Thursday, 27 January 2011

Pendraken Painting Competition

Pendraken are celebrating the fact they have passed 500 members of their on-line Forum with an inaugural painting competition.

Entry is free and you need to post a single picture (montages allowed) of your entry. It is then judged by a panel of experts. There are 4 categories:

Infantry - 3-10 models on a single base
Mounted - 3-6 models on a single base
Vehicle - single based, or unbased vehicle
Open - anything goes up to 60x60mm base

Prizes in each category are £25 and £10 credit for Pendraken online store. There is also an extra bonus prize, which is all unplaced entries go into a massive community vote for the people's favourite, with will win £20 credit for hobby materials (paint, flock, etc)

Entries open on 1st Feb and run until 28th.

I'm going to try and enter all the categories, I've got enough painted to do this already on a speculative basis, but I know I can do a lot better if I really pull out the stops. I'll probably enter one of my custom Gallic warband in the infantry, a converted British Chariot in the vehicle and I'm not decided on the many different mounted bases I've got for Pendraken cavalry! The open could be really interesting, 60x60mm is pretty big and I reckon with some small conversions, a bit of height on the base, some kind of cavalry charge diorama could be in order.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Alternative 1066 Scenario

As you'll know if you've been reading my recent posts, I've got a Viking army on the go at the moment, and a friend of mine is steadily painting up a Norman starter force from Pendraken (~1000pts).

I'm quite keen to get a battle together at some point between our two respective "Dark Ages" forces, and so I decided to write a simple scenario for an alternative 1066 battle. The premise is Harold was never pulled North to fight Harald Hardrada's invading Vikings and instead fought William's Normans first. As in the real Battle of Hastings, he lost and the Norman conquest was underway.

However in this alternative reality Hardrada did still land in Yorkshire and, as in reality, was able to secure York. His army then began to push South and William marched his forces up to meet this new threat. They eventually clash somewhere in the Midlands (where we would likely be playing the game in real life!).

Contenders for this hypothetical battle site are (from the Doomsday book): Quenintune - Quinton, Escelie - Selly Oak or Nortune - King's Norton. We'll decide based on whose house we fight at.

The battle will likely be 1750pts, with a few simple special rules to represent the historical combatants, these are noted next to the entry, otherwise units are as per WMA rulebook:


Duke William - 120 (*1)
Eustace II, Count of Boulogne - 80 (*2)
Robert de Beaumont - 80 (*3)
Odo, Bishop of Bayeux - 50 (*4)

6 Knights - 660
4 Retainers - 240
8 Spearmen - 360
4 Archers - 160 (*5)


*1 - General with William upgrade from book - portents with +1 cmd bonus
*2 - Is pictured on the Bayeux tapestry urging William to retreat during a particular phase of the Battle of Hastings (see left) - Leader, If he rolls a blunder on a 5 or less count as "our foe is upon us" (no points adjustment)
*3 - Historical Leader, no special rules
*4 - Commissioned the famous tapestry, which surely has nothing to do with the heroic role assigned to him throughout it! Generously counted as "Hero" from the Homeric Greek list, I.E. subordinate with +3 attacks, rather than standard +1 (+10pts) 
*5 - Roughly corresponds to the 3:2:1 ratio in historical sources for  the mix of Horse, Foot and Archers at Hastings


Harald Hardrada - 110 (*1)
Tostig Godwinson, Earl of Northumberland - 80 (*2)
Eystein Orri - 80 (*3)
Paul Thorfinnsson, Earl of Orkney - 40 (*4)

Varangians - 85 (*5)
Hirdmen - 75
Berserkers - 50
4 Archers - 160
4 Skirmishers - 120
13 Bondi - 650
8 Flemish Mercenaries - 280 (*6)


*1 - King of Norway, name means "Hard Ruler" was renowned for brutally putting down rebellions and for prosecuting several semi-successful, or unsuccessful wars, correspondingly given the "Dictator" rule from WMAA - can re-roll failed orders, command drops by -1 for every unsuccessful re-roll.
*2 - King Harold's brother, defected to Norway and persuaded Hardrada to invade. Not reckoned much good as a battlefield leader, either before defection in Northumberland, or as part of the Norwegian force. Leader, if he rolls a blunder command value drops by -1
*3 - At the Battle of Stamford Bridge he was left with the rear-guard by the invasion fleet. Force marched his armoured troops to join the battle so hard some reportedly dropped dead of exhaustion on reaching the battlefield. Leader - Ignores the first -1 for issuing a consecutive order to the same unit/brigade once per turn (i.e. 1st order - +/-0, 2nd consecutive order +/-0, 3rd consecutive order -2).
*4 - Subordinate, also remained with the ship rearguard at the Battle of Stamford Bridge
*5 - Before successfully claiming the crown of Norway, Harald spent many years in exile including fighting with the fabled elite infantry of the Rus, The Varangian Guard, where he rose to a command position. I have generously given one unit of Hirdmen the Bodyguard rule for +1 hits per stand (+10pts) to count as a unit of Varangian Guard. Although not a rule as such, it would be appropriate for the Varangian Guard to remain as a reserve, and should they get into combat for Harald to join them to either lead them to victory or die a heroic (or futile!) death in the manner of legendary Vikings!
6* - Tostig had numerous "Flemish Mercenaries" in his pay, which was his contribution to the invasion force. I haven't been able to find a great out about them, other than they were obviously professional mercenaries, and were renowned for being a source of dissension in armies. At Battle of Stamford Bridge they fought with shields. Additional entry to the Norse list: I have been assigned as medium infantry (3 attacks, 3 hits, 6+ save), with the unreliable rule. In addition should they be brigaded with other troops there is an additional -1 command penalty, to represent them sowing discord and distrust.


The Vikings have the superior numbers, but the Normans are likely to be able to run rings around them given their better commander:brigade ratio. The knights obviously remain the greatest danger. As the battle goes on the Viking's ability to manoeuvre is likely to get worse due to special rules *1 and *2, but as at Stamford Bridge Orri's ability to move men quickly could be key to rescuing a sticky situation. Again as in history, Tostig and his Flemish Mercenaries make up a substantial and unpredictable part of the Norwegian force.

Frankly, the Norman combined arms should carry the day and Tostig and Hardrada will likely end much as they did in history, with just the foe and the location different.

I did a breif search for other alternative scenarios of 1066, but I couldn't find any; let me know if you have played or seen something similar (with a link if you can).

Warmaster WoT - A Wheel of Time Wargame?

A good gaming buddy of mine put a germ of an idea in my head this week; using the Warmaster Ancients ruleset to recreate some of the battles from Robert Jordan's "Wheel of Time" series of books.

What was a passing suggestion has now got me thinking about how to turn it into a reality.

For those of you not familiar with the series it is 14 books charting the build up to a classic "good versus evil" battle for the world. The series is so vast in scope that it has outlived its author and creator and is being finished by another author using the original notes.

The books feature a whole range of nations and armies battling each other, many of which have quite distinct styles of fighting/units as well as looks. And many of the battles are large in scope as well, making any wargaming version of them almost mandatory as "grand scale" rather than skirmish.

At this stage it is highly unlikely that either of us will get around to building a dedicated WoT army in the short/medium term (if ever!). But I am going to have a look at how by using the original warmaster fantasy rules for "exotics", combined with the improved combat rules from the Warmaster Ancients series could produce something that would reflect the battles of The Wheel of Time.

The army creation rules from Warmaster Ancients should suffice for most things, the only things that will be different from classical ancients/medieval armies are the "magicians" and one army which uses types of monsters in combat (The Seanchan). In the books apart from a few isolated incidents in battles most of the magic is restricted to quite local offensive spells (equivalent to fireballs etc) and fairly generic spell effects which are covered by the original Warmaster. In the books by and large magic either completely wins the battle (in which case we would not be trying to recreate it!), or it plays a peripheral role (much like WMA shooting) in line with the original Warmaster rules.

Hopefully at some point once I've got some trial rules/armies we can play a game with WMA figures as proxies. In the meantime I will likely post up some rule suggestions and army lists wherever I have time to have a look at them.

From some quick research it would appear that to date there are no wargaming rules/mods for WoT, apart from the official RPG (which isn't really the same thing!) Let me know if you know of any, or have any thoughts on this proposed project.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Rubbish I buy from Ebay

Ok, answers on a postcard - what on earth am I going to do with these?!

I had just bought some Warmaster figures from ebay and the seller also had these as a 99p lot with no bids, a few seconds left, combined postage. I thought "Bears? Who doesn't like bears for 25p each?".

So now I have 4 gigantic bears.

I guess if I was playing battle of the five armies I might be able to squeeze them into a game. I think they are 15mm Magister Militum bears. That is a 10mm MM Lybian Spearman and one of Hannibal's Veterans cowering in fear for scale. Anyway if anyone has any ideas about how these could make an appearance in WMA I may actually clean them up and paint them, otherwise I suspect that is 99p I'm never getting a return on!

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Making the most of Pendraken Ancient British Chariots

A while ago I picked up a couple of packs of Pendraken Ancient British chariots off Ebay as I fancied painting something a bit different and I also thought that with my Carthage Gallic allies, Imperial Roman skirmishers and Roman Light Horse I could probably put together a small proxy British (or Celtic Irish) force for Warmaster Ancients.

The individual components of the chariot kit are fairly well detailed (for Pendraken), but when I put them together as a dry-fit there seemed to be two obvious missing parts - an axle, or at least axle-stubs on the chariot frame to attach the wheels to and a yoke or some kind of harness to attach the chariot to the team of two horses. Looking at the Pendraken site and other pictures of the models online it is obvious that these two parts are not part of the model. You are just meant to glue the wheels to the frame and leave the horses and chariot hanging and hope no-one notices!

As I was primarily doing these as a modelling/painting project I decided to convert these chariot by scratch building the missing parts, so that the finished article was a bit nicer. This is a step-by-step of the process as I know it is a fairly popular kit.

1) The base of the chariot is about 8mm, to attach the wheels I used a piece of florist's wire about 11mm long. The wire is is about d=0.9mm.

2) There is a small indent in the back of the wheel, you just need to clean this up with a pin-vice really, not drill to any depth into the hub, final depth of hole ~1mm.

3) dry-fit wheel, chassis and wire axle, then glue axle directly to base of chariot and attach the wheels. This pictures shows the axle, underneath the frame on a finished chariot

4) now you need to make a yoke to attach the horses. The exact dimensions will depend on how you are basing them, but I used another piece of 0.9mm florist's wire (which is fairly bendy) about 23mm long. You need to bend the wire into an elongated "M", with the backs of the horses in the top of each arch and the shaft from the chariot in the base of the central "V".

5) I haven't done any research on Ancient British chariot harnesses, I've just gone for what felt right, so you may want to vary the exact shape of this yoke.

6) Finally assemble the rest of the model. I found it was better to first glue the two horses down and the yoke over their backs, let this set and then glue your chariot sub-assembly from (3) to the base and the yoke. This is mainly because you have a very small area of contact between the round chariot wheels and your figure-base compared to the size and weight of the assembly, and being able to rest/glue the front of the shaft to the solid yoke helps keep it stable while the glue dries. You can also gently file down the bases of the wheels to give a flatter contact surface to glue to the base, but be very careful not to overdo it! Lastly attach the chariot team.

These ones of mine just need the chariot crew painting up now before they are ready to go.

I hope this has been useful, if so leave me a comment to let me know. ;)


Since about June/July time I've been keeping an eye on ebay for 10mm Viking and Dark Ages figures with a view to putting an army together.

I've picked up some cracking deals, notably £30 worth of Magister Militum figures (3x Viking Bondi, 2x Viking Archers & saxon spearmen) for £8 including postage.

However I now have the following Viking leadpile:

That's what 400+ Vikings looks like, if you click to expand the picture the scale of the task is revealed.

I'm actually a bit short on core infantry to field a valid 2000pt army, but purely on points I've got around 1600pts of Vikings now.

Most of it is Magister Militum figures, but mixed from their different ranges. I think off the top of my head; several Viking Bondi, Viking Berserkers, Saxon H.Inf, Saxon archers, Viking Archers, Viking/Saxon Command & Norman H.Inf. I also got 20 strips of 5 "vikings with axes" made by Old Glory, which I managed to cut up a bit to separate them.

I haven't done all of the maths but I reckon I have something like £80 of figures and I believe it costs me somewhere in the region of £35, so although its taken a while to amass it's great value.

Now all I've got to do is clean them up, base them and paint them! So far 18 bases cleaned and stuck together out of probably 50 odd.

Saturday, 8 January 2011


I've had these boys finished for a while now and haven't got round to posting a picture. These are the centre-piece of my Carthage army.

I had a look at the carthage elephants available from Magister Millitum & Pendraken and I was pretty unimpressed. They have very high howdahs that appear to be styled as if they are made of bricks (see below for MM Carthage Elephant).

Now my level of knowledge and research into Ancient heraldry is limited, and this may be bang on the money, but it looks daft. And given my approach to gaming and modelling in general I'm not going to spend good money and loads of time on models that look rubbish. Therefore I just looked through all the catalogues until I found my favourite looking elephants and got them instead.

These are Magister Millitum Sellucid Sucessor elephants, which I have replaced the howdah crew with MM Lybian spearman (which are Carthage standard infantry in the MM range).

I've painted the crewman as a Numidian, which may or may not be accurate.

As you can see I've maybe gone a bit overboard with the details! I painted wood grain onto the howdah and wrinkles into the elephant's flesh. As as well as freehand painting the red border onto the cloth.

Personally I think they look loads better than the "official" models and I'm pretty happy with them. Let me know what you think - sensible plan or historical travesty!?