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Tuesday, April 28, 2020

IHMN: Some thoughts for the Beginner in Designing an Adventuring Company, Part 3 (Characters)

Colonel Dugald Armstrong, VC, DSO is the father of Coira Armstrong, adventuress and all around good gal who seems to always be in the wrong place at the right time.

For me, playing skirmish games provide more personality for the little men and women we are pushing along the table. I believe providing the background of the Leaders or other characters used In Her Majesty's Name just adds flavor to the Adventuring Companies and (dare I say) they start to take on the traits you have established, or start to take on traits of their own which adds much enjoyment (and sometimes outright laughter) to the games.

 Colonel Armstrong with the 14th Sikhs and a British Political Officer on the Northwest Frontier.

Here is one technique I have used successfully to develop a Leader/Character and develop a unique company. You may have noticed a striking, rugged, and good looking similarity between my profile picture and the esteemed Colonel Dugald Armstrong, VC, DSO. The figure I used for the fictional Colonel Armstrong is from Artizan Designs and is included in the blister pack NWF0010 - British Officer Afghan War.  I thought he looks particularly distinguished wearing his Poshteen and blue army service trousers. In other words, I purchased him for Colonial Gaming that had nothing to do with IHMN; in fact, my Colonial rule set of choice is The Men Who Would be Kings which also uses individually mounted figures for large skirmish games.  This is the figure that represented me on the Colonial Battlefield.

 One of the finest officers in the Empire. (Photo from an actual game of TMWWBK with the British Forces protecting the Colonel's Daughter from capture - great scenario!)

Based on Colonel Armstrong's distinguished career in the World of Historical Gaming, I started sketching out a biography, based on his dining room battle exploits, when I wanted a strong, stalwart, stiff upper lip British Colonel to lead various Adventuring Companies affiliated with the British Empire.

Here is what I came up with:
Colonel Dugald Armstrong, VC, DSO is the father of Coira Armstrong, adventuress and all around good gal who seems to always be in the wrong place at the right time.  Colonel Armstrong has served long and loyally in India and the surrounding area; always at the tip of the spear where the British Empire needs him most.  An infantry soldier by profession he has served in numerous British and Indian regiments including the Gordon Highlanders, the Seaforth Highlanders, The Iron Duke's Own Rifles,  the 14th Sikhs and the 15th Sikhs.  He is currently on "shooting" leave after putting down the rebellion of the notorious Khoda Khan but has been spotted in the area of the Punjab.  Russian and Chinese sources believe that he is preparing for an expedition to Chitral. Colonel Armstrong is known to go on patrol with his forces and occasionally other "visits" on behalf of the Viceroy.

Once I had the background, and based on my exploits on the battlefield . . .err . . . I mean Colonel Armstrong's exploits, I came up with the following stats for a senior, successful Army officer in the British Raj:

Pluck: 3+
Fighting Value: +2
Shooting Value: +3
Speed: 0
Talents: Leadership +3, Inspirational, Fanatic, Fearless, Meticulous Planning
Basic Equipment: SRC breastplate, pistol and sword
Cost: 79 points 

Ta dah!

Colonel Armstrong would successfully lead army based Adventuring Companies like the Gordon Highlanders and the 14th Sikhs to many a victory against Chinese excursions, fanatical extremists and the like. Then I noticed a troubling trend: Other companies were having their butts handed to them by the Witch King of Sokur (BWAH HAH HAH). Who would best lead a covert organization dedicated to defeating this evil, putrid, menace from the face of the Earth and thus safeguard the British Empire? Thus was born the Department H Adventuring Company (there is no Department H).

Notice that there are only 2 figures that could really be classified as "Victorian Sci-Fi" in the bunch: the converted Perry Miniatures British soldier with Congreve Rocket gun and the young lady in the rear with the Arc Rifle and steam fist is from Reaper. All of the other figures were designed for historical gaming with manufactures such as Perry Miniatures, Artizan Designs, Warlord, and Wargames Foundry. The theme of the Company was to bring the greatest warriors and a scientific team together to battle the rise of these evil, mystical villains. Science versus Magic. 

 (L to R) Coira Armstrong, Mycroft Holmes (The Government), Colonel Armstrong VC, DSO, Mr. Randolph Carter and Sherlock Holmes discuss the formation of Department H (there is no Department H).

Designing the company was fun: I had the Hollywood version of Colour Sergeant Bourne and Private Hook, Doctor Watson recalled to active duty (he is the Artizan figure with the cup of tea), Ranjit Singh, one of the finest swordsman in India, loyal soldiers and sailors - plus the famous Professor Nightengale and daughter (more on his antics later). For more on Department H (there is no Department H) just click on this link.

Miss Nightengale and Professor Nightengale
Next: Honorable Son #1 and #5 get their say on designing Evil Geniuses who want to conquer the world! Future posts will also include characters that develop their own traits, characters and Adventuring Companies from fiction and classic literature and the influence of those great "B" movies!

The threat of  the evil Chinese sorcerer Lo Pan - and we won't even mention the threat of the Witch King of Sokur (BWAH HAH HAH)!

Friday, April 24, 2020

IHMN: Some thoughts for the Beginner in Designing an Adventuring Company, Part 2

 The Witch King of Sokur with some of his heinous toadies and henchmen.

Continuing on from Part 1, Honorable Son #5 (The Skirmisher) pointed out that there are other views that need to be addressed when designing an Adventuring Company - primarily his. He has rightly pointed out that he has defeated me more in IHMN than any other person! Well, here are the first 3 questions again with the answers from Honorable Son #5 (The Skirmisher) on what to do when deciding or designing an Adventuring Company.

1. Why do you want to play this game
   As the youngest of 5 brothers and with a father who is an avid gamer (along with my brothers) it was only natural that I was forced (err, invited) to participate in gaming with the rest of the family. At the time my Dad and brothers preferred large scale wargames such as Napoleonics and WW II gaming, but I preferred moving individual figures as characters. I started with Play Mobile figures doing Western Shoot Outs (See the Shootout at the Golden Nugget) and Knights hacking and slashing each other. I prefer individually mounted figures. Games Workshop's LOTR really got me going and when IHMN came along, well, I had a new game to destroy and humiliate (BWAH HAH HAH) my illustrious Father.

 The Destroyer.

2. What do you like
     I'm a big fantasy fan. The first series I really got into was the Redwall books and I gradually grew up to reading The Lord of the Rings and all of the books Christopher Tolkien edited. I also like science fiction especially the Ender series and the H.G. Wells books. With my background in fantasy, I wanted companies that have a major component of magic and mystical powers - plus someone has to be the bad guy! Knowing that my Dad and his friends were fire and maneuver types, I decided to use Mystical Powers and cheap, inexpensive figures to use overwhelming numbers to well, overwhelm them. The Witch King of Sokur was my first company and my favorite. He is your typical evil sorcerer that is mysterious, has sub-human troglodytes that have a remarkable resemblance to the Uruk-Hai, African Native auxiliaries to give me just enough fire power to harass those do-gooders and the occasional monster. Plus being the conqueror of the world is fun (BWAH HAH HAH).

How many targets can YOU hit in one turn?

Told you.

3. Where do I get figures?
     That's the easiest part. When your Dad likes to paint figures . . . the variety he has is truely phenomenal (Editors Note: I paid him to write that.), plus the occasional hint doesn't hurt. Here is the new Witch King he painted for me for my High School Graduation:

 The new Witch King is one of the Nazgul figures from Games Workshop.

I will ensure that I will remind my Dad my design notes on creating Adventuring Companies!

Next: How I (and my Honorable Sons) make and also design new companies.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

IHMN: Some thoughts for the Beginner in Designing an Adventuring Company, Part 1

During our "Time of Isolation" I am taking Craig Cartmell's suggestion (one of the authors of In Her Majesty's Name) to jot down my thoughts for many who have recently joined the IHMN Facebook Page and also for those who are experienced with the year 1895. One of the common threads I see are variations of what Adventuring Company should I do or where do I get the figures? Well, here are some questions to ask yourself and my humble, gentlemanly opinion of what to do when deciding or designing an Adventuring Company.

1. Why do you want to play this game
    My guess is that you want some adventure in a bygone era! Some chivalrous action! A stiff upper lip . . . or you want to be the fiendish (BWAH HAH HAH!) mastermind that will take over the world. Or maybe you are just a free booting pirate? You also don't want to paint 1,347 figures to start the game. Most 250 point Adventuring companies on average (I know you statisticians will cringe at my definition of average) have anywhere from 5 to 12 figures.

My U.S. Marshals Company.

2. What do you like
     I grew up reading the Martian tales of Edgar Rice Burroughs plus his iconic Tarzan of the Apes. I read the King Solomon's Mines, She, Allen Quartermain and others by Sir H. Rider Haggard. Kipling? I could not get enough. I was not big on fantasy but I loved the Lord of the Rings and the Oz books. I was a big Sci Fi guy with Issac Asimov, Ray Bradbury and Robert Heinlein . . . okay, now let's fast forward about 40 years. I'm a retired Infantry Colonel and a credentialed Military Historian. I naturally gravitated toward Companies affiliated with the books I loved and primarily the British Empire Companies that carried guns. Lots of guns.

Scotland Yard with a certain consulting detective.

The Queen's Own African Rifles.

 The 14th Sikh Special Action Company.

 Tars Tarkas and his tribe of Tharks.

3. Where do I get figures?
     That's the easiest part. Use the figures you already have to start playing (Note: Don't buy the rules if you don't have them, borrow them. Craig has announced the 2d Edition will be coming out!). We played our first game with African Adventurers from Wargames Foundry, some old 1889 figures, Reaper Miniatures and the bad guys were figures from Games Workshops The Lord of the Rings. Here are pictures from our very first game:

Not a new figure or terrain piece in sight - in fact the cave is a mine from Playmobile.

Next: How I make and also design new companies.


More Great Terrain: WizKids Tent and Lean-to

Another great blister pack I picked up before the pandemic (though available on Amazon) is the Tent and Lean-to from WizKids. Both the tent and the lean-to are suitable for a variety of games and are easy to paint.

 Lean-to with figures from Pulp Alley miniatures.

These come primed and for the tent all I did for the tent was paint it Vallejo Buff, watered down some Leather Brown for a wash and then painted the poll Dark Brown. For the lean-to I painted the wood Earth Brown and then dry brushed it with Neutral Grey. For the leaves I used a base of US Dark Green and then dry brushed lighter greens to give it texture and finished it with a light brown wash. This took me (not counting waiting for paint to dry) less than 30 minutes of painting. Easy!

 Another view of the tent with Wargames Foundry and WizKids figures for scale. I am definitely going to buy another and you can't beat the price for the two of them for about US $6!

As you can see they have a variety of uses; the lean-to would be ideal for Colonial America as well. 

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Barbarian from WizKids


Yep. I have discovered the primed resin figures from WizKids D&D range as an inexpensive alternative for some of my gaming needs. Several of my friends kids are playing Role Playing Games, and since that is how I got my start as a kid with painting and miniature wargaming, I told the kids that I would paint their character if I could find it. One of the boys is a German Barbarian - too easy to find!

I have always loved painting barbarians, both fantasy and historical. I blame Robert E. Howard. I was sending WIP pictures and above is one of them. Hey! There's the table again!

The figures come with 25mm round plastic bases (smaller creatures have 20mm or smaller bases). I prefer sand on bases so sand it is. I painted the rim of the base with Vallejo Flat brown. In fact all of the painting was done with Vallejo paints.

Add another layer of watered down glue on the sand and let it dry. Add some static grass and other scenery and let it dry. Spray some flat enamel over it to protect the paint and the static grass and presto: one barbarian.

And now the barbarian can slay the other resin monster from WizKids! 

Thursday, April 16, 2020

A New Post (Finally!): Accessories from WizKids

According to my calculations . . . yep, we are lost.

As many of you know, my real job is the Security Manager of a hospital where I live. Unless you've been living under a rock, the times have been interesting and busy. But the heck with the Pandemic (and I own the game - that's irony).  It's time to write a new post.

I purchased these two WizKids D&D Packs at our local hobby store for a little less than $12 US. When I saw them on the rack, I  immediately knew that they would be excellent for my excursions to the late 19th Century and the Pulp era.  Unfortunately I did not take any pictures of how I painted them but they were fairly easy and between work and other duties, it took me about 2 painting sessions to do both packs.

I painted the table and stools (and the disc for the secret maps, documents, etc.) with GW's Skragg Brown. Once dry, all I did was go over the table and stools with watered down Vallejo Dark Brown to create a wash. Simple.

Hey, I did take a picture (accidentally) of the work in progress when I was taking pictures of the my WIP Hollywood Nazis. The telescope is almost done and I was decided what to do with the small pieces that came in the Navigator's Pack. I decided to glue the scrolls to another small base so they could be placed in various locations as objectives or McGuffins. The other pieces of the Navigator's Pack were super glued to the table.

Here is another view. The telescope, sexton, and map with compass and whatever that other navigating piece of equipment is are glued to the table; the scrolls are glued to the base and can be moved around. The big telescope is in the background.

The figures in the pictures are 28mm from Artizan, NorthStar, Perry Miniatures and Wargames Foundry to give you an excellent comparison that they fit perfectly as scatter terrain/objectives for most 28mm Colonial ranges.

And they look good in the Pulp era too! Cooplestone Miniature Sam Malone and my Hollywood Nazis from Black Tree Design.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Dux Bellorum Battle Report: The Conclusion

Note: Originally published on 6/21/19 with 819 views.

When we last left events were not going well for the Late Romans as their cavalry had been hurt badly to include the Mounted Companions (spoiler alert - it's not good if your general dies!).  The Roman Infantry (Ordinary Shieldwall) were slowly being pushed back by the Saxon Sea dogs.  One bright note was that the Roman skirmishers who pulled one of the Warrior bands from the attack and destroyed them with javelins and arrows.

 Late Roman infantry desperately trying to hold the hill. For almost the rest of the game I allocated numerous LP's to cancel hits and keep them alive!

The Roman commander and his Mounted Companions - bust unit in the army but it has taken some casualties. The the left are the Noble Riders.

The Roman leader leads another charge with the other cavalry in an attempt to relieve the pressure on the Roman Shieldwall. The Saxon leader is the element with the dragon banner.

The Roman cavalry forces the enemy line back allowing the Roman Cataphracts (upper right hand corner) shoot the gap and hit the Saxons that are attacking the hill in the flank.  The Cataphracts hit hard.

Roman skirmishers with bows moving up. They have better range than javelins but cannot shoot and move at the same time.

A furious, swirling melee all along the battle line. Roman skirmishers trying to out flank the Saxons.

The Mounted Companions take another hit but press home the attack allowing the skirmishers time to get on the flank.

 A Warrior element is destroyed by the Cataphracts and now Roman infantry starts to outflank the barbarian line. Note the 3 LP's added to the Noble Warrior stand that is outflanked in an attempt to cancel out hits.

Amazingly (and with some great die rolls!) the javelins weaken another Warrior unit and they get polished off by a cavalry charge. The Saxon general loses another LP to use as a result.

Saxon flanks start to collapse as a fight to the death starts.

The Loyal Noble Warriors go down fighting true to their oaths.

As the Saxon Warlord holds his ground, his army collapses around him and flees the field of battle.  Note the hits on the Roman cavalry and Mounted Companions.  It was close.

Dux Bellorum is a great game - fast, fun, furious and to me gives the flavor of Dark Age battles in Great Britain. It is published by Osprey games and on Amazon right now a new copy can be purchased for $12.96.  The game was played from start to finish in about 2 1/2 hours. The Saxons will bring some skirmishers next time as the heroes of the fight were the javelin armed Roman skirmishes.  When the initial attacked failed, they drew off one of the Warrior elements and then with the archer armed skirmishers, destroyed.  Later, they helped finish off a weakened Warrior element on their flank which enabled the left of the Saxon line to be outflanked. Fortunately for the Romans, the shield wall held with the use of LP's to cancel hits.

Heroes of the Empire.

Some other pictures from the battle: