Monday, December 30, 2013

Starting a New Project

The results of my most recent CATSCAN mean that I will soon be entering another cycle of chemotherapy . . . although apparently not as brutal a cycle as the first one.

Anyway since I know how fatiguing this will be I needed to find a project that I could complete and play quickly . . . which isn't painting up several hundred figures for my English Civil War project (although hopefully I will be able to paint while on chemo).

For some time I've been reading glowing things about the game "Pulp Alley" from numerous sources, so I decided to give it a whirl since it doesn't require much of an investment . . . the rules in .pdf form are less than $10 and most "Leagues" (what they call their gangs) are around a half-dozen figures (from whatever manufacturer you choose).

By the way, until early on Jan. 2, 2014, Wargame Vault is having a 25% off sale on many items including "Pulp Alley" . . . click here for link

Anyway I've ordered a number of figures from Bob Murch's "Pulp Figures" (very quick service, by the way) and painted up most of them . . . but I'm waiting on bases from Litko.

So I'm going to use some "Old West" figures that I have for a "training game".

The photo at left is one of three "gangs" that I've put together with the clever names of the "White Hat Gang", the "Black Hat Gang" and the "Brown Hat Gang". 

To view these cleverly-named Leagues as well as the unbased "pulp" figures I've painted, please check out my "On Pulp Street" blog:

On Pulp Street.

-- Jeff

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Our Outside Tree

Normally about this time of year I post a photo of the Christmas Tree in our house . . . but I cannot do that this year because (due to water damage) the flooring is completely being re-done throughout the house . . . sometime over the next two weeks . . . (at least supposedly -- it keeps getting postponed).

So today my sweet wife and I got our "outside tree" set up on our front porch:

Above is a photo from a little before dusk.  The tree itself is an artificial one about 15-20 years old.  Ornaments are large inexpensive plastics that won't break if a strong wind knocks them off.

The lights in the tree are red and green; while the garland of lights around the porch are a mixture of red and white. 

Thus, no matter when the flooring finally gets done, at least we have one tree up and decorated for the holidays.

May your holidays be filled with the warm comfort of family and friends; and may joy be the over-riding feeling that fills you for the rest of the year (and well into the next one).

-- Jeff

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Some Decisions to be Made

Beside my Warlord plastics and Perry lead for my English Civil War project, I acquired a fairly substantial number of lead figures from a fellow down island.  The price was great, however the figures had not been treated kindly.

One specific problem was with the cavalry.  There were lots of sword-waving troopers most of whom had broken off swords.  Now Murdock has kindly offered to come down with his dremel tool and help me replace them with pins . . . (this is something I've never done although I've read of folks who have done so).

Now one of my problems is how well this will look with the unbroken swords of my Warlord and Perry troops.  Will I have to replace them as well?  I will have to wait and see.

Another issue has to do with the muskets of the Warlord plastics and the Perry lead.  I had planned on mixing them up within each unit . . . but while the sculpting of the two lines matches very well, the musket lengths are noticeably different (with the plastic being much longer).  Now I have to decide whether to simply use them in separate units or to snip the ends of the barrels off from the plastics.  I'm currently leaning toward the former but might well change my mind.

On a positive note, I did manage to make a hundred 80mm pikes from the mild steel welding rod I picked up last week . . . and I have finally assembled the arms and hats for way too many plastic foot and glued all of my plastic horses together.  However I still have swords to glue on the foot and pistol holsters on the horses.

I am getting very tired of all of the fiddly little bitwork needed to assemble all of the Warlord plastics.  They look good and the price is great but I have to pay for it in time in putting them together.

Nothing is painted yet (nor will it be soon) but I do continue to get things prepped.

-- Jeff

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

A Blast from the Past -- Simple Campaign

I was delighted this morning when I was perusing various blogs to see a post that I wrote about seven years ago referenced by John over at Tabletop Diversions (click to go to John's post). 

My post that he referred to is one where I offered a simple campaign engine (with virtually no bookkeeping), which he apparently has used.  Take a look at John's  blog to get the link to the system.

-- Jeff

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Mounted ECW Units Selected

I have made another slight change in my prospective ECW foot units . . . but that will be the subject of another post.

Today I will focus on the mounted units that I hope eventually to field for my English Civil War project.

At left you can see the ten "Horse" units and two "Dragoon" units that I've selected.

The horse units are mostly historically correct although two or three are either conjectural or were "unknown" and assigned to existing commanders.

As with my foot units it will take a long time before all are painted and ready for the table top . . . but one does need a plan, doesn't one?

-- Jeff

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Online Resource for ECW Coat Colors

I just discovered (thank you, Steve Wylde) that Wargames Design, the same source for the wonderful ECW flags that I'll be using, also has an extensive listing of coat colors for the ECW.

Of course it should be kept in mind that the coat color worn at one point during the war might be different from that worn during a different point in the war.  Still this list gives a good basis for painting many different units (both foot and horse) for both the Royalists and Parliamentarians (I did not see anything for the Scots).

-- Jeff

Friday, August 30, 2013

"Ouch!" -- a Delay with my ECW Project

I'm experiencing a bit of a delay with my ECW project due to health issues. 

Some days ago I became aware of my "kidney gravel" (i.e., small kidney stones) moving through some tighter places as it moves through my system.  This is not only painful but very tiring . . . and the pain pills to get me through it leave me quite light-headed . . . and that most assuredly means no hobby knives nor trying to glue fiddly-little pieces of plastic.

Then last night my gout flared up . . . so more pain pills . . . ouch!  Anyway, while these things will pass, I'm not going to be accomplishing much with my figures for a few days.

-- Jeff

Thursday, August 15, 2013

My Proposed ECW Foot Units

I want to use "real" units, not "imaginary" ones for my Royalist forces . . . but, of course, we really don't what color the uniforms and/or flags were for most of the ECW.

So I searched for units for which both uniform coat and regimental flag are known . . . even though they might be in differing commands or in different years.

What I've provisionally selected to eventually add to my forces can be seen at left.

The "color" above the commander's name is the coat color as found in one source or another.  Some varied by year, but these are what I'm currently looking at using.

I will not, of course, start out with all of these at once.  In fact my forces may never get to a dozen pike & shot units . . . but this (at least currently) is what I hope for.
-- Jeff

Sunday, August 11, 2013

What Color Coat Did They Wear in the ECW ???

Do you know what color uniform coat the following Royalist foor regiments wore during at least part of the English Civil Wars?  If so please leave a comment as to which regiment it is and what the coat color was:

(Please note that, as replies come in, I will add a note to those identified)

  • Ashley, Colonel
  • Aston, Sir Arthur
  • Astley, Sir Bernard -- White
  • Bagot, Col. Richard -- Dark Blue
  • Bellasyse, Col. John -- 1643 Oxford re-issue -- either Blue or Red
  • Byerley, Sir Anthony -- 1644 possibly White
  • Chaytor, Col. Henry
  • Cooke, Col. Francis -- Blue
  • Darcy, Col. Conyers -- Blue
  • Duke of York -- 1644 possibly White
  • Earl Rivers -- Oxford Blue
  • Fitton, Sir Edward -- 1643 Oxford re-issue -- either Blue or Red
  • Lambton, Sir William
  • Lord Byron
  • Lord Molyneux -- Burgandy suit
  • Lucas, Sir Gervase -- Blue coat, White facings, Yellow breeches
  • Marquis of Winchester -- Burgandy suit
  • Strading, Sir Edward -- 1643 Oxford re-issue -- either Blue or Red
  • Thelwell, Sir Anthony -- 1643 Oxford re-issue -- either Blue or Red
  • Vaughan, Sir Henry -- Red suit, Dark Blue facings
 -- Jeff

Friday, August 02, 2013

Some ECW Figures

Well today some sample Perry Miniatures ECW figures that I'd ordered appeared in the mail.

Perry's Pistol-armed Cavalry
I've read a number of places that they mix well with the Warlord plastics (which have not yet arrived -- so I cannot verify whether they do or not).

By the way, the photos on this page are not mine but are from the Perry website.

Perry's Musketeers Loading
And while the photos might make these appear to also be plastic, the figures I received are metal . . . and very well-cast, sharply detailed metal indeed.  They look very nice.

When the Warlord plastics arrive I will let you know just how well (or not) they do mix.

-- Jeff

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

ECW Rules

 I'm not completely happy with any of the rule sets for the ECW that I've read . . . so I think that I am going to write my own.

And at least I've decided upon a name for my own version of ECW miniature rules . . . and I've taken a clue from Larry Brom's "The Sword and the Flame" Colonial rules by plucking a phrase from a famous English author.

However the phrase did not come from the English Civil War.  In fact it was written before ECW had even occurred . . . that's right, as a man of the Theatre, I pulled something from Shakespeare.

Almost everything title I liked for the ECW has already been used.  The best that I came up with was "King vs Cromwell" but that really didn't do it for me.  Then I recalled a bit of a speech in Act III, scene iii of Shakespeare's "Richard II": 

“But ere the crown he looks for live in peace,
Ten thousand bloody crowns of mothers' sons
Shall ill become the flower of England's face;
Change the complexion of her maid-pale peace
To scarlet indignation , and be-dew
Her pastures' grass with faithful English blood.”

This seemed to me to be a fair assessment of the situation during the ECW (even though it referred to 1399) . . . so I picked the last three words for the title of my ECW rules:

"Faithful English Blood"

Now all I have to do is write the rules, eh?
-- Jeff

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Eyes Better & Figures Ordered

First of all, I'm happy to report that the cataract surgery on my right eye has been successful.  I can see things a lot more clearly now.

And, in celebration (at least that's what I'm pleading) and the fact that WARLORD GAMES is offering free worldwide shipping through July 31st, I have finally ordered some 28mm figures to begin work on my long-time desire to game the English Civil War.

I ordered the "Pike & Shotte Starter Battalia" (note: link is to US site).  With it I will get 90 foot and 24 cavalry for $96.

Yes, I know that they are hard plastic rather than metal but I really don't care . . . I will be able to build them with a lot of options so as to get a good "irregular" look to my ECW units . . . and anyway I use 1/4" MDF for basing my figures so that provides sufficient "heft" even with plastics.

I might even order a second set as well since what one gets for under a hundred bucks is quite a lot . . . but if so it will be a separate order in the hope that both will clear Canadian Customs without getting whacked with duties and an "inspection fee" . . . (ah the joys of getting things shipped across borders).

However please do not expect to see them on the table top soon.  There will be a lot of painting and assembly to accomplish first.  And in the meantime I will be keeping an eye on eBay and Bartertown for deals on Warlord and Perry ECW figures (these being apparently a very good mix -- even in the same unit).

-- Jeff

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

2nd Eye Surgery on Thursday

I am looking forward to my second cataract surgery in a few hours. 

I had the same surgery on my left eye about a month ago and it made a very significant difference . . . and my left eye had always been my "weak eye" . . . but since the surgery I can see much better out of it than I can with my right eye.

So a similar improvement with this second cataract surgery should make things even better.

-- Jeff

Friday, July 12, 2013

Rant on Rulebooks

I just received my OMM (On Military Matters) product update in my email today . . . and, once again it listed a very large rulebook.

Now when I say "large", I'm not kidding.  A hardback book of over 400 pages and weighing about 5 pounds (costing $99 USD plus shipping).

And while they may very well be excellent rules I personally do not want anything that huge (and presumably complex).  As I've aged (I'm now 65) I find that I very much prefer relatively simple rules.  I do not need the large volumes of extensive rules that so many companies seem to have favored over the past decade or so.

For my Colonial gaming I have gone back to using "The Sword and the Flame", which is around 30 years old now . . . but which still provides a good fun exciting skirmish game.

For my recent 16th century gaming, I'm using Clarence Harrison's "Victory Without Quarter" rules, which only take a handful of pages.

And for my 18th century gaming, I use fairly simple rules that I've written myself . . . which can pretty much be played just from the Quick Reference Sheets.

All of these provide me with enjoyable gaming experiences WITHOUT needing hundreds of pages of rulebook . . . so why would I want a rulebook that weighs 5 pounds?

If YOU want these huge rulebooks for your games, that's fine.  I have no objection to your playing (and even enjoying) such extensive rule tomes . . . but they are not for me.

-- Jeff

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Grand Plan for "Stagonian Wars"

While I have some "health issues" and still have quite a bit of painting to do before I will be ready to start, I have some thoughts on my upcoming "Stagonian Wars" mini-Campaign between our Principality of Saxe-Bearstein and the vile Kingdom of Stagonia.

Each of our Imagi-Nations will start the campaign with the same resources:

  • 8 regular infantry battalions -- each of six 4-figure companies
  • 2 irregular infantry battalions -- each of six 4-figure companies
  • 3 skirmishing foot units -- each of 12 individual figures
  • 4 heavy horse regiments  -- each of six 2-horse companies
  • 4 dragoon regiments -- each of six 2-horse companies
  • 2 "hussar" regiments -- each of six 2-horse companies
 Note that each of the "regular infantry battalions will include one company of grenadiers . . . and all of the grenadiers within a brigade may (but do not have to) be separated into a separate "combined grenadier" battalion.

There will be three "morale grades" (Superior, Veteran and Poor) . . . and they shall be distributed as follows:
  •  10 Infantry Battalions * -- 3 Superior, 4 Veteran, 3 Poor
  • 3 Skirmishing Foot -- 1 Superior, 1 Veteran, 1 Poor
  • 10 Mounted Regiments * -- 3 Superior, 4 Veteran, 3 Poor
 * Note that the two "Irregular Infantry" Battalions need to be of different morale grades . . . as do the two "Hussar" Regiments.  Furthermore, both the Heavy Horse and Dragoons must each have at least one of each of the three morale grades amongst them.

All units will be randomly selected before each battle . . . so the Generals will have to decide just how to use them.

In addition, each army will have some artillery (depending upon the scenario) and a list of Generals and Brigadiers.  All Officers (like the units) will be randomly diced for before each battle . . . so the C-in-C of each side will have to decide how to best use them . . . because, of course, each one has a "Personality" and various strengths and weaknesses.

Right now I am thinking about having "Guest Generals" in the same way in which "The Alpian Wars" have enjoyed them . . . so that I won't know just how each C-in-C will configure his Officers and Troops, nor his Battle Plan ahead of time.

Unlike the "Victory Without Quarter" rules used for "The Alpian Wars", the Action Deck will not include individual units, but only cards for the various Officers (Brigadiers and Generals) . . . with those will higher "Initiatives" having more cards in the Deck.

As for casualties.  Any "company" that only has partial casualties will automatically be available for the next battle.  Companies (or individuals for Skirmishing Foot) that have been "lost" will have a 50% chance of returning in time for the next battle.  Companies that have not been recovered will have a 50% chance of "returning" each battle that they "sit out" . . . so it behooves the C-in-Cs to pay attention to their casualties.

Currently I am considering which of the "Mini-Campaigns" (see link at top of side bar) I will try first.

-- Jeff

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Amazing Birthday Present

Today is my 65th birthday and I've received an AMAZING "birthday present".

Yesterday I had cataract surgery on my left eye (which has always been my weaker eye) . . . today it is my "dominant eye".  Suddenly the world is much brighter with a much much wider range of colors as well as a lot more detail.

While I had realized that my overall vision had deteriorated, I hadn't realized how far it had progressed.  The difference is incredible.  Now I am really looking forward to my right eye being done (probably in about a month, depending upon the hospital's operating room availability).

To all who have been told that they need cataract surgery, I would like to say that for me at least it has made a world of difference already.

A most wonderful birthday present indeed.

My only real issue is that I'm now rather worried about going downstairs and looking at the figures I've painted over the past few years.  I don't know (given my poor eyesight at that time) if I will like what I see or not.

-- Jeff

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Cataract Surgery Scheduled

Well I just heard from the local hospital and the first of my two upcoming eye surgeries is scheduled for next Tuesday (June 18), the day before my 65th birthday . . . so hopefully I'll have improved vision for my birthday.

Typically the second eye will likely have its cataract surgery within a month of the first one.  And I must say that I am really looking forward to being able to see better . . . my eyesight has really deteriorated lately . . . so these upcoming surgeries are welcome.

-- Jeff

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Writing Rules

I am in the process of re-working my "Tricorne Wars" rules for my envisioned "Stagonian Wars" mini-campaigns between my two 18th century Imagi-Nations, Saxe-Bearstein and the always vile Stagonia.

And I'm trying a different approach.  In the past I've tried to write them for an "audience" of people I've never met . . . which means explaining everything (and why I've done it that way) as if the reader knew nothing about the period.

All well and good . . . but I would get exceedingly long-winded.

Really, all I need in order to game them for myself and people I'm gaming with is a few charts and a few odds and ends.  I really don't need all of the explanatory "extras". . . especially since I'll either be playing solo or be there to explain anything that needs explaining.

One significant change I'm making has been influenced by my recent solo games of "Victory Without Quarter".  Not knowing what unit was "next up" provided interesting tension in solo play.

But VWQ was designed for smaller forces than I plan to play with.  So, rather than having cards for individual units, I will only have "activation cards" for the C-in-C and Brigadiers.

This move to an "activation deck" has necessitated a few changes to Generals and Brigadiers.  Their "Personality" ratings (i.e., "Aggressive", "Steady", "Careful" and "Political") remain the same. 

However their "Initiative" rating has been changed (they are now usually 2 or 3).  It indicates how many cards that officer will have in the deck.  This does NOT guarantee that a high initiative officer will have his card turned more often since "Turn Over" cards might well stymie this . . . but it should affect what task the C-in-C assigns them.

Also, their "Inertia" ratings will now be generated randomly instead of being tied to their Personalities.  "Command Radii" will also be random (although a bit different than before).

Finally I was able to do some actual figure painting earlier today.  Until now I'll only been priming figures . . . but today I painted the flesh on 110 18th century figures.  Not a huge step, I grant you; but a definite start.

-- Jeff

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Re-post of Early Battles

(Please note that the following post was originally posted back in December of 2007 . . . and not all of the links were still valid so I've removed a number of them.  But I thought that it would be nice to take a look back at some of our early battles.)

History of "WAG" Battles --

Before I started this blog, we had some early playtests of my "Tricorne Wars" rules. The photo at left is from one of these with me overlooking some of my GNW Swedes.

Nevertheless, the main reason for my writing these rules is for our local gaming in what we are calling the "Wars for Arcadian Glory" (or WAG for short).

WAG is named for the local gaming club here on our area of Vancouver Island (off of the coast of western Canada).

In the ensuing months, our blogs have recorded some nine battles as we've been building up our forces for an ongoing campaign. So far these have been "one-off" battles . . . most of them using some of Charles Grant's "Table Top Teasers" so thoughtfully provided by Steve-the-Wargamer.

Listed here (starting with the most recent) are the various playtests which Murdock and I have recorded in our blogs:

Battle of Grozhof

Fought on December 12, 2007 (at my Game Room) between the forces of Mieczyslaw and Burtzenia, it was another Table Top Teaser #3 fight. Murdock played Mieczyslaw (of course) and Deryck handled the Burtzenians. The primary account of this battle can be seen here.

Grozhof ended in a victory for Mieczyslaw.

Battle of Fraudorf

Fought on December 11, 2007 between the forces of the Duchy of the North and Principality of Saxe-Bearstein, again it was Table Top Teaser #3 (which we were playing for the second time -- Pete having his choice of sides). This too was fought at my Game Room.

Pete commanded his Norden troops and I played my Saxe-Bearsteiners. An accounts of the battle can be seen here.

This battle ended in a cease-fire and draw when Brigadier Prniz Gunther von Ursa, second in line to the throne, received a mortal wound leading his troops in battle.

Battle of Ubergang

Fought on November 27, 2007 this battle marked the opening of my Game Room. Combatants were the Duchy of the North and that of Mieczyslaw. As usual, Pete handled his Norden troops while Murdock directed his Mieczyslaw boys.

This was our first attempt at Table Top Teaser #3 (the Advance Guard Action). Pete's forces came from the North (appropriate, what?) near the town; while Murdock's troops entered near the bridge.

Ubergang was marked by a significant amount of "fog of war" with one of Pete's brigadiers consistently re-interpreting his orders to the consternation of Pete's C-in-C.

Eventually the battle ended up as a draw . . . but it was a close thing at times. For accounts of this game, go to here and here.

Battle of Offenbach

Fought at Murdock's on October 21, 2007 this one was a bit different. It was a "proxy battle" involving the troops of Frankzonia, the Soweiter League and my own Stagonia. Murdock (and friends) ran the battle for players in other areas.

Again one of the main features of the day was problems with "command and control". Stagonian forces had three "Political" commanders . . . and their left flank pretty much never moved as my "Tricorne Wars" rules "fog of war" aspects kept resulting in misinterpretations of orders stalling troops in their tracks.

Nevertheless, the vile Stagonians carried the day (and sneeringly gloated about it).

It also featured some interesting "battlefield diplomacy" that resulted in a significant re-alignment during the battle. Murdock's account of the battle is here, with his pre-battle commentary here.

Battle of Barva

Fought at Murdock's on September 4, 2007 between the Duchy of the North and the Duchy of Mieczyslaw. This was our third playing of Charles Grant's Table Top Teaser #2 (The Wagon Train) -- obviously we liked this one.

As usual, Pete ran his Norden troops and Murdock had his Mieczyslaw men.

For an account of this battle, go to here.

Battle of Stinz

Fought on September 2, 2007 at Murdock's Shed. My Principality of Saxe-Bearstein boys faced Pete' Duchy of the North forces.

For the second time we were playing the Charles Grant "Wagon Train" scenario from his Table Top Teasers (as provided by Steve-the-Wargamer).

This was the battle in which Brigadier Prinz Gunther von Ursa earned his father's ire for leading so many cavalry charges. (Note: this same Prinz Gunther was to fall mortally wounded in an infantry firefight during the Battle of Fraudorf.)

Accounts of the battle may be read here and here.

Battle of Polkfurt

Fought on August 26, 2007 at Murdock's, this was the first time my Saxe-Bearstein troops were to make it to the table top. I was to face Pete's Duchy of the North . . . and come away with a victory!

Murdock did his usual thing and had a wonderful setup prepared for us. We were playing "The Wagon Train" Table Top Teaser . . . and he had a great setup ready. He also umpired for us and ran the battle quite smoothly.

His account of the fight can be found here. In addition, he has a "preview" of the action here.

My account of the battle can be seen here.

Battle of Debnica

Fought on July 15, 2007 between the Duchy of the North and the Duchy of Mieczyslaw.

Pete (Norden) and Murdock (Mieczyslaw) ran their usual troops.

The two biggest lessons learned in this game were by me (to seriously reduce the light forces available) and Pete's discovery regarding the difficulties in planning deployment . . . linear warfare is seriously different from the Napoleonics he was used to.

Murdock's account can be read here; and my post-battle thoughts here.

Battle of St. Argard

Fought on July 1, 2007 this was the first time we had "Wars for Arcadian Glory" troops on the table top.

Pete ran his Duchy of the North troops for the first time (although he had to borrow a number of my Great Northern War boys to do so).

Murdock gave his Duchy of Mieczyslaw troops their baptism of fire as well.

This was a simple scenario. A meeting engagement with relatively similar terrain from both sides of the table. It was primarily a chance to see how my re-worked "Tricorne Wars" rules would work.

Murdock managed to end on top, but we all had a good time. His account of the battle can be found here; while my reactions can be read here.

(I hope that you've enjoyed this "look back" at our battles  of 5 or 6 years ago.  Please DO follow the links to the battle reports for photos, After Action Reports, and thoughts on how the rules worked.  

Indeed one of my reasons for re-posting this is because I am once again re-working my "Tricorne Wars" rules . . . and a look back is helpful to me.)

-- Jeff

Friday, May 24, 2013

Funny Little Wars

No, I'm not interested in this period . . . heck, I already have far too many periods that I'm invested in.

But while visiting The Virtual Armchair General's website I came across a section of 54mm scale cars, wagons and boats that can be built from inexpensive .pdf files . . . and I thought that those who are interested in this period might like to take a look at them.

To me they look pretty darn good.  Here is the URL of the section on them (click).

-- Jeff

Friday, May 03, 2013

Some Initial Priming

I slept most of today (feeling worse than yesterday), which is not unusual after the first endorphin-driven "good" day following surgery.  And I'm hungry . . . a liquid diet isn't very satisfying . . . but I need to get used to it.

Anyway over these two days I've managed to get 110 figures onto painting sticks and black brush-primed.  Now that doesn't mean that they're ready to paint yet. but it is a strong start.

You see, my eyes aren't great.  Indeed, I'm due for cataract surgery this summer and I need help seeing uniform details.  So I use a black prime / white damp brush priming technique.  This means that the raised areas are highlighted and recessed areas are dark . . . which also provides some slight "depth" to my follow-up "block painting" . . . because I just paint to a "wargaming standard" and don't aspire to make each figure a little gem.

So, while wounded, I have still made some progress.

-- Jeff

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

May Day = Distress

I am in distress today indeed.  I've been wounded in battle. . . . Okay not exactly "battle" but as an after-effect of my battle with cancer and recurring abscesses in my mouth.

So I am currently in quarters recovering from a severe mouth injury.  The oral surgeon removed an enemy pistol ball (actually a cyst to be biopsied) as well as 17 damaged teeth.

Therefor I am here with a mouth stuffed full of gauze as I continue to bleed (although much less badly than earlier).   So I look at the calendar and cry, "May Day, May Day" since I am definitely in distress.

-- Jeff

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Revised Army Plan

Significant changes are ahead for the armies of Saxe-Bearstein and those vile Stagonians. These armies are composed of Great Northern War and War of Spanish Succession Bloodaxe Miniatures which I purchased from sculptor Lance Runolfsson well over 20 years ago.

I recently learned that he had sold his moulds to Historifigs.  And today I got an email from Mike at Historifigs that he had finished casting some much-needed figures that I have long wanted.

Beside ordering more musketeers, I will be receiving both WSS and GNW Grenadier figures (seen at left).

While Lance's figures appear rough in their lead state, they paint up very easily and look good on the table top (at least to me).  (You can see some in the masthead photo).

 While it will force me to re-paint some figures, the Grenadiers will allow me to paint my standard battalions of 24 men with six 40mm square bases of four figures -- one stand of which will be Grenadiers who can be detached to form a unit of combined grenadiers in each brigade.

I will also receive some figures to build two more "irregular" units (each army already has one, but this will double it).  These are also based four to a stand . . . but on the larger "cavalry" stands (nominally 50mm square but mine are actually 47mm square so that they will fit in my display cabinet).  These are based in a loose diamond formation of 1-2-1.

Speaking of Cavalry stands, I should also receive enough Hussars to add another regiment to each army.  Cavalry units have six bases of two horses each.

When finished (and, yes, I will have well over 200 figures to paint or re-paint) each army will have the following units (as well as a mix of Generals, Brigadiers, Aides-de-Camp and Artillery):
  • Horse -- four 12-horse regiments each
  • Dragoons -- four 12-horse regiments each
  • Hussars -- two 12-horse regiments each
  • Muskets -- eight 24-man battalions each
  • Irregulars -- two 24-man battalions each
  • Skirmishers -- three 12-man units each
 Once I've finished with this, I will be able to play out all of the "mini-campaigns" that folks submitted using various Charles Stewart Grant "Scenarios" and "Table Top Teasers".

Well, that's the plan anyway.

-- Jeff

Saturday, March 30, 2013

A Disappointing Film

I finally got to watch "The Hobbit:  An Unexpected Journey" last night . . . and I was underwhelmed.

By the end of the film I knew something about only one of the Dwarves (Thorin Oakenshield).  Sure, the other Dwarves were introduced by name (often in groups) at the start . . . but after that I learned nothing about any of them.

So unlike the Fellowship of the Ring, by the end of the film most of this fellowship remain ciphers.  We only know Bilbo, Gandolph and Thorin.

I also found the constantly moving camera POV (point of view) to be very distracting.  And the "Chase/Battle/Action" scenes reminded me of those in "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" . . . which is not a good thing.

Now I did read "The Hobbit" . . . but that was close to fifty years ago so I don't recall much.  Maybe a re-read prior to seeing the film would have helped . . . but why should that be necessary?

It seems that "action" and "spectacle" are now supposed to take the place of "character" and "story" . . . which I find to be very sad.

I was so looking-forward to seeing this film; and, yes, I was entertained; but I came away feeling empty and unfulfilled. 

"The Hobbit:  An Unexpected Disappointment".

-- Jeff

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Some Old GNW Photos

While searching for something else I came across some old photos of a Great Northern War battle fought at Murdock's about six years ago.  Here are a couple:

Figures are 25mm Bloodaxe Miniatures, which are currently available from Historifigs.  However they are not yet posted on their website so you will have to contact Mike at Historifigs to request them. 

They are probably not mixable with other miniature lines because of the difference in sculpting styles . . . but they are super easy to paint and have a charm of their own.

-- Jeff

Saturday, March 23, 2013

ala "Much Ado About Nothing"

One of the things that most of you don't know about me is that I spent most of my adult life in the Theatre.  No, I'm not famous.  For the most part it has been "Community Theatre".

But I've done a lot of it.  I've been in over 230 productions . . . 43 of which have been Shakespearean productions.  One of his plays "Much Ado About Nothing" has a line in it that refers to my current situation.  Here it is (from memory so it might be a slight misquote):

"There was never yet philosopher that could endure the toothache patiently."

So here it is almost 7:00 in the morning and I've not had a jot of sleep thanks to a very nasty toothache.

. . . And I am not enduring it patiently . . . particularly since it is a weekend and I won't be able to see a dentist until next week.

So what am I doing for it?  Besides some (not particularly effective) pain-killers, I am rinsing with hot salt water, rinsing with hydrogen peroxide (followed by several water rinses once the foaming has stopped) and using a spray local anesthetic.

They all help; but the pain is still there . . . and I'm not even a philosopher.

-- Jeff

Monday, March 18, 2013

Alpian Wars reaching Critical Stages

My "solo" mini-campaign between 16th century Stagonia and Alpia is reaching a critical stage in the third battle.  Each side has won one and now Stagonia is trying to eject Alpia from its position on Rose Ridge.

They have 24 + 1d6 "decks" to do it as we use Clarence Harrison's "Victory Without Quarter" rules.  We currently have completed 17 "decks".  I say "we" because even though I'm playing it "solo", two fellow gamers are issuing orders for the two sides.

Here is the current situation:

If you were to advise either or both generals, what would you suggest they do?

-- Jeff

Monday, March 04, 2013

New Monitor & Slow Recovery

Well, I finally decided that my old 17" monitor just wasn't cutting it any more.  Either that or my eyes are getting worse.

Anyway I went to our local Staples and got a nice new 23" monitor . . . which is much much easier to read.

I am feeling better now that I'm no longer getting chemotherapy . . . but it will be a long slow process to regain my normal strength; after all, I was essentially an invalid for just over a year . . . and at my age (mid-sixties), I don't "bounce back" . . . at best I "ooze back".

However I have now started the third battle of the Alpian Wars mini-Campaign, the Battle at Rose Ridge

To see what's happened so far, please visit my "Alpian Wars" blog (clicky).

For those who haven't been following it, I'm "solo playing" a 16th century battle between two Imagi-Nations (Alpia and Stagonia) using Clarence Harrison's "Bictory Without Quarter" ECW rules.

I am being aided immensely by Ross Macfarlane and David Murdock, who are "generalling" the two armies.

-- Jeff

Thursday, February 21, 2013

New Battle Looms in "The Alpian Wars"

I finished my final cycle of chemotherapy earlier this month and while I still lack stamina, I do feel a bit better and am prepping another battle at my "The Alpian Wars" blog.

South, looking North at Roseville, with Rose Ridge on Lef

If you've forgotten, I am using Clarence Harrison's "Victory Without Quarter" ECW rules to fight an earlier 16th century conflict between two Imagi-Nations (Alpia and Stagonia), who have split the first two battles.

The "kicker" is that a pair of gamers from the opposite sides of Canada are in command of these forces, emailing me their troop dispositions and plans . . . which, with VWQ's card-driven system, doesn't always work out as hoped . . . but it sure makes it fun for me.

So, if interested, do take a look at "The Alpian Wars", which has many more photos.

-- Jeff

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Morale & Fog of War

I am a great fan of "fog of war" in my table top games.  I do not like easily predicable results . . . I like to be surprised.

I also like forcing player generals to make decisions . . . and one of those is how to assign troops to the various roles you want them to carry out.

As with many gamers my home-grown rules have three levels of expected troop morale.  Superior, Veteran and Poor.  Your favorite rules are probably similar although the particular descriptions might me different.

What is different about the way I handle them starts with the breakdown.  If I have eight units of a type; 2 are Superior, 4 are Veteran and 2 are poor (if I have ten units; the breakdown is 3-4-3).

The ratio remains the same.  If, after a battle, I feel that a unit deserves to move up to the next morale grade, fine, it does so . . . but another unit then has to move down to compensate.  These morale changes need to be solidified prior to the next battle . . . because I always dice to see which units are involved in the fight.

By the way, while I have three grades of morale, their particular "morale number" for that day isn't decided until they have actual contact with the enemy and need to test something.

Veterans roll one "averaging die" (numbered 2,3,3,4,4,5) and their resulting roll is their morale number for that day.  Superior troops roll two averaging dice and use the higher number; Poor troops also roll two and take the lower number.  In general, better troops have higher numbers and poorer troops, lower . . . but sometimes it works out differently . . . and we never know until they are actually involved with the enemy.

-- Jeff

The Grenadier Option

It you look at the blog title photo above you will see a number of my WSS/GNW Bloodaxe 25mm figures.

I have two nicely balanced forces for some early 18th century campaigning . . . well I do still have a number of units I need to paint for the vile Stagonians . . .  but I do have the lead.

Unfortunately none of the units have any grenadiers and I really would like a "company" of them for each battalion . . . so that I can detach them for converged grenadier units. And today I found out that Historifigs has the Bloodaxe molds for such grenadiers.

So, of course, I need to order some.  But that will mean that I not only will have to paint them, but I'll have to repaint the figures they'll replace into new units.

All-in-all I'll have somewhere between 150 and 200 foot to paint or repaint.  Fortunately the Bloodaxe figures are rather simple to paint.  And, when finished, I will have ten battalions of 24-foot each . . . eight regulars and two irregular units for each side (as well as two 12-man units of jagers for each side). 

In addition I already have eight painted mounted units for each side . . . four horse, three dragoon and one light horse each.  although I do plan to add another unit of hussars to each force later.

So it certainly looks like my painting projects will be waiting for me once I've recovered a bit from the chemo.

-- Jeff

Friday, February 01, 2013

One Lost Year

A year ago today (Febuary 1, 2012) I started hemorrhaging and was transported to hospital.  What followed were hospital stays, procedures, tests, a cancer diagnosis, radiation, surgery, long hospital stay and six months of chemotherapy.

I am now in my last week of chemo and hopefully that will end this "lost year". 

Not surprisingly there hasn't been any space for gaming . . . well until the last couple of months when I was able to "solo" a couple of games with the help of long-distance decisions by Ross Macfarlane and David Murdock.

And, yes, I know that the third battle in the Alpian Wars mini-campaign is overdue . . . but the fatigue from the chemo is very debilitating.  Hopefully once the chemo is over next week I will be able to regain some of my strength and stamina . . . although it will take some time I'm told.

Anyway, my "lost year" is now over and with luck I will be able to get back onto the table top before too much longer.

-- Jeff

Friday, January 25, 2013

Nails with Chemo

Well I have now started what is hopefully my last cycle of chemotherapy . . . and, as usual, it is leaving me extremely fatigued.  I get out of breath just walking from one room to another.

One of the side effects of one of the chemo drugs is the potential loss of finger and toe nails.  Both of my big toenails are very loose and I'm obviously going to lose them.  And all of my fingernails feel fragile.

Do you realize how often we use our fingernails to pry things?  I didn't until now . . . I'm trying to be very gentle with my fingernails so hopefully I won't lose them.

Not much happening on the gaming front.  We finished the second battle of the Alpian Wars mini-campaign but I haven't had the energy to set up the next battle yet . . . and with this fatigue it may take a while yet.

Finally, I do want to thank all of you who have been so supportive throughout this seemingly never-ending medical experience.  Hopefully the next few weeks will see an end to it . . . and then I can work on regaining my strength and stamina.

-- Jeff

Friday, January 18, 2013

Mini-Campaign Blog


I don't know why I didn't think of it before, but today I created a blog that links to the ten "mini-campaigns" that various bloggers submitted last year:

There are ten "mini-campaigns" using various Grant "scenario books" as well as his "Table Top Teasers" which are posted here.

I envision this being a one-post blog so that it will be easily accessible for those who'd like to try playing out one of the mini-campaigns . . . and why not?  They are free for the playing.

-- Jeff

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Stagonia Wins 2nd Battle

After losing the first engagement (The Battle of the Crossroads) in the Alpian Wars mini-campaign, Stagonia has rebounded to win the second conflict (Battle of the Bellevue Hills).

Position Prior to Alpia's Withdrawal
As seen at left, Alpia (on the left) outnumbered Stagonia . . . but they had lost over half of their force and still had to force the tree line . . . which General Rossi felt would not leave enough to then carry on with the invasion.

Stagonia will undoubtedly now try to gather its forces and attempt to push Alpia back out of its territory . . . and Alpia will almost certainly resist this effort.

I am very much enjoying this combination solo/email game with Ross Macfarlane giving orders for the Alpians and David Murdock doing likewise for the Stagonian's.

I would therefor suggest that some others who need or prefer to play solo games to consider recruiting some gamers from the "Net" to command the forces on your home table via emails . . . it certainly gives an interesting slant to things.

-- Jeff

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Awards & Some Thoughts

Several of you have been kind enough to nominate this blog for a " Liebster Award". . .  first by Murdock of "Murdock's Marauders" and most recently by AJ of "AJ's Wargames Table" with a few more in between (although I sadly forget who due to my fatigued condition). 

I've not had the energy to deal with this; and, anyway, virtually all of the blogs that I read with any regularity have already been "Liebstered".  So my thanks to all of you who've nominated me but I'll pass on trying to select five blogs from so many fine ones.

Turning to wargames rules, I've been thinking about a few things.

One is the rate at which units should degrade or be destroyed.  For my tastes it seems that many rule systems allow this to happen much too quickly.  On the other hand, my "Tricorne Wars" rules prolonged this much too long.  So I have to decide just how quickly/slowly units under fire should be able to continue until they are ineffective.

Another issue is just how much "friction" do I want in a set of rules.  I know that I prefer more than most . . . I like the unpredictability . . . but how much is too much?  Much of this has to do with the "personality" of Brigadiers.  So far I like the system I used in "Tricorne Wars" more than those of some other rules I've read or played recently . . . some are too draconian for my taste.

Finally there is the "look" of units and whether to base them for figure removal or not.  As "the jury" I'm still "out" on figure removal; but on the "look" of line infantry, I know that I want them in two ranks . . . single-rank units look like skirmishers to me.  They might better represent the ground coverage, but they just don't do it for me.

What are your thoughts on these issues?

-- Jeff

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Hoping 2013 will be Better than 2012

It is now after midnight here off Canada's west coast (i.e., Vancouver Island . . . not to be confused with the City of Vancouver).

So hopefully this "new year" will be an improvement on the one just past.  As most of you know, 2012 was very difficult for me.

On February 1st, I started hemorrhaging and for the rest of the year it was many hospital visits, tests, a cancer diagnosis, radiation, surgery, long hospital stay and now six months of chemotherapy (which continues with a new cycle starting Wednesday).

 As for gaming, the year was almost a total waste due to the medical stuff mentioned above.  There were, however, two bright spots.

The first is the "Mini-Campaign Challenge" that I issued early in the year.  This resulted in ten (10) responses.  Most use one of the Grant "Scenario" books.  The following is a summary page with links to all of the bloggers' original posts:

The other bright spot is "The Alpian Wars", an online "mini-campaign" I am currently playing out with the help of Ross Macfarlane (of Nova Scotia, Canada) and David Murdock (of British Columbia, Canada). 

While I am using Clarence Harrison's "Victory without Quarter" ECW rules for this 17th century dust-up between a couple of Imagi-Nations, Ross and Murdock email me their orders for their troops. 

This allows me to play at my own pace (the chemo really takes it out of me so I can't play very long at any one time) and enjoy moving the troops on the table top.  We are currently in the late middle part of the second battle.  Go to the link below to follow the action:

My primary goal for this new year is, of course, to get and stay healthy.  Hopefully when the chemo cycles end in a couple of months I will be able to recover from the crushing fatigue that results from chemo.

As for wargaming, I got more  figures for Christmas (to go along with the metal mountain that I already have) . . . so some quiet painting time looks to be on the horizen . . . along with continuing with "The Alpian Wars".

I hope that all of you will be able to enjoy a wonderful New Year filled with pleasure, prosperity and (most of all) good health!

-- Jeff