Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Greetings, Long Shadow

Reenacting season is almost once again. My family and I will be doing an education day at the end of this week and the Longwoods event will be in two weeks.
My son, Rob, has been considering doing a native impression as a warrior of the Lenni-Lenape (or Delaware) tribe. He and Beth worked together to assemble the items for the impression. I think they should be pleased. Katie is also working on a native impression for education days... and an occasional attempt to scalp her brother. Both of our children share some First Nations heritage, although it's rather diluted over time. However, they are quite interested in discovering more about this part of their ancestry.
Rob is not going to try to "pass" as a tribal warrior; he's 'way too pale for that. The poor guy doesn't even tan in the sun! Burn and peal only. Too much Celtic blood, I suppose. His back story is that he was a US soldier who was captured in battle or while trying to leave his post and was given the choice of either being burned at the stake or joining the First Nations band. His choice is obvious. His name is not determined, but I'm calling him "Long Shadow." (Most years at the Longwoods reenactment event, he is "captured" at the noon British-Native sit-down. The warriors bring him to the British officers to trade him to the Redcoats for a musket or a bag of donuts or something. The last time this was done, Rob chose to join the Natives, which confused the Crown forces to no end! He'll probably do it again this year, going out with the US forces in the morning and with the First Nations warriors in the afternoon.)

Rob as a captive of the Native warband back in 2012 at the Longwoods event. He was marked for death but they were willing to trade him to the Crown forces for a rifle.

Many Strings and Grandfather Lame Wolf discuss Rob's fate.

Green hunting shirt, buffalo skin leggings, deer skin moccasins, and a colourful turban are the basis of his garb.

Add in the .50 calibre trade rifle, the woven sash, buffalo or deer skin shot bags and he's about ready.

"Aim for a turkey!", Mom said! (My wife took all the photos.) The rifle is a modern flintlock with a rubber cushion on the butt, so we covered the but with deerskin and beaded it.

The only thing he'll be tracking in our backyard is the wild beagle.

Tomahawk and knife for up-close work. The beaded knife sheath was a gift from another reenactor friend. The knife is hand-made with a shale blade and a bone haft, purchased at a local pow-wow. The moccasins are deer made in the Eastern Woodlands style, appropriate for a Delaware warrior.

David's Men of Might

A few days ago, I saw a blogging friend's display of his ancient Egyptian army which reminded me I had an Israelite army in storage in the Garage-Of-Holding. I also decided to make a display of them. I had done up a small army according to GW Historicals' Warhammer Ancient Battles, using their Chariot Wars supplement. I was quite pleased with the figures at the time and as I saw them again this morning, I'm still quite pleased. When I painted them, I was in my "black-lining" phase, and I may go back to it. That technique provides for a lot of contrast and the figures look pretty good at the usual wargames table distance.
The army itself usually provided auxiliaries for my friend Irwin's Egyptians. It might be too small to stand alone when compared to the size of most of the WAB armies I've played with and against. Still I think they're worthwhile. Chariot Wars names each type of troops in the Israelite army for the different tribes of Israel. I'm not sure how realistic it is and I've forgotten the designations anyway, so my photos are more based on the weaponry rather than tribe.

Archers... The figures are Ral Partha historicals usually moulded by Iron Wind Metals.

Archers of a different type. Again RP/Iron Wind... In their catalogue, the different figures are listed as Hittites, Amorites, Hebrews, etc., but I figured since the Israelites armed them selves in the style of whom ever they were allied to at the time, variations in dress and armament are acceptable.

Javelin armed skirmishers by RP/IW
My tyle of painting is obvious here - dark background with lighter highlighting. I might try this again.
I found it very effective with skin tones but less so with later uniform cloth.

Same crowd, different angle. I used a lighter wood tone for the javelin hafts for the most part.

Slingers who would've done David himself proud!
Spears in the light-medium infantry category. More RP/IW figures. The standard bearer has a sort of bronze disk and is accompanied by a ram's horn musician.

A different view. The RP/IW figures are more or less "true" 25mm figures so appear slight compared to 28's, but I do like how this crowd turned out. Shields are separate and you have 2 or 3 options.

More spears dressed in a more Hittite theme. The standard bearer has a sun wheel this time which is a chariot/waggon wheel mounted on a pole. The officer is some sort of ancient Middle Eastern general who looks rather lively and fits the theme well.

More of the same. Bases are 20mm plastic squares I painted them brown, dipped them in yellow flocking, then added some white play sand and green flock as detail. I often paint some light brown or yellow brown first and dip it in the sand before doing the larger area in yellow flocking. I think it looks suitably desert-y.
More light-medium infantry that could either skirmish or stand in line. The original figure had an open right hand for a spear or javelin and a knife held blade-down in the left hand. So I stuck shields on them.

Sea-people allies! Phoenicians? Sicilians? Sherden? Who knows?
They could be subjects of Zoomie, King of Mars for all I know. They're mercenaries
More RP/IW figures and I like their looks.

Lots of leather and bronze.
Heavier infantry armed with spear, shield, and bow. I used them as the Gibborim, the so-called "Men of Might" - tough heavier infantry used to stand in the line of battle. Yes, the Mogen David, the Star of David is strongly in evidence. Whether this is histoical or not, I don't know, but for my purposes, it looks good.

Here we see that the Gibborim also were armoured with bronze scale-mail.

The leader and the musician. Tome the figures are well proportioned and they paint up nicely.
The Commanding General - bronze armour, spear, bull-hide shield, and fancy helmet.

The prophet who accompanies the army. This is a Eureka Miniatures offering. That's an Australian company that makes some interesting figures. I think this is the Prophet Chuck, one of the very minor prophets.

The Army standard and another musician

The general's bodyguards. I think they're RP/IW Trojan War figures

Another look at some of the command figures.
No Israelite army could be complete without the Ark of the Covenant!
This is a beautiful Eureka Miniatures piece with four priests carrying the Ark and a fifth leading the way with the Shofar.

This is a wonderful set piece for an Israelite army. In WAB, it permits special morale additions to the army. The trouble is that when it is on the field, it attracts EVERY ARROW OR MISSILE WEAPON on the enemy's side. I has to be up front to gain the pluses but up front it gets wacked early on. 

Still I'm glad I have one. Eureka offers a second set of Ark bearers in SS uniforms for all your "Lost Ark" Pulp gaming needs. Note that some of the priests are smart enough to don helmets!
This army might never see the light of day again, but I'm glad I did it and I enjoyed telling you about it. Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Fiddling with Black Powder

First off, I don't. I have great respect for the explosive nature of the stuff. I've fired it and I've tasted it. (You're not a true War of 1812/Napoleonic reenactor until you've bitten too far into a cartridge.) Don't taste it and don't mess with it. Trust me; it tastes terrible and it goes "BOOM!"

What I meant was Warlord Games's "Horse & Musket" period rules Black Powder. Andy had the rules and suggested we do a play test at the Games Group's Saturday gathering. Since it was Board Games Day and some of our regulars -like my son- went on the "board games crawl" around London, there were only four of us at the group - Andy, Kevin, my wife, Beth, and myself. It ended up being the perfect size for the playtest. Andy laid out four battalions and one cannon for the British forces in the War of 1812 and the same for the US. Since we'd never played the game before, we decided to keep the experiment small. Cavalry played only a tiny part in the conflict (I only know of three cavalry charges in the entire war!), so they were left out.

We had all heard somewhere that Black Powder used the same mechanics as GW's Warmaster, a favourite game system of mine. (It's sometimes referred to as Warhamster.) I was not interested in doing another Napoleonic/SYW/Horse & Musket set of rules, but I was game to try these. It ends up that the mechanics of BP are quite similar to the mechanics of Warmaster with some extra detail or chrome added in. The game flows nicely and anyone familiar with Warmaster would find it familiar. There are differences in the command and control rules, in the shooting and the hand-to-hand fighting rules, but the differences make a lot of sense. The morale rules differ slightly, but again, the differences make sense.

Black Powder is quite flexible, allowing for any scale of figures so long as both opponents are based similarly. The rules cover 1700 to 1890, or the period of history from the universal use of the flintlock musket to the advent of the magazine-fed bolt-action rifle.

A few photos are in order (photos by Beth, Andy, and myself):
The "Brain Trust" looking over the field. From the left - John, Andy and Kevin.
The troops moved up fast due to the command & control rules effecting movement.

American troops advance. Andy has a huge collection of War of 1812 infantry and artillery.

The Soldiers of the King advance in turn.

We kept terrain to a minimum and kept the troop numbers down.
Next time, I hope we add some light infantry - maybe rifles and Native warriors.
The opposing sides are impressive. Andy was a long time collecting these.

Melee combat! We turned a stand sideways to indicate the unit was disordered.
Being disordered has consequences for movement, firing, receiving orders, and morale.

The business end of the artillery.

Special delivery for Cousin Jonathan! Here Kevin has moved his cannon into position to enfilade one of my battalions.
It wasn't pretty. At close range, cannon roll 3d6, but DOUBLE that when enfilading an enemy.

The other side of the mess. When a unit has taken more than 3 casualties, further casualties are considered "excess" and this has consequences for morale/break tests.
In the game, my Yankee troops of Scott's brigade had two battalions evaporate due to casualties, one fall back, and one hold it's ground. My artillery also was wiped out. One of Andy's units was destroyed. Normally I would have conceded the game much earlier, but we all wanted to "see how the monster worked" and we played on until my situation was totally untenable.

My verdict? A simple, enjoyable game that has lots of flexibility and possibilities. It is not simplistic and in all honesty, it won't appeal to those who like to remove casualties. The counting of casualties has more to do with loss of unit cohesion and morale than body count, and I have to agree with that. We made all the units equal in all their values, but there is provision in the rules for better, elite troops and for disaffected or green troops. There is an element of chance, but isn't there in every game? (If all the outcomes came predetermined, who would play?) The command & control rules allowing double or triple movement if the commander rolls well or blunders if he rolls badly take some getting used to, but as I said before, if you've played the full rules of Warmaster, you have some familiarity with that. In fact, I think the BP rules are an improvement on Warmaster. The authors (Rick Priestly and Jervis Johnson, well-known names in wargaming circles) say this is more a reflection of an efficient or imcompitent staff than the sense of the general. The same comment - that BP might be better than Warmaster in some ways - could also be said for the break test rules; Black Powder provides the players with more possibilities.

I might not run out and buy the rules, but I have an itch to paint up some of my 28mm figs and base them for this set of rules. I do think this is an perfect set of rules to introduce new gamers to table-top gaming and fantasy player to historicals as well as playing in at a convention.

A few years ago, Andy made up some "personal" figures for the two of us, so we're seen here discussing the deployment, care, and feeding of model soldiers.
28mm figures in large groups make an impressive array.

The US 22nd had failed morale and was in the process of being removed when the photo was taken.
Casualties are not removed in Black Powder, although entire units can go poofters after some hard pounding.


After worship and our congregation's Lenten Lunch today, Beth and I went to the Aylmer Wildlife Area (just behind the Ontario Police College) to see the arctic swans that flock there every spring on their way north. The numbers were not as high as other times but it sure looked like a lot of swans to me!

I took some photos and Beth took better ones. She's a talented photographer and I simply point and click. I'd like to share some of them with you. I can't comment much since I know so little about swans and birds in general, but I found the feathered vista wonderful.

Taken without the telephoto effect; this is how far away the observation area is from the birds.

The far side of the pond was still frozen!

A short video of the swans flying.

For all of you who are familiar with these sights, just take this as a refresher. For those reading this in further away places, I just wanted to show you the beauty around where I live that I often don't appreciate.