Tuesday, 4 July 2017

And the Hyborian Barbarians are finished!

I devoted a fair amount of concentrated time getting the last of my HOTT Hyborian Barbarians finished before I depart for foreign climes at the end of the week. There were three groups of elements to complete. First, three groups of Shooters with bows;

Next four Warbands, comprised of warriors with axes or swords and shields, but without any body armour at all (some of the Blades wear mail shirts). I see these as younger fighters, eager to prove themselves in battle;

And finally, four Hordes of primitive and savage cave dwellers, armed with stone weapons, tattooed in arcane designs and led by shamans and priestesses of the Elder Gods;

I am really pleased with this army. I think that it really does justice to Robert E. Howard's invented Hyborian Age. The figures really fit the concept perfectly. The miniatures, from Copplestone Castings Barbarica Fantasy range are really excellent and the detail on them is amazing, lovely and crisp and with a lot of definition. This makes the minis a delight to paint and they take ink well to bring out the details perfectly. I love ink as a finish to my minis. My preference is for Windsor and Newton Peat Brown drawing ink.

The minis are on the larger side of 15mm, chunkier than Essex and considerably bigger than Peter Pig or Magister Militum, but I don't think that is a bad thing at all. Not only does it make them easier to detail, it also makes them look like a really dangerous and powerful-looking force. Of course, whether that translates to success on the table all depends on the luck of the dice and whether I get the tactics right.

So, holiday time now. When I get back I'll really have to finish off all the stuff I've got either prepped on sticks or in various stages of undercoated and initial blocks of colour.

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Revealed - my latest project ...............

...........And it is Hyborian Age barbarians, for Hordes Of The Things. Once again, my aim is to build a big enough army to be able to field a 48AP army if I get the chance. Also, I really love the miniatures, which are from the Copplestone Castings 15mm "Barbarica Fantasy" range.

While I was waiting for the figures to arrive, I wrote up some ideas about what a Hyborian Age barbarian army might be like, and how one might arise. Here are my thoughts;

Many of the barbarian tribes of the Hyborian Age still worship the eldritch Elder Gods in their fastnesses on the fringes of the civilised nations. They live for battle, for plunder, for glory and to be named in the songs of the tribes. Great barbarian leaders are remembered for many years and the stories of their deeds are recited and retold around the fires of the tribes long after their deaths. Many of the great leaders of the past are celebrated as almost divine figures.

The armies of the barbaric tribes consist mainly of warbands of brutal fighters armed with swords, axes and warhammers, supported by smaller numbers of warrior elites who usually fight on foot, supported by fighters mounted on the hardy horses of the steppes and plains. These armies also contain a number of skilled hunters, often younger warriors, who fight with the bow, hordes of primitive tattooed tribesmen who use stone clubs and spears, priests and priestesses of the gods, male and female shamans and mighty heroes, some riding barely-tamed savage beasts.

Barbarian armies rarely stay together for long periods, though. Their aim is plunder and pillage and warbands often have a falling out once they have sacked a few settlements or towns, generally returning to their villages with their spoils after trading insults and blows. It takes heroic leaders of great physical presence, personal renown and great charisma to keep a large force in the field long enough to defeat the armies of the kingdoms, but from time to time such a leader emerges, the warbands and tribes unite and an unstoppable tide of bloodthirsty killers descends upon civilisation, leaving death, destruction and red ruin in its wake. Occasionally, huge barbarian confederations can overrun entire provinces, sack great cities and even topple thrones. Some barbarian leaders have even found themselves ruling lands which their hordes have seized after defeating all the armies sent against them. It is rare, though for a barbarian king to found a dynasty and therefore perpetuate barbarian rule over a whole kingdom for several generations, but it has happened more than once.

So, on to the figures. First, here are a dozen mighty warriors representing the Blades component of my army. Because of the size of these minis, I have only put three on each base.

Here they are in two separate groups. I am really impressed with the quality of these castings.

Next, I have some mounted troops, based up in threes, who will all be classed as Riders.

I also have enough miniatures prepped ready for painting to give me four elements of Warbands, three of Shooters (bowmen) and four Hordes. I am hoping to get these finished before I go on holiday at the end of next week.

Of course, any army needs to include some characters, and this one is no exception. So here are three mounted Heroes. These were the figures that first attracted me to this range. I think that they are superb. Of course, I can't envisage including all three in a single 24AP army, but they really are irresistible.

Next, here is a giant, who will be my barbarian Behemoth. This miniature is about 60mm tall, so he'll really stand out on the battlefield.

And finally, I have a Magician, OK, two Magicians on one base;

And a pair of savage priestesses of the Elder Gods, who will be used as a Cleric;

As I have mentioned the Elder Gods, the statue on my Stronghold (see my previous post ) is removable, so it can be fielded as a God if I so desire.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Guess the next project

Here are a few photos of the start of my next project. Any guesses what it might be?

The terrain is made from blue dense polystyrene foam, mounted on 2mm MDF and the removable resin statue (from Copplestone Castings) is approximately 4.5cm tall. The statue is clearly of some kind of Lovecraftian Elder God.

The stone alignments are also made from blue foam. I cut into the foam to get the effect of stratified layers and cave entrances and also cut out the rough steps up to the main plateau. This was given a sparse layer of fine railway ballast and spray-painted in varying shades. The grey spray actually began to eat into the foam, but the effect of this looked pretty good, creating a weather and aged effect. I then painted everything with washes of Vallejo acrylics, drybrushing to bring up the details and then flocked the rocky outcrop in a number of places.

I think that this looks pretty cool.

Monday, 26 June 2017

A return to Alien Squad Leader

Having not played Alien Squad Leader for a while, yesterday was a chance to get the Human Imperial Army out again for a 200pt game against Richard's Alien Predatory Warhost.

The scenario was a Pitched Battle. Here is some background.

The Third Human Condominium has been fighting against the Canid Predators who had appeared in the sparsely populated but mineral rich Bowza system for several months, and the conflict had recently arrived on Bowza IV, a dry and inhospitable mining world. 

Following the fighting on Themis III, Brigadier Natasha Franklin and her strikeforce had been augmented by the addition of a number of units of Class C Line Droids. These robotic infantry units would better able to withstand the parched heat of Bowza IV, which is where Brig. Franklin's troops had been posted. Their role was to act as an advance force on the left flank of the main 3HC army on the planet. Elsewhere, combat had been heavy and both sides were currently regrouping, but Marshal Otto von Bizmüth, the 3HC planetary grand commander saw the broken territory to the north west of his lines as a possible line of advance. Franklin's troops were sent to explore. Before long, her scouts brought back reports of an advancing Canid battle host. The 3HC commander halted her force and constructed a hasty defensive line.

She had a weak right flank. This was a deliberate ploy, the idea being that the hated Xenos would concentrate their attacks here.

In the centre was a heavy Vanquisher Class Battle Mech. Before long, this would be reinforced by a couple of units of Line Droids.

The 3HC left wing contained the armoured threat of the fearsome Goliath MBTs. A stealth-equipped sniper was also deployed on this flank.

The lighter droids would act as a screen for the heavier giant Mech.

Stormtrooper infantry soon deployed along a low hill to protect Brig. Franklin's ACV.

The hated Canid barbarians began to swarm around the low hills in front of the 3HC right flank.

An artillery bombardment from orbital gun platforms soon caused the Canid centre to take casualties, pinning them in the cover of a rocky outcrop.

Unfortunately, the Canid tanks soon began to find their range and targeted the smaller droids, causing casualties. The giant Battle Mech was immune to their puny fire.

With no enemies visible on the 3HC left, the troops there remained on Overwatch, while the Xeno beasts advanced across the plateau in front of the 3HC right.

Their troops charged into combat with the 3HC light AFVs, and massed fire took out the Stormtrooper commander on this flank. This could have been a major blow, but Brig. Franklin's command range was still able to control her forces here.

The giant Vanquisher poured bolts of fire onto the Canid tanks, stopping them from advancing.

Aware that there was something in front of the 3HC left, but unable to see it, the Goliath MBT's swept around from the left, one advancing behind the Canid lines and destroying a tank, and the other swinging around behind the 3HC defensive positions to bring its guns to bear on the Canid foot troops.

It was clear that hand to hand assaults were the most successful Xeno tactic and the weak 3HC right was finally eliminated, with the emphasis switching to the central area dominated by the combat droids.

This area would soon become the make or break part of the battlefield.

Realising that the rocks on her left had been infiltrated by stealth Canids,  Brig. Franklin left sufficient troops on overwatch to counter any threat from this quarter. More and more indirect fire was called down from above, destroying the Canid centre and causing a mounting casualty list.

Eventually the aliens tried to break out from their hiding place but Stormtrooper fire, supported by the stealth Sniper soon defeated this threat, while the central battle raged on, with the giant Battle Mech finally being overwhelmed by the feral Xeno hordes.

However, this was still not enough to tilt the balance against the gallant Human troops, whose core forces remained relatively intact. Things looked hopeless for the aliens, who were forced to concede the day.

OK, so I won. Terrific, except that it was only after the battle that we realised that according to strict tournament rules. Rich had actually eliminated half of my elements in the final round, just before I eliminated 50% of his. However, it was obvious that with no armour he was unlikely to actually defeat my army, particularly as he had few stands of troops who were not carrying hits. So, therefore a moral victory to me. This was an excellent game, with my overwatch tactics effectively neutralising his infiltrated units, and vice versa. The thing that really swung the balance was the power of the Human indirect artillery barrages, coupled with the long range threat from my MBTs and the Battle Mech.

Monday, 19 June 2017

A HOTT afternoon at the club

Yesterday was hot in more than one way. The temperature was up around the 30C mark and the major thing at the club was a series of games of HOTT (Hordes Of The Things).

This was a chance for me to roll out my Averland-inspired army against some actual opponents. "How did things turn out?" you ask. "Not very well!" I reply.

I played four games, two against Nick's Orcs and two against John's Dwarves and Elvish chaps. In every case, I lost. Now, that could be down to inexperience, but bad dice rolls and impetuosity both played a part too. In the first game, I defended on a table that really didn't offer me much help. Neither did a truly bad initial deployment, which pretty much left my Knights in an endless series of rounds of combat with Nick's Orc Knights.

It didn't help much that I soon lost my Behemoth (the Da Vinci turtle tank), for no gains.

Eventually, I lost because I had taken too many casualties.

In the second game, I defended again, and once more deployed my forces in a formation that pretty much isolated my Knights. This time, though, I deployed Riders on the right flank and these at least had a useful role to play.

I lost my left flank Shooters and Blades early on and this really didn't help me at all, even though my Spears managed to push back Nick's scorpion Behemoth.
The real problem was that I'd got my general into a bad position defeating Nick's Knights, which led inevitably to his demise, and my defeat.

My next two games were against John's Elf/Dwarf alliance. Both times I tried to ensure that my deployment was more coherent and I decided to occupy the hills on my half of the table. John deployed in a solid line.

My Knights advanced along the road.

At this point, things seemed OK. I didn't expect that his Flyers, including an Aerial Hero would be such a problem. I soon lost one unit of Knights to John's Hero General, which showed up the flaw in my plans.

My Spears saw off an attack by Flyers

But the Aerial Hero (identified by the red counter) caused a realignment of my line.

With my Blades standing firm, the Shooters rejoined the battle line.

The Hero Flyer refused combat and left my Blades exposed as John's line advanced.

I threw caution to the winds and charged. Bad mistake. Although I won combats, all I was doing was forcing his troops to recoil. I couldn't destroy any troops. Eventually, I lost my remaining Knights, inevitably followed by my Hero General.

Game over.

We managed to squeeze in a final battle. We both deployed Magicians, and I brought in some Riders, dropping my Spears.

John was defending, and I was pretty much forced to advance, because he just sat still in front of his Stronghold.

My Riders managed to tie up his right flank for a long time, including his Magician.

I advanced and got into combat. This is where it all went wrong. I felt sure that I had an advantage but my dice rolls were truly appalling and my line got twisted out of shape and I was destroyed piecemeal. Happily, there are no pictures of this shameful collapse by the army of Averland.

So, I reckon that I have a lot to learn about how to win at HOTT.