Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Thinking About Rules

For whatever reason, I happened to think about a bunch of 15mm WSS figures that I have . . . (110 cavalry and 460 foot) . . . and what rules might work for them the way I'd like.

So I dug out a number of rule sets that covered the period . . . and was rather appalled at the length of most of them.  Does a rule book really NEED to be several score pages long?

Which got me to thinking about what really needs to be in a set of rules . . . and, off the top of my head, this is what came to mind:
  • Troop Types -- and variations within type
  • Movement Rates -- including terrain effects
  • Shooting -- and what modifies it
  • Melee -- and results thereof
  • Morale -- how it works & when
  • Victory Conditions
So that's six pretty basic areas . . . and it while some require a bit of expansion, they shouldn't result in the thick (unused) rulebooks that I see on my bookshelf.

I suspect that if I do ever get around to painting and playing with these figures that I might just have to write my own short simple rules.

-- Jeff

Friday, December 21, 2012

Blogs I Don't Read

I don't want to be negative about this.  But there are a great many very fine blogs out there that I don't read . . . because of their subject matter OR format.

First, probably the three most gamed "periods" in historical gaming are Napoleonics, WWII and "Ancients".  and for whatever reasons, I've never been drawn to the first two (I am to far too many periods as it is) and I've had my fill of "Ancients" having gamed them almost exclusively for about 15 years.

So I tend to ignore almost all blog posts on those subjects . . . although I do admit to enjoying the pretty pictures of "Ancient" battles and troops.

Next, as an older gamer with poor eyes I find that a number of blogs are just too difficult to read with any comfort.  These problems fall into a few categories:
  • Difficult Visually -- white text on black background and using the different shades of the same color for both background and text.
  • Huge Paragraphs -- some posters seem to think that huge paragraphs with no breaks between them are easy to read . . . they are not.
  • Formatting Problems -- I particularly HATE those posts where you have to scroll across the page to read each and every line of text.
I should point out that there ARE a great many blogs that I read and enjoy that do not suffer from the above problems . . . and hopefully a few that will correct some of the above issues.

Finally, I should mention that I enjoy the non-gaming aspects of many blogs . . . I like learning about the gamers' real lives as well as their painting, plans and table top games . . . we are all people with "real lives" as well as our gaming interests . . . and learning more about each other is not a bad thing at all.

Anyway, presuming that the world doesn't end today (ala Mayans), I hope that you all enjoy a wonderful Christmas.

-- Jeff

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Our Christmas Tree

I usually post a photo of our Christmas Tree about this time of year.  Usually it is an 8' Fraser Fir . . . but thanks to my medical woes I simply didn't come close to having the strength to deal with one this year.

Instead we put up a 6' 15-year-old artificial tree that comes in three sections . . . (we usually have this on our outside porch facing the street . . . but we've had to forgo outside decorations this year).

It isn't all that hard to set up, but with the chemo fatigue it took me a few hours . . . and my wife had to do most of the decorating.  And, if you look closely you will see a number of nutcracker soldiers hanging on the tree.

It's a lot smaller than our usual Fraser Fir . . . and doesn't fill the house with that wonderful "Christmas Tree" smell . . . but we like it anyway.

As for the scent, we bought some Douglas Fir branches, which my darling lady wife arranged with ornaments so that we do get to smell the holidays after all.

I hope that you and your loved ones enjoy the warmth and joy of this Holiday Season as we will.

-- Jeff

Friday, December 14, 2012

New "Alpian Wars" Battle in Progress

Well we've started the second battle of the Alpian Wars mini-Campaign.

First Shots Fired by Crossbows, Shaking Ardant
Alpia won the Battle of the Crossroads and now, with reinforcements, is thrusting into Stagonia with the intention of making it through the Bellevue Hills into Stagonia's rich wine country.

General Murdeau, also reinforced but with a somewhat smaller force is trying to prevent this.

So far we've had a number of simple "march moves" and now three "Deck Moves" (where I use the Action Deck described in Clarence Harrison's "Victory Without Quarter" rules which we are using for the 16th century, not the mid-17th).

A wider view from the South looking North
The Bellevue Hill passes are well to the right of this line of trees but Stagonia seems to have chosen to fight a delaying action here.

The Alpian forces are attacking from the West (left on the photo) in a pair of columns.

For much more, I urge you to visit "The Alpian Wars" blog . . . we seem to be getting some moves in most every day now.

-- Jeff

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Chemo & a New Battle Started

Well I started a new cycle of chemotherapy today (Wednesday) and it is really knocking me for a loop . . . so it is a very good thing that I have a battle that I can fight at my own pace.

Stagonia Must Decide What to Do
Both Ross and Murdock had already sent me their Orders of March some days ago . . . the holdup has been my getting the terrain set up . . . but it is now finished.

The basic scenario is the attempt by the Duchy of Stagonia (which lost the battle of the Crossroads) to attempt to prevent the army of the Duchy of Alpia from forcing their way through the Bellevue Hills into the rich wine valleys of Stagonia's southern holdings.

I've posted the "Opening Moves" for this battle on my "The Alpian Wars" blog.  It presents General Murdeau with a decision . . . He doesn't know the strength of the Alpian columns (there appear to be two) but he suspects that they (in total) will outnumber his forces (even though they've been reinforced since the Crossroads battle).

He has a number of options (as described on the blog link above . . . what would you do in his place?

-- Jeff

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Reassment Time

Well we've wrapped up the first battle of "The Alpian Wars" mini-campaign (go here to read the ending) . . . and so it is now time for all of us to take a bit of a break and re-read the rules and see what wasn't done correctly (there is always something, isn't there?).

Taking a break and asking my generals what they didn't think was right is a healthy thing . . . especially with rules as short as Clarence Harrison's "Victory Without Quarter" rules.

One thing that I decided "on the fly" had to do with Swordsmen (ECW equivalent would be Clubmen).  In general, VWQ prohibits foot units from charging "steady" foot . . . but since Swordsmen don't have any missile weapons, being solely melee troops, I decided that (like cavalry) they could charge steady foot if they made a successful Morale Check (like cavalry).  Both of my generals like this change.

Well actually it isn't a "change" since the matter wasn't covered in the VWQ rules.  In fact the author freely admits that not all circumstances are covered . . . and that players  should make whatever changes seemed appropriate.

So now, between battles it is a good time to think about these things.

-- Jeff

Saturday, December 01, 2012

The Joy of Playing Again

As many of you know, this has been a very bad year for me health-wise.  What  with illness, the diagnosis of cancer, radiation, surgery, long hospital stay and now months of chemotherapy there hasn't been any gaming.

In fact I checked and it is over 14 months since I had a chance to put figures on the tabletop . . . so even playing a solo game brings me much pleasure.

Now, while the chemo leaves me exhausted (and seriously reduces my immune system) I remain unable to play any face-to-face games . . . BUT I am able to play a solo game thanks to Ross and Murdock for issuing orders to their armies via email.

I am using Clarence Harrison's "Victory Without Quarter" rules . . . although out of period.  They were written for the English Civil War but I've got a couple of 16th century Pike & Shot armies that are properly based for it and so I'm using the rules anyway.

"Victory Without Quarter" is "card driven" and thus they are quite unpredictable in terms of who can do what and when . . . which makes it great fun for me.  I never know what the next card will bring; and that provides suspense. 

The action has see-sawed back and forth with one side having the advantage, then the other.  Right now either could easily still win . . . which makes it very interesting and provides a very big "bright spot" in my day.

The current battle is intended to be the first in a series of five-battle mini-campaign . . . so losses from this fight will have consequences later on.  I don't know if my current on-line generals will continue, but if not I'm sure that someone will step into their shoes.  It is great having someone else make the "command decisions" (some of which have surprised me) . . . I do love not knowing what will happen next on the table top.

If you care to follow the action, check out my "The Alpian Wars" blog.

-- Jeff

Thursday, November 29, 2012

"Alpian Wars" Continue

We have now completed five "Deck Turns" of our first "Alpian Wars" battle.  These follow several "marching moves" as the two forces moved into position.

The basic scenario involves two "advance forces" fighting for control of a key crossroads.

The "vile Stagonians" are visible above the village, while the forces of the Duchy of Alpia are seen on the lower half of the photo to the left.

Each "Deck" turn has its own report as this fight has tilted back-and-forth so far.  Right now Alpia appears to have a slight advantage . . . but that could easily disappear with the turn of a card.

To read about it please visit "The Alpian Wars" blog.

-- Jeff

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Alpian Wars is Underway

After a couple of preliminary marches, the 16th century Duchies of Alpia and Stagonia are poised to go to war.  Both are striving to take and hold a key crossroads.

Stagonia to the left; Alpia to the Right
As you can see in the photo, Stagonia's Brigadier Arnoux (to the left) is closing in on the Crossroads as is Alpia's Brigadier Franscioni (from the right).

In the distance you can now see that Alpia's Brigadier Lombardi's cavalry column is approaching the village seemingly unopposed . . . or is he?

To follow this conflict, check out the following blogs:
 -- Jeff

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Alpian Wars Have Begun

Well I finally managed to get my game table cleaned off and set up the terrain for the first battle of "The Alpian Wars".

No photos yet because the two generals Giovanni Rossi of Alpia (Ross Macfarlane) and Maxime Murdeau of Stagonia (David Murdock) have not yet discovered their opponents positions.

The various blog links above will take you to blogs for the Wars in general and the two sides . . . not much there yet, but hopefully there will be as time moves on.

Wednesday I begin a new cycle of chemotherapy but at a reduced dosage . . . so hopefully it won't throw me for as much a loop as it has been doing.

-- Jeff

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Not Much Progress

Well today I finished painting some barrels as markers for "limited powder" for the (hopefully) upcoming battles.  I've also got two gamers who will "run" the respective sides for the "Alpian Wars" . . . and I've created blogs for the mini-campaign.

But overall things are going slowly on my end.  I am amazed at just how debilitating the "chemo fatigue" is.  It takes an effort of will to just stand up.  Walking into another room leaves me huffing and puffing; and walking up the stairs usually requires a rest on the way.

I'm almost through the two week break they've between chemotherapy cycles; but I have chemo scheduled for Wednesday . . . *sigh* . . . I know that it is helping me but it really is stressful.

Hopefully I can get the first battle of the Alpian Wars started soon.

-- Jeff

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Well I was to have reached the half-way point in my chemotherapy yesterday . . . but the cancer doc has given me a two-week break before we resume the chemo regimen.

Why?  Because the level of my fatigue and shortness of breath worried him.  So I ended up spending 8 hours in hospital undergoing a bunch of tests and scans to rule out potentially dangerous possibilities . . . which they did.  I don't have a blood clot or heart disease, I have not had a heart attack, etc.

I'm just exhausted from the chemo.

So perhaps during this two week "recovery" break I can actually manage to get going on my hoped-for mini-campaign using Clarence Harrison's "Victory Without Quarter" rules (slightly modified for my "Alpian Wars" 16th century setting).

I have been thinking about asking a few fellows to help in terms of making some of the initial choices for assembling commands and setting orders of march and so forth . . . to make sure that I don't "rig" the battle against those vile Stagonians.

Frankly the troops are ready but my table isn't.  It has lots of stuff on it that I just have not been able to gather the energy to clean up.  And I still have to make roads.  I purchased vinyl for this months ago but have yet to cut it into roads . . . *sigh* . . . I just didn't realize how totally fatiguing the chemotherapy would be.

But hopefully I can recover enough in this two week stretch to get started on the "Alpian Wars".

-- Jeff

Friday, October 19, 2012

Naming the Generals -- 

I have now generated names for several Generals and many Brigadiers for the Alpian Wars.  All Alpian officers have Italian names while all of the vile Stagonians have French names . . . nothing against the French, it is just that by keeping the names distinct helps readers know which side they are on.

The 18th century Stagonians had mostly French names, so I decided to keep those.  And while the Alpians could just as easily (and probably more realistically) had German names, I wanted to keep those for the Saxe-Bearsteiners (even though they were not in existance until the Thirty Years War).

Why so many names?  Well the rules that I'm using are Clarence Harrison's "Victory Without Quarter" and one of the optional rules allows for officer personalities for Brigadiers (of which there are six) and some other people who use the rules have added a couple for the C-in-C.

Each side will usually have one General and three Brigadiers for each battle of the mini-Campaign . . . and while it is unlikely, it is possible that three brigadiers might have the same personality.

Also all officers might be changed after each battle.  What I'm planning on is dicing for continuation/replacement.  Victors (each diced for separately) will stay on a 1-4 and be replaced on a 5-6; losers will only have a 50% chance of staying on -- 1-3 vs 4-6.  Replacements will be diced for as normal -- 1-3 being Steady; 4-6 having to dice for their personality.

Anyway here are the officers for the first battle:

  • General Giovanni Rossi    (Steady)
  • Brigadier Luigi Franscioni   (Steady)
  • Brigadier Paulo Lombardi  (Steady)
  • Brigadier Flavio Buffo  (Buffoon)
  • General Maxime Murdeau   (Steady)
  • Brigadier Maurice Gilbert   (Reckless)
  • Brigadier Eugene Delage   (Steady)
  • Brigadier Jacques Arnoux   (Cautious)

And where did I get the names?  Well some years ago I constructed several "name generators" for WWI pilots . . . which included both French and Italian as well as several other nationalities . . . so I simply used those.

-- Jeff

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Action Deck Built --  

Clarence Harrison's "Victory Without Quarter" rules, which I am going to use for my "Alpian Wars" mini-campaign, use an "acton deck" of playing cards to activate units and/or brigades.

To the left you can see what some of my cards look like.

I will note that while the Alpian cards are in red, those of the vile Stagonians are printed in black . . . the color of the hearts of that foul Imagi-Nation.

These cards were then trimmed and using clear packing tape, and taped to playing cards.

Including other units there are 15 cards for each Imagi-Nation including the four commanders (one General and three Brigadiers per army).

And, finally there are six "neutral" cards printed in green ( two artillery actions, two reload cards, one Event card and one End of Turn card).

So anyway now the action deck is completed . . . and that is one less thing to be finished before I can contemplate a game.  Next up is gluing weapons into the hands of the open-handed "Swordsmen".

-- Jeff

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Pikes?  Yikes!  --    

The armies that I have for my "Alpian Wars" were purchased pre-painted many years ago (at less than lead cost I might add).  And while I'm not thrilled with the color palette that the painter used, I'm not about to re-paint them.

However I am concerned about their current "pikes".  The figure height is 30mm to the tops of their hats/helmets and the "pikes" are thin piano wire spears of 60mm.  They do not look like pikes to me.  They are too short and almost invisible.

So I am thinking of changing them.  That, of course will entail painting new pikes, removing the old ones and gluing in the new ones . . . all of which will delay any gaming.  I know, that doesn't sound like a lot but the chemotherapy doesn't leave me with much energy.

Now I have two obvious choices for new pikes.  Both are 100 mm in length and I have enough of both (I will need 72 of them).  I have some steel pikes and I have some wooden ones.  The steel ones are a bit thin for my taste and have very sharp points on them.  The wooden ones are perhaps a bit too thick but are less dangerous to the hand and will be more visible.

So right now I'm leaning toward the wooden ones . . . but also wondering if I should just accept the short "pikes" and not worry about it.

What do you think?

 -- Jeff


Monday, October 01, 2012

Changing the Plan Again --  

Not a lot of change, really.  I've switched Stagonia's opponent around to the south, creating a new I'magi-Nation . . . the Duchy of Alpia.

They will be quasi-Italian/Swiss and this will allow me to rename the project to "The Alpian Wars".  (One of the reasons for this being that upon reflection the GNW Swedish flags looked too modern to me for the Late Renaissance).

Both Imagi-Nations will have the same size armies:
  • six units of Pike & Shot
  • one unit of Commanded Shot 
  • one unit of Swordsmen
  • one regiment of two squadrons of Cuirassiers
  • two regiments of two squadrons of Trotter/Pistoliers each
  • artillery -- two light or one heavy gun (plus artillery guards)
  • one General with one Aide-de-Camp
  • three Brigadiers
Their will actually be more Command Officers than the four listed as I will be using Clarence Harrison's optional rule for officer personalities . . . but only three for any one battle.

So that's where I sit currently.

-- Jeff

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Changing Plans --   

I'm now on my third session of chemotherapy and am wiped out but otherwise doing okay . . . at least I think so.

However I am changing my plans as to what I'll try playing solo (in lots of little chunks).  I was going to game "The Stagonian Wars" set about 1725 or so . . . but since I can now get the Battleaxe figures I need from Historifigs, I think that I will have to put that project on hold for the nonce.  The figures won't be immediately available since some new molds have to be made . . . and it will take a lot of time in my current condition to get them painted.

So, what to do?

I took a look in my figure cabinet and realized that I have two balanced late Renaissance armies all ready to go.  They are based for Clarence Harrison's "Victory Without Quarter" ECW rules.  Now I like these rules, but my usual opponent Murcock of MurdocK's MauraderS and The Duchy of Mieczyslaw fame, does not care for them . . . and I don't want to inflict them on him when there are other periods and rules that we both like.

But for solo gaming, I think that they will work splendidly.  The two armies are currently flaged with Stagonian and GNW-era Swedish flags.  I can't use the latter for Saxe-Bearstein because (by my background) it didn't come into existence until the Thirty Years War . . . and, of course, the Swedish flags are wrong too . . . but they look good.

But Sweden is a long way from Stagonia (roughly Bavaria) . . . so I need to create a new Imagi-Nation to the north of Stagonia (Saxe-Bearstein is to the east, basically Bohemia).  But except for basing about six more units (all figures except for three already painted), I have little more to do . . . so instead of "The Stagonian Wars" I was planning on, I will now be attempting "The Early Stagonian Wars" using the same mini-campaign I previously planned for the later period.

At least that is the plan as of now.

-- Jeff

Friday, September 07, 2012

Best Laid Plans, *sigh* --  

Well I started my second round of chemotherapy on Wednesday . . . and am once again in extreme fatigue mode.

I did not manage to even flock any of the 72 cavalry bases waiting for their grass . . . and I didn't get anything painted either.  Hopefully I will manage to get into some sort of routine over the next few months and eventually get the mini-campaign I'm hoping to do done.

There was some good news today, however.  Mike Tabor of Historifigs has located two of the GNW/WSS Bloodaxe molds that I want figures from.  The one that I need most is in good shape; but the other is not.  Anyway it does look like I will be able to add the units I need for Stagonia.

That is, of course, if I can manage to shake off this malaise that the chemo has me in.  So while I still hope to manage the mini-campaign, I am less optimistic than I was earlier.

-- Jeff

Monday, August 20, 2012

"The Stagonian Wars" Officers --  

As recently posted on the "Kingdom of Stagonia" blog, I will be using one of Ross Macfarlane's "Optional Rules" from his "Hearts of Tin" rules . . . but with my own "twist" to them.

Each general will have a brigadier as a "protegee".  This will be determined randomly by die roll.  If his protegee is at the battle, the general will endeavor to give him the best troops or command.

The actual "characters" of generals and protege's will be diced for the first time they take the field . . . which will, of course, not alter the protegee status should he be a dolt (he might be a relative after all).  A list of the Stagonian command officers can be found here; those for Saxe-Bearstein are listed below:


  1. General Baron Helmut von Pilsner --  protegee is von Molstein
  2. Lt. Gen. Hertz von Stout --   protegee is von Zendabrau
  3. Maj. Gen. Otto von Lager --   protegee is von Maltz
  1. Brig. Karl von Blatz --  
  2. Brig. Dieter von Maltz  --  von Lager's protegee
  3. Brig. Fritz von Hoptz  --  
  4. Brig. Baron Viktor von Zendabrau  --  von Stout's protegee
  5. Brig. Rupert von Shaffer  --  
  6. Brig. Baron Adolph von Molstein  --  von Pilsner's protegee
The main reason for both using Ross' "Non-Player Commanders" character rules with the addition of protegees is to develop stories, not just battles.  We shall see how it works out.

-- Jeff

Saturday, August 18, 2012

My Stagonian Wars Plan --  

As most of you know I have just begun a six-month chemotherapy regimen following my cancer surgery.  Between the two I have very little stamina, which means that any face-to-face gaming is essentially out of the question.

So I am planning to try some solo gaming.  Fortunately I do have a game table that I can leave up as long as I want . . . and I have a pair of armies, Saxe-Bearstein and Stagonia, that can be used as natural opponents.

As for rules, I've been following Ross Macfarlane's constantly evolving "Hearts of Tin" rules.  And while these were primarily written for the 19th century, I can trim out a lot of things that didn't apply a century earlier.  I will also change some things to add my preferences to the rules.

These "Stagonian Wars" will be set a bit earlier than you might expect since the bulk of my painted troops are actually WSS and GNW figures from Bloodaxe Miniatures . . . so I'm figuring that I will set it sometime betseen the War of Spanish Succession and the War of Austrian Succession due to the hair style.

I have Grant's book of Programmed Scenarios and a Mini-Campaign which Dr. Vesuvius of The Axis of Naughtiness  has written which will serve me.

This mini-campaign will result in 5 battles. If I can get the rules and figures ready in this first month, I should be able to fight one battle a month (albeit in very small chunks) as I continue my chemotherapy.

I have been slowly working on rebasing figures.  All of the cavalry for both sides is done although I still need to flock the bases.

As with some of the cavalry units, I have had to repaint parts of much of my infantry.  So there will be some rebasing there too.  I won't have as many foot units as I'd like but might be able to get some more figures from Historifigs if Mike Tabor can find the right molds (Lance's WSS/GNW molds have not yet been sorted).  Of course this would mean that I'd have to paint more figures.

Well that's the plan . . . of course I don't really know how badly the chemotherapy is going to effect me . . . it is a very long haul . . . and I'm pretty well "wiped out" already.

-- Jeff

Friday, August 17, 2012

Rivers and Roads --  

Previously I have been using masking tape and painting tape for my roads and rivers respectively . . . which worked but wasn't very appealing

So earlier this year I purchased some of Eric Hotz's "River System" sections for my rivers . . . and I'm quite happy with them.  But he hasn't got any roads into production yet; and I was tired of waiting.

Therefor a couple of days before I was scheduled to start my chemotherapy I went to our local fabric store which was having a sale and got a chunk of dirt-colored vinyl (I would have preferred felt for its "stickiness" with my table cloth but they didn't have any good colors for it).

True, I have yet to cut any road shapes out of it yet . . . I don't have a lot of energy . . . but it should work okay.  I also have to decide just how wide I want to make my roads.  I'm thinking of perhaps something in the 55 mm to 60 mm range because I'd like a bit of road to show on either side of my bases (47 mm cavalry & 40 mm infantry) so that it is obvious that they are on the road . . . but not too much more than that.

So I will soon have some better-looking terrain than in the past.

-- Jeff

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Early Chemo Report --  

First let me thank all of you who have been wishing me well.  I do appreciate it very much.

I started my first chemotherapy regimen about 12 hours ago by taking the "pre-chemo" anti-nausea drugs I'd been prescribed.  And part of the good news is that they worked . . . no nausea!

An hour later I was at the hospital for my first round of the IV chemo drug . . . although they first ran a "cocktail" of various other things through for about a half an hour to "prep" me for the main drug, which takes about two hours if there are none of the common complications (in which case it changes to a six-hour infusion).  More good news, I did not have any of these side effects.

Then they gave me the oral chemo drugs, which come in a fancy blister pack and showed me how to take them without there ever touching my skin.  I need to continue taking these every 12 hours for two weeks . . . then I get a week's rest until 21 days from now when the whole regimen repeats (on through 8 repetitions; a six-month course of treatment).

Now the "bad news".  One of the side effects of the IV drug is an adverse reaction to cool or cold temperatures.  I can't have cold beverages (I love iced tea . . . *sigh*. . .), nor even get anything out of the refrigerator.  I made the mistake of washing my hands is cool water and my hands went all tingly. While not really a "bad" thing, this is quite annoying . . . but supposedly this only lasts a few days.

What has knocked the stuffing out of me (so far) is the fatigue.  Even just standing up and walking a few steps has me huffing and puffing like crazy.  Again, not "threatening", it is extremely inconvenient.

I've just taken more of my anti-nausea medications, one of which has the side effect of a headache.  Not a terrible headache, just a mildly annoying one (and again this disappears after a few days for most people).  However it does get considerably more noticeable as I exert myself by walking more than a couple of steps . . . *sigh*.

I should point out that all chemotherapy regimens are designed depending upon where the cancer was located and the medical history of the patient.  For example the "cold effects" of the IV medication I got today is NOT a common response for most chemotherapy drugs.

Anyway, all-in-all not a bad first day, I think.

-- Jeff

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Chemotherapy & Re-Basing --  

My chemotherapy starts this coming Wednesday.  Fortunately they tell me that the nausea that used to plague chemo patients is pretty much a thing of the past thanks to very effective nausea medications.

Unfortunately because of the nature of chemotherapy I am likely to be extremely fatigued (and I already have to take numerous naps during the day).  Also I will be very susceptible to infections . . . so I will have to avoid going out as much as possible.  So for the next six months I will pretty much be a stay-at-home invalid . . . *sigh*.

On a happier note, I have now re-based (but not yet flocked) 192 cavalry for my Saxe-Bearstein and vile Stagonian armies.

Each of the above will now have four regiments of Horse, three regiments of Dragoons and a single regiment of Hussars.  All units are twelve figures strong and mounted on six two-figure 47mm square stands.  (The square 47mm  stands allow the units to fit comfortable in my display cabinet.

I do need to paint up some more infantry.  Unfortunately the Blood-Ax figures that I have for the rest of my army aren't available any more as far as I know.  So I will be having to use some plastic WSS from Warlord Games that I picked up a while ago . . . but the thought of having to cut all of the parts from the sprues and piecing the figures together is a bit daunting to me the way I'm feeling since my cancer surgery.

Don't get me wrong.  I DO feel much stronger than I did after the surgery . . . just nowhere close to how I felt before it.  I have also regained some weight.  I had lost 60 lbs, but have regained about 15.  However I've been warned that I'm likely to lose more during the chemotherapy.

Hopefully I will be able to play some solo games (albeit over several sessions) during the next six-months . . . which is why I've been refurbishing my 18th century troops.

-- Jeff

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

New Bases Cut --    

Today I got a whole bunch of new bases cut for my Saxe-Bearstein and my vile Stagonian 18th century armies.  Mind you I didn't cut them myself; but thanks to a friend with a bandsaw who cut them for me, I now have over a hundred bases each for both infantry and cavalry.

For those who don't know, I live about a third of the way up the east coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada.  (Note that Vancouver Island and the city of Vancouver, which is on the mainland, are quite different places).  This is hardly a hot bed of miniature gaming, so I don't have to worry about matching my basing to anyone else's.

I have found that I really like square bases.  And I like thick bases (blocks of troops can be moved more easily).  So I purchased a quarter sheet of 1/4" MDF (medium density fiberboard) and my friend Stuart cut a lot of it into 40mm squares for foot and 47mm squares for cavalry.

"Why 47mm squares?", you ask . . .  I mean 50mm squares are more common, right?  Well, yes, but those would make my units a bit too large for my display cabinet . . . and the horses DO fit on the 47mm squares.

So that, of course, was the easy part.  Now I have to remove all the figures from their current bases before I can place them on their new bases.  But first I will paint the sides of the bases (which is much easier to do en mass before they're attached to figures).

This rebasing is something that I decided I'd do back when I was flat on my back in the hospital.  Now all I have to do is get it done . . . which won't happen quickly I'm afraid since I still do need to take lots of naps during the day . . . nevertheless, a start on the project has been made.

-- Jeff

Saturday, July 28, 2012

World's Greatest Athlete --    

While the above title is usually given to the Olympic Decathlon winner, I do not believe that it is correct.  I believe that the winner of the Modern Pentathlon is more deserving of the title.

The decathlete competes in ten various Track & Field events.  The pentathlete competes in five totally different sports.
  • a Swimming event -- 200 meter freestyle
  • a Fencing event -- epee
  • a Track event -- 3000 meter cross-country run
  • a Marksmanship event -- pistol shooting
  • an Equestrian event -- show jumping on an unfamiliar horse
The obvious wargaming connection is that the event was designed to test the skills that an Aide-de-Camp  might have to use in the course of his duties.  This echoed the Ancient Greek pentathlon which tested the skills of the ancient soldier (actual events unknown to us).

Unfortunately the Modern Pentathlon does not get much "Western" notice because it has been dominated by Eastern European nations . . . and some want to see it dropped from the Olympics.

I, as a Wargamer, say that an emphatic "NO" to that.  Don't you?

-- Jeff

Friday, July 20, 2012

Suddenly Useful Book --   

On March 28, 1990 I purchased a copy of Charles Stewart Grant's "Programmed Wargames Scenarios.   I know this because it still has the receipt in it . . . probably because prior to today I had not really looked at it because it was basically for "solo wargaming" and I play with other people.

Well, while I dohave some available opponents, I'm still tire very quickly because of my cancer surgery . . . and will probably continue to do so once the chemotherapy begins.

So, since I don't have the stamina to face a live opponent for very long (I keep having to take naps); today I started to take a good look at Grant's book.

And it looks like it will work very well.  I can see using it to play some "mini-campaigns" (two have been created using these scenarios):
 Mind you, taking over 22 years to look at this volume wasn't the smartest thing I've ever done . . . but it looks like I will finally be getting it right.

-- Jeff

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Birthday Thoughts --   

Yes, today (June 19) is my 64th birthday and I thought I'd post a few thoughts.

First, I'm alive and getting stronger.  As many of you know I had eight hours of cancer surgery in April and spent 20 days recovering in hospital.  I still have to take it pretty easy . . . and I often find myself taking naps . . . and I run out of breath easily (lots of residual anemia) . . . but I no longer have to use a walker . . . indeed I don't even use a cane in the house (although I do outside).

So I am thankful for my improving health . . . although I'm supposed to start about six months of chemotherapy next month, which will undoubtedly knock the stuffing out of me again.  Still, I'm alive . . . and it isn't all that many decades ago that I wouldn't be.

As for gaming, I've not been up to it since the before my surgery . . . but of course I've thought about it.

Hopefully I'll be able to resume my Colonial "Afristan" Campaign soon.  It was initially interrupted when one of my players had a heart attack, then of course I got sick.   I do need to finish painting some figures for the next couple of battles, but until recently I've been prohibited from lifting anything that weighed more than "a half kettle of water" so I haven't had access to my paints.

I also am looking forward to trying out Ross Macfarlane's "Hearts of Tin" rules with my Saxe-Bearstein and vile Stagonian forces.  One of the attractions of these rules is that Ross uses them for solo play . . . which would be good for me over the coming months since I would be able to play games in small chunks, resting when fatigue catches up with me. 

I am also hoping to re-base all of my 18th century units with bases better designed to fit into my gaming cabinet. 

Oh, while they haven't arrived yet, one of my birthday presents will be three books from On Military Matters:
  • BLACK POWDER: Last Argument of Kings
Hopefully it won't take too long for them to arrive . . . but I will have a good birthday even without them since I am still here.

-- Jeff

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Red Orcs --   

As a very young man I read a fair number of books of "fairy tales" which were illustrated with images of "red goblins" . . . so I have never liked the "green goblins" (and orcs, etc.) that Games Workshop advocates.

Today, while reading tradgardmastare's "The Duchy of Tradgardland" post wherein he also didn't care for the ubiquitous Games Workshop green, I recalled that I had painted up a bunch of goblins and orcs in red for a "Hordes of the Things" army.

So,  here are a couple of photos to show that goblins and orcs don't have to follow the Games Workshop corporate line.

Paint your goblins and orcs whatever colour you want, Gentlemen.

-- Jeff

Thursday, May 17, 2012

I am humbled --   

Bill Protz (Gallia) has created a wonderful "story board" of images using characters from his "Campaigns of William Augustus Pettygree" and "Campaigns in Germania" blogs to welcome me back from hospital on the "Emperor vs Elector" group blog.

I am, as always, humbled by his creativity and honored by his effort.  Here is a link to his post.

Likewise, Michael Mathews of "Campaigns in Miniature" has also offered a touching "welcome back" series of images to greet my return from 20 days in hospital.  And, as his blog moves on to other posts, you may always see his "Celebration" here.

Again I am deeply touched by the effort that Michael and Bill (two gentlemen whom I have never actually met) have taken for me.

Thank you, sirs. 

And many thanks also to "Murdock" (of "MurdocK's MauraderS" and "The Duchy of Mieczyslaw") who has so ably filled in for me as a temporary inhaber for the "Emperor vs Elector" group blog; and who has offered updates as to my condition while visiting me in hospital.

I am humbled, gentlemen . . . and most appreciative indeed.

-- Jeff

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Jeff is Back Home --   

Well after my colon cancer surgery and 20 days in hospital I am finally once again home. 

I do wish to thank all of those who prayed, sent healing energy or just good wishes . . . all such are gratefully received.

I can now look forward to a period of slow recovery . . . I am very weak after this ordeal and sleep is never far off.  I have, by the way, lost over 50 lbs (23 Kg) since earlier this year . . . but I really do not recommend cancer as a diet plan.  Trust me on this.

Of course during the long hours of lying in a hospital bed, I did think a lot about what I want to do "toy soldier"-wise . . . but more of that later; I hear my bed calling me for more rest.

And, believe it or not, the simple act of eating is hard work.

-- Jeff

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Ready for the Knife --    

In around twelve hours from now I'll be in the operating room for my cancer surgery (which is expected to take 4 to 5 hours).

I'm exhausted and ready for it to happen . . . and, yes, I know that the recovery will be long and painful . . . probably two weeks in hospital and another six weeks or more to become fairly functional and a couple of months more to be (more or less) back to normal.

On a "gaming" front, yesterday I finally received the Hotz River System pieces that I ordered a while back . . . and they look like they'll work very well when I am back to gaming again.

So, so long for a few weeks.  May your dice be friendly and your gaming companions even friendlier.

-- Jeff

Saturday, April 21, 2012

After Radiation --

Well I am back home after five days of radiation therapy down in Victoria.

I must say that everyone I came into contact with there was upbeat and helpful. Transportation down and back was provided free of charge by the British Columbia Cancer Agency and Freemasons . . . which was very very welcome indeed.

I stayed at the Vancouver Island Cancer Lodge . . . which was fantastic. Again all of the staff and volunteers had a very positive helpful attitude; and the facility is very accommodating indeed.

As for the radiation treatments themselves, I didn't feel a thing while they were happening. I just lay there and heard the buzzing noise. But afterwards they sure caused me a lot of fatigue (I'd go back to my room and sleep for a few hours); and some skin irritation as well.

Anyway I'm back home and my surgery is currently scheduled for Thursday but might get rescheduled since I've returned with a chest cold . . . and my wife doesn't think they'll want to sedate me for an expected five-hour surgery with congested lungs . . . but, this being the weekend, the doctors aren't available . . . and I'm hoping that I'll be over this before Thursday anyway.

I'll try to keep you posted.

-- Jeff

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Back to Hospital Again --

*sigh* . . . Last night a few friends were over to play a game . . . but it didn't happen . . . I started hemorrhaging again and so ended up in the Emergency Room once again . . . and was once again admitted to the hospital for monitoring.

I've now been released (the hemorrhaging has ended but I feel very tired and weak) . . . so I should be able to go down island for my week of radiation treatments on Monday . . . then back up for surgery on April 26.

But I'm not stressed out or anything . . . well, not much . . . eh, well maybe a bit . . . okay, quite a lot.

-- Jeff

Monday, March 26, 2012

Surgery Now Scheduled --

Well we heard from the surgeon's office today. My cancer surgery is scheduled for April 26 . . . Shakespeare's baptismal day.

We still have not heard from the BC Cancer people about my radiation therapy; but the doctor's office said that they'd been told that it would end on April 20 . . . which probably means that I'll be in Victoria from the 16th through the 20th (and out of touch in terms of the Net).

Lots of medical stuff between now and then . . . consults with different doctors, etc. . . . anyway that's all that I know at this point.

-- Jeff

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Good "Bad News" --

Well we saw the doctor today for the results of my CT scan. And the news was good!

"Bad" in that, yes I do have rectal cancer, but "good" in that the cancer does not appear to have spread. Next steps are radiation therapy then surgery.

I wish to thank everyone who has expressed their concern for my health and for all of the prayers and good wishes that have come my way. Please keep them coming because I am not a great subject for surgery (mid-sixties, diabetic and seriously overweight), so your prayers (of whatever faith) continue to be most welcome.

Finally I would like to mention that, while the stress of this has been (and will continue to be) pretty intense, reading and thinking about our shared hobby has succeeded in keeping me somewhat distracted . . . which has been a great help.

Thank you all again.

-- Jeff

Friday, March 09, 2012

CT Scan Today --

In about an hour I will head to Hospital for a CT scan to see if or how far my cancer has spread. Of course I won't know the results today . . . but at least it is a step forward.

-- Jeff

Thursday, March 01, 2012

"A Month from Hell" --

Well that is how my wife described it . . . and we are very glad that February is over.

On the evening of the first I started bleeding heavily from my rear end. A trip to Emergency and I was admitted to Hospital, where I continued to lose blood. I know that they gave me at least nine big bags of fluid over the two days I was in.

On the second, my wife's father (age 95) passed away. It wasn't unexpected, but it was still a shock for her on top of my being in Hospital.

Mid-month I underwent a colonoscopy to find out why I was bleeding . . . and a few days ago we got the result. I have colon cancer . . . well, more correctly rectal cancer.

So the next step is an MRI to see how extensive it is and if it has spread. Then radiation. Then surgery . . . and I'm a poor surgical risk even though I've lost 35 pounds over a three-week period (because I'm still pushing 300 and I'm in my sixties).

It is quite a shock. I'm not in pain. I'm weak because my hemoglobin has dropped so low because of blood loss . . . but other than that I feel fine . . . well, except for the stress and not knowing how things will turn out.

And, thankfully February is over.

Whatever your faith, your prayers are welcome.

-- Jeff

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

2 New Table Top Teaser Mini-Campaign --

Not everyone has access to Charles S. Grant's wonderful "Scenario" books . . . so Conrad Kinch (Joy and Forgetfulness) has crated a "Table Top Teaser" mini-campaign using Charles S. Grant's original "teasers" as published in magazines back in the late 1970's.

Fortunately Steve-the-Wargamer has (with permission) posted these online so that anyone can use them without needing Grant's later Scenario books.
  • initial scenario -- (TTT) #3 The Advance Guard Action
  • second scenario -- (TTT) #5 The Dawn Attack
  • third scenario -- (TTT) #10 Rear Guard
  • possible scenario -- (TTT) #4 Hold Up in the Badlands
  • possible scenario -- (TTT) #8 The Hasty Defense and Relief of a Town

This Mini-Campaign has also been added to my post of the earlier ones (using Grant's books) so that all of the "Mini-Campaigns" are in one place.

Additionally Cesar Alfredo Paz has created another "Mini-Campaign" using "Table Top Teasers" which is available here.

-- Jeff

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Several "Mini-Campaigns"  --

Below are links to responses so far to my call for "Mini-Campaigns" based on linking scenarios from Charles Grant's "Scenarios for Wargames" and other scenario sources.

What I think strikes me most about them is how different their choices and paths are . . . they should provide much fun for those who play them.

I would ask that if you play them, please post feedback on the creator's blogs . . . the URL links are in parentheses below.

After the initial scenario, those following are not in order since most chose the "tree" format where the result of the scenario affected which scenario was played next . . . so don't look at them as being in sequence . . . in fact, depending upon the results of various scenarios, not all will be played in any one campaign.

Note -- I will endeavor to add future "mini-campaigns" to this post as they arrive.

Steve (Steve-the-Wargamer) set his three-scenario Mini-Campaign in 1705 during the War of Spanish Succession:
  • initial scenario -- #9 Attack on the Camp
  • next scenario -- #3 Holding Action (1)
  • final scenario -- #16 Reinforcements in Defense (2) off table
Peter Douglas (The Single Handed Admiral) set his "Barolo" campaign in an "Emperor vs Elector" setting:
  • initial scenario -- #20 Reserve Demolition
  • other scenario -- #21 Bridgehead Breakout
  • other scenario -- #13 Last Stand
  • other scenario -- #19 Assault River Crossing
  • other scenario -- #16 Reinforcements in Defense (2) off table
  • other scenario -- #18 River Crossing
  • other scenario -- #1 Positional Defense (1)
  • other scenario -- #15 Reinforcements in Defense (1) on table
Ross Macfarlane (Battle Game of the Month) set his "Comox Valley Campaign" in a Colonial (or Ancients) setting . . . but it could be played as Horse & Musket too:
  • initial scenario -- #30 Ambush (1)
  • other scenario -- #4 Holding Action (2)
  • other scenario -- #13 Last Stand
  • other scenario -- #3 Holding Action (1)
  • other scenario -- #34 Swampland Action
  • other scenario -- #32 Wagon Train
  • other scenario -- #33 Convoy Action (2) -- Evacuation
  • other scenario -- #42 Advance Column
Jim Pitts (Col Campbell's Barraks) has posted his "Linked Mini-Campaign" on his blog. Like most it has a flexible order, so don't take these scenarios as being in order.
  • initial scenario -- #41 Chance Encounter
  • other scenario -- #3 Holding Action (1)
  • other scenario -- #4 Holding Action (2)
  • other scenario -- #1 Positional Defense (1)
  • other scenario -- #2 Positional Defense (2)
  • other scenario -- #5 Rear Guard (1)
  • other scenario -- #6 Rear Guard (2)
Conrad Kinch (Joy and Forgetfulness) has posted his 1804 mini-campaign based on a British force in France trying to fight its way to safety with yet a different starting scenario.
  • initial scenario -- #42 Advance Column
  • other scenario -- #50 Horse and Foot
  • other scenario -- #8 Dead Ground
  • final scenario -- #6 Rear Guard (2)

Ed Youngstrom (Landgraviate of Hesse-Fedora) started his "Ladder" campaign using the "Table Top Teaser" from Battlegames Magazine, then used Grant's "Scenarios for All Ages" to complete his "ladder".
  • initial scenario -- (Mag) Pontoon
  • other scenario -- (Ages) Rearguard
  • other scenario -- (Ages) Assault on Prepared Position
  • other scenario -- (Ages) Hot Pursuit
  • other scenario -- (Ages) Chance Encounter
  • other scenario -- (Ages) Making the Best of a Bad Job
Dr. Vesuvius (The Axis of Naughtiness) used Grant's "Programmed Wargames Scenarios" for his "Continuing Diplomacy" mini-campaign for solo play!
  • initial scenario -- (PWS) #11 Crossroads
  • other scenario -- (PWS) #18 A Hasty Blocking Position
  • other scenario -- (PWS) #5 The Weak Flank
  • other scenario -- (PWS) #1 Hill Line Defense
  • other scenario -- (PWS) #7 Two Sides of a River
  • other scenario -- (PWS) #6 Crossing Point
  • other scenario -- (PWS) #8 Fighting Through
  • other scenario -- (PWS) #9 Island Stand
Ross Macfarlane (Battle Game of the Month) has also posted a Horse & Musket mini-campaign for solo gamers using Grant's "Programmed Wargames Scenarios". Interestingly enough it also starts with the same scenario as Dr. Vesuvius' mini-campaign above . . . although it then proceeds differently.
  • initial scenario -- (PWS) #11 Crossroads
  • possible scenario -- (PWS) #1 Hill Line Defense
  • possible scenario -- (PWS) #2 Broken Ground
  • possible scenario -- (PWS) #3 Pass Clearance
  • possible scenario -- (PWS) #5 The Weak Flank
  • possible scenario -- (PWS) #6 Crossing Point
  • possible scenario -- (PWS) #7 Two Sides of a River
  • possible scenario -- (PWS) #8 Fighting Through
  • possible scenario -- (PWS) #9 Island Stand
  • final scenario -- (PWS) #4 Holding Action
Conrad Kinch (Joy and Forgetfulness) has also crated a "Table Top Teaser" mini-campaign using Charles S. Grant's original "teasers" as published in magazines back in the late 1970's. Fortunately Steve-the-Wargamer has (with permission) posted these online so that anyone can use them without needing Grant's later Scenario books.
  • initial scenario -- (TTT) #3 The Advance Guard Action
  • second scenario -- (TTT) #5 The Dawn Attack
  • third scenario -- (TTT) #10 Rear Guard
  • possible scenario -- (TTT) #4 Hold Up in the Badlands
  • possible scenario -- (TTT) #8 The Hasty Defense and Relief of a Town Additionally Cesar Alfredo Paz has just created another "Mini-Campaign" using "Table Top Teasers" which is available here.
-- Jeff

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Mini-Campaign Challenge --

Most of us are familiar with Charles Stewart Grant's wonderful book "Scenarios for Wargames".

I propose using it . . . or rather the scenarios in it to create some mini-campaigns . . . a series of logically linked scenarios that will provide the framework for a series of games.

Sure, Grant and Phil Olley have done something similar in their volumes "Raid on St. Michel" and "The Annexation of Chiraz" . . . and they are wonderful . . . but I'm looking for some simpler, quick and easy solutions that we can all use.

So here is the challenge . . .

Create a series of three to seven scenarios from Grant's "Scenarios for Wargames" that will make for a logical simple mini-campaign of linked scenarios.

You can even, if you like, make a "campaign tree". That is to build it in the format of "if Red won Scenario A, go to Scenario B . . . and if Blue won, go instead to Scenario C, etc.

Let's see what you can come up with, okay?


Also, an update on my health. I feel much better although I tire almost immediately due to my heavy loss of blood. The hospital has changed my visit to the operating room from Monday to Wednesday, when they will hopefully find out what's wrong with me.

-- Jeff

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Our Wedding Anniversary --

My darling bride, Loraine (known as "Lani") and I were married 15 years ago (January 8, 1997).

Tonight we went out to dinner at a local restaurant to celebrate. And yes, that is prime rib on our plates (yum!).

There hasn't been much to report on the wargames front lately. Between the Holidays and my health, I've not played anything for a while . . . but Murdock, Pete and I have tentatively set up for either painting or playing on January 22.

My wish is for all of you to be as happy in your relationships and my wife and I are in our marriage.

-- Jeff