Saturday, August 27, 2016

Smugglers and Wreckers.

The blog and hobby generally has really fallen behind in recent weeks, what with a couple of holidays and trying to play catch up at work to make up for the "rest". 

Devon was rather wet.
What did I expect for August in the UK?

However looking for things to pass the time I wandered into a couple book shops who had a number of small booklets on the Smugglers and Wreckers of North Devon. Perfect as I had been looking at the Black Scorpion range for several weeks thinking about how I could find a use for them.

 Privateers 2

During the 17th and 18th centuries smuggling or Free Trading was commonplace in the West Country and considered to be a very profitable way of life!

Smugglers were known to have used Lee, Ilfracombe, Heddon’s Mouth, Watermouth Cove and Morte. Some of the smuggling operations were clearly considerable; in 1785 a 96 gallon cask of rum  was found at Watermouth Cove and in 1801 224 gallons of gin and 164 gallons of brandy were found on the foreshore near Ilfracombe. 

Pirate girls 2

Wrecking was another popular activity, as goods were washed ashore from a wrecked ship were regarded as common property. The wreckers of Mortehoe were notorious and feared by sailors it was said a sailor would rather drown than come ashore at near the men of Morte.
Any ship in trouble brought locals to the shore and in no time the ship would be destroyed and its cargo carried away. It was illegal to claim salvage from a wrecked ship if anyone was found alive on it. Therefore the wreckers would dispose of any survivors!
One of Mortehoe's most notorious wreckers was Elizabeth Berry, who it is thought used her pitchfork to drown sailors." (she was arrested for plundering the William and Jane in 1850 and given 21 days hard labour).


It seems that everyone was involved; in 1783 all the Ilfracombe pilot boats were suspected of smuggling and one, the Cornwall, was seized and cut up into three parts. An Ilfracombe Collector from 1804-1824, Thomas Rudd, was father in law to a known smuggler, Cooke, who was never caught. In 1825 the richest man in Combe Martin, John Dovell, was prosecuted for handling smuggled goods.

The most infamous smuggler in north Devon was Thomas Benson, who in 1747 became MP for Barnstaple. The following year he was granted a lease on Lundy Island and entered into contract with the Government to carry convicts abroad. 
However, he landed them on Lundy instead to run his smuggling operation. He became over confident and was fined for smuggling and stripped of his office. He didn’t pay and his lands in Bideford were seized. To recover his losses he persuaded the Captain of the Nightingale to fire it for the insurance, but the plan was discovered and he fled to Portugal. 

Now they sound like some cracking scenario's to me....
Just the tonic to kick start the hobby again....

Sunday, August 07, 2016

SBH - Elizabethan Zombie Wars - "Bringing in the Flock" - AAR#5

One of the great reasons about gaming at a club is you get to go BIG on games and expand beyond the kitchen table and todays offering was no different.

It's been 12 months since the Elizabetan Zombie Wars have had an outing - which is a shame as they are really fun games to run, played out using the Songs of Blades rule set.

The people of Shifton had been walled in for several weeks, the cadavers continue to roam the countryside reacting to any movement of the living yet strangely enough ignoring livestock and wildlife it was almost as they they were only drawn to cravings of the flesh of their own kind.
Within Shifton people were begining to starve and lose hope driven partially crazy by the fact that outside the walls their flock and livestock continue to graze as if nothing had changed in recent months.

Desperate to change their fortunes and bolster their much needed supplies small scouting parties had been sent out but they had been forced to ground in barns and cottages in the outlying area as the undead had shambled towards the movement from within Shifton, orders were simple sally out of Shifton sheppard the outlying flocks in and rescue the scouting parties. 

The Miltia commander decides to split his forces rushing to grab the outlying herds before cadavers rise from the plague pits. Firing was proving  ineffectual on the rotting corpses and only serve to attract more of these unfortunate souls which were emerging from the plague pits.

Torn between holding on to the new rounded up flock and their personnel safety mankind is forced into hand to hand combat with the rotting cadavers.

In the centre of the table a firing line is formed to bring down the undead. single zombies are easily dispatched but shot and powder runs out the dead do not.

Ensign Smyth embarks on a solo mission having spotted a wagon of supplies which if captured could provide the village with a much needed boost leaving his comrades he takes his standard and skirts the field looking for his treasure.

In a small stone cottage to the North of the village two scouts burst out of their hiding place hoping to grab some of the flock before they are spotted by the undead but good fortune is not with them, one valiant fighter sees an easy victory in striking down a rotting body only to be knocked to the ground where he is set upon by the undead horde.

The most numerous supplies appears to be around the Blacksmiths and Barn, with sheep and sacks of grain and dried goods aplenty however unfortunately for the living this is where the Cadavers appear most numerous.

 Slowly Ensign Smyth makes his journey towards the wagon within his newly acquired draft animals but his slow movement is drawing more foul followers from the woods to his rear.

Hiding in the barn the final scouting party make their presence known as the village militia battles the foul beasts who slow increase in number.

Sensing something was better than nothing and cutting their losses the eastern party of humans make a run for it whilst the Cadavers feed on a poor soul.

Falling back from the advancing corpses the men of Shifton struggle to hold the undead at bay. Three sheep would not be enough to sustain the village for long, but it was not lost on some members of the community that the loss of so many fighting men whilst reducing their defences would also reduce the number of mouths to feed. 

Dark times are indeed ahead for the people of Shifton.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Sung Cavalry - Yet more Water Margin reinforcements.

Back after a week away and plenty of reading on various projects, notably the French in Egypt which fits nicely into the plans for Sharp Practice 2 and an impulse purchase about Dick Turpin from a second hand book shop in Seaton.
After the usual chores have been done finally a chance to hide away for a few hours in the nerd centre and finish off more of the Water Margin project.

I must be honest I am not a fan of cavalry but when I look over the past few years every project seems to have a fair number and the Sung Project is no different.

Another fine offering from the chaps at Curtney's Miniatures these will be a useful addition to the Water Margin Project as the games increase in scale I plan to switch from Songs of Blades to Dragon Rampant given the cross over between valiant Heroes and your standard foot troops.

The lighting was not great but these should be on a table near you real soon.

Next up the last of the bare metal for the Water Margin.... until the next show :-)

Friday, July 22, 2016

The Battle for Earth - AAR#1 - Seize the cross roads.

After the last few months of painting modern Russians and Sci-fi gear in 15mm a chance to put it all on the table for an evenings gaming.

Alien invaders have landed on earth and no where on the planet is safe.

With the main Russian armies engaged in the West, in the south of Russia the local militia are tasked with holding the invaders at bay. Tonight both sides must seize the crossroads.

The Russians picked several squads of militia backed by a couple of APC's and some Power Armoured Troops, the invaders well they went for their standard battle droids.
Both sides enter the table from two roads, the APC's rush down the table past the wreakage of where the aliens had butchered the local population days before.

A long range fire fight takes place between the Power Armoured Russians and the battle droids, the Russians miss and the return fire from the droids strike home, I warned the human player the rules were bloody.

Fire fights breakout across the whole front with sniper and heavy weapons fire forcing the droids to switch on their combat shields which provides them with some protection but slows their movement.

The APC cannon tears holes in the invaders ranks as the droids are unable to strike a fatal blow. The APC luck runs out.

The Alien Droids push on towards the Cross roads.

If the droids spot you and fire you are as good as dead, several militia are killed as the droids return fire. However one by one the droids are felled and the militia see that the invaders can killed.

In a last ditch effort the remaining APC drives head long into the advancing droids breaching their shields and killing a number of the invaders.

The droids in a last push to seize the cross roads charge into hand to hand and clear the humans from the building but are to few in number to win out right.

The humans win... This time....

Played using Laserburns Imperial Commander rules from back in the 80's.... damned bloody but great for fast moving mass combat just don't get caught in the open.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Creating Battlefield Clutter - 15mm Car Wreaks.

Several weeks ago a picked up from E-bay a bag of cut price 15mm cars... perfect for filling the streets of any modern battlefield, I have always felt that a gaming table should include, cars, gardens and random trees rather than your standard 4 hours for a village...
However when these arrived they were a little two shiny for my liking and figured that any modern car on battlefield should have a more war torn look.

With a bag full of spare bricks and some left over Warbases I set about turning these straight off the production line models into 15mm wreaks.

After a few minutes of setting about them with hammer and drill they looked pretty broken up, I glued them to the bases and sprayed them black before drybrushing them with a with dark brown metal, followed by a dark metal silver to create that burn't out look.

I am really pleased with how they have turned out and will compliment the modern/early sci-fi table top

With another 43 in the bag I am already thinking about put a few up on bricks and making some a partial wreak or street barricades to close off routes etc, etc.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Water Margin Archers.

Having made myself a promise to finish off the purchases from Hammerhead back in March before I dive headlong into a fresh project, I dug these out from the foot of lead mountain.
Not the most dynamic of poses but the limited detail in the castings do mean you can rattle through them reasonably quickly.

These are militia archers which will support the nine dozen heroes but also be on hand defend against the Mongel hordes should they ever make an appearance on the table top.

Another fine offering from the chaps at Curtney Miniatures.

Friday, July 15, 2016

The Water Margin - The Supply Column AAR#2

Back in April we kicked off the Water Margin campaign games and were introduced to Lin Ch'ung formerly of the Imperial Guard and now on route to Tsang Chou jail. Before being rescued by Shih Chin - Tattooed Dragon local land owner.

This week we are introduced to Lu Ta the Flower Priest.
La Ta has been liking peacefully in the foot hills when he hears that the Kao Chui has hired a private army to blockade the village of Fenshu who have failed to pay their tax levy due to a poor harvest.
La Ta leads a supply column of local villagers with food and supplies when they find their route blocked by Kao Chui's Korean Mercenaries who will do anything to stop them getting through. 

The column waits patiently considering it's options as the main route to Fenshu has been blocked by a number of hasty barricades.

The locals advance is met with a hail of arrows one of their number is felled causing some of the peasants to lose heart and flee the table. Meanwhile the full task of their mission is exposed this will be tough.

Lu Ta leads several of his forwards as the wagons look to take the long way round.

Meanwhile at the bridge Kao Chui's soldiers see the truth and side with the 9 dozen heroes and advance on the Korean mercenaries.

The Koreans caught on two sides become enraged and turn on the militia shooting a number of their former allies.

The Koreans man the barricades as La Ta avoids another storm of arrows and bursts through the woods on the Koreans left triking down one of the defenders. Victory is in sight.
However as is seen in many of these games, victory can be short lived as La Ta is struck by an arrow and knocked to the ground before being set upon by a number of the well armoured Koreans, the local villages are without their inspiration leader.. gulp..

As the fight at the barricade edges towards a Korean victory the supply wagon makes it's way through the woodland only to find their way blocked by more evil mercenaries.

Elsewhere the last of the militia strikes down a mercenary before being put to the sword.

The Koreans charge in and the villagers fall, there would be no supplies for Fenshu tonight.

La Ta has been left for dead on the battle field and over 20 villagers have been killed for the loss of only 2 mercenaries.

A great nights gaming and despite the very obvious difference in quality the villagers always felt they had a chance if they could only isolate the members of the private army unfortunately they were well organised and were able to make their blows count.