Friday, 23 November 2012

Forward... into the past... that never happened!

So there I was... minding my own business in the 21st century, when all of a sudden, a thought hit me... and Andy... and Martin... and Kevin... and Rob: "Shouldn't we do an 'Imigi-nations' campaign?" The common thoughts hit it usually means divine intervention or rather tasty beer. Still this was something I'd secretly wanted to do since... well, since I was knee-high to a prat, as it were.

So what rules to use? After much discussion and a few knock-down-drag-out friendly conversations, we decided on Warfare in the Age of Reason. (Maurice and Koenig Krieg were considered, and I'm sure most of you, my gracious readers, have your own favourites, but we've got to start somewhere.) Next, maps. Since Martin is a graduate student studying economic geography, we'll leave that to him who is an expert-in-training. Next, Figures. ("Dig in, boys; it's going to be a long war." he says to himself.) Andy and I have extensive 15mm collections for the 7 Years War. Andy has a large collection of 25mm figs for the French and Indian War in North America. But it's an "Imigi-nations" campaign and we want to paint up the figures as we please, not impress Prussians, Russians, or Swedes as troops of our postage stamp empires! Some new figures are being released... but not for SYW and they are not cheap.

What to do? I spelunk into my old documents and find something I never considered. 20mm figures for the SYW and the AWI (American War of Independence) by Frying Pan & Blanket Amalgamated of Minnesota. They've been around for a long time, but do they still exist? What do the figures look like? They have no Web-presence (e-mail address or website) so how do we contact them? There is a fan-run website that has a few photos and list the all the ranges FP&B produce [] but even he says all correspondence is by surface mail... y'know, with stamp and envelope. HOWEVER, their figures are boxed 24 infantry (including 2 officers, 2 colour bearers, and 2 musicians) or 6 cavalry (6 horses, 6 riders, and 6 dismounted cavalrymen or 6 command - like the infantry with no dismounted). There are some variations for light troops and such. Artillery is boxed 4 crews of 6 and the range of ordnance is extensive. Best of all the figures are white metal of the usual sort and cost... wait for it... $9.95 US a box! Are you kidding me? $.41 a figure for metal? So I ordered a sample. A while later (I think they mould to order, so there's little stock on hand), a package arrived. The folks at FP&B were most gracious and friendly and acually called me to say when they were shipping. This might be out of the ordinary, but it was great to have them do that.

So I painted and here's what some of the troops look like: (the good photos are courtesy of my wife, the scummy ones are mine.)

To give you an idea of the size, here you can see me adjusting the ensign of the cavalry unit
(Box #151 - 18th Century Horse command)

British line infantry in overalls for Rob's British North America-style army
(Box #161 British line infantry, marching, hide pack, overalls)

A rear view of the British. The officer is carrying a musket, so it's a late war figure.

Prussian-style German infantry - Hessians, I suppose. Very good for SYW Prussians
(Box #112 German Line Infantry, tricorns, marching)

The command stand close up. Age of Reason calls for 12 figure battalions, so a box from FP&B
gives you two battalions for less than $10! 

Germans showing the detail on the backs - knapsack packs for the rank and file, aguilette for the officer,
"Swallow's nests" for the drummer.
Box #107 Continental Line Infantry, Tricorns, uniforms, marching painted up as a Pennsylvania battalion
in "Quaker Brown." They'll serve in Rob's army.

The command - the flags are moulded in a draped position which makes them a bit hinky for painting.
Box #103 Highland line infantry, bonnets, kilts, defending
This the first unit for Beth's Scot's style army. She wanted green coats with a MacGregor tartan.
I did my best.

Back view of the Scots. They are behaving themselves. No "Braveheart" kilt flipping today.

A second Scots outfit - Green with lighter green facings AND a regimental mascot!
A close-up of the officer, ensign, and MacTavish. The unit includes drummers, no pipers
(Deep sigh)

A close up of the back of the 2nd Scots unit.

Jagers for my army - These are the dismounted version of the 18th Century horse. I decided to turn them
into light infantry since we probably won't dismount our cavalry. I only had nine figures, so I'm a stand
short until then next order. I added an officer who came with the mounted command.
They're carrying a short firearm which I now declare to be a rifle. So let it be written; so let it be done!

The Jagers and their wolfhound mascot, Mitzi. This is actually a 15mm figure from a now defunct range
whose name I can't remember, but the sculptor or producer of the line was one Jamie Fish. I've heard
he'd passed on, and I still like his figures. I think my Imigi-nation will be the Grand Electorate of
Saxe-Fredonia under the enlightened rule of his grace, the Grand Elector, Rufus I Glühwürmchen.

Native Warriors (Box #132 - Woodland Indians - 7 poses)
Rob intends to make these his light infantry. I've added a few figures from the dismounted batch of
Box # 509 - Plains Indians Mounted from the Pony Wars range.

Various Braves

... with warpaint...

... and head dress (From Box 509)...
... shirts and leggings.

A tribute to a reenacting friend - Aaron immortalised in pewter.

From Boxes #150 & 151 - 18th Century Horse and Command - painted as a dragoon regiment.
The Fredonian Dragoons are renowned for... something or other, I can't remember, but
they're renowned!
The dragoons pass in review!
Ensign and trumpeter of the dragoons. I'm rather pleased with the results.

The trumpeter close up. I decided to use reversed colours - red coat with medium blue facings- for the
regimental musicians.  I want to do a regiment each of heavy horse and hussars, but the reversed colours
may not hold for them.
A Saxe-Fredonian general office who appears to be aping an American War of Independence officer.
(Box #106 British or Continental Officers, mounted) FP&B generals come with horses who have the saddle
and horse furniture attached. With the other cavalry, except for the mounted Indians, the horse furniture
is attached to the rider.

From Box #509 - Plains Indians, mounted.
Rob says he wants to use these as his light cavalry. I'm gong to stick to hussars.
From Box #106 - His Grace, the Grand Elector of Saxe-Fredonia, Rufus I Glühwürmchen
A close up of His Grace. I've GOT to remember to paint that mustache!
Not the most detailed figure ever, to be honest, but it has character.
An extra officer. So is he an engineer/sapper/miner? An official of the Electoral Committee on Secrets?
(the EKG - That's the Electorate's uniformed secret police.) A cadet from the University's Reserve
Army Training Service (the RATS)? I don't know. Check back later when I get more figures.

In general, the bunch of us are satisfied with this range of figures. There are holes in it, but that's easy to make up. Unpainted they look a little spindly, but even a fair paint job adds lots. Other ranges offered include the Seven Years War (British, Austrian, French, & Russian, theWar of 1812, the Legion of the United States for Tippecanoe, and the Pony Wars of the later 1800's. I'd say look into this range of figs. Since they are 20mm, they stand alone, but as metal figures, they can hold up to the plastics available and I don't think you can beat the price.
The Electorate will be recruiting soon! Christmas is coming and I'm tough to buy for.

"Hail, hail, Fredonia! Land of the Brave and Freeeeeeee!"
(I love having a national anthem already composed.)

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Maurice Deployed

Saturday saw Martin, Andy, Kevin, and I trying a new (to us) set of rules for the Age of Reason period. Martin had been wanting to try Maurice to see how it played. So Andy brought his terrain and his infantry and artillery and I supplied some extra cavalry and we went head to head. Andy and Kevin pushed Prussian lead (8 battalions of infantry, 2 of grenadiers, 3 regiments of cavalry, and 2 guns) while Martin and I bravely led the French (9 infantry, 1 grenadier unit, 3 cavalry, and 2 guns.)

Maurice is a card driven game in which you pick up and lay down cards for actions and for special events (like "a sniper shoots one of your major officers" or "That isn't on the map!" which was played against me; more on that later.) The game started slow with minor movements on either side and some artillery bombardments. Hits by artillery or small arms do not inflict casualties in the usual sense, but cause "disruptions" and when you have more disruption  than you have stands in the unit, the unit breaks. (the standard is four with Austria having six because of their MASSIVE  infantry units.) Units only disappear when you lose hand-to-hand combat. We French generals move in to closer range and suffered for it, but we wanted to precipitate some fighting since staring at each other and hurling vague insults does not make a good game. (Really, we're not 6 years old nor are we running for political office.)

The game table looking "north" with the initial deployments - French on the left, Prussians on the right.
Looking "south" before deployment.
"I'll see your fusiliers and raise you a dragoon squadron." Kevin and Andy check their cards.
The troops in the foreground are some of the troops in my division.

Part of Martin's division - infantry and artillery. He took all the artillery and gave me the lion's share of the cavalry. He likes his massed batteries. A unknown whitecoat unit marches next to the Gardes Lorraine and is followed by the Grenadiers de France.

Kevin's Prussians (left) and Andy's Prussians (right) prepare to pretend to advance.
The blue chips in the background were used to note disruptions.

Four of my five infantry units and my two cavalry units begin their slog forward.
Another infantry unit stood on the far left, out of the photo.
Marshal Martin's unit of French cavalry

Kevin's far right flank that didn't move all game and didn't have to:
Andy's Prussian infantry and my wife's Bavarian Dragoons.

Watching the advance while fiddling with "The Precious", your humble author seems...  pensive.

My units go into combat at bayonet point first. It didn't help. The unit in melee was destroyed by the Prussians.

The big battle. Martin's division engages Andy's right and Kevin's left in the centre of the table. It was a see-saw battle.
Where'd that come from? When my cavalry prepared to charge (to see how the moster works - like security men in Star Trek), Kevin played the "That's not on the map!" card and plopped a swamp/bog/hellhole right in front of me. I was surprised and the horse had to back out of the rough terrain the next time they could move.

My general, his excellency the Compte d'Mony seem to be holding the line alone. One regiment had vaporized, a second had fallen back, and the two in the forest were held up by rough terrrain. (Slow movement and one disruption for  being in the woods) [Go ahead, Martin; I know you're going to correct my French since I only understand "Supermarket French" - y'know the French side of all food products.]

Nap-of-the-earth miniature combat photography at its best!

So my cavalry backed up and reset for another charge... as cerfew fell!

Well, Martin and I lost. There's a system in Maurice to "keep score" based on the number of units you start the game with and that system showed a marginal/minor Prussian victory. We took to the highway and the Prussians let us go in good Seven Years War style.

I enjoyed the game. I'm not altogether sold on Maurice and other card-driven games; something seems a little artificial there. It's almost a deus-ex-machina situation. It does permit a good "fog of war" and keeps you on your toes, but the surprises can be gut-wrenching. Having said that, I'd play the game again.

We all have our own preferences. Andy prefers "Battles in the Age of Reason" which appears to have quite a following. I prefer KoenigKrieg... and I'm not rebasing for a change of rules sets.

We are still considering an "Imigi-nations" campaign and I have some troops painted. I'll post the photos soon. The figs are really "retro": they're 20mm! Age of Reason seems to be the rule set of choice. Martin, who is a graduate student studying serious geography will create a map. I'd like to set up a grid of unforeseen circumstances to be rolled for in every time period. Famine? Flood? Court scandal? An extra levy of  patriotic militia? A new found fortune? Godzilla? (Well, maybe not the last one... mabye. Heh-heh-heh.) More on this later.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Games Day at the Library

Saturday, November 3rd was a sort of national celebration of games of all types at Canadian libraries. (It may have been more international, but my intelligence sources are somewhat faulty on that.) The games club set up a number of interactive games for the public to join in. Kevin ran a game set in the Star Trek universe with some pretty sharp-looking 3d blocks for the starships. A Warhammer game was hotly contested in the back of the room. The historical wing of the club set up a "Tiger Hunt." This is a free-for-all armoured combat using the armoured rules from Iron Ivan games - Disposable Heroes/Coffin for Seven Brothers. We try to keep it simple: each player starts with a Tiger tank (Panzer markVI) and tries to stay alive. It began as a simple and fun way to get used to Iron Ivan's rules for tank-ing. It's become a sort of convention-drop-in game. If your Tiger "brews up", you respawn as a Panther (Mark V version G, or something like that.) When your Panther buys the farm, you're out.
This time, we started differently. The game began with Tiger I's, Russian KV-7's, and other German never-deployed "PanzerDisney" vehicles, like the "Lowe" (Mark VII "Lion"). We started play with some of those "funnies" but switched to Tigers all around (almost) when some young guys joined in. They played for a few turns but wandered off when we told them there'd be no video games today. One young guy stayed - more on him later.
I can't give you a play by play since it was a wild and wooly time. I ran through a Tiger I, a Sherman Firefly, a Churchill with a 75mm gun, an Achilles tank-destroyer, and finally, a Maus. (Heh-heh, that's right... the Maus!) I was knocked out in each of those worthy vehicles. Once you were knocked out, you "respawned" at one of 6 entry points determined by the roll of a d6. The Achilles came in on a bridge just behind a Russian JS-III and followed directly by a Jagdtiger. I never got a shot off.

To the photos!

The table - lots of forest and structures, The six 'spawnpoints' were the road in front of you, the two bridges on the left, the road at the far end of the table, the stone bridge on the far right, and the swamp on the near right. The bunkers were just for looks - no guns were emplaced.
PanzerDisney! Martin's Maus with a Flames of War Kubelwagen next to it for comparison.
Another of Martin's KriegTraum AFV's - a tank destroyer with a huge gun and a designation I can't recall.
My daughter, Katie pushed this beastie for a large chunk of the game. Another of Martin's models of "stuff that was never deployed" - the really nasty KV-7. We kept asking if the billiards room was taking on smoke and if the casino had power.

A line of Tigers - Andy's work with a King Tiger closest to the camera.
Martin's up-gunned Tiger III never quite made it out of the swamp.
An ambitious Tiger attempts to push the KO'd Lowe out of the way. Lots of things got bottled up at the entry points and had to push stuff out of the way. When the Jagdtiger came on it had to push the KO'd Achilles, a KO'd Panther and a JS-III. There was so much smoke... er, painted cotton!
The Bergepanther ARV (Armoured Recovery Vehicle) on it's mission of mercy. It was run by the gamesmaster, Martin ,and ran full speed toward any vehicle that had been immobilised by losing a track. It would fix it and head back to the town square. Some folks blew it up to keep an opponent from getting fixed. It would then "respawn" in the town square next round of moving/shooting.

My daughter, the incredibly blood-thirsty Katie, originally came up to play board or card games with my wife, Beth. (her mom) My son, Rob, convinced her to "push a tank for a few moves." She stayed to the bitter end and clobbered my Maus with the Jagdtiger with a lucky shot (natural 10 on a d10) to the back of the turret. She pushed the KV-7, a JS III and finally the Jagdtiger, part of her total of 14 or 15 kills.
Tyler helps our youngest tank commander... or is he measuring to shot him? I don't remember. The most memorable thing of the game was the young guy's remark when his friends left to find video games: "I don't want to do video games. This is 'way more fun!"  There IS hope for the universe! I'm sure Katie and Rob were offering helpful hints here.

The conga line on the bridge begins. Bear's Brummbar took out the Panther that followed the JS II. My Achilles came in soon after, and Katie's Jagdtiger, which blew my vehicle to smithereens and then pushed THREE  wrecks down the bridge's slope.

My first Tiger faces down Katie's KV-7 earlier in the game. I lost. The blue chips indicate "penetrating hits" on the tank, damage that accumulates and causes following shot to possibly have even more damage. I ended up with 5 penetrating hits before I was knocked out.
The swamp really slowed things down when they entered there.
Some vehicles made it in and weren't targeted until they made it to the battlefield.
The death of Katie's KV-7, my one Tiger, and Rob's Tiger in forested junkyard.
"I don't get no respect!" You see what I deal with?
Random entry points led to interesting situations I wasn't interested in.
Playing cards were used to randomise turns. DH/C7B has an initiative role each turn to see who gets the first move.
Our random system allowed for many surprises. We do use Iron Ivan's initiative system when we play a "straight" game.

Ah, the Maus! When Katie's brewed it up, Tyler was very helpful and heaped a whole two-hands-ful of smoke counters no the flaming hulk. The constant cry when anyone's turn came up was "Squeeky-squeeky" on a high or low note depending on the size of the AFV. The Maus was basso-profundo.

Katie helpfully, gleefully, and sadistically points out my burning Maus.

Meanwhile, on another planet, Brian sets up for a 40K game.
The field with roughly 42 wrecks to be seen.

Again meanwhile, in interstellar space. Federation heavy cruisers meet
their Klingon counterparts in Kevin's Star Trek game.

In the blackness of space, no one can hear you roll crappy dice.
Meanwhile, in the parking lot, a local artist was working on a chainsaw sculpture for the library.
It's  a reading fantasy bear!

Now the bear has a chainsaw himself!

 Upcoming events - a play test of SYW rules called Maurice next week and an 1812 adventure patrol event at the end of the month when a bunch of reenactors from the area converge and try their skill on the table. (Lots of reenactors play wargames; I often refer to reenacting as 1:1 scale wargaming.)