Monday, November 27, 2006

Power Back On . . . Really? --

Well, for those who don't know, we had a nasty bit of blizzard here on Vancouver Island. I know, it didn't measure up to the bad weather that hits more inland areas, but it was/is very heavy for here.

Anyway our power was out for a few minutes less than 36 hours . . . then on for about an hour . . . then off for five more hours.

All of this, after the power company told us (starting Saturday night -- because our power went out well BEFORE the storm hit) that our power would be back on at:

2:00 pm Sunday
4:00 pm Sunday
6:30 pm Sunday
12:00 noon Monday
6:00 pm Monday
4:00 pm Tuesday

Fortunately we got it back on Monday night . . . still, when you live in a 600 square foot cabin facing north, there's not much you can do except play cards by candlelight and go to bed . . . and, of course, worrying about food spoiling.

Obviously, there's no positive news vis-a-vis Saxe-Bearstein to report.

-- Jeff

Thursday, November 23, 2006

No Electricity Again & Again --

My posts will probably be few and far between for the next week to ten days.


Because BC Hydro (our electric company) will be working on the underwater cables that supply our small island with power. We live on a small island off the coast of Vancouver Island and they've discovered that one of the reasons that our power goes out so much is that there are problems with the underwater cables that supply us.

So they will be "pulling" these cables up and trying to find the problems and repair them. They've sent fliers around to let us know that we'll be without power during this proceedure. . . . and we don't have much daylight at this latitude this time of year.

Thus I might not have much (or any) time to post for a while.

-- Jeff

Friday, November 17, 2006

Some Alternate Flags --

After a hiatus of some time due to power problems, here is a return to something having to do with "toy soldiers" and the mid-eighteenth century.

Previous posts have displayed the flags of Saxe-Bearstein. Here are some of the "flag patterns" for my Austrian-style opponent (whose name is still up in the air -- but might be Eaglestein).

The first flag is for a typical infantry regiment. The corner sections are certainly open to the use of many different colors (similar to 18th century French flags).

The second flag would be for cavalry units. Again, the field color would be subject to change.

Also, the field of the central "oval" color (as well as corner decorations) can also have different colors.

Incidently, if anyone would like to copy and use these flags, they have my permission to do so . . . although I'd prefer that you do not copy my Saxe-Bearstein flags unless you delete the central "bear" and replace it with your own symbol.

-- Jeff

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Yet Power Woes, Down for 36 Hours --

Well, we got hammered with two big storms -- one a warm tropical low called a "pineapple express" and the other a cold Alaskan low. They collided over Vancouver Island. Winds reached 140 hm/hr (hurricane force) north of us, but we only got gusts to 90-something.

Lots of rain (90mm one day) . . . which resulted in our power going out again before 8 am on Wednesday morning and not returning until after 8 pm on Thursday night (over 36 hours). This is in addition to all of the other power outages which we've suffered since last Sunday.

At least we now have running once again . . . although there's a "boil water" order with it. We are, however fortunate in that we were not flooded and no trees came down around our cabin (although many others were not as lucky).

Thus, while it has been a strain, we are alright.

-- Jeff

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

More Power Woes --

Well, guess what? When we got up this morning, the power was out again. It just came back on about 15 minutes ago (4:45 pm our time) . . . and we just now got "browned down" so I'd better try posting this before it goes out completely again.


-- Jeff
Power Games --

For the past two days we've been involved in "power games". But, no, it doesn't have anything to do with gaming.

We live on a small island (you need to take a ferry to get to it). BC Hydro (our power company) told us that power to the island would be "off" from 8 am Sunday morning until 1 pm (later they said 4 pm). They said that this was to "test the lines".

Okay, the power was out for this "testing" and then it was back on. RIGHT . . . until after the last ferry sailed at 11 pm. Then the island lost power . . . and, since the ferry wasn't running, a crew couldn't come to fix it until Monday morning.

Which they did; and the power was back on about 10:30 . . . and the crew went back on the ferry. Then, it went out again . . . and they had to wait for the next ferry before they could come try to fix it again.

Are you beginning to get the theme of this yet? I've lost count of the total number of times the power has gone out. Sometimes for hours, sometimes for just a few minutes . . . but we've had over a dozen outages since they "checked the lines" . . . and they obviously needed checking since we haven't had any problems since a big storm last winter.

Anyway I've had the power go out several times when I was trying to do things on the computer . . . and fortunately it is still working. But the first thing I do when the power goes out is to hit the "off button" on the power bar all the computer electronics are plugged into.

*sigh* . . . it's been a long couple of days.

-- Jeff

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Exigencies of Life --

Isn't it amazing how some of the little crises of our daily lives can disrupt our "routines" so much? I can't claim any great events that kept me from keeping up with this blog.

Okay, there were the American elections which DID occupy my attention for several days (and still does, if the truth be told) . . . but that's really not an excuse. Nor are the trips I've had to make for my beloved wife this last week . . . they took up time; but I often thought of 18th century things while driving.

No, sadly, I think that I've just not been in the blogging mood much these past few days. I HAVE been doing some work on my "Tricorne Wars" rules, but nothing that really warranted discussion here.

Hopefully I will soon have more inspiration again.

-- Jeff

Monday, November 06, 2006

Some Thoughts on Artillery --

In my opinion, many rule sets assign far more credit to the effectiveness of artillery fire in the 18th century than is warranted.

To my mind, while an important factor, it was far less important than many rule sets would have us believe. This attitude is in part (I feel) due to the century's focus on science and engineering.

Therefor, in the rules I'm writing -- Bluebear's "Tricorne Wars" -- I probably assign artillery less importance than most other rule sets do.

The picture to the left depicts an early 18th century "medium" (6-9#) gun. Light guns (4# or less) start with two crew; medium guns, with three crew; and heavy guns (12# and up) with four crew.

"Tilt!" I said that the photo was of a medium gun and yet there appear to be four crew?

Remember, every unit has a "Colour stand" . . . and, while these are generally flags for most units, artillery seldom (if ever) had "flags" on the battlefield. If you will note the "officer" with sword and yellow hat lace, he is the "Colour stand" for this artillery piece.

His position (beside the unit) means that this artillery piece is "rattled". If it was in "good order", the colour stand would be in front of the gun; if disordered, behind the gun stand; if shaken, behind and facing backwards; and if broken, he'd be running to the rear!

In my "Tricorne Wars" rules, while infantry's "first fire" allows them to re-roll misses, this is very unlike artillery fire. Instead, an artillery unit's first shot at a target is, in reality (or at least, in my opinion), the least likely to score a hit (they haven't got the target's range zeroed in yet).

For the initial shot at a target (or location), any artillery piece gets to fire only one of its crewmen . . . and for each subsequent shot at the same target unit or location, will get to add a second, third or fourth crewman (up to the gun's current crew number). Thus, in the photo, this artillery piece would roll one die for its first shot; two dice for its second shot and three for subsequent shots at the same target.

Note that if a crewmember is a "casualty", it will slow the gun's firing rate by lowering the maximum number of dice that may be rolled in a turn.

In this period, guns frequently kept shooting at a tartget until told to shift to a different one. As a game mechanism, the drop back to starting with a single die becomes a deterrent to constantly shifting targets.

Any comments?

-- Jeff

Friday, November 03, 2006

Terrain Selection Concept --

One of the great challenges of tabletop gaming is to fight on interesting terrain. However, most "terrain selection rules" tend to either be completely random or allow far too much "gamesmanship".

Today I'm going to suggest a system that should allow for both interesting and varied terrains AND provide a way for players to have a choice in selecting where they'll fight.

Okay, some of you will recognize the germ of this idea coming from a science fiction novel by Piers Anthony. I admit it. You're right. I'm borrowing the concept . . . from "Split Infinity" (if memory serves) . . . of course he wasn't using it to select tabletop terrain, but the concept comes from his novel.

Let's take the simplest situation . . . there are only two of you. First, collect the various terrain pieces that you have available between you. You probably have various sizes of hills and woods. Generally you've got some buildings and strips of material that you use for roads and rivers. You might even have some bridges and some fencing.

The above step is so that you both know what you have available.

Discus between yourselves as to what you feel the minimum and maximum number of terrain selections you'd like for your battles. This will, of course, depend in part upon the size of your table and the size of terrain pieces which you have access to.

Where I am on Vancouver Island, we're gaming in 25mm on 4' x 8' tables. For the examples I'm presenting here, I've decided to use from three to eight pieces of terrain per table.

Okay, to start, get some blank index cards. Larger is better, so look for the 4" x 6" or 5" x 8" cards (which can usually be found for a very reasonable price at discount or office supply stores).

Now, since our tables are 4x8, I will cut down a couple dozen index cards so that they are the proper relationship (in this case, twice as wide as high). Each player will get a dozen cards. Each is to then diagram two different tabletops for each of the six "numbers" (i.e., three pieces, four pieces, . . . eight pieces). Note that roads (and there always must be at least one present) do NOT count for the number of terrain pieces (nor does "open space").

Now for any number of terrain pieces, one should be fairly even (not symetrical -- it just should give a relatively fair shot for each side) and one should definitely favor one side of the table but you should remember that you might end up playing the weaker tableside -- so keep that in mind.

Here is an example of a terrain diagram. It has six terrain pieces (remember, the road network doesn't count) -- 2 hills, 1 knoll, 2 light woods and a town. (Note -- my rules differentiate between light and heavy woods -- yours might not).

Anyway, each of the two gamers would create his dozen diagrams. These would then be shuffled together (be sure to "twist" some of them around so that there's no consisant "north" and "south" to the diagrams).

Now you should have 24 potential tabletop terrain diagrams (four each with three through eight pieces of terrain exclusive of roads). Note, if you have three players, you'll have 36 index cards; if four gamers, 48 cards.

After shuffling, deal four cards to the two opposing C-in-Cs. They will each get to discard one of them to the bottom of the deck. Then, the other three should be placed down in a 3x3 grid as you see from the diagram. (Note -- it doesn't matter who designed the card . . . it might be one of yours or it might be one of your opponent's designs).

Place them face down, remembering that the defender will be playing the "north" side; and the invader (attacker), the "south" side (which doesn't mean that that is the role they will play on the tabletop -- this is for selecting terrain).

The two C-in-Cs should carefully place their three cards face down . . . making sure that they have the "orientation" they want correctly set. Also be sure that cards are turned over from side to side so as not to change the "north" orientation.

Now, thee cards from the "master deck" should be placed in the other three places. At this point, all of the cards are turned over. This will result in something like the third diagram -- with nine potential tabletops.

(Remember, if you "click" on the diagram, you will get a better look at it).

The "invader" selects which of the three terrain columns (A, B or C) he chooses as his path. The 'defender" selects which terrain line (X, Y or Z) he'll choose to meet his opponent on. Where the two paths intersect is the tabletop which will be used. These will be recorded secretly.

Each column and each line includes one setup which YOU selected and one which your opponent selected and one randomly selected.

This is the fun part. Since line and column selections are "hidden" until both are selected, you have a chance to "outsmart" your opponent. Which path do you think your opponent will select? Does he like lots of terrain? or little terrain? Which path is most dangerous to you? Will your opponent figure out what you're going to avoid? Taking all of this into consideration, which path should you choose to get the best terrain possible?

Use whatever tabletop is cross-referenced. After the battle, the winner of the fight gets to name the battlefield . . . and that index card is removed from the pool of potential tabletlops. Once you get too low, just draw up more tabletops and mix them in with the remaining cards in the pool.

Sure, this is a "rock / paper / scissors" type of thing . . . but it's fun and just as in the child's game, a clever general might be able to outwit his opponent.

-- Jeff

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Interesting Website Added to Links --

If you have paid any attention to my "Links" section on the right side of my blog, you will have noticed another new link has been added.

I'm referring to the Kapiti Fusiliers website in New Zealand:

Now almost anyone who has an interest in 18th century gaming has probably spent time visiting Roly Hermans' website (link to right) to see his wonderfully painted SYW French troops. Well he's a member of the Kapiti Fusiliers . . . and a number of their members have lots of wonderfully painted troops as well.

Among the many interesting facets to the Kapiti Fusiliers website, be sure to investigate their "Articles" section. Personally, I was quite taken with Brian Smaller's "More Buildings for Wargamers" article found at:

There's a great "Links" section too. Give the Fusiliers website a look-through, I think that you'll be impressed. I was.

-- Jeff