Two Political Gentlemen

Well, gentlemen may be stretching things a bit! For my forthcoming campaign set in early 1945 I wanted to add a bit of political colour to the mix. My Soviet platoon is going to have a permanently attached Commissar whilst one of the scenarios requires a “Golden Pheasant” Party Official to play a bit-part. Rather than look at the usual WWII ranges for these, I decided to use Artizan Designs Thrilling Tales range which provide some really nice WWII suitable toys with an added bit of flair. For my Commissar I selected a Russian thug who looks suitably evil, whilst the NSDAP official started life as a High Ranking German officer.

My first job was to do a minor conversion job with Milliput, adding nicely oover-sized Commissar stars to the tunic forearm of the Soviet bruiser. Then the German officer had his epaulettes removed, a party armband added and, to suggest an “Alte Kampfe” I added a First class Iron Cross on the tunic breast “just like Adolf’s” and a row of medal ribbons picked up, no doubt, in the Great War. The tunic isn’t precisely correct for an NSDAP official, it should have an open collar with shirt and tie visible, but it’ll do!
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I undercoated these with a black car spray paint and then added a base coat of Khaki which was then washed with dark brown ink and my usual wash mix. I then painted these two goons up using the same palette, something I was keen to do to tie them together as birds of a feather, despite being on opposing sides. And this was the end result.
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I was getting ready to start painting my support units when a post on TMP reminded me of a technique my old chum Sidney la Roundwood for his WWI flamethrowers. So, I drilled out the ends of the flamethrower and added a section of paperclip.
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To this I added some clump foliage and then dipped it in PVA glue. I’m now waiting for that to dry before starting the next round of painting. Hopefully a parcel will arrive from Warlord today with the last of the figures!
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Oh what fun we had…

Easter Monday, and with no hope of the postman arriving with the Warlord order I’m waiting for to complete my Soviet support options, I thought I’d get cracking on the stuff I had to hand. The Crusader figures has two men with flamethrowers as well as a Maxim with three crew. The Artizan command pack included a nice sniper figure and it also had a spare officer waving a pistol about which had potential for a little conversion.

For some time now I’ve had a few boxes of 28mm PSC Soviet stuff. Eagle eyed reader may recall I used one of their 45mm AT guns to convert a Bolt Action SdKfz251 into a command halftrack. Now, cards on the table time, I am not a great lover of the original PSC infantry sculpts. The look fine in 15mm and I’m sure are lovely in 20mm, but blowing them up to 28mm doesn’t quite right for me. But one figures in the box was carrying an AT rifle which looked ideal for my needs.
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I first removed the arm holding the pistol and filed the shoulder joint flat. I then drilled into the figure with a pin vice drill and glued in a steel rod. With that done I drilled into the plastic arm and glued that onto the steel rod. I then use Milliput to fill the gaps. With a spare SMG man this now makes a rather nice AT rifleman.
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I now glued the figures to a painting stick, undercoated in black, base coated in Humbrol Dark Earth and then washed on the mix of black and Flesh Wash inks with my magic wash mix.

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You can see the sort of consistency I am looking for on the photos above.

As the wife was using the oven I had to let these air dry. To change the mood a little I thought I’d crack on with a German tank for my very late war set up. I had a few Corgi Panthers hanging around waiting for a re-spray, two later war, but one was a D model painted for Kursk with the letter box MG port. This is quite wrong for the late war, but I rather liked the idea that the Germans may be desperately putting older models in the field to try to stop the Soviet Steamroller, so this was the one for me.
I had a bit of a trawl on-line for paint schemes. I wanted something a bit different to the ubiquitous wargaming Ambush Pattern, so the following site was if great interest to me: http://www.modelclub.gr/main/index.php/gallery/armor-afv/163-panther-11-division-bavaria
The following model had a different hard edge pattern and really had the feel of the End of the Reich, as opposed to the end of a weekend in Rhyll.
Panther 1945
Actually, it was the hard edge aspect of this camo patter which really appealed thanks to an interesting article in the latest WSS magazine. The article frankly blew my mind with some of the ideas of recreating light sources with models and should really be used for models to be hung in the Tate rather than on the tabletop, but the main thrust was about using Blu-Tac to mask areas on a model while spraying. I can do that. Surely?
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I sprayed my Pather Dark Earth as an undercoat and then used a mix of Flat Flesh, Yellow Ochre and Middlestone to create a warm base colour from which to work.
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I think washed this with a dirty brown paint mixed with my wash mix to get a grubby look.
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I then dry brushed that up with a number of lighter tones made up of the above three colours plus Stone Grey and White. Then, armed with my trusty version of WSS I studied the article with care.
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…applied the blu-tac…
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…and sprayed the whole thing a mix of Dark Green and Russian Green which seemed to match the colour in the on-line article.
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It’s been a lovely day here, so I left the model in the sun which I did a few jobs in the garden and then came back to peel off the blu-tac. To reveal a bloody disaster!
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Somehow, despite my really sticking the blu-tac down hard and making sure the edges were secure, the green paint had leaked all over the model. Quickly I began slapping on some of my home-mixed dunkelgelb paint to try to rectify the errors.
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A quick blast in the oven and then a wash of the grotty gloop.
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And then some pretty heavyweight dry brushing and weathering.
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I added some detail with things like handles for spades and axes, as well as metal wrenches and the likes and then some final touch ups with thin inks and some sponged on paint scratches as suggested in the article. And Bob’s your uncle:
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What a horrifying day! The Russians didn’t get a look in with the tank taking up all of my efforts, but in the end it was all sorted. I certainly wrote that the bloke who wrote the article in WSS is a far better painter than me; I am just not up to technical stuff like that. Indeed, I wish I’d just painted the pattern on with a brush in the first place. At the end of the day a good weathering can hide a multitude of sins. In the end my tank was a bit grubbier than the one I had hoped to mimic, but I am quite happy with it. I am not adding any unit markings as I want it to look as if its been pulled out of storage, so for me it’s a winner.

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Ra-Ra-Rasputin…

…lover of the Russian Queen wasn’t available this weekend, but fortunately my order from North Star arrived to keep me in the Russian mood. A fair amount of the supports are coming from Warlord Games so I decided to set aside the Artizan and Crusader supports until these arrived so that I could do all of them together, especially as some units will be made of of a mix of all three makes. This left we with the Soviet late war SMG platoon to do.

I glued the figures to the painting sticks I use and applied the black car spray. This I topped off with Humbrol Dark Brown spray paint.
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I then washed these over with a mix of GW black ink and some old Flesh Wash ink which together with my usual was mix gave a rich dark brown tone that neatly settled in the creases of the figure. I then set that aside to dry in the oven.

I wasn’t all that happy with the paint guide for Soviet infantry I’d found on line. Some of them had the blokes in such a mix of clothing they looked like a crowd of scruffy pikeys, not the look I was after. A bit of on-line research looking at kit from the period persuaded me to do the quilted jackets in three colours; Russian Uniform, Khaki and a mix of the two. This provided for some variety but also tied the whole lot together. Trousers I did in Khaki Grey and a general mix of similar earth colours for the kit. In particular straps were done in Stone Grey (a brilliant colour for almost any army in WWII). I dry brushed on the main jacket colour to keep the recesses with the ink showing, the rest of the colors I painted on flat before applying the Army Painter Dark Shade wash. There is only one word for these, fan-bloody-tastic! The old tins of floor polish like dip were, to my mind, a right pain in the jacksie, whereas these are a gift from the Gods. In fact I may be in love, they are that great.

Of course, I failed to take any snaps, something of an error in a blog piece about painting figures, but in my defence I was sneaking this lot in between gardening with the missus, so this under-cover operation needed to be undertaken with the greatest care and speed. Hence no snaps.

Okay, well, I then highlighted up with all of the original colours plus some white. And this is what they look like.
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Just the basic basing material on these at present, I’ll be trying to get these finished today while cooking Easter Sunday lunch. Certainly no basing after lunch as I plan to devour large amounts of roast beef and Yorkshire pud washed down with plus de Chateau de Collapsablement.

And then we come to another matter entirely, prompted by a truly evil man whose painting skills make mine look laughable. That rotter Silver Whistle! Watchers of his web site will have observed the photos he posted of his Soviets, complete with some rather spiffing transport he converted from old twigs, bottle tops and chewing gum to look like something off the cover of Military Modelling. So fine was the job Pat had done that it made me realise what a pile of steaming ordure my tanks looked like. So, I then spent HOURS washing them in grime before dry-brushing them up again. So here they are now.
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And finally, we’ve been chatting about figure and vehicle scale on the Yahoo group recently. There are some interesting decisions to be made when using 28mm figures about what scale of vehicles work best. 1:48, 1:50, 1:56 to name but a few. Well, there are, of course many sums bandied about to prove certain cases, all of when tend to crash and burn when one considers that 28mm is a size, not a scale, and it can mean many things. 28mm to top of head, 28mm to the eyes (who thought that one up?!), 28mm to the third fly button, and so on. Well, here’s a snap of some evil Nazis standing next to a captured T34:
T34 Scale 1
And here’s a snap of some evil “28mm” Commies standing next to a Corgi 1:50:
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And I am happy with that. As we discussed on the group, the 28mm figure really cracks out at about 35mm when one bases it, and in 1:50 scale that about 5’9″, a pretty average height in the 1940s. It’ll do for me!

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Chain of Command at GothCon XXXVIII

GothCon
Since 1977 Gothcon has been Sweden’s biggest and brightest gaming Convention and GothCon XXXVIII is expecting to see record numbers of gamers from all over Scandinavia pass through its doors this Easter weekend. Once again GothCon is being held at its traditional venue of the Hvitfeldtska High School in Gothenburg, but this year, for the first time,it will be welcoming a team of Lard Ambassadors who will be running games of Chain of Command throughout the day on Saturday on table V306.

For Swedish speaking visitors you can read all about the game here: http://www.gothcon.se/xxxviii/arrangemang/figurspel/chain-command

Scandinavian Lard Ambassadors Leif Eriksson and Thomas Nissvik tell me that they hope to liberate Europe from fascist oppression. Well done lads, good to set your sight high!

So, why not join the dynamic duo for some Scandinavian Chain of Command this Easter Saturday at GothCon! Look out for the Lardy Ambassadorial banner and jump on board for a game.

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Rusty Ruskis

Well, what a day today. I forgot that my cars was booked in to the garage and by the time they phoned me the wife had gone out, so I dropped the car off and then walked six miles home. So, as a result little got done today. And the postman came and went with not a whiff of my Russian platoon, so it was on with the tanks.

I sprayed on an undercoat of black in the form of car undercoat, then slapped on a base colour of Vallejo Russian Green. That was followed by a wash of black ink mixed with washing up liquid, car windscreen washer and water. God alone know why I use such a weird mix, but I do and its now habitual. These were shoved in a warm oven to dry.
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After that the process was pretty simple, I dry brushed up with Russian Green with a little white added, then dry brushed on some Reflective Green and Russian Uniform Green before finally adding more white to the Russian Green to give it a highlighting dry brush.
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With this done I then dry brushed the wheels and the lower side of the hull with English Uniform then Khaki and finally Stone Grey. I then washed rust prone areas with a reddish ink before leaving that to dry. I also washed the engine vents and the area around the exhaust with black ink.

Once dry I used a brick red paint, Windsor & Newton acrylic, to paint on rust streaks and then added the turret numbers and markings. With Soviets I like to do these by hand as they were a scruffy bunch, and that suits my painting style.
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Adding some white to the brick red paint I highlighted some areas of rust, generally tidied up with Russian Green and a dirty brown wash and that was it. Finally, the running wheels got a wash of dirty blackish ink to suggest grubby rubber.
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I’m rather pleased with the end result. They look more like wargame models than Corgi collectors pieces. The only disappointment with the die cast models is that you can’t open up hatches and add crew, but I can live with that.

So the big question is, will the Postal Fairy bring my Russian tomorrow? The wife has promised me a day of hard labour in the garden. I can put up with that if those naughty Russians show up.

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Oh Those Russians!

Tank 1a
They’re not here! I know that North Star sent them out, so Royal Mail are being a big sluggish, something which left me with a bit of a gap in the day. As I’m on my hols I’m not too bothered, I continued with the slow process of Spring Cleaning the office and generally catching up with emails as well as lounging around in a somewhat lazy manner. However, never one to let a day go by, I decided to apply myself to the models I did have to hand; the two T34/85s.

Funnily enough we’ve been discussing scale on the TooFatLardies Yahoo Group today, the merits of 1:56 and various other scales getting an airing. Personally I am keen on the Corgi 1:50 range for the simple reason that they are VERY robust. I find myself regularly slinging my toys into the car and heading off to run games here, there and everywhere, so the die-cast models are great for me. I also rather like the tanks being very slightly larger than life as it adds to their presence on the table.

Anyway. Both of the tanks are actually from the Corgi Korean War range so needed a tiny bit of work. They had holes in the turret for radio aerials and they needed filling, and in general terms they are a bit to “factory fresh” for me. I firstly used a pair of plies to add a few dents and bumps at the extremities. One must be careful with the die cast models, the metal is very brittle, so a gentle twist here and there is all it takes.
Tank 3
Where I was too enthusiastic and did snap a bit off I replaced it with milliput, a tedious job and one worth avoiding by being a little less ham-fisted.
Tank 4
The next job was to get rid of the slight gap where the turret top and bottom meet. This is neatly placed along where the casting line on the original turret was, but there shouldn’t be a gap. I rather roughly filled this in with milliput once again. I like milliput as it works well with water when filling a thin line such as this and, if I bugger the model up, it can be filed down later, unlike Green Stuff.
Tank 2
That’s all for today. Hopefully Postman Pat will be here with the Soviet troops tomorrow as I am dying to get cracking and get these chaps on the table. It’ll give me an incentive to clear the wargames table which still looks like a bloody pig sty after being used as a work bench for the past fortnight or more.

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The Roundwood Report – The Raiders

Roundwood Report Header
Sidney: Good morning Richard, welcome to this Special edition of Roundwood’s World with me, your host, Sidney Roundwood.

Rich: Thanks for inviting me.

Sidney: Well, in view of the arrival of The Raiders I wanted to get the full SP from the horse’s mouth. As you, and many of our readers, will know, I really enjoyed Dux Britanniarum when you first released them. We played a fantastic campaign set around Verulamium at the time. Who could forget the death of Maximus Boicicus?

Rich: It was certainly a great campaign to play. Happy gaming memories indeed.

Sidney: Absolutely. So, tell us about the new Raiders supplement.

Rich: Okay, well, the Raiders is, as you say, a supplement to Dux Britanniarum. Specifically it introduces new factions in the shape of the three raiding nations, the Irish, the Scotti and the Picts. It also has some amendments for Northern British forces, the Men of the North such as the Goddodin and Alt Clut – the Strathclyde British – and Rheged to allow them to field more mobile forces to deal with the raiders.

Sidney: So if I were to look at my original copy of Dux Brit, would I find all of the troop types in there, or are there some new variations.

Rich: Gosh, lots of variation. You’d certainly recognise exactly how they fit into the world of Dux Brit, but they are quite different. The Raiders are very tough men, but rather brittle when operating in their raiding mode. So they are a completely new troop type with new stats. Also new are the Raider cavalry who have some very different options which allow them to screen their foot troops very effectively and keep an enemy at bay while the raiders do their job.

We also have some variations on themes. Commanded Skirmishers are an addition, where the light troops can be influenced by a junior Noble, and the Noble Raiders come into the game as the campaign progresses and add a bit of backbone to your force. So lots new in there in terms of troop types.

Sidney: Any significant rule changes from the original version?

Rich: We have changed the way in which cavalry operate. This is more of a subtle tweak of the rules than a complete change as the original Dux was fairly light on cavalry, whereas the Raiders sees the introduction of more and more varied horsey types. As a result we have put the cavalry on one single card which allows them to operate in a co-ordinated fashion, but it also presents some command challenges for the Nobles attached. Cavalry can be a powerful weapon, but they need to be used properly.

Sidney: Can you give us an example of how that would work?

Rich: Yes, sure. I am a great believer in the importance of getting tactics right in the game design as much as on the tabletop. What I wanted with cavalry was a force which had strengths but also weaknesses. When you mention Arthur at the head of his British “knights” you tend to see rules which treat them as some kind of all-powerful trump card which beats anything else. I don’t view it like that. Yes, Arthur and his cavalry need to be powerful, and by God they can be, but they cannot simply trump everything.

In the original rules we note that cavalry cannot charge to contact if they have any Shock. So, for those unfamiliar with the rules, you need to be in good order to deliver a boot to boot charge. This places some importance on using your Nobles to keep their men in line, but with a relatively small cavalry force in the original Dux rules they can normally just rally their men when their card is dealt and charge in. What we have done in The Raiders is add the Cavalry card. This means a larger cavalry force can be better co-ordinated, something which I think is important, but they are harder to keep in order as any rallying still occurs on the Noble’s card.

Sidney: I see, so it may be that the cavalry card comes out first and they cannot launch a charge as they need the Noble to rally them first.

Rich: Yes, correct. And in the interim enemy skirmishers can be adding more disorder to a unit. All of which is designed to encourage you to use your shock cavalry properly. If they have charged and become disordered, you’ll need to pull them back and form them up properly before charging again. And in the meantime you’ll need to protect them from any enemy harassing troops. To my mind this reflects the way shock cavalry should be treated. They aren’t a panzer Division zooming all over the table, crushing all opposition, they are a finely balanced weapon which is good at what it is good at, but has real weaknesses.

Sidney: I see, that sounds quite sophisticated.

Rich: I think the secret of good game design is to be simple but sophisticated. You want to present the gamer with choices at each stage of the game. I don’t want to tell the gamer via the rules that they MUST withdraw and reform before they can charge again, indeed the rules allow cavalry to keep ploughing on for as long as they can, but in doing so they become more and more exposed. What the rules do is reward the player who makes the right choices. I think that makes for a far more interesting game. Sometimes it is worth taking a risk, the fun is deciding when that is the case.

Sidney: Very interesting. I guess this is like using the right tool for the right job.

Rich: Precisely. So Shock cavalry are good at shock, but once they have done the impact bit their advantage dwindles away and in a protracted fight they are potentially in trouble. That’s when you pull out of the fight and take them back to reform before coming on again at the next key moment.

Sidney: So what about infantry? Any changes there?

Rich: A few subtle changes, but all very much in the comfort zone for Dux. The Raiders as a troop type are different to the old Warriors, Elite or Levy, so we have a new sort of man to deal with, but that fits in very comfortably with the existing mechanisms. They are tough old boys, they really do die hard, but they don’t enjoy a protracted fight. On the other hand they are nimble and good at what they do best, raiding. In a campaign setting they can progress more rapidly than the British or Saxons and gain new reinforcements. They will need these to stand up to the older factions in battle, so the early parts of a Raiders campaign should be focussed on developing their reputation and encouraging new recruits to come forward.

Sidney: Aha, yes, the campaign system. A clear winner for me, and, in a world not short of Dark Age wargames rules, this is really what puts clear blue water between Dux Britanniarum and the others. How do the Raiders fit into that campaign world?

Rich: That’s an interesting one as frankly, they change the game hugely. Dux Britanniarum provided a very simple world where A fought B. It is a tremendous format for a campaign as it is very simple. Once you introduce C all bets are off, the game changes completely. A can fight B or C, or B and C. And if you introduce D and E you can see things can get very complicated indeed. Well, not only have we introduced three new factions, we have also brought in two new maps as well, so essentially the whole of the British Isles are now covered.

Having said that, it is highly unlikely you’d want to fight a campaign which covers all the Kingdoms on the maps. If you did you’d have thirty different factions in play and, frankly, that would be a bit bonkers. So what we have done is taken a tool box approach where you use the bits you want to build the campaign you want.

So, it could be that The Raiders are simply bit part players in your existing campaign who just show up occasionally to raid your lands as an annoyance factor in an on-going campaign. Or where you can now hire Raider mercenaries to join your Romano-British or Saxon forces. However, you may wish to take a different tack altogether and play the High King of Ireland campaign which is fought largely on the Ireland map alone, albeit with other areas of Britain providing an opportunity to grab riches to help your cause.

Essentially, in the same way as you chose your kingdom when playing a Dux campaign, you make your choice with the Raiders which bits you want and then play accordingly.

Sidney: That is really interesting. So this isn’t just adding three new factions with a few rule amendments, it’s actually about adding lots of new and very different campaign options.

Rich: Precisely.

Sidney: Now, this may be a thorny question, but I did see on TMP someone suggesting that £18 was a high price to pay for a supplement to an existing rule set. What are your thoughts on that?

Rich: I am frankly intrigued. I bought twelve 28mm figures at Salute last week and they cost me more than that. That’s less then 200g or 6oz of metal for twenty quid. I cannot see any comparison in value between twelve unpainted figures and a really nice book with superbly evocative artwork, two beautiful maps and a 54 card deck of cards.

Actually, on the cards, I know plenty of games involving cards which use printed business cards for their games. Nothing wrong with that, it’s certainly a cheaper option. But when I have seen Dux Britanniarum played across the UK and Europe is usually a beautiful game played with beautiful figures on beautiful terrain. I wanted the rules and the cards that went with it to be equally beautiful. We use a company called Cartamundi to produce our deck to the same standard as playing cards. They have rounded corners, they are plastic coated for easy shuffling, indeed everything about them is top quality. I reckon you get what you pay for, and this is an example of that. You’ve seen the cards Sid, you know the quality I am talking about.

Sidney: That is true. I must admit that after literally dozens of games mine are good as new. But moving on. What have been your abiding memories of creating The Raiders supplement?

Rich: Just fun really. Everyone who has played them has enjoyed the challenges they provide. Seeing the prototype version in action at Crisis in Antwerp last year was great, especially as the game was being run by a bunch of wild Picts and Scotti from the South East Scotland Wargames Club all suitably bedecked in kilts. But I guess the most memorable game was the very first time I took the Raiders to the local club.

I’d been testing them at home and having fun with them. One of the lads took a couple of Groups of them as mercenaries to assist his Saxons. They got wildly drunk before the game began, stood sullenly in a stupor while everyone else advanced and then, driven by an incredible run of cards and dice rolling, they simply streaked up from the back, overtook the Saxons and rushed up a hill to smack straight into the Romano-British shieldwall. Another incredible set of dice rolls – lots of 1’s followed by lots of 6’s – saw then almost slaughtered to a man. It was an inauspicious start, albeit very funny indeed. And that’s part of the fun of wargaming; that narrative which is entirely believable but incredible at the same time. That is where the campaign system in Dux Brit scores for me. It adds such a different dimension to games when you need to consider the implications for the future after each battle is over. And that is where The Raiders continues the narrative even further.

Sidney: Well, thank you very much for that insight into The Raiders for Dux Britanniarum. Before you go, may I ask where Dux goes next? Is this it, now that the Age of Arthur is complete?

Rich: I hope not. I’d really like to see Dux Britanniarum continue forward to the Heptarchy next and the into Danelaw and the Vikings. Indeed I can see Dux going forward over time all the way to 1066, probably ending with William the Bastard and the Conquest. And then, of course, we have options in area like Brittany where the British exiles come into contact with the Franks.

Sidney: Wow! When will that happen?

Rich: I am not sure. I rather like the idea of people getting to play with The Raiders for a year or so before we even consider that route, but it’s all there for the future.

Sidney: Well, thanks for joining me in the Roundwood’s World studio, and thank you at home for joining us for this Special edition of Roundwood’s World.

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The Raiders for Dux Britanniarum Released

With Salute 2014 in the heart of London’s Docklands hosting the launch of Dux Britanniarum, we are very pleased to announce that this exciting new supplement for Dux Britanniarum is now available from our web site.
Raiders Cover Small
The Raiders supplement is made up of a 44 page book which introduces three new factions, the Irish, the Scotti and the Picts, as well as providing details for force variations for the Northern British, the Gwyr y Gogledd. As well as new rules for these factions we provide two beautiful colour maps of Ireland and Scotland to allow you to extend your Dux Britanniarum campaigns into territories new.
Dux Maps
The book is accompanied by a supplementary set of cards which may be used with the main Dux Britanniarum deck in order to represent the new factions and rule amendments.

The Raiders is available in a number of formats. For £18.00 you can select the hard copy book with the card deck. For £14.00 the PDF bundle provides a PDF version of the book and a hard copy set of the card deck. For £21.00 you can have the complete bundle which includes the book, PDF and hard copy cards. Ideal for the gamer who wants to use his tablet when gaming.

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In addition we are also now stocking the full range of starter armies for Dux Britanniarum, with Picts, Irish and Scotti armies now joining the Romano-British and Saxon armies we stock.
Web 1

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Here Come the Soviets!

T34sThe holiday is here and, naturally, as a full time wargamer, what would I want to do on my hols other than a bit of wargaming?! The Salute build project was somewhat too frantic to actually enjoy, but the build itself was fun and would have been more so if not under quite the time pressure I rather foolishly imposed on myself. So, having had a few hours off today I am raring to go on another project. This time it is creating a Soviet force for Chain of Command, specifically for the later war period, so we can cover the fighting in the Kuban in the winter of 1943 and ’44 (where Hauptmann Stransky thought the Iron Crosses grew) right through to the fall of Berlin in 1945.

I have long been interested in the Red Army of the Great Patriotic War, however my collection has tended to focus on them in the early years, so this was an opportunity to create something different. As anyone who knows me will attest to, my great love is the on-going development of infantry tactics through time, especially during times of conflict when new ideas have to be tested out and implemented “on the hoof”. What first drew my attention to the Red Army was its incredible ability during the Winter of 1939 to almost completely reinvent itself. With the Finns holding them on the Mannerheim Line and spanking their little red bottoms at every turn, the Soviet command took a break, stopped the war and retrained their men in newly devised tactics which then allowed them to roll right over the Finns and break their defensive line. Peace followed, and a peace entirely favourable to the Soviets. To undertake such a seismic shift in tactics in a short period of time is an incredible achievement, made greater by the fact that it was conducted with the enemy only a few miles away and in the middle of a bitter northern winter. Indeed I do wonder if any other Army would have been able to better this. I’d go so far as to say that it was the experience of the Winter War which saved the Soviet Union in 1941.

One can follow this up with other examples. I penned an article once called Danzig Bleibt Deutsche which looked at the fighting in Danzig in early 1945 and how the Red Army devised combat teams comprised of small groups of armour, infantry, engineers and artillery specifically tailored for street clearing in large German cities. Again, this was impressive stuff, and a world away from the image of the God-forsaken peasants and workers being driven on in herd formations by evil Commissars which still seems so prevalent. Mind you, I suppose it’s much easier to stick to legend than to do the proper research, but to my mind that means we miss out on so many interesting subtleties and nuances which really make WWII interesting.

So, the plan is to get together a platoon of Soviets plus some supports. I had a good thing about this, and in the end I went with the Tankodesantniki in the main rules: the tank riders who seem to really encapsulate the aggressive spirit of a vengeful Soviet Union. I am naturally quite an aggressive player so this suits my style of play; getting in close and kicking the proverbial arse with close range SMG fire. After my success with the British Para platoon, my choice of figures was naturally a mix of Artizan and Crusader. As said before they really compliment each other in a number of positive ways, and both did some nice figures in the quilted winter jackets. I phoned North Star this morning and Nick has already told me they have been picked. I didn’t realise he grew them on trees.

Obviously I wanted some support options. List One was simple. If I wanted a car I could use a lend-lease jeep, all the rest are generic such as minefields and wire. From List Two I selected the 50mm mortar, the Tank Killer Team, the flamethrower team and the sniper team. The latter came in one of the Artizan command packs, the rest were all Warlord Games made for their jolly Bolt Action rules. One List Three the Universal carrier I can “borrow” from my Brits, but I did get the MMG on wheeled mount which was again Warlord but with some additional crew to make up the five men we need from “spares” from the other boxes. The Commissar was also a spare. I didn’t bother with the 37mm AT gun, in fact I haven’t bothered with any AT guns. My force will be aggressive and fast moving, AT guns are too defensive for my style of play. Higher up the lists I got the Scout Squad which is a mix of Artizan and Warlord and the Engineer squad. I have some spare Shermans of both the 75mm and 76mm variety which I could use if I fancied, same with the Churchill all of which are Corgi 1:50 scale.

Finally I have one T-34/76 and two T-34/85 which are again Corgi models. These are very robust die-cast toys which can be got from E-Bay. They can be priced astronomically, but you can also find bargains. I picked mine up for less then twenty quid each, not bad when you consider the fact that resin is about the same price. They’ll need a re-paint, but that’s an opportunity to personalise them, something which I enjoy.

I am slightly sorry not to have any SP guns. I’d really like an SU-122 or similar, but that’s a possibility for the future. So, the orders are placed. We’ll now wait and see what turns up first. I also need to turn my hand to some suitable buildings for both the Kuban and eastern Germany. All of which adds up to a fun project for the hols.

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A Salute to Salute

As a wise Roy Orbison once said, “It’s over, it’s over, it’s oooooover”. And indeed it is. The gaming event of the year, the Heaven and Hell, which is Salute is over once again. I say Heaven and Hell as this represents my feeling about the show. It is Heaven from the point of view that it is the ultimate place to be in wargaming. The sheer scale of the traders available, the splendid games which are undoubtedly glittering gems which represent the very best the hobby has to offer, the old friends to chew the fat with, the opportunity to meet people we’ve “known” on the web for years, but here for the first time in the flesh. If there is life after death I hope it looks like this! So why the Hell? Well, as an exhibitor or trader is is sheer, downright painful, bloody hard work. I reckon its the super hard polished concrete floor, but by the end of the event my ability to walk is reduced to a shuffle and after running several games and projecting one’s voice over the noise of the crowds, speech is also painful. But, that said, it’s a price well worth paying.

Of course I failed miserably when it came to providing an ongoing commentary on Twitter – it really was too busy – and I took a sum total of zero photos of the game. However, we did get one great snap emailed to us by Meeples & Miniatures contributor and Peterborough man Mike Whitaker and featuring the fine photographic work of Roger Bell-West who, David Bailey-esque had us working the camera like supermodels. Albeit rather unusually shaped super-models…
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Thanks to those Lardies who turned up for this photo at midday, travelling the length and breadth of the UK with representatives from the Devonshire Custard Guzzler chapter of Lard, East Anglia, the Midlands and even Bonnie Scotland, not to mention lovers of Lard from from Belgium and Holland making their annual pilgrimage to Salute.

The famous Lardy community was out in force throughout the day, with the game and the stand being magnets for on-line friends meeting up for a chat with Lardy celebrity Robert Avery and Psuedo-celebrity Sidney Roundwood. We hope to see you all again next year.

It’s not quite feet-up time on Lard Island now. This week I am starting on my late-war Soviet force for Chain of Command, so I’ll keep you all informed as to how I get on with that. Looking forward to getting my Soviets on the table for a mini-campaign in the very near future!

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