Monday, 31 October 2016

A Beaut Ute

I'm off on holiday at the moment, and at the time of writing I plan to play some Machinas whilst I'm travelling around. Well, not whilst I'm actually travelling around, but in the bits between the travelling around. You know what I meant.

This newly built beauty is going with me.

What could be more Australian than a ute? And a ute with a digger bolted to the back? Well, that's just a bonus.

The digger came from a dollar-shop construction set, and was originally a small-scale 'full-sized' one. But I cut it down, and then added the cab from another vehicle to give it that landscape-gardener bobcat look, more suitable for carrying on the back of a ute.

I'm not sure the small tyres on the ute are really up to the job, but I'm sure the hoon at the wheel knows what he's doing.

If it gets an outing I'll be sure to let you know, I'll catch you when I get back.

Friday, 28 October 2016


25th October. St Crispin's Day. Patron saint of tanners, leathermakers and Chick Tracts* And a few days after His Day a Band of Brothers in fair Wollongong had a go at Agincourt using big-battle DBA and a great big pile of 15mm figures.

Peter put together the scenario. Agincourt is a tricky one to do, because under most rules the French seem pretty much stuffed from the start. The practical wargamer commanding the French would look at the English, tucked in behind the muddy fields, and say 'Sod this for a game of soldiers' and go home. In our scenario the French had six commands to the English three, and were, to some extent, competing against each other, with points to be scored between themselves for making kills. This was designed to encourage an aggressive push forward and produce a French 'winner' even if the game went the way of history.

The fields started out as rough going, which meant that they weren't too hard to negotiate. However after a few turns they became difficult ground, limiting group moves and combat. This gave the French another incentive to push through fast and try to punch some holes in the English line.

Here's the setup, with the English on the left, the fields in the middle and the French van on the right. The French centre and rear (two commands each) are out of shot to the right. The English had 44 elements, the French had 88.

The French left. I had the van and rear on this side. Ralph took the tow centre commands. Geoff had the French right van and rear.

The French right plodded through the fields.

So did the French left. I led with my crossbows, hoping to open up a few gaps in the English line which I could exploit with my dismounted knights and sergeants. As you can see, both sides suffered casualties and retreats, but a hole failed to materialise in the English line.

Things went better on the French right, where Geoff led with his men-at-arms, pushed back the English and managed to get the fight going beyond the fields.

The centre became a total traffic jam, as troops piled up trying to cross the fields to get at the English. At this stage the fields shifted from being rough to being difficult.

I finally got a few men at arms into combat, but they didn't achieve much.

Meanwhile Geoff was pushing back the English left, and a fierce fight was spreading into the centre as well.

A good job, as on my side of the field the French van was collapsing and the rear had held back waiting for the promised gaps to appear so that they could ride through to Calais and glory.

Still a right mess in the centre.

On the French right all three commands had gone demoralised. I had a demoralised command on my side. The English centre was one element away from breaking. And we had this combat - the French men-at-arms destroyed an English archer element. This broke their centre command, and with it the army.

A French victory!

But a close one. The French were themselves on a few kills away from breaking.

The fact that it went to the wire shows a deftly designed scenario, so many thanks to Peter for putting it together. To be honest we lost track of kills made by the French, but a unanimous decision granted the honours of war to Geoff, who really did all of the heavy lifting. Ralph provided solid support in the centre, whilst I just arsed around on the left keeping my English opposite number (Daniel) from going anywhere else where he might actually be useful.

A big DBA game, I think you'll agree. And there's a real desire to do more.

*Wikipedia says 'cobblers', so I'm guessing that's what they meant. That or climate-change denial.

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Rat Rod Racing

Having added new rat rods to my collection, I decided that it would be fun to race them. I took the blue one with the gun, and let the game-system run the others. The race was two laps.

And they're off. As ever, I decided to sit at the rear and let the other cars wear themselves out first. The 'other cars' consisted of the red one (spikes, and resistant to bashing), the spiky one (spiky) and the green one (a bloody big engine).

The spiky chap spent a lot of the early part of the race trying to overtake the green car, but by inefficient wide passes. This just cost him lots of bonus dice, to little effect.

Meanwhile the red car was particularly aggressive. Early on it has suffered issues with its brakes, and dropped back behind me. From then on I was subjected to a series of passing attempts and bashes, all of which I held of, albeit with a small drain on those all-important bonus dice.

Towards the end of the first lap I decided to push into second place, by blowing the spiky car off the road. I got into position to shoot, then rolled really badly and completely missed.

Still in third place I suffered more abuse at the wheels of the red car.

Into the second lap, and the extra shot of bonus dice I got for completing the first gave me enough oomph to nip into second place, and consider challenging green - still the leader.

I couldn't quite pass him, and in a burst of aggression he tried to bash me off the road. It didn't work.

Another near-miss with red, as he swerved too close to me.

I settled in behind green, building up bonus dice, and hoping that red's aggression would transfer to the spiky car instead, and that maybe they'd bash each other out of the race.

I held off an attack by the spiky car ...

... but the, on the last stretch of track, swerved badly, narrowly avoided a collision ...

... and dropped back into third place.

The spiky car made a desperate run for the finish, but green easily cruised in for the win.

I came third. Red was held to fourth place after a series of random events at the end saw him virtually excluded from the pack for a couple of turns

The race played out well, with all cars desperate for bonus dice for most of it. Two of the cars were bashing specialists, but with all of them getting a negative modifier on such activity because of their size, it wasn't going to be as deadly as it could be.

 I did get into a rather strange situation at the end with how the bashing mechanism actually works if one car actually drops back directly into another. I think it's an area I need to streamline; I've been fiddling around a lot with that kind of thing with regard to tail-guns and some other actions, and suspect that the random events need to be brought into line with it as well. The truth is that I am now playing about 50% Machinas and 50% my rewrite of Machinas, most of which is on random bits of paper. Writing it all up properly is going to be quite an exercise.

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Rat Rods

I did three more cars for Machinas this week. Over the past few months I have acquired various rat rods and buggies, so I thought I'd better paint some of them.

I did very little in the way of modifications. Even a lot of the underlying colour is that of the original vehicles.

I did plenty of weathering. though.

Friday, 21 October 2016

Return To Kolin

We did a refight of Kolin a few weeks ago, using Maurice, and it proved very successful. Indeed some members of the group did it again a couple of weeks later. This evening we tried it again, but this time Gary adapted it for Back Powder, so we could see how the rules compared. We used 10mm figures from Gary, Peter and Caesar; mostly Pendraken, I think.

Both Austrians and Prussians had about five commands each, with the Prussians having a shooting edge (simulated by use of the Sharpshooters ability). Their objective was to take two out of three designated objectives; the two hills and the town of Kolin on the main hill. They had ten turns in which to do it.

Here's the Austrian setup. We opted to ignore the one hill, and concentrate on defending the main one and the town. This was a high-risk strategy, but we felt that trying to defend both hills was stretching our forces too thinly. However a strong force of cavalry and supporting infantry was placed on our right to turn the Prussian flank there and compromise their attack.

The Prussians. They put the bulk of their cavalry on their left, and went for an infantry attack in the centre. One command was far out to their right, tasked with seizing the nndefended hill, and then rolling up the Austrian left.

The Prussians advanced. Their artillery scored a few long-range hits.

On the Austrian right Peter and Dave isolated Ralph's cavalry, leaving him looking a bit concerned.

The game rattled along at a cracking pace. For all its faults, Black Powder can play quickly.

Ralph was missing his 28mm figures, so created his own cavalry in an attempt to hold back the advancing Austrians.

:Lots of out-of-focus cavalry, in a big fight.

Meanwhile, on the main hill, the Austrians organised a line to hold the wave of Prussians advancing towards them. There was one unit of Austrian cavalry on this flank - the elite cuirassiers. They botched their order to advance, ambled towards some Prussian infantry, failed to charge and then broke when the first shots were fired at them

The cavalry action was intense, and thinned out units on both sides, but the Prussians got the worst of it. The Austrian cavalry pursued the scattered remnants, whilst their infantry reformed to move onto the left flank of the Prussian attack.

The Prussians advanced onto the unoccupied hill.

The Austrian line. As their commander was said to have put it, as he groped his mistress (or maybe it was just a random passing peasant-girl) "We're going to build a line. It's going to be a great line. A beautiful line. I build the best lines. Tremendous lines. And do you know what? We're going to make the Prussians pay for it. I'm going to make Austria great again."

Bits of the line then fell apart.

The Prussians now had a lot of troops plodding up or towards the ridge.

The small-handed Austrian commander tried to rally his troops.

It wasn't all one-sided. Whilst not as good as the Prussian shooting, Austrian musketry did accont for a few attacking Prussian units. But they always had more to feed into their line, whilst Austrian reserved were few nd far between. Over on the Austrian right the infantry counter-attack was stalling in the face of some rubbish command rolls.

The Prussians began to envelop the Austrian left.

Reinforcements arrived from teh Austrian right, but at that stage we decided that they were too little, too late, and conceded to the Prussians.

Black Powder once again delivered a brisk, enjoyable game and the period modifications went some way to making feel less generic. However in the discussions afterwards we felt that it still didn't have the period feel that Maurice does, with units collapsing quite quickly once the fighting starts, instead of the long drawn-out firefights of Maurice.

Still, we had a good time, and thanks are due to Gary for once again putting together a great evening's gaming.
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