous.  If I succumb to temptation, however, I have the same problem as with the little guys; it means taking on a whole new painting queue, and I don't know if that's realistic, given that I have a backlog on everything I'm already doing.  

Obligatory "Last Valley" picture with every discussion of a 30YW project.

This of course, raises the question of why start anything new at all - why not just concentrate on what I'm already doing?  This would be sound advice, but takes me back to the original problem - the slow leaching of energy and enthusiasm.  I know this is a seasonal thing; based on past December posts, I feel like this pretty much every year at this time.  I suspect that I start looking around for something new in December in the hopes that the thrill of novelty will help me over the hump.  Over the long-term, however, this does rather compound the problem via project bloat.

Hope you're all well, and weathering the crazy as well as can be expected.


Sunday, October 25, 2020


 Hi all,

The Great Rebasing continues apace, but didn't get in the way of me being able to host remote DBA from my end.  It was a treat for me, both because it's the first non-WWII historical game played at the new house, and also the first ancients game played with my figs since we left Toronto about six years ago!

Macedonians top.  The grouped cavalry at the top of the pic was standing in for the Mac camp.

With what I have for figs (Spartan / hoplites and Antigonid / eastern successors) we opted for a historical, but slightly misrepresented matchup, with Philippian Macedonians vs. Spartans.  Philip, somewhat notoriously, threatened the Spartans with slavery if he won their impending conflict, to which the Spartans, laconically (ha!), replied "if".  While the Spartans may have, in point of historical fact, been rather limited socially, politically, and even militarily (and see the brilliant set of posts on Spartan social organization at CoUP, you're welcome), you can't fault them for smart-assery, which I personally appreciate.

The Spartan left wing.  Didn't want to extend the line into the fields, just in case.

Macedonians deploy on a narrow frontage, with their right covered by light troops in the woods.

Sparta, oddly enough, had elephants for a camp.

Macedon had a slight edge on aggression, and ended up as attacker, and once we'd established terrain, we had one side of the table dominated by woods, and the other mostly open.  I picked the clear side, not out of any tactical brilliance, but because it was the side that had the computer and camera set up (I had the webcam hanging off the light fixture).  Turns out, expediency is the mother of brilliance, as it meant Jura (my increasingly regular remote opponent) got stuck deploying in a narrow frontage between the woods.

Spartan generals anchor the line.

The Spartan right wheels forward, and the Macedonian cavalry counters, skirting the woods.

That's the General and companions, waving around the xystons.

Macedonian light horse engage!

The opening moves of the game saw me advancing and wheeling my right, in the hopes that I would envelope his flank.  This is a pretty standard move for me when my line is longer, although traditionally I do it with cavalry, rather than Even More Spears.  Jura countered by advancing his cavalry in column around the woods, and a rather aggressive charge with his light horse (Tarantines posing as prodromoi), which my spear handily repulsed.

The Macedonian cavalry charge home.  This one was dicey, but the Spartans repulsed the impetuous horse.

The first phase of the battle saw the Macedonian cavalry launch repeated charges against my right wing, including a number of high-stakes clashes between Phillip and the companion cavalry against my General (the Spartan with no name).  As long as the phalanx (and the side support spears get from spears in DBA) held, my general had the advantage in combat, but if he lost, the knights get a quick kill (they destroy the opposing element if they beat them, not just double them).  Turns out, a line of spears is pretty solid against mixed cavalry, and the Macedonians were thrown back repeatedly, with the light horse, at one point, fleeing entirely.

The Macedonian phalanx advances past the choke point.

On the right, the cavalry make little headway against the Spartan phalanx.  On the other hand, the Spartans can't seem to do more than drive off the cavalry - combat is largely inconclusive.

Jura managed to get his phalangites out from betwitxed the woods, and started to shake out a line, but it was still uneven when the main infantry formations clashed.  The Macedonian phalanx has an advantage under these circumstances, but not a decisive one, and the result of the on-going othismos (which I really enjoy saying, for some reason), was a pretty classic grind, with the deeper Macedonian pike phalanx pushing back the Spartans, but not quite breaking through.

Macedonian cavalry regrouped and charged again, with similar results.  Meanwhile, the lines grow closer.

Macedon tries to shake out a battle line, but poor C&C (i.e., low PiP rolls) meant it happened slowly.

Othismos!  The deeper phalanx begins to drive back the Spartans, as the lines break down.

At this point, my longer line, and ability to roll higher PiPs (i.e., command and control resources), let me slowly envelope and gnaw away at the Macedonian flanks.  I had plenty of opportunity to set up attacks where I could pin, and then flank, isolated Macedonian units on the flanks, and while they didn't always pay off, any win resulted in a destroyed unit (flank attacks aren't a big deal in DBA, unless they complement frontal engagement - losing is BAD in DBA if you're engaged both to the front AND to the flank).  It took some grinding, but the Spartans managed to chew away the "softer" elements of the Macedonian formation, before the Macedonian pike could really grind down the Spartan phalanx.

Spartans struggle to get past the Macedonian pikes.

Both lines are in disarray.

On the left, the Spartans envelope the Macedonian light troops, and look to roll up the line.

The Macedonians manage to wheel, but are under increased pressure from multiple sides.

Even without the delays expected from new armies and a new "technical" set-up, this game took longer than others we've played - but it felt "right".  The Macedonian phalanx had a clear, but not decisive, advantage over the Spartans, but the Spartans, with their wider formation, were able to envelope the Macedonian core.  The four elements that the Macedonians lost were their "weakest" ones - auxilia, psiloi, cavalry, and light horse, and the lost them because I was able to hit them on two sides.  The hard core of the Macedonian army had no problem driving back the Spartan centre, and had I rolled poorly, things could have gone very differently (all I needed to do was lose ONCE against his companions, and my general would have disappeared).  Even with the constraints of terrain, this one was much closer than it appeared.

This unit was frustratingly stubborn.  They just would not die!

Note how the Macedonians continue to push back the spear at the middle of the shot.

Repeated attacks failed to break the Macedonian phalanx.

Spartan turn to roll low on PiPs.  Macedonians struggle to reform their line.

Spartans step back and reform.  Behind the Macedonian infantry, their light horse are caught and flanked.  With essentially all of the Macedonian lighter troops gone, Spartans win the game 4-2.

It was so good to get the minis on the table again.  Although I do really enjoy the appearance of the Impetus / element basing, the DBx gives me more options for play, and being able to use the figures counts more, in the long run, than them looking good on the shelf.  Once I get the rebasing done, I'll get back to the Ayyubid / Seljuk painting, and am already looking forward to expanding the stuff I have (later Achaemenids, and various hoplite variations, are in the works).