Monday, 30 June 2014

Oh, damn you Devlan Mud!

Enjoying painting at 15mm has improved my 25/28mm technique. As I chug my way through the Saxons, I've started reading the Oldhammer blogs a lot more regularly. And I can't escape the whispers of the old lead scattered all over the house, hidden in a box in bubblewrap here, in a storage case there, soaking in Dettol... where? So, beguiled by the faint cries of 'yo ho ho', 'avast!' and 'aaarh!', I cracked open a box and dragged out of shore-party of Long Drong's Pirate Slayers. Not sure what I'll use these for. Singly based minis for Songs of Blades and Heroes? A Warband/Shooter unit for HotTHammer? Anyway, this post isn't about that.

When, a few years ago, I painted my first miniature after a gap of umpteen years, my disposable income gave me access to a far wider range of paints than I ever did back in the day. And I could buy inks, and washes, and all kinds of other stuff. And proper brushes! But the washes were a great help to a [re-]learning painter. A good wash, typically of Devlan Mud, added depth, a bit of 'realistic' grime, and, at times, covered mistakes. But it has got to the point where I think that Devlan Mud, and my other favourite, Ogryn Flesh, are concealing, rather than enhancing my painting. What do you think?  

This is a Pirate Slayer I have nearly finished. I haven't used any washes on this guy.

This is the Slayer I finished the day before. While I like his polka dot bandana, the Ogryn Flesh wask on the skin, the red wash on the beard, and the Devlan Mud on the guns and scabbards and the rest have really flattened the miniature. Where, in the past, slapping a wash on was my final stage, looking at this guy I feel I have to set the brush to him again.

Or, of course, the problem could be that after staring at little Dwarf Pirates for a few hours you lose your sense of perspective... Which do you prefer, snazzy headscarf notwithstanding?

Monday, 23 June 2014

Oldhammer 40K: One More Ork

Painting in 15mm has revitalised my interest in miniature painting. But I have to paint 40 Saxon spearmen before I have finished that contingent of the army - plus 14 irregulars for the two 'horde' elements, two skimishers, and the four housecarls that that make up the general's element. I'm 20 spearmen in, and need a break. So what is in the lead-pile? 

A Rogue Trader-era Ork...

He is meant to be part of this gang of old metal space-greenies... which I last put to the brush TWO YEARS AGO!

(I have found a great new place to photograph my minis - on top of the microwave directly underneath an LED downlighter. This usually has the mundane but essential task of illuminating the kitchen worktop to help my late-night sandwich making, but it serves quite well here.)

After painting 15mm tall realistically proportioned little men, this guy was a breeze.

As you can see, he's a bit lighter than his buddies, but then he is prone to walking about topless, and who knows what the effects on light from a red giant does to an Ork's complexion. Maybe he just needs a green wash... and possibly a touch of metallic paints - the earlier models were painted when I used metallic paints more heavily.

I'll be back at the Saxons the next time the paints come out. That's THE hobby project (not just for this month, but for the summer), and I know 'the game' that I will be playing with my Saxons and Vikings. By contrast, I'm not sure what I'll actually use these guys for. I don't think that I have the stomach for current 40K, and I while I have Rogue Trader - and leaf through the book regularly - I'd expect that I'd find it too fiddly these days. I am taken with adapting (or stealing an existing adaptation of) one of the Songs of Blades and Heroes variants for some real quick-play skimishing, but not sure if I'll have the players.

But he was fun to paint... Orks, and Orcs, are easy!  

Sunday, 22 June 2014

A month of DBA #7 - mighty empires or petty kingdoms

I'm getting a bit carried away here, but as I slowly work my way through the two armies that arrived in a small padded envelope I have the opportunity to think ahead. Painting in 15mm has rekindled my enthusiasm for miniature gaming - and coupled with the fast-play rulesets that I have now had time to read through I can imagine playing very regularly, rather than the very irregularly that had been the case with 6ftx4ft Warhammer Fantasy Battle gaming. The economies of scale, time and well, cash, means that regular gaming is simply a much more realistic proposition for gamers with kids and all the rest of that grown up bumpf.

Nothing worse than a convert, eh? None of the experience that renders one critical, even jaundiced...

Even so, browsing around the Fanaticus site I found an adaptation of Games Workshop's Mighty Empires to DBA rules. Fantastic, cos look what I have sitting in my cupboard:

(Dreadfleet is still in shrinkwrap - that's the power of bad reviews. Most of those copies of Sociology are still in their wrappers - that's the power of e-journals.)

I never played Mighty Empires as a campaign architecture for WFB. I couldn't fathom the amount of time that would require. But Mighty Empires as a system for adding depth to a DBA/HotT campaign? Now that would work, wouldn't it? [That's half a rhetorical question, and half a question looking for an answer - playing electronically, via DBA online is not necessarily a good simulation of the practicalities of playing.]  Depending on the level of aggression, I would imagine that you could easily play out a couple of years of a campaign over an evening. And in an age of digital cameras, taking a record of the arrangement of all the oversized hexes, and the location of the units, settlements and counters is straightforward. Back in the day, if you wanted to pack the game away and continue later you would have needed to laboriously note down the locations on paper, or take a roll of film down to Boots.

So I was thinking of a Mighty Empires DBA 'Petty Kingdoms' game, with armies representing the Welsh/British, the Saxons, the Picts, the Irish, maybe the Vikings and Franks - depending on player interest - all on some fictionalised hex map of the not-quite British Isles. Fictionalised, as I'm thinking that I'd get greater player buy-in if the game it set up to maximise gaming fun, rather than historical accuracy. But once we go fictionalised, couldn't we (shouldn't we) add in some mythical/legendary elements?

And that is the point at which I came across Steven Balagan's excellently prepared DBA/HotT lists for Britain AD600. I'm perfectly willing to stretch the time period by a couple of hundred years to accommodate this only pseudo-historical game. Steven's lists include suggestions for the incorporation of HotT elements - Gods, Heroes, Magicians and Clerics, Behemoths and Beasts, Lurkers and Sneakers, into appropriately themed 'historical' lists. Hopefully that will at least address some of the criticism from D, who complained that historical wargaming wasn't as 'open' as fantasy.

Or, of course, we could just do 15mm HotT 'Warhammer' using Mighty Empires. The Demonworld miniatures from Ral Partha look just about ideal.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

RuneQuest 6 for Free! (and some thoughts on player competency)

RuneQuest 6 is a masterpiece. In my judgement, it is just too much system for the group that I play with, and for our play-style, but I can't help but admire the elegance of the system, the quality of the writing, and the physical book itself – I own the hardcover with slipcase. I also own Monster Island, the Book of Quests, and will no doubt continue to buy RQ6 stuff almost as quickly as the Design Mechanism can churn it out. I am very much looking forward to Mythic Britain.

 RQ6 is too much for our group, I said. BUT…

But RuneQuest Essentials has now been released as a FREE resource. You can get it directly from the Design Mechanism HERE. 200 or so pages containing, well, everything that a player needs to play competently. Perhaps this summer, when D is back in town and we are able to put some time into face-to-face play, we could reconsider RQ6. I still, as always, worry that book-keeping crunch and systems with too many moving parts are enemies of the kind of freedom that I value in roleplaying games, which is why B/X and its derivatives are my go-to games. And it'll have to jostle for position with some other games demanding my attention for our summer game (WFRP1e, Classic Traveller, etc. etc.). BUT...
But I have more to say on the subject of player competency. I tend to shy away from games that require any great degree of system mastery on the part of the players in order for them to play 'well'. It is one of the reasons that I don't like later D&Ds – it appeared to me that understanding the system was essential if a player was to make good choices, from character creation to the 'synergistic' use of feats, powers, and magic. I prefer systems in which the players can make effective choices on the part of their characters without needing any deep understanding of the mechanics that will be used to resolve the actions. Of course, you can’t avoid some system 'intrusion', but the system would ideally be one that a new player could sit down at the table and grok in their first session. D100 games, with their intuitive roll-under mechanism expressed as a percentage, are good for this. At least until you get to magic - and magic is the barrier to ‘player competency’ in almost all fantasy RPGs as it often cannot be understood simply by reference to real life and the [non-mechanical] ‘fiction’. Which is one reason, beyond the aesthetic, why I prefer relatively low-magic games...

Now, magic in RQ6 contains more moving parts than my usual system of choice. But that is a player competency issue I expect and just have to live with. My worry re: player competency in RQ6 is the admittedly beautiful combat system. Will a character with a low score in their Combat Style, but controlled by an experienced player, beat a character with a high score controlled by a novice? Yes, or at least he has a chance. In a D&Dish game a high skill fighter (as defined by level) has the same chance of beating a low skill fighter regardless of the players involved. This might sound like a bad thing, but it is not. It is part of the ‘simulation’ of the world – the player choices with regard to his or her character are not about what type of stroke to make with your sword, or what part of your body the shield will cover. The level 5 fighter knows this, and he knows it better than the level 1 fighter - and this competency is abstracted into the mechanics of D&D combat. The choices that a player makes are about when to engage in combat, on what terms, in what circumstances, etc. The larger-scale decisions, the strategic decisions, are the province of the players, and these can be made in the context of the game world, requiring little system mastery.

But the more granular the decision making is, the more it will expose the mechanics, and thus it will require greater system mastery in order to play 'well'. In RQ6 the experienced player will have a better understanding of which Special Effects to apply in which circumstances. he or she will understand how these Special Effects interact with Resistance Skills and the Combat Action cycle/economy. For a skill-based game - which traditionally default to the character sheet to deal with the question of player/character competency - this creates a curious ‘break’ in the conceptualisation of player skill. So you don't need to actually be a great diplomat, as you have Oratory and Influence Skills of over 100%. Sure, you might need to know when to apply these skills, but those decisions are taken at the strategic level, and the level of system mastery required is little more than; "oh, my character is a master orator, so I'll get up on the steps of the forum and try to incite the crowd with tales of the debauchery of the noble classes", i.e. playing well comes down to engaging with the game world, not engaging with the system.  

All that said, despite my worry that the granularity of the system is such that player decisions are being taken at the ‘wrong’ level, the combat system is a fantastic game in its own right, and the Special Effect system produces some lovely, easy to narrate battles. And it is FREE, so cheap at twice the price!

Sunday, 15 June 2014

A month of DBA #6 - the first elements

Okay, so I'm not making quite the progress in my 'Month of DBA' as I had hoped. It was, after all, an absurdly ambitious rate of miniatures per day. And, but damn, the Essex miniatures are absurdly detailed sculpts for 15mm. I own models from a few other manufacturers, and none have the detail, especially on the faces, that the Essex minis have. And there is also the variety. Essex's Middle Anglo-Saxon army pack includes a bunch of DSG5 and DSG6 spearmen (as below, the 6s are the ones with the helmets), and - if I have counted right - there are 11 different miniatures.  this means that I've devoted more time per mini than I had envisaged at the start of the project. Nevertheless, I think that extra effort has meant that I've done a pretty decent job: 

(Apologies for the picture, as usual. I need something better than an absurdly unwieldy iPad camera - taken while holding a table lamp in the other hand!)

Question One: Do I slosh Devlan Mud all over them?

I'm particularly pleased with a couple of the shields, particularly the red dragon on yellow and the, erm, eh... yellow 'swastika' on blue. With the latter, I was sitting there, eyes crossed, tongue sticking out the corner of my mouth as I doodled the design. Then I held the finished little man are arm's length, blinked, focused, and said, 'oh, bugger!' 

I am very much enjoying painting these 15mm miniatures. I have to confess, it has led me to scour the net, identifying 15mm fantasy and sci-fi figures for future projects. But there will be no other 'hobby' projects until there are fully painted, terrain-rich Dark Ages battles being fought on a 2ftx2ft landscape.  

But thinking ahead to future 15mm gaming... 

Question Two: What do people base their individual 15mm miniatures on? 
Question Three: Does anyone play Warhammer Fantasy Battle in 15mm? 

Is it too much hassle dealing with individually based miniatures at this scale. I suspect so - it is quite a bit of hassle dealing with individually based miniatures in the big WFB units, especially casualty removal. You end up with the units being 'collectively based' on movement trays, which, after a few casualties have been caused, end up ugly and exposed, and which also inhibit changes in formation (psychologically at least, "oh, my, what a fuss!"). I guess I'm talking myself out of both individual bases and playing WFB at 15mm... So:

Question Four: What other games can be played with DBA-based 'elements'? 

I'm aware of Hordes of the Things (and can see a use - one day, one day - for all my 25mm Lord of the Rings minis - too few to make an army for the GW game, but more than enough to make a 24AP HOTT army).

Question Five: Who wants a tonne of 25/28mm stuff? Only joking, but...

Friday, 13 June 2014

A month of DBA #5 - if you go down to the woods today...

While waiting for my armies to arrive - the first element is nearly done - I made myself a wood. Or a forest, depending on what we're taking an element of 15mm little men to represent. So, a vast tract of trees for DBA, and a copse for a skirmish game. A useful thing to have on the scenery shelf. Incidentally, I have owned a Citadel Wood for some time, and haven't got past painting up the base... yet this, starting from a base point of some basic modelling materials rather than finely sculpted plastic, was table-ready in an couple of evenings. Go figure.  

The trees are N scale 'sycamores' from JTT Scenery Products (8 for £10.95 from Antics). JTT appear to make some fantastically realistic railway scale trees, though these seem to be from their 'budget' range (even with the packaging to hand I'm having trouble finding this exact pack of trees online). Nevertheless, they're really nice trees, better, in my opinion, than many of the more expensive scale model trees I have seen.

The bases are made from plasticard - the 'footprint' base from a relatively thick piece (relatively?! - like a fool I didn't keep track of the sizes which would allow me to replicate this process, or use the information to avoid replicating inadequate results) coated with a fine gravel/PVA/cheap acrylic paint mix to match the board. I've gone for a bit darker a shade of green/brown for the 'footprint'. 

The stands of trees use much thinner plasticard (too thin, in my opinion, as it has curled up a bit at the edges - also a problem for my road which passes through the foreground) 'roughed up' with Humbrol Model Filler. A few quick passes with Vermin Brown, Bestial Brown, Bubonic Brown, and Camo Green, and you've got a reasonable approximation of a forest floor - stick some loose green and orange 'sponge' on the base and we're done.

Coming soon: a very short shieldwall.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Player Notes #2 - The Hobbit

Well, not really. But my daughter seems to be able to keep track of an ongoing fantasy adventure better than some of my players!

"So, what is this picture you've drawn at school?"

"That's a dragon, and that's the Lonely Mountain."

"And who are those?"

"The small one is the hobbit, that's the prince, and that's the old one with the white beard."

"Oh, Gandalf?"

"No, the Dwarf!"

"Oh, Balin?"


[The Hobbit, by R (age 4)]

Monday, 9 June 2014

Sorcery! 2 (Inkle iOS app): I Khare more

Last year I bought Inkle's first Sorcery! app, which turned out to be a reasonably faithful adaptation of The Shamutanti Hills gamebook. There were a few flourishes here and there that, as far as I can remember, were not in the gamebooks (for example, the motivation for the goblin activity is fleshed out), but aside from the gorgeous map and the nifty, but straightforward mechanics, this was The Shamutanti Hills. If you liked the gamebook, you'd like this. But if not, this would fail to satisfy for similar reasons (unless you have something against books as physical object, but then...).

Sorcery! 2, based on Khare: Cityport of Traps, is, however, a totally different beast - though it wears the same skin. My memory of gamebook Khare is of a city that defies reason, filled with fantastical encounters (but little else) in which Bizarre Search Behaviour (as described by Murray of Turn to 400) is the order of the day. And it is fun, for sure, and very 'Fighting Fantasy', but as is the case for many of the gamebooks the only way to collect the information necessary to make meaningful choices is to die. YOUR adventure ends here. 

In the Inkle app, Khare feels like it has some real life to it. Part of this is down to the technical possibilities presented in by an app that would be impossible in a gamebook; it is not so difficult for later 'sections' to be subtly (or not so subtly) tailored in light of previous choices - certainly without doubling or trebling the 'section' and page count of the equivalent physical book. But Khare has also grown. What appeared, in the gamebook, to be disconnected encounters have grown into the spaces around them, producing meaningfully interlinked choices. But there is also more to Khare - political intrigue and underground plots practically beg YOU to investigate. It feels much more like a sandbox setting.

All of this is managed by an automated clue 'inventory'. This records bullet points of information that you gather through your searches and conversations. On the subject of the latter, at various points in the game you have the option to play 'swindlestones' (liar's dice) against a number of different NPCs. While you can try to use this as a way to make some gold, its true usefulness comes in the conversations that you have with the NPCs as you bluff and bet. Different bets produce different dialogue options, meaning that sometimes you just have to bluff big (and likely get called) if you want to ask a particularly probing question. This is a really good mechanic, introducing risk and reward (and a degree of transparency about both) into the information game. 

As far as the other mechanics go, swordplay is still, as it was in the first Sorcery! app, a 'blind auction', in which you try to use just more of your strength than the enemy, or none at all if you suspect that he will 'bid' higher. While there are some clues as to what the enemy will do each round in the text description, it still feels pretty formulaic - thought it allows for some player choice, the meaninfulness of these choices is minimal, once you have your PC settled into a strike-block rhythm. It is certainly appears to be more interactive than 2d6+SKILL, but I feel that adding a couple of choices to modify this roll (as in Advanced Fighting Fantasy 2e) would have produced more genuine choice into the fights. Each fight can be endlessly refought until you have achieved a level of STAMINA loss with which you are happy, which feels a bit 'fingers in the page' to me. Nevertheless, I have used it...

The sorcery mechanic has been revamped across both apps. If I remember right, in Sorcery! it involved a mildly annoying mini-game in which you lined up the three letters of the spell. This was nothing more than a time-sink hurdle for the player - you would line the letters up eventually, and it didn't matter how long it took. Well, it didn't matter for YOU - as in your PC - but it mattered to you, the player. This was a mild example of what I was talking about with regards to the consequences of failure in RPGs and computer games. The new version retains the same visual charm - the letters being written in the stars - but the mini-game is gone. Just tap out S-U-S and burn on point of STAMINA to work out if Steve Jackson has set a trap for you. That really is the most important spell any adventurer on Titan can learn!

I was really impressed with Sorcery! 2. It looks fantastic, plays smoothly, and the new material adds extra life to the city, though I'm still in two minds as to whether the extra stuff included by Inkle dilutes the Titanesque. Regardless, I do wish that I had played this before running the Khare section of the AFF2e Crown of Kings campaign. I guess that is the highest praise that can be given by a GM! 

Sunday, 8 June 2014

A month of DBA #4 - a small pile of lead

So, a little over a week after I decided on my DBA project, the armies arrive...

As a 28mm man (Hey! I'm short, but not that short!), what sort of unit fits in a parcel this size?

Hang on. When I open that parcel there is a smaller, well padded envelope inside. I enjoy pass the parcel as much as the next overgrown child, but where are my armies!

I'm actually really impressed with the quality of the sculpts, but I can't get a good picture of bare metal on my iPad. But that's the pile. And having made the smallest of dents in it, I can say that these little men take paint really well. But the task is do more than dent the pile. Two armies. Twenty four elements...

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Player Notes #1 - The Crown of Kings

I guess it is is going to get a little monotonous if all you read here are the fairly ordinary modelling and painting experiences as I work towards my DBA project. See here's something else. But don't worry if you wanted to see what I put together for a forest, or a road, or a Saxon village, etc. etc. You have all that to come!

But back to roleplaying, for a moment. As a referee, I enjoy watching players scribble down notes. Players committed to taking notes, are, I presume, engaging with the game in both the short and long term. Can a player sort one improbably named NPC/location/monster from another? If they can't, their experience of the game can only ever be superficial. But who expects either players or referees to hold all this in their head. The referee orders the world with piles of notes and index cards, unless the players adopt something fractionally similar, it will be difficult for them to make their decisions meaningful, and therefore, in one sense, make the game as arbitrary as Snakes and Ladders. Of course, not all players are into noting down NPC names, rumours, clues, etc., but unless they have a very good memory, those who are not taking notes need to understand, and accept, the limits this places on their ability to act in and engage with the game world. Roleplaying games are information games.

All that aside, the purpose of this post is to show off some pictures of the ways in which players in my games have made sense of the game world. The most ardent note-taker and mapmaker in our group is my wife. Here's some of her notes from our Advanced Fighting Fantasy Crown of Kings campaign.  

Addendum: A dense transcription of names, places, hint and clues. But because she was the only player taking notes, rather than having three players, each collecting and organising the information that they think is important, for all of the players the game was refracted through these notes. It is not so much of a problem in a linear 'quest' game, or even a 'straightforward' mystery, in which the decisions are mostly short term and the goal is shared by all the players/characters. But it occurred to me that this delegated approach to the 'information game' is very bad for a sandbox game, in which each player is expected to make short, medium and long term decisions that are not determined by the pursuit of a simple, predetermined collective goal.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

A month of DBA #3 - he marched them up to the top of the...


Still waiting for my armies, I decided to get a head start on making some scenery. Knowing that I'd need at least one hill, I decided to make do with what I had to hand. 

I didn't have a junior hacksaw - we've leant it to a friend who needs it to do something or other in the real world - so I cut the balsa with a craft knife! Yes, I am the modeller who will win a Darwin Award. So little three tier structure built, I needed something to give it some shape. I found a bit of Milliput. A bit of Milliput several years old. I'm not sure it was really in all that great shape - it certainly didn't seem to have the right consistency when I'd mixed it. But hey ho, I want a hill now!

"Steps removed and sequence shortened. Network speeds may vary." It needed a bit of texture - and something to hide all my fingerprints - so I mixed up some Humbrol Model Filler, some fine gravel, some PVA, and (probably a mistake) some water. Gave me a nice Artex-like gloop, which I smeared all over the hill. Then, when dry, painted the whole thing up in the same manner as the board. Speaking of which: 

Three 25mm Dwarves for scale.

Not sure if they're dancing, or posing for an (ironic) catalogue photo...

Incidentally, doing a little bit of modelling each night, finishing short, sharp projects, has actually made me far more productive at work. Rather than a distraction, this discipline has helped keep my mind in some semblance of order. 

Monday, 2 June 2014

A month of DBA #2 - a gaming board

The opportunity to play a well-regarded miniature wargame on a 2ftx2ft game board is one of the things that appealed. Economy of space; I have three 2ftx3ft pieces of board that get balanced on the dining room table whenever WFB gets rolled out. Which is all too infrequently these days.

So, while waiting for my armies to arrive in the post - probably today, but only nominally, as I'll likely have to collect them from the Post Office - I decided to get started on my gaming board. I wanted to buy four 12"x12" canves boards, but our local Hobbycraft was under-supplied, so I bought two 12"x24" peices of plywood. This wasn't optimal. And I meant to use housepaint, mixed with sand, but I went with a sub-optimal alternative there too. I am an impatient man, and I used what I could find.

First I sprayed the boards with an undercoat. I still had a good amount of Army Painter Army Green left when it was one of my preferred undercoats.  

Hey, job done, eh? Well, It'd certainly be functional, but I wanted to do a little more. I didn't have any miniatures to paint, and it was a lovely, sunny afternoon. In lieu of housepaint mixed with sand, I mixed up some PVA, some cheapish WH Smith's white acrylic, some very fine gravel that I use for basing, and a splash of water. Borrowing a spatula from the kitchen drawer, I smeared it all over the board. 

When I'd covered the board I instantly developed modeller's regret. Why, oh why, didn't I just wait until I had the right materials? Why did I have to improvise and waste my time, energy, and plywood? But I left the gloop covered board to dry in the sun. When it dried - okay, slightly before it had dried, I did tell you that I am impatient - I sprayed with alternate light passes of Army Painter Leather Brown and Army Green, and Humbrol Desert Sand. And as it dried I realised that I had accidentally made something that looked reasonably good. I also threw in a few passes of Liquitex Gloss Varnish in the hope that it would help hold everything together.

And it does seem to hold together.

As a final touch, I liberally stroked Dark Green Model Colour Ink all over the board, to fill in the gaps left where the spray hadn't got through the gravel and add a bit of texture. 

What you can't see here is that the board is slightly bowed. I should have cut the board into 12"x12" tiles. Why didn't I? Because I am an impatient idiot. So this board has spent the night, balancing with one end on Ian McEwan's Solar and the other on Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book, with Commands and Colors: Ancients and one of the very heavy collection of Alex Raymond's Flash Gordon weighing down the middle. All in the hope of ameliorating the bend. If that doesn't work, well, I won't need to make any hill terrain in this month of DBA. 

Sunday, 1 June 2014

A month of DBA #1 - the book arrives

So, thanks to everyone for helping me make up my mind. De Bellis Antiquitatis it is. The book arrived yesterday, just in time to begin a month of DBA - throughout this month my gaming attention and energy will be devoted almost entirely to my doable DBA project.

The project is to 'build' *a* game; two armies, board and scenery, in order to be able to run a number of 'historical' scenarios on the spot, without the other player needing to bring anything. As I'm on a bit of a Bernard Cornwell trip at the moment, the choice was simple; Sub-Roman British (II/81) vs Early Anglo-Saxon (II/73) - i.e. The Winter King, etc. - or Middle Anglo-Saxon (III/24) vs Norse Viking (III/40) - i.e. the Uhtred books. God knows why I didn't go for the Sub-Roman Arthur option, but the latter won, and I ordered the appropriate DBA armies from Essex Miniatures. C, meanwhile, has ordered Crusaders vs Saracens...

So, 29 days to paint and base 24 elements, knock together a 2ftx2ft 'Arable' game board and accumulate the appropriate bits and bobs of scenery. I'm unlikely to succeed, but by the end of the month the finishing line should be in sight.