Sunday, 14 January 2018

Accountability post for 14th Jan

I'm allowed a day mostly off, right? It is Sunday, after all!

A bit of restructuring and reformatting (Mac OS X Pages is brilliant for that) of the Compendium, and for those who missed it, I gave my writing chops a workout and wrote the next piece for the Linnius Campaign, at least partly inspired by Bad Squiddo's figure range.

Oh, and I built Warbases's sightscreen from their Cricket Pavilion kit. Need it for Dead's Army :D I'd upload a photo, but the touchscreen on my iPhone seems to have literally just packed up.

"To Britain's Shores" - Chapter 17 - Spring

At last. A morning where it isn't just miserably wet and grey. I was starting to hate these British winters.

This past one, particularly. Strange, as old Theobald used to say about Leofric the Drunkard, how you don't miss something till it's not there any more. No Ecgwine, blue eyes aflame, brashly questioning the Young Wolf's decisions. No Lavinia, with her head of raven-dark hair leaning next to his unruly straw-pale mop, slim hand on his arm and the quiet word that tempers his rashness. Truth, we'd seen less of that this last year, as he'd started to learn wisdom from all of us, and she'd thus had to do it more infrequently.

But Ecgwine's dead, a British spear in his side, and she... who knows? Left in the night on Aelfric's second-best horse. The Cyning's Hall in Caer Lind Colon - Odin's blood, that's still a barbarous mouthful of a name - seems that bit darker without them both, and we...

We have become grim.




The ring of metal on metal has been the music of the Hall most days, with none questioning our Cyning's resolve to make us harder, better. Which is why I'm here in one of the Hall's outbuildings, sorting through a batch of new-made spear points. That and it gives me something to do.

We're missing Beornwulf too this winter, sent on a thankless task to bear news of his son's passing to Ecgfrith across the great sea - Ecgfrith the Cyning, Aelfric's father's brother, who charged us - me and Aelfric especially - to take care of his son and make him a man. "You can't argue we managed one of those...."

"Mmm?" Aelfric, damn him, still has a habit of sneaking up on me.

"I... uh. Just musing aloud." He eyes me for a moment, with that maddeningly prompting look of his. I sigh. "Ecgwine." Again the regard. "Your uncle. 'Keep him safe. Make him a man.'"

Aelfric nods, "We tried." A pause, then, ruefully. "And we were..."

"Ho there!!!!!" It's a yell from the gate, young Hedric. "Someone's coming up the round. A band of men..."

The Young Wolf treats me to a sudden grin. "I'll bet you it's Beornwulf."

I grin back. "Not taking that bet. I'll catch you up when I've tidied this lot away."

I head for the gate, slipping through between a couple of the buildings to join the throng: there's much backslapping of Beornwulf, and the group of warriors he's brought across the sea with him. Hel's teeth, he's even managed to persuade the tall, rangy Deorwine, one of Ecgfrith's Gedriht that I actually don't have any grievance with, to join him. He's a skilled horseman, and a fine warrior, quiet yet intelligent: never a score of words when two will do. I'm just about to clasp him by the hand when a slap on my back nearly knocks the breath out of me.

"Not dead yet, then, Godric?"

I really should have spotted that distinctive hair amid the small crowd, but she isn't tall, certainly not among men. The voice, though, is unmistakably hers, a low alto rasp. I allow myself a second or two, as Deorwine gives me a knowing wink, lips quirking in an amused grin, before I turn. "Gytha."

There might be even more grey in her locks, but other than that she hasn't changed in the time since we left. Hair the colour of iron down to her shoulders; the same well-worn mail; axe and sword at her belt; the white line of a scar the length of her cheek from a blade; eyes the grey of a winter sky.

A smile, rendered slightly crooked by that scar, quirks her lips. "Miss me?"

She always did start with the difficult questions.

Now if I could actually find the box that has Bad Squiddo's shieldmaiden warriors blister in it (which I'd link to, but I can't find it on Annie's site either!), I'd have Gytha painted up by now. Unfortunately, I suspect it's somewhere in the stuff we cleared out of the workshop so the builders could do their stuff, which means I have almost no space to move stuff into to search for it. That and it's cold out.

Saturday, 13 January 2018

Accountability post for 13th Jan

Well, that didn't go as planned!

Responded to a post on the Facebook Dux Britanniarum page for Dux stuff in the TFL Specials, to find there were two articles I had omitted from consideration due to not being aware they were Rich's.

(Note: I'm not necessarily restricting additional stuff in the Compendium to Rich's, but I do already have his blanket permission, and I know that in general his additions are designed to fit in relatively seamlessly with the original rules. That said, if you have an article or scenario you think adds to 'core' Dux or Raiders and would fit in the Compendium, let's talk. I can't guarantee I'll use it, as I have a definite vision for certain sections of the book, but it can't hurt to ask.)

Today, then, I spent tidying, condensing and editing the weather rules from the Christmas 2012 Special: there's a lot of additional descriptive text which has a place in a Special article that really doesn't need to be in a rules compendium, and of course cutting and pasting text and tables from a PDF always leads to entertaining issues.

Tomorrow, back to consolidating the campaign advancement tables, including Rich's other article, into Appendix 1.

Battle Report - 30 Dec 2017 - Napoleonic Command "The Battle Of San José"

My second game in the Twin Cities, again courtesy of Jeff Knusden and the guys at the delightfully named ATF group (yes, that does stand for what it usually does: Scotch, fine cigars for those who will, and wargames!), hosted at expat Brit Elliot's house.

The rules were Warartisan's Napoleonic Command... very very different to anything I'm used to, and very thought-provoking. Essentially, units have areas of influence that extend out in front of them, into which they assert Threat points. These get matched against a target unit's Cohesion modified by a dice roll, and that determines what happens to the unit.

Also? You start out in column of march, and part of the tactical headache is how to deploy for the battle.

The dice mechanic is interesting - every roll is d6 minus d6 (largest minus smallest) - makes for an interesting probability table.

Annotations by Jeff
The rules are 42 pages, including diagrams and photos (the actual rules take up 12), and the QRS is one side (not double sided) of paper. If you want to learn more, check out Jeff's brief intro on his site.


British Foot in column of... erm... yomp.
A Peninsular scrap, in which the British and the French are converging on the Spanish held town of San José. I got to command the British, and... well... It could have gone better.

The plan was the lead British division (red arrows) yomp for the town, while the cavalry cut across to distract the French. All very well, except that there's a hill on the road, which (perhaps with hindsight) we might have been better skirting round rather than letting it slow us up.

Chasing off the French cavalry
By the time the first division had crested the rise, a unit of French cavalry were most of the way round the back of San José and heading towards us, the valley between the roads was turning into a massive cavalry scrap, and the first French foot were almost in the town.

Those cavalry proved to be a right pain - obviously I couldn't ignore them, and they could get between me and the town. Cue a lot of cautious manoeuvring, until I finally got enough units to bear to drive them off.

And here come the French infantry...
By then, of course, the French had taken the town, and were on their way up the blasted hill as well... It's all a bit of a horrid logjam, since half my infantry have been blocking the road sufficiently that I've only just got my artillery to bear on the cavalry melée, and poor David commanding the rear division hasn't broken out of column of march yet!

Not an auspicious début as British CO.

I'd love to go back and try again :D

For more pictures, and Jeff's description of events, see his Flickr album. Again, a huge thank you to Elliott, for hosting us and running the game, and everyone else for excellent company.

Friday, 12 January 2018

"Setting The Scene" book, accountability post for 12th Jan

Oddly quiet day, apart from showing Reuben round the building works and feeding the builders tea.

I have been mostly doing something I should have done a while ago, namely re-reading the two Dux Britanniarum books and making notes: had an awful moment of wondering whether I'd screwed something up in our campaign to my detriment, but sadly not :D I aim to spend a chunk of tomorrow making sure I have the rules from all three books for a Lord's advancement properly amalgamated.

Other than that, seems to have been a day for life-related admin (oh the joys of being technically unemployed).

Today's arrival, though?

Silver Whistle (Pat Smith)'s rather fabulous "Setting The Scene" book, on terrain building, specifically a winter table.

Gorgeous pictures, and I've always found his scenery work an inspiration - check out his SP/War of The Roses table. Recommended buy, definitely, with just one teensy criticism: given the amount of white space available on all the 103 pages, it might perhaps have been a kindness to those of us with failing or recovering eyesight to up the font size on the text a bit. But that's my only gripe on an otherwise absolutely beautiful book.

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Accountability post for 11th Jan

Probably a sign that I've been busy that all you're getting is an accountability post today.



  • Quite a long tidy-up pass on formatting. I know I kinda don't need to bother yet, but seeing what I have done neatly formatted to match the look of the rulebook and Raiders is somehow motivating;
  • Extended the 'Campaign Chronicles' section;
  • Completed first draft of one of the remaining Raid scenarios.
  • Booked us to take the infamous 'Dead's Army' game to RoBiN in Nottingham next month. (Which necessitated adding a bunch of stuff to the todo list including building the Warbases cricket pavilion...)
  • Placed an order with PE2 Collectables for some Warlord Home Front bits (one each Operation Sea Lion - Defenders of the Realm, Smith Gun, Northover Projector and Blacker Bombard). Some of these may or may not put in an appearance in Dead's Army.
It is freakin' 'uuuuuge.
  • Unpacked the Mythic Battles: Pantheon KS box to check contents. Unlike Neil's and Mike's, it all arrived in one 75 x 55 x 50 cm box. Now I just have to decide what the heck to do with it.

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Accountability post for 10th Jan

I'm making a policy of keeping this as a separate post when the regular day's post is a battle report or part of a series.


No Dux Brit progress today, barring a check on stuff to do with physical printing, due to...

  • Setting up a merchandise store for Peterborough Wargames Club members using (highly recommended in the UK - very little effort once you have suitable graphics, and they'll run a store for you without having to do that thing where you do the whole 'ok, who wants a shirt, what size?' herding cats thing before you can place a bulk order and someone inevitably asks for one the day after you put the order in....);
  • Building a website for our local Neighbourhood Council;
  • Meeples recording session.
Back to the Compendium tomorrow.

Setting up a blog: Part 2 - headers, footers and sidebars

Ok, so, you have a post. But it's looking kind of lonely by itself, and everyone else's blog has cool sidebars and stuff...

Right. Go to your blog's management page (click on the B in a square, top left if you're not there already), and click Layout.

You should see a bunch of boxes that contain things labelled 'gadgets' in something that looks like the rough layout of things on your main blog page. (Tip for this: pick a theme like 'Simple' or 'Awesome Inc' for starters, as it makes working with this much more obvious. Don't pick "Notable"!)

Lets go through some of these. All you need to do to make changes is click the little Edit link in the bottom right corner of the gadget's box.

  • The Favicon gadget just sets the icon that appears in your browser toolbar when you visit the site. All you need is a small logo, 100px square, and you just upload it.
  • The Header->Navbar gadget controls the Blogger navber across the top of your page - you can turn it off, or change its colours to match your blog.
  • The Header->Page Header gadget allows you to set a banner image, fix the title and change the description of your blog. 
Ignore the boxes with 'Add a gadget' in for now - we'll cover useful other gadgets next time.
  • In the Main section, you have the Blog Posts gadget - this allows you to configure things like the date format, how many posts or how many days of posts to display, what data you want to display about the post, etc. Again, it's all pretty self-explanatory and like everything else here, the beauty of it is it's really hard to break things!
  • Featured Post allows you to tag a post as being exactly that, if the theme supports it. You can make it the most recent or if, say, you have a welcome/about post you want to be always visible, you can make it that instead.
  • Popular Posts gadget - does what it says on the tin - one thing to be aware of is that you can define the time range over which 'popular' is measured, depending on whether you want a bias towards recent material. I have a very odd post that has an insane amount of hits (well over 20,000 and twice as much as the next nearest...) for no reason I can see, and I've tweaked that setting so it gets ignored as being too old.
Now we come to the sidebar:
  • The About Me gadget takes your 'about me' entry from your Google profile as your author bio. You may want to consider if you actually want to do this, especially if you use your Google account for multiple things and thus have a non-subject-specific bio! If you don't, but still want a bio in the sidebar, I'll show you how in the next post.
  • Blog Archive shows a list of posts by month, or week, or day - very handy for letting your users navigate through your posting history once you have one.
  • Labels: as you probably noticed last time, you can label a post with keywords, This just allows viewers to click on a keyword and find the posts that use it. Both this and the Blog Archive you might want to remove until you have enough posts for it not to be embarrassing. 
  • Report Abuse: link so viewers can do exactly that. Not configurable beyond having it there or not.
  • Pages gadget - you can create static pages in your blog - such as the Linnius Campaign one here. They're a useful way of keeping more permanent content handy, and this gadget lets you display a list.
  • Search this Blog, and Follow By Email. Do what they say on the tin.
Last, the footer.
  • Attribution gadget. If you do nothing else, go read this article and then edit this gadget so your blog has a copyright/attribution notice, and consider creating a copyright page. And remember to change the year every Jan 1 (like I forgot last year)!
And there you go. Pretty sure some of this was obvious, but I hope there was some useful insight here. Next time, adding new gadgets.

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Women in Dux Britanniarum

Busy on the Compendium today. Spent quite a bit of time thinking about a section heading, and nearly emailed a female friend who is also a gamer and early Mediaeval British historian, but I think, in the end, I'm happy with this:
It’s a matter of some scholarly debate as to the role of women in the society of Dux Britanniarum. Whether you choose to allow certain game roles to be filled by women is really up to you, but it seems to me that given the availability of a number of very nice sculpts for Saxon shield-maidens, for example, it would be a crying shame to pass up on them. Equally, the British can trace a legacy back to the likes of Cartimandua and Boudicca, for which there are also figures to be had (even in Roman armour). 
As such, I’ve made a conscious decision, after a fair amount of consideration, not to provide any actual rules differentiating the abilities and characteristics of the sexes in the Compendium. If you’re treating Dux Britanniarum purely as a wargame, it’s not going to matter at the level of abstraction the game models a warrior at, and if you’re immersed deeper in the game as a vehicle for telling a story? It’s your story, and the narrative and your perception of the setting is going to drive events far more than any rules I can come up with. 
My story has heroes and heroines. 

Accountability update for today, before I go rig for a band rehearsal:
  • Imported and formatted my terrain articles from the two Lardies specials
  • Wrote new section on writing and testing your own Raid scenarios
  • Finished above section on Women
  • Added rules for a Bannerman as a retainer
  • Tidied up contents page formatting, added another section/contents level
  • Started on various printable/copyable reference sheets
In non-Dux-related wargames stuff
  • Did a whole bunch of follow up stuff post club AGM (yes, I'm still chairman)
  • Fed the builders lots of tea.

Monday, 8 January 2018

Henry Hyde's Patreon

Definitely something to check out. Henry Hyde has started a Patreon campaign, in order that he can continue to spend time providing hobby-related content alongside other career options.

I've pledged, as I think Henry is a fabulous voice in and contributor to our hobby, and deserves our support.

As for me, on a semi-related tack, today's the first day of officially working at various hobby projects full time, which means today's the first accountability update. 

Herewith a screen grab of OmniFocus, to prove I've been planning the next steps of the Dux Britanniarum Compendium. (Of course, this doesn't tell you how complete it was before that! Can't spoil all the surprise.)

Wargames-related tasks completed today:
  • Club AGM prep (tonight!)
  • planned what happens next for the Compendium
  • tidied up some formatting standards
  • Imported a whole chapter into the Compendium, edited it and formatted it properly
  • had a chat with the folks
  • (Also first day with the builders here since Xmas, which is sort of wargame-y)
  • Blogged (well, duh!)

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Starting a blog: Part 1 - getting set up

I had a question from a reader (and actually, not for the first time) the other day, on the general "how" of getting a blog like this set up. It's not hard, but it can seem a bit daunting at first, so, in the interests of having the answer somewhere that can be saved for posterity, I thought I'd do it as a blog post - in fact, inevitably, this is going to be a series!

First up, why Blogger? The simple answer is, because most of the blogging wargamers are using it, and it gives you the chance to join the community.

With that said... go to and click on the 'Create Your Blog' button. It will prompt you to log in with a Google account - I'm assuming you have one, since most folks do: if not, you'll need to create one before you can use Blogger.

You'll then be prompted for a title for your blog and a domain name. The former can be whatever you choose, the latter will be <something>  As far as the <something> goes, it can be whatever you like as long as it's a) memorable, b) unique and c) only contains letters, numbers and dashes.

At this point you also get to pick a theme. This you can change later, so pick one that looks OK, and then click on 'Create Blog!'. Ignore the Google Domains prompt (they're after your money!) that follows.

There. You have a blog. That wasn't so hard!

You'll now be faced with the management screen - see right. The first thing you'll probably want to do is create a post, which is all in all pretty easy: hit New Post, give it a subject, start typing - c'mon, this is the easy bit, you wanted to create a blog so you must have something to say!

When you're done, hit Publish, and there you go. Your blog has content!

Next up, I'll cover adding fixed content such as sidebars etc, to your blog.

Saturday, 6 January 2018

A milestone

...and quite an interesting one. We had the 400th member in the FB IABSM group late yesterday. One lucky member won a £10 TFL voucher (I'll probably do a £25 for the 500th).

Quite an achievement for a group that's only been going for a year and a bit!

This blog (given my shocking lack of posts lately) is under 10K views short of 3/4 million, which is not bad, I suppose. Apologies for yesterdays missed post - I was engrossed redrawing the club logo, doing prep work for Monday's AGM and starting to plan what I'm doing over the next few weeks.

Hang on - milestone. (Even if not for this blog.). That means Kate!

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Battle Report - 29 Dec 2017 - IABSM "Beginning the Bulge"

The first of the two games I played in Minneapolis, organised by Jeff Knudsen for the Centurions group. Actually, it should come as no surprise to regulars to know that I didn't play it, but umpired it, having stuck the rulebook, blinds, markers, cards and microdice in my suitcase :D

Photos with thanks to Jeff at

The scenario pitted an American company in defence against a German attack, in some far flung corner of the Ardennes in winter '44. Snowy table, sadly, unavailable, (barring Photoshop trickery!).

Fitz (aided by Elliot and N (argh, blanking on names)) took the Germans, and Jeff and... hrm, I should have taken notes!... the Americans. The latter deployed two platoons across an obvious defensive hedge/wall/building line, holding a third in reserve back at the village. The Germans advanced across a wide front down both roads, one side with a platoon backed with a pair of StugIIIs, the other four PzIVs, while two full platoons pushed through the woods and downslope. Their pre-game stonk hit the obvious targets (farm and chateau), and caused a fair amount of shock.

The Americans retaliated with some 105mm battery fire, which blew a track off one of the Panzers and somewhat discomfited the other. The Axis advance took a fair amount of fire from the defensive line, but the key breakthrough came when, under MG, tank and mortar fire, one of the American sections in the farm was pinned, and a somewhat unintentional and lucky close assault drove them out.

The Germans then consolidated their attack, by which time frantic requests for support from the Americans had turned up a troop of Shermans including a '76, as well as revealing two 50cals on tripods and a pair of 57mm AT guns on a hill in back of the defensive line.

Cue derisory German comments about the efficacy of 57mms.

Cue a brewed up StuG.

The Germans ponder what happens next
The second StuG got brewed by the Shermans not long after, leaving an interesting position in which the Germans had hold of their initial objective, but the Americans were falling back to their command HQ, under cover from the Shermans, 57mms, and 50cals. It would have been interesting to see what happened next.

Much positive feedback - most of the group hadn't played IABSM before, and I think they enjoyed both the mechanics and the feel of the system.

Thanks again to Jeff and the Centurions, and The Source Comics and Games shop for hosting the game.

(mouseover the image)

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Secret Santa and other things

A big thank you to Roy for organising this year's gamers Secret Santa. Due to haring out of the country like a mad thing on Boxing Day morning, I've only just got round to catching up with things Christmas-related (there's still cake left! yay!), so I'm delighted to note that my recipient seems to have liked his gift, and also thank you to my Secret Santa for the Napoleon At War French cavalry blister.

Currently feeling a bit inspired for non-skirmish Napoleonics after the game with the ATF guys in the Twin Cities, so I think this year will be the year my N@W figures finally get painted; the Carabiners are lovely sculpts, and they'll go in the N@W "to be painted" box just as soon as I can get into the workshop to do so...

The latter is a small problem just at present, as... well...

...Tim's relaying the floor. And all my wargaming stuff is shut in the tiny cupboard/room (The Cabinet Of Temporal Insufficiency) on the far left end wall...

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

"Well, I'm back..."

..,and napped, and fed, and catching up with stuff before a proper night's sleep - my brain is very confused as to what TZ I'm in! It's also warmer here - about 75ºF warmer if you allow for the wind chill!

A huge thank you to Jeffrey Knudsen (of The War Artisan), Elliot James, and the rest of the guys from the Centurions Wargaming Group and ATF for hosting a couple of excellent games: photos and AARs to follow later in the week. I seem to have come away with some interesting sets of Grand Tactical Napoleonic rules for review, too.

More later when I'm properly awake.

Monday, 1 January 2018

Happy New Year

...from the Hyatt Place in downtown Minneapolis, where I am killing time till I can head for the airport and home.

Battle reports on a couple of games that happened while I was out here to follow, when I get back and fully awake, but for now.... a quick review of 2017 and plans for 2018.

Operation Get S**t Done progressed... well, a bit. I did make a reasonable attempt at not buying loads more stuff (barring a couple of big KS pledges): major purchases were SP2 forces for the Peninsula and needed buildings and scenery for the club IABSM campaign, and a Nights Watch force for the club Game of Thrones campaign.

The year was made a little fraught and interesting by Amazon deciding to shut LOVEFiLM down, and the ensuing work involved in making it probably the tidiest shutdown ever. I considered a number of options as regards continuing working for a different bit of the company, but in the end the lure of a chance to essentially take a sabbatical for a couple of months was too much to resist. So...

I'm essentially a full time wargamer and writer till, probably, Easter. Top of the list, obviously is to finish the Dux Britanniarum Compendium, followed by several other things. Also, to get back into the habit of blogging regularly, which will, I hope, include being publicly accountable for my time over Q1 of 2018. Given the number of people who very kindly describe this blog as inspiration, I clearly need to get off my duff and live up to that.

Additionally, I'm going to be trying much harder to avoid buying stuff I'll never get to play, and finishing off as much of the Cabinet Of Temporal Insufficiency (to quote Jeff Knusden) as I can. To this end, a bunch of the SP2 lead pile is already at the painters...

Catch you soon, folks!

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