Tuesday 28 July 2015

McDeath: The Battle of Winwood Harbour Part 2

We must return again to Winwood Harbour, home of the Greevant clan and now under invasion from the sworn enemy of McDeath, Julia McEwen. With the overwhelming need to not encourage their laird-in-chief to warm up his torture-tongs, the combined forces of the McArnos and the Greevants set about trying to defeat the would be usurper, out numbered as they were.

To the west of the orchard, the McArnos closed in with the valkyries of clan McEwman. Kit, his eyes now a furious bloodshot, yelled across at Julia's warrior-women his thoughts for the future. "We will send ye back tae th' scullery whaur ye aw belang an' make sure ye hae plenty ay socks tae darn tay!"

No sooner than the curse had left Kit McArno's lips than the two forces clashed together in violent struggle. Swords sliced, spears struck, axes fell and hairstyles were adjusted (not just by the valkyries, either) as the two groups fought for dominance. The McArnos had won the charge but they were outnumbered. A caber (to this day, no-one is sure if it was shaved or not) was tossed through the air and it fell onto the head of a valkyrie. She was killed instantly and fell to the floor. 

Would the same irresistible force of the the enraged clansmen hurt the McEwmans deeply? Or would the numbers Julia brought to battle tell their tale instead?

With two great battles in progress, the fate of McDeath's rule held in the balance. Slowly, the Greevants began to take the advantage in the orchard as more of the McEwmans fell. Fergus fought desperately, but was wounded and later cut down in the melee. His last words were said to be: "Sae Ah die haur 'neath th' apples. At leest mah lips waur ne'er defiled by unsavory oat based foodstuffs!"

His death left a single McEwman fighting under the boughs. Carefully, the surviving Greevants encircled him. This fighter's fate was now sealed. 

To the south Juggo was feeling frustrated. There was little he could do beyond watch his comrades in combat with the local clans. Guard duty was not his preferred responsibility and he had initially thought to find a great deal of booty within the harbour. He had been sorely disappointed. 

His attention suddenly switched to the orchard where he noticed that Fergus' force seemed to be in trouble. He hadn't been looking long until he realised that Greevant clansmen were moving from the trees. It was obvious now that his fellow McEwmans had failed in their mission to stop the advance and a counter attack was now is place. 

Smiling, Juggo ran his thumb along the edge of his axe. 

Leaving the mangled bodies of friend and foe alike behind in the undergrowth, Richard Greevant lead his men back towards their homes. As far as he could see, there were a few ragged invaders between him and his beloved rough inn. "Thaur is only puckle ay them," Richard hollered to his men in joy, " an' a body ay them is a dwarf! Lest a body haem has tae buy th' drinks!"

With that, Richard led his men across the scrubland towards Winwood Harbour! Juggo's men moved to counter their advance.

To the west, the shieldwall still held. Bodies now littered the ground but the numbers had mattered and now only two of Kit's clansmen still stood. Julia pushed her way through the fighting to get close to her rival. With the Laird dead, resistance would crumble...

Alec sent forth yet another shot put and as before it struck with deadly force. One of Juggo's charging men was knocked down, his chest now a mass of splintered ribs. It was now four against five and anything could happen. A wicked gleam in his eye, Juggo pounced forwards and struck for slaughter. 

The fates are cruel. And the Greevants suffered badly in the melee. After an almost unstoppable advance, their numbers began to fall. Two clansmen were cut down in quick succession, leaving only Richard and Alec fighting. With the presence of the dwarf, there was little that they could do to stop their likely demise. 

A great cheer went up behind Juggo as Kit was felled by Aili, the chief valkyrie. Her heavy hammer ending the dream of a despotic Winwood for generations to come. With the last of the McArnos cut down, their clan passed into history. The truth about the rumour of supportive underwear was never proved either way. 

With the McArnos defeated, Julia's forces moved against Richard and Alec. Only two of them now stood and they knew that their final moments were now here. With the gods of animal stomach based cuisine looking down at them expectantly, they did not stand around to disappoint their ancestors. "Ah will cut as mony ay ye idiots doon afair," Richard called defiantly, "Ah faa an' mah ghost will haunt yer early hoors wi' mah flatulent renditions ay 'Ooo Lassie' oan mah bags!

"Gang blaw it oot yer erse 'en," Julia replied and struck the leering Greevant laird down with her spiked mace. Bryvon Anvil, one of her champions, followed suit with Alec and the final local defender was slain.

The flower, diseased as it was, of Winwood lay on the scrub. Julia was triumphant. She ordered extra Iron-Brew for her exhausted fighters and ordered them back to the hamlet. The inn would see feasting through the night, no doubt but in the morning there would be much reluctance to clear the tab. 

As darkness fell and the sound of revellry abated, Julia ordered her most loyal followers to guard the harbour against any further incursions. But with all the clansmen dead, there was little chance of news getting to McDeath in the immediate future - news travelled slowly in the north you see. Still, it was sensible not to take risks and her best were posted on watch. 

Julia had found a little respite. She had taken the harbour and now stood poised to land the rest of her forces. McDeath was still a long way away and there were many other struggles to overcome before she could face him. 

For now she was content to be Mistress of Winwood. 

But at what cost?

Monday 27 July 2015

DIEHARD MINIATURES: Undead Faction Concepts via Tim Prow

Two weeks back I shared some of the forthcoming greens for the new Oldhammer inspired DIEHARD MINIATURES project. I you recall, some of the models came from the aborted Antiquis Malleum line while others were brand new designs. Today, Tim Prow has been kind enough to send us a range of undead creatures for your delectation - if you find the sight of rotting, shambling husks that were once living, breathing being delectable that is! 

First up is this undead knight. I remember being really impressed when I first saw this model at Salute this year. For me, it has everything that a good old school style skeleton needs. Twisted gait, rusting armour and the blank, grinning face of a skull. Perfect. I can see him painted in faded glory as part of my undead force already. 

As before, I have selected the best photographs from the promotional materials Tim has sent me and I can show the all important rear shots as well as the concept art. 

I will hand over to Tim again now and he will explain a little bit of the background behind these models

"Undead Faction.

Undead, the Restless, Hungry Ghosts, The Damned.

A brief background.
The undead have arisen, but who binds them to their will? The Liche and Necromancer rule these fell lands. ‘Necromancers’, or lesser Liche and the dark evil wizards that dabble where they shouldn’t. Their one goal of controlling the undead will eventually lead them to their ultimate sacrifice, to join their ranks as a Liche. The Necromancer has power over the newly dead and those preserved in some way (mummies etc), to truly control the dead, they have to become it. The Liche despises necromancers for their dabbling in the arts, a true lord of the dead, must be undead. The ‘Liche’ are born of dark spells and rituals designed to rid the life force from their form while retaining thought and motion. 

The Liche control the long dead, both humanoid and creature. Skeletons are automatons, they fight or defend, they do not think. Zombies and the newly dead still have some vestigial control from their time as living beings. Undead Knights and Lords have an aura of their past, a muscle memory of who they had been, their training and desires, revenge rules them. They will have their armour and to some extent their earlier fighting skills. They lead the armies the Liche commands.

Many creatures fill the ranks of the dead, not just humans. Gromm Durr, the rotting Minotaur, a once proud beast now shackled in death to the bidding of the Liche, towering over his fellow humanoid undead. Armed and armoured with whatever he died using, this beast is more formidable than when alive!

Funding goal level figures.

1 Sir Basil Rathbone of Black Mere - Undead Knight 30mm tall.
2 Balthazar Reed – Necromancer 30mm tall.
3 Grom Durr - Rotting Minotaur 50mm tall."

I like this necromancer model too. Perhaps its the Cassandra from Dr Who style stretched face or the subtle use of skulls? He's menacing without being overblown, like many later Warhammer models were.

Finally, the undead minotaur! Certainly something I have never seen before and something can can recall Tim discussing with me. Why don't we ever see zombie elves, or orcs or even skaven? Surely they must be possible? I am pleased to see that Tim hasn't forgotten this exciting prospect.  

Remember that what you are seeing are all work in progress and the Kickstarter is not planned to begin until October or November of this year. Of course, as soon as things go live you will hear about it here. There will also be other factions beyond what you have seen so far. 

If you want to know more, have a visit to the DIEHARD FAcebook Group


McDeath: The Battle of Winwood Harbour Part 1

Hello once more and welcome back to the Realm of Chaos 80s. After blogging about how I made my super-quick to finish gaming board, I was rather keen to try it out with miniatures and run through the scenario we will be playing this weekend: Winwood Harbour as a solo game. This will give me some idea what to tweak and what to change. I have already altered the rule about the McArnos and the Greevants being unarmed. They all are armed with hand-weapons and have a saving throw of a 5 or 6+.

The narrative is a simple one. Winwood Harbour is the home of the Greevant clan and a rather quiet little place being more a hamlet than village. A couple of sod houses have sprung up around a rather rough looking inn by the beach and local traders and fishermen have all clubbed in to construct a brick warehouse by the water. The Greevants make their living from the sea but are vassals of McDeath and they occasionally form wild bands of warriors to help in his campaigns. 

In times of peace, they become restless and bicker with other local clans. Often these spats break out into clan based warfare with hall burnings and ambushes becoming a regular feature of life in the wilds. During more peaceful days, The Greevants invite local clans to the 'Highland Games' that are held in the hills above the harbour and there traditional games of caber tossing and shot putting are played out. 

Our story starts during one such Highland Games between the Greevants, lead by Richard, and the McArnos (a local, semi-allied clan) lead by their laird, Kit. The traditional games had started well, with much feasting, drinking and only two minor deaths from knife fighting. However, a quick tongue from the McArno clan accused their hosts of using shaved cabers. This was not an insult to brush away, and the Greevant clan retorted with accusations of their own - that the McArnos were wearing supportive garments under their kilts! 

The resulting brawl only came to an end when Richard and Kit agreed to don their traditional clothes and fight it out in the confines of the playing field to the north of the harbour. The clansmen, arrayed for war (just in case), squabbled to find good viewing places around the hedgerow that marked the playing ground. So eager where the McArnos and Greevants to see the fight, that they trooped enmass up the hill leaving their tiny, usually insignificant harbour deserted. 

However, events were soon to sweep both the McArnos and the Greevants into the pages of history and the harbour of Winwood, hardly remarked in the annuals, would become a place of the utmost importance. 

As we shall see...

Unknown to the squabbling clansmen, The McEwmans, lead by the magnificent Julia, had made landfall in the harbour and stormed up the beach expecting heavy resistance from the locals loyal to McDeath. It was well known in Albion that Julia had eyes on the throne itself and had long planned to topple the McDeath's from power. 

Her attempt at usurption had come. Fergus McEwman, her cousin, was the first to make landfall and he had orders to make a sweep north and clear the scrub land of enemy clansmen. With no foe to uncover, his advance was unchecked and he quickly cleared the scrubland that spread west from the harbour's hamlet. 

Juggo, Julia's bodyguard, lead his fighters through the hamlet itself a few minutes later. Like their compatriots, they were expecting a vicious fight and had come armed to the teeth. Julia's instructions had been clear. Check the buildings for forces loyal to McDeath and hold the hamlet in case of counter attack. 

To the east, Julia made landfall, and promptly marched her valkyries up the beach onto the scrubland. She had planned a brutal encircling move to crush any opposition to her landing but found no-one. In the distance, she could see her kinsmen making their way unopposed through the hamlet. The gusting wind brought with it the sounds of doors being booted open and wood being split open in the search for loot. 

Her bannerman, Sean, unfurled the warbanner in the breeze and Julia and her best troops advanced towards the distant hills. "Aiblins thes will be easier than ah thooght! Ur th' gods oan uir side durin' thes endeavoor?" Julia mused to her chief valkyrie, Aili.

Despite the distance, it wasn't long until the more sober (and keen-eyed) McArnos and Greevants noticed things were afoot on the harbourfront. After much gesturing and foaming at the lips, Richard and Kit realised that they must act if they were to save their reputations as fearsome protectors of the coastline. After all, they both knew that McDeath had only recently installed a brand new top-of-the-range torture chamber in his castle and neither of them relished risking their dangly bits displeasing him.

With a resounding cheer of 'salty porridge', the clansmen pelted down the trackway that led back to the harbour-front.

To the south, the offensive sodium based chant made its way towards Julia's ears. Appalled by the wanton disrule of all of the laws of the kitchen, she ordered her troops forwards to crush the sighted foe before their radical approach to breakfast spread unrest among her own troops.

To the east, Juggo was completing his sweep on the harbour buildings. With no Greevants to kill, he was forced (rather unhappily) to order his followers to the second part of their orders. To guard the harbour buildings from counter attack. Slowly, their feet dragging in the earth, the disappointed raiders formed a picket line around the edge of the settlement.

Sighting the enemy on the horizon, Fergus McEwman ordered his forces forwards. He has spotted an orchard on the hill to his front. If he could reach the trees before the enemy he would have strong defensive position to confront the marauding Greevants from.

Fergus had one problem. Richard Greevant had exactly the same idea, and knowing the land more intimately than the invaders, made better time than the blonde crested muscle man. Clutching the broken bottles of ginger beer in his hands, Richard made his way towards the undergrowth of the orchard.

As the Greevants reached the bushes, they noticed that the McArnos had broken off from their wild charge. The blue-tartaned wildmen were now headed straight back down the trackway towards the harbour. In the distance, the looming banner of the McEwmans stood like a stain on the skyline. No doubt Kit imagined the different ways he would soon be defacing the cloth once these feeble interlopers were beaten off.

With a caber wobbling in his grip, one of the McArno clansmen stuck out his bearded chin at the enemy on the hills. "Swatch thaur," he screamed defiantly, "at those sugar sprinklers. Ah will ne'er lit them abuse mah porridge!" Emboldened by this passionate claim, Andrew McArno (the chap with the huge axe) followed up his kinsman's roar with one of his own.

"We shaa kill them aw an' cut their rude bits aff wi' uir blunt cutlery!"

Meanwhile, both the Greevants and the McEwmans reached the orchard at the same time, though the red tartan wearing wildmen held the advantage of the higher ground. Alec Greevant let fly his shiny shotput as he reached the top of the hill. The weighty shot spin through the air and collided with an invading brute killing him instantly. With first blood to the defenders, Richard's clansmen roared into the orchard with their blades ready to avenge the defilement of their homeland (and breakfast favourite).

Richard is the first to step foot in the clearing. Raising his shattered bottle into the air he called out to the foe: "Ye lowpin' donkeys spend far tay much ay yer ain bunsens in th' inn. We clansmen will slice yer man's bits frae yer bodies!"

Enraged at this flagrant assault at McEwman hospitality, Fergus stormed forwards with his sword held aloft. Its sharp blade edge slicing through the branches that grew there, now heavy with apples. Responding in kind, he opened his mouth and let forth some thoughts of his own. "Ah heard ye aw wear kimers underclothes sae killin' ye aw will be nae trooble at aw!"

With the insults made and tempers boiling over like overcooked broth, the two sides clashed in the dance of daggers beneath the trees of the orchard. Alec let fly with a second shot put, but the heavy metal ball missed its target and bounced off towards the harbour.

With the advantage of the high-ground, the Greevants took the initiative from the start. Cutting down two McEwman fighters during the first charge. Blood splatters against the trunks of the surrounding trees. Though Fergus fights bravely, he is quickly surrounded by red tartan and struggles to fend off multiple attackers. Surely it is only a matter of time until he and his remaining clansmen are cut to the earth.

Their man bits no doubt dangling from some unsavoury place!

Look out for the second part of this battle report soon!


Sunday 26 July 2015

A Dark Deranged Structure: Building McDeath's Winwood Harbour on the cheap!

Hello once more, my friends. As you will recall, one of the challenges I set myself some time ago in regards to my McDeath project was a custom board on which to play each scenario. Unfortunately, pressures of life (not to mention rather grotty weather) held me back from achieving this goal. However, with a week to go until the Oldhammer Weekend I needed to pull something out of the hat in order to get the game put on at all. So with the knowledge about how to create a Wargames table for next to nothing, I set about creating a small skirmish board from stuff I found lying about the house. This blog post will show you how I did it. 

As you can see from the image above the two main components for the Wargames table were foam board and two pin boards. Both of these items are strong and more importantly, light and make an ideal base for the cost effective gamer who lacks storage space.

The second stage is two cut out the foam board so that the interior of the pin boards are totally filled. Careful measurement beforehand will ensure that the foam board you buy will fit the recess of the pin board. I used PVA glue to stick down the foamboard ad left the glue to dry overnight.

Once suitably dry, I used a felt pen (and the Winwood Garbour map in McDeath) to design the layout of the gaming board. I included a little coastal area to represent the sea, space for the village as well as the road, hills and playing field. I used the card buildings as a rough guide to what I wanted scale wise around the the village area. Finally, I cut out the foam board in the bottom corner to create a little depth for the beach. 

Sand is the familiar friend to many a modeller and I added it to the parts of the board that would require texture. In the past, I have covered the whole board only to end up never seeing my handiwork once the flock and static grass stages have been completed. 

To create some height I used some more foam board to create hills. From experience, nicely contoured hills look great on the table but are a bit of a pain to balance metal models on. As a compromise, I opted to use staggered stage hills inspired on the classic set up in Warhammer Fantasy Battle Third Edition. I just cut them out with my knife and glued them down along with the sand. 

Again, I left this overnight to dry.

I undercoated the board in brown paint and left it to dry in the sun. I have always been amazed how useful a good hot day is for building Wargames tables as a good thirty minutes outside can dry glue or paint rapidly. Any bits of paint that the sun's heat missed, especially around the edges of the hills, were finished off with the hair dryer. 

Using a white spray paint can, I gently undercoated the lighter textured areas of the board. I sprayed along the road and the beach area quite carefully and then completed a second coat along the centre of the path and the top of the beach. 

For the next stage, I mixed up some very watery paints. Using an earthy brown as a base, I created a darker shade, a mid tone (by adding a great deal of yellow) and a lighter yellow. These mixes are extremely thinned down and have a similar consistency to washes. 

It was then very straightforward to apply them. Using a large brush, I dabbed them on along the textured area and allowed the different tones to mix together, spending a little more time on the beach area and attempting to get the beach a little more sandy in tone than the roads. 

Strategic use of the hairdryer helped here too, and after a while the whole of the board was covered and dry to the touch. 

I drybruhed up the textured areas in much the same way as I do my bases. I used a mixture of brushes and tried to keep the directions of the strokes different. I ended up using a white for the final highlights. Be warned though, this process will kill your brushes! 

The final stage, and my favourite, was the flocking. I just coated the board in PVA and sprinkiled on my darkest green static grass. Over the next few hours, I added other tones of static grass to try and create a more natural feel to the surface. I also took advantage of the Gale Force 9 and Army Painter products I had hidden away. These helped me create patches of flowers, bushes and tuffs of high grass, all of which add character to the table. 

A quick test with the models and scenery and we are nearly finished. I just have to add the water effects to the beach area tonight. 

As a final touch, I painted the edges of the pinboard black to create some definition and tidy the table up. 

I am now all ready for the first game!