Sunday, December 31, 2017

2018 The Plan, part 1 the options.

Time to put into writing what the plans are for 2018. This years plan has been a little more difficult than I expected. The main idea is to work towards making the lead pile smaller while still indulging in purchasing new lead either for existing projects or new ones. As much as I'd like to think that I won't buy any new miniatures past experience has shown it's just not happening. I've always thought that if I was playing a game I should at least have some figures for it but now I have come to the conclusion though that just because I'm going to play a period doesn't mean I need to buy the figures. If someone else already has the figures I'm good to use those. If the group is getting into a new period and army size is small enough I can easily be convinced to buy and paint figures up.

The Figures 

With that in mind I went down to the work room and looked through what I had. An overwhelming experience to say the least. Warring States Chinese in 28mm, WWII Germans in 28mm and 15mm, AWI 28mm unit based and singly, LOTR. I stopped looking knowing there was more.

Of course there's new figure lines that are popping up on the Internet or ones that I've likes for a few years but never pulled the trigger on because of my awesome self control. Here's what I've been looking at recently. GRINGO40S has a Tonkin/French Indochina range coming out, 1898 Miniaturas produce some great looking figures for the SAW a period that's always interested me. There's also FPW 15mm Prussians I'd like to get to battle the French that are already painted.

Then there's the two new periods I've bought figures for but haven't painted any. GNW 28mm and Medieval Knights 40mm.

The que is backing up quickly.

The Games

Last year I was in the 6x6 challenge which gave some form to my gaming. This year challenge will be modified to some degree but what that will be has yet to be determined. 3x6 may be the practical option. The Lion Rampant series is on the list as well as Sharpe Practice. The Portable Wargame has grabbed my interest and can be played with existing armies. I'm still looking for a WWII game on the same scale as Chain of Command and Bolt Action and something to use all the 15mm stuff I have. Saga is releasing a revised version so I'm sure that will get a look. We've played a few one off games of Battle Troll, Mad Dogs with Guns and Flint & Feather but would like to see a campaign of four to six games played with a least one of these. Certainly some favorites will get played and I'd like to do a few games of A Gentleman's War 18th Century using historical scenarios. Song of Muskets and Tomahawks, Flashing Blades and Blood & Plunder were all purchased will most likely see at least some use in the coming year. Oh wait Too the Strongest is having a sale I may need this as I've become interested in gridded wargames.

So there's rule set options laid out. Now it's time to make some choices and work out how to coordinate figure painting and game playing to make it a productive year. 

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Hits and misses of 2017

Although there are a few days left in the year it's time to look back on the plans for 2017 and see what was achieved. A broadly laid plan was posted here at the end of 2016. I can't say that everything was completed but I do feel it was a successful year.

The NWF project fell by the wayside. The Gangsters saw a 40" x 30" table set up and enough figures for about three players painted. I'd still like to get some npc figures and more cars painted. AWI had a few more figures painted, a few feet of rail fences done and a I got few games in but not the Sharp Practice games I had planned on. My US forces for WWII in 28mm are pretty much complete and another squad of Germans were added. In 15mm some mortars, HMGs and 105mm artillery were painted.  I finished the last of my units for the 40mm Shiny Toy Soldiers so that project is finished except for the four bags of figures in the drawer😀. A few more vikings were added to my forces but still I need about eight more archers. This covers most of the planned gaming and painting but as is the habit of wargamers there were several unplanned games and figures that were painted but not part of the scheduled projects.

I covered the gaming aspect of the year in a post last week. the 6x6 challenge and other gaming As with the games painting covered a wide range of eras. Warring States Chinese had a chariot added, the Cave troll was finally painted, Skralings, Hurons and Iroquois were added to the collection, War of 1812 US Dragoons saw the dreaded cloudy varnish on them and then to add insult to injury I dropped them all while carrying them downstairs. Last of all I succumbed to temptation and bought some second hand Darkest Africa figures most were painted but some were only primed. I finished these off as well as a pack of figures I had bought several years back.

The stats for buying/painting worked out to 202/328. A pretty good year of painting if I say so myself. With the exception of the Darkest Africa figures I was fairly disciplined about buying figures most were small purchases of random figures for projects I was working on or knew I only needed a few more figures. The other big purchase was figures for the GNW which will be on the schedule for this year.

So I missed a few of the goals I had set but did some other things that I hadn't planned on but hey it's a hobby and I had fun. Another thing I did get to do was visit the Wargame exhibit at the Armemuseum in Stockholm, Sweden. This has to be one of the best exhibits I've seen,truly a work that showed the passion and knowledge of the curators.
My blog post trip-to-army-museum-in-stockholm-sweden

Here's a few posts by others I follow showing their year in review. All great stuff.
A Terrible loss of Lead and Wealth

Battlefields and Warriors

Natholeons Empires

Plans for 2018 will be worked out over the next few days and posted for a final reckoning in December 2018.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

The 6x6 Challenge and other gaming experiences of 2017

Around this time last year Kaptain Kobold of  The Stronghold Rebuilt organized the 6x6 Challenge. The idea behind it is participants would choose six sets of rules of which they would play six games each. The thinking behind it is that it takes playing six games to really get to understand them. It sounded like a good idea and so I joined. Playing thirty-six games in the year was going to be challenge enough. The Rules chosen were; Chain of Command (CoC), A Gentleman's War(AGW), Mad Dogs with Guns, Saga, The Lion Rampant family and Sharpe Practice.

So how did it go? Ok. I felt it achieved it's goal for the games I played. I didn't get the chance to play Lion Rampant or Sharpe Practice and only played four games of Saga.

I got the six games of CoC in.  It took about four games to become comfortable with the rules. The last two games I found I was focusing more on the tactics than the modifiers and other mechanics of the rules. I'm still on the fence as far as liking CoC and will still look for another set but will happily play them. I do wonder if the two hours I generally have for a nights game is not enough for these rules.

AGW was played nine times some of them were the 19th century version others the Colonial or 18th century variant. This is my favorite set of rules. The mechanics are fairly simple. There's enough decision points and I feel it captures what Toy Soldier gaming is all about. Both the variants play well for their eras.

Mad Dogs with Guns was chosen to motivate me to paint up the figures and buildings. The rules were being published by Osprey mid 2017 and so I started with the original publication. The learning curve on these was quicker than CoC, of course having the author at the gaming table helps. These are a fun set of rules that lead to lots of banter among the players.

A campaign had been set up for Saga so it looked like this would be an easy way to get six games in. With family obligations, work and distance among the participants it didn't quite work out. I did get in four games and enjoyed them all. I liked these rules, the battle boards add to the decision making and forces a small enough that they can be built quickly and you could do more than one. I'm waiting for the new version to come out before committing more time to these though.

I see the challenge as being successful. I would think that a 3x6 or 4x4 challenge may be another approach, by the fourth game either you like the rules enough to learn more and continue playing or the system just isn't for you. Picking games others in your group are interested in helps to get the games in or maybe doing something solo would be a way to go.

I played forty games this year. Twenty-two were part of the 6x6 challenge. There were three extra games of A Gentleman's War. Several others were part of Howard Whitehouse's stable of rules, Battle Troll, Flint & Feather, Alien War and a Darkest Africa game. I enjoy Howard's rules the systems are similar but tweaked enough to capture the feel of the period that's being played. Other games were LOTR SBG used in a Dungeon crawl using Matt's beautiful terrain, The AWI rules from Der Alte Fritz of Fife & Drum miniatures, theses were easy to learn and quick to play. It took us two game nights to set up and finish the battle with Matt spending some extra time breaking down, Thanks for that. Lastly, The Portable Wargame was played using 15mm Romans and Carthaginians on a 2.5 inch grid. This is a game I hope to explore further next year. I like the grid movement and firing system.

Since no blog post is complete with out pictures here's a few from our game of Battle Troll the other night.
My men defend their women folk and beer barrels.

The Hero of the village mostly fend off blows whilst an unnamed karl does some real damage to the attackers.

Twin sisters of the attacking warband offer encouragement.

As the men folk fall back the women step up to nag the invading Warlord. 

Rather than face the women rushes off to battle my Hero.

Sub coming to his wounds my Huscarle dies.

The fight rages on until realizing it's the Hero's life or loosing some chickens and beer my men run off and the game ends.

2017 was a good year for playing games. Many exciting nights were spent in great company with nice miniatures and terrain. Over the next week I'll start to look at rules to be played in 2018 and how they'll dovetail into painting projects and purchases.
Thanks for reading!

Friday, December 8, 2017

Blasting away at The Empire.

Thursday saw us on a distant planet in a galaxy far away. Howard suggests Empire, Matt thinks Star Wars and I pack up a model from 1968.

Matt set the game up and used Mad Dogs with Guns as the rules. they worked well for this as Pulp games mostly vary by setting. I didn't get a lot of pictures as the game was moving quickly with lots of action.

Rebel forces assault the storage bunker.

Luke skirts the village to attack the Power generator.

Jabba and crew party down in the club.

Empire HQ

Moon bus getting on the table again after 49 years.

Han Solo blowing open the door to HQ. It didn't go well.
For a more detailed report and some great photos check out Mad Wookies with Blasters, its a trap.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Project finished?

As many of you know I started this blog as a means to follow and motivate me in my project building forces of the Little Britons figures from Spence Smith. The plan laid out in the first few posts was to paint eight units of Infantry (12 figures each), 4 units of Cavalry (6 figures each) and 4 units of Artillery (3 figures each).  The first game was played in March 2015   using One Hour Wargames. After a few more games of that and one of With MacDuff to the Frontier by Ross Mac Howard was bitten by the Shiny Toy Soldier bug and began painting and working on a set of rules known as A Gentleman's War despite all the distractions, a little over a third of the posts here refer to this project, I finished my goal of forces for the project. Three years in the making. Inspired by Grand Duchy of Stollen I decided to do a review of my troops.

The Cavalry
US 10tth Cavalry, RCMP, Hungarians, Bavarians and Generals.
 The Artillery
The Artillery, Costa Rica, Switzerland, Austria and, Serbia.

The Infantry
 Belgium, Egypt, Greece.

US Marines, Hawaiian Guard, US Infantry, NYS Volunteers.

Spain, Argentina, Canada.

Now is this project finished outside of playing games? There's a unit of Dutch bicycle troops on the painting desk and four bags of figures unpainted in the drawer. Along the way I had decided to paint flags for many of the units and may finish out the remainder putting each Infantry unit at an Officer, Standard bearer and twelve privates. Oh! and I bought some molds to cast my own figures just because. 

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Colonial AGW

Howard came over for a game of A Gentleman's War using the Colonial variant. I was a coalition force going to the rescue of a unit of Spaniards defending the oasis. Howard was the Moroccans causing what ever mayhem they could.

The figures are a mix of 40mm manufacturers, Little Britons, Scruby, Irregular and unknown 40mm semi rounds that Howard has added putty to to make them into Moroccans.

The Spaniards were able to hold off two assaults while the relief force was able to fend off their attackers but not with out the loss of the Marines and the R.C.M.P.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Harlem Heights part 2

Matt and I got together to finish our game of the Battle of Harlem Heights. Between games we had visited Jim's blog and read the tutorial on the rules. We had gotten most everything right and just needed a little clarification. We still wondered a little about the checking of morale on units that were shaken. We decided to play it as a shaken unit that fails one di remains shaken It's clear that if they fail two dice they route.  It was great to get all the figures on the table. We made it through about seven turns before time was called.  We didn't finish out the scenario but the victory conditions were a little vague. We'll certainly take these rules out for another game as they were easy to use moved quickly and provided a good result.

Britishwe' ford the river, 

Rifleman harass the Brits

American reinforcements arrive.

The British move to assault the American line.

Heavy fighting at the edge of the buckwheat field.

The Americans pile in.

Hessians reinforce the British line.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

First play of The Portable Wargame

Back in the summer when it was announced that Hobby Town was closing I  started looking at other places  to play and how to deal with the options we had available. One thing that popped up was  The Portable Wargamel . It seemed like a good idea and a way to play on kitchen and dining room tables that could become our gaming space. We've been lucky in that one of our group has a dedicated wargaming room so we've been getting some great games in there. However the schedules don't always work out so this week I broke out the table I had made and Howard and I gave the Ancients rules from Developing the Portable Wargame a try.

Initial deployments

The Romans advance.

The Carthaginian line starts to falter.

The thick of the battle.

Legionnaires fend of an elephant and flank attack.

Carthage has reached exhaustion.

The rules are pretty strait forward but we managed to get a few things wrong somewhat over thinking things. Each units Has a number strength points ranging from 2-5. Combat is resolved with a D6 with hits being on a 5-6 and the roll modified by different tactical factors and troop type. If a hit occurs the a die is rolled on results table which either reduces a units strength point or allows the unit to fall back a grid area. The game plays until one army is reduced by one third of their total strength points at which time they can not longer take aggressive actions. It ends when the other side is reduced by one third. With about twelve units per side the game took a little over an hour to play. It was fun, offered some tactical challenges and yielded a firm result. I liked the grid system for movement and firing and will certainly give these another try for this period and the early 20th century set.

Check out Bob's blog for more reports and information.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Fife & Drum at the Appollo.

We've been trying to get a larger game in recently but usually run out of time for a conclusive finish and/or are unable to leave the game set up for the next session. This week we were able to work things out to make it happen.

We decided to try AWI as both Matt and I have collections and wanted to get them out on the table. I've really only used mine once before. For rules we looked at British Grenadier, Black Powder and Fife & Drum AWI. We went with the Fife & Drum rules as it was decided that they would have the shortest learning curve. It was a good choice!

I took the Harlem Heights scenario from the BG #3 book as it looked like the force size would fit our collections. I layed out some Geo-hex hill and Matt placed his new purchased Cigar Box mat over them. I'm liking the look of the mat and it covers the hills very well eliminating the seems that you get with Geo-hex.  Trees,fences, roads, stream and field set down and we were ready to play.

We took a quick scan of the play sheet and made sure we both understood how the rules worked and started rolling dice.

British lights advance on the Americans.

View from behind the American line

The lights take casualties but still advance on the Rebels

More Patriot forces arrive to hold off the Kings troops.

The British commander rallies off shock.

More Rebel troops arrive forcing the Lights back

British reinforcements arrive

at the ford.

heavy fighting in the buckwheat field.

American riflemen harass the Kings troops at the stream.
We made it through five turns in about 70 minutes. The British had only two units engaged up until turn four while the Americans had about seven. A few question arose which we talked trough to keep the game moving but all in all it was easy enough to just use the play sheet. After the game I read some of the explanation on the Alte Fritz blog and it seemed we got most everything right.

We'll continue the game next week and see how it goes as more troops enter the battle. I'm pretty happy with the way the game played so far.

Looking at the photos the mat seems a little washed out. I'm sure it's a camera setting on my phone. The mat color is more vibrant in real life.