Friday, 23 August 2019

The Reluctance of Pepin the Fat

From "a concise History of Frankish Viking interaction" by Professor Sir James Coxpole of the University of North Durham:
King Pepin the Fat, interesting bloke, very hungry.  Fought the Vikings of Harald the Black and Egil of the Variable Dice Luck for Normandy.  Pepin's big mistake was calling in Earl Odda of the Saxons as his ally.

The Franks line up, ready to face the Vikings

Across the valley the Vikings appear.   Is it just my imagination or are there a lot of them?

Harald the Barrel, fresh from his success in bullying the British 

King Pepin, accompanied by man with picnic hamper.

Lord Oliver charges home as the Frankish Panzers roll.

Earl Odda leaves half of his army in the village

Count Oliver and his men perish, as Pepin refuses to charge up that hill for the second time.

Earl Odda gets stuck in, with the very centre of his line, leading in person.  He is soon killed and  two thirds of his army run away.
Still looking for my photo of that event,  sadly lost to the memory card of time...
Captain Martel attacks and rolls nine hits with twelve dice.

Martel bursts through and routs the warband opposing him.

Whilst King Pepin refuses to move for the fourth time.

Finally Pepin goes for it on the fifth try, up the hill breaking through the Vikings.  He may be fat, but turns out he is also Mighty.

But he reaches the summit a weakened force.

Captain Namon gets stuck in too, routing and destroying a Viking band.  

With Bishop Turpin killed and their levy all but holding out the Franks survive until pub o' clock.  
Turns out the Franks are rather handy, and well capable of hammering Vikings.
Next week we turn to the Celtic fringe.  How will they fare against the Viking horde?

Tuesday, 20 August 2019

Death of a Scotsman

Once again Lucky Jack Quilp has demonstrated a knack for locating wrecks; last month it was The Dutchman, this month The Chancellor. With the aid of  a couple of longboats it should be easy to liberate the stricken vessel of its cargo of contraband whisky.  However, unknown to our hero, the leader of the Scottish militia, Ebeneezer Balfour, has had his spies and informants abroad and has wind of Quilp's intentions. Raising the miltia, he intends to get to the whisky first.

The first game of turn two in my Blood and Plunder solo campaign was to be the 'Plunder' scenario from the 'No Peace Beyond the Line' supplement. It was also to be the first outing for The Chancellor - kindly donated by Uriah the boat-builder.

The Chancellor - stuck on the shoals

The Scottish force consisted of Ebeneezer Balfour with 4 European Soldiers and 4 European Sailors in one longboat. A second boat carried 5 European Soldiers and 8 European Militia. This was a 100 point force, as calculated by the nifty online Force Builder on the Firelock Games website.

The Scots

This time I experimented with the number of figures: for 15mm games, on land, I prefer to substitute bases of two  figures and just count the number of bases. I usually revert to counting actual figures for games involving boats due to space restraints. This time I went for bases; it almost works for my newer figures on square bases but unfortunately the older figures on rounds don't quite work.

The English

The English force consisted of Lucky Jack Quilp with 5 Freebooters and 4 Sea Dogs in one longboat. The second boat contained another 5 Freebooters and 4 Sea Dogs. I had 2 points in hand so I added a musician to Lucky Jack's group; I actually had a buccaneer drummer that I used to represent the musician. The musician would give the command unit the Inspiring trait - although I'd actually forgot that Lucky Jack is inspiring anyway. However, all was not lost as the musician also inflicts Terror on the first turn - i.e. all the enemy units have to roll a resolve test. Mind you they all passed anyway - still serious drumming!
Also pregame, Lucky Jack had two tactics to play and Balfour one. Most of the tactics are more appropriate for land battles but I chose Undisciplined Louts and High Tolerance. I diced for the Scots choice and came up with High Tolerance - which effectively countered my Undisciplined Louts tactic (this would have seen the Scots have to test for drunkeness). Obviously the Scots are hardened drinkers -who said typecasting?

The English deployed with both boats using the sweeps with the Sea Dogs assigned to the task. The Scots had one boat with the sailors on the sweeps but the second boat, wishing to maximize its firepower, deployed with the sails set.

Turn one saw the Scots draw a Joker, thereby initiating a random event. A wind change - bad news for the Scottish boat under sail.
In the initial moves both sides converged upon each other and exchanged some long range musketry. The Scots sailing boat also began to turn away from the wind.

End of Turn One - Scots boats in trouble 
 Turn two also began bad for the Scots as their boats collided.

Make way - no you make way! 
With one boat struggling under sail, Balfour's men made an extra effort at the sweeps and surged ahead.

Balfour makes for the Chancellor

With one boat downwind and out of the fight, Balfour was surrounded by the English boats and his Soldiers gunned down, leaving him with a small group of sailors.

Balfour under fire
 The English then seized the initiative, boarding the Chancellor with the Freebooters and locating the loot. They then passed this overboard to the Sea Dogs in the longboat.

English about to board
 However, the Scots militia had eventually struggled up to a position downwind of the Chancellor from where they could bring their massed firepower to bear. A bit of nifty shooting and the Sea Dogs were wiped out - leaving the loot unprotected in the bottom of the longboat!

Fire as she bears!
 Not only that but Balfour had grappled the Chancellor from the bow and was about to lead his sailors in a last ditch boarding action. That is until Quilp, backing water, brought his longboat into a position where his Freebooters were firing at point blank range with ball and shot. With one final volley, the Sailors were no more and ex-captain Balfour was lying dead in the bottom of his boat.

Death of a Scotsman
Another victory for Lucky Jack who is now clearly ahead in the campaign.

All in all a good game and I think the best one yet,

Friday, 16 August 2019

Egil's Raid on the Welsh...

With the Campaign season drawing to a close, and the long sail home beckoning there was time for a last raid.  Egil decided to pick on the Welsh.  What could go wrong?

The Welsh King decides that he is staying home today.
A magnificently placed palisade

Meanwhile down the road, the forces of barbarism loot and Plunder.

An isolated force of Vikings on the left.  The Welsh bring on their cavalry...

And the Welsh get some reinforcements on table, planning to frustrate the Vikings plan to plunder.

The Welsh King leads a big warband into the bog and gets it into schilltron.  Its proximity will stop the pillage of the village.

The Welsh charge their cavalry in a gamble to knock out the smaller warband.
Having used their skirmishers to annoy and frustrate the Vikings this was a bold or perhaps reckless plan.

Imagining they were Franks, lead by the Paladins of Charlemagne, the Welsh cavalry assault and break the Viking shield wall.  Glorious and a bit mad.

With the Viking's frustrated they withdraw, their only Plunder some pigs.  

And so to the Campaign scores, and it's only loot that concerns us!

Harald 40
Ragnar's 28
Ase  26
Egil 8

The Campaign season closes.

But a last great raid against the Franks is planned... 

Sunday, 11 August 2019

Longships: Harald Bashes his Bishop.

A Longship Raid on the Scots... 

"Protect us Lord from the big choppers of the Northmen..."

The sleepy Scots village...  The King in his wooden castle.  What could go wrong?

But that castle is very very well placed...

And here come the Vikings,
rope and pillage, pillage and rope.
Loves rope does Harald.

And the Scots Fortress makes them nervous...

But they get on well with that pillage and Plunder thing...

As you would expect, the Scots sit tight.

But the Vikings of Harald find a gift from God, Roger the Bishop no less...
Plunder and Arson...

Finally the Scots start to appear.  What kept you boys?

The Vikings scarper

And Roger the Bishop discovers the meaning of aptronym.

But still the Scots King sits on his throne.  I don't think he liked the Bishop, so it's win win.

Sunday, 4 August 2019

The 15mm sloop H.M Chancellor

Having read the piratical blog of the club secretary I was inspired to revisit my boat building plans for my 10mm Pathos Napoleonic Naval games.  I was curious to see if I could construct one of my scratch build paper/card models in 15mm.
First off some maths.  Not the strongpoint of a dyscalcic English teacher.

My plans were drawn up for a Topsail cutter, essentially a British name for a vessel rigged in a particular way.  A cutter would have a length of around 60 feet, and in 15mm I reckoned to use just over 15cm for the deck length.  The bowsprit would add another 20 feet at least.

For 10mm I use 1.8mm to the foot.  In 15mm it's more like 2.5mm to the foot.  A small 100 foot frigate would be 25cm.  Just about manageable on an A4 printout.  The Cutter or sloop at 60 foot (actually 63ft) 15.5cm.

Having adjusted the hull to the set requirement I took myself off to the library to print up the plan in colour, as well as do my own half dozen ship plans for Cyprus.

After that the real build started.  Thick cardboard, actually the backing from a writing pad was glued to the plan, and then cut out.  It's a difficult process, but I find that pins, clips and elastic bands soon warp the hull into the shape I'm after.

A 20mm Roman HaT plastic figure, cut off at the midriff, forms the golden figurehead.  Not strictly correct for this size of boat but Tobias Farthingdale shipyards demand a certain quality.  Yes I know, I have a boat building persona whom I blame for this sort of thing.

I used a penny as a handy marker to work out the depth of the deck, figuring that at 10mm to get the look I wanted.  Barbeque skewers for masts and spars was easy enough, remembering to stain them with wood stain.

The fighting top is a section of balsa, reinforced underneath to prevent it from breaking when used.  One of my strict requirements is that the masts and spars dismantle for storage.  Some mess about is needed to create this, but  it still  needs the look.  

The hatch cover and tiller glue onto the deck, and a covering allows the bowsprit to be set up and removed.

That is the model about half complete...
The next phase is the detailing.  

Several of my 10mm ships needed painting after I made errors in the build.  Easy enough to cover over the paper decoration but it's a lot of work. For HM Chancellor I avoided that, but gave the stern gold highlights and blackened the railings.  A general tart up really.  I also added the 'wings' for the ratlines.

The gunports had wooden strips glued in place and painted a black brown colour.  I left the internal side of the ports.  

A simple anchor was added on the bows, painted "rusty iron."

Next I tackled the guns.  There are six ports, but I decided that in fitting out only four guns would be set up.  Old Tobias gave the boat three of the standard six pounders this size vessel would have carried, as well as an older three pounder long gun,with a little more range but less striking power.

Likes to save a bit of his cash does Tobias.  I did add in a couple of swivel guns above the waist.  The Naval Lieutenant who takes the sloop on will have to deal with the disparity in armaments.

With the name of the vessel added on the stern I moved on to tackle the sails.

A sloop would have a fore and aft rig but that would make storage far more difficult.  Actually having any sails set makes storing the ship a nightmare, so I went for furled sails.  In retrospect I could have done furled and set sails to swap out.  Winding modelling clay onto the spars I rigged it up with thread from an old boot lace.  It's rigged as a Topsail cutter rather than a ship sloop, and is single masted, but these were a vessel type used for nearly three hundred years, and in many roles.

And there she is HM Sloop Chancellor, about to  a be handed over to Quilp of the Navy Board, ready to be crewed and to patrol the Caribbean.
Now I just need to build myself a Brig, and crew her  with my own Peter Pig Pirates to challenge the Chancellor on the open seas.  One for a Christmas game?