Friday, 31 August 2012


We're doing well at the Gong Garage Gamers this month - in four weeks we have tried three new (to us) games: Saga, Aeronef and, last night, Maurice.

Maurice is a set of rules for 18th century battles, with the action being driven by a special card-deck. We'd all read the rules (either the full set, or the 'lite' version) and liked the possibilities, and had been talking about playing it for months. Last night we finally got around to it.

There were five of us at the start - Caesar was happy to umpire, with Dave and I on one side and new members Ralph and Tim on the other (Ralph joined us for the evening specifically because we were playing Maurice). Unfortunately an emergency at home meant that Dave had to leave during the first turn, so Caesar replaced him.

Our game was potentially hampered by the fact that none of us has any suitable 18th century armies . However we found proxies, which make for the interesting photos you're about to see ...

Caesar had rebased his 28mm Napoleonic Austrians, so that gave us one army. He had some blank bases for the other army, which we populated with the plastic figures from a Risk set. Well, the uniforms are suitable, even if there was something of a difference in scale.

And so it was that the might of Austria faced the miniature threat of the Army of Risk.

We played with basic armies - no troop quality and each force consisting of six infantry units, three cavalry and three artillery.

A long-shot of the table, showing Dave's brief appearance, and the armies all set up. We used minimal terrain, partially because it kept the game simpler and partially because I was supposed to bring some and forgot:

The Austrians, showing what wargames figures should look like:

The Army Of Risk, showing what happens when you have to improvise:

As you can see, Ralph and Tim decided to start their infantry in columns, hoping to make use of their extra mobility early on.

The Austrians started things off by charging the massed Army Of Risk (Riskovian?) artillery. This was a bad move.

Despite their diminutive stature, the Riskovian gunners did a good job, and eliminated the Austrian cavalry. But we got to see how the Bombard order worked, and saw a Volley Phase in action. It was a useful learning experience:

Riskovian infantry from the Blue Regiment. Now pay attention - these soldiers are small, but those Austrians are far-away. Small ... Far-Away ...

The Austrian master-plan. We rapidly advanced half our infantry across the table, and caught the Riskovians in their columns. This worked mostly because none of us realised how difficult it was for infantry to change formation - especially Ralph and Tim:

After a volley, which could have been more effective, the Austrians charged, and did good work with the bayonet:

The rest of the Austrian infantry, and their artillery, watched from the other side of the battlefield. In fact they stayed there for the whole game:

The Austrians had lost a unit, but the three Riskovian units they attacked were gone. The Austrians turned one regiment to take on he artillery grand-battery, whilst the other was sent to hold off the three remaining Riskovian infantry units:

At that point we drew a card which enabled us to activate a group of units anywhere on the table. This allowed us to suddenly switch the focus of the battle away from the infantry duel in the centre to where the opposing cavalry units were on the Austrian left. The Austrian cavalry charged, and with a card that gave them a great big bonus in play swept away a Riskovian unit. The Riskovian morale was looking shaky, and the Austrians were poised for a second charge on the Blue Regiment:

Back to the centre, though, where the volley phases were seeing casualties mount on both sides. The Austrians had, in fact, lost another unit, but the Riskovian Yellow Regiment was looking very shaky. One more volley finished it off, and broke the Riskovian army's morale:

The game was a great learning experience, and we enjoyed the way it forced you to manage both your cards and the tempo of the battle (the more active you are, the fewer replacement cards you get - every so often you have to take a breather). The decision to start the Riskovians in column helped us a lot, but a key part of the Austrian victory was the card allowing us to suddenly switch the focus of the battle to the cavalry flank. At that point the Riskovians only had one card left in their hand, and it wasn't good enough to allow their general to activate units there in response. Careful timing effectively gave us a free turn to beat up the Riskovian's army morale.

We're all looking forward to trying another game, maybe with proper figures on both sides next time.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

'Things To Come'

Karl Heinz Ranitzsch posted this on the HOTT Yahoo Group nearly 12 years ago. It appeared on The Stronghold in due course, but hasn't been seen since. Until now ...


As a boy, I often read my grandfather's 1930's Meccano Magazines, and was fascinated by a review of the 1936 Science Fiction film 'Things to Come', with screen play by H.G.Wells. I recently got hold of a video copy of the film, and was, indeed, impressed.

The story, in short:
On Christmas day, 1940, war breaks out in Europe. The very English city of "Everytown" is subject to a surprise gas bombing by enemy bombers. War lasts for decades. By the 1960's, Everytown is reduced to post-apocalyptic rubble, ruled by the 'Boss' a tin-pot dictator. But in another part of the world, scientists and engineers have restored order and built new high-tech airplanes. With the narcotic "Gas of Peace", they put the Boss' army to sleep and disarm them. Under the scientist's leadership , Everytown is rebuilt into a high-tech metropolis. By 2036, the first trip to the moon is being prepared, using a giant space gun. But many people are overwhelmed by the changes brought by progress, and a resistance movement springs up, who threaten to destroy the space gun.

Although the film is only in black and white, and shows its age, especially in its acting, it is visually stunning in all its phases The war scenes blend WWI documentaries, with scenes of 1930's equipment, with some impressive footage resembling Eisenstein's best scenes, and are better than many a WWII film. The style of the post-apocalyptic scenes easily rivals "Mad Max" and hosts of lesser films of that ilk. The future community is a visually stunning blend of Bauhaus and Art Deco, the Space Gun rivals the Saturn Moon rockets in scale. The philosophical questions it raises about warfare, progress and human reactions to it are still with us. Definitely worth seeing if you can find a copy.

You can read the film script here:

The film can also provide material for HOTT Armies:

1940's ARMIES

Stronghold: European City
1 x Commander with long-range artillery - Magician general @ 4AP
1 x Artillery - Artillery @ 3AP
1 x Bomber - Airboat @ 3AP
2 x Tanks - Knights @ 2AP
1 x Machine gunners - Shooters @ 2AP
3 x Infantrymen - Blades @ 2AP
1 x Fighter plane - Flyers @ 2AP

Alternatives: Poison Gas attack as God @ 4AP

The forces of Everytown's country use typical 1930's British tanks and biplane fighters, their troops are British. Their enemy, not identified as a specific European country, use more modern early WWII monoplane fighters and clumsy bombers that look like 1930's French planes. Their tanks are streamlined Art Deco designs that would not look out of place in any SF setting.

1960's ARMIES

Stronghold: European City reduced to rubble by warfare
1 x Boss - Hero general @ 4AP
2 x Cavalry - Riders @ 2AP
1 x Machine gunners - Shooters @ 2AP
7 x Infantrymen - Warband @ 2AP
1 x Fighter plane - Flyers @ 2AP

Alternatives: Boss as Warband General @ 2AP. Infantrymen as Hordes @ 1 AP

The Boss is regarded as a Hero, at least by his followers. He rides around with his Mistress in an old Rolls Royce. Due to lack of fuel, it has to be pulled by horses. The army is reduced to an infantry force with a few
horsemen and the occasional machine gun. Just a few rickety biplanes are left, flying with the last drops of available fuel.


Stronghold: Futuristic Airport
1 x Commander - Airboat general @ 3 AP
3 x Bombers - Airboats @ 3 AP
6 x Fighters - Flyers @ 2 AP

Alternatives: Paratroopers - Shooters @ 2AP

"World Communications" is the name of the Scientific community which brings peace to the war-torn world.
The futuristic design should be Arr Deco and Bauhaus rather than Victorian Steampunk. The game "Crimson Skies" or some of the more outlandish late WWII German projects provide suitable airplane miniatures. The paratroopers wear tight-fitting black space suits. In the film they are unarmed when they disarm the Boss' troops put to sleep by the sleep gas. But some kind of narcotic rifle might well fit into the scheme of the film.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Aeronef Shipyard - 4

The Class 3 ships are now finished and undercoated (along with the two Helikopteronic Flyers):

(A quick iPhone picture I'm afraid).

With hindsight I really made the aeronefs too wide - both British and French. They look quite chunky. I'm not remodelling them now, though. I like how the turrets turned out, though. I still need to add some masts as well.

Not sure when I'll get chance to start painting them; I have a hectic work/parenting load this week, with my first game of Maurice on Thursday as one of the few highlights.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Aeronef Shipyard - 3a

A bonus picture - whilst I was waiting for the tea to cook, and listening to Led Zeppelin III, I put these little beauties together from various scraps of card. They're helikopteronic flyers, and you can find the rules for them HERE.

One will be gun-armed, whilst the other has forward-mounted aerial torpedo tubes. I reckon that they're probably the beginnings of an Anarchist aerial fleet.

Aeronef Shipyard - 3

I finally completed the painting on my French Class 4 and 5 vessels.

And you can also see that I've laid down the hulls for some Class 3 aeronefs; British at the top, French at the bottom:

I have also started sketching out some rough designs for the Class 2 vessels as well:

Friday, 24 August 2012

The Natives Fight Back

Geoff and I played three games of HOTT last night, using my South and Central American armies (featured in previous posts). Although they weren't planned that way, the games worked out as the Conquistadors facing, in turn, the Inca, the Aztecs and finally the Maya.

The obligatory shot of Geoff, looking unimpressed with his deployment. In this game he took the Conquistadors, dropping a Shooter and fielding their Flier as a God (which, I realise now, made their army illegal as it had 14AP of elements costing 3AP or more). I used the Inca.

The God appeared, and started to roll up the Inca line:

However at the other end of the line Saint James (Paladin) was defeated by the Inca's heroic warriors:

The Angel Of The Lord faces The Great Inca. There is a standoff:

And at that point I stopped taking pictures of the game. The God disappeared on the next turn, and the Inca overwhelmed a couple of elements on the Conquistador left to win the game.

In the next game I took the Conquistadors (with a Flyer, and the extra Shooter), whilst Geoff went for the Aztecs. He got their Couatl (Dragon) on early and started causing me trouble. First it ate the Flyer:

The two armies just sat and watch it at work:

It then took on Saint James, in a classic Paladin/Dragon confrontation:

Oh dear ...

The Aztecs stirred themselves into action, and advanced into the Spanish artillery fire:

Here comes the Couatl again. But the Artillery proved too much for it, and it was driven off:

The armies prepared for a more conventional fight. And, once again, the photographer went on strike. The Couatl had done its work well; despite some brave fighting the Conquistadores lost again:

For the third game I used the Conquistadors again, whilst Geoff had the Maya:

The Mayan Aerial Hero was the danger this time. The Flyer actually survived this combat:

The Spanish counter-attacked with Saint James, and fought Tecum Uman to a standstill. At that point he retreated - fighting a Paladin with an Aerial hero general is risky:

The Mayans switched to conventional tactics, their Warband charging the Spanish line and sweeping it away. Another victory for the New World's original inhabitants:

Next Week - Maurice! Maybe ...

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Aeronef Shipyard - 2

I've finished painting the ten British aeronefs I built the other day.

Here they are with just their undercoat - French and British.

And the finished British. If I'd really been on the ball (read that as 'not lazy') I could have scored planking onto the decks, and run a brown wash into them so they aren't so ... vivid. But as a quick job they work OK.

I am now working out a colour scheme for the equivalent French ships.

Obviously in actual play the ships will be mounted on flight-stands of some kind. I may also add a small mast and a flag to each ship.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Aeronef Shipyard - 1

OK, so I was so taken by my first game of Aeronef on Thursday, that I decided to download the rules, and the Captain's Handbook. And, of course, to acquire some fleets of my own. Since I'm a cheapskate (well, 'on a budget' is a more accurate term) I decided to scratch-build. Given the nature of the vessels this didn't seem too difficult a proposition - certainly not if I just wanted a basic force of ships to try out the rules with.

The ships I used on Thursday, which were from Geoff's collection, were mostly based on hulls from the old 'Sky Galleons Of Mars' game (including sailing vessels, which really need some rules in Aeronef). These seem slightly smaller than the 1/1200th scale of the 'official' Aeronef models from Brigade games. However since Geoff's ships will probably be the club standard for now, I decided to base my own ships on them. I'm not sure that any slight incompatibilities of scale will be too much of an issue anyway.

I have decided to base my builds around relatively fixed lengths for each class, although design variations will affect these. So, the basic lengths are:

Class 5 - 25mm
Class 4 - 35mm
Class 3 - 50mm
Class 2 - 60mm
Class 1 - 75mm

We'll see how they work over time.

Like my scratch-built starships I went for a layered card constriction. I start with a basic hull shape, then glue smaller pieces of mounting board and thin card on it until I get something that looks right. the end result is probably flatter than it should be - more like a 3D counter, perhaps - but it does the job.

I decided to build two forces. A British force seemed obvious (well, to me) and, since Geoff is well stocked with dirigibles to use as Germans, I thought I would make more aeronef and paint them as French vessels.

I started small - Class 4 and 5 vessels. Specifically, for each side, six Class 5 gunboats and for Class 4 frigates. Enough for a decent game, in fact, and enough to support the larger ships when (or if) I get around to making them.

Here they are under construction:

In fact the Class 5 vessels are pretty much complete. The brown patches are the thinner card, and the guns are snipped sections of florist's wire. In the foreground can be seen the marked out hulls of the Class 4 vessels. The biro casings are scheduled for conversion into dirigible bombers; the ink tubes from each provide funnels for the aeronefs.

I keep the small card off-cuts, as they make useful fins and trim for the ships.

A closeup of the gunboats. The British are on the left, whilst the sleeker, faster French ones are on the right:

You can see how I've used card off-cuts as the rudders on the French vessels.

And here are the assembled Class 4 and 5 aeronefs: the French in the foreground and the British behind them:

The next stage is undercoating and painting, so I now need to research some possible colour schemes

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Twenty Questions

Ray at Don't Throw a '1' is asking Twenty Questions. Who am I to not want to waste half my day answering them*?

Hooray For Venezuela!
1) Favourite wargaming period and why?

Not so much a period, but I find just about any pre-WWII Latin American conflict interesting. I'm not sure why; I think the fact that they are often small scale (which makes them good to wargame on a budget) and obscure (which appeals to the trivia freak in me) is part of it. So, from pre-Columbian warfare in Mexico, to the 19th century Wars of Liberation and up to the Chaco War, I find much to enjoy.

Saying that, about 80% of my gaming is 'Hordes of the Things', but I think fantasy (especially the way I define and play it) is too broad to count as a 'period'.

2) Next period, money no object?

I would like to try the Mexican Revolution in 15mm, but that's really included above. If you specifically asked me the question today I'd say Wessex Games' 'Aeronef', but that's because I'm still buzzing from my first game of it on Thursday. And that's the problem; I'm easily distracted onto any short-term 'next period' project. Saying that, I have always fancied doing WW1 in East Africa.

3) Favourite 5 films?

Some Like It Hot
Any of Jacques Tati's M Hulot films (please don't make me choose one)
Godzilla moves (Individually awful, but as a genre ... fantastic)

4) Favourite 5 TV series?

Hard to limit this to five, really

Doctor Who
Father Ted
The Green Wing
Edge of Darkness
I'll try any UK crime series, but love things like 'New Tricks', 'Foyle's War' the Joan Hickson 'Miss Marple' series, 'Poirot' and we loved the recent 'Death in Paradise'. Aussie TV shows a lot of UK crime drama.

"Yeah, can't really do smiley faces on death certificates. Does look a little bit insensitive." 

5) Favourite book and author?

I'm not quite sure why we're allowed five films and TV programmes, but only one book. So I'm going to have five, and not even individual books.

Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin series
Edgar Rice Burroughs' Barsoom series
Philip Reeves' Mortal Engines series
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories (although I love a lot of his other stuff as well, especially his short stories)
Any book on evolutionary biology by Richard Dawkins. The guy is a pompous arse, and if I were an atheist I'd feel embarrassed to have him speaking for me, but he can explain complex science in a way that is entertaining, without over-simplifying.

6) Greatest general? Can’t count yourself!!

I have a soft spot for General Guillaume-Henri Dufour, the Swiss general who led the Federal forces in the Sonderbund War of 1847. This civil war in Switzerland could, like most civil wars, have turned into a bitter and bloody mess, but Dufour organised a campaign that saw it resoled swiftly and, in a conflict involving 150,000 troops, with less than 600 casualties (killed and wounded). He was later involved in the formation of the Red Cross.

7) Favourite wargames rules?

No question - 'Hordes of the Things'. A close second, on the grounds that I don't think I've ever played a dull game of it, is 'Fire and Fury'.

8) Favourite sport and team?

I don't follow any sports and therefore I don't follow any teams either. Living in a country where sport is considered a religion, I am an atheist :)

9) If you had a only use once time machine, when and where would you go?

A Paris costumier, sometime in the 1870s or 1880s, with enough money to have a complete wardrobe made for me. At 1870-80 prices. Then I'd come back.

Practical and comfortable

It would need to be a time-machine with lots of hanging space.

Mmm. Don't mind if I do ..
10) Last meal on Death Row?

Nigella's Quick Chilli (from 'Nigella Express'), followed by my Mum's lemon sponge pudding. A glass of Fat Yak on the side, and a nice cup of tea to finish.

11) Fantasy relationship and why?

Nigella Lawson, if only for the cooking and smutty talk. Otherwise either Honeysuckle Weeks or The Girl From The Mac Shop.

Not In A Frock
12) If your life were a movie, who would play you?

Eddie Izzard. Although I look better in a  frock.

13) Favourite comic superhero?

My knowledge of comic characters pretty much ends in the early 1980s, but I used to collect Marvel Comics up to that point. Pushed to one favourite character it would have to be the X-Men's Nightcrawler, for a number of reasons too personal to go into here. Also rans include the Scarlet Witch (a contender for the Fantasy Relationship answer) and Danny The Street.

My Hero!

14) Favourite military quote?

"We've got the damn Yankees on the run again!" - The elderly Major General Joseph Wheeler, a former Confederate cavalry commander, leading US Volunteer troops against the Spanish in the Spanish-American War of 1898.

15) Historical destination to visit?

This is a hard one. One of the biggest things we all miss about the UK after emigrating to Australia is the sheer amount of history there is everywhere. So possibly I wouldn't pick one destination; I'd just say the UK.

Pushed to a single(ish) destination, I would like to do a tour of some of the battlefields from the various Trans-Mississippi campaigns of the US Civil War - Wilson's Creek, Prairie Grove, Pea Ridge and so forth.

16) Biggest wargaming regret?

Not attacking that stronghold in my last game at the Berkeley HOTT competition in 2008. I could have won the game, and therefore the tournament (my last in the UK) had I done so, but at a risk of losing big-time if I'd failed to take it. Instead I opted for a safer, more conventional, attempt at victory and lost anyway.

Also - using 6mm figures for my 'Fire and Fury' armies instead of 10mm.

17) Favourite fantasy job?

Punch and Judy man.

Features Alan Rickman. Really.
18) Favourite song - Top 5?

Tubular Bells II - Mike Oldfield
Roundabout - Yes
Symphony No. 7 (Leningrad) - Shostakovitch
Animate - Rush
Ára bátur - Sigur Rós

19) Favourite wargaming moment?

Being beaten by my nine year-old daughter in a HOTT competition game at Beer And Pretzels in Burton back in 2006. She proceeded to do a victory dance in front of a couple of hundred other gamers.

On the following Monday she wrote about it at school. Just to embarrass her, here's what she said:

"I was really excited because I was going to a wargaming competition. I had a Halloween army. The first person I played and beat had an Egyptian army. This great victory put me into top place. So my next game was with someone who was second, and he had a puffin army. Not even my dad could beat him, but I slaughtered him. Then I went down to second place because someone else got more points than me. So I played him and lost, meanwhile my dad was playing my mum. Then somehow I ended up playing my dad and beat him. In the end I came fourth out of thirty. I beat my whole family and I was the first child. Everyone had to bring a prize, so I got a dragon and I called it Puffy and it will be in my next army."

(Just a note: For a couple of years all four of us took part in that particular competition; myself, my wife and both children. For at least one year we were also joined by my dad and brother, which meant that out of 24 players, six of them were from the same family.)

Just to add to family moments, there's the time Steve Price made my ten year-old son cry by beating him in the final round of a HOTT tournament (whoever won the game won the tournament), but then generously gave his prize to him (a painted 15mm Elf army, which we still have).

And, before we had children, there's the time my wife joined us for our big New Year club game. We did Shiloh using 'Fire and Fury', a game she hadn't played before. Whilst constantly proclaiming that she had no idea what she was doing, she proceeded to aggressively drive her Confederate command right through the Union centre and out the other side. Sometimes enthusiasm can overcome skill and experience.

20) The miserable git question; what upsets you?

'Creation Science'? Hah!
Creationism, and any other wilful scientific ignorance motivated by religious belief. Actually any wilful scientific ignorance.

Homophobia and transphobia.

People who think that no matter how loud they listen to music the sound stops at the boundary of their property. Or who know it doesn't, but don't care anyway.

Rail Corp's obsession with trackwork on the few days each year I decide to travel up to Sydney for the day.

People who refuse to learn how to use apostrophes.

Television advertising - whilst I don't think Australia's as bad as the US, it's much worse than the UK. We actually don't watch any commercial TV now; even decent programmes (rare) are unwatchable, just because of the ads.

Anyone else driving on the same bit of road I am ...

And here's the original questions if you choose to answer them yourself:

1.        Favourite Wargaming period and why?
2.       Next period, money no object?
3.       Favourite 5 films?
4.       Favourite 5 TV series?
5.       Favourite book and author?
6.       Greatest General? Can’t count yourself!!
7.       Favourite Wargames rules?
8.       Favourite Sport and team?
9.       If you had a only use once time machine, when and where would you go?
10.   Last meal on Death Row?
11.    Fantasy relationship and why?
12.   If your life were a movie, who would play you?
13.   Favourite Comic  Superhero?
14.   Favourite Military quote?
15.   Historical destination to visit?
16.   Biggest Wargaming regret?
17.   Favourite Fantasy job?
18.   Favourite Song Top 5?
19.   Favourite Wargaming Moment?
20.   The miserable Git question, what upsets you?

*And correcting the random capitalisation in them.

Not Me. I Don't Smoke.

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