Monday, 18 June 2018

New Project & Evolving Painting Styles

I am starting a new "force" to go along with my already completed Darkest Africa figures, this time the dreaded Force Publique...'cos everyone needs a bad guy to face, even the Arab Slavers...!!!

I have bought one pack each of:

I've learned a lot over the last year painting figures from the 28mm Foundry Darkest Africa range, and my painting style has been evolving slowly from a Base Coat/Dip/Highlight style I've done in the past to a blended style.

I have particularly been influenced by a book from Javier Gomez (better known as El Mercenario) called "Painting Wargames Figures" - honestly, I wish I had access to this book years ago, as it has proven invaluable for working out a colour pallet. You can buy the book at:
Read more at:
Anyway, as much for me to remember what i did, as for anyone else, here is my test figure for the Force Publique, with the colour combinations I used. I mix paints as a rule, and blend on the pallet as the mood takes me, rather than paint from the pot.



Colours Used

VMC = Vallejo Model Colour
VGC = Vallejo Game Colour
All percentages are approximate...I go with what looks right!

Skin
Base Coat - 80% VMC Hull Red & 20% VMC Black
1st Highlight - 80% VMC Hull Red 20% VMC Light Brown
2nd Highlight - Add more VMC Light Brown for final 2nd Highlight(s)

Lips
100% VGC Tan

Blue Uniform
Base Coat - 80% VMC Prussian Blue & 20% VMC Black
1st Highlight - 100% VMC Prussian Blue
2nd Highlight - 80% VMC Prussian Blue 20% VGC Off-White

Red Sash and Fez
Base Coat - 100% VMC Cavalry Brown
1st Highlight - 50 % VMC Cavalry Brown & 50% VMC Red (947, as there are more than one red in the range)
2nd Highlight - 100% VMC Red (947)

Buttons
100% VGC Polished Gold

Gun Stock
Base Coat - 100% VMC Hull Red
1st Highlight - 50% VMC Hull Red & 50% VMC Mahogany Sand
2nd Highlight - 100% VMC Mahogany Sand

Gun Barrel/Bayonet
Base Coat - 50% VGC Gun Metal & 50% VMC Black
1st Highlight - 100% VGC Gun Metal
2nd Highlight - 100% VGC Chainmail Silver (just the edge of the bayonet, and fine details)

Gun Barrel Bands
100% VGC Polished Gold

Leather Scabbard and Ammo Box
Base Coat - 100% VMC Black
1st Highlight - 80% VMC Black & 20% VMC Neutral Grey

That's it for now - hope you find it useful! I will post more at a later date, including information on my basing style, which I've been asked about a few times.

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

In Darkest Africa (Homebrew Rules)

So, after lots of playing around with rules for the display game I am doing at our Wargames Show, I've decided on a mix of rulesets - I am using most of the "Congo" rules and mechanisms, but am also using the activation system from Donnybrook/Sharp Practice.

We've had three test games so far, and it has been very successful...photos from the latest game are at the bottom of the page, and the rule amendments used are below.

The Main Rule

Use the Congo rules as written, except as noted below (by section).

General

Increase Measuring Sticks, so instead of 4, 6 and 12 inches, they will be 6, 12 and 18 inches.

Add artillery as a unit:
  • Range is L x3
  • No. of Dice as per Figures in Unit (start with 4)
  • Dice is d8 within 1L, 1L-2L d6, 2L-3L Half d6;
  • Reload
  • Cannons have a 45 degree arc of fire (from the barrel), they need a move action to turn
  • Units targeted by cannon fire draw 2 stress tokens
Characters now have there own shoot/combat/morale dice where applicable;

Unit cohesion changes to 1";

Line of sight - because units now have a cohesion of 1", units have an arc of fire of 45 degrees. If units fire to their side and rear, use half dice, as if it was an obscured target.

Unit/Character Activation

Remove section, and replace with Donnybrook card activation. There will be a card for each unit/character, and they will activate on the turn of that card;

Characters can join/leave units on their card; As in Donnybrook, they are simply placed 2" away from the unit and can take a turn if not already activated with the unit; They cannot leave and joing a unit in the same turn; they can be targeted if they leave a unit...so don't do it when in line of sight!!!

There is no reload card (this is now an order), but there IS a Turn End card, just to add unpredictability!

On the turn of your units card, it gives one action:
  • Move
  • Fire
  • Load
  • Charge
  • Rally
  • Opportunity
  • Terror Attack (performed only by units with a character only)
Opportunity Fire - a unit may be placed on opportunity as an order, it will remain on opportunity until its next activation. It can shoot at half dice in reaction to another units movement;

Movement

As written, other than references to the Congo Card Deck

Shooting

Revised Weapon Ranges:
  • Rifle/Jezzail Range should be L x2, i.e. 36" (d6 to hit at more than 18"; if the unit has d6 ability, then half dice);
  • Spear Range changes to S, i.e. 6"
  • Pistol Range is M, i.e. 12"
  • Others remain the same;

Melee

As written, other than references to the Congo Card Deck.

Running Away

As written, other than references to the Congo Card Deck.

Totems

Revised Totem Cards:
  • DICE: Add dice to any roll;
    ACTION: Gives the unit activated an extra action;
    STRESS: Lose a stress token;
    MOVE: Move x units 'S';
    STICK: Add S to any distance;
    INITIATIVE: Cancel a units activation;

The Game Photos

Didn't get chance to do a write up, but the game itself was played with a 120 point attacker force, and a 80 point defender force. We have played two games like this so far, and it was one win each, so is well balanced.















 

Friday, 11 May 2018

Darkest Africa: Donnybrook

Another week, another set of rules - this week it was Donnybrook, from the League of Augsburg team - http://leagueofaugsburg.blogspot.co.uk/

I'm looking for a set of rules (a) to use for a display game at our clubs show (http://www.durhamwargames.co.uk/show/index.htm), and (b) to use as a generic skirmish set that we can dip into from time to time without having to spend time re-learning a complex set of rules every time we play.

I'd heard good things about Donnybrook, which seems to me to be a cross between Sharp Practice and Bolt Act action, with a mechanic that I particularly like which is the different dice sizes to match different abilities (d6, d8, d10, d12). Though it is period specific, apparently it started out life as a Darkest Africa set, and is readily amendable in true toolkit fashion!

I have added some more terrain and figures to my setup this week, including some native villagers, a corral and animals, a campfire and an extra foot of table (making 5' x 3') complete with dedicated village tile.

 

The game itself used some amendments I'd knocked up (liberally borrowing some ideas from the Chris Peers set 'In the Heart of Africa'.

The Forces

Natives:

1 x Native Chief (Character)
1 x Witchdoctor (Character)
1 x Warriors (in 5s)
3 x Spearmen (in 5s)
1 x Musketeers (in 5s)
2 x Archers (in 6s)
1 x Pygmy Archers (in 6s)

Explorers:

1 x Explorer (Character)
1 x Allied Zanzibari Sheik (Character)
1 x White Men (in 3s)
1 x Soldiers (in 4s)
1 x Heavily Armed Askari (in 4s)
2 x Askari (in 5s)
2 x Allied Zanzibari Askari (in 5s)


Unit Statistics

UnitsAbilityShootingCombatMoraleWeaponSpecial
Native Chiefd12d10d12d12Assegai: Heavy Weapon; Shield: ParryReroll misses in combat
Witchdoctord10d10d10d10Staff: Heavy WeaponCurse
Warriorsd8-d8d8Assegai: Heavy Weapon; Shield: Parry 
Spearmend8-d8d8Spear: Martial; Shield: Parry 
Musketeersd6d6d6d6Old Musket: Range 16"; Reload; Misfire; Hand Weapon 
Archersd6d6d6d6Bow: Range 12"; Move and Fire 
Pygmy Archersd8d8d6d8Pygmy Bow: Range 10"; Move and FireTreat soft cover as hard cover
       
UnitsAbilityShootingCombatMoraleWeaponSpecial
Henry Morton Stanleyd12d12d12d12Rifle: Range 30"; Hand WeaponDisciplinarian
Shiek Y'Abouted10-d10d10Big Chopper: Heavy WeaponRe-roll misses in combat
White mend10d10d8d10Rifle: Range 30" OR Pistol: Range 10", Move and Fire; 
Soldiersd10d10d10d10Rifle: Range 30"; Hand Weapon 
Askarid8d8d8d8Musket: Range 24"; Reload, Hand Weapon 
Heavily Armed Askarid8d8d8d8Rifle: Range 30"; Hand Weapon 

I decide to drop some of the dice a grade, to reflect some of the ideas I had about ability. The differences between Warriors and Spearmen in the native faction are there to reflect different styles of fighting...something I may tweak in future. Also, because the muskets were mainly modern, I judged that Misfire wouldn't be appropriate. We kept it for the poorly maintained native musketeers though, and reduced their range accordingly.

I made up a set of cards using a double-sided colour printer, and some Ultra Pro Regular Toploaders (set of 25) which were excellent for the purpose.

The Scenario

The scenario was essentially a rules learning exercise.

The explorers were looking for safe passage for their caravan, and a group of Zanzibar Merchants had offered to show them the way.....of course, the Zanzibar player had a side mission, in that they were really slavers, and had to capture some of the villagers.

The natives were aware of the slavers presence, and simply had to defend their village.

The Game




 
The natives deployed across a broad front, archers on the wings, with pygmy archers in ambush.

 
The Explorers and their Zanzibar allies entered the table in line, just in case their was trouble!

 
Stanley, and the group of white men (2 x pistols & 1 x rifle) accompanied the booty!

 
This is where the rules came as a bit of a surprise to one of the players - he had expected to get a shot off with his elite soldiers, but the random unit activation meant the natives were on him (they can really get a lick on, moving 12" - 6" move, and a further 6" in their charge phase)...three kills on contact (units charging fight first, a la Games Workshop/Bolt Action etc. Combat is simultaneous in future turns) before any response could be made, and the soldiers immediately routed...!

 
Progress for the natives wasn't as good on the other flank, and ta unit found itself surrounded by Zanzibaris.

 
Meanwhile, the supporting archers advanced into terrain, using their "move and shoot" ability to good effect.

 
On the other flank, the Zanzibari Sheik saw off all comers...

 
The villagers were oblivious to their impending peril!

 
The Sheik was finally cut down by the Warriors...specifically designed as character killers, with their heavy weapons.

 
The Pygmys sprung their ambush, advancing to shoot Stanley and the white men...

 
...and cutting down the white men with their fire!

 
Stanley faced the charge, as the Pygmys moved in for the kill!

 
The booty tried to get out of the way, not seeing the Witchdoctor in the forest...!

 
Meanwhile, Stanley beat off the pygmy attack...

 
The pygmys got their revenge by shooting Stanley down....he died peppered with arrows!

 
The Warriors, having cut their way through everything in front of them, killed the last remaining askari...

 
...and the booty was theirs...!!!
 
Conclusion
 
An excellent game overall, Donnybrook is fast, furious and exciting...like any character based game, you get out of it what you put into it. I thought that the Explorers firepower would give them an edge, but by failing to form a decent fire line, and allowing the natives to get into combat, they blew their advantage. It was brutal...!
 
Definitely a game we will play again!
 

Friday, 4 May 2018

Darkest Africa: Smooth and Rifled

It's been a while since I posted...however, the truth is I have been pumping all of my time into making terrain and painting figures...so far I've completed:
  • around 150 figures, all from the Foundry range
  • 4' x 3' of terrain tiles, using the Sally 4th Terraformers range
  • loads of trees, all made using woodland scenic sprues and materials, together with some Gamers Grass from the Portuguese based company
  • some native huts, all from Grand Manner
There are a few things I still need to do over the coming weeks:
  • More terrain tiles (including a stream and a village base
  • native villager figures (these are done, I just need to base them!
  • domestic and wild animals
  • bric-a-brac....crates of food etc
  • oh....then there is a Force Publique army to paint up!!!
So I guess it is about time to start showing off some of the work, today using a set of rules called Smooth and Rifled, published by Dadi and Piombo, and available on Wargames Vault as a PDF.

There are also numerous period specific supplements all available for free on the S&R Blog.

The scenario was a simple one, as follows:

Scenario

The Explorers have made a friendly alliance with a Native Village, and are enjoying their hospitality. The Zanzibaris are aware of their presence and wish to capture their supplies.
Deployment
The Natives/Explorers must deploy within the central 2 squares of the 4’ x 3’ board.
The Zanzibaris move on table from any table edge (and a minimum of two table edges)
Victory
The Zanzibaris win by capturing the 4 x Bearers from the Explorer force. To capture, a figure must move into contact with the bearer, and lead him away. To lead him, he can only make 1 move per turn. 3 bearers captured means victory, any other result is a defeat.

The Table



The Forces

Zanzibar Force 1
AV=2/2/3; C=4; Impetus, Fast Mob
1 Leader, (Officer) small shield and sword, 24 pts
1 Leader, small shield and sword, 19 pts
5 Warriors, small shield and sword, Veteran, 5 x 17 pts = 85 pts
4 Marksmen, small shield and sword, Arquebus (16/3), Marksman, Veteran 4 x 24 Points = 96 pts
224 Points

Zanzibar Force 2
AV=2/2/3; C=4;
1 NCO (leader), muzzleloading rifle (30/2), sabre, 25 pts
6 Askari, muzzleloading rifle (30/2), 6 x 18 pts = 108 Points
10 Rugga-Rugga/Musketeers, muzzleloading musket (30/2), No Group Fire, 10 x 13 pts = 130 pts
263 Points

Zanzibar Force 3
AV=2/2/3; C=4;
1 NCO (leader), muzzleloading rifle (30/2), sabre, 25 pts
6 Askari, muzzleloading rifle (30/2), 6 x 18 pts = 108 Points
10 Rugga-Rugga/Musketeers, muzzleloading musket (30/2), No Group Fire, 10 x 13 pts = 130 pts
263 Points

Explorer Force
AV=1/2/3; C=4
1  Chief Explorer (officer-leader) with Breech-loading Rifle (30/1), 32 Points
1 Second in chief (leader), muzzleloading rifle (30/2), 22 pts
4 White Men, muzzleloading rifle (30/2), 4 x 18 pts = 72 points
1 Civilian, Revolver (10/0), 11 points (C=3)
7 Askari, muzzleloading loading rifle (30/2) 7 x 18 pts = 126 Points
4 Porters, 4 x -3 points = -12 points (Group Move Only with Leader/White Man)
Total = 243 Points

Native Force
AV=2/2/3; C=4; Ferocious, Terrain, Skirmishers
1 Leader (Leader/Officer), musket (20/2) 30 points
1 Young Leader (Spear/Shield) 22 Points
1 Witchdoctor (Standard Bearer / Musician), Curse (10/0), 24 Points
5 Warriors (Spear/Shield), 5 x 17 Points = 85 Points
6 Archers, Bow (16/0), 6 x 19 Points = 114 Points
Total = 271 Points



The Game

The game itself was an interesting affair, as we were learning, we decided not to use the morale rules....we would just finish when things looked bleak for one side!






The three Zanzibar commands entered the table on three sides, whilst the Explorers/Natives defended the village forming a perimeter round the Bearers.

Command inertia stifled the Zanzibar attack somewhat, but they were able to fire and reload from the treeline slowly picking off their opponents...however, a quicker re-loading time helped the defending shooters, and damage was done.






The Baluchi mercenaries charged home, and caught a few stragglers, however, they were shot down when stranded in no-mans land.

Eventually the Zanzibar Leader was shot down, and it was game over....but it was a close run thing!!!

Thoughts

On re-reading the rules post-game, I noted that We did do a fair few things wrong which we will correct for next time, however, the main error was in army list construction...it is clear that Officers as well as NCOs are needed to move the game along with group moves...the Zanzibar players suffered from this, 2 of their commands only having an NCO;

I also need to include the Superior Leader for a game as big as we did, to add the extra initiative where needed....this would also have helped;

I do think movement/range is too short, 12cm isn't a lot on a big table for movement...I would work in 1/2" increments rather than cm in future i think and will make measuring sticks up accordingly;

Evades are a bit odd, as it doesn't seem possible to catch evaders...unless I am mistaken (we forgot about the tests to stand as well for the natives who were Skirmishers, but Furious);

Conclusion

Excellent game all round though, with lots of promise...I have always enjoyed PiP based games (which is why I play ADLG regularly) and my regular gaming group enjoyed it too (there were 5 of us). We'll give it another go next week.

Friday, 25 August 2017

Legends of the Old West

A brief report today, mainly because I forgot my camera, so had to resort to the old iPad...!

We've been playing about with scenario-based 'Legends of the Old West' games, mainly so I could make sure I was happy that the system was suitable for large multi-player games at the club, and would be easy enough for new players to pick up.

I intend to write it up as a generic skirmish system, lifting elements  from the 4 Legends of the Old West books, together with Legends of the High Seas, and also the Lord of the Rings: Strategy Battle Game set upon which LotOW was based. Once written, I will just produce army/weapons lists for whatever floats my boat (i.e. whatever I fancy painting!) - on the list at the moment will be more Darkest Africa, Border Reivers, Pirates and Indian Mutiny.

Anyhoo, to get people used to the rules, we've gone back to smaller 1-on-1 tournament style games for a few weeks. There were 4 of us (myself, Steve, Bob and Dave) - so we each played two games, the second game being the two winners and 2 losers of the first.

I was using a Lawman posse...


First game I played Bob - Bob gave himself a good defensive position, but given that most of his Cowboys had six-guns, and I had armed mine with Heavy Pistols, I out ranged him...so just sat outside of six-gun range and picked him off until he had to come out into the open.

I took down all bar his Leader, for the loss of just 2 figures...

We did get a couple of rules wrong (relating to the use of Fame and Fortune) which may or may not have made a difference, but as it was a learning exercise, it didn't really matter.


Second game, I played Steve (he beat Dave in his first game). This was a little more cagey as we manoeuvred for position...Steve had 3 troopers (from a Texas Ranger Posse) with rifles/muskets, and up close, all his figures were using knifes - something I hadn't thought of - so had the edge in close combat.

However, as he approached and stole initiative, he rather astonishingly missed everything in front of him....you know that scene in Pulp Fiction....well that was me, looking around as the hail of bullets whirled around...!

So pulling out our Heavy Pistols we took him down.

 

On My other flank, Steve was having more success as he had made it into close combat and started taking me down. A lucky shot caused a Head for the Hills test, and against all the odds, he failed it...so victory was mine, rather luckily I think, because had he hung around I was surely toast...!


Excellent set of games, enjoyed by all!

Observations: my initial concern was that close combat is a tad too random, and though I may still look at this, Steve proved that there is an edge to be found...and it does make a difference, so I will give it some thought.