Archive for Hardness

Vinland Saga – An inspiration to paint

Posted in Blather, Historical, Review with tags , , on January 6, 2014 by stingersix

I’m setting up the next installment of the SAGA campaign at the store (kicking off on Feb.9) and looking at my Jomsvikings that are in need of priming and painting. But, I was given an inspirational kick in the pants by a co-worker who left a couple comp copies of the superlative viking manga, Vinland Saga, on my desk at work. Vinland Saga is, hands down, one of the best manga I have ever read.

20140106_125214Creator Makoto Yukimura (who also did the sci-fi epic Planetes) isn’t writing some silly bastardization of history – the man’s done his research. It’s set in early 11th century England, during the period when the Danish Vikings under Sweyn Forkbeard were trying to consolidate their territories in England. The story is about a boy, Thorfinn, who has a serious deathwish, trying to avenge himself on Askeladd, the man who killed his father. Their relationship is a complex one, and Thorfinn’s development as a character is as difficult as they come.

This story is set against a grand historical backdrop, and brings in the rise of Canute the Great, who later ruled over the North Sea Empire of the Danes. It’s well done on all levels – the art, the background, the characters, the story, everything. The depiction of Danish, Saxon and Scandinavian culture is extremely well done and respectful.

It’s also gritty and bloody as hell too, on the level, occasionally, of Berserk (if you know that one) but not gore for gore’s sake. It’s bloody because it has to be – I mean, if you chop someone in the collarbone with a sword or an axe it’s not going to look very pretty is it? This story shows how brutal and tough life was for people back then. Many characters are traumatized or hardened by the violent world they live in, including Thorfinn. It really gets into the characters’ heads and how the harsh and violent culture they live in shapes their way of thinking.

In Japanese, the series has about 12 volumes out right now and it’s still going. Kodansha is putting it out in English and while they’ve done a good job, I SO wish we could have done it. I know I would have devoted everything I had to making it the best ever. Anyway, if you’re interested in Vikings, Dark Ages history, Saga, minis wargaming, manga, and graphic novels, seriously, ALL the stars have aligned for you right here. Vinland Saga even features the Jomsvikings! Even if you don’t like graphic novels and/or manga, if you’re into Saga, I highly recommend reading this series.

And that has all inspired me to get busy on my Jomsviking minis for Saga! As the sort of Delta Force of the Dark Ages, I like the sheer range and awesome power of the abilities they have in the game. I should also be able to have the ready relatively quickly, since their army doesn’t have a high model count. It’s also got me reading a bit about the Varangian Guard, and whoever the Jomsvikings might have been. Anyway, it’s cool when your interests, hobbies and work all line up!


Stargrunt AAR – The Battle of Altair – Meeting Engagement

Posted in Battle Report with tags , , , , , , , on August 17, 2010 by stingersix

In the interest of reinforcing the basics of Stargrunt, me and the SG crew at the FLGS played a couple of games the other day. I actually played the same scenario back to back. We ran a modified version of the basic Meeting Engagement in the SG rulebook – very simple, two platoons of infantry get into a firefight. No vehicles, no funky support weapons, no artillery or air support, just troops in battle.

The minis are all mine – Pig Iron Heavy Infantry and Kolony Militia.

Here’s the background of the fight – this builds on the games we’ve played recently:

“After the rescue of the Kryton Corp heiress in a daring commando raid, the UDSS disavowed any connection to the plot and voted the recalcitrant Altairians out of the UDSS so fast it was unseemly. The Interstellar Colonial Commission quickly condemned the Altairians and declared sanctions, assembling a large invasion force to seize Altair and bring into the ICC fold in “Operation Cyan Rapier”.

“Hung out to dry, the Altairians mobilized their small planetary defense force and called up all available colonial militia. Against the combined might of an ICC Strike Force, the Altairians were doomed, but they were determined to sell their lives dearly.”

For an added wrinkle, the Altairian troops were Green but had High motivation (since they’re fighting for their homes) and the Mercs were Regular with Medium motivation and slightly more firepower (FP3 AARs with grenade launchers as opposed to the Altairian FP2 AARs).

In our first game, I played the ICC Mercs, and won, well, I won’t say easily. The Altairian player moved aggressively to the center of the board where some buildings were, and charged one of my squads with his for close assault. But the troop quality told the tale here and my Merc regulars slapped the hell out of his Green troops (and my opponent rolled really poorly), taking 6 casualties to my 1 in the fight. Our snipers wound up stalking each other and his sniper plugged mine at nearly point blank range! Crazy!

In the second game, I switched sides and took the Altairians. This time around, we remembered to apply the Panic rules for Green troops and it made a huge difference in the their effectiveness. Basically, I made one really dumb move (on my first activation no less) and rolled really badly when my green troops panicked under fire. Although I had a bit of success in the center of the board with my sniper (who really earned himself a medal) my opponent really handed my ass to me.

Here are the pics from that game, and we took a lot of them!

A shot of the board

In this pic you can see my troops on line ready to go. I had my worst quality squad (Green LV3) on the left flank.

Altair troops

ICC Mercenaries

Closer look at my scrubs getting ready to die

Shot of the center of the board from the Merc side

I usually make at least one really dumb move every game I play. In this game I did it on my very first activation. I moved my worst unit up on top of the hill in front of them in full view and within range of the enemy, with no cover. Just look at the counters there after they took enemy fire and you can see how well that went (for my opponent). What the hell was I thinking?

Stupid move

While I was setting myself up for the slaughter, my opponent moved fast toward the center of the board.

Mercs move out

Not wanting to let my opponent get into the building on my right, I set up to charge in there as well. This would not turn out the way I’d hoped. At all.

Altair right flank

The one smart move I did make was getting my sniper up high in the ruined building in the center of the board. From here, he managed to pin down (suppress) enemy squads all over the board, including the Merc command squad, whose 2IC he dropped with his first shot.

Merc platoon sergeant down

In the center, the mercenaries reach the building and rush in.

Mercs move in

Moving fast

The Mercs quickly entered the building and seeing the Altairians also closing in, opened fire. Even with the shifts for firing through the windows, the Mercs shot up the Altairians, suppressing them and causing them to Panic. This squad would not make a roll to recover from Panic for the rest of the game, losing confidence every time they tried, until the routed!

All shot up!

I moved my center squad into the same building as the sniper. These guys did a fair bit of business too.

Rats in the walls

Meanwhile, those troops I moved up onto the hill on my left were Panicked and had multiple suppression markers dropped on them almost the moment they crested the hill. The Mercs began moving to flank them – you can see them rushing over the hill in the distance here.

I brought the Mercs under fire with my sniper and managed to get some suppression on them. This held them up for maybe two or three activations, but in the end only delayed the inevitable.

Move it!

With my sniper laying down effective fire all over the board, my opponent was determined to take him out. He moved his own sniper, via some effective hidden movement, up to the edge of the woods across from my center position. From there, his sniper took mine out with “one shot, one kill”. Argh!

Sniper vs. Sniper!

With my sniper out of action, the Mercs on my left move up on my Panicked and suppressed squad on the hill.

Mercs move in

On my right, my Panicked squad there by now had failed maybe 4 or 5 rolls to recover from Panic (they only needed a 3 or more on a d6, but rolled 1 or 2 every time!) Horrible! They lost Confidence levels until the Routed and ran off.

Run away!

The game was pretty much over at this point. The Mercs were moving in on my left and although the squad there had recovered and removed its suppression, they weren’t going to be much good close in. My right flank had collapsed, my center was under fire from two sides – I called it a day and the Altairians surrendered.

So with two losses for the Altairians in the initial recon/meeting engagements, the ICC force can maneuver freely against the Altairian defensive positions – we’ll do a big assault scenario next time!

It was a fun game. We reinforced some of the basic fundamentals of the game, particularly the morale rules, fire combat, and the command activations. Looking forward to playing again!

Stargrunt AAR – City Fight

Posted in Games with tags , , on August 30, 2009 by stingersix

Jonathan and I played SG again last Thursday. For this game we had two platoons fighting over a downed recon drone in a dense urban landscape; lots of bombed out buildings and rubble. For added madness, we came up with a system for underground movement utilizing the sewers!

For minis, I was using my Pig Iron Heavy Infantry and EM4 powered armor. Jonathan was using Rackham’s AT-43 Red Blok troops. I have to say both forces looked fantastic on the table!

I must apologize for the poor quality of the pictures. Next time I’ll use a stand or something to mount the camera on.

Jonathan’s UDSS troops (space socialists!) contested control of a recon drone with my Ramstar mercenaries. The UDSS forces were trying to decode and transmit the data in the drone and my objective was to simply recover the drone.

Manning the barricades

Manning the barricades

Jonathan’s troops set up fairly close to the objective, then I was allowed to deploy a recon squad hidden. After that, the rest of my unit dropped on the opposite end of the board.

The first turn, both of us moved forward. The UDSS troops advanced toward the downed recon drone and set up a defensive perimeter. I got the bulk of my platoon on line and began advancing down the left side of the table with my infantry, while a squad of power armor troops went up the center and the APC moved around to the right.

My recon squad revealed itself on the floor directly above Jonathan’s HQ squad and pinned them down, only to come under heavy grenade launcher fire from his heavy power armor troops in return!

UDSS HQ squad about to get jumped!

UDSS HQ squad about to get jumped!

Ambush sprung! So happy to see you!

Ambush sprung! So happy to see you!

Street fighting men

Street fighting men

My troops going down the left chased a UDSS squad out of one of the buildings. Once I’d invested my troops in the forward buildings, Jonathan sent a squad through the sewers that came up behind my troops in the building they’d just left! This resulted in a furious shootout at close range, after which I turned my troops around and attempted to close assault. I blew my movement rolls and was only able to get right up on the enemy. Literally there was only a wall between us!

Chasing them out! That white poker chip is the sewer more enemy troops popped out of!

Chasing them out! That white poker chip is the sewer more enemy troops popped out of!

What followed was both squads using their activations (and extra HQ activations) to fire at each other right through the windows! In the end, the UDSS troops took some hits and wound up retreating back into the sewers.

Point blank shootout!

Point blank shootout!

Jonathan got his tech squad over to the drone, picked it up, got into cover and went to work. Realizing I was getting bogged down on the left, I tried to press forward in the center and on the right. My PA troopers blazed up an enemy squad in a forward position, eventually close assaulting them and causing a lot of casualties. But the advance was not as fast as I would have liked.

UDSS squad seizes the objective

UDSS squad seizes the objective

Power armor assault

Power armor assault

With his tech troops working on the drone, I had to try and slow them down, so I drove the APC forward and right up on them! The result was an insane exchange of fire between his PA troops and RPG armed troops. Rockets bounced off the thick front armor of my APC, but I wound up with maximum Suppression markers, making the vehicle a sitting duck. Eventually, one of the rockets got through and disabled the APC.

APC coming up the flank

APC coming up the flank

Rolling onto the objective

Rolling onto the objective

The UDSS cracked the code on the drone and although their first attempt at sending the data was stymied by ECW jamming, they would have eventually gotten the roll they needed. We had to stop the game there because of the time.

UDSS tech squad under the gun

UDSS tech squad under the gun

It was a fun game and well played by Jonathan. His troops were Green but had High motivation (meaning they didn’t need to roll for 1st Suppression). That helped but he maneuvered them well. My advance on the left was checked by the well-timed emergence of one of his squads behind me (through the sewers) delaying me there.

The firefights and close assaults among the troops fighting in the ruins on the left were totally insane! I haven’t played a game of SG yet that had troops going at it at such close ranges! The back and forth there was a lot of fun!

My biggest mistake, which surely cost me any chance I had of winning, was not putting my PA troops into the APC and driving them forward to the objective. Although I could drive it over there and cause trouble, without troops to pick up the drone, there was no way I could win.

So, by my count, the UDSS is up two victories (the successful kidnapping of the Kryton Corp heiress, and this battle). Ramstar’s got one.

Epic Space Marine

Posted in 40K, Minis, Nostalgia with tags , , , on June 13, 2009 by stingersix

OK, back in the dark ages, roundabouts 1987, I bought a strange looking hardcover called Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader. It was bad, it was dark, it was British. But most of all, it was EPIC (in huge adamantium letters). I got myself a boxed set of Space Marines and Space Orks, kitbashed my own vehicles, and spent the waning years of the 1980’s playing 40K into the wee hours with my friends.

I liked it a lot but that EPIC feel of the setting always made me want to see huge battles between thousands of troops, clashing in those amazing John Blanche and Ian Miller paintings. The battles of the Horus Heresy beckoned. Plus I could never get over the way GW would call a squad or a platoon of troops an army. Twenty guys is not an army. I wanted more – a company at least, if not battalions!

The first EPIC scale GW game I ever saw was Adeptus Titanicus, which was all about the Titans. Then they started adding in the infantry and such with the game Space Marine. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was being drawn to 6mm scale gaming. When the second edition of Space Marine came out in 1991, I snapped that up and that was the beginning of about 5 or 6 years of very intense gaming.

I found an equally crazy opponent in Japan, my buddy Bruce, and he and I dove into this game whole hog. I remember our very first game we decided to play a 6000 point battle! It was a huge game and was like two conveyor belts rolling our forces toward a chasm of death in the middle of the table. We played every chance we could get. Eventually between us, we had several thousand points each of all the armies then available.

Those were some great games! I loved stepping back from the table in the middle of a game and seeing this huge vista of hundreds of troops, vehicles, and giant warbots crushing eahc other. I got to the point where I didn’t care about winning or losing, the only thing that was important was that I died well!

OK, I’m frothing. Lemme give you some pics.

These guys are standard 40K Marines done up in my Rising Sons Chapter colors. The banner is handpainted, including the kanji characters.


In this shot you can see my Imperial Army force. Behind them is my Tyranid Army, and on the left is my Titan Legion.


My always resolute Space Marine army. The big banner on the 40K minis was reproduced for these little guys.


This is meant to be an Imperial Inquisitor and his retinue. The Inquisitor is a Terminator with a Marine Sergeant’s head. Also on that base are a regular Marine, and Ogryn, a Ratling Sniper, and an Eldar.


Another conversion. This time, Commisar Yarrick for the Imperial Guard. I used an Ork Warboss claw for his arm.


The utterly awesome Imperator Titan. Absolutely DESTROYED everything that stood before it.


Bruce made this Nurgle Plague Tower for my Chaos army, entirely from scratch – scraps and bits from his bits box, and toothpicks!


When the price of the Tyranid Dominatrix made me balk, I made one out of a Warhammer horse body and bunch of Tamiya modelling putty.


One of my favorite minis – the terrifying Tyranid Bio-Titan. The goddamned thing would regenerate damage!


Second Edition Space Marine and its companion game Titan Legions remains my favorite iteration of the game. I never bothered with later editions. I will say that the NetEpic version of the game, which builds on 2nd edition, is excellent. You can find the NetEpic stuff at the EPICentre