Wednesday, 21 December 2011

The Sampler

Many of the blogs I look at regularly feature some of the painting of the blogger. I've decided to follow suit and show some of my latest projects.

My 10mm ECW/TYW project continues with Scots horse and a unit of
horse that is generic enough to serve almost any side. (Pendragon Minis)

Tennessee militia for the War of 1812 (Old Glory figs)

Some fantasy figs - a rogue with a throwing blade and a female Dwarf
(Rogue by Reaper, Dwarf by anybody's guess)

Figures painted for "Where Heroes Dare" pulp adventure game - German
troops by Great War Miniatures painted as soldiers of 'tween wars Eire.
"Who knows what mysteries Connaught holds?"

Perry Miniatures ACW Zouaves - which are choice figures! I painted them
as the 144th New York since the light blue is destinctive.

Same Zouaves - command group - sergeant, officer, drummer, and troop.
The colour bearer is in the works. I'm painstakingly painting my own flag
since the flags supplied in the box only have ELEVEN STRIPES. Even I know
that's not right.

A little plaster-craft confection for the Christmas holidays.

More of these later, as I finish flocking a backlog of troops.

Merry Christmas and a happy New Year to everyone who reads this! God be with you always!

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Beat to quarters!

Today, it ended up that the entire group at the Hamilton Road Gaming Group played one game! We took to the seas and sailed to 'whatever' using the venerable set of rules published in 1975 by TSR called Don't Give Up the Ship, put together by none other than Gary Gygax, Dave Arneson, and Mike Carr as the original D&D was being developed. The rules stand the test of time and the whole gang had a fun time - lots of laughter, few if any arguements, and loads of cannonballs in the air.
My wife, who introduced me to this game over 20 years ago, set the scenario of US Naval forces attempting to break the blockade of Baltimore harbour by the Royal Navy. The US ships were to hold off the Royal  Navy's units to let two cargo ships get off the table. There were also two pirate ships, the White Rose  and the Crimson Star, who came in to mess things up further.
The ships were from Beth's collection of 1/1200th models. Bear captained the USS Constitution (44+gun frigate), Darian the USS Essex (32 gun small frigate), and the USS Wasp (16 gun sloop of war) was my ship. Lain entered later with the USS United States (44+ gun large frigate). On the Royal side, Derek skippered the HMS Victory (100 gun ship of the line), Andy the frigate, HMS Lydia (yes, Hornblower's ship - 36 gun frigate), Martin (14 gun sloop) and Lance (44 gun frigate.) Robby had the pirates (Crimson Star and White Rose - both 26 gunners) while Beth commanded the freighters and controlled the shore batteries of Baltimore.

The merchant ships make for the open sea!

HMS Victory enters to imtimidate the US forces.

I realize that Baltimore harbour had no sandbars and atolls, but the set-up
needed some spice. The Wasp and Essex narrowly escape a collision.

The Pirate's Crimson Star ran aground and had to kedge out. Embarrasing!

Lots of swirling sail!

Another near collision. Nessie's cousin, Balty, swims beyond the ships for
the sake of spice and colour.

the Lydia... with the white ring denoting Crown ships in this instance.

The Gaming Group in mid game,

Collisions happen with inexperience crews.

Robby and the pirates took one of the freighters and the Crown forces captured the other. Martin's ship sank. He and I seemed to have a duel for almost the entire game, but I can't take all the credit; he was getting battered from all sides. Our ships often got in the way of others, cutting off what might have been good broadsides. I think that was to be expected since only Beth and I had played the rules before (although Robby had a 'training game' the day before) and it'd been years since we played.
Our second game was a meeting engagement off the coast of Brittany, with almost the same sides. Martin exchanged his ship for a lighter privateer, represented by the White Rose. Robby added the Crimson Star to the US flotilla. This time I was sunk, but the Wasp gave as good as she got... almost.
I can't remember much of the second game since I was plotting my own moves and then moving for myself and another fellow. It got real busy out that afternoon.

The USS Consitiution under full sail. It's my wife's dream to attend the
Constitution's "turn-around" cruise in Boston harbour some day.

The HMS Victory amid the ships. The brown strip in the background is
meant to be Baltimore harbour and the Maryland coast.

More action aboard.

The USS United States enters the fray, cutting across the wind.

A few notes:
  • There's a lot to be said for "Beer & Pretzels" games. Detail and 'chrome' are all fine, but don't we play for fun? Once in a while, a simple game that you can add to later is well worth it.
  • Stay away from ships-of-the-line, especially if you are skippering a sloop.
  • Andy and I discussed the set of rules and agreed they are "old school" and we're fine with that. To us, "old school" means the rules are written in such a way that there are few if any idiosyncraticly particular rules for one nationality or ship. The rules apply to everybody. There are the rules, the advanced rules, and the optional advanced rules, and you can choose which to apply. They are easy to learn, fast to catch on to, and fun to play. As I've said before, in my dotage, I'm more interested in fun than in exact simulation of reality. I live in reality; I game for fun. Don't get me wrong; wildly unrealistic rules are not so much fun unless they are fantasy/sci-fi and even then they need to be internally consistant. [Here endeth the lesson.]
Next week at the club: the Christmas party - Wings of War including Santa's sleigh, the Red Baron, and Snoopy. Also some other simple games to be played around the pastries and hot chocolate. In January and February, "Iron Ivan Boot Camp" about 5-6 weeks of WWII games using Disposable Heroes in order to get real familiar with the rules and the different armies. Both Eastern and Western front scenarios using Wehrmacht, SS, Russian, US, British, Canadian, and Sikh troops - line infantry, commandos, and paratroops. (Paint, Martin, paint!) Eventually we want to do a Dieppe scenario. Churchill tanks will be needed.
Looking forward to the Christmas-New Year's holiday. My children will be home and I'm taking some time off after Christmas, which is a very busy season for my profession. So I add this to guard your season:

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Despite absences...

I've been slow to blog lately. This time of year does get busy for people in my line of work. Still... some worthwhile things have happened.
Two weeks ago, a group of us played a game using the Warhammer Ancient Battles rules - Early Imperial Romans vs. Gauls. There will be no report on this game since it didn't go so well for me. The reasons are immaterial, but the photos are worthwhile.

Andy's Roman legionaries advance in an appropriately bellecose manner.

An overview of the Gallic side.

The Gauls move to the advance.

Skirmishers from both sides meet in the wood.

Germans - adding to the colour... and odor of the Gallic army.

Gallic Fanatics, defended by shield, tattoo, and attitude.
They did very little during the game.

A good view of the western center of the table.

That's quite enough about that fiasco. Last week, we did an old favourite - the Tiger Hunt. Take Iron Ivan's "Disposable Heroes/Coffin for Seven Brothers" rules, give each player a Tiger tank (Pzkwgn VI) or a Panther tank (Pzkwgn V), and it's every man for himself. When we've done a mini-con of sorts, this always goes well. It also help us to drill ourselves on the armour rules in the rule set. It's always a scream. When your tank is knocked out, you go get another from the pool. (1-3 on a d6, a Tiger, 4-6 a Panther, until those models run out, then the Koenigstiger and Jagdpanther can appear. This time we added a few "Guests" like 2 Ferdinands, a Firefly, and a Churchill with a 75mm gun so it would have a fighting chance. We actually played two games. In Game 2, all players got a Tiger and it "respawned" as a Panther, but there wasn't a third chance.

The table begins to be set up.

Der Laurentiger im Stadt (The Lurking Tiger in the town)

A Panther prepares to move. See, it IS a game!

Panthers, alive and dead, and the Koenigstiger

The Churchill - commanded by Robby - cruises into place.

The Firefly I decided to test drive. Nasty weapon, armour could be better.

Panthers close up. The blue chips represent penetrating hits.
The rules make your tank more vulnerable with each penetrating hit.

Ferdinand on parade. This frightened some folks until they realized it has
no turret to turn!

A nice photo of a Panther looking for prey.

A Forward Observer's eye-view of the table.
No extra points for shooting livestock.

This week, the club was playing a Dreadnought-era naval game, but I could not make it due to vehicle troubles. I'll try next time. Our next scheduled game is one of the Age of Sail, an old nugget called "Don't Give Up the Ship." One of the authors was the late Gary Gygax, done prior to his D&D publication. Before Christmas, we'll do our now-traditional (as in "We've done it once") Wings of War game with Snoopy leading the Allied squadrons.
The air battle of the ages from last Christmas.

More on that later,

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Not my stuff... but I wish.

To any of my blog readers:

This YouTube video was recommended to me by a friend. I found it truly amazing with model work beyond almost anything I'd ever seen.

So, of course, I'm "stealing" the link and sharing it with you.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Blue and Grey at Crouch Library

This past Saturday, part of the Hamilton Road Gaming Group played an American Civil War scenario using a variation on Iron Ivan Games' "This Very Ground." Andy and I cooked up this variant, which is based on Iron Ivan's French & Indian War rules. The weapons' ranges, some of the morale specifics, and a few other idiosyncratic points required a "home brew" solution. The game works is all I can say.

Andy and I ran the Union troops - Two 4-section companies and a cannon each, while Wayne and Bear pushed the Confederates, with roughly the same set up. Bear and I both replaces one 11-12 man section with a 5 figure section of sharpshooters with sharpshooter rifles. Both proved their worth. This was also our first use of artillery for the game - 12-pounder Napoleons for everybody!

Some photos to tell the story:

The set-up -- four folding banquet tables in all, felt, cloth fields,
and rubber streams

The Confederates won the camp in a pre-game random dice roll,
done by by wife... my Texan wife... throughly random... sure...

Rebel Infantry looks over the stream

Federal Infantry looks over the wheat field (a post-surgery door mat)

The game begins. The obligitory Tim Horton's libation is shown.
After all, this is Canada!

Grey and Butternut at the rail fence.
Andy made the fences out of bamboo skewers from the dollar store.

The Colonel leads Andy's parade up the main road -
4 sections in road column. ("I've always wanted to do that!" sez Andy)

Moving so fast, they're blurred, the Southern Infantry move up to the

The Grey tide continues.

A local craftsman sculpted and moulded this artillery set -
painted as Union...

... or Confederate.

My favourite photo of the game -
Andy's lead company crosses the wheat field.

As our games often do (because of time constaints), the game ended in a draw. The Yanks took serious casualties crossing the fields while the Union guns did serious execution on the exposed Reb infantry. The Rebel guns did knock out one of the Union guns; so much for avoiding counter-battery tactics! We never got to hand-to-hand fighting, and so were not able to use the "Skidaddle" section of the home-brewed rules.
     A few notes:
  • Sharpshooters are worth it, even though they would be few and far-between.
  • ACW games are very nasty in the fire-power area, especially if you try Napoleonic tactics.
  • The rules for cannon work well, although This Very Ground favours the lighter guns of the F&I/AWI/1812 period. The artillery workhorse of the Civil War was the 12-pounder Napoleon smoothbore. The rifled ordinance could throw shot and shell further, but was at a bit of a disadvantage in canister, which damaged the rifling of the tube. Or so I'm told. (I've never fired an cannon.)
  • We added a "go prone" movement/formation option to the original rules. Very worthwhile to avoid being butchered by musket fire. Just don't get caught in hand-to-hand while on your belly.
  • Next time - maybe cavalry and Zouaves for colour and spice.
  • Next week, (we hope!) Ancients! Early Imperial Romans (EIR) vs. Gauls - the continual grudge match.