Sunday, August 30, 2015

Gaming Mats

Recently I ordered a couple of gaming mats from Shayne at Campaign Books. Great bloke, by the way, and a pleasure to do business with.

Here's the first: The 6x4' 'Urban 2 F.A.T Mat' from Frontline Games. This is a hefty mat made from material similar to a mouse mat, and comes in a handy zip-up bag to carry the thing in.

As you can see from the 15mm models, this mat is really aimed at 28mm, although I'm thinking of using it for a 15mm Berlin 1945 game with loads of rubble so the roads don't look as wide.

It is also destined for use in my planned 28mm Edwardian Zombie Apocalypse project. I can heartily recommend this - it's sturdy, beautifully designed and will provide a great backdrop for all sorts of buildings.

The second mat was a very different beast; a 6x4' 'Europe' mat for 15mm made by Cigar Box Battles.

Whereas the Frontline mat is designed to be a good, solid flat surface, the Cigar Box mat is the opposite. It is printed on a light fleece material that will conform very nicely to the contours of hills that you place under the mat. In the photos here I placed the modular hill under the mat, and was very pleased with the result.

It is hard to see from the photos just how natural the hill looks. I was initially dubious about these mats, both at whether it would really work to use it to cover modular hills, and whether the artwork is too 'cartoony'. I must say that seeing one 'in the flesh', I am a convert. I can't wait to see what it looks like in a game of Battlegroup with a bunch of hills and features like buildings and woods added. The way to think about the artwork on these mats is as a base that will give great depth to whatever modular terrain you add, rather than as a replacement for it.

So my verdict - Frontline Mats for urban games and space combat, where the dead flat surface will be an asset, and Cigar Box mats where you want contours, especially when you plan to take some time to make a really great battlefield. Very nice products indeed.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Relic Miniatures Roman Cavalry

Those of you interested in the Zama Project I'm working on will know that I've been impatiently waiting on the arrival of a shipment of metal figures from Relic Miniatures to flesh out my Roman Republican army, which is mainly made up from Agema plastic figures. A nice heavy box finally arrived, containing some Roman, Numidian and Socii cavalry along with some command figures.

The Roman Cavalry is finished - two units on 12cm X 8cm bases. These mix in pretty well with the Agema plastics. Just a note of caution: if you get figures from Relic pay careful attention to whether they list particular figures as 'true 28mm' or 'heroic'. The 'heroic' standard bearer I bought looks absurdly overscale compared to the others, and even the Numidian cavalry riders are larger than the Romans. My advice is that if you ever consider setting up a miniatures company, set your scale carefully before you start commissioning figures from sculptors so that figures are at least compatible within the same range!

That being said, the Relic Minis that do mix in with Agema scale-wise are quite nice, with similar natural proportions to the plastics.

As usual, shields are hand painted, and looking at them now I see I forgot to add some white to Janus' eyes on the shield of the standard bearer. The standard is a conversion, made from foil from a champagne bottle.

With this cavalry finished, I think I see some light at the end of the Republican Army tunnel. I am looking forward to painting something else, to be honest, but will push on and finish the army. Still to come are four more bases of legionaries, two of Numidian horse, two of allies, one of allied foot, some slingers and a couple more velites.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

This week's triarii

This week's output for Project Zama: another couple of bases of triarii. Figures are from Agema (including one metal character figure whom I call Occuli Rabidi). Shields are hand painted as always.I'm pretty happy with the wreaths. but still working on my thunderbolts!

My figures finally arrived from Relic Miniatures, so next up will be some cavalry.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

SAGA with the Little Valkyrie

The Mini Duchess, my very own little 8 year old Valkyrie, had a great time last week painting up one of the great new believable female shield maidens from Annie at Bad Squiddo Games. The Mini Duchess named her Frygga, and yesterday we got her out on the table for a game of SAGA.

The Mini Duchess had never played SAGA before, or indeed any game involving moving figures around and rolling dice. Basically, we worked out a story where my three points worth of Scots were holding Frygga's father prisoner, and Frygga was trying to rescue him, along with three points of Vikings (2 hearthguard and one warriors). We used the rules from the hostage scenario found in Crescent and Cross for the way a couple of my Scots hearthguard had to remain as the escorts for the captured Viking warlord. To simplify the game, we only used the left hand column of the battle boards, so rolled SAGA dice for activation, activation pool and combat pool, but for none of the other abilites on the boards. I explained to the Mini Duchess the basics of movement and activation pretty quickly and we played a turn. Then in turn 2 I explained how fatigue works. In turn three we had our first combat, so I could explain rolling to beat armour scores and saving throws.

The game went really well, and I was surprised how quickly the MD picked up on the rules. She also showed some good tactical ideas, for example by maintaining her focus on rescuing the Viking warlord instead of wasting time picking off a weak Scots unit. I ended up being unable to get the Viking warlord off the board; his escorts were killed, and the Vikings rescued him. The Mini Duchess had a blast, we have some more shieldmaidens to paint, and 'SAGA lite' proved itself as a great little beginner's game.