Thursday, 19 December 2013

OGAM Scenarios

Nothing wrong with the one's in the book!

Deep Forest. This is what you get by watching Kurosawa's Throne of Blood whilst making scenery.

The defender should be a forest god. I suggest a central river with the bridge in the middle and the ford at one end, neither should lead directly to a wood. Five wood bases are placed, one will straddle the river. Each is numbered with a small dice, one at the defenders choice is numbered both 1 and 6.

Defender. Divide your forces, listing any hidden in the forest bases. These are presumed to be in ambush. Defenders forces move as normal.

Attacker. Only units that are foresters, have danger sense or are being led (in base-to-base or column) by a god may move through a wood as normal. Any unit entering a wood will face being ambushed by any units placed there. On exiting the wood, they will find themselves on the edge of a random wood (diced for) and placed by the defender, but not directly by one of his units. A unit of 2 or more bases can be split by, but not dumped in, the river.

You can presume that there is a mist rising from the river that befuddles larger and flying units.

If that doesn't suit, mix wood and ruined building bases together to make a city buried in the woods

Temple Village. A village is located centrally, with a river at one edge, the bridge leads into the village. The temple represents one aspect of the god that the attacker wants to diminish.

Defender should have 5 legends (preferably heroes rather than monsters) and the rest of the force made of poor quality troops.

Attacker may not set up within one long of the temple nor occupy any village base. If the defending god is defeated then the attribute is lost for the duration of the campaign or completion of a quest to restore it.

The Quest. A sacred object is hidden in one of the terrain features (cave, tree in a swamp or back of the wardrobe) or on the person (a grail, fleece or girdle) of one of the defenders Legends. The object may, after invoking, bestow an attribute while in the units possession. A god can sense the object from 1 Long, but only a Legend can retrieve it.

Hells Bells. It's the Millennium, the calender’s just expired or there's an Aaaagh in the month. The god of the underworld, a few mates and their pets decide to have a bit of a barby.

Terrain, any plus one hell-hole in the centre of the table.

Defender starts with every unit in contact with the table edge.

Attacker may bring on one unit per turn, within one long of the hell-hole centre (the exact centre of the table. Each turn a mortal unit spends invoking may be used to place another hell-hole exactly the same size as their base. If the same unit is recoiled into it or destroyed, the hole closes but remains broken ground. Any mortal unit entering a hell-hole is lost. A legend must pass a Q test or be lost.

You could go to town with this one. I can see Colonials with a gun toting Empress doing a god-stand-in. WW1 with the Angel of Mons. Cthulu.

OGAM scenery part 1

OGAM Scenery and Scenarios. 

So here's some I've just made to do the scenarios. First off, my Litko measurement tool was a real help. For instance, my river bases are a long long, medium wide with the river a short wide. The techniques used here are borrowed from, or inspired by, TMP, Yahoo groups and “how to's” on You tube. I'm also going to thank my wargaming buddy Tony, who always expects the best.

Having made rectangular "half" bases, I'm now thinking of adding some triangular.

Batch 1. Ponds, hills, ruined temples and wood bases. “1a” river.
Main construction materials: wood coloured vinyl tiles from 99p store*, tacks, pre-mix filler and PVA, silver foil, aquarium plants plus mixture of sand and flock. Scrap polystyrene foam and EV/funny foam.

Ponds, medium sized movement squares with corners chopped off.

Patches of rumpled foil stuck down with PVA (which fills in the rucks, making the product fairly durable), tacks held in place with rough sand, acrylic paint & PVA mix Small shards of waste foam gave some rocks.

 Water painted with ultramarine and inks. Once dry, flocked then plants added to the tacks. I should snip the tacks off, paint the stems and edge bases in brown.

Rivers were a simpler version. 

Ponds were not dry brushed white, as I wanted a "darker" finish.

One of our wholesalers do these nice ceramic bamboo beads, a quick light green ink and I have bamboo groves that will support a flying figure.


Hills, square hills? Small hills!

Fortunately I had some scrap 5mm thick foam.

So a middle one 3 layers high, two layered and a third assembled out of the scraps. Filler mixed with PVA, get your fingers in there!

The scrap one below turned out to be my favourite after some ruthless filling & trimming.

Due to using the same bowl used for the ponds, these turned out like mint ice-cream-. Two days later when dry, quick coat of burnt umber edged with yellow ochre**.

 The edges were strengthened and weathered with a dark brown sand & PVA, then a very dark flock.

 Ruined temples were made in same way, the basic one will take four of my movement trays on the top layer. The one opposite was made from such a small piece of scrap foam that even I'd bin it.

Wood bases. These are my second generation using tiles as opposed to cardboard.

I base all plants, rock, bushes and other small scenic items on 2p coins. Marking out the holes, I remove them with a very sharp knife.

Fortunately the foam is one of the few substances that will stick to the tile-glue.

A quick slosh with paint seals the glue. Even after that the foam will grip the coin.

For these and my river bases I use my “lazy” flocking technique. A thick layer of sap green and PVA is pallet~knifed on then flock is added.

I seal all of the above with strong hold hair spray. The secret is to press it down, a spoon is the ideal tool. I made extra half bases to create mixed bases or table edge.

So that's it. I spent £3 on tiles, £2.60 on filler and £3 on paint. Everything else, lets say £5.

 Most stages were complete in 10 minutes. So these are the ideal project to have lined up for a quick burst- which is why my production/drying area is on top of the fridge.

*I don't know how I d missed this product which has given me instant roofs, bridges, landing stages. Lightly scour an it will take paint well. In the sizes used shows no sight of curling and, except for the ponds and bamboo, everything will pack flat.  I've tried using tiles full size, but they just curl.

**You will note that I use colours. Goblin snot is marketing, not a colour.

Nessie from hanging about in a pond or Nessie-hole.



Scenery Epithany

I had this Epiphany*. I've been making a lot of scenery these last couple of years, but OGAM really got my head together.

First, assemble your pallet. Wood, cardboard and foamboard don't work for me. Floor tiles and EV foam does. I have access to lots of scrap polystyrene and a plaster/pva mix is such fun to use.

Work out your criterion.

Keep some figures handy for scale comparison.

Plan your scenery to fit the scenario, or the scenario to fit the scenery.

It's wargaming, not model railway or art.

Many small pieces are better than one big.

Further away from the action, less detail required.

If you don't like making scenery, get some children and chain them to a table with a pile of raw material at one end. Feed and water with weight equivalent of finished product. Works for highstreet brands so why not you?**

First manifestation was using Linka building system. I've had this since the 80's – my 25mm days. I've spent the last year (plaster) casting bits and making the odd bit. My inspiration is the buildings and piratical history of, in and around Old Poole for our Flashing Steel games. Although many of these warehouses were still in use, or at least not converted until the 80's some features have changed, but many show the original doors, windows and other fittings. Then it occurred to me:

roofs are a pain and are usually not needed

every building has a courtyard, passage or other enclosed area

everything above the second floor is usually wasted and a nuiscance

So I started making modular floors, small outbuildings and all of a sudden I can do a decent dockyard. Next step is to make walled yards out of box's. 2 fit together and I have storage as well!

 Here's an experiment.

Linka assembled as a flat street-front.

This type of development can still be seen anywhere in the UK that escaped the blitz and 1960's planners.

Needs a pavement in front.

Higher class roads would have a small fenced garden and/or off-road parking.

 I've just washed this with ink rather than a decent paintjob- it's on the list.

Walls and hedges are so easy to make, either freestanding or fixed.

Scouring pad hedges.
 1). Cut to twice the height you require, cut again nice and “wavy”. Glue together using UHU or similar glue. If you use aquarium plants, the trimmings are ideal add-ons. Add with no-more-nails to a base-done!

  1. cut a wall out of cork or tile to half the height, as above, you now have a reversable wall!

“Country” hedges are about as wide as high. Cut, rip, stretch, add in layers. Trees thin it out. Don't forget the entrances.

 Brush on a liberal dose of watered down PVA then apply flock. 

Note - this batch took 3 days to dry at 19c.

Good spray with hairspray and your done!

 Tall walls. Get a piece of card, cereal packet or thicker. Fold over to the height of the wall, cut tabs to make it stand. Tile cut to size.  Fix to base or stick base. Leave to dry.

Tile won't stick to card, so lashings of PVA!
If you want a nice tiled top, use EV foam, if not, just go over base and edges with no-more-nails.


Vinyl tiles stick to foam board! Here's some big “Japanese” walls I made.
Two layers of foamboard makes a good, thick wall. Havn't decided on the top yet- watch this space.

They look so SF I'm going to add these doors.

Another Japanese bamboo wall I made with using bamboo place mat. I cut it into strips, with scissors, then added to a strip of foam board with no-more-nails. I stretched the mat, pressing it hard into the glue. I painted on the strip, first a weak wash of my favourite Antelope Brown with a “dry brush” of burt seinna while still wet.

I then looked at the picks and went "no".  Got the knife out, added ends and "tiles" using coffee stirrers.
Walls high enough to block shooting, but capable of supporting sneaky or flying models.

Gateway was made with off-cuts, the bottom and roof tile remnants from the above.  Planking more coffee stirrers.

An even smaller off-cut made an ideal T connector/gateway

All the above was mouned on the tongue-depresser size craft sticks. Note – if you mount on the edge the warping can become irregular.
I've tried plain and the pre-dyed.  No difference.  
All the above can be pinned together, if required.

*Being over 18 and married, the worst they can do is a restraining order.
** I could be politically correct and say that I'm joking.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Making forces for Song of Sword and Shield

Making forces for Song of Sword and Shield

Quick and dirty. If your not too fussed (as with our “End Games”) just assemble forces as you see fit without too much bother about points, or do a quick tot up from the list.

Matched points. I prefer to have balances forces pre-planned “off the shelf” that I can field or alter for a specific scenario. I'm a great believer that proper preparation prevents poor play. I started buying these troops as soon as the game was proposed. Plus, if you have a regular force, the fact that it's not tailor-made to the scenario gives you a bit more work to do.

Here are 2 I'm playing with.

The Warband of Odysseus

This is a warband in transition. If anyone was going to adapt, it's him.

Starting with 500 points, I wanted a core of pike supported by javelin troops and a few specialists. So I needed a maximum unit size (1/3) of 6, so needed a total of at least 18 bodies.

I needed Mavericks* to make use of the Achaean National Trait.

To save points (and it feels right) I didn't class Odysseus as a hero.

The 500 point Force

Odysseus (Maverick) Q3 C2 Armour3 Javelin Shield Sword 60 points
Spearmen x4 =120 points
Javelins x4 = 140 points
Runners (mavericks) x2 =108 points
C/o archers (mavericks) x2 =70 points

Total 498 points
Total 13 men. 1/3 rule allows units of 4.

This is a quality force, although lacking in skirmishers it can put out a fair number of javelins and one good archer can outdistance and kill enemy skirmishers. In fact, in one of our trial games two such took down Achilles (see below) with a 6:1 shot**. The spearmen can operate as a lance, protected by the others. Go for 3 activations, then use your Heroic Activation for the javelins.

If I was using a different National Trait I'd probably have a unit of skirmishers or archers in place of the runners and close order archers.

Here is an alternative, works with the rules but I'm hard pressed to see what scenario other than assaulting a bridge you'd use it.

Odysseus 60 points as above
Runners x2 =108 points
Spearmen x6 =180 points
Javelin skirmishers x10 =150 points

Total 498

Total of 19 men, allowing 6 men units. 1 of spear, 2 skirmish of 5 each, one runner to protect each flank.

  I can see the skirmishers being left behind due to proper use of the extras.
If using a different nationality, would probably field 2 spear units with Odysseus in one.

800 Points

As above 498 points

4 (more) Javelin =140 points
10 skirmishing javelin =150 points
Upgrading one figure as second in command 15 points
Total 803 points. You can always juggle the number of skirmishers for a closer fit.

This is the crew I've been thinking of. A good combined arms force of 27, so you could even have one massive javelin force of 8. I can see this as a good shipload, an ideal raiding party.

Achilles, sacker of cities.

One thing we can all agree on is that Achilles was the bronze Age version of a tiger tank. When not broken down or out of fuel, an unstoppable killing machine**. His kingdom was some small dump in the sticks of Thrace, Thracians fought on both sides. His Myrmidons were picked troops, but that's about all we know.

Achilles or Patrocles as leader Q4 C3 Armour4, Hero, Javelin, Shield, Sword, Leader, Terrifying charge 107 points.   Patroclese as second in command 89 points. Patroclese as companion 74 points.

I'm trying several “takes” until I feel I get it right. On my list there's a nod towards these:

Ok, they aren’t the “correct” historical miniature, but with some shield swaps they will fit in!

I'm in a phase of repainting and rebasing, so please excuse the odd less-than-perfect.

This list leans towards the Sea Peoples warband option

Achilles (maverick) =107 points
Myrmidons x8 =328 points
Javelin skirmishers x4 =60 points
Total 495 points


Achilles (maverick) =107 points
Patrocles (maverick) =74 points
Myrmidons x6 =246 points
Javelin skirmishers x5 =75 points

Total 502 points  A total of 12/13 gives a maximum unit size of 4

800 points

To round the force off, giving it some long distance hitting power:

Achilles (maverick) =107 points
Patrocles 2C (maverick) =89 points
Myrmidons x8 =328 points
Javelin skirmishers x7 =105 points
Bow or sling skirmishers 10 =170 points

Total 799 points
Total of 27 allows units of 9

To convert this lot into a Sea Peoples warband, lets invent another leader. The famous Popysus, (or perhaps Blutosus), husband/abductor of the lovely Oliveoilia.

Potysus in Achean service Q4 C3 Armour3, Axe, Shield, leader, Terrifying charge, 93 points

So for 500 points:

Popysus (maverick) =93 points
Companion Runner (maverick) =54
Warriors x7 =287 points
Javelin skirmishers x4 =60 points

Total 497 points

Total 13 = units of 4.

Blutotus in Trojan service Q4 C3 Armour3, Axe, Shield, leader, Terrifying charge, 93 points

500 points:

Blutotus (maverick) =93 points
Warriors x6 =246 points
Bow or Slinger skirmishers x 9 =153 points

Total 492 points

Total 16 = units of 5.

There's an idea for a mini campaign using 29 figures. Change of the leaders weapons or combat skill to even up!

If you get a plastic 1:72 box for about £5 you should get that number of usable figures plus a few casualty markers.

One that comes to mind is during a Roman civil war, 2 units on opposite sides meet on a road-.

*A maverick is a single figure as opposed to a skirmisher or unit. Each is activated on their own dice-rolls. The National Rule I use for Acheans is Heroic Attitude, which gives 3 automatic activation successes to single models (so a maverick or a chariot).

** Full story. Javelin heavy force vs Achilles. Achilles gets initiative, him & Patrocles starts knocking people off their feet. (At long range a missile hit knocks you back rather than wounds). My activation, I try the regroup option to buy time. Next, on comes Achilles out front, kills one of mine. My activation, start with my archers, who were in range of Achilles. One dead hero, game over!


Friday, 23 August 2013

Our first play with Elephants for Song of Spear and Shield

“There is only one thing worse than finding an elephant in you pyjamas –
that's finding half an elephant”

Me mukkah Tony did, of his on volition, purchached a positive pile of proud pachyderms on e-bay. We have settled into series of what we call “End Games”, which is to say tactical problems such as a chess player might enjoy.

The following games had no points, extras. They are simple “what if's” or “have we got that right?”.

Game 1 Elephant vs Phalanx. A fairly pedestrian push n shove game. Nothing will really happen until someone rolls a wobbly. I'd park up in front of the pointy's and blow raspberries until something happens. This is when you need archers to even the odds.

Game 2 Elephants vs Javelin skirmishers.

This was fun! Don't try it until your familiar with rules.

To start, there's where the missiles land. You need a D6 for each shooter then sort them out in respect of recipient. A quick tot up of factors then roll some dice – once your used to the mechanics it becomes obvious which is useless so you can speed through the process.

A lucky shot skewered the Mahout, leaving the elephant to rampage. (1-5 hit the elephant)
A quick pass through the skirmishers killed 4, 1 to the pikemen.


Game 3 we racked up the odds. A unit of pike supported by close order archers vs elephant and 4 skirmishers.
  First activation 3 for the elephant – eek!
 “The engines will never stand it!”
 Smack into the archers, who failed to shoot or evade. Two get trampled, one gets piked. Javelin support, hassled and locked the pike, even pushed 2 back!
Activation, 1! So they skip off. Elephant gets 2 so does a hand brake turn and piles into the rear of the phalanx, 3 gone. Javelins skip to the side to make sure they're not in the way.
 Pikes! Can they turn and save the day? Nope, 1 again
(if I ever roll a 6, I'll post it here)
What to do but go straight ahead and hope? Now elephants go faster than close order infantry, and they don't like it up'em!

So our recommendation for a fun game is infantry vs skirmishers, full of action, movement and drama.
An elephant that has “passed through” a pike block (it's all that forin food) meeting the reception committee. Can you imagine what it's like? Hearing all that, waiting to be stomped from behind. Don't panic!

 Yes, I know they are the wrong period troops, on too wide bases and not even fully painted.

But I'd rather be happy and wrong.  Good days wargaming in 'er in doors shop.  Thanks Tone!