May 18, 2017

Shadow War: Armageddon

Shadow War: Armageddon is the revival of the Necromunda rules by Games Workshop and it has my group gearing up to play a campaign. The rules are nearly identical to the game from the 90's with the main difference being that rather than desperate gangs of underhive scum, your force can be drawn from elements of any 40k army (though I think you could happily build any of the old gangs with the Astra Militarium list and use the old skill trees for advancement).

This is Fingob's Ladz, my Ork Kill Team. Fingob is the brute with the Power Klaw (overkill for a starting gang, but it's what my model has - if I run Orks for the campaign, I'll paint up a new Fingob with a Kombi-flamer). His right hand ork, Fester, is a kunning Spanner Boy and carries a Big Shoota. The rest of the mob consists of four Boyz (Hef, Cloutgob, Mangeye, and Naffbitz) and three Yoofs (Pulg, Wort, and Snik). I have zero idea of how effective this gang will be, but I just love playing Orks!

I can make five or six Kill Teams just by pulling minis form my cabinets, but I plan on custom designing another Ork mob (Bloodaxe Kommandos) and a Inquisition Pacification Force.

I'm still working on some proper underhive terrain, but my urban sprawl should do nicely for now...

We've going to get in some games tonight. I'll have some notes on what happened in a few days, but these are just for fun and to get to grips with the rules so there won't be any real record keeping yet.

May 3, 2017

Wandering Around Ireland, Part III

The next day of our trip took us to lots of different sites!

Before leaving Enniskillen, we stopped at Enniskillen Castle and just had a walk around the outside. On March 11th 1689, Gustavus Hamilton formally declared Enniskillen for William of Orange. A day later, James II landed at Kinsale seeking to win, with victory in Ireland, the springboard for an assault on England. Throughout that month, the Enniskilleners harassed the Jacobites, sending out lightning raids from this island stronghold.

After our trip to Ireland, I have plans to add a couple of small castles to my terrain collection for the period. This was only the first castle of the day! Driving south we passed a sign for Balfour Castle in Lisnaskea. Being in no particular hurry, we turned around and followed the sign...

The stands on the grounds of a church, behind a graveyard. It was built around 1618 under grant from King James I. I have found little information about the place in the period covered by Beneath the Lily Banners, though some notes on the place say the castle was 'damaged in 1689'. There was a small action at Lisnaskea before the battle at Newtownbutler so the damage in question may have occurred around that time.

A bit farther south is a castle we know was involved in at least two actions during the fighting around Enniskillen - Castle Crom. There is a massive Victorian castle of the same name on the site, but the one we were interested in is a small ruin that lies to the south. Barry told Bob and I that Lord Galmoy tried to take the castle by bluff with a fake cannon made of tin. The Enniskilleners wouldn't surrender without a fight and apparently the Jacobites blew up their toy gun by trying to actually fire it!

Several months later, a second attempt to take the castle was made by Lord Montcashel with several light guns possibly as many as 1000 men. The defenders made use of temporary outer earthworks to bolster the castle's strength and again the Enniskilleners managed see the Jacobites off.

One fascinating detail we found on a nearby plaque was that some of the current walls are 'fake', built as ruins to enhance the view of the place from the Victorian Castle.

Again I was truck by the fact that we were able to simply walk up to this monument. I took three times as many photos as I've posted, with an eye toward capturing detail for building a model for the game table.

Winding our way south, we stopped on the side of the road at one of three sites believed to be the location of the Battle of Newtownbutler (Barry wrote a series of articles on this conflict). Basically the Jacobites formed up on a hill behind a bog and taunted the Enniskilleners to 'come over and fight'. Turns out the bog wasn't much of an impediment - either the ground was not as poor as believed or they knew a path through. Bottom line - the Jacobites were routed. In any case, this spot fits the description of the field very well. This photo possibly shows the hill where the Jacobites deployed...

Here is the bog that would lie between the armies...

... and this open ground would be where the Eniskilleners started.

On to Athlone! Ok, somehow I didn't manage to get any pictures of the castle at Athlone. The modern day city is built pretty close to it all the way around. We probably should have popped across the bridge and got pics from the other side, but I didn't think about it at the time, The castle museum was interesting but again I didn't take many photos... well, we did get one...

It's easy to see why grenadiers were so feared!

Next time we are off to Aughrim...

May 1, 2017

Grimteef da Widowmaker

With all of the info coming out about the next edition of Warhammer 40k, I've grown pretty optimistic about the direction of the game. It sounds like they've taken some of the most successful bits of AoS, combined them 40k, and even pulled out some elements of Rogue Trader (vehicles have Armour Saves and Wounds like everything else). The core rule set will be free and consists of 14 pages. Most of Universal Special Rules will be replaced by unit specific rules that will be included on the unit Data Slate. I don't know exactly how it will turn out in the full reveal, but I am encouraged with the info so far.

In any case, I was inspired to paint up the first 40k model I've worked on in several years (my last blog post with new minis was 2014, but I'm not sure if it's actually been that long).

Grimteef da Widowmaker has been the leader of my beloved Ork horde since 3rd edition. I decided it was time to update this monster and furthermore I decided I wanted something more unique than the models GW currently has available. I love the new Orruk models AoS and yesterday I dropped by my local GW shop to pick up the Ironjawz Megaboss. I scrounged through the pile of other Ork kits I had on hand to come up with more Dakka and here is the terrifying result!

This lad is HUGE. There was a bit of cutting and filing needed as the newer kits tend to have strange joins (rather than simple flat shoulder joints to add arms, etc), but I didn't need to resort of greenstuff. The right hand proved the most troubling and I had to trim away quit a bit of the original gauntlet to make the fit, but I was able to cover an unsightly job with a spiky bit of armour. All of the Orky glyphs are decals, but the checkerboard racing stripes were painted freehand. As a bonus, the entire project, from purchase to photography was accomplished in under 24 hours!

Somehow, I don't seem to have any photos of my Ork army that aren't more than ten years old and I'll have to remedy that in the future, but I'll include Grimteef wading through his minions. I'm anxious to see the new point values, but my army currently sits at something around over 7000 points! I probably have another 2000 points tucked away in cupboards still in their original shrink wrap (Yesterday, I found three boxes of Meganobz and a Morkanaught I didn't even know I had).

Anyway, I'm looking forward to trying the new game and leading the Waaaagh across the galaxy!

April 26, 2017

Wandering Around Ireland, Part II

A little after noon, Barry, Bob, and I rolled into Londonderry proper. We passed through the walls at Ferryquay Gate and climbed a set of stone steps to the top of the wall in a drizzling rain.

The walls of Londonderry were built in 1613-18 and the entire circuit remains intact today. Of course there have been repairs and the original gates were enlarged to allow for modern traffic to pass, but you can still walk the mile (1.5km) trail atop the battlements. For the most part, the inner town retains the original street layout as well, serving as a fantastic example of a renaissance town.

Something that struck us immediately as we traveled south away from Ferryquay Gate was how steep the slope of the wall was. How many times as model builders do we take the time to ensure all of our fortifications are level? I was also struck by the fact that the top of the wall, at least in this section, was wider that some of the roads we'd been on!

Immediately south of the Ferryquay Gate stands the Artillery Bastion, with two fantastic field guns poised the defend the city.

Each gun is original, though the carriages are reproductions. Each bares a plaque stamped with information on the gun, including who provided the weapon to the town. The first demi-culverin above was provided in 1642 by the Worshipful Company of Salters and weighs over 2700 pounds (and we wonder why our wargame toys can't just be repositioned at the whim of their commander).

At one corner of the bastion, and at other points around the walls, was a tiny turret watchtower. A small plaque proclaimed these were constructed because soldiers complained about having to stand watch in poor weather. Bob and I thought they would be a fantastic bit of detail to add if one were to, say for instance, be building a model of the walls of Derry...

A second bastion, the Church Bastion, stands at the corner of the wall where the fortifications turn west. Looming behind the Church Bastion is the breathtaking spire of St Columb's Cathedral.

The spire on top of the tower wouldn't have been there in 1689. Barry and I were actually going to walk by after examining the exterior (heathens!), but Bob suggested we talk a trip inside. What a great suggestion that turned out to be!

Two wonderful ladies at the entry greeted us in the role of typical tour guides. Upon finding out I was from America, she took us forward to view a 48-star United States flag stored under glass. It use to hang among the banners in the cathedral but had deteriorated to a point that it needed to be placed in storage. It had been presented by the US Navy in 1945 to commemorate the US Naval Base that was in Londonderry from 1942 to 1945. Somehow I managed to not get a picture of it.

One of the flags I did get a picture of was a reproduction of flags from our period according to the official literature...

Two flags captured from the French on the 6th of May 1689 at the Battle of Windmill Hill. The poles and embroidery are original. The fabric has been renewed on four occasions.

Now, Barry and I were ready for this. The research we did for the Uniform Guides of the Siege of Derry didn't suggest any French were present in Ireland at the time. Barry asked about the origin of the flag and when the lady seemed unsure, she said she would get 'Ian' who would know more about it.

Shortly thereafter, our 'New Mate Ian' arrived and learned that Barry seemed to know more about it than he did. He was delighted to find how much interest we had in the siege and how much we seemed to know about the period. He excitedly started taking us to bits of the cathedral that were roped off to view plaques about the flags. He explained, they weren't sure the flags were yellow and may have been white instead. One plaque commemorated the restoration of French flags, but he showed us an older one that referred to them as Jacobite flags. He hadn't noticed the discrepancy before as was puzzled as to why the origins of the flags seemed to change.

In any case, he was now having as much fun as we were. He led us back to a room full of display cases and proceeded to open them and hand out the priceless artifacts for closer examination!

At the top, Barry holds the sword of Rev. George Walker and below I have Captain Adam Murray's (more on that later). There was also George Walker's Bible, Captain Murray's pocket watch, snuff box, and a brace of buttons from his coat, cannon balls, more swords, old maps - again, I got so enthralled I didn't snap more pics. We also got to hold the actual locks and keys used to secure the gates against the Jacobite attack - something even King James didn't get to do (pic below is from the web... I think Barry got a shot of the actual objects)!

How many people who visit the museum of St Columb's Cathedral get the chance we had? How many who visit ANY museum? Barry and Ian exchanged contact info (We sent him our PDF uniform guides and he sent us stacks of archive photos). I left feeling the trip to Londonderry had already been worth it. Great idea, Bob!

Back on the wall, we made the rest of the circuit. We also visited the Apprentice Boys' Memorial Hall (where we saw ANOTHER sword of Captain Murray - well, he probably had two) and the Tower Museum. These were worth the time spent, though not as good as our trip to the cathedral. Photography wasn't allowed so I didn't bother trying to sneak any photos.

We made a trip down into the streets to a cafe for 'tea' (I had Pepsi) and then headed south to Enniskillen. That night we met Clibinarium (the talented sculptor of Warfare Miniatures) for dinner. Not only did we have a great meal, we got to see the new sculpts for the upcoming GNW Russian artillery crews!

Next time, the three grenadiers (wait for it) travel south toward Athlone and Aughrim!

April 19, 2017

Wandering Around Ireland, Part I

Now that the dust has settled and I'm back in some sort of routine, I've had time to sort through my pics and make some notes on my trip. Of course the first few days were spent in Dumphries at the the LoA Weekender. I'm going to leave the details of the games to Mr. Hilton as I was busy killing Jacobite horses (yes, I was playing on the Jacobite side) and like the commanders of the 17th century have very little idea of what was going on beyond my hill (though the Williamites might have won... Lord Galmoy survived despite my attaching him to every cavalry charge he was in range of). I will say I greatly enjoyed the weekend and it was fantastic to meet so many people I've only had contact with through the web.

There was a surreal moment Saturday night when the entertainment at the hotel turned out to be a Johhny Cash impersonator. I traveled 3500 miles to the Old Country and the locals packed the place to see a guy in a rhinestone studded jacket. He didn't even have bagpipes. Maybe I should have went out with Tam... ok, maybe not...

Late Sunday afternoon, we packed up the toys and Barry Hilton, Bob Talbot, and I made our way to the ferry bound for Larne, Ireland. On the way I learned that Bob can't hear sentences with the word 'truck' in them and 'ship-wit' doesn't only apply to 16th and 17th century sailing vessels. Light was failing as we slipped away from the brooding Scottish coast...

On Monday morning we set out for Londonderry, at points following the same route the Jacobites took as they marched on the town. A journey that took them weeks took us hours. Shortly after leaving Coleraine we were treated to a fantastic view of the Irish Sea before it narrows to become the Foyle River.

Barry climbed a hill to get a better shot and I trained my camera on him in case he fell down it (to make sure Bob and I could help him quickly, of course - no, that would NOT have ended up on YouTube... well, probably not).

Just before reaching Londonderry, we took a detour down to the Foyle River to see if we could find the area where the Jacobites placed the boom to block the river and cut off the town from naval support and supplies. Not only was Barry spot on (it's a bit like having Google in the car with you), we came out opposite Culmore Fort (at the base of the tower, just to the right).

A quick trip south, west across the first bridge we found, and back north and we were standing at the fort.

No gates, no barricades, no caretaker, not even a sign unless you count the 'Lough Foyle Yacht Club' one that now adorns the building. Not for the last time on this trip I was struck with wonder that such a historic building was simply sitting at the end of a common lane beside a residential district. In the US, they would have built a park around the place and you probably couldn't really get near it.

I took a stupid amount of photos of stonework with an eye to building a couple of castles for my table top collection. The place must once have had a wall and probably outbuildings because there was a fair size garrison stationed there in 1689 and they wouldn't have all fit in the tower.

Standing on the beach below the fort in the wind and the rain we had another stunning view of the Irish Sea, this time looking north along the route of the Foyle. Looking east, you can see how narrow the river is even at this point, Any ship braving this corridor would have been at point blank range for cannons along the shore.

As we turned south towards the town, we passed directly through the spot where the Pennyburn Mill would have been. Now it is the proud site of the Pennyburn Condominiums and a McDonalds.

In part II, we venture into Londonderry!