Thursday, 16 June 2016

A new Kickstarter to get my teeth into - Massive Darkness

By chance I discovered Cool Mini or Not have just launched a new Kickstarter (end July 7th) called Massive Darkness.

This appears to be a classic Dungeon Hack game with loads of cool minis. With a pledge level of $120 there are a very large number of figures I want to get my hands on.

Cool Mini or Not recently delivered the excellent Blood Rage game and were responsible for Zombicide. I have also backed their 'THE OTHERS' game which I now understand to be shipping shortly. More on this when it arrives towards the end of the summer.

So if you are interested in fantasy style games it is probably worth a gander...remember the pledge is still going so the volume of stuff is likely to grow

More detailed pictures of the great minis coming...

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

ECW - The Battle of the Three Bridges

Despite all the work going into the shed extension the rest of the building is still open for business and last night saw five of the Shed regulars playing out an exciting ECW Pike & Shotte game suitably titled as the battle of the three bridges.

Earlier that morning I received a small parcel - Oliver Cromwell's standard - this had to fly. Many years ago when the kids were young we used to go camping quite a bit and I bought a flagpole (telescopic carbon thingy) to add a bit of fun to our trips. It used to fly a pirate flag so our kids could always find us in the crowded campsites. I dug this out and raised the Parliamentarian standard...

Before I deliver the all action report its probably worth mentioning how the game was set up. You may recall I posted a couple of weeks back that I had created 'unit cards' for our Pike & Shotte games. I have now created enough of these for all the units Mark & I painted and we decided to use these as a random force generator.

link -

Each of us has painted just over fifty units and based on the army lists in the rule book we created a deck for each force (excluding officers). Each side would get thirty units. this creates a degree of randomness that a true battle might deliver. Although they are not matched sides in terms of points they do deliver a balance in the number of forces present.

In advance we agreed that each side would get a general and six leaders (this could therefore provide a force of six or seven battalia depending on whether the General had his own units to command).

The Generals were selected from the personalities listed in the rule book (eg King Charles, Essex etc) - If the player drew either Rupert or Cromwell (we were playing early ECW) these personalities would become Cavalry commanders and random General (non named) would be used as the C in C.

If the personality came with his own troops, eg Cromwell allows the player to field two units of Ironsides these would replace the vanilla options in the card deck dealt.

Our Commanders in Chief then determine the composition of the battalias once the cards are dealt. They can select whether their leaders are cavalry or infantry commanders. Cavalry commanders can command any unit bar Pike and Musketeers and Infantry Commanders can lead any unit bar Cavalry. This allows for battalias to be be flexible - ie Dragoons, artillery and Commanded Shotte can be attached to either Cavalry or Infantry battalia.

The card decks are as follows

Commanded Shotte
Storming Party
Light Artillery
Medium Artillery
Standard Cavalry

Total Cards

You can see from the above table that the Royalists have slight advantage in cavalry and the Parliamentarians have the edge in Artillery (as per the army lists).

As it happened in our game last night the Parliamentarians had a large Infantry force, virtually no artillery and a smallish number of Cavalry (albeit bolstered by the presence of Cromwell and his Ironsides).

The Royalist troops were lead by Lord Hopton and his tough Cornish Pike, they also enjoyed a sizable Cavalry force but again only a few guns.

Onto the battle....

The Field of play consisted of a fordable stream strung between two hamlets. There were three bridges across the stream. The objective was to control the majority of bridges (ie two) by the end of the evening (or break the opposition).

The Stream was fordable by any unit bar artillery however any unit crossing lost 3 inches of movement and any charge bonus if they were assaulting units on the opposite bank. The area was also lightly wooded and crisscrossed with hedgerows. All very English.

View from the Royalist left wing

The Parliamentarians were on the left of the above picture

View from the Royalist Right Wing (their is a hamlet and bridge to the upper left of this picture)

View up the centre...

Deployment was initially done by placing the cards onto the table.

With five of us playing I supported John by commanding the left flank of the Rebels with John commanding the right and centre. Opposing us was Mark (Royalist Right Flank), Charlie as Lord Hopton in the centre and Rolf commanding the vast Royalist cavalry brigade on the left.

The Royalists kicked off proceedings by moving their entire right flank into the fields opposite the middle bridge.

This effectively meant the Rebel cavalry on their left had no targets and that the hamlet on our left flank would play or no affect in the battle. It was obvious that the Royalists wanted to command the middle bridge and the one out on their left flank.  

The Royalists retreat on their right flank behind the hedgerows.

This left the Rebels to secure the first Bridge and the hamlet

Meanwhilst the centre started to get crowded - Royalist troops occupied the second hamlet and defended the streams banks.

The Forces of Parliament marched forwards.

By now General Rolf's cavalry wing started to move forward and threaten the rebels right wing. 'We were dreadfully outnumbered sir' as the parliamentarian cavalry retreated towards the centre.

With the Royalist right flank nice and secure behind the hedges Pikes moved up onto the central bridge. Only to come under withering fire from the opposing forces,. In two turns this unit was routed and destroyed.

Parliament siezing the middle bridge

Parliamentarian muskets pour fire into the pikes on the brifdge

A few turns in and general melee was breaking out in between the middle and third bridge. Much of the fight was going the way of the king.  Lord John, CinC of the Parliament forces threw his cavalry from the right wing into the fray to dent the Royalist advance.

Top & Bottom pictures show the frantic action in the centre...

Things were definitely heading the Lord Hopton's way (Charlie). With his forces victorious in the centre the Roundhead centre and right wings were in serious danger of collapse.

The Royalist Left Wing Cavalry smashed into the remnants of the Parliamentarian right wing forces - a brave infantry regiment and a hedge the only thing standing in their way.

It was getting late...remember the objectives of the battle - secure two bridges by the end of the night !
The Royalist left flank holding the middle bridge
Now was the time for the Parliament's left wing to galvanise itself. Troops otherwise unengaged pushed forward. In quick succession the Royalist right wing started to crumble.

Roundheads pushed up onto the bridge dispossessing the crossing from the Kings forces.

The Parliamentarian Ironsides pushed forward (top right of picture below) routing the defending troops and causing mayhem

The Ironsides charge....

By hook and by crook John's parliamentarian forces still held their own in the centre....

One last push boys cried Lord John...the Parliamentarian forces surged forward and took the bridge. The Royalist left wing smashed.

Victory for Parliament ! Albeit a technical one ;-)

Had the game gone on I doubt we would have been able to claim victory.

One final point. I had a Cavalry Battalia out on the left wing - this moved twice during the battle ! Never even saw the enemy.

Parliamentarian cavalry commanders suck with their command rating of seven !

The Boys that never moved !
So as our 28mm ECW games played out I can reveal that the Royalists have won two, there has been one draw and of course tonight's technical Parliamentarian victory.

I have agreed with Mark that for this year (2016) my Parliamentarians will all be fielded as early war - from next year I get to field the New Model Army !

Until next time   

Monday, 6 June 2016

The Shed Extension part 4

Part 3 is here

So with the walls of the Shed extension built its time to turn my attention to the roof and floor. But before I start I’ll answer a question that was posed by my son last weekend…

‘Dad why are you not starting with the floor and building upwards? @ The answer is relatively straightforward – the weather and the build area !

The floor is probably going to be the fiddliest part of the construction and the only part that cannot be rectified once up. It has to be level before everything else goes on top and gets bolted down. My floor has to be built on brick pillars, then the floor joists then the floor itself. By prepping everything else first means that once the floor is down (it will be built in situ) the rest can be erected quickly afterwards.

So with fine weather this weekend I was able to crack on with the construction.

First up the roof tresses. These were relatively simple to build (thanks to my o level in maths). There are four in total angled at a 20 degrees slope (the same as the existing shed). Two will sit on the sends and two will sit midway along the buildings length. Once I get closer to the erection phase Ill determine if I need another to support the weight of the roof.


 With the Roof tresses complete I turned my attention to the floor deck...and over a few hours in the sun I was able to turn out this frame (its in four pieces). This clearly gives the best impression of the space I am going to have. Please note this is laid out on the lawn not where it will finally sit.

The top right frame shows the final floor deck. Onto this will sit marine ply.

As I was going through the floor frame exercise I realised that my walls were going to be slightly too long so off came 15cm to two of the panels. The picture below shows my working area and the finished wall sections.

Up next - finish the floor frames and then paint all the untreated timber. 

Thanks for looking & until next time

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

The Shed Extension part 3

Since I last reported on the Shed build more progress has been definitely made...

previous link here

First up I decided to extend the base extension. As you can see from the picture below a path runs along the side of the shed area. By extending the base out to this concrete path I could add a further 1/2 metres width to the new extension.

Before shot

After shot - not perfect but it is solid

The picture below is not drawn to scale but is a good indication of the new space ill have. I have also decided to add another door in the bottom right to compliment the double doors that exist in the first extension build.

With the base finally finished I turned my attention to the walls. I built timber frames and then clad them with tongue and groove ship lap boards. The total surface area of all the walls exceeds 24 square metres so that s a lot of timber.

All the wall frames completed and now under cover coz it is raining

Sadly I took no pictures of these during the construction phase but I can assure you that I was as stiff as a proverbial board when I finished up. Each wall consists of two panels. These will be bolted together once the floor has been constructed.

It may seem odd but my next job this weekend will be to construct the angled roof joists (ill need four of these to span the 4.2 metre long walls. Once these are done I'll get the roof boards cut to size and only then will I start on the floor. This needs to be raised on brick pillars to mirror the existing shed.

Funds, weather and time permitting I am on track to complete this by the end of July.

More to come soon...

part 4 is here

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

A Visit to Waterloo

So following on from our brief visit to Azincourt we headed North into Belgium for the big visit to Waterloo.

I had previously booked to stay in the 1815 Hotel - a small but comfortable 3 star hotel which sits about 200 yards from the farmhouse of La Haye Sainte. Indeed it probably sits very close to the centre of the British Lines.

 I can strongly recommend this venue as it is not only very reasonable (We paid £160 all in for two nights for a twin room including breakfast) it also boasts a fantastic restaurant which is very popular with the locals. We ate here both nights.

The Hotel 1815 (our room was called Ney) - top left window

The battlefield is spectacular and just as I imagined it. The field is dominated by the Lion Mound (a celebration of the Allied Victory) which I understand was constructed using the ridgeline defended by the Allied forces. So although some of the topography has changed the atmosphere and sense of history is all pervasive.

The Lion Mound - the building to the right holds the panorama

A quick recce of the area revealed that you could buy a day pass for 19 Euros to visit the museum, the panorama, a climb to the top of the mound plus entry to  Hougoument on the British Right flank, the farm that Napoleon slept in on the night before the battle and Wellingtons general HQ in the village of Waterloo (some 4 miles from the battlefield. All these points can be found on the N7 (the main road that traverses the battlefield) and the one that takes you into the heart of Brussels.

So the following morning we headed down to the museum and bought our day tickets. We entered the museum.

The first part focussed on the events leading up to the battle with plenty of memorabilia. It did strike me that if you didn't read the notices present or were uninitiated with the battle you might have surmised that Napoleon had won ! It really was very French !

From the first hall you moved into a corridor exhibiting the uniforms of the day...

Having passed through the museum, including a rather interesting 3d experience, you find yourself entering the rather splendid round building alongside the mound. This houses the panorama. We'll come back to this shortly.

Because from the panorama building you find your self at the bottom of a very long set of stairs to the top of the mound. This is a steep staircase !

FRom the top the views are spectacular - I am looking North in the picture below and you can see the town of Waterloo in the distance.

The Old Man decided to stay at the bottom and smoke his pipe - he seems to have met a re-enactor

This is the view south from the mound - the farm buildings in the top centre are La Belle Alliance and to the left is La Haye Sainte.

La Haye Sainte

The Hotel & Other buildings - top of British Line (centre)

Having navigated my down the steps from the mound - not that easy ! We entered the panorama building. Commissioned for the centenary (1915) this circular building housed a picture of the engagement at the height of Ney's cavalry charges in the afternoon.It was truly spectacular and I imagine a hundred years ago this would have been a lot brighter and more vivid.

I believe it was finished in 1913 before the Great War broke out.

From the Panorama we hopped in the car and drove round the back of Wellingtons ridge to Hougoumont. This has been restored over the last few years and is a fitting memorial for the men who fought here.

The view below is from the North of the Chateau looking at the Northern Gate...the one the French stormed and opened. Only for the guards to rally and close the gates. This has been captured in bronze...a fine statue

The farms as I said has been restored and I think looks too pristine. I doubt it was this clean and tidy on the eve of the battle.

The small chapel used as a nursing station during the battle.

The gate into the chateau

The Barns complete with a 4D show....

The gate from the chateau into the orchard and walled garden

If you look carefully in the above picture you will see three old trees (elm I believe) in the top right  that are virtually dead. These trees were alive and full leaf on the day of the battle. Their trunks are scarred and punctured by hundreds of musket balls.

From Hougoumont we returned to the centre of the field and headed south along the N5 for about three miles.

Eventually we arrived at Bonapartes resting place the night before the battle.

Don't you love the bayonet gates !

FRom here we drove back North up the N5 and found La Hat Sainte. Sadly this is a private residence but still bears the scars of the battle. The gatehouse reminds me so much of the old Airfix kit.

By turning around 180 degrees at this point you can see the landscape of Wellingtons left flank. The buildings in the distance are not Papelotte (i think)

Of course no trip top France can be left without a visit to a booze store. This was one of three trolleys !

This was a fantastic weekend, two iconic battle fields, a chance to spent some time with my father and some great food and wine...

where to next...??