January Sales at North Star!

North Star are having a range of January Sales.

Blood Eagle
Of particular interest to Blood Eagle players may be their £1 per figure sale which includes Artizan’s Vikings…

Thud & Blunder
Of particular interest to T&B players may be their £1 per figure sale which includes Frost Grave: Ghost Archipelago metal figures…

And the hardback copy of the T&B rules is slashed from £27 to £21.60.

In Her Majesty’s Name
Of particular interest to IHMN players may be their £1 per figure sale which includes Copplestone’s Darkest Africa range…

And the hardback copy of the IHMN rules is slashed from £30 to £24.

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Blood Eagle returns!

Blood Eagle, first published in 2016, has been the fastest selling Ministry of Gentlemanly Warfare book to date.  All printed copies flew off the shelves within months and continuing PDF sales demonstrate that the game remains popular. 

We therefore decided that, rather than simply re-printing it, we would offer you some improvements along with your existing favourite material.

The original Blood Eagle focused on Dark Age “Viking” skirmish battles in a northern European setting.  These will remain at the core of Blood Eagle 2 but we will be expanding the rules coverage in two ways.  In this new edition, we will cover both the Early Medieval period and the Mediterranean area – so your games can now include the Norman pacification of England, the first three Crusades, the Baronial wars of the 12th century in England, the Angevin wars in France, the battles between the Spanish and the Moors and much more, should you so wish.  The period we will be covering runs from 793CE to approximately 1200CE.

To accommodate all this, and to improve your gaming experience, we’ll be making significant changes in Blood Eagle 2 including:

  • Improving aspects of the core game rules, based on our experience with our other rulesets. This shall also make it compatible with our more recent games Thud & Blunder and In Her Majesty’s Name 2.
  • Introducing a third religion – Muslim.
  • Expanding the range of weapons, armour, equipment and vehicles available.
  • Adding new Beasts and Legendary Creatures.
  • Reworking the Magical Powers, including the addition of Powers specific to the fascinating Muslim culture.
  • Writing new warbands for the Early Medieval period and the Mediterranean.
  • Adding new Heroes in this book, such as Robin Hood and El Cid!

You will also find that most of what you knew and loved in the original Blood Eagle will still be there – though in a few cases we’ve changed the terminology to make it more widely applicable. 

At the moment we’re reviewing and improving the rules and other supporting sections of the book, after which we will move onto the new warbands.  It’s too early to say when it will be released, or in what format – we’ll post updates as we go.

Is there anything you would particularly like to see in this new edition?

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It is that time again…

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The Other Partizan – 9th October 2022

The Ministry is proud to announce that it shall be attending this fine event next weekend. Sir Charles and young Ensign Robert, shall be on hand to assist me.

As is out custom we shall be running a participation game and be happy to chat about our games with any of you that are also coming, and whether the newly introduced (in 1895) Magazine Lee-Enfield is superior to the Royal Armouries MkII Arc Rifle.

Below is a map of the event and you will notice not one, but two Ministry icons. The first, labelled helpfully – The Ministry – is where we shall be encamped, and the second – COGS – is where Dave Wise and his fine cadre of chaps shall be running fast play IHM2 participation games.

As fine a show as one can find in the Empire of Man.

We shall look forward to seeing you at our favourite show.

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Lion Rampant: Second Edition – Review

We don’t do many product reviews but we have admired Dan Mersey’s work for some time and this seemed an appropriate moment.

Lion Rampant’s second edition continues the enjoyment and playability of the first edition. Based on medieval and dark age skirmish, author Daniel Mersey also makes it clear that the game can create “Hollywood battles” with its fast-paced play style.

A view of part of the front cover, representative of the fine illustrations throughout.

The book contains sixty-six, 24 point war-band samples, “…from a variety of dark ages and medieval theatres of war”. It also includes 8 different Heroic sample war bands from fiction, like The Merry Men and The Round Table.

The traditional I go You go found in many skirmish games are changed, opting for activation phases. Players carry out their actions until an ordered activation test is failed; this creates fluidity as your turn may be broken up halfway through!

Another illustration from the book.

The second edition expands on the previous editions’ scenarios. On release, there are sixteen new scenarios. A fast-paced skirmish game like Lion Rampant excels in scenario play rather than a straight bloodbath. Ironically, Bloodbath is the first scenario.

Built-in rules for two different campaigns allow you to generate tension and drama at the table, matched with quick game times, which allows for a story to be told over a night of games! In addition, the weather system is simple enough to remember during the games, but I have found it gives a deeper level of immersion (especially during campaigns.)

The back of the book has an easy-to-follow reference sheet along with; a fantastic Activation sequence flow chart (which also appears earlier in the book) and a blank Warband sheet ready for your first Skirmish!

4/5, worth the price and lots of fun to be had.

Conor Cartmell

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Britcon 2022

Next Sunday I shall be attending Britcon 2022, to support Dave Wise and his crew.

They will be will running four IHMN participation games simultaneously.

Players will be able to select from a number of pre-prepared 250 point Companies, with up to four companies on each board.

The rules will be as normal IHMN with the following amendments:

– Each game will have a length of 6 turns or 30 minutes, whichever is the shorter.

– Turn 1 is a tactical movement turn only.

– Turns 2 to 6 are as normal.

To win a Company must do the following:

– Wipe out the other company/companies.

– Complete the Scenario.

– After 6 turns or 30 minutes achieve the most Victory Points.

It sounds like a lot of fun, so if you are able to attend, we shall look forwards to seeing you.

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Excerpt from the Junior Officer’s Pocketbook – 1894

Considerations for Small Unit Actions by Major Bullington-Smythe MC, Commanding Officer, The Prince of Wales’s Extraordinary Company.

There shall come a time in every Junior Officer’s career where he shall find himself leading a handful of men against a capable and cunning foe. The guidance below is based upon notes made by the author in small unit actions across Africa, the Caribbean and China.

Such small engagements are often the fulcrum upon which events of much greater import revolve. The turning of an enemy flank, the capture of an enemy leader or flag, the stalwart rear-guard that enables the regiment to withdraw and reform, and in more recent times, the thwarting of foreign agents and their nefarious schemes.

To paraphrase the late Field Marshal von Moltke, “No operation extends with any certainty beyond the first encounter with the enemy”. This is no truer than in the command and leadership of small units in the ofttimes chaotic engagements they endure. The force that succeeds shall not necessarily be the one with the greater numbers or better equipment. Instead, it is the force that has the most adaptable leadership and the most complete moral certainty in their cause. The author has seen bellicose Highlanders put to flight by savage Pathans for this very reason.

When one leads men into such a situation one must assess the following:

1. The objective of the mission;

2. The ground across which one must fight;

3. The troops and equipment at your disposal;

4. The likely actions of the enemy.

The author shall address each of these in turn below, but first he shall address the matter of good leadership. In Small Unit Actions everything shall depend up on the steadiness of command. With such a small number of men they shall advance or retreat depending on their faith in the strength of character of their commander. Such actions are often over in mere minutes, and, without bold and decisive leadership, the men shall waiver and fall to confusion.

At the Royal Military College, you men will have learnt how to give orders with accuracy, brevity and clarity. This skill shall show its worth in such engagements as we here discuss. Direct your men with confidence and precision and you will often succeed by that alone. For given a clear order a man shall do his utmost to complete it. If confused, he can become distracted and easily put to flight.

Make good use of your NCOs, especially the senior men. They have the trust of the soldiers they lead, for they may have been with them for many years. They are the steadfast example their men need when all falls to chaos and bloodshed around them. In Small Unit Actions you should take these men into your confidence as far as you are made able by your orders.

If you must divide your force, then they shall then act for as leaders of the other parts and as such the more they know the better they can continue the mission should you fall. Ask for and respect their opinions as usually they shall be more experienced than you. At the end of the day though you are the Officer and must take the decisions that will save or doom your men.

The NCOs know this and shall rely upon you for it.

The Four Principles of Small Unit Action

1. The Objective

In most cases you shall have your orders. You may not be entirely wise as to why you are ordered to do or achieve what is stated within them and it is not your place to question. It is only important that you succeed in carrying them out to the best ability of your men and yourself. The cost you may be asked to pay is of no consequence when put against the larger picture seen only by your superiors. When engaging the enemy, you must put other considerations aside and concentrate wholly on your objective. Anger, the fear of loss of good men and equipment, the wish to return harm unto your enemy, or other motivations must not divert you from this.

2. The Ground

Your appreciation of the ground across which you shall fight may be the determining factor in whether you succeed or fail, live, or die. As you did in training ask yourself the following questions:

a. Where is the objective?

b. What cover may be gained from the terrain before you?

c. What are the clearest lanes of fire that you might dominate by well-placed men?

d. From where are your enemy most likely to come?

e. What cover might be afforded to them and how might you deny them that refuge?

f. How shall the terrain hinder or aid your movement?

g. To where might the enemy escape if defeated?

The terrain may afford you the luxury of a well-covered approach or place you in the position where you must move with boldness and speed to achieve your objective.  Open ground always holds deadly potential and, if you must attempt it, do your best to make any enemy uncomfortable through accurate covering fire. Grenades and smoke are often useful for obscuring your advance. It is important to remember that you shall not have a battalion at your back in Small Unit Actions. So, you must enlist the ground itself to multiply your effectiveness and become that battalion.

3. Troops and Equipment

You must appreciate that you shall never have enough men, nor all the equipment that you might want. With the best will in the world you are probably are going to suffer a lack of some measure. So, you must make best use of what you do have.

Small Unit Actions are mostly short, on occasion only a minute or two in duration, and seldom longer than twenty. Your men must be able to move quickly and be prepared to fight at close quarters. One could deploy a squadron of Guards in full armour, carrying heavy weapons and enough ammunition to refight the Crimea but your enemy shall dance around them and be off before you can even turn to face.

For an ordinary infantryman one recommends a reinforced tunic or, if the enemy is expected to have heavier weapons, brigandine. Give each man a rifle, three clips of ammunition, a bayonet (fixed before the engagement to save time) and possibly a grenade or two. This is more than enough for the purpose.

Armour, such as it is, often has a greater effect by instilling confidence in the wearer than it does in actually stopping injuries.

If you need heavy support, then deploy two men to carry and use a Maxim – or better yet one of the new Vickers models being considered by the Ordnance Board.

Perhaps add a Sapper to bring a Congreve. You should not need more this is not Omdurman.

For yourself the classic Pistol and Sabre combination, and perchance a Breastplate should suffice. Some Officers in the Extraordinary Battalion are known to favour shortened shotguns or even carbines. However, I find these hard to fire in one’s offhand. Personally, I do not favour the new-fangled Arc pistols as they are useless when pressed in close combat, yet some of my fellow Officers swear by them.

I recommend heavier armour for the Officer because you are the core about which your enterprise succeeds or fails. If you should fall, then the chances of success are greatly diminished.

On occasion you may have access to extraordinary equipment. The usefulness of Faraday or Vulcan coats cannot be underestimated against the right foe. Heavy support from a Mechanical Walker, despite their innate unreliability, could provide a real advantage. In each case though take only what you need for each of these items comes at a tactical cost.

One of the problems common to Small Unit Actions is the effective concentration of force. It is not unusual for men to become quickly separated and fall to confusion as a result.  At most divide your force into three parties. Each with a minimum of three men and each given clear orders, amongst which must be the command to stay together. In a classic engagement one of these three is the support party. This contains a heavy weapon, if you have one, or acts a reserve. If it is the former it should move to a point where it commands the greatest part of the field of battle. If it is the latter ,then it must keep pace with the others and be prepared to act upon command with immediate effect.

The other two parties, led by your NCO and yourself, should be prepared to lend fire support to each other and to drive out the enemy where necessary. One of these two should have the task of securing/achieving the objective. Whereas the task of the other is to engage, frustrate and prevent the enemy from doing likewise. Which one you choose to command is your decision.

If you have insufficient men and can only manage to divide into two parties, then set one to frustrating the enemy and the other to the achievement of the objective. If one has a surgeon or medical orderly place him with the latter.

4. The Enemy

Know thine enemy as thyself” is the wisest advice I can give. 

It is not often that you shall be sent into action with absolutely no knowledge of your enemy and his capabilities. Take what time you have to acknowledge his strengths and weaknesses, what equipment he shall likely bring to the field, and what tactics he favours. Perhaps engage the support of other Officers who have met this enemy before.

Do not fall to arrogance lest you underestimate your foe. We did so at Isandlwana and paid a heavy price for our belief that the Zulu was an untutored and cowardly savage. That a much smaller force survived at Rorke’s Drift was due in no small part to two British Officers realising how powerful their enemy could be, and thus playing to their own strengths and planning their meagre resources accordingly.

If competently led, each enemy shall play to their strengths. The fanatical zeal of the Boxer, the fearsome hand-to-hand fighting skills of the Zulu, the guile and marksmanship of the Pathan, the desperate courage and self-sacrifice of the Anarchist, the precision of the Prussian, the élan of the French Legionnaire.  Place yourself in the shoes of the leader of such men and consider how you would use them to achieve the objective. Then plan to frustrate them by this insight.

Some of our enemies have begun to use great beasts in Small Unit Actions. These are a terrifying spectacle to behold and can cause a man’s courage to drain away like water. The best way to deal with these is concentrated fire, something to which fortunately most seem especially vulnerable. Once downed, the moral advantage moves to your men for they have defeated a denizen of Hell and are subsequently less afraid of the mere men that summoned it.

At the end of the day, what you shall achieve in a such an engagement shall be in direct proportion to that which you are willing to hazard. You shall lose men and you may also fall, but this matters naught if you succeed. It is only a waste if you fail.

Finally, concern yourself only with that which you can command. Let the Lord God concern himself with the rest.

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Doing things on the cheap

One of the things that often appalls me as a wargamer is the apparent entry cost of many games. First you have the rulebook, its supplements, rulers, dice, terrain and then the unpainted figures you then have to paint or pay someone to paint for you.
All this must be very off-putting to new players.
However, it does not have to be this way. There are several ways to get into a game without paying north of £100/$100 and as the Ministry’s skinflint-in-chief here are a few examples…

  1. Digital rulebooks
    Most wargames companies have embraced the digital nature of the world today. You don’t have to get their expensive 300+ page hardbacks as they will usually sell you a digital version for half that price or even give you the basic rules (without fluff and pictures) for nothing.
  2. Terrain
    There are numerous companies and creators out there who have created terrain that you simple print on light card, cut-out and assemble. Much of this is absolutely beautiful and surprisingly durable. For example: Dave Graffam produces a wide range of useful terrain at very little cost, and once you own the PDF you can print as many as you like. [http://www.davesgames.net/]
    If you have a 3D printer Thingiverse and Cults3D are full of free terrain objects you can print.
  3. Figures
    The obvious route here seems to be to download designs from Thingiverse/Cults3D and simply 3D print them. Of course they are not painted, and the range is still a little limited. If you do not have a 3D printer there are hundreds of producers in Etsy willing to sell you decent prints.
    A much cheaper option though is to print 2.5D paper craft figures on card. Numerous artists now produce ranged of these for a tiny cost. Look up Dave Okum on Drivethru RPG for amazing examples. http://www.okumarts.com/
  4. Figure bases
    There are plenty of companies who will sell you incredibly detailed resin or plastic bases that can cost more than the figures that stand on them. However, if you just want something simple go to your local craft store and buy bags of 50+ small wooden 1mm thick disks for a couple of pounds/euros/dollars.
A David Okum Troll on a textured wooden base

The pictures I have added here are of a Dave Okum Troll, on a wooden base and painted with a textured acrylic paint that cost me, all in, about 10 pence. I printed the figure from a five page PDF which includes 20 detailed full-colour figures and terrain pieces, used a 40mm wooden disk from The Works (pack of fifty includes 40mm, 25mm and 20mm disks for £2), and painted the base with a textured Acrylic paint from the middle of Lidl (5 x 100ml tubes for £6.99). Assembly took me ten minutes for five figures.
In an afternoon you could easily print, assemble and base a 100 figure army, while listening to Youtube videos telling you how to play the game.

Cheap textured acrylic paint from the middle of Lidl
Wooden bases from The Works

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Bad news from 4Ground

It is with great regret that we have to inform you that this long-term partner of ours in the wargaming world will soon close its doors. Here is their statement:

This is an important announcement from Tymeagain Ltd. We are closing 4Ground due to increasing costs. 4Ground Publishing is having a closing down sale, ending on the 30th of June 2022. At that time, Tymeagain Ltd. will complete any remaining orders but will not accept further orders for 4Ground product. It’s been an incredible journey and we can’t thank you enough for all the years of support and enthusiasm from the amazing community of terrain lovers!

4Ground were the company that created the Ministry game tokens that you can still get from North Star Miniatures, and many of the buildings that you have seen in our various show boards.

We have been on their website today and they have already started applying significant discounts to many of their magnificent products. So you might want to get in their early before the stock is gone.

Other companies in our hobby have also been talking about the deleterious effect of increased costs, especially in materials and energy, has been having on them. As many are very small companies, with limited resources, who already run on tight margins we are concerned that 4Ground shall not be the last to be affected in this way.

The Ministry would like to thank Cad and his crew for the great service they have provided over the last decade, and we will treasure the many excellent products we have bought from them.

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Adapting Thud & Blunder warband lists to match your collection

Robbin’ B’stard & his Merry Goblins

I must admit that I am very fond of Goblins, far more than their larger cousins the Orcs, so I decided to create a goblin-only warband from 9.4.16 Orcs and Goblins list.

In that list the goblins are very much the junior partners and are used as scouts and cannon fodder. To cut them away and make them stand on their own two feet I had to make several small, yet significant changes.

First though, the theme. Whenever I create a list, I start with a theme. In this case I took the classic Robin Hood trope and turned it to the short and dark side. So, we have a band of goblins with a cunning leader, who are into highway robbery. Taking from the rich, to keep for themselves.

To begin with I pulled out the goblins from my figure collection. I have a huge number of GW Night Goblins which, though characterful, lack a certain medieval villainy. I also have a small group of goblins my friend Martin sculpted. These could easily be buffed to make a 200pt list and would form the core onto which I could add more later (I’m thinking a small troop of wolf riders, and some more raiders, but I’m getting ahead of myself here.

I will need to start with my chief – the Robbin’ B’Stard of the title. As goblins must rely on their cunning, I chose to base him on a bow-armed Raider. In the original list there is a named goblin called Sly, a right sniper. I took Sly, improved his Destiny from 5+ to 4+, and gave him Leadership +2. One of Martin’s sculpts is perfect for him.

Then I looked at the rest of the band of figures. I have five armed with shortsword, to whom I added a rectangular shield from my Oathmark Human Soldier sprues to make my Ravagers. These little guys are going to get in the thick of it, so they need all the armour they can carry. As a group of four their job will be to mob enemy combatants and drag them down with numbers and sheer spite

To lead them I took the bareheaded Ravager figure, gave him Leadership +1, and improved his Destiny from 6+ to 5+. As a spin on Robin Hood, I called him ‘Little Nob’ (because of his bald head, you dirty-minded rascals).

Now things get interesting as I want a little magical edge. Thus, I adapted the Orc Junior Shaman to make Hissing Sid, the Goblin shaman, which suits one of Martin’s figures wielding a magical staff. The decision is what magical powers suit this warband. Heal was my first choice, so he can get fallen comrades (of which there may be many, given their destiny stat) back into the fight. Then Spectral Dart, which he can use on important foes… and their mounts. Finally, his most important spell – darkness. It’s an any phase spell which weaves a 12” diameter area of darkness over the battlespace, giving it the equivalent of Light level 0. This shields his comrades, blinds his foes, and makes life very difficult all round.

To assist with this, I gave all the Goblins the Nighteyes trait, so they can navigate and fight their enemies in the pitch black. They also received the Stealthy trait, so that even when they are not in darkness, they are harder to shoot at.

Finally, I wanted a brute squad so picked up the main list’s optional Ogre from the Bestiary. I armed him with a big club for smashing down the enemies’ finest. Then, reading the description, I realised that we had never defined a thrown boulder in the Armoury. So, I gave it some thought and gave it +1 to hit because it is a big missile to dodge, -2 on the Destiny roll as this will hurt and a relatively short range of 12”, for a total of 9 points. I’m still wondering if it should be considered a Sundering weapon when attacking vehicles or structures.

Overall, I now have an operational goblin list of just under 240 points. To round it out I am going to create five Raiders armed with Shortbows and improved with the Stealthy and Nighteyes traits, at 25 points apiece. Then a trio of wolf riding raiders to harass enemies at speed.

Note: I do not paint my orcs and goblins green. I much prefer a paler flesh tone.

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