Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Riders of Rohan II

Here's the third unit of Riders. Again, different coloured horses but all painted the same way as the last lot (except I didn't highlight their helmet ornamentation this time round for a bit of a difference).

And here is the fourth and final unit, so far, of Riders of Rohan. This brings the total of finished Riders to 24. Enough for a decently sized strike force when I get a few leaders and heroes thrown in, although I may get some Warriors of Rohan painted up first.

Here's a quick shot of the two new units together ...

And a shot from the proverbial bird's eye ...

I have managed to get each Rider a different shield each time and have used both poses of the horses (I don't like the third and fourth poses offered when the horse halves are swapped, so I will stick to just the two poses). I will be aiming to get another two more sets (12 Riders) so that I can have each Rider with each of the 6 different shields on the two poses of horse, with each unit having a different coloured horse. After this, I may pick up a couple more boxes to use for conversions to add a bit more variety - I will then be able to field a huge SBG force to go against the Isengard one of the chap down at GW, or a decently sized cavalry based WotR force. I think a trip to EBay or one of the second hand dealers on the web/at conventions will be on the cards soon.

LotR Heroes

Alex managed to finish off a couple of Lord of the Rings miniatures today. Here's Aragorn in all his glory ...
And, here is Eomer, Marshall of the Riddermark, about to lead the Rohirrim into battle against their foes ...

He has done a smashing job again on these. His dry brushing is coming along a treat now and his fine detail brush work is getting neater.
Alex still has the following to get painted in the near future ...
a unit of 16 Bretonnian archers
a unit of 16 Bretonnian men-at-arms
a unit of 8 Bretonnian knights
a unit of 3 Pegasus knights
several hero-type minis for his Bretonnian army
I reckon he'll have one heck of an army when he has finished. He has asked me to pick up an army to fight against him with. I am tempted by either the Lizardmen or Skaven, and what with the battalion and Blood Pass deals on the go, I may be tempted (but only after I have finished loads more of my backlog!).

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Fighters III

My output was somewhat less than Alex's over the last week or so, but I am almost there with several other minis which should be published tomorrow. Anyway, my output for the last week or so is as follows; four fighter types for fantasy RPG. First up is an Amazon, an old Citadel mini form the early 80s. I had acquired a fair few of these and their sisters who have gone on to make up a stand for HotT and a mounted version, as well as a priestess who is half finished.

Next up is a Citadel Fighter from their Fighters range from yesteryear. He strikes me as being very Conquistador-ish and doesn't really fit in anywhere, but the figure will pose as a foreign mercenary type in my fantasy RPG world.

Eeek! How can I take some great photos and then have one turn out like this? Lighting, distance etc all the same but the result is somewhat lacking. A crusader type from Citadel's Fantasy Adventurer range.

Finally, a paladin from Citadel's Fantasy Adventurer range. These were some of the first minis I bought back in the day. I actually really like this old style of sculpting; it may be the dewy eyes of nostalgia making me think this, but they have a certain charm that many modern minis seem to lack.
And, here is a shot of the four of them altogether.

Coming up in the next day or so should be the last of the Riders of Rohan, and for Alex there are some more LotR minis.

Bretonnian Men-at-Arms

Alex has been busy over the Christmas break, he has managed to finish quite a few figures. Here is the next completed unit - Bretonnian Men-at-Arms. He has finished painting a unit of 16 troops including command.

I think he has done a sterling job on these, but he has been nit-picking his results. I think it is good that he is criticising his own painting (which I think is great considering his age), as this will hopefully lead him onto trying harder to improve his skills.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Riders of Rohan

Well, here we are at long last, a couple of units of Riders of Rohan that I started almost six months ago. I got these really cheap when buying back issues of Battle Games of Middle Earth a few years back. A couple I had previously painted up and taken down to my local Games Workshop for a Bring and Battle along with a few footmen and a couple of heroes (Eomer and Gamling if I recall correctly) were repainted, but as they only had about four colours on anyway, there wasn't much needed doing on them anyway. The rest have been languishing in my LotR box for what seems for ever. I am hoping to get all my Rohan figures painted up so I can start gaming with them early next year at my local store. There is a member of staff down there with a huge Isengard army who has offered up a challenge, so I really have to rise to it. I may even use them for the occasional War of the Ring battle, but as I have only played it once and don't own the rules I may use the opportunity to learn them.

Here's the first box set equivalent. I am painting each unit of six individuals in exactly the same way, but the horses are being painted a different colour to differentiate the units. As stated in an earlier post, the basic warrior units (read plastics) are getting a very basic paint job; block colours, brown wash, varnish. The flash on the camera has made them look a lot more shiny than they actually are in real life.

Here's the second unit on slightly different coloured horses; these are more chestnuts. Unfortunately the flash has made the figures more shiny than they are in real life. You may have also noticed that I have also done no markings on the fetlocks or muzzles on these horses. As I go up the ranks I will paint with more care and attention to detail, and with more shading and highlighting.

Here's a picture of the first twelve Riders.

And a couple of bird's eye views...

There would have been more to come today but I ran out of PVA glue to finish the bases on a few more miniatures. On the painting desk to come are:
Fantasy fighters, thieves, 'Arthurian' cavalry, more Rohan and Alex has more Bretonnains.

Bretonnian Knights

Alex was very busy over the weekend. He managed to finish off his first box set of Bretonnian Knights and a conversion for his first Bretonnian Lord. First up is a knight he has christened The Black Knight. I like the way he has used bronze instead of steel as the colour of the weaponry and armour to contrast the colour of the heraldry.

Next up is the leader of his Bretonnian army so far. He has a unit of archers already painted up, so this lord now commands 8 knights, 16 archers and The Green Knight. This Bretonnian Lord takes a standard Bretonnian Knight armed with a sword but utilises the closed metal helmet from the King Leoncouer boxset.

Here is the standard command unit for the knights; a gallant, standard bearer and horn blower.

Here are the bulk of the unit, the four knights.

Here are a couple of pictures of the whole unit of knights with their lord accompanying them into battle.

Finally, something a little more down to earth; a mounted Yeoman. After all the chivalry and warhorses, here is how the other half live.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Birds of a feather

I had a great weekend painting. I finished off quite a few figures to the basing and varnishing stage. The following two I actually completed: they are identical miniatures but I bent the neck of one slightly and painted them up to be a mated pair of Terror Birds. As mentioned previously, they are from a Games Workshop/Citadel box set from the eighties for their Runequest range. These initially had Dragonewt riders, which I still have, but I prefer them as riderless 'monsters'.

I also managed to finish up to the basing and varnishing stage half of the Riders of Rohan, 3 more fantasy Fighter types and I got started on another half-dozen or so fantasy minis. Alex did well on some of his Bretonnian Knights too. Hopefully there should be lots more to put up on the site in the next few weeks.

I had a browse around the net through the week too and came across some nice skirmish style rules that are being given away free. They are for a Dark Age type setting, but they could easily be used for other periods. The rules are called Brytenwalda and can be found here.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

HotT 24 point Barbarian army

I managed to finish off the final stand of my Hordes of the Things Barbarian army this weekend. This is the General stand, comprising 3 miniatures from Heroes of the Dark Ages. I really do like their range of minis, which can be used in all manner of games.

The banner is a copy of the one used for Bjarni Glittertind, one of the warchiefs from Doggerland. I am not that artistically talented, so had to rely on one of the players for the artwork. I photocopied it, stuck it onto a blank, doubled-over triangle of paper and then coated the whole lot with PVA glue and bent to shape. An easy method to create a banner, which I then painted the in grey. I think it has turned out really well, but a lesson learned would be to use the original picture without cutting and sticking first to eliminate the 'square' around the image.

Here is a picture of the full 24 point Barbarian army.

This is the same army from a bird's eye view, with my latest trees thrown into the mix.

The army consists of the following units...
1 x Behemoth (Ral Partha Giant) 4pts
2 x Riders (Warlord Games Numidian cavalry) 4pts
3 x Blades (Prince August Barbarians with axes - with a few others thrown in for variety) 6pts
3 x Spears (Prince August Barbarians with spears - plus a few extras for variety) 6pts
1 x Blades (Citadel Amazons as mercenaries) 2pts
1 x General (Blades) - (Heroes of the Dark Ages) 2pts
This gives a total of 11 stands = 24 points.
I am also working on a Citadel Amazon priestess to use as a magician type for a bit of variety for this particular army, but I am stumped as to what to put on the base with her as she looks a bit lonely on there at the moment. I am also currently starting on some Games Workshop goblins and Night goblins to add to the Orc and Goblin army I am also putting together. I will also probably pick up a few of the HotDA orcs to add into the mix. My dwarf army has enough from my old Citadel and Grenadier (I think) collections to make up a full army. If not, the Ral Partha giant can always be used.
I also found some Terror Birds type animals that I started on this weekend too, as I thought they'd be fun. I think they were part of a Runequest Dragonewt Boxed Set Games Workshop put out many moons ago - I have those minis around somewhere too. The Riders of Rohan also managed to take on an extra couple of licks of paint - I am hoping for these to be finished by the end of the year.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Its in the trees

I managed to do a fair bit of painting and sorting out yesterday. The Riders of Rohan are coming along nicely and will hopefully be finished in a few weeks' time. I started on a few more old RPG style Fighter and Rogue types that I still have left lying around on my lead mountain. One thing (well, three to be exact) I did manage to complete were some Woodland Scenics trees - see picture below...

I had high hopes for these and do think they look quite realistic but they tend to shed the clumping material a tad too easily. Maybe it was my gluing technique that has led to this moulting? I will soon find out when I complete a few more over the coming weeks.

Next up should be some fighter and rogue types from the 80s and 24 GW Riders of Rohan for the 28mm scale, and hopefully I can get started on the command units for my 15mm Doggerland/HotT armies.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Doggerland - 3rd Campaign Turn

Doggerland has been underway for a few turns now, and things are beginning to hot up a bit. There have been a few invasions to conquer neutral territories, but the players have yet to meet face-to-face. I am hoping this will start happening in the next few turns.

I am hoping to get onto painting up some of the 15mm miniatures for this soon - I have some cleaned up and undercoated, but they need a lick of paint to get them there.

I will be updating my e-pbm blog site each turn (, so the game can be followed more closely there. I will put the occasional update on here too, as and when something interesting is happening between the players.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Crisis 2010

I happened to visit my first international trade fair this weekend. I called in at Crisis in Antwerp, Belgium, for the day. It was a long trip, but well worth it for the experience. The crowds were good and it seems traders and demonstrators did well. I didn't actually buy much gaming wise, but I did bring home some lovely Belgian beers for later consumption.

My eyes were particularly drawn to the Gripping Beast display of a huge battle between Anglo-Saxons and Vikings. I was also well impressed with the scenery for the Arcane Armies display. There were a few companies there I had not come across before who had set up a stall, so I picked up a few leaflets and so on for future orders. I'll need to take a camera along with me next time I venture forth.

One thing I did notice at this fair though was the demographics. It certainly seems to have attracted a wider range of ages than UK trade fairs, and there were more women involved with the running of trade stands and shopping with their menfolk than I recall seeing at UK fairs.

Gaming wise, I have been running Doggerland by email. It is coming along quite nicely. The next return was due from me this evening, but it will need to be delayed a little while due to the above trip. I am going to start putting the maps and basic info up on my other site that I used to report Tavern Knights on.

I didn't manage to get any painting done this weekend, but there was lots for inspiration at Crisis. I should be putting the finishing touches to a few Woodland Scenics trees next week, and perhaps finishing off the mounts for my Riders of Rohan in readiness to getting down to business with the Riders themselves. I'd really like to get them completed by year end, so have my work cut out, but it is doable. I will also have to provide remounts for a few of my Royal Guard as the metals were just a bit too much for the GW horses and I now have a couple with legs snapped at the ankles. Not sure what to do with them yet though. I also rummaged through my bits box and found some Gripping Beast Arthurian style cavalry. They look like they will fit in nicely with the Rohan /Royal Guard miniatures. I may give them a similar paint job and see how it goes. Its always nice to have variety in an army, but I won't be able to play them at my local GW store.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Celtic Warriors

I managed to finish off 15 shirted Celts today, to go with the bare-chested chaps I painted up last year. Not enough to go against the Century of Roman legionaries I painted but enough for some skirmish gaming at long last. I just need some leader types now.

Not sure what will be up next miniatures wise, but I should have a few more trees ready tomorrow.
I am finding myself drawn more and more into the Cthulhu mythos at the moment. I think it may have been because of a random bit of surfing I did a few months ago that brought me across the following site ...
I have since bought The Necronomicon, a collection of Lovecraft's tales, and I am contemplating the Dark Age Cthulhu rules. I used to play Call of Cthulhu many moons ago and had read all of Lovecraft's works back in my teens, but it looks like the works of my youth are now making a come back.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Fighters II

Here's a picture of my five latest fighter minis that I painted up today. They had been hanging around on my paint station for several weeks before I finally got round to finishing them.

I am hoping that my painters block is now firmly behind me. I have plenty more on the work bench that are nearly there, so you should be seeing lots of new entries on the blog over the next few weeks.


Whilst finishing off the palm trees, see entry below, I managed to complete a handful of fighters. First up is a really early Ral Partha Heavy Fighter. This was actually one of my first ever figures and has been through several repaints, almost always on a red/black theme. I decided to brighten him up a bit with the addition of a green cloak and a bright yellow/red shield.

I'm not sure what this mini is. I think it is a Citadel fighter, but I really cannot remember. I have painted him up as a kind of Elf ranger as it is actually a fairly small miniature.

Next up is a Chaos Fighter by Citadel. I like the way half his face has peeled away revealing the skull beneath. I am really pleased with the way the shield has turned out though. It was painted using about ten different layers of slowly lightening metal paints.

Next up is a Ral Partha female fighter. Many early minis were made with acres of flesh on display. I am not too keen on this if the mini is depicting an adventurer, so I tend to paint leggings and sleeves onto them if I feel it appropriate. I painted leggings onto this lady fighter, which I think sets off the shield and scabbard quite nicely.

Finally, here is a bandit mini, I think by Citadel. Initially he was armed with a sword, but this had snapped off some years back. I drilled out the sword hand and put a spear into his grip instead. I think it goes rather well with his chunky shield.

I managed to also do quite a bit more work on some Warlord Celts, some trees and a few figures to make up the General stand for my HotT barbarian army. Hopefully there will be more photos of these next week.

Palm Trees

I have only made up a few pieces of scenery (LotR statues) this year so far, so here is something I made up for desert and coastal scenarios - a base of palm trees. They are from my son's dinosaur set, but I think re-painted they do quite nicely for an oasis situation...

I have another couple of these bases to make up, so I can then run some desert ambush scenarios - Haradrim versus Gondor comes to mind, for when I have those particular minis painted up, or fantasy RPG or even HotT. Its never wrong to be prepared!

Saturday, 23 October 2010

SELWG and other stuff

Yet another long gap between posts, but I was able to do some gaming related stuff in the hiatus.

I attended SELWG at Crystal Palace sports centre, South London last weekend. It was a bit quiter than it usually is and chatting to a few traders they said it did not seem as well attended as it usually is. Could this be a sign of the credit crunch hitting us gamers? I have always thought of gaming as quite an inexpensive hobby, especially compared to what I used to spend in my younger days out drinking with my mates. I didn't pick up much at SELWG, just a few paints, bases and a carry-case/box from Figures in Comfort to store some of my better painted minis in. Alex picked up some Immortal Miniatures plastic Greek Hoplites.

I actually picked up the paint brush again today and managed to almost complete several more minis. If I can get out to spray varnish them tomorrow, I'll try to photograph them and get them up on the blog.

I have been thinking a lot about what period I'd like to game in, or at least catch up on and have been busy reading up on The Anarchy, or the reign of King Stephen. I have dug out my old Cadfael books, Sharon Penman's 'When Christ and his Saints Slept' and Ken Follett's 'Pillars'. I think this all down to the new series of 'Pillars' being shown on TV currently and the repeats of Cadfael I keep catching on the satellite channels. I have also been reading up on Benedictine monks. I feel a Dark Age Cthulhu RPG set in this period coming on, or at least some skirmish gaming.

Doggerland is a few moves in now and is developing slowly. When we get the first character vs character battles, I'll try to get some pictures up.

That's about it for now, but it is actually a lot more than it sounds.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Here comes the cavalry III

Well, not cavalry exactly, but the heavy mob when all else has failed. These are the troopers that are called in when the going gets tough. Armed with heavy-duty plasma weapons and state of the art power-armour these guys are the 'cleaners'. They are some of the first of Citadel's Space Marines released way back in the early 80s - I still have about another half-dozen or so to clean-up and paint. I have painted them to fit in with my vision of a futuristic Justice Department that encompasses the law and war.

Here's another view of the same troopers - the view you never want to see when they are angry!

I had a good sort out and tidy up of my paint station today, so got a lot of those little hang-over things finished up. There are still quite a few minis in a half painted state that should hit the site in the next few weeks: Celts, Riders of Rohan, RPG Fighters, HotT barbarians and many more.

Here comes the cavalry II

Here's a few more cavalry for the collection. These are Warlord Games' Numidian cavalry. I have painted these as Numidians but for use as barbarians in my HotT barbarian army.

Here's a shot of both the stands of riders that I have created.

These riders have now almost completed my HotT Barbarian army. The army so far consists of the following...
Warriors (Blades @2AP) x3 = 6AP
Warriors (Spears @2AP) x3 = 6AP
Amazons (Blades @2AP) x1 = 2AP
Numidians (Riders @2AP) x2 = 4AP
Giant (Behemoth @4AP) x1 = 4AP
Total = 22AP
I still have a couple of stands left to go that need painting an basing...
Druidess (Magician @4AP) x1 = 4AP
General (Blades @2AP) x1 = 2AP
This will give me a complete army total of 28AP, so I can possibly mix and match when the army goes into action. I will add to it over time; I was thinking of some stands of beasts and perhaps some warbands or hordes to add some colour. I'll see. Once these are finished I will get to work again on my Dwarf and Orc/Goblin armies. Alex is slowly pulling together his Elf army, so hopefully we should have 4 complete armies in the near future. I am also thinking of creating a Roman army from the remnants of the plastic Warlord Games Early Imperial Romans that I have lying around. This gives me something to do over the winter months at least!

Here comes the cavalry!

It has been a while since I last updated the blog. The reasons being various, but mostly down to lack of time due to last weekend's annual trip to the Oktoberfest in Munich and the long wait for my spray varnish to come through, and, oh yes, a dash of laziness too. I hit a bit of a painter's block over the last couple of weeks and haven't touched paintbrush to mini. I don't know why, I just lacked enthusiasm for a few weeks. Anyway, yesterday I was able to get the spray can and camera out to photograph a few female adventurers.

First up is a Citadel princess, priestess, adventuress? I cannot remember what her designation was but I will assume she is some form of priestess/magician.

Next up is a mounted Amazon warrior from the same range as the foot versions I used for a stand of Hordes of the Things. I couldn't find her original horse, so I used a spare Warlord Pike and Shotte plastic horse I had lying around. It is a little large, but did the trick.

Here's a picture of the two lovely ladies out on an adventure together. I think it shows quite nicely the degree of scale creep we have had in the last 20-30 years. What were 25mm are now pretty much 28mm.

I am hoping to get a couple of Space Marines completed this afternoon and a little more work done on a few other things I have lying around on the workbench.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Paints 'n' Stuff

I finally got through the stuff from Warlord Games yesterday morning. As a result I was able to finish off quite a few minis but didn't quite get round to getting the camera out to photograph any. Hopefully, next week, I should have a few minis up on the blog.

I also received the other two small 15mm HotT style armies for Doggerland that I ordered whilst at Colours. So, I now actually have the makings of about 5 armies that need cleaning up, undercoating, painting and basing up. I have bought the armies based on what I thought would look good rather than being historically 'accurate' - this is a fantasy prehistoric land after all! The basic make-up of each army will be: a general's stand (to represent the warlords and their hearthguard), spearmen (to represent warbands), swordsmen (to represent mercenaries) and cavalry (to represent, er, cavalry). Even though they don't exist in the pbm, I will also include magician stands, warband stands, horde stands and a few others depending on how I feel.

I think my painting priorities will be changing over the next few months. I have pretty much given up on the Riders of Rohan - I have nearly finished 24 horses but none of the riders or any warriors or heroes. I will continue to paint these as and when I get gaps in my schedule. I will be finishing the couple of dozen historical and fantasy minis that are currently on my paint station over the next few weeks whilst starting on the Doggerland/HotT 15mm stuff.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

How can Fantasy Land work?

My usual group of gaming buddies and I have recently had a few email conversations about gaming and the ways of fantasy worlds in general. This article is a clubbing together of thoughts and ideas from each of us (some points I do not necessarily agree with) which may, or may not, make for interesting reading...

The fantasy world that gamers have come to expect is often one where humans, goblins, elves and dwarfs all live as distinct peoples, in competition with each other, within the same ecosystem. To many this is absurd. Perhaps stung by the realization that their dungeons were ecologically unsustainable, full of creatures whose only source of sustenance was an unsteady stream of adventurers, they search for what they consider is scientific “realism”. They argue that these races, as we understand them, would have engaged in wars of annihilation and whilst it is possible that such wars, would not be entirely successful, they would at least result in the races pushing each-other out into different lands, separated by geographic boundaries, from which they would continue to launch their hate-filled, genocidal wars against each other in bids to gain world domination. Eventually one would triumph and the others would be wiped out or at best be kept in slavery by the master race. Whilst this is a valid fantasy setting, it isn’t necessarily the model we are apparently seeking.

First of all, we must remember that, unlike in the real world, where our assumptions and ideologies must face the test of reality, we can choose what we want to believe can happen. A scientific approach is not required, as we are, after all, dealing in fantasy. We could decide to conclude that the world requires the balance between the races to be maintained, that there are guiding hands, supernatural or otherwise, behind it or indeed that the balance exists, like magic itself, because it does. These conclusions are entirely valid. We only need to continue the discussion if you find yourself unconvinced by them.

We can still however choose to accept the unlikely as the actual. Life itself is unlikely, but it is. Our fantasy world need only be one where the unlikely has occurred. We therefore, only need to demonstrate that our setting is not impossible.

None-the-less, it appears necessary to question the assumption that the domination model is indeed inevitable. At first glance Darwinism would appear to suggest that it is. This is however putting an interpretation on ecology that resembles the adoption of an ideology rather than a balanced, scientific approach.

Belief in the inevitability of the domination model may be particularly common amongst gamers who have been brought up on board games where world domination was not only accepted as possible, but was the purpose of the game; Risk being the classic example. Risk is, however, simple in concept and ignores the friction within an empire, assuming absolute loyalty of everyone within it to their absolute rulers and that world domination is their entire reason for existence.

Even the harshest empires rarely ruled directly. Empires more commonly ruled over client states within their imperial boundaries. Being dominant did not necessitate the annihilation of all that they conquered. Wars in ancient times occasionally appeared to have resulted in the destruction of races or at least the extinction of their culture. This may have been overstated in contemporary texts, after all, until recently, it was believed, based on such texts and a willingness to accept the plausibility of racial purity, that the Anglo-Saxons completely drove the Welsh out of England.

The history of empires has not however been one of conquering land purely in the pursuit of winning an undeclared competition. The overriding aim has always been, even when religious and political ideologies have factored significantly, to enrich the elite of that empire. Empires have been built to control trade, not to end it by annihilating the people in the next land. In some cases, the land has been considered to be of more value than the trade that could be conducted with its people. This may however be more of a product of the industrial rather than the medieval age.

Looking to the natural world, it would appear that only the best suited to an environment will survive and that those less suited will die out. This however is not strictly true. Most ecosystems are not so simple as to only support one species at every point in the food chain. Small differences between broadly similar species, such as in feeding patterns or specialisms, result in them inhabiting the same ecosystem without being in direct competition. As Darwin observed, the Galapagos Islands were awash with birds that while broadly similar, were different species. They did not force each other into extinction.

What would appear hard to maintain however, is four very similar, aggressive, hate-filled, genocidal races, intent on destroying each other, occupying the same ecosystem. We may consider that human beings are not naturally those beings in our real world and there is, as a result, no need to explain why the different races can’t coexist. If not, we should perhaps consider deciding that the races in our world are not all these hateful beings and consider what they should be to enable us to maintain our model world, giving them other, overriding traits, without making them something entirely alien.

First of all, they inhabit different niches within the ecosystem. Humans are agricultural, inhabiting the low-lying, well-watered river valleys. Elves live in the forests, in harmony with the flora and fauna. Dwarfs live in the mountains, where they dig mines. Goblins live in underground tunnels. Whilst there are clearly areas of potential friction, they are not however all always in direct competition.

Living in the age we do, unless we check ourselves, we automatically assume that the human population will expand, requiring the clearing of forests for agricultural land to support this growing population. For our world to work, it would help if we addressed this point. For the human population not to grow, the birth rate must not be higher than the death rate.
We could address this by having a high death rate. Plague, famine, war and pestilence may always be riding through our land. The elves and dwarfs would look on, shaking their heads, avoiding contact with humans at almost any cost.

We may be striving for a more pleasant fantasy world. In this case perhaps we should consider that our humans are not exactly like the humans of the real world. Like the elves and dwarfs, the birth rate may not be so high. Perhaps it is a lot more difficult to fall pregnant. This would allow a lot more of the modern sex that seems to go on in most fantasy worlds, particularly by sword wielding warrior-women who rarely seem to take time out of adventuring for maternity leave and raising families. Perhaps they are also generally a lot meeker, more fearful, less outgoing and less innovative than us, more likely to be content with their lot. This would also explain why technology is not running forwards in leaps and bounds and why the average person isn’t inclined to leave the safety of their home to grab the gold that is going begging in them there tunnels. Adventurers are then, a rare breed. They do not need to be superhuman or rare by today’s standards, only unusual by the standards of our fantasy world. They can therefore be more like us, the players, which can’t be a bad thing.

The average humans of our fantasy world therefore have no need to expand into the forests and mountains. Some will venture into them, mostly adventurers, in search of gold and glory, but these, as we have established, are a rare breed. Warlords will be disinclined to mount expeditions into these areas where human armies are at a disadvantage. With a low birth rate, lords would want to avoid such difficult wars, preferring, if at all, to fight other humans.
The elves and dwarfs are inward looking. Elves believe the affairs of other races are unworthy of their attention. Dwarfs are avaricious, mine and own gems for their own sake. Both are content to be left alone to their own affairs and petty, internecine rivalries.

Inevitably, there will be some crossover of niches. Here border clashes will arise, sometimes, although rarely, leading to bigger wars. For our (adventurous) purposes that is a good thing.
Goblins are somewhat different, and it is the differences that make them hated above all other races by all other races. They are nocturnal cave dwellers. They are as happy in caves in the mountains as in caves in the forest or in the broad river valleys. They are greedy, their tool making is crude and they breed like rabbits. Unlike the other races, the lives of their own kind are understandably cheap. They regularly over-populate and risking starvation and disease (which they are particularly prone to), they spill out of their burrows in search of meat and glory, for what other meaning can there be to their short lives? Indeed, even if their raids fail, at least their population pressure is eased. It is then that the humans, elves and dwarfs are forced to address their presence. Being insular, these races are not inclined to cooperate with each other, only look after their own affairs. When the threat is over, they are also not particularly inclined to follow the goblins to their burrows to root them out, after all, delvers risk ambush in unfamiliar tunnels. The passageways are tight, often too tight for anyone, even dwarfs. There again, why should a dwarf follow the goblins? While he is doing that, his rival may be digging valuable gems out of the mountain.

I believe that, with these arguments, it has been demonstrated that, with a little consideration, we are able to justify a fantasy world that we seek to use in our games. Most importantly we need to question our own conclusions as to what is inevitable where those conclusions would force us to create a world that is not to our liking. We have to think flexibly and also consider what conditions would make the world we seek possible. We do not have to deal in likelihoods, only possibilities. It is fantasy after all, so push your imagination. Do not be restricted by the here and now.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Colours 2010

I managed to get down to Colours agian this year. It seemed to be heavily attended again by traders, clubs/demonstrators and buyers. I managed to chat to a few demonstrators who said interest in their particular tables was good and the traders I chatted to all said they had done fairly brisk business. All of this is good news for the hobby considering we are in the tail end of a recession.

I went to the show with a few goals in mind; to buy some 15mm minis to represent the five main armies of Doggerland, bases to put them on, any second hand LotR Rohan stuff, some dwarfs and goblins for HotT and the last few items to finish off those HotT barbarians. I managed to get three complete Doggerland armies (from Xyston and Donnington) and their relevant bases (from Magister Militum), and some barbarians for HotT (from Heroes of the Dark Ages) but a few stands that were at Colours last year weren't there this year so I missed out on everything else. That said, I managed to pick up some cheap metal Easterlings.

So, once again, I got a big fat zero's worth of painting done this weekend. I am still waiting on the delivery from Warlord to make it through, as is a gaming buddy of mine. I am wondering if their delivery trolls are having a few problems. I'll give it a few more days and give them a chase. I have a feeling I won't hit my target this year, but I'll wait and see. As long as I exceed last year's count I'll be happy, and I am obviously getting through the lead and plastic mountain slowly but surely, so that is not such a bad thing anyway. Provided the varnish spray comes through this week, I should get a few more minis completed next weekend and keep the blog ticking over.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Doggerland is Underway

I have finally got my next foray into play-by-email under way. Doggerland is a fictitious prehistoric northern european strategy battle game. It is based on the antediluvian region that is now beneath the North Sea named by many underwater archaeologists as Doggerland.

I have five players involved in this game, so it should make for a great campaign. Whilst this is running, I will be attempting to build the armies in 15mm and then running the battles on the tabletop using Hordes of the Things rules - one warband in the game, representing one warband on the tabletop.

I am due to go to Colours next weekend, so I will be paying a visit to the 15mm manufacturers' stands to see if I can buy 5 different armies to represent the player territories in the game. I have some Dark Age minis already that I can use to represent the non-player territories. To begin with I'll only need about 30-odd minis per army. I just hope that the ranges I buy from aren't discontinued as the game progresses and I need to add to them!

Painting wise, I achieved a big fat zero this week, but I am still waiting on that spray varnish through the post.

Tabletop gaming wise, I may have a new gaming buddy whom I met at my last outing to KAFS. He is interested in playing WAB and in collecting Romans and Celts, of which I also have a small collection growing. It is always nice to meet new players and play against new opponents who play in different ways to one's existing opponents.