Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Sundiata vs The Irish

A new army needs a debut game, and since Sundiata is now sharing a box with the Tuatha De Danaan, it seemed as sensible a game as any.

The Malians defended against an Irish invasion.

Sundiata had  1 x Hero General, 2 x Knights, 1 x Cleric, 2 x Riders, 2 x Spears, 2 x Shooters and 1 x Lurker

The Irish, under Lugh, had 1 x Hero General, 1 x Hero, 1 x Magician, 2 x Warband, 4 x Hordes

All of the bad going ended up on one side of the board (I used my randomised terrain placement), and the Irish opted to attack from the other edge, forcing Sundiata's heavily mounted force onto a narrow frontage that the Irish Heroes and Knights could exploit whilst avoiding being outflanked by the Riders.

Of course the Irish plan also required a rapid advance. Which they did.

First blood to the Malians, as their archers cut down an Irish Warband.

The Irish charge, their Heroes to the fore.

The Irish Magicians avenge the fallen Warband, destroying some of Sundiata's Shooters.

The Malians are pushed back by the furious persistence of the Irish assault.

The Magicians are ambushed by Lurkers ...

... and flee to the other end of the line.

The Irish press home their attack. Sundiata had chances to exploit their open right flank, but PIP rolls of 1 prevented it happening.

Some of Sundiata's horsemen are routed.

Sundiata himself enters the fray, against Irish Hordes. The Hordes actually represent good-quality warriors that could be healed or resurrected by means of a magic cauldron.

The Malian Spears are next to fall, to an Irish chariot attack.

Lugh destroys an element of Sundiata's Knights.

The Irish chariots pushed through the gap they had created, and kept up the attack.

Sundiata himself fell, forced to recoil into one of his own Rider elements.

The battlefield at the end. On the right the Magicians had worked their way back to the Lurkers, and forced them to flee.

Malian losses - Their Hero general, a Knight, a Rider, two Spears, a Shooter and a Lurker.

Irish losses were both of their Warband and a Horde.

Not a promising debut for Sundiata's army, but really it was down to two PIP rolls of '1' at key moments, preventing the chance to exploit weaknesses in the Irish position. The game was really a head-to-head slog, and the ability to exploit an opening when it appears is key in those kind of games.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Kalevala in 'Hordes of the Things'

Kalevala is an epic poem, compiled in the 19th century from the oral myths and folklore of Finland.

Most of Kalekava revolves around Väinämöinen, the 'eternal sage'. His search for a wife brings the land of Kaleva into friendly but later hostile contact with its dark and threatening neighbour in the north, Pohjola. Ilmarinen, the primeval smith, and Lemminkäinen, a stone age Don Juan, also seek wives from Pohjola, though with varying success, and large sections of Kalevala are devoted to the tasks they have to perform to acquire their wives. Ilmarinen forges the Sampo, a task set by the Mistress of Pohjola in return for her daughter's hand. The Sampo, a magic mill which ensures unending wealth for its owner, triggers the main sequence of events in the second half of Kalevala. It becomes the cause of strife between Pohjola and the land of Kaleva when Väinämöinen and his followers travel to Pohjola in an attempt to retrieve the Sampo forged by Ilmarinen. After a furious battle at sea the Sampo is smashed and lost overboard, although fragments washed ashore in the land of Kaleva bring Väinämöinen's people growth and prosperity. Towards the end of Kalevala, Väinämöinen has to defend his land from successive acts of destruction caused by the Mistress of Pohjola in revenge for the loss of her Sampo, culminating in him returning to Pohjola in order to restore the sun and the moon to their rightful places.

These lists are based on elements throughout the work, but concentrate on the section where the heroes travel to Pohjola to take the Sampo. Warriors of both sides are described as using broadswords, spears and axes. Large numbers of bowmen are mentioned as well, but there seems to be little use of them; most shooting in the epic is ambushing by crossbowmen.

Väinämöinen and Ilmarinen both exhibit behaviour that could classify them as hero or magician, but the classifications below represent a 'best fit' approach. Lemminkäinen is certainly a hero. All three characters could be depicted mounted in sleighs.Lesser heroes are summoned to take part in the capture of the Sampo; they are classified as blades in order to make them more powerful than the Pohjolan foot they would have opposed. Ilmarinen conjours an eagle in order to help him capture the great pike of the Tuonela River.

Stronghold: Beached ship or longhouse.

1 x Magician general (Väinämöinen, sage and songster) @ 4AP
1 x Hero (Ilmarinen, master smith) @ 4AP
1 x Hero (Lemminkäinen, adventurer and romancer) @ 4AP
6 x Blades (Kalevalan warriors) @ 2AP
Alternatives: Flyer (Ilmarinen's eagle) @ 2AP

Louhi is certainly a magician rather than a fighter, so her classification is obvious. The Lord of Pohjola appears briefly to be slain by Lemminkäinen in single combat, but is considered a better fighter than the rest of the Pohjolan foot. Väinämöinen has no trouble in defeating the warriors of Pohjola single-handed, so they are rated as hordes, but some lesser heroes can be assumed, hence the warband option. Louhi summons various things during the course of the epic; the Frost Fiend prevents one Kalevalan expedition from reaching her shores, and an array of terrible diseases are sent against Kalevala in revenge for the loss of the Sampo. Nasshut the shepherd ambushes and kills Lemminkäinen, although Lemminkäinen's mother resurrects him later. Vipers and adders feature throughout the epic, and Louhi sends all three heroes on quests involving the capture or killing of mighty beasts within Pohjola, as well as sending a bear to ravage Kalevala itself. Louhi's eagle form was made up of herself and a number of her warriors merged together, so if it is used the extra points should be achieved by reducing the number of hordes available. The Sampo is only described as a mill that produces wealth and as having a rainbow coloured lid. Make of it what you will.

Stronghold: A sealed cavern in a hill of rock, containing the Sampo

1 x Magician general (Louhi, the Lady of Pohjola) @ 4AP
1 x God (Louhi's summonings such as the Frost Fiend or the Disease Children of Lowyatar) @ 4AP
2 x Beasts (Pohjolan creatures, such as the flame stallion of Hisi, bears or wolves) @ 2AP
1 x Blade (The Lord of Pohjola) @ 2AP
8 x Hordes (Pohjolan warriors) @ 1AP
1 x Lurker (Nasshut the shepherd with crossbow or various poisonous snakes) @ 1AP
1 x Water Lurker (Giant pike) @ 1AP
Alternatives: Aerial hero general (Louhi in eagle form) @ 6AP, Warband (Pohjolan heroes) @ 2AP

In terms of figures the safest bet is probably Vikings or Rus, but the story is a lot older than they are. At least one hero travels around in s sled, so that would make a nice element, and prevent the army from looking too much like a generic Viking one. There have been companies that have done figures for Nordic/North European Bronze Age armies in the past, and these may be a useful source of troops as well. I won't insult you by suggesting sources for the various monsters; they're all pretty much standard fantasy/mythology fare and any HOTT player worthy of the name will have their own favourite sources for such things.

Monday, 21 April 2014

More Micro Planes - Part 3

The Nieuport 17s and Albatros two-seaters are finished, varnished and based.

Here's the Nieuports meeting up with some Albatros scouts.

And a size comparison with a big bomber.

Albatros CIIIs are stalked by an SE5A

I need to organise my plane box a little better. This is my complete collection at the moment, although I still have a few unpainted Tumbling Dice planes to do at some stage - the DH4s, DH5s and Hannover CLIIIs are probably next on the list. Maybe the Sopwith Triplanes.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Army Showcase - Sundiata

How long does it take to paint a HOTT army? Well, I've done it in a day, that's for sure. But the one I've just finished has taken me fourteen years.

I devised some lists for the Malian 'Epic of Sundiata' about that time, and posted the on The Stronghold. It seemed an easy enough army to produce from existing figures, so I bought all I needed to do both the army of Sundiata and that of his enemy, Sumangaru.

I mostly used 15mm figures from Irregular Miniatures medieval Arab and Turkish range, as they were cheap and easy to come by. I started painting Sundiata's army, got 90% into it and then the impetus died. That was fourteen years ago. Since then I have seen two children through full-time schooling and moved to another country.

The other day I found the figures, partially based, mostly painted and looking very forlorn at the bottom of a box. So I hauled them out and, yesterday evening, finished painting them. I based them this morning, and now they're ready to be presented to the world.

I give you ... The Long-Delayed Army of Sundiata

The army consists of the following:

1 Hero general @ 4AP (Sundiata, in white robes and turban)
1 Cleric @ 3AP (Sundjata's griot, Balla Fasseke)
2 Knights @ 2AP (Horsemen of Mema in quilted armour)
2 Riders @ 2AP (Horsemen of Wagadou with javelin)
2 Shooters @ 2AP (Archers of Do and Traore)
2 Spears @ 2AP (Spearmen of Kamara and Konate)
1 Lurker @ 1AP (Hunters)

Here's Sundiata, the Hero and Balla Fasseke, his griot, or personal bard. Balla Fasseke is classed as a Cleric because he does seem resistant to the magics of the evil Sumangaru, and also advises Sundiata as to how to avoid them.

Sundiata, and his standard bearer. I have left the standard as plain white for now. If I feel inspired I may paint some kind of design on it.

Balla Fasseke. Hanging from his saddle is a balafon, a kind of xylophone.

The Knights. Most of the heavy cavalry ride horses with quilted barding. There's a beautiful example of such armour, for both horse and man, in the British Museum in London.

The light cavalry, classed as Riders.

The Spears. I made one element look tribal, and the other closer to Berber styles.

The archers, classed as Shooters, of course.

Some hunters, classed as Lurkers.

Aside from the griot's balafon there was no conversion needed for this army; it was a simple base and paint job. That took fourteen years.

More Micro Planes - Part 2

I painted the Nieuports this morning. It says something for their fragility that, to some extent, it's the paint that's holding them together (I actually mix a little PVA into the undercoat, just to help seal everything).

Still, they look good enough. I just have the undercarriages to make for both sets of aircraft, then I can varnish them and mount them on flying stands ready for their first outing.

Update: I made the wheels (Milliput) and attached them. Just need to paint them now, once the Milliput and glue are dry.

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