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Tuesday, 6 November 2018

A Chance Buy For The Autumn Gloom

Hello again.

Even with a south-facing conservatory for a mancave, there are times, especially at this period of the year, when it is just too gloomy to see anything properly to be able to paint. Natural light is my preference, but there is not much around at the moment! So, I went on a recce for Christmas presents for the brood with my wife last weekend and we ended up in a place called "The Range", a sort of Hobbycraft and similar outlet if you do not know it. We were not looking for anything for me, but needless to say, I found a few things!

 
 
For the princely sum of £4, I bought these two Christmas decoration kits, which, as you can see stand around four to five inches high when built. I think you are supposed to build them, paint them, and then either hang them on your Christmas tree or put a tea light in them. BUT WE DON'T WANT TO DO THAT, DO WE!?!?!?
 
I did at least build one, but those awful tags had to come off...

...so off they came!
 At this point, you will obviously have gathered my reasoning. For that paltry £4 outlay, I wanted to investigate whether I could add to my terrain pool something unique after finishing my initial purchase of Sarissa Precision kits for "Burrows & Badgers" that I got from the Chillcon show last month.

So, with stage one complete, what now? Well, I could have drawn a plan of what I wanted to do, but that would be too technical! So I winged it.


Stage Two saw the building of an entrance lobby, a simple lean-to affair and I added one of the doors from the Doors Pack from Sarissa that I bought at Chillcon. We will overlook the fact that I had already added a floor at roof level to give added structure to the piece BEFORE I thought to glaze the upper windows...D'oh!
Stage Three saw me build up the living space. I decided on a sort of wrap around lower storey, knowing full well that the subsequent roof angles could be a total pain...

The end wall features another of the Sarissa Precision doors. I will add a shuttered window on that side too in the near future.


Stage Four saw the need to roof the lower storey. With some careful measuring from which I cut out paper templates, I was able to fit a pretty decent roof.

Et voila!

Stage Five saw me needing a chimney stack, which I fabricated from a scrap of 3mm MDF. The same material was used, along with some 2mm mounting card, to build the actual stack above roof level, topped off with some plastic tubes pots.

So that is the basic build.

 
It has taken me around four man hours to get this far, which is probably longer than the equivalent kit would have taken, but you obviously have to fabricate parts yourself without a kit. However, a self-built thing is unique.

I still have to tile the rooves and finish the body of the building with timber framing, rendering, brickwork, window sills and whatever, but the structure is built and sound in that it is not going to fall over any time soon. I will also base it for added stability and the idea of a vegetable garden is one I think I will pursue for this dwelling. I will finish this one as and when work, light and time allow. Then there is the little matter of the second building and what to do with that one...

G



Saturday, 3 November 2018

It's Been A Hoot

Hello again.

Progress on anything at all, but especially on my current fave of "Burrows & Badgers", has been slow of late. Back at work for after a week of rest and recuperation, coupled with the usual weather and reduced daylight given the time of year, I have not really started anything and I have not really finished anything either. With one exception.

I have given a certain amount of time of late to what I want to do next for my anthropomorphic animal kicks, sorting out different warbands from the figures I have. You see, although many of the figures are generic in nature, I have a passion for specific in most things. I can do a couple of "complete" warbands already and have two more I can get on with from the lead pimple, so it perhaps comes as a bit of a surprise that the subject of this missive is not really specific at all.

I can factor it in with my Witch Hunters quite easily. I can factor it in also to either of my next projects. I can also see it alone or in something else altogether - aerial cover for the noble Knights of the Lavender Order, savage hunter for some wild clan types from north of Northymbra, leader of "the Few" of the Royal Owl Force/ Regia Owlanautica/ Nachjaegergeschwader.

Yes, I have finished something unique so far in my "Burrows & Badgers" menagerie in that this beastie can fly! I give you a Barn Owl! And I am as yet so undecided on what he or she will play as a role that I have not even created any suitable names yet. All I know is that this avian predator ain't going to sea with no kitty cat in a vessel of any colour any time soon!!!

I know it is entirely feasible for birds of any sort to take off from the ground, but I felt I was missing a trick in having this guy do that. So, in true Heath Robinson style, I built a suitable perch from which to launch, in this case an ancient, low wall, built up from spare plastic bases and modelling filler. I could have gone higher, but he is already imposing and I do have to fit him in the carry case!

The paint job was a tricky one and I am not quite sure I pulled it off. I checked out various photographic references to Barn Owls on the net and am still wondering how to get that beautiful, black spot mottling on their feathers. As with any creature, the amount, tone and colour of their plumage varies somewhat, but reddish brown with varying amounts of grey/ black mottling is the norm. See what you think.





With hindsight, I think I should have built the wall behind the owl out to the edge of the base, so it looks like it continues behind him, rather than have it ruined and tapering into the base, but I am happy with the result overall. And with Oathsworn Miniatures bringing ever more flying creatures into the world, to accompany those they do already, the prospect of a squadron of fliers is becoming ever more a reality!!! I wonder how many times I can shout "Tally Ho, Chaps!" before my opponent stomps off in a huff or shouts at me...

So, what will I be doing next? Well, you'll have to wait and see, work, light and weather conditions notwithstanding. But don't rule out more flying types...

G

Saturday, 27 October 2018

Loose Associates

Hello again.

To all intents and purposes, I have "finished" my Witch Hunters (for now...), having no further figures I think suitable to join them (all foxes and other nefarious types for the most part from here I'm afraid!), but I do have a few others who could assist the cause as occasional allies. So long, of course, as they have appropriate views on life and no obvious connections that would be rightly frowned upon!

In that context, I have a few civilian types who could join in at some point, I have a couple of cold-blooded types who might be called on in the future and I have my Knights to paint, who belong to the same Order of the Lavender Garden as the Witch Hunters, but follow a different path within it, content merely to show their martial prowess rather than slink about in the shadows of the Northymbran underworld seeking out ne'er-do-wells, malcontents and the downright dangerous.

Here are two non-aligned characters who might have common cause with the Witch Hunters from time to time, I thought. Backstories are coming to me thick and fast for why and how they would work for/ with the Order, so no worries on the authenticity front for me.

The first is Pugga Fett, a Pug Bounty Hunter, who could make common cause with the Witch Hunters quite easily given his line of work. An obvious agent of the Order, his club-wielding, no nonsense attitude would surely help out in any scuffle. That club could be a two-hander, giving him quite literally some serious clout and his armour at the very least is light armour, though stretchable to heavy if the points allow, his mail sleeves perhaps extending into a full shirt beneath his studded jack. And who needs binocular vision when you're up close and personal swinging half a tree at someone?


Who would not want a Pug Bounty Hunter?



And then there is Fergus mac Ferret, a Ferret Rogue by definition, but in my mind a traveller who works just the right side of the law. Not an informant, but happy to drop a name or two in the right company, he is FEARLESS (a trait afforded all ferrets in "Burrows & Badgers") and can mix and match equally well in both high and low society. Those throwing daggers hint at a speciality that would come in useful in the back alleys of Eoferwic, Whitbye, Scar's Burgh or Bebbanburg, not to mention any of the other towns and cities of Northymbra in which he might find himself.



Fergus mac Ferret proudly wears his Strath Clota clan tartan and it would be a foolish beastie who called him a ferret in a skirt...

Light armour from his leather jack and cuirboilli shoulder pieces should keep him safe for a while.



These two also have the added advantage of being able to join other groups as they (i.e. I) see fit. Fergus would be a fine candidate for a wild and hairy Strath Clotan raiding party, kilts, broadswords, targes and claymores bursting in upon all those soft and rather wealthy (compared with the denizens of Strath Clota itself) southerners. Pugga Fett is theoretically employable by anyone, from evil empires to debt-collection agencies, including as muscle for a criminal gang pressing a business for protection money.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, and anyone/ thing else reading this, is one of the prime beauties and attractions of "Burrows & Badgers". You almost literally CAN put anything with anything else to create your band. Just pick the half a dozen or so figures you like, give them a story and off you go. BUT!!! BEWARE!!! You will NOT be able to just pick half a dozen or so as this really DOES GET YOU HOOKED!!! The figures are an absolute joy to paint, the rules are very workable and easy to use, the depth of subject is enormous and the whole thing is massive FUN! From the buying to the research to the painting to the creation of backstories and scenarios, this whole "Burrows & Badgers" thing has been an absolute wonder for me and, judging by Facebook groups and other opinion, I am not alone! The only problem is that it is stopping me doing anything else!

Rampant plug over, I bid you farewell till next time!

G

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

The Battle of Scrotum Worthy

Hello again.

Monday 22nd October saw Nephew Nick and I indulge our latest gaming passion and finally have a couple of games of "Burrows & Badgers", the first of which is covered here. I set up a 4 foot by 4 foot table, Nick chose a table edge to play from and we set to. Nick could not be bothered to name his band of knightly types, though the collective was known as the Knights of the Order of the Bloody Lily (or the Army of the Republic of Florence as I call it - look at their shields!) and I used my Witch Hunters for this inaugural game.

Cast of Characters:
Witch Hunters:

Rufus Hopkins - Leader - Light armour, two swords, WEAPONSKILL, STRONG (2), TOUGH (1), an English Cocker Spaniel;
Fluvius Poole - Second in command - No armour, bow, sword, FAST SHOT, STRONG (1), SWIM, an Otter;
Pancho Keennose - No armour, axe, STRONG (1), a Beagle;
Rosie Cottontail - No armour, Bow, Dagger, LEAP, a Rabbit;
Ginger Baker - Light armour, buckler, sling, sword, a Dormouse;
Mickey the Ranger - No armour, bow, sword, a Mouse.

As Nick had not named his characters, we shall call them Hare Knight, Terrier Knight, Mouse Knights 1 and 2, Dormouse Archer and Mouse Ranger.

Before I show the game, it is worth looking at some of the characteristics of "Burrows & Badgers", which may help better illuminate some of the points below.

SKILLS - many animals within the game have innate skills, such as a rabbit's ability to LEAP (which enables them to scale difficult vertical terrain more easily amongst other things), or an otter's ability to SWIM (so water obstacles are not difficult terrain at all). Leaders and seconds in command get skills too, which they choose by way of some characterisation. I chose WEAPONSKILL for Rufus (better at fighting basically) and FAST SHOT for Fluvius (shoots twice with his bow if he does not move).

PERFECT ROLLS - the game uses different types of polyhedral dice to show how good a particular animal may be at something, ranging from a d4 (the worst) to a d12 (the best). A PERFECT ROLL is when you roll the highest number on that particular dice in a combat situation be that shooting or fighting or casting a spell. If you do so, you add 7 to your overall score, making attacks very deadly and defence very strong. NICK IS VERY GOOD AT PERFECT ROLLS...

ROLL OFF - the rules work on an attack going against a defensive trait, with both players rolling relevant dice and comparing overall scores to see if something may be wounded and, if so, how severely, by an attack, for example. These are called ROLL OFFS. So, if I wanted to shoot at something, I would roll my Ranged dice type (d8 for an otter, d6 for a mouse), my target would roll their Nimbleness dice (d8 for an otter, d6 for a mouse), we would compare the scores, add or deduct minimal modifiers to achieve a number of wounds, which is then reduced by armour and TOUGH skills.

FATE POINTS - you get 10 to spend in the sequence starting with the pre-game set up, through the game itself, to the after game round up. They give you an extra dice to roll of relevant type thereby increasing your chances of rolling better, as you pick the best score from the dice rolled.

OBJECTIVES - in addition to the scenario objectives, you roll on a table for secondary objectives, which, if achieved grant extra experience points for your team. This is supposed to be a campaign game, where your band expands and grows in number and skill as you play. So long as you do not lose heavily.

Now for some photos and captions, which I hope show the course of the game.

Nick chose to play from the right of the picture, behind the small, prism-shaped house, so I started on the left of picture.

The opening turn saw both sides sprint towards the cover in the centre of the table. Here Rufus is flanked by Pancho the Beagle and Mickey the Ranger.

The Hare Knight, leader of the Florentine Republic forces!

And Mouse Knights 1 & 2. The carnage started with Fluvius Poole laying into Mouse Knight 2 with the cloak, grievously wounding him with a volley of well-aimed arrows, Rosie Cottontail adding more damage with another careful shot. Rosie took damage in response from the Dromouse archer, but it was first blood to the Witch Hunters and the Florentines headed for the safety of the wood on their extreme left flank to get away from the archery they faced.

Aha! PERFECT ROLL PETE, aka Terrier Knight. This guy got into combat with Rufus eventually. Rufus was and is far superior in a fight. Nick rolled so many perfect rolls in succession (he counted 5, but I reckon it was more!), that he not only held Rufus in place but rubbed it in by taking out others whom I had sent in to try to kill him off! The Florentines suffered more missile wounds this turn, but got some revenge when the Mouse ranger hit Pancho for 11 wounds with one arrow - another PERFECT ROLL did the trick!!!

I made the mistake of leaving Fluvius taking pot shots for too long and, with Nick winning the roll off for who started this turn, he charged the otter with Hare Knight. He also piled in with Mouse Knight 1 and the two of them set about Fluvius with some gusto. No perfect rolls for me...Rufus was busy trying to take chunks out of Terrier Knight, but those Perfect Rolls saw the hound not only survive the onslaught but do so intact!

The belated intervention of Pancho did nothing, as he and Fluvius fell, leaving Rufus outnumbered, but still holding his own. That was until Hare Knight bounded across to save his Terrier buddy and, with another perfect roll, battered Rufus into the dirt. I only had the two mice left at this point and, without leadership, they routed automatically for a Florentine win.
Well, that went well...

In truth, I had got Terrier Knight, Mouse Knight 2 and Mouse Ranger down to just 1 wound each from their starting figure of 16 and the Dormouse archer was over half way to her demise too, but the loss of four of my own was obviously a grievous blow. Animal of the Match was definitely the Terrier Knight and his perfect rolls...

The after match event involved me checking what permanent damage may have been caused to those four taken out of action. Fluvius and Pancho each had a niggling injury (1 in 6 chance of missing the next game if this was a campaign), Rufus got a hamstring injury which made him less Nimble, but the highlight was Rosie the Rabbit getting hideous scarring which made her FEARSOME (other non-fearsome animals have to take a morale check before they can attack) and a head would which made her FEARLESS (does not fear fearsome creatures). So, if this was a campaign, I would have a rabbit archer with a serious sense of menace!!!

We switched the terrain around and played again and I won game 2 handsomely. The highlight came when Fluvius used his FAST SHOT skill to let fly at the Hare Knight and rolled two perfect rolls! Hare Knight took grievous wounds and headed for cover and would have been killed had he not defended one of the shots with a perfect roll of his own. To top it all, Nick checked on the injuries table for his casualties and it turned out that both knights died in the game!

One all and much fun had by both players. We shall return!

G

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

The Special Branch of the Lavender Order

Hello again.

We met Rufus Hopkins a little while back, special agent for the knightly Order of the Lavender Garden, aka Witch Hunter, but everyone needs a little help from time to time and witches sometimes come in packs. Well, covens anyway...So Rufus has some help of his own available now in the form of this group of fully vetted, wholly trusted (by the powers that be at any rate) group of individuals.

Who knows what back stories they each have? What could possibly drag a dormouse from its quiet, timid existence to live life on the road hunting evil and dark doings in the wilds of Northymbra? Why would a young, female rabbit leave the warren to confront all manner of ne'er-do-wells? Why would an organisation that operates in the darker places of the world recruit such a motley bunch? I do not know yet myself, but I am sure some tales will emerge in due course...

So, here yet again are further images of a project which has gripped my time, imagination and paint brush for the past several weeks and grips me still. even though I have other things waiting. Oathsworn Miniatures have relieved me of much cash, have seen me daydream far too much for a supposed professional employee of a large company, are great to chat with at shows and have a range of figures and rules that I heartily recommend.

Just a quick note before the piccies. As you may recall, the colours of the Order of the Lavender Garden are a white lily/ fleur-de-lys on a purple ground, so these guys are usually to be seen wearing these colours somewhere about their person. I say "usually", as they do not always want to give the game away given the company they seek, so those colours are one of the themes in this band. The other is the idea I had to include a graveyard vibe on their bases, so thanks to Renedra for selling me some headstones way back when that I just knew would come in handy some day. And I have more than enough left to be able to actually build a graveyard ready for some games!

There may yet be one more member of the Order to join, to provide something a little different, and I have ideas for companions and hangers-on who may feature from time to time when their purposes align with those of the group. So long as their credentials and known associates are suitable for the Order to allow them to walk alongside at any rate...

G

Second in command of the group is Fluvius Poole, an otter ranger, who displays his allegiance via his halved purple and white hood and the check braiding on his cuffs.

Fluvius is obviously well equipped for the wilds, with rope, bedroll and various bags and pouches. One at least no doubt contains flint and steel to deal with whatever witches they catch!

And a fallen and smashed gravestone is obvious proof of witchery!

Pancho Keennose, aka Snoopy, is the group's tracker, a Beagle by birth, and a dab hand at sniffing out those nefarious types upon whom the group's attention naturally falls.

Handy with an axe too! (I hope!!!)

Less keen on the promotion of the purple and white livery, Pancho keeps his tabard rolled up atop his backpack.

Rosie Cottontail no doubt has a tale to tell of how she came to join this group, but it is a tale for the future perhaps (because I have not written it yet!). More grave furniture to help tie the group together, along with a purple and white hood.

 

I hope she can overcome the fact that, as a rabbit, her eyes are not those of a hunter but rather those of the hunted. At least she should be quick to spot danger.

Mickey the mouse ranger with another broken grave stone. Given his pose, this guy just had to be peering around something. And I might even be able to blag hard cover in games!!!

More shooty goodness. There is only Rufus and Pancho in the group who are not missile armed, though a concealed pistol or throwing knife is not out of the question...

Dormice are normally such timid creatures, happy to pose for cute photos with blackberries in their paws, but Ginger Baker here is of a different sort. Again, who knows his story, but he too is a valuable, if somewhat weak, member of the team and another shooty type.


More purple and white with the shield design and this time a tunic under his light, leather armour

The foot soldiers, minus Pancho, who is off tracking something somewhere

Pancho is still tracking something somewhere, but the rest of the group are armed, ready and , hopefully, dangerous!

Sunday, 14 October 2018

Bonny Anne

Hello again.

Not to be confused with 70's pop group Boney M or with real-life pirate Anne Bonney, Bonny Anne has never in fact recorded any hit singles but has in fact taken to piracy.

What's not to like about an otter pirate? Big and pretty tough in the anthropomorphic world of "Burrows & Badgers", with the "Strong" characteristic that means they hurt people a little more easily when they wish to and also able to swim (literally in real life and in the game!) should their vessel go down with all rats, weasels and other lesser creatures, piracy might be thought of as a reasonable career option for such noble creatures.

But noble creatures surely do not take to piracy. Surely noble creatures take afternoon tea and take up suitable bourgeois careers, or sit at home and keep house, play bridge and entertain other noble creatures? So what forced Anne into the life of a reaver, what nefarious deed set her on the road (or perhaps seaway) of the corsair, what dark experience saw her set to buccaneering her way around the waterways and coastlines of Northymbra? Hmm. Storyline possibilities a-plenty, me hearties! Something must have put that stern look on her face though!

At the moment, Anne is one of the crew of the good ship "Blackberry", under the command of that rake and breaker of oaths, the Black Pi-Rat. However, Oathsworn Miniatures had some greens at the recent Chillcon show and one of them was of a male, otter pirate, shirt open to the navel, baggy pantaloons, bandana and cutlass resting on his shoulder, all Sinbad the Sailor meets Cap'n Jack Sparrow. A must have if ever I saw one!!!

So, Bonny Anne may well become Jessie James, the aforementioned Sinbad-type Frank James, together the leaders of the James Gang. (You couldn't write this stuff!) And they too will need a ship and a crew, so perhaps the dirty dealings of the Black Pi-Rat will have to catch up with him and his band of shrews will desert for a more noble cause. Perhaps the Black Pi-Rat will be left with only his own kind willing to hoist a mainsail or man a poop deck on his behalf. Perhaps rats should just play with rats and not try and elevate themselves to higher concerns. I had better get building and painting some rats, just in case! Whether Thug will desert him too is under debate...

Anyway, here is Bonny Anne/ Jessie James. I hope you like her.

G

Judging by the look on her face, Bonny Anne clearly means business.

It is unclear whether she is slinging potatoes or sling stones judging by the bag, but so long as her aim is true when she gets onto the table for some games, I won't care too much!

As with all my pirate types so far, the base follows a beach theme. There must be some buried treasure around here somewhere after all.

Monday, 8 October 2018

The Root of All Evil

Hello again.

So, just what is the root of all evil?

Could it be greed? Over-weaning ambition? Vegans? People who drink tea with their little finger pointed outwards?

I am taking a punt on model buildings with windows.

You buy a kit in all innocence, thinking you are doing the right thing. You build the kit and, as you are doing so, that moment of clarity arrives. You had not noticed the window at the back. That window looks straight into a one room dwelling. That window is an eye on the world for the dwelling's inhabitants. That window is an eye into the dwelling for the world's inhabitants.

There is no glazing. Do you bother to find some? Of course you do. Think of the draught, the ingress of rain and other environmental factors, the lack of security having a big hole in the back wall of your property.

So you glaze it with a bit of clear, plastic sheet cut from a blister pack. That in itself makes painting the exterior all the harder, as you now have to mask the window if you spray undercoat or be VERY careful if you choose to brush paint, and painting is an absolute necessity.

But will it just be an empty space? Will people get low to the table and look into a blank canvas with grey card and golden brown mdf the sole delights for their eye? Dilemma...

Should you furnish the dwelling? Will it be visible when you have done and fix the top of the roof down? Should you fix the top of the roof down or have it lift off to allow for the internal placement of figures? Should you at least paint the interior, even if you cannot access it?

You furnish. You cannot take the risk. You also therefore paint the interior. You also have to do it a little justice, not quite knowing how much detail to go into. You just know that if you do not make the effort, some smart Alec will ruin your day by pointing out your little abode is vacant possession. You spend most of a day when you could be enjoying life trying to come up with suitable ways to build beds, chairs, tables, utensils, just general signs of life in your dwelling, even if it is unoccupied at the moment. Someone was there and you needed to show that.

Like I said, model buildings are my vote for the root of all evil...

In truth, the kit itself was easy to build, being one of the Sarissa Precision offerings specifically for the "Burrows & Badgers" game. Built with the useable instructions provided and a reasonably liberal use of wood glue and specialist card glue, although ordinary PVA would suffice, the only real difficulty came with the aforementioned window straight from the bowels of some burning, undesirable other level of human existence, whose name cannot be voiced in polite blogospheric circles, rather like saying "Voldemort" for many of the inhabitants of Harry Potter's world.

But it is at least now built and detailed internally with a certain amount of ingenuity.

And, do you know what?

You can hardly see a darn thing with the roof on!!!

Will I go to these lengths on future builds? I think I will just pull the curtains! (And I have not even given this place any!!!)

G

That window, now glazed.

And all the internals I could be bothered with, using coloured paper, calico, card, plastic sheet, bits of scrap wood, the odd item from my bits box, etc, along with putty for the leather cushion on the chair (very shiny leather!) and the pillow on the bed.

I even dirtied the door mat and had some careless individual (have you met my kids?) tramp mud up onto the rug in front of the fireplace. Judging by the state of the bed, I think this is student accommodation.

And to add to the pain, the roof fits very snugly and securely without needing to be fixed down. Hm. Perhaps the effort was worthwhile after all...