Monday, 31 August 2009

RGMB - The History

Not a lot of people know this…….

This is a history up to date from my point of view, if you disagree or remember bits I forget then feel free to comment. I have omitted details to shorten it, as well as leaving out names. There are now few of us who were there at the very beginning, and those who were know who they are.

2005 - A New Start

Casting my mind back to ‘ye olden days’ I recall the club beginning in late 2005. Games Workshop had taken the decision to cut back on staffing costs, and this impacted in a very real way on the Tuesday night veterans gaming at GW Chester when it closed with seemingly only a couple of weeks notice. In fear of the light of Tuesday night war gaming being snuffed out a select three current club members raced round gathering email addresses and contacts on the last Tuesday with the intention of starting a club outside of the GW shop.

Several weeks later and, for better or for worse, the name ‘Royal Guild of Minted Boards’ had been coined. Stanley Palace had been booked for one night and one night only, and three 4ft by 4ft tables with limited scenery had been procured from a combination of B&Q, Ebay and personal collections. The initial aim was that each club member would have to pay a maximum of £3 per night to cover the rental cost, and any extra could be used to buy scenery etc. That first night we had been 8 bodies in the building (five current club members amongst them - I know who they were, anyone else?) and we made a loss. The founding three decided to give it one more shot, and if that failed and nobody came maybe it was best forgotten.

One week later and the barely hoped for miracle happened - at least eleven paying participants in the building, and rumour of more to come, we made enough money to survive and the RGMB continued. The following week it was the same success story; more arrived and times were good. More money was poured into battlefields and scenery to cope with the demand, a debt that was only repaid to the main financial donator in full in early 2009, and the club started to live a little more than week-by-week. Our base remained Stanley Palace due to its handy location and excellent rates, and we occupied the upper floor (gallery and main room), storing our scenery and boards at the property.

2006 - Expansion

Up to this point Warhammer had been the system of choice, a carry-over of a fad from GW Chester, but now 40k took over big time as hordes of players streamed in to the club. The number of battlefields available grew, and the first pasting tables (the white-topped, three-legged ones) were purchased. The first (and, as it happens only so far) RGMB Warhammer 40,000 tournament took place in early-mid 2006. Over twenty players fought in the two group stages that took place over a couple of months, with Ken Reavy cantering to victory with his Ravenwing army (a result that was rarely in doubt despite the boasting and hopes of others). With that over the next thing was a 40k map campaign, which floundered a few weeks later due to 40k overload, and the eventual emergence of the next superpower: Bloodbowl.

If 40k had been a success in terms of numbers, then Bloodbowl was an excellent follow-up act, with more than twenty players, including a number of new faces, joining in for the first RGMB Bloodbowl Tournament in late 2006. It rampaged through to the quarterfinal stage, before falling flatter than road kill when one organiser vanished (never to be seen again….) and the other lost the entire competitions rosters and disappeared into the nemesis of organised campaigns - Warhammer Quest.

Following a sustained period of ‘Questing’, Necromunda became the next big thing, and also saw massive popularity, with virtually every club member taking part at some point (an average of 17-18 members were now attending every evening). It stayed the course, and ended at the turn of the year with the Delaque gangs on top of the tree despite numerous efforts to know them off, and sparking the ingenious spin-off ash-wastes races.

2007 - A Year of Consolidation

2007 saw two major campaigns as the club membership levelled out. Few new players were joining, but most current members remained regular visitors, and we saw an average of 14-17 players every Tuesday with it never dropping below the 11 mark. Several times it was questioned whether we should relocate to a building with more space when numbers rose even higher (over 25 two nights running caused near panic in some quarters), but each time it was temporary and Stanley Palace remained perfect for our size.

The first of the years two campaigns was a controversial 40k campaign that split the 16 or so players into two sides in a battle across a devastated cityscape partly using GW latest expansion - Cities of Death. It was at this point that most of the GW plastic cityfight scenery arrived, and a number of club members helped build it, including the construction of the infamous ‘bus shelter’. As with most campaigns the followers tailed off at the end, and, despite a spirited attempt by the imperial guard players to create a third faction, the self-proclaimed ‘Forces of Good’ (Space Marines) triumphed over the ‘Axis of Evil’ (Chaos and imperial guard, lead by a dark elder lord of all things). Despite a low-key ending it had still attracted nearly 20 players to the flag.

The second campaign was the 2007 edition of the RGMB Bloodbowl Tournament, which attracted fewer players than the previous year, but still had a following of 17 registered teams and made it past the group stages. After some very tight quarter and semi-finals the final was contested by skaven and dark elves (Average Joes Vs Khaines Killers), with the elves coming out on top. The traditional Spike Cup one day tournament was held at GW Chester as part of this campaign.

This could be considered to be the last big campaign to date, with various other games systems taking hold, and the attentions of the club members split, never to fully reunite. Inquisitor and other roleplaying games in particular were successful, while Lord Of The Rings, Warhammer and 40k were all regulars.

On exception to this rule was the huge tank battle in October 2007, which was the precursor to the 40k Ravenna campaign in 2008, and dominated an evening at the club. The initial expectation of approximately 4 players with 20-30 tanks snowballed to ten players with 117 vehicles appearing in the space of 30 minutes, and took up a table space of 6ft by 16ft! In the end the Rebels claimed victory, by 31 to 17 vehicles destroyed.

2008 - The year of campaigns and tournaments

In early 2008 we were twice visited by several members of the ‘Liverpool Gaming Guild’ wargames club (from GW Liverpool), who managed to make us look like right berks on our own patch, beating us 29-17 first time round, and 4-3 the second, not our finest hour but at least it forged some links across the Mersey. Maybe its time for a rematch?

In early-mid 2008 the gaming club website finally gained an identity and a number of useful features courtesy of its patron Chris Rea, who had the fortune/misfortune to move to the Telford area soon after. With the appearance of the website came the club forums in May 2008, and, although the site itself is now stagnant due to a lack of investment of time, the forums continue to thrive. May 2008 also saw the RGMB 40k Doubles Tournament held at our spiritual home of Stanley Palace, eight teams of two came and played, with the following results:
Best Painted - Team Bellis
Most Sporting - Aidan Holman & Neil McCue
Best Generals - Tony & Andy (Liverpool Gaming Guild)
Overall Champions - Jason & Martin

The ‘Ravenna Campaign’, a 40k map campaign, vied to make a name for itself as a big campaign, attracted in fifteen players at its height, and going out was a bang in a 8,000pt apocalypse battle. Overall it must be noted that the Orks of Warboss Gor (and his ‘ead-hunters) were victorious, with the mechanised Salusan 2nd coming second (ironically), and the ‘United Nation of Necrons’ in third. Special mention goes to the ‘Alliance of Convenience’, a cobbled together force of Imperial Guard, Space Wolves and Space marines, who spent every week desperately fighting off total annihilation, before climbing from the bottom of the heap in the final week.

Of the other varying games played in 2008 a Warhammer campaign for a lost isle stands out at this point - the argument over Queen Bess’s Lawnmower lasted a substantial number of weeks, dragging in participants from as far away as Anglesey!

A new club committee was also chosen from those foolish enough to volunteer, and remains the holders of the power today - our gallant leaders are currently:
Chris Fry (Chairman)
Alan Clarke
Neil McCue (Treasurer)
Jason Fox (GW Liaison)
Chris Edwards - or Mr Crish
Richard Andrews - me!

A Revolution

In mid-2008 a revolution of sorts occurred when a number of Warmachine players transferred in, mostly from the direction of the Deeside Defenders. Within a few weeks they had coerced several of the clubs ’old guard’ and amassed a following which numbered in double-figures, claiming the gallery area of ’The Palace’ as their own to play 4ft by 4ft games upon the long table there. This was the first big break from the domination of Games Workshop games, and was followed in early-mid 2009 by the appearance of a small Flames Of War following, encouraged by a campaign based around Leningrad.

The end of the 2008 campaign year was notable for the rehash of Queen Bess’s Lawnmower, this time in 40k style, which ran with some popularity for six weeks before coming to a suitable end in a ‘Good Vs Evil’ battle which included 15 players. Good pulled off a convincing win, crushing Khornate warriors, Orks and a Necron pylon on the way.

2009 A Year of Diversity

As we entered 2009 the membership of the club remained high in numbers (a respectable average of 13-16 every night), but the choice of games system was noticeably more varied. A Flames of War campaign (early to mid 2009) attracted a number of followers, while the initial Warmachine rush settled down to 5-6 players most Tuesdays. Warhammer 40k was the third main draw, while games of War Of The Ring, Bloodbowl and Warhammer were not uncommon. Other campaigns, however, were rare, with possibly only a Warmachine one occurring (I am unsure of this due to my lack of warmachine knowledge and having my head buried in a FOW book at the time!).

The WPS (Warhammer Players Society) tournament in Liverpool in May 2009 attracted quite a lot of interest, and eight club members participated with mixed levels of success in Bloodbowl, war machine, 40k and Warhammer.

In July 2009 an unusual situation developed - part of the ceiling of Stanley Palace’s gallery collapsed, and we were pushed downstairs to the smaller, more cramped dining room. This has coincided with a drop of club numbers, particularly the Warmachine players, and a continued diversity in the number of games systems being played (currently Inquisitor reigns once more, Warmachine, 40k, WoW card games and historical wargames).


And so the story reaches today; 31st August 2009. Rumour tells of a September resurgence of Warmachine, and fact maintains that Inquisitor will run for weeks to come. Historical wargames remain alive in Warhammer Ancients form, and a campaign for Flames of War is just appearing on the radar. And all the time below the surface 40k bides its time to resurface and take the club by storm once more. Of Warhammer, Bloodbowl and Lord of the Rings however there is little or no sign.

Let us hope that this drop in club numbers and lack of campaigns and tournaments is but a temporary blip, and we will return stronger…….

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Warr comes to merrie Englande….

My English Civil War troops were engaged in their first ever battle yesterday at the RGMB, am I’m pleased to say came away with victory in their metal grasp!

A swiftly organised game of Warhammer English Civil War took the place of the planned Warhammer Fantasy battle, as Ian’s Coventer (Scottish Government) troops fought the combined English forces of my Royalists (hurrah!) and Aidan’s Parliamentarians (boo hiss). It was a 1,300pts a side, with the Royalist and traitor alliance contributing equal numbers, and we played a Pitched Battle scenario to give us an introduction to the rules.
A brief overview of the battle:

The Scottish managed to setup in a ‘Dutch’ formation, of two regiments in the centre, and one in reserve behind them (one regiment = 1 pike unit and 2 sleeves of shot), while a strong cavalry presences (lancers and trotters) was maintained on the flanks. The English also set up their regiments of foot in the centre with musketeers to the fore, but choose to deploy their two units of cavalry on the left hand side, and used a skirmishing ‘Forlorn Hope’ to try and cover the right from marauding lancers.

Royalist musketeers.

The initial clashes were loud, but saw few casualties, as the musketeers of both sides opened up, and both the English and the Scottish cavalry advanced to fire at point blank range with their pistols into each other. An early clash of cavalry on the English left saw the Scots come off significantly worse and the whole of their right flank collapsed as the horsemen disappeared back over the horizon. The roundhead horsemen headed off to run down the Scots ‘saker’ artillery piece (which managed three shots - two over’s and a misfire!), while the cavaliers turned inward towards the centre.

Both sides obviously decided that a decisive blow against the oppositions foote was the way to achieve victory, and advanced down the centre, hemmed in by buildings on the English right, and trees on their left. The remaining Scottish horsemen - lancers by trade - began a cat and mouse game with a small unit of veteran Parliamentarian pike, and the Forlorn Hope down the English right beyond the buildings - although which was which nobody was really sure!
The centre did produce the decisive blow in a ‘push of pike‘, and it was dealt by the English; one unit of pike seeing off highlanders, musketeers and longbow-armed infantry - four units in all - before making for the Scots board edge and Edinburgh! The other two units of pike also found success easy to come by and the Scots reeled back across the field. In a sideshow on the English right the remaining Scots horse finally ran out of ammunition and summoned the courage to charge the obstructive Parliamentarian pike unit, coming off substantially worse and fleeing from the field.

With the enemy destroyed or routing it looked a solid English victory, until a small reverse for a unit of Parliamentarian pike in the centre caused panic to leap down the line! Two, previously victorious, units of pike ran, along with the Royalist Colonel General and his gallopers. The English musketeers stood firm however, and the battle was won.

Captain Blackadder & his Parliamentarian troops.

Analysis and first impressions of the Rules:

My first impression is easy to recall - damn you get a lot of men for 1,300pts! The Scots army initially seemed to dwarf the English, although upon closer inspection there were a similar number of men on the field, the Scots definitely had the edge in cavalry number though at approximately 30 men to 16. The English fielded approximately 110 foote, the Scots a similar number, although more missile troops. In hindsight a bigger table than the 6ft by 4ft we used would be a better idea should the size of battles increase, certainly the deployment in regiments left us with not enough space for all of our troops.
Down to the game mechanics - the Warhammer basis for the rules gave the English side a definitely advantage because both myself and Aidan regularly play Warhammer Fantasy, enabling us to use our experience to chose our tactics and pick our fights and angles. This was even more important in a game where all the participants are of similar quality - no immune to psychology or terminator-armoured nutcases here! The biggest change was in terms of panic; which can spread like wildfire down the lines. Initial success can send the enemy reeling backwards en-masse, and the English victories in combat meant we did not have to have this horror visited upon us until the final turn, but that the Scots struggled to recover from the first moment of the ‘push of pike’ contest. The equality of the different sides also helps to bring tactics to the front, rather than relying on un-killable characters and magic spells which takes some of the skill out of Fantasy.

In terms of unit types the musketeers were fairly ineffective, and may be best saved until the enemy is less than 12” away for two-ranked salvo fire and maximum effect. The pike units were excellent for the English, even when they had to charge instead of stand, and cavalry stands no chance of defeating them in a straight fight. Its worth noting though that had the Scots hit them in the flank I think it would have been a massively different story. In cavalry terms both sides did more fighting with their pistols than their swords, and it remains to be seen if they would more effective charging the enemy flanks. Artillery - just the one gun on the field, and the Scots ‘saker’ did not cover itself with glory, however the fear of grapeshot kept the enemy cavalry far from it.

Enjoyment level - I did really like the game, although I will note that it always helps to win, even if most of your army is doing a runner at the end! Rules like the limiting of powder, the massed panic and the inability of infantry to charge cavalry give the game a ECW taste rather than a fantasy one, and although I’m sure some die-hards historical fans will argue that they are not realistic enough I enjoyed the effect given, and it definitely continues to give me the historical bug. However, I do think its only when you play on the losing side and still enjoy yourself that you know how truly entertaining a game is, so I’ll have to wait for that, rumours of a campaign are afoot in the distant future……..

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Inquisitor - First Impressions

Last night I mostly played inquisitor for the first ever time; although possibly played is a strong word given my level of input into the drama unfolding outside a space port, which was somewhere near a planet that I couldn’t pronounce let alone spell (a bit like trying to campaign in Russia in fact so I should have felt at home!). Inquisitor in 40k scale has been a big hit at the RGMB club over the past few years, and there’s always a constant stream of laughter and tall tales coming out the each game which makes you wish you had taken part. However, after such a big build-up, I was a bit disappointed when I took part.

Now to be absolutely clear about this: The storyline was fine, the games master and his delivery/direction of the action was good, and all my comrades in arms were the ones I would have picked to play a game of Inquisitor with. The reason I was disappointed was actually down to the number of people playing the game.

Having played Warhammer Quest for many years I should have remembered the problem that a large number of participants brings. Because the type of game encourages free thought and speech in deciding what each individual will do next, then the more players there are will increase the length of the turn significantly. Four tends to be the magic number which gets everything flowing smoothly in Quest, and I think that may also do well in Inquisitor. As it was there were eventually seven players, and as is to be expected a few were left a bit in the shadows and unable to make a telling input on the game. I certainly struggled to work out at times what exactly was going on, and felt that not a lot of what I did as my character changed or drove what the group did.

The slow speed at which it all progressed meant that it took until 9pm (2.5hrs) for models to be placed on a board, but due to the exploring being done there wasn’t enough time for any actual fighting to be done. Not being part of the exploring I decided to head off once my lift arrived at 9:45pm feeling a certain level of jealousy towards those playing 40k and Warhammer downstairs!

What actually happened from my point of view:

I chose a character called Maximus Gittus (nickname - ’The Bear’); a storm trooper by trade armed with the traditional hellgun, rangefinder, laspistol, grenade compliment and carapace armour. All of which combined to make me very slow, although never really got the chance to test that.

I was initially joined by two imperial guardsmen (Red & Neil), a sniper complete with batty/raven thing (Malc), a gunslinger (Alan), and an Arbite with a cyber doggy (Beth). We were travelling towards a planet which had been subject to a rebellion, I think we were advancing ahead of an imperial fleet but I‘m not sure on that.

Upon arrival we decided to dock with the space station in orbit above the planet which was obviously on fire and clearly didn’t anything to do with us - all the computers were down and we had no way of docking with them. Eventually we made our way down to the space port of the planet, and after lengthy negotiations with the Arbite defenders managed to land where we gained some intelligence on the rebellion (some sort of inciting the masses - “grab your pitchforks and follow me!” job).

Our Inquisitor (Mr Crish - aka the man who pay the wages) having joined us, he, the Arbite and the gunslinger went off on bikes and a Rhino to check out some wreckage that might hold a clue as too how the rebellion started, while the sniper organised the Arbites into a defence against a predicted incoming rebel assault, while me and the two guardsmen stood around like lemons waiting for some action (not strictly true, the other two got to hover in a valkyrie armed with heavy stubbers). With action not appearing to be imminent my character slopped off to find the nearest bar.

Looking back I originally thought we were on our way to meet another Inquisitor who had a potentially important artefact but we seemed to get drawn into a civil war, I could be wrong on this though.

First impressions of the game then:

The level of detail of the world which is created around the players was very impressive, as is the variety of things you are able to do in this world - both silly and sensible. Intelligent thought is generally rewarded and the games master did a good job of guiding the group to roughly where they needed to be with plausible reasons rather than just saying ’no, you can’t do that’. Having looked at the rules for the actual fighting they look enjoyable and realistic, and I think my storm trooper would do quite well, although I also got the impression that the lack of a psyker or healer would have cost us at some point once combat arrived.

Final conclusion:

Inquisitor is a fun game which plenty of scope for imagination and independent thought, as well as blowing the crap out of anyone that gets in the way. I will play it again if I get a chance to, but preferably in a smaller group where the action should move quicker. This would also mean I would have much more of an idea of what was happening and have an actual effect on what was happening around my character, rather than being doomed to wait for the inevitable gunfight to erupt, which last night it sadly didn’t.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

On the Painting Table

Currently on the painting table is a variety of different models for different game systems in different sizes - this includes a 28mm heroic-sized WW2 German from renegade miniatures who I’m hoping will be the start for a multiplayer game of the ‘Dirty Dozen’, or ‘Dads Army’. There is also the Flames Of War 88mm guns I keep meaning to make, some 15mm Vikings (which need a paintjob only slightly less than they need completely rebased), and several Romans of the XIV Legion. Hopefully I will actually get some of them painted…..

In the garage meanwhile work has finally started on the new club hills and trees (4 hills, 75 trees) after the remaining hills were delivered, as well as most of the 40mm bases.

Other ideas in the pipeline include the resurrection of the building of Average Joes home stadium for Bloodbowl, but with the twist that it can also be used for gladiatorial games so needs to resemble a Roman coliseum, lots of work to be done on the creative ideas there!

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Why do I persist with Skaven?

Following a debate on the RGMB forums I feel it necessary to defend my reasons for my continued use of the furry ones - Average Joes - in Bloodbowl while others are chopping and changing quicker than the chairman of Newcastle.

The Arguments Against
The arguments against were logical and fair - that it can be boring for both the user and the opposition to see the same team year-in, year-out in each tournament, and that this can give each competition a same-as-last-time quality. There is also the (possibly justified) fear that if I continue my use of Average Joes they would continue to dominate the finals of competitions along with their main rivals; the Hashut Hackers (Chaos Dwarfs - Alan), and Khaines Killers (Dark Elves - Alan also!).

The Defence - Game play
In my eyes Bloodbowl teams breakdown into three categories; Hitty Teams that block their way to 1-0 results over the oppositions unconscious bodies (e.g. Chaos Warriors and Orcs), Passing Teams that use their manoeuvrability to avoid the blocks and run in multiple touchdowns through passing and dodging (e.g. Skaven and Elves), and Comedy Teams who have little chance of winning and play just in the hope of making monkeys out of the opposition (snotlings & Halflings).

Out of these my preference is for the passing teams. The Hitty teams spend the whole game trying to bulldoze their ways through the opposition line, and it is tedious and boring (especially for the opposition who rarely see the ball). The Comedy teams are fun and entertaining, but mostly they are one-trick ponys (see the Goblin-long-bomb tactic!) who rarely win unless the opposition is having a very poor day. Onto Passing teams who are very entertaining and capable of winning games, and at this point it must be noted that Bloodbowl is a game in that I can actually win at regularly, and its nice to have that feeling after the constant Warhammer, Warhammer 40k, FOW and other debacles!

My skaven passing and dodging game leaves many grasping at shadows trying to man-mark (or is that rat-mark??) the gutter runners and block out the storm vermin and line rats. The sheer number of opportunities that a skaven team can create to score ensures it is rarely possibly to shut down all avenues completely. Then there is the potential to score for virtually anywhere on the field as long as a gutter runner is in the opposition half. This must be my favourite part of being a skaven coach - never being out of the game at 1-0 down until the last rat is battered and the final whistle goes! It prevents me getting bored, and I enjoy the “how the hell did that happen??” look on the opposing players face. There are really only two races that can pull off such a passing game (elves are the other of course, stinky pointy-eared gits….).

My other reason for liking the style of play my skaven produce relates to one of my other hobbies - football. Although I’m not an American Football fan, I do like proper football (but not the pathetic diving often seen in the premier league!), and for me Bloodbowl combines these two hobbies nicely; fantasy football if you like. And being a Liverpool fan I like my teams to pass the ball around and score spectacular touchdowns, and actually play using the ball rather than their fists/claws - ‘heretic!’ you may well cry but I care not!

The Defence - Background
Having gone on for a time about how I like the skaven game play aspect, the real main reason I stick with them is because of their history and background, ‘fluff’ if you like. And this does not revolve around the history of the skaven race, but around the history the team has built up over time.

A Brief History:
Average Joes were formed in 2006 when Bloodbowl first took the RGMB by storm. The first tournament included approximately 20 players who played in four groups to finish top/second of their group to qualify for the quarter finals. Despite having not played a competitive game before the tournament began, ‘Joes did not lose a single game on their way to the quarters. Sadly the ‘snotling fiasco’ (failure of the tournament organisers to see it through to the end) robbed them of the chance to appear.

A year later, 2007, they would defeat such greats as ’Morks Marauders’ to go all the way to the final, only to lose to their great rivals; ‘Khaines Killers‘, 3-1 in a 17-team tournament. They were also a millimetre from an appearance in the ’07 Spike Cup Final, which the ‘Talabheim Tornados’ won, and competed in the final of the only Dungeon Bowl tournament yet played - losing 1-0 to the ‘Orcy Splat Bashers’.

In 2008 they once again went close to the title. It was a much weaker tournament, with only 12 teams taking part, and several of the big names from the previous year missing; notably absentees were ‘Morks Marauders’, the ‘Middenheim 49ers’, the ’Skull Smashers’ and the ’Talabheim Tornados’, while the Hashut Hackers returned at the expense of Khaines Killers (who were on tour in Lustria apparently). A rocky path through to the quarter finals saw them drawn against the only team seemingly capable of confidently defeating the skaven, and sure enough the chaos dwarfs of the ‘Hashut Hackers’ pulled off a 3-1 victory to leave the Average Joes the also-rans of the RGMB Bloodbowl scene once more.

The Survivors:
This leaves Average Joes as one of a handful of teams that are still playing three years on from the beginning of Bloodbowl at the RGMB. The only teams to claim even close to that much background and history are the Hashut Hackers, the Marianburg Mashers, the Talabheim Tornado’s and the Skull Smashers. However, ’Joes are the ONLY team to have played in all three seasons, although, despite the dissent against their apparent success, they have never won a trophy despite appearing in two cup finals and two quarter finals.

The point of spelling out the background is that they are one of the most recognised teams at the RGMB, down to the point where some of their opponents can probably name some of the key players! They have a proper history and background in the way football clubs do, and in a way that only playing so many games and seasons can give. They have star players and main rivals, and pedigree in each competition, as well as being founding members of the original RGMB Bloodbowl competition. All this gives the tournaments flavour and background, with grudge matches creeping in, and phrases like ’the team to beat’ appearing.

If Average Joes were a football team they would be Liverpool - living on past glories and trying to win by passing the opposition to death, full of history - and they would play the new teams of the world, the Chelsea’s - the upstarts with no history trying to batter their way to the top and victory.

The only thing they are lacking is their own stadium, and with my current interest in the W-romans I am rather tempted to look into building them their very own coliseum - they are one of the biggest, and most well-established teams, and they deserve it!

Thursday, 6 August 2009

W-romans! Part Two - The background and first paint

Being a historical army means that I need a rough background for where it comes from, and what its doing there, plus the models have to be painted in at least some of the right colours. This decision was made easy by my trip to Wroxeter because as part of their events for that day they had a member of a re-enactment group dressed as a legionary! A picture and a few questions later and I had picked my background; the XIV Legion Gemina - Legio quarta decima Gemina.

The XIV Legion was one of the units used in the Roman invasion of Britain in AD43, and was subsequently based, among other places, in Wroxeter and then Deva (Chester). It was sent to eliminate the threat of the druids on Anglesey in AD60, before rushing back to the midlands in time to help defeat Boudica at the Battle of Watling Street near Wroxeter. In AD68 it returned to the continent to be stationed in Gaul, and by AD106 was in the east fighting the Dacians.

From a war gaming point of view this leaves it free to fight Gauls, Brits, Dacians and the Germanic people. The uniform is also handy because I was dreading having to paint massed hordes of the traditional Roman red - although it looks good when its well done I’ve never mastered it, which is why my armies tent to be darker colours! To my joy it would appear that a royal blue is the colour of choice for the XIV Legion, and below are my first two attempts at painting some legionaries, and the re-enactor at Wroxeter for a comparison. More updates when I have time/energy.

Sunday, 2 August 2009


I’ve always had an interest in the Roman Empire, and the period where they dominated the stage in Europe and Africa, and fought against such opponents as the Carthaginian Elephants, and the Germanic hordes. I’ve also always liked the imagery of the Roman Legions outnumbered and marching en-masse towards the enemy, and then proceeding to unstoppably chew through them (watching ‘Gladiator’ numerous times helped). Many, many nations and tribes fell (the majority of the Brits, the Greeks, and the Gaul’s to name but three) before the rest worked out that a straight punch-up was liable to bring only defeat, while a combination of guerrilla war, massed horse-archers and mobile warfare would gradually grind the legions down (the Huns and the Persians spring to mind).

A Bit Like Warhammer…..
As an army the Roman Legions are a bit like Chaos Warriors - not that many of them but tough buggers to take down when they group together. A Roman force typically consists of massed infantry behind very broad shields and a very limited number of auxiliary cavalry (it would appear that Italians were afraid of horses so got the rest of Europe to do their riding for them). They advance until they contact the enemy, and then use superior battle tactics to wear them down - working as a unit rather than an individual.

A New Army
A few years ago, following a trip to Hardknott Roman Fort in the Lake District, I was filled with enthusiasm for the period, and decided I would collect a Roman army and then wait for an opponent to appear, and failing that I would use them as a substitute for something in Warhammer. I discovered the growing wonder that is Warlord games ( and their new 28mm plastic Romans and ordered a box plus the flat plastic bases. Incredibly you get 30 plastic models to a box for a measly £17 (although you have to buy the bases separately but they are also very reasonable), and upon their arrival I made and based all 30. And then stopped. A lack of opponents was a concern, but it was mostly that I was too lazy to paint them at the time, and too poor to buy more.

Wasting away
A couple of brief flashes of hope (and 3+ years) later they are still unpainted and without an enemy (undefeated so far I suppose!). My regular opponent, Mr Holman, justifiably refuses to pit his growing Arthurian force against them on realism grounds, and the only Warhammer Ancients clashes at the RGMB club so far have taken place in 15mm form (and my pathetic Vikings definitely came off worse against the Norman menace).

Fast forward to today and I have rediscovered my interest in the Romans! A trip to Wroxeter Roman City (known as Viroconium Cornoviorum in Roman times) in Shropshire for the fresh air, exercise and curiosity was enough to kick-start a need to revive my fledgling Roman army and begin additions and a search for some opponents to grind into dust! Warlord games are once again partly to blame for this enthusiasm with their new ‘Dromedarii’ (camel riders) unit which look amazing!

I’m off to find a suitable Roman Legion and paint a few of my troops in those colours to get the ball rolling, should this stall then no more will be heard, should this succeed then pictures and calls for the enemy to come forth will resound!

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Average Joes - An Introduction

A quick introduction to my Bloodbowl team - Average Joes! As you can see from the picture below they are mostly rats, with the only human component (the coach: Lord Flash) missing from the photo.

Formed in 2006 they have been highly successful apart from the actual winning of trophies.

RGMB Blood bowl Tournament - Two quarterfinalists and one cup final appearence in three attempts. Having gone the whole of the first tournament (2006) undefeated, they were prevented from actually appearing in the quarterfinal by the infamous snotling drug fiasco. The 2007 season was a similar story with progression to the cup final rarely in doubt, but with several heavy defeats on the way to meeting archrivals ‘Khaines Killers’. Sadly that contest ended in a solid defeat after their rat ogre messed up big time. The 2008 season saw another appearence in a quarterfinal, only to again suffer defeat at the hands of the 'Killers'. The 2009 seasons has yet to materialise…….

RGMB Spike Cup Tournament - Having missed out on the 2006 season they appeared in the 2007 one-day tournament, and came third, just missing out on a cup final appearance to the ‘Talabheim Tornados’ who went on to win competition.

RGMB Dungeon Bowl - Finalists in 2007. One of only four teams to compete, they reached the finals at the expense of the Orc ‘Skull Smashers’, only to be defeated by the ‘Orcy Splat Bashers’ ( lead by Coach Chris ’The Cage’ Fazey) 1-0.

The Team & their Tactics:
Being a Skaven team means lots of running, throwing and passing with the ball, and less hitting things that can hit back harder. Pride of place goes to my three gutter runners; Pepper Brooks, Cotton McKnight & The Rat, who score more touchdowns between them a season than most teams manage in their entire existence. The two storm vermin add some bite, while ’Murdoch’, the thrower, provides ammunition for the breakaway plays. The linerats fill the glorious role of cannon fodder, while the rat ogre (pictured here just before the 2007 quarter final and it unfortunately demise to ’friendly fire’) adds an element of aggression that doesn’t fit in with the teams style of play but can break open some of the stronger sides.

Main Rivals:
Khaines Killers & the Talabheim Tornado’s.

Preferred Opponents:
Human teams and other Skaven sides for the fluidity of the game, and snotling and goblin teams for a chance to play someone smaller!

Feared Opponents:
Any team that relies upon strength and fighting to win games; mainly the numerous Orc teams, and lesser-spotted Chaos Dwarfs, but also Chaos Warriors.

Our mortal enemies; Khaines Killers before the 2007 cup final.