Wednesday, 25 May 2022

Warband historical - Punic Rome vs Tribal Spanish

After far too long away from the table, this week we finally got back to wargaming in person. Over the pandemic we’ve been gaming online, and quite often this has been playtesting the Warband Historical rules. 

In physical form have a 28mm Roman army and a partly built Carthaginian army. 

My friend Mal (the Weardale Wargamer (WW)) has built a Spanish army, and so we decided that for our 2022 inaugural table game we’d do a 500pt Warband Historical battle. The Spanish were led by the Roman rebel Sertorius, and I put together a Punic Wars Roman force.

At this stage the rules are pretty stable, but there are still some tweaks to be made. And of course the army lists are still to be finalised.

Here’s WW’s lovely Spanish force on its first outing. It’s a mix of Scutari (both “formed” heavy foot and medium foot, supported by caetrati medium foot. Its flanks are held by cavalry and light cavalry.

We set up the terrain. I chose the minimum possible with a road, and WW placed a couple of hills to accommodate his “hill folk” units. We randomly determined season and weather, which turned out to be a hot summer day.  This means that from Turn 8 units would start to take automatic hits from thirst and exhaustion (unless they are near friendly baggage or a water source like a river or lake).

We then deployed, and we both choose to put the full army down and not to keep units in reserve, flank march, or ambush. We deployed the armies in facing lines. 

The Roman left flank is held by auxiliaries and cavalry.

The spanish scutari heavy foot hold the centre of their line, commanded directly by Sertorius.

Spanish skirmishers...

...face off against the Roman velites

The lines begin their advance!

I deployed the Romans in the famous “checkerboard” formation in the centre. Within the Warband Historical rules, the Punic Romans have a “support” special ability that increases their Protection if they are in contact with friendly “support” units. The checkerboard formation is useful to allow units to fall back from enemy hits while maintaining support contact. It also looks like a proper Roman formation too.

The opening phase of the battle saw a general advance by the Spanish line. I threw out my velites skirmishers to match the Spanish skirmishers. 

The skirmishers head for the opening clash.

The skirmishers fight!

The lines advance.

This combat saw off the Spanish, and the velites then proceeded to hold up some of the heavy Spanish foot. However, it was an inexorable advance to contact in the centre. The heavy infantry here would trade blows for the rest of the battle with both sides suffering attrition, and a unit or two from each side breaking off.

Roman auxiliaries push forwards under the leadership of the Roman sub-commander.

On the Roman left flank, the opposing cavalry circled the hills and set to, with both taking losses and retreating to take no further part in the fighting.

The main action happened over on the Roman right flank. Low quality Roman auxiliaries faced the lighter Spanish foot and a large force of Spanish skirmishing cavalry. The Romans took some losses, but managed to rout the Spanish cavalry, demoralise the caetrati and push on into a position to turn in on the Spanish centre. As WW commented, in the Warband Historical rules once units are locked in melee, its hard then to react to breakthroughs without uncommitted reserves. Some tactical insight to consider for future games!

Roman right flank fighting results.

Spanish scutari "seeking an urgent appointment elsewhere" - routed by brutal Roman attack.

Sertorius personally overseeing the action in the centre. those Roman yellow-shield auxiliaries look ripe for attack.

Spanish medium foot on the Roman left flank felling in search of a drink.

Romans pushing on as the heat of the day takes its toll on the Spanish.

Then turn 8 rolled in, and the Spanish water ran dry. Their shaken troops broke and ran, exposing their flank.

It was late so we agreed to call it there. In the final tally the Romans had lost 155pts, and the Spanish 133pts, so a technical win for the Spanish under Sertorius! We agreed that a turn or two more would likely have seen the Romans swing it for the win.

Overall, a wonderful evening’s gaming. It was so good to finally get back to pushing toy soldiers about! The Warband Historical rules are working well.

A note on the 28mm armies. Both forces have used the excellent Victrix figures line. We agreed that these are amazing figures, full of character, easy to build, and that take paint well. They are based for Warband Historical, being on 100 x 50mm bases, and these will be useful for other games that use unit bases like this.  I’ll be looking to get my Carthaginians finished off for the big Dertosa fight I think.

Sunday, 22 May 2022

Stargrave 006 - Favela (continued) and the Delta Complex

The favela buildings are almost finished now. Just a couple more to go, and I made a bonus "generator installation" from sprue and bits too.

The generator turned out OK I think. Its mostly Games Workshop space marine bits, and a couple of fragments of sprue on a polystyrene base. I coated the poly in PVA to try and protect it from the primer spray, but it did melt off a bit. No worries though..."it'll do".

I've also made a start on some objective markers. Some fuel drums, and a sort of drop pod thing (still to be finished).

Nearly done with the project, a friend of mine kindly donated an unexpected windfall with a set of TTCombat's Delta Complex. This is a set of mdf terrain, which looks pretty cool, so I set about building it. 

The set came with no instructions, which is an interesting choice! However there's a link to an online document so I went looking. All seems pretty self explanatory, and this is far from my first model so shouldn't be too difficult.

Armed with PVA glue, clippers, a file, and mask to avoid the worst effects of potentially dangerous mdf dust, I set to work. And after six frustrating and fiddly hours I finally got most of it built. 

I'm no expert but this isn't my first model project.  I'd say this is a kit for experienced builders, and not something a beginner would find easy. It is however a very well designed kit that fit together well. Despite the sometimes fiddly and thin bits of wood, I only broke two pieces, and these were easily fixed.

Next up, painting the whole edifice. I'm really not sure what to do here. I could go with an industrial yellow paintscheme, and that really appeals.  

Image at:

But for the sake of simplicity and speed I may just go with rusted metal. Its seems "on theme" for Stargrave, and would probably tie in with the favela better.

I reckon this terrain will see use in other games, maybe some old 1990s Necromunda, Kill Team, One Page Rules, or similar sci fi type games.

Also the off-cuts from the kit will solve the problem I was having about how I'd make scrap piles for Stargrave scatter terrain.formed into piles with stones, bits, and PVA wwill make some solid piles of "industrial scrap".

What colour should I paint it? (Comment below!)


Stargrave 001

Stargrave 002 - Capran Prospectors

Stargrave 003 - Stragglers

Stargrave 004 - Exterminate!

Stargrave 005 - Favela

Friday, 13 May 2022

Stargrave 005 - Favela

My Stargrave project continues at pace, and I’ve taken a break from building and painting miniatures to get some terrain together. The Stargrave setting has the idea that a vast central interplanetary authority has collapsed, and so it’s sort of a post-apocalyptic environment. Or perhaps more like a post-Roman setting where people are living in the ruins of a lost civilisation.

I find it useful to keep this in mind when I’m building the miniatures for the coteries, gangs, and crews that I’ve been building and doubly so when thinking about the environment they will be fighting over. I don’t envisage an environment of bright, shiny, new structures, but rather a ramshackle place, with generators held together with multiple jury rigged repairs, structures bolted together from scrap, or crumbling ruins barnacled with later add-ons.

It’s a dangerous universe out there so I figured folk would congregate in close-packed shanty towns and tight-knit communities for easy defence and mutual support. Stargrave, as a skirmish wargame, also has the core conceit that conflict is everywhere, and therefore the effects of battle will be evident in the landscape, with ruins and wreckage surrounding the dwellings of most folk. In fact, it’s possible that many soldiers simply settled on the battlefields that ended society, and their descendants now live in those places. 

So, this got me thinking of something like the brightly coloured Brazilian favelas, and this is where my ideas for buildings settled. The human spirit will always seek colour and light and joy, even in the most desperate of situations.

These buildings will be scratch-bashed from household junk and model bits and off cuts. I recently moved house and in doing so, acquired a large amount of polystyrene. Most of this I threw out of course, but the more interesting shapes made it into a pile of “useful modelling material”. Armed with this, a newly acquired hot wire cutter, some PVA glue and a selection of carboard cartons otherwise destined for the recycling bin, I set about building some dwellings.

One of the advantages of building “ramshackle” is that its far easier than making something that looks nice and new. At least I find it easier.

I started by cutting these interesting “L-shaped” polystyrene blocks into rough buildings sized to be simple structures against the 28mm minis.

I then set about randomly sticking on bits of card, making higgledy-piggledy walls, and some dodgy doors. The ploystyrene block helped in giving a core stable structure that I could stick random bits of card to. 

As I needed to do this in small stages to let the PVA glue dry, I got very bored doing this! When I’m working on a project like this I like to push through and get things done quickly.  All this hanging about wait for stuff to dry has been really trying on my patience and I’m concerned that I’ll lose interest before finishing. 

So, half way through I switch streams and while only some are finished I get stuck into the painting on what I have done. And…er…I forgot to take photos of the work-in-progress stages. But I sprayed them black, and then give them an overspray of a dull metal paint that I happen to have lying about. I don’t have an airbrush (yet), so all my spraying uses rattlecans.

Once dry, I then set about putting on some random colours, layers of washes, and finished up with a liberal daub of Dirty Down Rust. My thinking was that these buildings are mostly tin or iron constructions, but really I just wanted to use more of the amazing DD Rust!

This process was relatively quick, compared to the tortuously slow construction, and its crude and slapdash, but I think the final result is fine for a Stargrave board. they can be laid out in a "compound", or to make winding alleyways, or even stacked on top of each ther for a bit of height (I could do with a lot more for this, If I want a full settlement board).

I’ll finish the rest of the buildings, and then look at getting some wreckage, oil drums, and similar scatter terrain sorted too. I feel like a generator, and other utilities like water tanks would suit the setting. Maybe a rusty sci-fi Torii gate might be good too.

But I may switch streams to a different project for a while. “A change is as good as a break” as they say…and Warband Romans need finishing off.

Stargrave 001

Stargrave 002 - Capran Prospectors

Stargrave 003 - Stragglers

Stargrave 004 - Exterminate!

Tuesday, 3 May 2022

Stargrave 004 - Exterminate!

While I'm prepping for the "big terrain build", I thought I'd take a look in one of the lead mountain boxes. there's probably some bits knocking about that I could add to the Stargrave cast of characters.

Well now...what's this? "Eldar" eh? Maybe there's something in here that might be useful.

OK, lets spread this our then and see what's what.

Turns out Eldar was right and the box is filled mainly with older Games Workshop Eldar bits, as well as a few figures still in their blister packs. Shall I open these? Maybe in the future, but not for Stargrave. These excellent Jez Goodwin sculpts are so iconic they will bring too much "GW" style into the game that i'd like to avoid. There are some plastic bits in there that might get used, but these packs will go back onto the pile for a future decision.

However, this is interesting...some fairly crude plastic Daleks (do I need to say these are from Dr Who? Sure everyone recognises them, right?) I think these came off the front of a magazine a year or two back. They are badly constructed, presumably intended as throwaway kids toys, but on close inspection they are also badly put together.

So, Stargrave robots then? Actually, I recently pruchased a new "technical" paint called Dirty Down Rust, and I've been looking for something to try it out on. These look perfect for a trial, as if they don't work out I can just ditch them.

With a quick undercoat and a metallic basecoat on I embarked on the rust trial. I'm unsure exactly how to go about this, so I figure and all over daub will probaby do it. After five minutes or so, the paint dries and...WOW! Just wow. This paint is an absolute game changer.

I hastily did the rest of the crew, and now have ten very rusty Daleks, ahem, Stargrave combat robots. I'm not sure what else I need to do to these so a light drybrush of gunmetal to bring out the highlights and these are basically done. I'll paint their little glass eyestalks but that's about it I think.

Bask in the glory of this amazng paint!

The Stargrave collection grows, but again I'm unsure what I'll use these as. there's ten though so they could be a whole robot crew! Maybe I'll paint some colour markings on over the rust, bit it feels like I should've done that before i painted the rust on.

Stargrave 001

Stargrave 002 - Capran Prospectors

Stargrave 003 - Stragglers