Friday, 16 October 2020

Renegade Crowns

Apologies for the delay in posting. Being back at work has drained some of my painting motivation, and current events have been having a limiting effect on my gaming.

However, our locked down reality has encouraged a group of my friends to begin roleplaying online. We've been roleplaying together, on and off, for about twenty years, using a variety of systems. For this, however, we've returned to the tried, tested and trusted Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2and Edition.

I'm in the hot seat as GM, and I've wanted to run a campaign in the lawless Border Princes for a long time, and so, in the wake of the Storm of Chaos, that's where the group is heading.

The motley (and randomly generated) party consists of:
  • Garin Ragnarsson - a Dwarf Jailer
  • Heinz Castel - a Noble from Talabecland
  • Wolfgang Braun - a Camp Follower from Nordland
  • Rudiger Reich - a Zealot from Middenland
As other gaming is curtailed, I've decided to start writing up the party's adventures. It's not quite an actual play, as I'm not keeping a transcript, it's more 'based on' what happened.

And so what follows is the events of the first session, which primarily focused on the learning the combat rules and lots of exposition.

Episode 1

The rain pattered dismally through the light tree canopy that partially obscured the pitch black sky and onto the broad head and ran down the nose of Garin Ragnarsson as he sullenly tended his small fire. He looked about at the ragged collection of humans he had fallen in with since leaving Delberz.

Most of them were little more than refugees, fleeing the horrors of the war in the north, clinging to each other to survive the journey across the mountains. Some families, some loners, all aware that as a group they were less likely to fall prey to bandits, orcs or worse.

However, Garin had to admit that amongst this flotsam and jetsam of humanity, there were some stout folk that he had begun to think of as friends.

Take young Wolfgang Braun, the Nordlander, who was currently prowling the edge of the camp peering into the darkness, always alert. He'd voluntarily joined his Elector Count's army and served as an attendant and smith to the Knights Panther, who famously rode to their doom in a vain attempt to hold back the gibbering hordes of Chaos. Now the war was over, Wolfgang was seeking his brother's family who'd fled south when the war came.

Then there was Rudiger Reich. He'd survived the sacking of Untergard and had undergone some sort of religious conversion during the siege of Middenheim, where he'd also met Wolfgang when the Nordlanders retreated there.

Garin didn't pretend to understand the humans' fiery approach to faith, but the fire burned bright in Rudi, who was now driven by a zeal to follow the last journey of Sigmar and found a new, purer Empire. He was currently engaging three of the simple folk, Mattias, Klaus and Karl-Heinz, in a theological debate that Rudi was clearly winning...possibly because of the way he gestured with his fearsome looking flail so vehemently.

Finally, there was Heinz Castel, clearly of noble blood, who was fooling nobody with his tattered cloak and muddy boots. The rapier at his hip, education in his voice and the quality of the gems in his rings were all telltale signs of having come from wealth. And then there was the bloody great thoroughbred horse he rode, as if born in the saddle.

Garin wasn't sure what drove the nobleman over the mountains, and Heinz wasn't telling yet, but he knew someone on the run when he saw them.

Garin glanced about and realised that he couldn't see Heinz anywhere in the camp, but assumed the lad was probably off with that serving wench, Greta, who was too free with her favours. Mind you, they were both probably warmer than he was right now.

As for Garin, he had found himself surplus to requirements for his former employer when the jails of Delberz were emptied to fill the Emperor's armies. A chance encounter with his three new friends over a game of chance in an inn had convinced him to join them and head back towards his homeland in the World's Edge Mountains.

So here they were, on the southern slopes of the Black Mountains, having officially left the Empire two days ago. A ragged band of refugees looking for new beginnings in the Border Princes.

"And that," exclaimed Rudi, gesticulating wildly with his flail, causing the chains to clank and rattle, "is why we must not despair! We must look to the example of our Lord Sigmar, who showed us the way. We must leave behind the corrupt and divided Empire and forge a new land in Sigmar's footsteps."

"I must say, master Rudiger," responded Mattias, "your unswerving faith is a blessed reassurance in these trying times.

"And your certainty of purpose," continued Klaus, "does help calm my own doubt about the rightness of bringing my family on this dangerous journey."

Rudiger smiled, the tattoo of the twin-tailed comet on his forehead seeming to shine in the firelight, "nothing worthy is ever built without cost, brothers." He patted Karl-Heinz on the shoulder as he said this, almost sending the small man tumbling forwards.

Meanwhile, Heinz Castel was fastening his doublet as Greta adjusted her skirts and smiled at him in the darkness. Flickers of firelight lit up the bad teeth that marred an otherwise plain face.

"Any port in a storm," thought Heinz, smiling ruefully. Still, she was willing, and had proved an ample distraction whilst he was unable to get closer to Esther, the pretty daughter of the wealthy burgher with the cart, a man who looked at Heinz like a shepherd would look at a wolf. Heinz might have been offended if he himself didn't look at Esther like a wolf looks at a spring lamb.

Having made himself 'decent' Heinz made his way back to the circle of firelight, not waiting to see if Greta was with him.

Wolfgang was tense. He'd been uneasy all day, certain that he could see shapes moving in the trees alongside the road that the small caravan of refugees had been moving along. Maybe it was just his nerves, still traumatised by his experiences in the forests of the north, but a shadow under threat had been growing in his mind.

He had just about convinced himself that he was imagining things and was about to go back to the fire, when he heard the distinct, ominous crunch of something treading on the undergrowth just beyond his sight.

Wolfgang was not some burgher, easily spooked by the night noises of the forest. He'd grown up in a small hamlet outside Frote, which was now a smoking ruin, and could recognise the scamper of rabbits, the scurrying of rats or the light steps of a deer. No, this noise he heard was the deliberately placed step of something heavy.

"Garin," he whispered, hoarsely, "come here!"

The Dwarf looked up from his fire, and saw that Wolfgang was more tense than usual. Grabbing his hammer, the dwarf strode over to where the man was staring into the dark.

"There's something in there. Your eyes are better for this, what can you see?"

Garin strained to look into the dark woodland, but saw little that he could distinguish from the surrounding trees and was about to say so when the quiet night suddenly erupted in guttural shrieking and braying that chilled the souls of all who heard it and froze the hearts of those who had heard the same cries echo through the woods in the north.

A volley of crude spears came arcing from the tree line, some thudding into the earth, some embedding into the sides of the carts and some finding their mark amongst the stricken humans. A cry behind Heinz made him spin round in time to see Greta pitch forwards into the ground, impaled by a primitive spear. With a wry smile, he hefted his heavy cane and quickly drew his trust main gauche, and prepared to meet whatever emerged from the tree line.

Meanwhile, Rudiger had seen the effect that the impending assault was having on the panicked people about him. Mattias and Klaus were edging backwards and Karl-Heinz was ready to run.

"Stand with me, brothers," he urged, "if we scatter, they will hunt us down and tear us apart like prey. But if we hold together, they will meet an unbreakable line of vengeance filled with the righteous fury of Sigmar. Stand with me!"

A fire lit in the eyes of the men as they drew daggers and grabbed any potential weapon that was at hand: a burning brand, a heavy branch, an iron tent peg. They braced themselves for what was to come.

Garin and Wolfgang had also braced themselves, but didn't have long to wait as a shadow crashed through the bushes and coalesced into a shaped that towered of both Dwarf and Man, a goat-headed monstrosity that walked on cloven hooves and wielded a crude, but deadly, axe in one hand, and a shield that looked to be covered in the flayed skins of its enemies in the other. It charged towards Garin, who managed to duck under its swinging axe and sidestep to cause the beast to tumble into an exposed tree root, throwing it off balance.

Wolfgang ran into the side of the creature, swinging his smithy hammer, aiming to catch the creature across its back, but found his blow suddenly blocked by the dreadful shield. Before he could press his attack, Wolfgang found himself attacked by another assailant bursting through the trees, a smaller creature, still with cloven hooves, but with a snarling, bestial face, and clutching a vicious looking club. Wolfgang ruefully turned to face this new foe, leaving Garin to confront the larger beast alone.

More of the smaller beasts leapt from the bushes all over the camp, sending shrieks up from those who could not defend themselves. Heinz was confronted with one armed with a wickedly serrated spear, that was jabbed towards his midriff. The nobleman calmly arched his body to avoid the thrust and brought his heavy cane sweeping round to thump heavily into the creature's chest, clearly winding it.

Rudi saw the devastation and panic all around him, the foul beasts were everywhere. One had grabbed an old man and was dragging him towards the tree line, another was bearing down on a mother and child, whilst a third leapt over tents into the middle of the camp.

Uttering a ferocious war cry in praise of Sigmar, Rudi surged forwards, furiously swinging his great flail above his head and bringing the twin chains thumping down into the back of the head of the creature menacing the woman and child, caving in the beast's skull and splattering all nearby in gore and bone.

Looking up from his bloody work, Rudi saw Mattais, Kurt and Karl-Heinz had stood with him and were wrestling with a beast with their bare hands. Again, the flail chains sang their song of death and again bloody ruin rained down on the unaware beast, ending its foul existence quickly, and from Rudi's perspective, far too mercifully.

As Rudi turned to look for next abomination to purge, he was almost knocked over by a cart being driven quickly past him. A panicked burgher had managed to hitch up his horse and was trying to flee, with his wife and daughter in the back of the cart. Rudi cursed the man's cowardice and stupidity. Did he not know that separating from the herd was what the wolves wanted the sheep to do? Rudi spat in disgust and returned to his bloody work.

Heinz continued to ride his luck and calmly dance with death, as the crude spear leapt time and again towards him, and time and again he blocked, parried and jabbed back inflicting a light blow to the shoulder or a scathing hit to the legs. Finally, tiring of this charade, Heinz sidestepped quickly, lunged forwards and brought his main gauche up under the creatures chin and into the the skull, ending its miserable existence. Withdrawing his blade with a flourish, he turned on his heel to survey the camp.

Despite the ferocity of the beasts attack, they had met more resistance than they clearly expected and were beginning to waver. They looked to their leader, who was locked in combat with the Dwarf.

Garin, feared he was over-matched, but had used his height to manoeuver his opponent under low hanging branches, impeding the swing of its deadly axe. He kept his swing low and brought his warhammer in a wide arc that caught the beast's thigh, bringing it briefly to its knees. The creature bellowed in rage and pain.

Nearby, Wolfgang and his opponent had both continued swing wildly at each other, wary of getting in each others reach. Suddenly, the beast stepped in, and for a moment it seemed that its club would make a bloody mess of Wolfgang's face, but in an instant the smith's dagger was brought up to block the blow, and, taking his opportunity, Wolfgang smashed his hammer into the side of the creature's head, pitching it sideways to die in the dirt.

With its underlings falling around it, and a grim and implacable dwarf advancing on it, the bestial leader let out a more plaintive bleat and began to back away from its assailant. All over the camp, beastial creatures broke from combat and made for the safety of the dark forest.

Not willing to let his foe flee, Garin sprang forward to unleash one last mighty blow, but perhaps because he was more exhausted that he cared to admit, his blow fell short and he watched in fury followed by grim satisfaction as the monstrosity turned tailed to run for safety but within feet of the tree line it was caught unawares by Wolfgang barrelling into it from the side, knocking it to the floor, where, with a sickening squelch, its head met with a jagged tree stump and was impaled by the force of the impact.

With that, the few remaining beasts broke and openly fled.

The camp was in total disarray, its inhabitants in disbelief. Numbers were injured, several were dead and some were just missing. Nobody talked about those who were gone as contemplating the terrible fate that might await those poor souls seemed too much to fathom.

Garin moved among the injured, using the skills he had learned keeping prisoners alive for another round of questioning. Rudi led efforts to dig shallow graves for the fallen, and as the closest thing to a cleric that the camp had, said a few words of righteous vengeance over the dead. Wolfgang looked to the mules and horses, checking them for injuries sustained in the panic. Heinz and a few others hacked the heads off the dead beasts and impaled them on stakes.

The night passed without further alarm, in fact the rain slackened and subsided, but nobody slept well. When the grey light of morning arrived, it brought with it a seeping mist that curled its tendrils through the woods.

The sluggish camp stirred and began to pack. Even though they had travelled far from the Empire together, there was now a greater sense of community to be observed. Children and the frail were helped on to the carts which had been jealously guarded by their owners. Men folk shared each other's loads to ease the burden. Those who had lost loved ones were comforted and accompanied.

Despite this burgeoning community spirit, there was still one who stood aloof. Heinz mounted his chestnut mare and trotted out to the head of the column, ostensibly to check the road ahead, but Wolfgang chuckled at the nobleman's obvious discomfort around the common folk. He, meanwhile, stayed with the mules, leading and guiding them along the road. Rudi stayed amongst the people offering words of guidance, encouraging the unpopular view that the attack had been a test from Sigmar and that all who had survived should rejoice. Garin stumped along slowly at the rear of the column.

After only a short time walking, Heinz came trotting back warning that there was something coming along the road ahead.

"More beasts?" asked Rudi, pushing forwards, struggling to conceal his eagerness.

"No," replied Heinz, "I think it's horses."

"Bandits?" asked Wolfgang, wearily.

"Unlikely," announced Garin coming forward, "not if we've heard them before they've seen us." He then added, with a smile, "unless they're really stupid bandits, but I don't think we're that lucky."

"I suppose we'd better just wait, then," said Wolfgang, "there's no way we can hide now."

And wait they did. Huddled together in the road, pensive and tense.

Shortly a small company of about a dozen mounted men emerged from the mist. They rode with an air of casual confidence, but the keen eye could discern their caution: crossbows were in hand and loaded; swords had clearly been loosed in their sheaths; and eyes were fixed, hawklike, on the bedraggled collection of individuals in front of them.

Wolfgang knew enough about warfare to know that despite their unkempt and travel worn garb, the riders were skilled and dangerous. The only indication that they were anything other than the bandits they appeared to be was a tattered blue and red guidon held firmly by a rider just behind what appeared to be the leader.

The leader himself was an imposing figure. His helm was of imperial design and from beneath this flowered long blonde, almost white, hair. He wore a great white animal pelt as a cloak, in the style of the birther marauders or kilevites. Across his back was sheathed a bastard sword and his powerfully built frame was protected by a muscled breastplate, which looked like it might have been sculpted on him. He smiled easily as he trotted a little forward of the others, his steely gaze taking in each and every figure in front of him, as if assessing them as potential threats.

"Greetings!" he called, "I am Markus of the northern Outriders, and I bid you welcome to this land. Where are you from and where are your headed?"

As Markus spoke the Imperial refugees almost sagged in relief as they took the man's lack of hostile intent at face value.

"We're travellers from the Empire," responded Wolfgang, "looking to build new lives for ourselves."

"And rebuild our land anew," added Rudi. At this Markus seemed to momentarily twitch.

"Some of us just want to pass through on our way home," threw in Garin, to move the conversation on.

"Mainly," said Heinz, dryly, "we want to get out of these accursed woods before we get attacked again."

Markus' eyes widened, "you've had trouble with the beastkin and lived? If you can wield a blade and will bend the knee, Dieter can find plenty of work for you keeping the land clean of monsters.

"If you're looking to settle and work," continued Markus, "you'll still be welcome, but don't expect any villages to be opening their gates willingly to a large party like yours. Perhaps you could try the Sweetwater Mines in the hills to the northwest, as they're short of labour. Short of that you could make your way to Masserschloss itself.

"But be under no doubt, all the land between this forest, the marshland to the west and east, right to the Barrens in the south is the domain of Dieter von Masserschloss, so there'll be no new lands built here. If that's what you seek, you could try to the west, out towards Pendor Hill and Quaterain, but you'll be tangling with greenskins if you do.

"If you're passing through, well, so be it. You'll not meet many tolls or taxes here, Masserschloss prefers to take coin in trade for goods for your onward travels. Fair warning though, there are bandit princes to the south who'll not be so accommodating.

"Now, given what you've said, we need to press on and see if any more of the beastkin are abroad. Not all travellers are as capable as you."

Markus immediately spurred his horse forwards and his mean followed him slowly. As they passed the little caravan they scanned the ragged travellers, seeming to appraise them, or their goods.

As the riders disappeared back into the mist, the tired travellers began to move again. The mist began to clear and the early morning sun slowly lit up an unknown landscape of possibility and dangers.

Thursday, 24 September 2020

Camping it Up

I've been playing some fantasy skirmish games recently, and one of those games saw a group of Elven Guardians tangling with the unquiet dead around the site of an Adventurers' Camp, and so I needed to make a suitable campsite.

Fortunately, I had the perfect resource in the Mantic Adventurers' Camp Terrain Crate set, featuring a tent, campfire, bedroom, baggage and wood pile. Therefore these were painted really simply and based on an old CD.

Compared to the other Mantic Terrain Crates I've painted, this was probably my favourite set, mainly because it had no thin elements which are impossible to straighten out like the stalls and cart in the Market Day set.

A functional piece, but potentially useful for both Middle Earth SBG and 7TV: Fantasy, that is coming next year.

Despite having several parts, this is technically a single model, and so that's what I'm counting it as:

Acquired: 207
Painted: 240

Thursday, 17 September 2020

A Bridge Too, not that one

After six months of not, I managed to get a game of Bolt Action in against Pete, and we started to work our way through the Campaign: Stalingrad book with the 'Last Bridge Over The River Don' scenario, set in August 1942.

The scenario recreates part of the frantic retreat of the Soviet 62nd Army in the face of the German blitzkrieg.

My forces would have to race down the board, cross the bridge and then blow it, whilst the Germans swarmed in from both sides seeking to cut my forces off and capture the bridge intact.

My retreating force featured two LMG squads, one of which was fortunate enough to be mounted in a truck. I had a cunning plan that the footslogging squad would be urged on by the combined efforts of a Senior Officer, a Commissar and a Medic...we'll see how well that plan works out.

The infantry would be protected on their way by a BA-6 Armoured Car and a frankly monstrous (at this point of the war) KV-1.

Meanwhile, the bridge to safety would be defended by a (poorly positioned) ZIS-3 anti-tank gun and an inexperienced Rifle Squad.

The battle opened with the truck racing off down the road and reaching the bridge immediately. 

Unfortunately, the infantry on foot were not so lucky, as a Panzer IV trundled into view and wiped them out.

So much for the plan.

Shoddy accuracy from the Soviet armour asaw the BA-6 meet its doom at the hands of the Panzer IV, it perhaps shouldn't have veered off to kill a German anti-tank rifle team.

However, the commander of the KV-1 found his range and destroyed the Panzer IV, albeit a little too late.

On the plus side, this removed the only serious threat to the KV-1, which would be able to throw machine-gun fire in all directions for the remainder of the battle.

Near the bridge, despite the reinforcements from the truck, the Soviet defenders were finding themselves hard pressed by Germans swarming in from all sides.

The ZIS-3 managed to get only a single shot off before a squad of Pioneers gor past its gun shield by taking advantage of the fact that I'd not used the buildings to guard its flanks.

The Germans looked poised to to seize the bridge.

But the German hammer never fell as two things happened. Firstly, the KV-1 made it to the bridge and began putting pins on units all over the place.

This then compounded what was one of the worst run of orders tests from Pete I've ever seen. The Germans had been halted.

Unfortunately, the Germans didn't need to take the bridge to win, they could simply destroy units, and my HQ were looking vulnerable.

Despite a FUBAR from the German Officer, my Commissar and Officer were cut down in short order.

The KV-1 made it over the bridge and Soviet fire thinned the enemy some more as the fuse to blow the bridge was lit.

The way the scoring was arranged, I just needed no more units to die.

Unfortunately, not only did the inexperienced Rifle Squad finally succumb to incoming fire, but the dastardly Germans broke the Geneva convention and brutally murdered Olga, my unarmed medic.

With the KV-1 guarding it, the crossing would be held until the bridge blew up, but a heavy toll had been taken on the Soviet forces.

The final score was 7-6 to Pete.

In hindsight, I made a number of errors early on that caused me to take too many casualties to effectively fight back, and only Pete's appallingly bad orders tests kept me in the game. I'm afraid it's the gulag for me.

In other news, I've bought a Hunter-Killer VTOL toy from Ebay to use in games of Terminator: Genysis and various other bits and pieces for ongoing projects, but things are still in the black.

Acquired: 207
Painted: 239

Monday, 14 September 2020

I see red people...

More Blood Angel's returned from the dim and distant (and shoddily painted) past. This time it's my Terminator squad.

These chaps came in the Battle for Macragge starter box and were easy build, snap fit models. I could swear I got one off the front of White Dwarf, but didn't use him in the squad.

These were really quick to do in comparison with the other units as the painting was less ropey. I think the 'chuck black ink at it' approach was better served with the design of these guys. So this was mainly a case of tidying the flat surfaces, touching up the details and adding a couple of transfers.

Admittedly, the bases are still boring, but that's a problem for another day.

On the subject of transfers, I've made the decision to go with white chapter badges rather than the usual black. This is because a little label on the transfer sheet said the white badges were for veterans, and as the Terminators are all from the veteran 1st company, this made sense.

The skull on the front plate is also the company insignia of the first company. I feel that these bright white details help these elite troops to really stand out from the rest.

Although the Macragge Terminators only came with storm bolters and power fists, I managed to budge together a heavy flamer by picking up a spare metal arm from the bitz drawers in my flgs.

Technically, it's a tiny bit smaller than it should be (you can see it if you put the pads of another Terminator next to it), and the arm actually belongs to a Space Wolf (hence the two teeth and wolf skull emblem), but I think it works.

Back in the day, I also kitbashed a chain fist by strapping a cut down chainsword to his power fist. I still think it works...just.

That's another five down. 16 to go.

Acquired: 194
Painted: 239

Saturday, 12 September 2020

Red ones go faster...apparently...

I appreciate it's been a couple of weeks since my last post, but I hit a bit of a painting block whilst continuing to work on sprucing up my old Blood Angel's army, specifically the vehicles.

It wasn't too with the models themselves, in fact they were much easier to do than the infantry. I just lost motivation, possibly because I'm now back at work and my mind was on other things. However, I've managed to get over the hump and finish them off, leaving just a few more squads of infantry to do.

The Razorback is my second transport. Probably destined to carry my Veterans, when I get to them, as it doesn't have the capacity for a full Tactical Squad. The Twin Lascannon should give enemy armour something to think about too.

My Baal Predator is the really old version (in fact, I think it was oop when I bought it second hand). It's set up for anti-infantry duty, with twin-linked autocannons in the turret, backed up by heavy flames in the side sponsons.

My Attack Trikes are models I converted from a box of bikes and my bits box, because it was cheaper than buying two Attack Bikes at the time. They are good for getting up close with their multi-meltas and turning tough targets to slag.

As well as finishing these four models, I've also managed to sell a chunk of old Batman Heroclix which I bought before I got into BMG. So, despite the hiatus, a significant rebalancing has been achieved.

Acquired: 194
Painted: 234

Thursday, 20 August 2020

Blood Angels: Revamped

A day long feared has finally come...

Many moons ago, I built and 'painted' a Blood Angels army to take part in games of 40k at a gaming club. It was done cheaply (it was one of the projects on which I developed the Cheaphamner golden rules) and quickly.

I never really got into 40k and so the army has sat unloved in a box longer than this blog has existed. I never sold it, as it still had one remaining purpose: to prevent me spending money should the time come when the 40k urge should ever strike again.

That time is now...

The only problem was that when I opened the box in which they have been literally gathering dust, I found that the standard of my painting has improved a touch since I did them, and so some tidying up was required.

Here's an example of the before and after of the tidying up.

For some reason, I'd decided that dumping black wash over red was a good idea.

In fact, when it came to the Assault Marines, I'd also decided that black wash over yellow was also, as Matt put it, "a bold choice."

Another before and after on the 'yellow' helmets.

Therefore, what was required was a fresh layer of red, and a tidying up of the other colours I'd used as it turns out that my eyesight was getting worse long before I thought it was and the details were a bit scruffy. I also needed to add transfers on the shoulder pads

So over the last few weeks I've been working on several units and now have about 650 points of Marines redone.

Tactical Squad

Assault Squad



Death Company

Chaplain (Kitbashed)

I've not done anything fancy with any of them (including improving the basing - although I may get to that if my motivation holdsup), as that could turn into a massive rabbit hole with the other half of the army still to do.

Whilst I mention it, the rest of the army includes another Tactical Squad, a Terminator Squad, a Veteran Squad, 2 Attack Trikes, a Captain, a Razorback and a Baal Predator. I'm hoping to get them all done before the butterfly of inspiration notices a different project.

In terms of painting tallies, I've decided to count these in the painted totalbecause in reality, most of them have needed a repaint from head to foot and I really don't think I would have used them as they were.

Acquired: 222
Painted: 230

Thursday, 13 August 2020

Unleash the Dragon

But not in a Cisqo way...

For this post we're returning to the emerging struggle for Sheffield in another installment of 7TVBCW, and this time we broke out the big guns.

Whilst the BUF and Swallownest Socialists fought to determine the fate of George Orwell, the Handsworth Volunteers, part of the patchwork of militia that had declared the People's Republic of South Yorkshire, had received intelligence that royalist forces gathering near Wortley had developed a new weapon that might tip the scales against the numerically superior left-wingers in the region. Therefore they detached a scouting force of Great War veterans to Wortley to gather intelligence:

Rugged Veteran
Spiritual Custodian
Soldier of Fortune
Army Officer
Army Sergeant
5 Army Privates
Truck (Running Board, Twin- Machine Guns)

They were successful in discovering that the royalist militia in Wortley had constructed a prototype steam-tank they had nicknamed the Dragon after a local legend. However, the Handsworth men were discovered and found their escape route blocked by the a small force of well-armed Wortley folk and the imposing form of the heavily armoured Dragon, belching fire and smoke.

Bad Lieutenant
Grunt Leader
Grunt Heavy Team
3 Grunts
Big Rig (Heavy Suspension, Roof Machine Gun, Turret, Reinforced Frame, Plating)

Aware of the firepower arrayed against them, and knowing that the People's Republic needed to know what they were up against, the Handsworth commander divided his force into three groups. One team would make their way cautiously through the cover of the old ruined mill. Another would mount up in the SICKLE (the Siege Insertion Carrier with Knight's Lance Entry) and attempt to use speed to break free.

The final team would make their way through the farm and across the fields, keeping their heads low.

However the Dragon and the Lewis Gun team waited patiently for their quarry to move into view.

Whilst a squad of militia ran quickly towards the fence to take up a firing line.

To the surprise of the men of Wortley, a bright red fire truck burst across the bridge and race towards their lines, machine guns blazing, whilst other enemy figures could been seen scurrying past the farm.

Sensing there was no time to lose, the militia raced to the fence.

And the Dragon clunked, clattered and beached it's way to the top of a rise and began to pour fire at the enemy, raking the SICKLE and killing one of the men by the car.

The Lewis Gun team also opened up, further damaging their blazing red target.

Whilst all hell broke loose to their left, the leader of the Handsworth men moved with his team through the old mill without drawing any fire.

However, those was because the SICKLE was taking fire from all angles whilst barreling headlong towards the Dragon. Ultimately the weight of fire told and in an almighty explosion and the wrecked fire truck was pitched on its side. Only the chaplain crawled out of the wreckage alive.

From their vantage point, the Lewis Gun team were surprised when the explosion shook the ground around them.

And they narrowly escaped being caught in a land slip that blocked their firing line, taking them.out of the fight until they could reposition.

In a chilling reminder of their experiences in the Great War, the Handsworth men tried to advance across the cornfield to the well defended Wortley lines, but were shot down one by one. 

However, help arrived in the form of the chaplain, whose injured form, crawling out of the wreckage of the SICKLE made one of the militia briefly rethink what he was doing.

This moral dilemma caused him to back away from the fight and question the choices that had led him to firing upon his own countrymen, allowing the chaplain to stealthily make his way past the Wortley lines.

Seeing his men gunned down and realising that the Dragon would soon turn its attention to him, the leader of the Handsworth scouting party suddenly made a death or glory charge towards the Dragon, spraying it with SMG fire.

Despite the Dragon pouring fire at him, including a jet of some corrosive substance sprayed put of the window slit, the socialist officer was somehow able to exploit the steam tank's high firing point and duck under everything that came his way, scurrying past the armoured behemoth to escape.

The last few men of the Handsworth squad were not so lucky and were gunned down amidst the ruins of the mill.

However, the team leaders had escaped and the PRSY would at least be able to prepare for when the lumbering beast headed their way.

In what had appeared to be a somewhat one sided affair, Matt's Handsworth Volunteers had almost all been killed by my somewhat cheesy heavy firepower. However, speedily grabbing objectives and getting his two co-stars off the board handed Matt an 8-2 pyhrric victory.

It was fun to use Apocalypse vehicles in the game, and although the 17 rating Dragon was a bit OTT, it did leave me both short handed and short of plot points, which proved crucial for Matt when he made his dash for glory.

I'm not sure where we're going next, but given that I know Matt has a WW1 artillery piece, I confidently expect the Dragon to be facing it masquerading as a bazooka team then next time it numbers out of the work sheds.