25 May 2018

Border Reivers - 28mm

A couple of years ago I bought some 28mm Border Reivers from Alan at Hoka Hey - partly because they were nice figures, and partly because he's simply such a nice guy as well that I felt it only right to give him some of my hard-earned!

The figures have sat languishing in the "to be painted" pile for far too long, so I recently managed to give them a fairly quick and dirty paint job to get them table-ready - nothing special, but much better than bare metal.

I'm actually not sure what they will be or what I got them to be - probably the closest thing they can be used for is to appear as some sort of "Brigands and Coutiliers" or "Hobilars" or something from a late Medieval English army in ADLG, as even though some of them have pistols, with just 6 mounted and 6 (matching) infantry they are still a very long way short of being a 28mm FoG unit.








 


The figures are the "Broken Men" pack from Timeline / Hoka Hey - Alan sells several similar sets of "families" of men.

Perhaps one day Saga will end up reaching into this era and they will make the heart of a great warband !

22 May 2018

Myceneans

I bought a Mycenean (and Assyrian) army earlier this year in the Museum Miniatures sale (25% off every January!), and after spraying most of them in a flesh-coloured undercoat I finally got round to doing a couple of test bases to see how the planned colour scheme works out. 

With flesh undercoat they are very quick to paint - so they could all be on the table very soon.









I'm a big fan of Museum for the Biblical period, as the slightly over-stylized look and limited number of poses seems to work really well in this theme.

20 May 2018

Take The ADLG Survey

Following on from an earlier blog post about "Who's Playing What" Ancients set in the UK Competition circuit, Martin from Vexillia has set up a short survey on his website to add a bit more depth to the why's and wherefores of the popularity of L'Art de la Guerre right now - so if you are an ADLG player why not join in and take part?

Martin has a proper real-world background in consumer research, so he can cook up a mean survey - and a short one as well, which is always good. Its only about a dozen questions asking :

  • Why you play ADLG and how often.
  • What you think about the rule book.
  • Your thoughts on playing the game.
  • Your overall impressions.

It is intended for those in the UK but if you're elsewhere and want to join in go ahead. 


18 May 2018

Saga - > ADLG, the Light Foot Sabot Basing Trick

With a mostly-plastic Gripping Beast 25mm Arab army in the planning phases, I've been toying with what to do with my 25mm Saga Arab army.

After dithering about rebasing them all into an ADLG force, the new edition of Saga persuaded me to keep them as a Saga army and duplicate quite a few of the figures for the new ADLG army - after all, plastic figures are pretty cheap and paint up easily too.

But, even so, having so many duplicates is still a little irritation, so I have been casting around for some 60x30mm sabot bases to at least get dual-use out of some of the "based on a new, magentizable 2p piece" Saga figures to use them as Light Foot in ADLG as well.

After emailing Warbases they pointed me to the ideal thing, a "2x1 Regiment Tray (2p)" which was hidden away on their site and listed without dimensions (erm...why do that for rectangular bases?)


And here they are, together with Rare Earth magnets (the bases come with pre-drilled holes for them) to hold the figures in place, and some sand/wood stain/drybrush & static grass to match the rest of my basing scheme.


These are the rather wonderful Perry Miniatures metal Naffatun figures (much nicer than the GB or Footsore ones I think, but they do come in a 6-pack which is quite a few more than you need..)


You can see just how strong the rare earth magnet is, as I'm able to hold them up by just one figure (but shaking them around is probably out...). For plastic figures like the GB bowmen and javelin-armed infantry I will use for other Arab Light Foot they will be even better.

Having ordered these I'm now considering whether a similar 60mm x 60mm base would work for holding 4 infantry as a "Javelinmen" unit in ADLG - perhaps I should have thought of that sooner and saved on postage!

13 May 2018

Nikephorian 15mm Cavalry Conversion

Inspired by the rather lovely Nikephorian armies which were on display in Patras, and realising that I have far too many early-ish Byzantine cavalry to ever use in one army I was recently inspired to convert some of them to later Nikephorian Byzantines.

Or, to be more accurate, I;
  • sliced off the Essex Thematic (?) Byzantine Cavalrymen's small round shields with a scalpel, 
  • replaced the too-thin, too-bendy Essex lancers with cheap sewing pins bought from eBay while I was at it
  • cadged some kite and heater shields from a clubmate and glued them onto the now-sliced-off bits on the figures bodies.
After a bit of a go at painting overly-complicated shield patterns copied badly from other websites later, here you go - 6 units of Nikephorian Byzantine Lance & Bow armed Heavy Cavalry ready for the table!


The unit with the General in the centre has brass rod for its spears - I then realised that they are clearly just too thick for these chaps though, so I did the rest with cut-off sewing pins .








They won't win any awards, but not too shabby for a bit of recycling methinks.

On a similar basis, I also re-painted the shields on some almost-never-used Skoutatoi and glued the bases together to make ADLG units. Here's the slightly less impressive result.



The Icon standard is just downloaded off a Google search for Byzantine Icons, printed out and stuck on.



Maybe an army to use at Cry Havoc later this summer? 

9 May 2018

Who's Playing What - the 2018 update


If "once a year" can possible be counted as "fast", here is my annually updated "fast becoming a thing" analysis of the relative popularity of various "competition" Ancients sets in the UK taken as a snapshot right now.

For those of you who remember this stuff from last year (and the year before) the key thing is that this is based on actual, observable factual numbers of players taking part in events in the UK - well, those events that have a web footprint of some sort anyway.  


That means if your local meta, your friendship circle, your local game store or even your Wiccan coven plays something different that's fine - this is just a count of those weird people who enter competitions.

And there's certainly been plenty going on!

As of today we are just at the end of Year 3 of L'Art de la Guerre as a competition set (it first appeared at Roll Call 2015, with its' first "full season" in 2016), there is a new version of FoG Ancients on the tabletop, MeG is just a few weeks away from its' second anniversary, DBA appears to be having something of a second (third? tenth?) wind right now and - of course - DBM and DBMM are still chugging along too.

Well, how does that all look today when you add it all together, shake it about a bit and pour it onto the page? 

Let's have a look shall we...

DBMM

Last 12 months: 18 events, 86 Players, 264 entries

The excellent DBMM rankings website at http://partridges.org.uk/rankings/ has been running at full steam for the last couple of years making the task of capturing all players and games much easier.

Last time around there had been 17 DBMM events in the previous 12 months, featuring 84 different players, including a 5-strong overseas contingent  (Irish players at Britcon 2016) which meant the UK-based pool was made up of 79 active competition players - unchanged from the previous year.

In the 12 months just gone that number of different players has crept up a smidge from 84 to 86, and the number of events has also increased by 1 as well, making a calendar of 18 different competitions for DBMM. So far, so same. What has changed noticeably however is how many entries there have been, as whereas last year the 84 players made 296 entries, this year that's dropped by over 10% to 264.

This slowdown in "keen" participation is mirrored by a corresponding increase in the number of "very occasional" players, as 37 of the 86 UK DBMM'ers only entered a single event in the last 12 months - up from 32 "one-timers" in the previous year, and even fewer the year before that.

The slightly more committed souls who play in 2 events each year account for a further 14 players, leaving just 35 individuals who are playing in 3 or more UK DBMM events each year.

Looking specifically at who those 37 "very occasional" DBMM players are, it's also rather likely that a significant proportion of them are experts at mastering roundabouts (but are possibly scared of motorway driving) given that 18 of them made their only tournament appearance of the year at an event held within 10 miles of Milton Keynes. Another 9 did not venture outside the city limits of Reading to enter an event, which further underlines the continued importance of the WAR and MKWS clubs to DBMM numbers in the UK.

The Milton Keynes 1-dayer is now by far and away the biggest event on the DBMM calendar, with 36 entries, followed by Warfare with 32 (across its two 6mm & 15mm periods).

Last year I had a graphic showing the stability at the top of the "enthusiasm" pile for DBMM and nothing has really changed since then, with the most established players also being the keenest - in fact, no single player who started playing DBMM after 2012 entered more than 3 events in the last year. In DBMM the "old lags" of the circuit are the enthusiasts, and the "newcomers" appear to be mainly those who are dipping in and out.

The current stats also cover the second year after an updated version of DBMM (and all new lists) were published - with almost no change in the overall number of players and a 10% slide in event entries it would however appear the lure of new lists has not encouraged more people to enter events in the UK DBMM community.

As last year, the overall DBMM picture remains one of stability, with only a handful of players picking up DBMM to replace the handful of annual dropouts in each of the last few years. If it weren't for the two highly localized Reading and Milton Keynes club-based clusters of players who tend to appear at events organised by their own clubs, the national DBMM scene would however be significantly smaller.

FoGAM

Last 12 months: 13 events, 79 Players, 253 entries

In May 2017 FoGAM had just seen a year of steep decline, dropping from 140 players down to just 97. With a new, "faster" version of the rules out at the end of last year (and list books still coming out as we speak) the good news for FoG is that the rate of decline seems to have slowed significantly, as 79 players took pat in one of the 13 UK FoGAM events held in the last 12 months, for a total of 253 total competition entries - pretty close to the same total entries as DBMM, but achieved across 4 fewer events.

However, these numbers straddle two editions, so the real question for FoG AM is how the shift from V2.0 to V3.0 is going? Well...
  • Since January 1st 2018 there have been 6 FoG V3.0 events, attracting a total of 49 players and 94 entries
  • The same period last year saw 7 events, 68 players and 112 entries under FoG 2.0

  • The answer to why this happened is mostly "Scotland", as the Scottish club circuit has migrated pretty much entirely to ADLG (with a wee smidge of MeG being played in Perth) meaning that the "Schiltron" event dropped out of the FopGAM rankings taking with it 8 unique players and 15 entries from the FoGAM stats this year.
Looking further forward to events coming up in the next few months, more existing V2.0 players will reappear on the FoGAM scene as well (based on current signups for future events).  By Britcon this will see the UK FoGAM total player pool reach a minimum of at least 54 players. The return of the Northern League as a FoGAM event after a short hiatus may also help drive active player participation up as well.

That V3.0 total of 49 includes 7 (yes seven!) new players who have appeared in the rankings for the first time so far this year - pretty much all from the Wessex club(s) who hosted a V3.0 event in February - so FoG is certainly picking up some more new players with V3.0 underway. 

On the flip side, there are still 30 players in the current "last 12 months" pool who have yet to play a V3.0 event, and quite a few of them have already appeared at events playing other rulesets - whether they stick or twist with these new rulesets is of course yet to be seen. 

With 17 players still making up half of all competition entries the core group of FoGAM players are just as keen as ever, but on current trends my guess is that FoGAM V3.0 will end the year with something in the region of 60-odd active UK players - arguably comparable to the current DBMM pool if the "MKWS/WAR" bastion of "local-events-only" players was to be adjusted out.

Mortem et Gloriam (MeG)

Last 12 months: 13 events, 61 Players, 185 entries

Last May MeG was fast approaching it's first full year of UK events, with 31 different players taking part in one of the 5 MeG events held in the 11 months since the release of the ruleset in mid 2016.

Since then the number of UK events has increased significantly with 13 competitions being held in the last 12 months. Unsurprisingly the pool of active players has also increased accordingly in the same period, led my a big intake in mid-2017 which saw the total pool of active UK players hit the 50 mark by last year's Britcon.


8 months later the rate of influx into the MeG scene appears to have calmed down a little, with the UK MeG player pool peaking at 65 earlier this year. It now sits on 61 active players entering UK events in the last 12 months (including 2 overseas players) - these 61 have racked up 185 competition entries between them. 


As one might expect with a still-new ruleset, currently 24 of the 61 players (39%) have only taken part in 1 event so far, and a further 15 only playing in 2 events in their MeG careers to date - hardly surprising with many of these only starting playing MeG competitively this year. 

MeG also appears to be succeeding in attracting many of it's players from outside of the traditional pool of Ancients gamers - which might be linked to the relatively high proportion of these "toe in the water" 1-2 event players, as many of them will need to collect and paint whole new armies to take part in MeG events.

The top tier of active MeG players however is made up of a small number of very, very active players, including many of those who got in at the ground floor as part of the initial "playtester" group. 

9 of the 11 playtest pioneers are still very much leading from the front, and still chip in with almost 1/3 of all UK competition entries between them in the last year. Put another way, if you entered a UK MeG event in the last year you had almost a 1 in 3 chance of meeting one of the original playtesters in any given round of any UK event - so if you need help with learning the rules, your opponent may well be perfectly placed to assist!

2 years on from it's launch MeG now boasts a very similar sized UK pool of players to that of the current FoG V3.0 circuit, although a significant proportion of players still at the "dipping their toes in" stage with only 1 or 2 event entries to their name. By comparison the UK ADLG circuit had reached 114 active players and 307 entries by the time it reached the 2-year mark in it's UK evolution.
  
L'Art de la Guerre

Last 12 months: 28 events, 162 Players, 499 entries

A year ago ADLG had just overtaken DBMM and FoG to become the biggest UK competition ruleset with 122 players taking part and making 331 entries in total across the year.

One year on and it's still gaining in popularity, adding 40 new players to the UK circuit to total up 162 players and 499 event entries in the last 12 months - more than DBMM and FoG combined. 

Part of this has been driven by the emergence of a number of regional mini-circuits in the South West, London, North East and most recently across Scotland, which has resulted in a potentially social-life-destroying 28 separate events taking place across the lengths and breath of the UK in the last year.

The size of the UK ADLG circuit is however somewhat inflated by the large number of overseas players who are now regular visitors to these shores to take part in ADLG events. In he last 12 months 19 separate overseas players drawn from all across Europe and further afield entered a UK ADLG event, with even more are set to arrive and be added to that number via the ADLG Worlds at the forthcoming BHGS Challenge this June - an increase of 11 on the previous year's total.

There are also 68 "occasional" ADLG players who only making a lone event appearance in the ADLG rankings - 42% of the total, or 32% if you strip out the overseas contingent. 

This may sound like quite a lot, but is pretty much identical to the equivalent numbers for other rulesets, with 43% for DBMM, 39% for FoGAM and 39% for MeG. Of these, only DBMM has a meaningful number (7) overseas players to impact these percentages, with just 1 overseas player for FoG and 2 for MeG.

The Central London Wargames Club remains a hotbed of ADLG contributing 22 players to the rankings. CLWC however only hosted one of its' usually popular 1-day events in the past 12 months, and so the number of CLWC club members who appear in the pool as a result of attending a CLWC event this year is just 6 out of the 22. Competed to the impact of the MKWS and WAR clubs and their local events on the UK DBMM circuit, and now also the Wessex club in FoG 3.0 the importance of CLWC members to the ADLG circuit is now therefore relatively low. 

Other Rulesets 

DBA

Last 12 months: 13 events, 65 Players, 186 entries

DBA has been undergoing something of a renaissance in recent years with a growing competition circuit and more new events taking place as well.

In the last 12 months 65 players have taken part in at least 1 DBA event, making up a total of 188 entries, meaning that DBA currently sneaks in just ahead of MeG to claim the prize of being the 4th biggest UK mass battle ruleset as of today - again off the back of 13 events throughout the year. 

25 players on the DBA circuit have only entered one event - that proportion of 38% placing it pretty much in line with other rulesets.

The full-year total for 2017 was 56 different players, so DBA is seeing a very solid increase in popularity as well so far this year. 

DBM 

Last 12 months: 9 events, 40 Players, 130 entries

DBM sits currently on 40 players in the last year entering events in the two geographically spread DBM hotspots of East and West England - these numbers are practically unchangd from last year.

Each of the 9 events normally attracts about a dozen players to reach a total of 130 event entries across the year, with the Themed West Country event at 21 being the biggest day out on the circuit.

Of the 40 current players, 17 make an appearance in both halves of the country leaving 9 only ever playing on tables which are as flat as their surrounding countryside, and a further 14 who's mid-game cup of tea always comes with a scone and some jam. 

Swordpoint 

Launched by Gripping Beast at the end of 2016, initially it seemed as if it might attract a following but based on forum posts there are only likely to be 2-3 UK events this year, with a UK player pool of maybe 20-30.

Others - Armati, 7th, 6th, Impetus, TTS, War & Conquest

From what's available online, none of these other rulesets support significant numbers of player or events throughout the year in the UK.  Simon Miller's To The Strongest may have the largest single pool of players with around 30 attending their main annual event, whilst 7th has a small circuit of 3 events (but failed to gather support to add a 4th earlier this year). 

Even in aggregate these sets would however fail to trouble the engravers of the "most popular competition ruleset" trophy.

The Summary:


The good news is that the number of Ancients events, and the numbers of players entering them is continuing to rise as the continuing uptick in the numbers of people playing new systems is outstripping the ongoing meandering decline in players for other more long in the tooth rulesets.

DBx-based games are also still by far the most popular with almost 75% of all UK players choosing a "single-base, single unit" system in preference to "multi-base unit" rulesets. 

The table below shows the current direct comparisons between the leading sets:


PlayersChange Players 3+Players (2018)EventsTotal EntriesAverage Field
ADLG
162+40921152849918
DBMM
86+235621826415
FOGAM
79-1836491525317
DBA
65+340501318614
MeG
61+3022391218515
DBM
40-2119913014
  • Players - different players entering a UK event in the last 12 months
  • Change - net change in previous 12 month period
  • 3+ events - number of players who entered 3 or more events for each ruleset
  • Players 2018 - number of different players to enter an event this calendar year (included as a benchmark for FoG 3.0, which started in January 2018)
  • Events - number of competitions throughout the year.  Where one event includes multiple pools they are counted as different events
  • Total entries - count of entries at all UK events 
  • Average field - average field (doh!)









4 May 2018

Greece is the Word, and the Word is ADLG !

The recent international upsurge in the popularity of ADLG around the world has now lapped up against the sun-kissed shores of Greece, finding fertile soil in a local wargaming population who it turns out were both deeply steeped in the ancient DBx tradition, and also very happy about adopting an internationally-played ruleset that only requires you to paint and collect relatively small numbers of figures to put a new army on the table.


As soon as the first ever Greek ADLG competition was announced, attending therefore became something of a no-brainer and Greece was added to the list of ticked-off international competition venues that already included France, Belgium, England, Wales and Spain - especially after the epic time that was had by Team Central London at the last Patras event (in the days of DBM would you believe it?!) way back in 2003.


The following reports of the epic trek across Europe to get to the venue, and the even more epic competition itself contain dangerous amounts of pictures of food, some terrible Greek puns, amazing 15mm figure painting (mostly by my opponents) and a surprising number of positive results for a Ghaznavid army small enough to fit in the kind of biscuit tin you'd be somewhat disappointed to get as Christmas gift.

Hold the Halloumi, On With The Reports!!

21 Apr 2018

Vietnamese People's Air Force Museum - Madaxeman.com on Tour

Having accidentally found myself in Hanoi with a spare morning, a trip to a military museum was required. Originally intending to go to the supposedly disappointing Vietnam War Museum, my driver ended up dropping me off instead at the Vietnamese Peoples Air Force Museum.


This place doesn't appear all that prominently in the normal guidebooks but as you will see is still pretty good, especially for a wargamer!


(yes, it does appear to be an "88"..!)

The museum has a large static park containing and (admittedly) limited range of aircraft and AA guns as used by the Vietnamese Air Force during the Vietnam war and immediately afterwards in some other conflicts (which don't really seem to get much of a look-in).


You can walk around the grounds and climb all over the kit if you wish, so its very much a hands-on experience.


It was a fairly decent and bright day without being overly sunny, so I managed to get a good number of pretty clear photos using my iPhone camera, all of which are now on Madaxeman.com

12 Apr 2018

They are a-gaggin' and a-drippin'....the Welsh get lush for some 25mm ADLG action

Almost 2 years after the majority of the figures were bought in a bring and buy, finally a full fat 25mm mostly Old Glory Dark Ages army from the Celtic fringes of Britain makes its way onto the table in the guise of the Welsh.


Inspired by tales of derring do and the discovery of some daffodil-simulating grass tufts on eBay, this mountain-dwelling army takes on all comers from the far ends of the earth to the naughty neighbours across Offa's Dyke and the Irish Sea in 5 spectacular full colour match reports with big, big, big soldiers on display throughout.


The man, the legend, the Knight of the Realm Sir Tom Jones gives the judgement for the home team and of course, Medieval Hannibal is there for the insight and analysis at the end as well.


It's massive. It's Lush. Its Welsh through to the bone. And there are plenty of "double-L's" in there too for good measure.

Pour yourself a pint of Brains, settle in for the evening (because as Sir Tom would say, "it's cold outside") and enjoy the spectacle in these 5 widescreen brand new reports.

4 Apr 2018

Saga V2 - a short and hairy summary of the changes from V1

The new version of Saga (V2) is getting great early reviews at CLWC, with a cleaner and simpler set of mechanics that appear at first glance to be less susceptible to being "gamed" than V1.

The club have cobbled together a summary of the key changes we have found so far which you can download from the CLWC club page

Hopefully it's of use and encourages you to have a punt on this new (and we already think, "better") edition of a great and very popular ruleset.


This is a totally unofficial summary of the changes between versions, so let me know if you spot any errors! 

2 Apr 2018

Terrain time !

With Roll Call and Patras both coming up in the next couple of weeks, a man's mind turns to what things are possible to do on a wet Bank Holiday Monday with 2mm mdf, some builders sand, glue and a tin of Rustin's Wood Dye (sometimes known as "Wood Stain" .. presumably if the marketing department don't get to it first).

And.... the answer is a 25mm ADLG area of brushy ground, and a 15mm ADLG marsh.


Very simple construction indeed - the base is simply 2mm MDF sheet, cut square and then the corners trimmed off to make it a tad irregular.   The whole thing is then sprayed dark green (a cammo green spray from Halfords wouldyabelieveit!)

Wood glue is then smeared on where you want the "land" to be, spread about with a knackered brush and then builders sand is poured on top. Leave it to dry for a little while, and then stain the sand areas by roughly painting on Rustins Wood Stain (or similar).

Once that had dried thoroughly (and in a well ventilated place as it kinda stinks), gloss varnish the "green" bits of murky water, and add some grass and grass tufts to the thing to set it all off.

I'm sure there are cleverer ways of doing this, but I'm quite happy with this as the fruits of my own rather half-hearted labours...


A larger area of "brushy ground" is basically the same idea but the base colour here is just the natural colour of the 2mm MDF (no spray), and the whole thing has been painted in Wood Stain, left to dry and then gently drybrushed. 

If you paint it, the wood stain doesn't really sink in - I have however done "lighter" spray version of these in the past, such as for the baseplate to the Samurai Village.


While I was in a terrain-making mood, I also rebased some of my collection of palm trees onto larger, multiple bases.

This has become my go-to technique for trees, having given up on single-based ones as hey fall over  - although I may be over-egging it a little to describe putting 2-3 trees on one base as a "technique"(?).


These are palm tree cake decorations - they have the twin advantages of being cheap, and very flexible so they won't break if you drop them or squish them in a tin for transit.

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