Friday, 10 August 2018

A Brigde Over Troubled Water

Allowing terrain to be included in last winter’s painting challenge afforded me the opportunity me to tick off a few pieces that I had earmarked for construction later this year.  For as long as I can remember I have wanted a viable river system for my tables and had been looking at various options.  In the end I followed the very creative Andy, of 'Da Gobbo’s Grotto' and plumped for the 'Amera Plastics' sections.
Working initially with a couple of curves and straight lengths, these are relatively inexpensive vacuum formed plastic sheets, but take all the guesswork out of making rivers that link together.  I decided to give mine a little more weight and having trimmed the edges they were glued to some 2mm MDF sheets.  I used sandpaper to make the smooth plastic surface a little rough and then added some sand and small stones mixed with a generous amount of PVA.  Having set aside to dry they were simply undercoated in black and then painted as normal.  I like my rives to be blue and so used a dark Prussian blue, lightening to the edges.  Once all was completed the pieces were varnished and dressed with static grass and tufts. 
Inevitably it was all going to come down to the next phase, the water. I had had some luck with Poundland epoxy resin and had initially thought that was going to be the way to go with this project, but stumbled across an alternative – clear silicone sealant. To say that I was a little anxious about the application would be an understatement, especially given the time that had already gone into the project, but all seemed to go well. Working in small batches, I simply squeezed out the silicone and then spread it around with a lolly stick. Water helps to push the incredibly sticky substance around, but be warned it is difficult to tame. If you are after a still millpond effect then this isn’t for you, it is more babbling brook, which I happen to feel looks rather effective.
Having completed the river, I was reminded that I had picked up was once an Italri stone bridge in the 'Warlord Games' half price plastic sprue sale.  Simple enough to glue together, but once I had slapped some grey paint on it, I was left feeling a tad underwhelmed with an incredibly clean bridge.  A bit of weathering was called for and with the addition of some pumice gel and static grass I was able to create something that fitted more readily with the completed river sections.
So another terrain build ticked off the list and great to see them in action in the recent Witchfinding adventure.  I am afraid that that following the game there will be a lot more 'documenting' posts as I catch up with items painted in preparation, but rest assured planning has already started for next summer's encounter. 

Sunday, 5 August 2018

The Scouring of Muchwhinging

They came and came again, three times before the day was done. Three times the villagers of Muchwhinging had to muster every ounce of courage they possessed in a seemingly vain attempt to repel this blight to the land. Casualties were taken on both sides, some wouldn't make it through the night. The evil would come gain, but would we be ready?
Joined by Messrs Bull and Templar, Awdry Towers played host to some Witchfinding fun, this weekend, brought to life by using the 'Donnybrook' rules. I have been beavering away since the start of the year, sketching out, planing, building terrain and painting miniatures*, but I think that it was fair to say that I was a little anxious by the prospect of the day. I was pleased with how the table looked, but here I was trying to introduce two veteran 40K Gamers to the dark and difficult world of 17th Century England, using a rule set that I had no experience of; as they say, what could possibly go wrong?
*some only finished were only finished this week! 
As it happens, everything, but in the best possible way!  It was clear from the outset that 'Donnybrook', looks to champion the chaos of skirmish battles during the period of black powder.  The mechanic of character cards, drawn randomly, plays brilliantly to this ethos and is a manageable step for someone whose gaming experience is limited to board games and a recent foray into the jungles of the Congo.  Both gentlemen had been forewarned to bring a sense of humour and I am delighted to report that much laughter ensued.  

Once again, however, I have singularly failed in taking enough photographs or recording events in the detailed required to relay a full and edifying report; I was having far too much fun if the truth be told.  What I can tell you is that we played the same scenario three times, allowing each player to get a couple of turns to get to grips with the rules and a particular faction.  The 'prelude', had hinted at the objective, simply defend the village of Muchwhinging and see off the forces of evil.  Although pared down, and with some made up characters the games seemed to be fairly balanced with the result coming down to the last handful of units.  What follows is a series of images to help convey some of the action.
To a game that was already chaotic enough we added a touch more frivolity by adding the 'event' card to the final two encounters.  'The Dark Templar' looked on incredulously as his hero, Alain de la Slaughter, in Manbat form, was lured by Helen Highwater, the village Doxy, to her boudoir before slipping a stiletto blade between his ribs.  All this shortly after a previous event card saw his terrifying Ghouls, pack up and leave the battlefield, apparently missing their friends and families** - oh how we chortled; well maybe not all of us!
**or should that be fiends and familiars? 

On reflection, I was absolutely thrilled with how the day went.  Yes, Donnybrook is a tad light for some, but perfect for what we wanted.  The ability to build on the narrative and enjoy the role playing element is a lot of fun, especially when played with likeminded souls.  To that end, I need to thank both Mike 'The Dark Templar' Reynolds and 'Bullcher Feb' who's participation, good humour and support was paramount in making this such an enjoyable day.

Addendum:

Both Mike and Bull have each kindly written up a report of the day, which can be found by following the links below.  Once again Chaps, my heartfelt thanks.

A day of gaming that will long live in the memory! - Bullcher Feb
Donnybrook Witchfinder - Mike Reynolds

Friday, 3 August 2018

Evil is abroad this night...


...a prelude.
It had been hot, so very hot; the best summer for a generation said many. The crop had been bountiful and with the last sheaths of wheat loaded on to Windy Miller’s cart the villagers of Muchwhinging looked forward to slaking their first with a flagon, or three, of ale.
 As daylight started to fail, the stifling heat did little to dispel a sense of foreboding that many felt.  Birdsong gave way to a shrill cry that got louder as the exhausted lungs that carried it near-burst with exertion. 
"Sit yourself down and catch your breath lad; what’s all this fuss about, eh?"  The reassuring words of Richard Marshall doing little to appease the scrap that sat in front of him.  The young boy, took a sip of water from the tankard, but his trembling hands could not maintain sufficient purchase and it fell to flagstoned floor, shattering the unfamiliar silence within the 'Slaughtered Lamb'.

The unwitting messenger slowly raised his head, expectant eyes bore into him, but the only words he could utter would cause the thickest of hairs to stand proud, "They... they're back!"

The hour is nearly upon us and the preparation is all but done. Tomorrow's game is inspired by ‘Witchfinder General – Days of Revelation’ and brought to the table by using a pared down version of ‘Donnybrook’. Given that this is new to all taking part we have chosen a simple encounter scenario whereby the villagers of Muchwhinging set out into the gathering gloom to do battle with the vile abominations that have returned to their lands.

A lot of fun has been had getting to grips with the rules, which appear simple, yet brutal, benefitting from a good deal of narration and a fair sprinkling of common sense. I have had a couple of run throughs in preparation with some hilarious outcomes as the events have taken a completely unexpected change of direction on the turn of a card.

I have had to par down the game a little, mostly because I didn't have enough troops to field both sides, but followed the rules for setting up so hopefully it will be a balanced encounter. I have also invented a few characters, combining elements of Witchfinder with Donnybrook factions, allowing me to field some of the more esoteric models in my collection.  Using the downloadable cards from the 'League of Augsburg Blog', I was able to add as much character information as possible, so hopefully that will help to keep the came ticking along.
Now provided, I remember to take some photographs, and jot a few notes down, then there should be a battle report before too long.


Saturday, 28 July 2018

Paint Table Saturday#247

I just thought I would share a quick 'Paint Table Saturday' post today.  Nothing too earth shattering, but the last few bits and pieces needed for the upcoming 'Witchfinder General' game.  It has been slow progress of late, with painting restricted to the mornings or evenings, due to the temperatures.  Not that you will find me complaining, especially as we are on holiday, but when the paint dries on the brush before you have time to get it on the model then it is probably an idea to try something different. 
Once again, I seem to have got slightly sidetracked with the little extras and non playing characters, but I am hoping that these will all add to the feel of the game.  I did, however take advantage of the fact that the 'Saintly Mrs. Awdry' had hit the golf course the other day and started collecting together the terrain and miniatures required, before having a little play through with the rules.
One of those little extras mentioned are my 'Shaken' markers.  I had planned to use a couple of dead or wounded miniatures from either 'Redoubt Enterprises' or 'Warlord Games', both of which I had ordered in advance, but tried something a little bit different instead.  I have glued some 'Lego' hens to MDF bases and given them a quick spray with an acrylic aerosol.  Now each 'Shaken' unit will have the ignominy of been escorted by their Yellow Chicken until they pass a morale test and rally themselves!
As I am hoping to use the Donnybrook rules from 'The League of Augsburg', albeit in a pared down fashion, the rest of my day will be putting together lists and creating character cards for the different units.  

Thursday, 26 July 2018

Gibbet

Just time to get in one more themed post this month and what better way of warning those with a penchant for straying from the right path than to see fellow transgressors rotting quietly in a metal cage?  The gibbet was simply that, a way of illustrating, with the utmost clarity, that crime doesn’t pay.  
Mine is originally from ‘Black Tree Designs’ and is a sturdy piece of metal, cast in several pieces; the base frame being one piece and the cage two. Turning over the pieces in my hand, I started to wonder if there was, perhaps, an opportunity to make something a little more unique? A quick trawl through the bits box unearthed a Games Worksop plastic skeleton whose original purpose is now lost to time. It wasn’t the greatest fit and a couple of compromises had to be made, namely an arm and a leg, but eventually the hapless victim was secured.
Basing everything on a ‘Warbases’ MDF disc, gave ample room to incorporate some ground work and a ‘Renedra’ gravestone was used to represent a milestone.  Finally, a plastic crow sits above the gibbet, it’s loud, distinctive caw adding to the eeriness of the grisly scene.
I am due to host a Witchfinder game, albeit using the Donnybrook rules, at the start of next month so this should form a useful reminder to the villagers of, well I don't know where!?  As I was starting to write the fluff for the scenario, I became acutely aware that I hadn't a clue where it was to be set.  It would be the work of seconds to Google some actual, humorous, English village names, I give you Scratchy Bottom in Dorset or Bell End in Worcestershire for example, but I can't help thinking that it should be a fictitious spot to avoid any unnecessary offence or litigation.

So if you have any suggestions then do feel free to share in the comments below and by way of inspiration, I have set up a couple of photographs, using the fruits of this month's labours, below; shamelessly indulging in a couple of filters to give the photographs that 1970s Hammer Horror feel.

Saturday, 21 July 2018

Scold’s Bridle

Whilst looking around for possible miniatures for a crime and punishment month, I happened across 'Colonel Bill's Wargames Depot'. The Colonel produces a range of unusual pieces that add a little colour to the tabletop. In one particular range of non-playing 17th Century Villagers,  I spotted a truly unique miniature, a woman wearing a Scold’s Bridle. Deciding that this was something that I couldn’t live without, a pack was ordered and with outstanding service, duly arrived in good time.
I had not painted a Col. Bill’s miniature before and would suggest the scale and sculpting are a good match for ‘Redoubt Miniatures’. They share a similar, comforting style, which I often find more forgiving when it comes to painting. Although not troubled with super fine detail, the woman is clearly seen wearing the bridle and yet still holds a stoutly, resolute pose. This intrigued me and so I delved a little deeper into the contraptions history. If I am honest with myself, I hadn’t realised that a Scold was, according to a medieval definition, a woman with a vicious tongue. Someone likely to cause insurrection or argue against the church; not quite the nagging housewife that I had been led to believe then. As with all these barbaric devices there are a variety of styles or modifications, but essentially it was an iron framework that was worn around the head, with a protruding bit that silenced the wearer. A form of torture and public humiliation the scold’s bridle, sometime referred to as the witch’s bridle or brakes, was certainly not to be considered an easy punishment.
Jenny Paull, writing about Lancaster Castle’s bridle, makes it very clear how any wearer would suffer excruciating pain, 

“The bridled woman was really an outspoken woman and it took a brave one to incur the punishment for being so. This made the bridle a very effective means of social control. Her fate was to be dragged through the streets in the bridle as it shook about on her head; often with her jaw broken, spitting out teeth, blood and vomit and receiving all forms of abuse.”

To accompany my poor unfortunate scold, I took the opportunity to paint another miniature from the same set, this time a puritan preaching from the good book. I have chosen to have mine match my earlier interpretation and swell the ranks of the Witchfinders.

Monday, 16 July 2018

Torturer

Following on from the previous post, I decided that I needed some evil lackey that could inhabit the dungeon, meeting out all manner of cruel and unspeakable acts on the poor unfortunates that crossed his threshold.  I knew that I had a ‘Hasslefree Miniatures’, Narg the torturer but on closer inspection he reminded me of a cross between Big Daddy* and Thelonious, Lord Farquaad's right-hand man from Shrek.
*Those of us in the UK that remember World of Sport’s Saturday afternoon wrestling, will appreciate the reference.
Narg is a lovely miniature, but it didn’t feel quite right with the other pieces that I was working on.  Instead I went for one of the Executioners set from ‘Fenryll Miniatures’ supplied through 'Figures4Sale', an Ebay seller.  This is not a make that I was familiar with and hadn’t realised that they were actually resin until they dropped on the doormat, here at Awdry Towers.  I chose the smaller of the two, not least because the larger version was a multi part kit and I just didn’t have the heart to tackle it at the moment.
There were some tiny imperfections that I didn’t notice until I started to apply paint, but on the whole this is a lovely sculpt, with just the right balance of malice and comedy to work on the tabletop. Having decided on my choice of torturer, I looked around at all the other bits and pieces that had been salvaged, but not used at this juncture, and cobbled together a little vignette. Contributors include an executioner’s block from ‘Black Tree Deigns’, rats from ‘Warbases’ and a brazier from ‘Midlem Miniatures’.
Although there are no immediate plans to start work on a dungeon I thought, collectively, that these pieces could serve as a grim reminder of the probable outcome of any transgressor!
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