Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Designing the Frostgrave Combat System

I just got my hands of the new issue of Wargames: Soldiers & Strategy (78), which contains my article on Designing the Frostgrave Combat System. Basically, it talks about the decisions I made when working out how one figure goes about attacking another figure - should I use dice? how many dice should be rolled? etc. 

Actually, it looks like a great issue. The theme is The Hundred Years Wars. There are three different scenarios for Lion Rampant (could they be converted for use with Mythological Greeks?). There is also a really cool looking scenario for Force on Force, where a group of British Commandos are trying to steal a Russian code book off a ship!

So, if any of that sounds like your thing, I suggest picking up a copy! 

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

My First Centaur

I have completed building my first centaur, and it really is a conglomeration of Wargames Factory pieces. The lower half comes from the Persian Cavalry box. This box is rare in that the horses are completely free of saddles or harnesses - perfect for making centaurs. The torso comes from the Orc box. This does mean that the armor is a bit fantasy, although since it is just leather with a few metal plates attached, it works well enough for Hollywood Greek Myth. These torsos have an advantage because they are reversible and have a slight bend. Having the torso bend upwards helped with construction. Connecting the horse-half to the torso is a big blob of green stuff. I have no real skill when it comes to modelling green stuff. I can only hope that my attempt to cover the join with a tunic skirt looks good enough when painted.

The arms and spear come from the Numidian box. I think the arms might be a bit short; I suppose centaurs should have slightly longer arms than humans if they are relative to their size, but I couldn't be bothered to lengthen them. The head comes from the Greek Heavy Infantry box. It will also get a shield from this box after it is painted.

It's not perfect, but it's not bad for a first attempt. More importantly, I like it more than any of the centaur figures that are commercially available.

I have also based up my first satyr archer. He's a straight out of the pack Wargames Foundry figure, so I haven't bothered to picture him here.

I will now take a break from building and hopefully do some painting. Most wargamers, when building an army, like to paint one unit at a time. This is more efficient, but also dull, and it tends to kill my enthusiasm for a project. I like the variety of painting a few models from various units at a time.

* * *

I just finished reading Book IV of the Odyssey, in which Telemachus, Odyssey's son, goes and visits Menelaus and his wife, Helen. I've always had a bit of a soft spot for Menelaus. Of all of the flawed characters in the Iliad, he actually strikes as one of the most noble and sympathetic of the Achaeans. He is a courageous warrior, who is loyal to his comrades, and willing to fight his own battles. He actually seems to favour the less violent solution when available, and at no point, that I remember anyway, does he commit any of the cruel or treacherous acts that characterize so many of the other Achaeans. In fact, to the modern reader, his is probably much more 'heroic' than Odysseus. His only notable flaw is that he is easily swayed both others, especially his brother Agamemnon.

Interestingly, it is the story of the death of Agamemnon that hangs over the first four books of the Odyssey. I suppose it serves as an example of what could happen to Odysseus when he returns home...

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Greek Myth Army - The First Glue

Over the last few days, I have assembled the first few figures for my Greek Myth army. First up is one of my Hoplite Heroes. The body and the left arm are from the Wargames Factory Greek Heavy Infantry box set. The right arm I chopped off a Warlord Games Celt, mainly because I liked the sword. The head comes from the Gripping Beast Dark Age Warriors box set. So, a lot of pieces from different places went into this figure. He will also feature a large round shield, but I will add this after I have painted the rest of the figure. I think he looks suitably heroic.

I also put together two of my light infantry. These guys come straight from the Wargames Factory Numidian's box. You can see the detail is pretty light on these guys. Still, once they are painted up and have shields, I think they'll look good enough. 

Next time, I hope to have my first centaur construction to show off.


Over the years, I have found, that if I'm going to keep my enthusiasm for a large miniatures project such as this one, it is necessary for me to be reading or watching something related. So, while I go about assembling the army, I'll also be commenting on Greek Myth from other media that is keeping me entertained and inspired. To start, I am reading the Odyssey.

I first read the Odyssey about twenty years ago in college (in my much beloved The Heroic Journey: Homer to Hobbits class). I believe I have read it once since then, but I can't be certain. Anyway, I've had the Oxford World's Classic edition, translated by Walter Shewring, sitting on my shelf for awhile. As I have assembled my first three figures, I have also read the first three 'books' of the Odyssey. It's a good, entertaining translation, and I'm quickly getting into it.

I had forgotten that the story doesn't start with Odysseus, in fact, we haven't seen him yet. Instead, we follow his son as he goes off seeking news of his father. He is guided on his journey by the goddess Athena in the guise of an old friend of Odysseus named Mentor. I suppose this is where the word 'mentor' probably originates.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

A Mythic Greek Army

Like almost every wargamer I have ever met, I have trouble staying focused on one game/rules set/time period. Even with my own game coming out in a few months, I am always thinking about forces I could build for other games. Well, once again, my will-power has cracked, and I have decided to embark on a new project.

I really love Dan Mersey’s Lion Rampant rules, and I’m looking forward to the fantasy version, Dragon Rampant, coming out later this year. I decided I needed an army that could work for both. At the same time, I’ve had a hankering to paint some Greek myth figures, as Greek mythology is one of my enduring loves. So…I’ve decided to put the two together.

Lion Rampant is actually a set of medieval rules, but the troop types and rules will work just as well for ancients, especially the Hollywood Hoplites I am imagining.

So, here is the army I am envisioning:

2 Units of 6 Heroic Hoplites
1 Unit of 12 Light Infantry
1 Unit of 6 Satyrs
1 Unit of 6 Centaurs

So, 36 miniatures in total. It’s a lot, at the rate I’m painting these days, but far from impossible. My goal is to try and get this force onto the table quickly. That way I have a ‘base’ army. I can then go back and replace units with better ones or bring in some other units for variation, but at least I have a force I can play with in the meantime.

The other great thing about this army is that I already have most of the pieces to construct it (thanks Phil!) I’ve got a box of Wargames Factory Greek Heavy Infantry. I really like this set as it is the only plastic Ancient Greek miniatures set on the market that allows for heroic poses. I’ve also got a box of Wargames Factory Numidians. These figures are not so great…but they’ll do for the Light Infantry for the moment.

For the Satyrs, I’m going to pick up a pack of the Wargames Foundry Satyrs with bows (these will serve as bidowers (sort of ranger types) in the game. 

The only group I’m not sure about is the Centaurs. I’m just not particularly taken with anything that is available on the market at the moment. I might have a stab at converting my own…

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

The Frostgrave Wizards!

All ten of the wizard figures for Frostgrave have now been revealed. Just in case you missed them, I am posting them all here. Remember, each of the wizards represents one of the schools of magic in the game.  Each of the schools have three allied schools, five schools which they are neutral towards, and one they are directly opposed to. Potentially, a wizard can learn any spell in the game, but he suffers penalties to casting spells that are outside his school.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Ranger of the North

After a little break, I have picked up the paint brush again, and the first thing I have finished is this Ranger of the North. This might be my favourite single figure in the whole of The Lord of the Rings range. It is just so classically Middle-Earth, combining rugged, practical clothing, with an elegance and nobility. I mainly painted him in earthy colours, browns and greens, although his under-tunic is actually violet (this doesn’t seem to have come through in the photo well). 

My only disappointment with this figure is the pack it came in. The blister contained three Rangers of the North, and I should have loved them all. Unfortunately, the other two figures, both of which are holding spears and bows are both in rather awkward poses. I will still paint them up, as they aren’t terrible figures, they just don’t compare with this archer.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Frostgrave Artist - Dmitry Burmak

The Osprey Games Blog today contains a nice piece of background on Dmitry Burmak, the guy responsible for all of the artwork in the Frostgrave rulebook (and Thaw of the Lich Lord). The post also contains a couple of pieces of artwork from the book, one of which I've attached here. 

I would just like to say that working with Dmitry was a real pleasure. He took the brief notes I gave him on the ten wizards and various battle scenes and really brought them to life, adding all kind of wonderful details.  

Dmitry is a seriously talented artist, and I suggest checking out his Deviant Art page to see more of his work.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

10,000 Miles

Six years ago, I set myself a goal to cycle 10,000 miles. I'm not sure why I made this decision. At the time, I hadn't cycled consistently since I was a boy. But, I'd been watching the Tour de France, and I had bought a used mountain bike...

Well, six years, two bikes, and three broken bones later, I made it. I crossed the goal line somewhere between work and home, which is appropriate since most of those miles came on my daily commute. 

Now what? Do I go for another 10,000? Do I set my sights on 100,000? I don't think so. I don't think it is necessary. I'm still going to keep track of my mileage, because it's fun, but I don't believe I need a goal anymore. Cycling has become a part of my life. I don't do it quite as much as in years past, because my commute has gotten significantly harder, but I still enjoy it. Now, I look for opportunities to get out on the bike.

So, hopefully, me and 'Bonebreaker' still have a few milestones left to hit and adventures left to undertake

Friday, 10 April 2015

Frostgrave, Info and Images

I have no idea why Amazon has a cover for Thaw of the Lich Lord and no additional information, but here is the official blurb:

Thaw of the Lich Lord is a complete campaign for Frostgrave that will challenge both new and veteran players. Through a series of linked scenarios, players discover the existence of a new power in the Frozen City, one who was old when the great city was still young, and who saw both its rise and its disastrous fall. Warbands will confront the Lich Lord’s minions, race against his agents to seize possession of mysterious artefacts, and brave the perils of Frostgrave in search of his lair. Eventually, they will need to muster all their courage to venture into the depths of the city and face the Lich Lord himself. Not all wizards will seek to stop the Lich Lord, however, and full rules for giving into his corruption and following the dark road to becoming an undead lich are presented for those who crave power and immortality above all else. While the campaign presents many new threats against which wizards and their warbands must test themselves, including an expanded bestiary, it also offers additional resources, such as new henchmen that can be recruited and unique magical treasures that can spell the difference between survival and oblivion.

Also, just released by Northstar today, the first full photograph of an official Frostgrave miniature, sculpted by Mark Copplestone!

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Frostgrave - The Countdown Begins!

Two weeks ago, I had the chance to look over the layouts for Frostgrave. It was a nerve-wracking experience. This was my last chance to correct any mistakes or request any changes before the book went off to print. You would think, after the dozens of times I’ve read through my own rules, there wouldn’t be anything left to change, but I managed to find a couple of spells where I thought the wording needed just a little bit of tweaking, just to make the rules clearer. Anyway, the book is out of my hands now, and, I believe, out of Osprey’s for the moment as it has been sent off to the printer. The real waiting begins now.

However, while we are all waiting to the see the finished product, I can, at last, start to talk a little more freely about it and reveal more details.

Here are the basics. The book is hardback, of a similar size to other Osprey hardback wargames. It’s about 140 pages long; I can’t remember the exact page count.  It’s going to retail for £15 or $25, which I think makes it one of the best deals in wargaming.

The game is be supported by a range of miniatures that are being produced as a joint project between Osprey Publishing and Northstar Military Figures. The range will include 10 wizards and 10 apprentices, one pair to represent each of the ten schools of magic in the game. These will be cast in metal. These have been sculpted by some familiar names, including Mark Copplestone, Mark Simms, and Mike Owen.  Also in metal will be a selection of the more unusual soldier types, such as the thief and barbarian. The more common soldier types are going to be covered by a multi-part plastic box set, sculpted by the guy responsible for the Fireforge plastic sets. This box is going to have lots of options for making the rough soldiers of the Frozen City.  Northstar is going to be revealing some shots of the figures over the coming month, and I’ll try to repost them all here. 

All of these will be revealed for the first time at Salute. Northstar will be setting up a display on the Osprey stand to show off the figures. Hopefully, the layouts will also be there so people can have a flip through them. They will also be running a demo game of Frostgrave over in the Wargames Illustrated section.

A week or so after Salute, Northstar will be launching a ‘Nickstater’, where everything will be put up for pre-order and there will be a chance to get special figures and perhaps even get new figures sculpted for the range.

So, that’s where things stand at the moment. I’ll obviously be sharing a lot more in the coming days and weeks, including any imagery I can lay my hands on.

Oh, I can also say, the rulebook is definitely not the last Frostgrave product that Osprey is attending to publish...

Wednesday, 1 April 2015


Some days, it means sitting in a rocking chair at 3AM with tissues stuffed up your nose, because you have the same cold that is keeping your baby awake.