Wednesday, 13 September 2017

MOAR Artillery!

Well, I had intended to post this a week ago, but I have become unreasonably busy with several jobs all landing at once. When you work as a freelance writer, the process of getting a specific job, and the steps it goes through can be staccato. This is especially true when working with an IP that is being licensed by the company your are writing for. Proposals go to the company, maybe back to you, back to the company, eventually to the IP holder for approval, back to you... the steps can be multiple. Added to this is the fact that any one of those might happen quickly, or might take time. Building a true sense of when a proposal or outline will be fleshed into a draft, and from draft to editor to final draft to editor and eventually layout can be difficult and sometimes impossible. The process may be quick, or it may take months. You can go from having no work to do to having a whole lot land at once.

This last week has seen the latter, with multiple jobs either clearing or soon to be clearing approvals and deadlines suddenly looming. I'm not complaining, I love writing for games, probably more than playing them, but jobs take precedence over blogs, as the old rhyme goes.

In any case! Artillery!

I wrote a scathing attack on Mantic's policy of basing Artillery on trifling bases a week or so ago, and my view on the topic has only grown more strident. Mantic can be sure that an angry 'Letter to the Editor' is being formulated as you read this. The so-called boffins at Mantic HQ will blister with shame when they read it, but it can't be helped; they brought it on themselves.

The more I think on it, the more apoplectic I become. I sit staring gloomily into the dying embers of the fire, a vintage cognac spoiling in my idle hand, swirled only occasionally by a fierce convulsion of fury that engulfs me when I think of the base sizes, and a cold disquiet settles on me... 50mm indeed! How hulking weapons of an epic fantasy setting are meant to be represented on 50mm square bases is anyone's guess. A random spasm over the '5' and '0' keys, driven by a force of madness that knows no bounds is the only reasonable conclusion. It is what it is. And what it is is a level of foolishness that could drive a grown man to the edge of his sanity, but I digress.

After piecing together the monumental bombard from Perry Miniatures, I managed to put together two smaller engines (picked to fit the minuscule bases Kings of War demands for such things). Both of these are from the War of the Roses range of Artillery, and are breach loading field guns.

As always with Perry Miniatures, the models are well cast and hold excellent detail. They went together quickly and without much trouble. I am a big fan of this company!

Yes, yes. I glued everything down before undercoating and painting, again. I blame the base sizes personally, the topic is chewing away at my sanity like a gerbil on a wafer. Nonetheless, they are excellent models. The top two images are of the single arc breach loading field piece. The final two images are of the double arc breach loading field piece. I am very pleased with how they came out!

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Celtic Holocaust...

In a stated growl, with sentences and determinations paced dramatically for effect, Dan Carlin, of the Hardcore Histories podcast, bites off every word and phrase.

I am a fan of the Hardcore Histories podcast, the menagerie of topics covered has been a fascinating trawl through captivating stories from history. Dan Carlin does a wonderful job of executing, his points well stated, thoughtful and poised for effect.

The latest episode is an epic, over 6 hours in length it delves into the story of the Roman conquest of Gaul. The history is fascinating, the delivery striking, the discussion thought provoking.

I'd strongly recommend anyone who is a fan of history subscribe to this podcast, and this latest episode had me by the throat. Not simply because I am a fan of the period and story covered; Caesar's conquest of Gaul is one of the great tales of generalship from history. But also because it made me think of the conquest of Gaul in a different context. It drew comparisons to the conquests of other peoples. It asked if the phrase, "Give me liberty, or give me death!" had ended with death, but not just death: with dissolution. A death so complete and far reaching that whatever spirit had urged the words was broken by it.

Carlin asked, what would we sacrifice ourselves for? Then deepened the question by asking what would we sacrifice? What are the things we would die to protect? Our families? Our homes? Our goods? Our liberty? But deeper - what of those would we watch burn in the fires of conflict for another? Would we sacrifice our families for liberty? Our children? It is a question that made me think, not just about the Celts of Gaul facing an implacable and feared general, but about the refugee families and children in my classroom. These are people, here in my class, whose families have stood at the crossroads, be it Damascus or Mosul, and faced the question: what would we sacrifice? I cannot imagine.

The history itself, of the Roman capabilities, force projection and organisation, the Celtic story of defiance in the face of a foe unrelenting and well organised, is thrilling. Carlin does an excellent job of painting the scene and asking questions that have you examining the conflict from multiple sides. I thoroughly recommend it.

The Ludovisi Gaul

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Bombardment of Impracticality!

Continuing in the trend of building artillery pieces for Kings of War which, in game terms, are hugely impractical, but which, in visual terms, are absolutely sublime, this week I put together a Bombard...

The problem with Kings of War as I see it, is that despite the nice mechanics, quick play and enjoyable game experience, they have vastly underestimated the base sizes for artillery pieces. In the Kings of War rules book they declare blithely that so-called war engines and monsters should be based on 50mm squares. Bah! Obscene! The rules at this point (the second page of the rules book), are a willful desecration of all that is good in the world. Now, it does, and I say this grudgingly, improve. But that 50mm square business is like an ice-cold shard of tungsten lodged in the eye. One can't just ignore it. One can't see around it. In order to sate the insanity of this rule one needs to start looking at 6mm scale artillery. I can only think that the rules designer, one Mr Cavatore, had a moment of madness and that the thought, later, of rewriting it would force him to look that madness in the eye again and perhaps succumb, and he just couldn't do it. I can, perhaps, forgive him that.

However, I won't pretend for a moment it's ok, people have been flogged for less, but I don't intend to petition Mantic on the subject at this stage, and continuing in this vein will see us on to a blog post of unprecedented length, so... Leaving aside the madness-induced, Necronomicon-inspired, cavalier attitude toward artillery base sizes for just a moment...

Last time we touched on the subject of Artillery and Kings of War I was writing about assembling the hugely impractical but monumentally impressive Trebuchet, from Gripping Beast. This time around the artillery piece in question also required a special base, though not quite so large, and is also impractical. It is the War of the Roses era Bombard, from Perry Miniatures.

It arrived in a rather small box, and my immediate reaction was, 'What ho? The Perrys seem to have contrived to paint me a fool! I thought this bombard was impressively impractical in size!' Despite, however, the diminutive nature of the box, and the number of exclamation marks in my reaction, I turned out to have underestimated the Perrys.

Bombard, replete with crew and mantlet. No, I shouldn't have glued it all down, but my impetuosity got the better of me and once the cap was off the glue there was no turning back.

All the figures are 28mm scale, and the base is something like 60 x 210 mm. Tis a thing to be feared...

The mantlet was so agonizing to put together (it kept collapsing around me), that it very nearly suffered a Terrible Fate. I endured, and with a dozen random items to prop it in place, so did the mantlet... 

The figure at the back is simply admiring the vast worth of such an impressive instigator of impairment.

Trebuchet, bombard and single 28mm scale crossbowman for comparison.

It is a fine model, impractical yes, but a good looking piece of kit for all that. It was a clean cast and easy enough to put together, though I did scratch my head a few times to work out where all the bracing pieces went. The manlet was the only thing that caused me grief, but endurance, pure will-power and a bottle of absinthe later and it's done, the grief forgotten. Next time I'll endeavor to write about the few artillery pieces I did buy that actually fit on the insanely tiny bases demanded by the brilliant, but mad, Mr Cavatore.