Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Is play testing fun? BLB Next Generation



The fact that I am asking that question (of myself) implies that play testing sends you slightly bonkers which is, on reflection, a possibility.



It all starts when you actually publish a set of rules! You think you have play tested them to death and then people begin to play them and a whole new raft of questions appear that you realize should have thought of yourself!

Having spent about 21 hours over 4 days playing 7 games of Beneath the Lily Banners with around 50 players, mostly newbies to the rules, provided an ideal opportunity to re appraise a rule set that has been on the whole extremely successful. Historicon is to wargames rules what Aberdeen Proving Grounds MD is to AFVs!




Beneath the Lily Banners 2nd Edition appeared in 2011 about three years after the 1st Edition had sold out. It was a significant advance on the original by way of improved mechanisms and enhanced descriptions of concepts.

I did an awful lot of this

I remember it not being universally well received and the usual level of trolling occurring on TMP (often this occurs before anyone has actually played a game and of course is not a phenomenon unique to BLB). Interestingly, that initial negative response has fermented over the five year period since release to an on the whole, loyal and affectionate following. BLB2 sold out in hard copy in 2014 and has been available only in pdf since then.

QRS mods lists go down when you broaden the dice scope - works well in Donnybrook


Apart from criticism of mechanics which is predictable even if in some cases illogical, other TMP critique was less fathomable. 'It looks too good' and  'Most games don't look like that' phased us both.

Aligning Artillery mechanics with other mechanics has proved a good innovation


Being punished for not adopting the black and white, printed on the company photocopier, sack cloth and ashes approach was typical of contrary, reverse snobbery which sometimes surfaces. The inference was - Please make something more shitty looking and stay in line with other home grown rules products. That seemed like part of the under achiever's charter  which neither of us signed up too.

Intuitive connections between the firing stands and number of dice

Raw versus Drilled - Quality defines dice type

Needless to say, we will not be dropping our standards anytime in the near future and that gets me round to the point of this piece.

The time has come to move the rules to the next iteration. Although that involves exciting and sexy stuff like photography, painting and artwork it also involves lots and lots of grunt work and rolling thousands of dice.

bonuses for weapon type - extra dice and improved die type for First Fire!

This we have been doing in darkened rooms both in VA and Lanarkshire. Now it's underway in various other locations including other parts of VA and even the East Midlands! The focus is on maintaining the existing game structure, simplicity and cleanliness whilst aligning several anomalous mechanisms and bringing the rules into line with other WordTwister publications which we have created or are due for release over the foreseeable future.


More dice for short range - this could hurt!


The mechanisms which have been getting most attention are Artillery, Shooting, Close Combat, Morale and FIBUA. There has been some pull through to other sections such as Movement and there has been more than a little refinement on certain troop types.

Combats are even cleaner than before and just as decisive


In addition we have created a heap of non core Supplementary rules for those who want to add a lot more flavour to the stew.

It is a balance between maths and feel. Intuition plays as important a role as probability


We are pretty far advanced in our activities as can be seen and wider play testing beyond the LoA core members is underway.

This post is really a heads up on the fact the BLB will be back soon and in a different guise.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Warfare Miniatures Mounted Dragoons Command

WLOA60 Mounted dragoon Command in hats

The first mounted dragoon command code features models in hats. Included are an officer, a guidon bearer and a drummer.

Guidon bearer

Guidon bearer


Guidon bearer on alternative mount


The models are mounted on smaller, dragoon sized horses.

Dragoon drummer

Dragoon drummer


Dragoon drummer

I have added a field sign to their hats and painted them as Colonel Albert Conyngham's Enniskillen Regiment of Dragoons.

Dragoon officer - can also be used for cavalry

Dragoon officer

Painted as Sir Albert Conyngham

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Boyne - Groundhog day

The chap in the cap was the finest King James we had! Historicon 2010


With a recent post focused on our play test of Beneath the Lily Banners modifications I got to trawling my archive for previous efforts at recreating the Battle of the Boyne. I have a few!

Adding lots of troops on the north bank made it look very busy. Dumfries 2014


Here are some shots of some games large and not so large. Some date back a few years and of course the way we have represented the river has differed a little but all games were enjoyable and pretty.


Solo effort by me at Claymore in about 2009. I liked this game a lot

The models come from the collections of Dave O'Brien, Toggy Bob, Gerry Donohoe, Clarence Harrison, Adrian Howe and myself.

Redux at Claymore in 2016 and reduced in size too!

The captions do most of the talking in this post so....

Historicon in 2010 and Clarence's super terrain - many of these models stayed in the US


CH looking smug whilst I take the heat!


The 2009 game in Scotland - I also did it in Glasgow this year - that was brave!


The half men still get lots of positive comments


Dumfries again and we allowed lots more Jacobite infantry to reach Oldbridge


Terrain by Adrian at Dumfries. Oldbridge was probably too substantial with hindsight




Back to 2016 and the controlled playtest game at Claymore



We've had our money's worth out of the Boyne and that is for sure.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Warfare GNW Mounted Russian Dragoons - New Sculpts

We have two sets of Russians sculpted with more to follow. We have chosen not to show the traditional dragoon pose with musket resting on calf. Our muskets will be attachable to the trooper together with the scabbard.

I noticed a comment on TMP regarding the horse sizes. This is an interesting case of wargamers preconditioning their own expectations and extrapolating out. The horses we have chosen are the 'mid size from EBOB. The horses shown in the blog  post on Grand Alliance period dragoons are EBOB small horses. Clib has obviously done a lot of work on both sets as anyone can see.

Dealing with the size issue, we deliberately chose not to use the EBOB large/heavy cavalry horse as it does not match with historical accounts of the type of horses used both by the Swedes and the Russians. Both used relatively small horses and the models are scaled to the horses.
A pre conception that all horses should be large and that the rider should be in direct proportion is simply not accurate. Often gamers want life to imitate wargaming and not the reverse. We stand by our decision!


Russian Dragoon troopers ready 1
GNW Horses - There are 5 new poses including officer's horse
Russian Dragoon Command
Russian Dragoon Command

Russian Dragoon troopers ready






Sunday, August 21, 2016

GNW Swedish Cavalry - new sculpts


I am so excited about these and the fact that we'll have them in production very soon. We have nine new troopers (soon to be 12) plus six new command plus 5 new horses.



Clib has pulled out all the stops with these and the preview shots here will be expanded with more detailed reviews of each code.


Swedish troopers charging 2


So for now here they are:

Swedish Troopers ready 1
Arms on the charging troopers are plug in and the arms on the troopers at the ready are single sculpts.


Swedish Troopers ready 1 (variant set to follow)
Scabbards are plug ins.



Russian sculpts will follow in a subsequent post

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Warfare Miniatures Mounted Dragoons - pre release view

BLB squadron size - six models


Well these chaps have taken a long time to appear but having had a chance to paint one each of the first six models and four new horse types I am hugely pleased with what we are about to release and believe them to be we worth the wait.

Dragoon horses - smaller than standard cavalry mounts

Featured here are three Command and three dragoon models in hats which could be used for many nations including English, Scots, Irish Williamite and Jacobite, Saxon, Dutch and various German states.

Dragoon equipment on the right side of the saddles

The model with carbine at the trail has a separate hand which easily slots into a socket.

One issue we discussed ad nauseam was whether we scale the horses properly to the smaller mounts which dragoons would normally have ridden. In the end we decided to bite the bullet and do it properly.

Mounted dragoon drummer from the Command pack

This horse size is likely also to have been characteristic of Swedish cavalry during the Great Northern War but that would be a real emotional hurdle to jump with gamers we believe!

Each code will be featured in detail over the next week or so and this particular post is constructed to give interested gamers a preview.

Guidon bearer with the standard of Conyngham's Enniskillen Dragoons

After my return from an imminent business trip I will paint up the six equivalent models in French uniform. Following that we hope to have the same combination in fur hats and then tricornes. Also in the pipe are a further three dragoons of each headwear variant: hat, French cap, fur cap and tricorne to flesh out the units. There were a lot of dragoons in this period!

In addition the horse holder variants are also underway.

Three dragoon variants - getting away from the trad dragon pose on the right

I have customized these particular models with green sprigs in their hats signifying allegiance to the Grand Alliance. They are painted as Conyngham's Enniskillen Dragoons circa 1689.

Command pack - the models also fit onto larger sized cavalry horses

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