Friday, 22 June 2012

Things are getting a little strange…

A slight deviation from my usual VBCW stuff now…

Before you read this entry, you should know three things:-

1: I am a big fan of the works of HP Lovecraft.
2: If I had the gaming time, I would definitely be playing the Lovecraft inspired Strange Aeons horror game.
3: When it comes to competitions, I never win anything - ever.

Therefore, when I entered a contest on the Strange Aeons blog, I did so on a whim, without any real hope of winning anything. The main part of the competition was to present a battle report – there were some fantastic entries which, even if I actually played the game, I would find hard to beat.

However there was a much easier way to get involved – one simply had to follow the blog for your name to be put into a hat to win a special prize. Guess who got chosen…


So what did I win? Well a CD.

But not just any old CD, but a Deluxe Limited Edition 2 CD from an outfit known as Musica Cthulhiana, who produce ‘Dark-ambient, doom-jazz, horror-electronic and strange noises. Drone to minimal melodies.’

The album, ‘Fragment’, contains many such eerie soundtracks, against which the horror gamer can set his/her/its tournaments of terror.

Many thanks to the sinister folks at Strange Aeons and Musica Cthulhiana for your generosity – rest assured that should I ever have the good (or bad) fortune to get into horror gaming, this music will be causing shudders in the background!

Although listening to Fragment has got me thinking…

VBCW at Halloween anyone…?

Monday, 18 June 2012

VBCW skirmish, Brink of Battle style

The BUF have once again been trespassing into the territory of the Malvern Hills Conservators…

For a change I invited Giles over to mine for a game (as I was awaiting a delivery ‘between 7am and 5pm’ – thanks for narrowing it down Homebase!) and as JP mansions doesn’t boast a large wargaming room (aka kitchen), I proposed that we try out the Brink of Battle skirmish rules in the confines of my modest dining room.

This meant that only a handful of figures were required, plus a small gaming mat and a scattering of scenery, creating a battlefield thus:-

As I’ve mentioned before, the BoB rules look a little complex to start off with, although once you know your way around them they’re pretty intuitive. The trickiest part I found was working out a force roster (there are moves afoot among the BoB community to produce some sample force lists and Excel spreadsheets, making it easier to produce force rosters) to the number of points allocated (we decided upon 500 points). I decided upon an ‘elite’ force of 7 figures, as listed below:-


CBT: 6
CMD: 7
CON: 5

Weapon: Revolver 8 / 2 / 2
Sidearm - This is a single-handed Firearm of its Period. This weapon may be used in Close combat with a Weapon Reach of 4. The Base Attacks of the model using a Sidearm cannot exceed the RoF of the Sidearm he is using.
Small - This Gear is not subject to being physically modelled on the miniature. It is small enough to be somewhere on the model’s body, regardless of actual sculpting limits on the figure.

Commander – Command radius 7”
Inspiring - As it’s Action, this model may remove its Action Token and place it on any friendly Ready model within its Command Radius. To use this Trait neither model may be engaged in Close combat.
Tactician - The controlling player may re-roll his die result for the Strategy Check if the model with this Trait is making the Check. The second result stands.

Veteran 1

CBT: 6
CMD: 6
CON: 6

Weapon: Sub machinegun 15 / 3 / 3
Sturdy - This weapon may be used as an improvised two-handed weapon in Close combat. It is CBT/2 for all Actions and Checks and has the following Weapon Profile: 1/C/1 Improvised, 2-hands.
Firearm - Firearms multiply their Effective Range by 5 for determining the Maximum Long Range.
Rapid Fire – This weapon is capable of producing a high volume of fire. Whenever a Rapid Fire weapon is used for a Mobile Fire Action, after the weapon’s Rate of Fire is cut in half for the movement penalty, add +1 to the newly adjusted RoF to determine how many shots the model gets with this Action.

Commander – Command radius 6”
Gung Ho! – This model is immune to Panic from Losses

Veteran 2

CBT: 6
CMD: 5
CON: 6

Weapon: Rifle 25 / 2 / 4
Sturdy - This weapon may be used as an improvised two-handed weapon in Close combat. It is CBT/2 for all Actions and Checks and has the following Weapon Profile: 1/C/1 Improvised, 2-hands.
Firearm - Firearms multiply their Effective Range by 5 for determining the Maximum Long Range.
Sharpshooter – When executing a Standing Fire or Take Aim Action against a target, this Trait negates the target’s Concealment.
Stoic – This model may re-roll his die for one failed CMD Check per Turn. This may not be used to re-roll a Strategy Check result.

Troopers x 4

CBT: 4
CMD: 4
CON: 4

Weapon: Rifle 25 / 2 / 4
Sturdy - This weapon may be used as an improvised two-handed weapon in Close combat. It is CBT/2 for all Actions and Checks and has the following Weapon Profile: 1/C/1 Improvised, 2-hands.
Firearm - Firearms multiply their Effective Range by 5 for determining the Maximum Long Range.
Stubborn - This model automatically stops fleeing during the Recovery step of the next SitRep phase as if he had been the target of a Steady Action. He may be Ordered an Action normally later that Turn in the Orders Phase.

Giles knocked up a similar force, but gave his the ‘ranger’ trait. Speaking of traits – anyone wishing to play the BoB rules is advised to keep track of what traits your figures possess – more of which later…

The Game

The battlefield was bisected by a road (bordered by fences and hedges), flanked by a large wood on one side and a wooded hill on the other. Below this hill and at right angles to the road was a ruined wall.

The action kicked off with Giles and me both splitting up our forces, with some of my BUF heading for the wall, while the larger group attempted a flanking manoeuvre through the woods. The bulk of Giles’ MHC occupied the hill, while some were held back to counter my flanking move.

My under cover of the ruined wall my SMG-toting veteran and two troopers exchanged fire with the similarly armed MHC on the hill. Both sides took hits, with models becoming ‘shocked’. Quite quickly one of the BUF riflemen bit the bullet but luckily his nearby comrades passed the panic test and continued firing, with the high CON rating of the veteran keeping him in action.

Meanwhile the other BUF group slowly trudged through the woods achieving very little. As the firefight between the wall and the hill hotted up, I decided to bring these guys out of the woods to provide supporting fire, causing the MHC reserve to move up too.

With all of the figures now engaged, the MHC began taking more casualties (one of them 'shot whilst trying to escape') than the BUF, but again the required panic tests were passed. However by now another BUF trooper had been wounded, and this time my SMG veteran failed his panic test and legged it!

Annoyingly it wasn’t until after the game that I remembered that this chap had the ‘gung ho!’ trait, and shouldn’t have fled – d’oh! I also remembered that my other veteran had the ‘sharpshooter’ trait, which I also failed to take advantage of – double d’oh! The MHC commander also briefly withdrew, as both of these high-stat characters duelled SMG fire.

Despite this, the BUF had the upper hand, taking more MHC guys out of action as the flanking group joined the firing line along the wall. However by now both forces had suffered 25% losses and at the beginning of each turn we were soon both rolling for rout tests (one of the perils of fielding smaller elite forces). Eventually, despite suffering fewer casualties, the BUF proved that they had lost the stomach for the fight and failed their rout test, handing the game to Giles’ MHC.

Despite this rather abrupt end, we had a great game and agreed that the Brink of Battle rules are good fun to play, although we both need to get our heads around the rules a bit more, as in retrospect we both made mistakes and misinterpretations (although we made them consistently!) Oh, and it also pays to remember your figures’ traits too!

I think we both finished feeling that we’d like to play BoB again, although when we’ll get another game in remains to be seen, as soon I’ll be busy with other things – stay tuned…

Oh, Giles’ version of events can be found in his excellent blog, here – take a look!

The Bide-a-Wee Rest Home for Retired Gentlemen

Time went slowly at the Bide-a-Wee Rest Home for Retired Gentlemen, with only the muffled ticking of the old grandfather clock to indicate that it was even moving at all. That was until, deep in the shadowy recesses of the reading room, a shrivelled figure broke the timeless silence with a ‘harrumph!’

“Look at this!” he exclaimed, the few wispy white strands of his otherwise bald head dancing above the top of his newspaper. “Some bounder’s raided the post office at Stoke Edith!”

“What? But that’s only just down the road!” retorted a craggy-faced resident from the depths of his armchair.

“I heard about that,” said another, “Matron’s beside herself.”

“Something must be done!” someone croaked, to murmurs of general approval.

“But what could we do? Our day has long gone.”

“Bah! You sound just like my son: ‘It’s time you went out to pasture and let us youngsters run the show.’ Well I for one am not sitting here while the country goes to wrack and ruin any longer!”

“Here here!”

“I say Morrison, isn’t your nephew still in the munitions business?”

“When he’s not trying to wheedle his way into my last will and testament, yes – what of it?”

“Well with all these militias and whatnot springing up, maybe we should… you know…”

“Ooh, I think I’ve still got my old rifle stashed away somewhere…”

“And I could borrow one of our Frank’s shotguns for ‘rabbiting…”

“I claim dibs on the hand grenades – I used to be quite the beamer in my youth.”

“What about uniforms?”

“Yech! I swore never to wear a uniform after the Sudan!”

“Well I’ve still got an account with Moss Bross…”

“But what would Matron say if we all started swanning off?”

“We’ll tell her we’re all off to the bingo.”

“Oh no, not bingo!”

“Well cribbage then! Hang it all, let’s just say ‘we’re definitely not going out to shoot at some ne’er do wells’ and leave it at that! Now are we going bally well to do this or what?”

I’d bought some second-hand golden oldie Grenadier gangster figures via the Lead Adventure Forum. Originally they were just going to be a bunch of gangsters who’d somehow wound up in Herefordshire, but as I was painting them it struck me how venerable they looked, and so I decided to morph them into a group of elderly chaps – Last of the Summer Wine with guns!

The eagle eyed among you will have also spotted a Saddam Hussein figure from The Assault Group – given away free as part of their Facebook promotion!

Monday, 11 June 2012

Improvised mortar and crew

Time to give my small Anglican League force some extra oomph, with this improvised mortar.

Making the mortar itself was pretty easy – just a piece of Biro inner tube and a square of plastic for the base. I was then going to make a tripod out of wire, but I couldn’t be sure of the exact dimensions, plus it seemed rather fiddly, so I copped out and instead made a ‘wooden’ crosspiece out of bits of plastic sprue.

The crew comprise of two Great War WW1 figures (the separate guy with binoculars and the guy handing the mortar round, which was originally a pigeon!) and a BlackTree WW2 resistance assassin (the guy standing, with his trilby swapped for a tin helmet).

The mortar round and crosspiece are from my increasingly depleted Warlord Games plastic WW2 weapons sprue.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Jubilee local history weekend

Prior to huddling under a rain-soaked gazebo at our street party yesterday, the extra-long jubilee weekend gave me a little free time to check out a couple of local history events.

Withington Weekend

On Sunday I went back to the village where I grew up to visit a local history exhibition at St. Peter’s Church.

Here had been collected a number of artefacts, photos and newspaper cuttings reflecting life in the village over the past couple of centuries. The exhibition included various themes, some of which this blog has also touched upon and others which will no doubt appear in this humble work in the future. These included hop picking and cider making, home life, the village’s military past, the tile works, the school and railway and canal heritage.

It was great to amble back down memory lane and stumble across a number of old photos of my grandparents, my dad and also one of yours truly! Here are a few snaps from my visit:-

Of course, it was only right and proper to say hello to Nan and Granddad while I was there…

Berrington Hall WWII weekend

On Monday my family and I popped up to Berrington Hall (then realised we’d forgotten our National Trust cards, so popped home and then popped back again) to see how the jubilee was being celebrated there.

Time was short, so after doing the Marvellous Monarchs trail with the little ‘un, I snuck off to see the WWII stuff. During the war, Berrington Hall acted as a hospital, whilst also playing host to an American army camp – both of these facets were reflected at the event.

Exhibitions and re-enactors included the SOE Intelligence Gathering Office, the Historic Caravan Club and MVT and the Victorian Westerners in 1940’s period costume. Sadly by the time I arrived many re-enactors were packing up, so hopefully next year I’ll have more time to chat.

Some photos of the afternoon:-

Oh, and as for the street party – soggy, but fun!