Road trip recap

Rob Dean

In the previous post I mentioned that I made a road trip to Michigan to celebrate Christmas with my family.  My brother and I have been working on a fantasy gaming project most of the year, with the intention of running some games at conventions in 2016 using our vintage miniatures collections.

This was supposed to have been a simple operation, but was complicated this year by the Ral Partha/Ironwind Metals Kickstarter to revive Chaos Wars and put a lot of the Fantasy Collector Series elves and orcs back into production, and by a related urge to go into collector mode and recreate the armies that I owned and/or longed for as an adolescent gamer back in the mid-1970s with the help of eBay.

Because my brother lives in Indiana and I live in Maryland, our opportunities to put games together have been limited.  He visited here in May, and we met at Gencon in August.  We started discussing the possibility of doing some gaming around the margins of the Christmas visit, and things started falling into place when my aunt offered to let us use the game room in her basement, so we had a 4×6 table available without having to bring folding tables.  At that point we decided that we could play Chaos Wars, but that we would not reasonably be able to put on a Ringbearer test game.

My brother offered to bring the terrain, based around a Cigar Box Battles ground cloth, and some troops, and I packed up my travel kit as well.  I’ve showed pictures of elements of this before.  I did some research and concluded that a 12 liter Really Useful Box was the largest that would fit under the seat in a typical airline cabin, so I built my 1/72 scale fantasy skirmish project to fit into one.  It is all ready, just “grab and go”, and I brought it this time to provide the basis for scenery for a 25mm skirmish game, just in case.  For this trip, I also added the original edition paper copy of Chaos Wars.

Since I was driving, not flying, I also loaded two 6-liter Really Useful Boxes with a selection of multiply-based vintage Ral Partha figures from my collection.  I strapped the whole assembly together with a couple of lengths of nylon webbing and a “Strap-a-handle”.  The final dimensions were about 11x17x12 inches.

Most of my mass fantasy armies are based on 60mm square wood bases, with flexible steel bottoms (from Litko).  My boxes are then lined with sheet magnets.  As can be seen from the photo below, the 60mm square bases do not tile the box with 100% efficiency.  I can fit 18 bases per box, which leaves some extra space.  I filled that with figures on individual steel washer bases, or some of the newer Aurora Project bases, which are one inch wood circles with Litko flexible steel bottoms.  This seems to hold pretty well.  The two box pictures were taken at the end of the return trip, after an eleven hour drive, and everything is still holding.  I did deliberately leave home one or two taller figures that past experience as shown to have insufficient “grip”.

I also had to leave at home a couple of units of lancer cavalry whose lances are a little too tall to fit in the 6-liter boxes.  Eventually, I expect to have a 12-liter box with the magnet sheets for overly tall figures, but the dimensions will limit that to road travel rather than air.

In the previous post I gave a link to a battle report on our Chaos Wars battle, which I posted to the Ral Partha forums.  Since my brother had brought troops and had a scenario plan, we only ended up using about half the units I brought with me, but the package is easy to carry once all loaded and assembled, so it wasn’t a big deal.  While we didn’t end up playing an individual figure skirmish game, I will note that I chose the individually-based figures with an eye toward that, just to keep options open.

With all of the figures showing up from eBay, and with the expectation of the imminent arrival of the Ral Partha Kickstarter box with 200 more, I have been trying to keep up with painting at any opportunity.  I took my full travel paint kit with me (rather than the TSA-compatible flying kit), and had a couple of mornings to work on things.  I only finished two figures, though.  The left-handed elf archer is a Tom Meier sculpt from the old Ral Partha 98-006 Dungeon Party boxed set, an eBay acquisition, and the female on the right is an H-21, a warrior woman (looks more like a rogue to me) from the Royal Armies of the Hyborean Age range, one of three figures from that range that I stripped and repainted this year that have been in my collection since they were new.

Basing is still in progress on those two.

I bought a copy of the Osprey wargames rules Lion Rampant when they were released, but time management got away from me, and I still have yet to try playing them.  They have received some good buzz online, though, and we have a couple of HAWKs members who are working on retinues. When it was announced that Osprey would be publishing a fantasy variant, I went ahead and pre-ordered a copy on speculation.  One of the club members sent out a link to  a review of Dragon Rampant just before Christmas.  It looked like this was going to be something I would play. Unfortunately, my pre-order copy was due to arrive after our departure on the day we drove to Michigan, so I splurged on a Kindle copy and was able to read it on the trip up, during the periods when it wasn’t my turn to be the driver. (Thank you, Irene!)

My older son was also staying at my aunt’s house, where we had staged the Chaos Wars game on Saturday, and was kind enough to assist me on Sunday morning in playing through the rules, with a couple of warbands I built with what was in my travel boxes.  He is not a fan of games using activation rolls, so I knew that he would be a bit dubious, and we did have a couple of turns where we passed the dice back and forth as we each failed to activate anything.

Dragon Rampant uses a freeform system for representing things on the table.  In the medieval/historical version, units have either 6 or 12 figures (generally corresponding to mounted/foot), and casualties are intended to be removed.  In the fantasy version, units have 6 or 12 strength points, and you are free to depict the unit with whatever seems appropriate.  If the unit does not have 6 or 12 models, casualties/damage are shown by markers on the table.  Since I didn’t grab my gamemaster box for this trip, we made do with dice.  This ends up reminding me (favorably) of Hordes of the Things, in that you can generally find some game category (with the possible addition of special abilities) to allow you to assign values to pretty much any miniature you might wish to use.

I took a band consisting of a dragon (greater war beast with optional flame attack and flying), a land dragon captain (heroic elite cavalry, depicted as a single figure), some lizard riders (javelin armed rather than bows, with reduced range and a cost break), and some goblin infantry (being green-skinned, they were deemed to be a sort of reptile-man for the day).

Norman’s warband had six units, a heroic single-figure heavy rider leader, some heavy foot elf pikes, some sharpshooting elf bows, a spell-slinging single-figure elf princess using the “scouts” profile for stealth and ranged attacks, and allied centaur heavy and light warriors (using the heavy and light rider profiles).  As expected for a trial game, we had to flip through the rules a bit (difficult with the Kindle edition, I’m afraid) and I’m sure that we missed some options as far as our actions went.  There is a quick reference sheet in the book, so I expect that having a couple of those on the table will reduce the need to flip pages considerably.  In fact, I tend to expect that one will be able to play this from memory and your warband profile sheet by the end of the first game.

I’m looking forward to trying this out with the other interested club members soon.  I note that there is a (joke?) rule in this game giving a glory (victory point) bonus to warbands consisting entirely of pre-1984 miniatures.  My centaurs in this game are right on the borderline, but everything else on the table was well within that, so I expect that will not go over well with the rest of the club when I try to (habitually) claim that bonus…

We drove home on Monday, and I was pleased to find that my Ral Partha/Ironwind Chaos Wars Kickstarter box had arrived while I was away, so that made for a nice post-Christmas surprise. (OK, not that much of a surprise–they were very good about keeping us updated on shipping.)

Mine was full of all manner of Chaos Wars goodness.  I’d ordered the large version of the starter set, a package of additional command figures, a unit of elf pikes, an elven colossus, and the new figures sculpted for the Kickstarter.

They threw in samples of skeletons and dwarves, which will apparently be the next Kickstarter.

We also got a handful of bonus figures, originally all from the Personalities and Things That Go Bump in the Night range.  The winged panther is new to me.

The elven colossus, shown here with the new sculpted Tom Meier elves, was originally sold in the early years of Ral Partha as part of a small series of 54mm painters’ figures, and resembles, in larger scale, the earliest of the Ral Partha elves.  They suggest using it as a giant animated statue with the 25s, and I think that I’ll do mine in verdigrised bronze, a technique that I’ll being trying out on some Bones designated as Frostgrave statues before I try it on this.

I’ll try to post some New Years project thoughts tomorrow.  While I am really enjoying this revisitation of fantasy gaming, I also want to make time for the Not Quite Seven Years War again in the new year.

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