Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Museum of Flight-October 14th

On October 14th NHMGS holds its annual get together at the Museum of Flight. It's one of my favorite venues. We'll hold our games under the big SR-71 spy plane, and hope there is enough sun out to see clearly. We had four games on tap, plus some DBA and some board games courtesy of Metro Seattle Gamers.

This was a tough one to run, and it is my first experience running this event. The museum really did its part. The planning went well and we had sufficient space, tables and chairs. The hard part was getting gamers to commit to come. They don't know what they're missing. It is such a great venue, with lots of people inquiring about what's going on, the planes and the cafe. I love it.

Dave Schueler ran one of the morning games. He had a WWI Mustangs variant in 1/144th scale. He enticed a veteran miniatures gamer and his father to play and they seemed to have a great time. There was no decisive winner, but everybody seemed to enjoy flying about shooting off their ammunition.

Bruce Meyer held one of his Pacific War extravaganza's complete with seaplanes, LVT's and nasty bunker emplacements. The Americans seemed to get ashore and disembark from their armored conveyances, only to be tattooed by Japanese defenders. Maybe it would have been better to keep the Marines inside the metal contraptions and shoot their way ashore. Still, it seemed like everybody was having fun.

In the afternoon, Scott Abbott did missionary work, running Dave Creager and a bunch of interested kids through his Bombing of Japan game complete with a passle of B-29's. Though I didn't get to see much of his game, I have seen his gorgeous planes, and he did a great job with the newbies.

Mark Waddington and I ran one of our Sword and the Flame on Mars games. Mark had some steam tanks and Clockwork Soldiers to add to the feel of the game. The Brits were back, hoping to put down a Martian rebellion and capture the Martian version of the Mahdi. Just when things were looking to go their way, I pulled a Larry Leadhead and rolled a "6" on an "anything but a six" die roll. Swarmed under by flying Martians, things were looking a bit scary out on the left flank, when the game came to a close.

Paul Hannah, Andy Hooper, Richard Shagrin, Dale Mickel, and Scott Murphy got in some DBA, and introduced some museum goers to the handy little game of ancients. All seemed to have considerable fun. Ralph Shelton from Metro Seattle Gamers was able to get in some board gaming while showing off some of GMT's finest.

It was a great day to be inside. I even got a shot of my favorite museum artifact: an air racer, of course.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

The Hundred Years War: In Search of Rules

I am obsessed by the Hundred Years War. I admit it, let's just start there, and move on in this discussion.

I'm looking for a great set of rules for the period, and haven't quite found them. I'm really interested in staging a Battle of Poitiers game for a future Enfilade (probably two years off.) Last weekend I tried Warhammer Ancient Battles, the Age of Chivalry supplement, which covers the later middle ages. The rules were fun, but weren't flexible enough to handle the special scenario issues Poitiers presents. I'd like to continue having the option to play WAB for the points vs. points play Warhammer does best, but I'd like to search for something else for better scenario play.

I'm seriously considering using the rules in Poitiers 1356 by Don Featherstone. They are similar to WAB, but with one less die roll to adjudicate fire. I'm also not terribly sure I like the melee system, but it's so simple the rules lend themselves to modification.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

The Sword and the Flame on Mars

In 1989 RAFM released a range of figures depicting some great British colonials--although the premise was weird. They were red-coated regulars with magazine rifles. Including in the range were a bunch of yellow-skinned Martians. These figures were based on Frank Chadwick's role-playing game, Space 1889, and were supported by a set of rules called The Soldiers Companion. The premise of the Chadwick universe was that the science fiction of the late 19th century--Verne, Wells and others--was possible, making space travel possible. The age of imperialism was extended to Mars, aided and resisted by the native inhabitants there.

I began purchasing the excellent Bob Murch sculpts when they became available back in 1989, and have slowly added to them. The RAFM figures continue to be available from their on-line shop, and they have also added to them. More mounted figures, artillery, and Martian sepoys also found their way into my pile of unpainted lead. London Warroom also produces the Parroom Station range of Martian figures, which are very interesting, but I don't like them as well as the Murch figures, and they are pricey.

Finally, after some discussion and shared enthusiasm with Mark Waddington, I painted all my Martians last summer. However it wasn't until this summer we actually dragged them out to play with them.

A lot of the push to get the figures on the table goes to Mark. He is a master designer and scratch-builder. His scratch built Aphid gunboat does not appear here, but it's amazing. He brings so much to the table in terms of his ability to create whacko Victorian Science Fiction war machines. We also agreed to look around for a set of rules we were comfortable with, and he made some simple adaptations to The Sword and The Flame.

On August 19th we finally got together and played our inaugural game. It was fun, and just getting the figures out and trying out the rules was the point. The rules played out beautifully, with the potential for one or two minor modifications. We're planning another game for our October 14th date at The Museum of Flight.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006


Last weekend was Dragonflight. Dragonflight is a multi-genre convention that has struggled over the past few years. It has had little miniature participation, and virtually no historical miniatures. As I have explained in a previous post, I was approached about running historical miniatures through NHMGS and bringing our guys along to play the games.

We pre-registered about 40 guys at a reduced fee, and we scheduled 15 games. In the past, when our members went to Dragonflight and scheduled games, they had difficulty attracting gamers to play them. This weekend every game scheduled went off as planned, though some could have handled more players. I felt that our participation was a success and I hope to continue this practice for next year.

I played in several games. Friday afternoon I played the French and Indian War Sword and the Flame variant. I had a great time. It was Norris Hazelton's game, and it was fun to play the Indians and pirates with David Sullivan and Arthur Brooking.

Saturday morning I jumped into Mitch Berdinka's General de Brigade game. It's been a long time since I played Napoleonics, and honestly I had a lot of fun. It is an interesting rules set, and I think it would be reasonably easy to learn and play. I am not, however, tempted to do Napoleonics. The scenario was Maida. We, the British, lost, but I still had a good time.

Saturday afternoon I got into Steve Winter's Spanish Armada game. It was a hoot. It is somewhat abstracted, but very enjoyable, with each team taking a turn as the English and the Spanish. I teamed with Dave Schueler and Peter Wort. We played well and had a good time, but managed to lose. It is one of those games when being unlucky matters, and we didn't have much good fortune.

I also ran a couple of games. I re-ran my Storming Party game from Enfilade. It was fun with John Kennedy, young Gil Fussell, Norris and Arthur. The English had a difficult time getting started. The French, led by John festooned many of the English attackers with crossbow bolts and ballista shafts. Eventually the English brought their onager into action and the longbowmen began to hit exposed defenders on the wall. However, the ladder assaults were costly, frequently deterred by deadly baskets of rocks dropped from the walls. The English finally killed the armored defenders and cleared their way into the gatehouse on the last turn of the game.

Saturday night I ran a scenario, I've always wanted to play--Kearsarge vs. Alabama--using the Ironclads rules. I went to a lot of trouble during the days leading up to the convention trying to get the ships painted and rigged, and they looked great. Enough rigging to give them a solid appearance, but still good wargaming miniatures. I also applied the gloss gel medium thicker over layers of blue and green paint, and the effect was a very nice watery base. In any case, the scenario was weighted heavily in favor of Kearsarge. I gave points to Alabama for doing damage to the Union sloop, and points to Kearsarge for the quickness with which it sank the Confederate raider. It didn't quite work out as I planned. Both players took turns running each ship, and in both cases, Alabama was fairly impotent against Kearsarge and earned no points. Both players earned five points by sinking Alabama on the fifth game turn, so things ended up a tie.

I didn't return on Sunday, but the weekend was certainly worth my time. It was great.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Filling In

It's been ages since my last post. A lot of it has to do with end of the school year stuff and Enfilade.

Enfilade was great. There were a lot of great games. I was able to get into Pete Panzeri's excellent presentation on Little Big Horn. Perhaps the most intriguing part of that was Pete's goal as a game master running LBH as a game--maximize confusion. I wasn't able to get in on the game, but since Bruce owns it I'll likely have a future opportunity.

My own game, The Storming Party, went well. My chief regret is that I didn't take pictures. It was pretty easy to run using Tactica Medieval rules. The game came down to the last turn. I had the feeling that the choices worked out well for the players.

Last, I had the opportunity to run in the Roman Seas game by Eric Hotz. It was great. The rules were easy to pick up at a convention. I ran with Steve Ghan and Dave Schueler against some gits from the sticks. Where did they find these guys?

I also won the DBA at the Movies tournament. It's always fun to win, but it was by some good fortune and bad, bad die rolling on the part of my opponents. Nevertheless I won't complain.

From a President's standpoint I was also pleased with the convention. It was well attended, and there were few difficulties, though there were a lot of last minute headaches.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

More Than Agincourt: Resources

Though the Hundred Years War was long ago, there is considerable interest among historians today. The best part is that the current crop of historians are not simply rehashing the work of previous generations. I'll share a few valuable print resources and then pass on some useful web resources too.

For a general history one can always grab a standby, such as Desmond Seward's venerable The Hundred Years War: England in France 1337-1453 or A.H. Burne's two volumes, The Crecy War and The Agincourt War. However, the best work extent is by Jonathan Sumption's two books The Hundred Years Fire I: Trial by Battle and The Hundred Years War II: Trial by Fire. These books do an excellent job of helping the reader understand the social and economic factors faced by both nations while trying to prosecute the war. Sumption also focuses considerably more on the war in Guienne, a much overlooked theater in previous writing on the war. The only disappointment is that volume II only takes us to 1361. More is coming. Sumption draws on a greater range of sources than previous general histories have, and thus we understand the conflict better from both French and English perspectives.

There are lots of battle histories, biographies, and books on weapons and armor. However Arms, Armies and Fortifications in the Hundred Years War, edited by Anne Curry and Michael Hughes is a superb collection of essays that focuses on a wide range of military topics. Originally published in 1994, the essay topics run a wide range from battle tactics, army composition and the employment of artillery. Scholarly and dense, these are not for the faint of heart. However the contributors broaden and deepen our knowledge of battle in the Hundred Years War.

Two excellent battle histories are must reads for this period. Both put a new spin on old battle reports. First, Anne Curry's 2005 book, Agincourt: A New History challenges old assumptions about the battle. Chief among these is that the English were horribly outnumbered. She puts the French with a numerical advantage, but drawing on English pay records, the English were probably only outmanned by 1.5 to 1. Curry also rexamines the deployment and role of the archers. Finally Curry asserts that the French were not dunderheaded fools that marched blindly into mud, stakes and an arrow storm. She recounts at least three steps the French took to deal with the archers and the threat they posed. An excellent read.

The other battle book I highly recommend is Crecy, 1345, edited by Andrew Ayton and Michael Preston. This collection of essays challenges most of what we've accepted about this pivotal battle of the European history. Among the most important assertions the contributors make include:

1. Edward III wanted to bring the French to battle, and did so on ground of his choosing.
2. The nature of what is presumed to be the battlefield is in conflict with description in the sources. The traditional French approach is, in fact, not passable. The French entered the valley and into a slaughter pen.

The book follows with an incredibly interesting essay on English organization, particularly the possible nature of English mixed arrays of archers and men at arms.

Finally, it is impossible to close without mentioning a couple of old chestnuts. First, Barbara Tuchman's A Distant Mirror remains a wonderful recounting of the 14th century in Europe, particularly in France. Tuchman explores all of the larger issues that help give context and meaning to the Hundred Years War. Though it is now dated, John Keegan's brilliant description of Agincourt at the soldier's level in The Face of Battle is one of magnets that drew me into my HYW obsession.

There are also a couple of noteworth web sources that are definitely worth the reader's while. First, take a look at De Re Militari at http://www.deremilitari.org/ This is the scholarly organization of medieval military history. Their website is full of valuable information and useful links. Ian Croxall's excellent Warflag website http://www.warflag.com/ and its accompanying yahoogroup have a number of useful flags to download and print out. Another great source for flags is the Danish Miniature Wargamers page, http://www.krigsspil.dk./ Though the site is mostly in Danish (surprise) follow the downloads link and you'll have access to their excellent work.

Next: Figures

Camerone: the Battle

On Saturday April 29th ten of us gathered at Bruce Meyer's house to try out Camerone using Howard Whitehouse's Wooden Hand of Captain Danjou's rules. Dennis Trout made the Trinidad hacienda, and it looked great. We added some Architectural Heritage buildings as sheds, and we were all set. Dennis supplied all of the Mexicans, mostly using 25mm Mexican American figures. That really helped us keep track of Mexican casualties because the units were so diverse. I dragged out my stash of Wargames Foundry foreign legionnaires from the old Maxmillian line. I'd painted them for Camerone, using information frome James Ryan's great little book to paint names on their bases. Unfortunately they did't match Howard's list, so we had to do some last minute administrative shuffling.

Five players took on the six squads of French, leaving four, including Dennis and I, to run the Mexicans. On turn one David "Danjou" Sullivan assigned responsibilities for the French. Three squads were to find debris to plug the gates and the gaping breach in the south wall. One squad entered the hacienda and the remaining two made loopholes to fight off the Mexicans. Sadly, the French were greeted by the crack of musketry from snipers hidden in the upper floor of the hacienda. However, they accomplished their various missions just as the Mexican cavalry came riding in.

For the first couple of turns, the cavalry mostly made great targets. The French fired freely at them, mostly driving them away from the walls. However, a great deal of ammunition was fired, and as the Mexicans fired back, legionnaires began to fall. Two squads entered the hacienda, having difficulty ascending to the upper floors to get at the snipers.

On turn three the Mexican infantry entered, surrounding the walls the following turn. The infantry could not only assault the easily defended portals through the walls, but could boost troops up over the walls opening avenues of attack into the rear of the wall defenders. Despite the best efforts of Bruce "bang bang" Duthie to cut down the attackers, the French began to fall back to the hacienda, leaving wounded along the way. By turn seven the walls were clear of Frenchmen and the Mexicans began to clear away debris. On the positive side (for the French) the last snipers were safely bayonetted and the hacienda was fully occupied. Ammunition was running low.

By turn eight, Mexicans were massing in the courtyard, firing volleys at the beleaguered legionnaires. Reinforcements poured in through the breach and the gates. Ammunition was down to a handful of rounds, and the makeshift hospital was under attack by Mexicans coming over the wall. On turn nine the French made their first desperate bayonet attacks, but they were swarmed under by a crowd of foes. The Mexicans set fire to the hacienda, making the desperate situation impossible. By turn ten Mexicans climbed a ladder to the upper floors and more desperate bayonet attacks were meeting swallowed by the attackers. The last French defender fell on turn eleven.

All agreed it was big fun. The game was over in about three hours playing time, with a break for lunch. Dennis and I will run this during the Sunday morning game period at Enfilade.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Goodbye to a Good Friend

Kelly Jones passed away yesterday.

Kelly was a fairly rare person in our hobby. I say this not to slight anyone in particular or the hobby in general. He was a character. Very loud, in a fun way, Kelly mastered the pirate Arrrrggghhh!, and made it appropriate for any gaming period or genre. His loud voice, big laugh, round belly and honest blue eyes were his hallmarks. Kelly was also incredibly generous with his time. He had a kind word for everyone, especially newcomers and young gamers. He was patient and understanding. Kelly was a much better person than I.

I have so many fond memories of Kelly. He came to some of our early Enfilades as a dealer. We loved dealers, so his company, Vauban Enterprises, was quite a catch. Later we played games together—Steve Knight’s uproarious Saxon Shore games were always an outrageous screaming match with Kelly’s internal Bose system on full volume. Never a great air–racer, Kelly would regularly manage to augur his racer into the ground, but entertained all of us as he was doing so. Saturday nights with the Canadians-we could have given this name to a sitcom-were always fun, usually in Kelly’s room, once including Arte Conliffe, which was sort of a surreal experience. So many great stories were told over so much beer . . .

Perhaps my favorite memories of Kelly is seeing him with my sons, Pat and Casey and Enfilade. Pat attended only one convention, and his most memorable experience is playing a game with Kelly, who didn’t treat him like a kid. Of course, on Sunday morning Kelly, nursing a monstrous hangover, reminded Patrick that his parents had sex, which pretty much ruined most of my son’s adolescence. He spent considerably more time with my younger son Casey, a more sensitive sort. Kelly played games with Casey at convention time, always asked about him, and Casey considered Kelly his friend too.

So, I take this moment to say good-bye to my friend. I knew him only as a gamer. We never discussed family, but I am sure he was a wonderful son, a devoted husband and father, and my heart goes out to his family. I will miss him dearly.

I’ve posted the only picture I have of Kelly, and it is truly wretched.

More Than Agincourt Part 2: A Historical Snapshot

The Hundred Years War is actually a bit longer than a century in length, and its causes are rooted in power (aren’t all conflicts?) The English King as a holder of certain territories in Gascony was a vassal of the French king. Edward the III upon his accession to the Crown refused to give homage to the French king, which Edward knew would lead to war in his French territories. Constantly short of funds, he sought allies in Flanders. The French, meanwhile built a fleet and hired additional galleys from Genoa in preparation to an invasion of England. The first great battle in 1340, was a disaster for the French, was fought at the Flemish port of Sluys. Basically a land battle at sea, the French lost their fleet and a great many men to English longbows.

Despite several abortive campaigns, Edward finally assembled his first land expedition north of Bordeaux in 1346. Landing in Normandy, he marched his army through villages familiar to Americans that would land there nearly 600 years later. In a pattern that would remain familiar throughout much of the HYW, the French King Philip VI, assembled an army and pursued Edward through Normandy into Ponthieu and met disaster at Crecy. Edward followed up his victory with the capture of Calais and insured a permanent military base near the heart of France throughout this conflict.

In 1348 the combatants were visited by the first wave of the Black Plague, disrupting campaigning, trade, economies and societies for years to come. Conflict remained low-level due to a lack of money and manpower until 1356, when Edward’s son, the Prince of Wales, also known as The Black Prince led a Chevauchee, an expedition devoted to accumulating loot and inflicting considerable discomfort to local inhabitants in the Loire valley north of Bordeaux. King Jean le Bon led an army south to destroy the Prince and his army, and the two forces met near the Foret de Noailles. Though the battle was hard fought, the French were defeated and King Jean was captured.

The capture of the French king and his nobles, and their crushing ransom drove the French to ask for a series of truces that left France in relative peace, though beset by political turmoil at home. It also left England in nominal control of Normandy, and enlarged Biscay possessions. The Treaty of Bretigny, in 1361, was a disaster for France and ended the first stage of the Hundred Years War.

The second stage of the conflict found both of the combatants faced with innumerable challenges and dynastic struggle. However, the premature death of the Prince of Wales, Edward III’s long slide into dotage, and the cost of sustaining a continuing campaign in France, restrained the English war effort. In 1364 a more capable monarch, Charles V, ascended the French throne. Together with his constable, the incomparable Betrand du Guesclin, Charles set about reducing the strife within his kingdom, and succeeded in winning back many of the French gains in the Angevin territories as well as much of much of the northern lands, except Calais.

By 1380 however, both nations were exhausted, ruled by young kings. Richard II became king in 1377 on the death of his grandfather Edward III. England, impoverished by years of war was immersed in the Peasant’s Revolt. Guided by poor advice, Richard was deposed by the Henry of Lancaster (Henry IV) in 1399, and England plunged into a decade of civil war and a stubborn revolt by the neighboring Welsh. France, likewise was ruled by a youth, Charles VI, for many years. Charles exhibited many signs of mental illness, and his chaotic rule plunged the country into civil war.

Succeeding his father in 1413, Henry V demanded the crown of France and led his army into France capturing Harfleur and inflicting the disastrous defeat of Agincourt on the French army. Henry showed a genius for siege warfare that his English predecessors lacked, captured and occupied both Rouen and Paris and forced a treaty on the French in 1420 that recognized his future heirs as king of France and England, and in the bargain married Katherine, the daughter of the Charles VI. Henry’s death in 1422, left his infant son under the tutelage of his mother and various advisors

The waning years of the Hundred Years War finds calamities innumerable visited on the English. The uncles that form the regency for Henry VI quarrel and the English effort in France withered due to lack of royal direction. The English besieged Orleans in 1328-29 and were defeated largely through the inspired leadership of Joan of Arc. Joan also energized the resistance to English rule, and led a successful cavalry charge on longbowmen that won the battle of Patay. Joan’s successes allowed the Dauphin, or king in waiting, disinherited by the Treaty of Troyes to enter Rheims and enjoy his coronation as Charles VII.

Though Joan was betrayed to the English and burned in 1430, her spirit energized French resistance to English occupation. Though the English, led by John Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury, remained victorious on the battlefield, the French adopted the successful strategies of du Guesclin, avoiding battle when possible, capturing towns from an English occupier constantly short of resources. In 1445 the French established the Compagnies d’Ordannance, professionalizing their army, and centralizing its direction. The artillery was also organized under the pioneering gunners, Jean and Gaspard Bureau. Bureau’s innovations made artillery more practical in defense, to a besieger and on the battlefield.

In 1450 an English army under Kyriell was attacked and defeated by a French army featuring two light culverins which disrupted the archers, and were ridden down by flanking French cavalry. In 1453, at the siege of Castillon, Talbot was killed rallying his troops in an attack on entrenched artillery. The subsequent defeat of this force sealed the fate of Bordeaux and British possessions in France were reduced to their fortress at Calais. The Hundred Years War was over.

The war raised France to a newly modern power, nationalized and ready to assume leadership on the continent. Henry VI, remained a weak king, beset with the burden of the loss of England’s historic French possessions. Like the boy-king before him, Richard II, Henry’s failure of leadership led to nearly fifty years of civil war during the War of the Roses.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

More Than Agincourt: Part 1

More than Agincourt: Part 1

I watched Kenneth Branagh’s Henry V last night. Every time I watch the Crispin’s Day address I’m always urged to paint more figures—you know the one:

“We few, we happy few, we band of brothers”


“Men abed this day shall think themselves accursed upon St. Crispin’s Day!!”

Together with John Keegan’s account of Agincourt in his seminal The Face of Battle, I’ve felt myself propelled toward gaming the Hundred Years War. Agincourt is the battle we usually think of as the critical moment of the HYW, much as we do Waterloo in the Napoleonic era and Gettysburg in the American Civil War. Just as wrongly, of course.

We often remember Agincourt like the Alamo. The good guys (the English) are sick, outnumbered and about to be overwhelmed by hordes of armored Frenchmen. Agincourt, however, has a happier ending with the bad guys (the French) floundering through a morass while arrows rain down in torrents.

The Hundred Years War, fought from 1339-1453 is, of course, much more than Agincourt. It’s even more than the three great English victories-Crecy, Poitiers, and Agincourt, and the intervention of Joan, the Maid of Orleans. Yet, we are often fixed with the image of armored French knights turned into pincushions, followed by lightly armed archers whacking them upside the head with a mallet. We usually also forget that the French are kind of the good guys, fighting to drive off the English invaders, and eventually they won that war—the three great victories notwithstanding. In fact almost everything we’ve come to accept about Hundred Years War is wrong according to the continuing thorough and inquisitive research that continues to publish very interesting writing about this conflict—including the best known battles. I'll follow this writing with several entries regarding the Hundred Years War: 1) The history, focused more on resources than the play by play, 2) the miniatures and rules available, 3) some of the scenarios I’ve hosted over the past couple of years.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Camerone Redux

Back in the old days, when there was a miniatures manufacturer called Wargames Foundry, with fairly priced minis from hard to find ranges, I bought a bunch of figures from their Maxmillian Adventure range. They’re a bit small by today’s 28mm standard, but still very nice. My goal was to re-enact Camerone, the classic fight to the last man battle at Hacienda Trinidad, in which 45 or so French Foreign legionnaires fought 1,800 or so Juarista militia and regulars.

This battle has held a hallowed place in our local gaming lore. Dave Demick and I have been friends for going on thirty years or so, and we have occasionally held Camerone Day celebrations. We typically do this by adopting one of our homes for the day, chasing our wives out of the house by cooking lamb, and eating and drinking copiously. We typically throw a game or two in the works. Only once have we done a Camerone refight, which I took to Enfilade in 1999. I wasn’t happy with the game however, though, and my figures have largely languished in their boxes.

I was yakking with Dennis Trout at the NHMGS auction in February, however, and he talked about his Maxmillian stuff. We made plans to discuss it further, and Tuesday night we did. At Bruce Meyer’s house for an always fun Arc of Fire game, we discussed our resources, and agreed that Camerone was doable. We also discussed rules. I mentioned The Sword and the Flame expansion for this period, and Dennis was agreeable.

This week Dennis sent me a couple of ideas from Free Wargames Rules http://www.freewargamesrules.co.uk/ There were a couple of sets of rules for Camerone. One is by Mark Hannam, and appeared in The Gauntlet http://www.geocities.com/fenerator/maxcam.htm They are interesting but seem a bit clunky. A second set of rules by Howard Whitehouse also appear from a 1999 issue of The Heliograph. http://www.geocities.com/fenerator/maxhow.htm These rules have the virtue of being simple, but colorful, and should provide some entertainment. If we like these, I may even try to talk Dennis into running the game at Enfilade.

The game is on the 29th, and I’ll post some pictures from the game.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

April DBA at Game Matrix

The first Saturday of each month is DBA day at Game Matrix in Tacoma. I know what you’re thinking : DBA phooey! For many years I felt the same, but my feelings about the game have come full circle. I like the short games. Forty minutes per bout, means I can squeeze about five into an afternoon with plenty of time left over for shopping or schmoozing. I also like the little armies. It keeps my hands in with ancients, and has allowed me to build about 25 different armies. Probably my most favorite aspect of DBA, however, is the guys I play with. They are great, have knowledge of the game, and patient, good sports.

This month I had a new army, I/18 Minoan and Early Mycenaean. It is a chariot army matched with some pike armed elements. I built it primarily to fight my Hittite Empire army. It is an interesting match-up because the pikes are formidable, but fighting in depth, they shorten my front leaving it vulnerable to overlapping. They also have three stands of psiloi and one of auxiliaries which require some skillful use in order to draw off some bad guy elements.

My first game was against Andy Hooper. Andy is a great guy, a DBA scholar who knows the rules inside and out. He’s also a great teacher of the game. Sadly my brain is too much like a sieve to remember all he tells me. Andy took my Hittites and I ran the Minoans. I took most of the psiloi and the aux unit to the right in an effort to draw off some of his troops, while all my chariotry and pikes advanced in the middle. Though I eventually lost two of three light units, I was able to push through the middle and defeat the Hittites 4-3.

My second and third games were against Craig Steed. Craig had a new Slavic army which, sadly, I could not match up with. He, however, had a Magyar army, mostly light horse with some cav and spears to match up with the Slavs who were mostly aux. As usual, I was the attacker, and foolishly didn’t ask for clarification of the busy terrain on the board. There was a river and some hills, and I decided to send some light horse down the far side of the river, because there wasn’t much room to maneuver on the board. Things started well. I got good pip dice, and running cavalry down both board edges, Craig had to make some decisions. Looking to force the river, I drew a unit or so to me, but made an attack with my light horse on a unit on the hill. I didn’t realize it was a steep hill, however so I died in the bad going. My center advanced on his center, and things were going well. I had the advantage with troops and the overlap too. I just couldn’t win on the battlefield. Craig rolled well enough not to lose elements, and tied 3-3, my general was killed on a bad die roll. Slavs win 4G-3

My last game was also against Craig, Minoans vs. his Hittites. This was a DBA nightmare. I averaged a die roll of 1.5 for pips and combat. When that happens the game is short. I shot my lights out on the flank as I hoped, but could never move them again as the pip dice became so microscopic. Needless to say, the Hittites quickly gobbled them up and I was down 2-0. I advanced in the center, and was able to contact. Craig rolled well enough to not be slaughtered by my pikes, while my chariots rolled ones and ones, and ones. Minoans lose 4-2.

Only three games, but I did some shopping and visiting and that was fun. I have another army finished—Neo-Hittites and Aramaean I/31a. I hope to get a start on their opponent, Later Hebrews, I/34b soon.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Salute '06

This weekend I took Friday off, and traveled with my wife to Salute, a miniatures convention hosted by the Trumpeter Society in of Vancouver B.C. Lorri has been sick all week. She actually missed three days of work, and she never misses. I was afraid she wouldn't be able to travel, but she sucked it up and we drove off together. We didn't get away as early as I planned. A light snow fell overnight, and life on the road Friday morning was hellacious. Lorri also needed to complete some work at home, so instead of getting away at 11:00, we left at 1:00. We still missed most of the traffic, running into rough spots only near Everett and just across the border. We rolled into Metrotown Holiday Inn at about 5:30. We spent some time wandering the Metrotown Mall, and ate some dinner, before returning to the hotel at 8:00, some reading, and snooze time.

I love going to Salute, and I try to make it every year. I feel I have very good gaming friends there, and it is one of the few times a year I get to see them. Doug Hamm, Chris Leach, Steve Allen, Bruce Harborne and others are guys I know I would game with regularly if I lived a little farther north. And then there's Kelly Jones. Kelly has been largely out of the gaming cycle since he was diagnosed with cancer last year. I've known him through game conventions for many years, and missed him a lot at Enfilade last year. He is a vital, loud, good humored man, known for his booming voice and infectious laugh. I've never known Kelly to be impatient, intolerant or unfriendly. I should be as good a person. It was a shock to see the effect of his illness, but it was still good to see him.

Salute is held at the Bonsor Centre in Burnaby, B.C. It is a community center that is simply a wonderful site. All kinds of activities occur there, including swimming, a host of other sports and fitness, as well as the monthly Friday game nights. The game nights draw nearly a hundred participants who pay an entirely reasonable fee to play historical, sci-fi and fantasy miniatures, as well as board games. The Trumpeters usually play in a large banquet hall I would estimate at about 4,000 sq. ft, but for the convention they spread into a room across the hall which houses a large Rogue Trader tournament. One thing I really admire about the Trumpeters is the coexistence between gamers of different genres. I think there are some jealousies between the clubs and the genres to insure fair treatment, but overall they act in their mutual self-interest.

Salute is a hoo-hah big deal. There are always some amazing games on tap there, and this year was no exception. There were two great Star Wars themed games including a battle on a molten planet that was lit with flourescent lights. The same fellow had a battle on Endor game that was going to be run Sunday with much of the board taking place on large tree platforms. Chris Leach was running some great looking 20mm WWII using a set of rules called Blitzkrieg Commander. It was in hedgerow country and the modelling looked great. The White Rock gamers ran some 25mm Armati games with some beautiful miniatures. I saw the Japanese and Chinese figures, but I missed out on their other games. Bruce Harborne, Steve Knight and Wayne Johnson from North Vancouver ran a great east front World War I game that drew quite a crowd.

As super as these games looked, perhaps the most interesting game was run by Eric Hotz. He's developed a rules set called Roman Seas for Ancient Naval Battles. They are targeted at Rome, but I could easily see them expanded to the Greek and Persian Wars or other similar conflicts as time goes on. Being the talented graphic artist he is, Eric designed and built paper models to represent the ships, crewed them with 6mm figures, and added villages, sea walls and other accessories. Those I spoke to that played the game quite enjoyed them, and I hope Eric will bring them to Enfilade. He will likely sell them, as he does his Whitewash City paper miniatures, and it's a great idea. If you weren't there to see them you missed out.

The convention pulled off a significant coup in attracting a couple of B.C. manufacturers. Kingsford Miniatures showed up with their ranges that include Woodland Indians and Samurai. They're nice figures, and if I'd been in the market I would have purchased some. Perhaps the bigger bonus was the presence of Bob Murch and Pulp Miniatures. What a great guy. I tried to persuade him to come from Enfilade, but it wasn't hopeful. I did buy one pack of Chinese infantry to fill out my Cannon Fodder guys, but didn't go crazy. Bob hung out with us around our game for a while. He knows a lot about the War of 1812.

I played fourteen hours of War of 1812 games with Doug Hamm and his friend Andrew. We set up the board, and layered on the terrain. We ran three different games over the same terrain with different objectives each time. It was a lot of fun. I always enjoy seeing Doug and playing games with him, it is a highlight of my year. Andrew was a laid back added bonus, fun to game with, and enjoyable to talk to. It was gratifying to pull out the miniatures and put them out on the table. I painted a unit of Royal Marines for the game, so they were blooded. Doug wrote v.2 of the rules, with some significant changes, particularly the fire table. The rules are based on Fire and Fury, with a maneuver chart, effectiveness table and melee chart that would look pretty familiar to players of FandF. The revised edition has ditched the Hasenauer fire table for something different. After 2 and a half games we agreed it needed some tweaking, but overall they played quite well. It makes me want to pull out some more figures to paint.

We played until about 9:30 before shuffling off home and the hotel. It was a great day of gaming and visiting. The only disappointment was that a great many of my American colleagues didn't participate. It was a great con and they missed out.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Events for Enfilade

I've definitely settled on the games I'll run for Enfilade. It is a pair of games that will involve assaults and sorties near fortified positions.

For the first game, an assault on a fortified bridge position, I'm going to use the Tactica siege rules, probably with some modifications. I'll provide an array of options for the French defenders and English attackers. The options will range from extra troops to light siege equipment, such as an Onager and mantlets for the attackers, to a crow or light ballistas for the defenders. However, the onus is on the attackers to capture the barbican with towers in a short time to secure the river crossing for the advancing army. The rules seem simple enough to manage a fair number of singly based figures. I think I can manage to keep things fun and interesting.

The second game involves a night sortie by castle defenders to destroy siege engines attacking their defenses. The English attackers will move in groups at night. They are always at risk of discovery, and losing their way. I'm still deciding on rules, whether they are the Pig Wars late medieval variant, or perhaps an adaptation of the Tactica rules. The latter may be a bit too simple. The I foresee the night movement posing special problems for the attackers, and a matter of some confusion for the defenders, as they try to cover the possibilities.

After a lot of question about what to do with all of my Hundred Years War figures, I've decided to continue to singly mount all of them. I can place them on movement stands for large scale battles, if needed, but the single mounting retains flexibility. I kind of think its crazy to have hundreds and hundreds of figures per side singly mounted, but there you go.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Groups and More Groups, and Entering the Electronic Age

Last night we held our first NHMGS conference call. It was an interesting experiment in group dynamics. As with most Enfilade gatherings, though we don't begin randomly, we often stray from our discussion paths.

We did make some important decisions. First, we agreed that David Sullivan would continue our banner ads at the current intense rate, and throttle back the ads to a more affordable, sustainable level in a couple of weeks. We would also hit TMP with newsworthy announcements after the attendance of several notables is confirmed after Cold Wars. The idea is to keep up a drumbeat of good news about Enfilade.

We also had a useful discussion of the Citadel. We all agreed that the Citadel needed to come out on a more regular basis. My goal was a quarterly, plus one Enfilade preview. Others suggested three plus a preview. Norris agreed he would work hard to learn publisher and try to have something out by the 20th. Bruce raised the question of whether there was an interest in an electronic Citadel. He suggested a moderated Yahoo group for the Citadel in which issues were kept in the files section of the group to be accessed by NHMGS members. We agreed that the Citadel offered considerably greater creativity, with color and pictures for the authors. It was suggested that we offer the change at Enfilade in order to get some paper Citadels out to cover our lack of newsletters over the past year, before making this change.

I agreed to begin another new Yahoogroup covering the decision makers in Northwest conventions. We agreed that some business conducted on our Faithful group should be kept between us, and that some material in our files section was sensitive. I promised to set this up next week.

We agreed to raise the heat on the membership on the NHMGS group to get in their games and make their hotel reservations. I promised to approach Eric Hotz about including information about Enfilade on the Trumpeter website. I expressed my happiness with the number of committed games to date, and also suggested we get out our PEL to as many places as possible with regular updates.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

NHMGS Auction a Success

Saturday we held the auction at American Eagles in Tacoma. The attendance was light, but not ridiculous. About 35 buyers and sellers exchanged some $1,300 in gaming treasures. There were no items that brought down the house. The painted miniatures were nice, but small in scope, and fetched low prices from the crowd. There were, of course, lots of rule books, some Ospreys, and many collections of unpainted miniatures. There was a pleasingly higher strata of trash this year, with nothing that fell into category of utterly worthless.

It was, of course, great to see everyone at the auction. I hadn't seen Mark Serafin since Enfilade. I had a pleasant breakfast with David Sullivan. I made future game plans with Dennis Trout. It was great to see Max Vekich, who is among my oldest friends on the planet. It was especially wonderful, however, to visit with Mike Pierce. Mike was the founding mind of Enfilade, the person who said we could make it work, and he was right. Mike ran the convention for the first two years, and showed us how it was done. It was great to catch up, share about our grown up families, and talk the tribulations of running conventions. He is now the director of Fall-In.

I liked the format of the auction. The silent auction was effective, and kept the live auction to a mere 40 minutes instead of the endless affair it usually is. I'd like to change the format a bit next year, with a silent auction lasting about two hours instead of the 4 1/2 hours of yesterday. We'll follow the same rules for silent and live auction-unless we get a lot of feedback from participants. I'm considering other sites for the auction for 2007, but everything depends on availability.

Special thanks to those who volunteered their time to the auction. Bryan Shein ran a Dogs of War game, and still managed to effectively auction off all the painted goodies in the live auction.
Arthur Brookings and Dennis Trout helped set up the silent auction, were the runners during the live auction, and reduced me to the status of door post with all of their work. Bruce Meyer was our comedian, and oh, by the way handled all of the money, devised a system on the fly for getting money from buyers to sellers, and made this one of the smoothest auctions ever. NHMGS made just under $500 through donation items and fees for the day.

Me, I got some cool stuff. I ended up with three sets of ancient and medieval rules--Revenge, Tactica Medieval and Warrior. I got a very nice del Prado figure of an International Brigade soldier, and a gazillion Ral Partha Hellenestic figures from Steve Ghan. The latter will be used to fill out my 25mm Republican Romans.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

ConQuest and Dragonflight: Mountains to Scale

Last weekend I attended ConQuest as a guest of the convention. I've never had something like that happen before and I was flattered. On Saturday I played DBA in Paul Hannah's tournament, and played a couple of pick up games too. That is always fun. Many of the other historical miniatures games languished through a lack of players. Even Bruce's Harborstorm event was poorly attended.

Later in the day I met with Gabriel Vega, the owner of ConQuest and John Wootress, a Dragonflight organizer and supporter of Enfilade. Both encouraged NHMGS participation at the two conventions. Gabriel even encouraged a financial relationship among the conventions. I responded that I would do the best I could, that the financial aspects were big picture items I couldn't make promises about, but would encourage NHMGS participation at Dragonflight and ConQuest. I encouraged Gabriel to attend Enfilade and he agreed.

On Sunday, after getting little done at home, I drove back to ConQuest to attend a dinner to celebrate the inaugural sailing of the convention. I met Allan Dyer there and hung out with the convention organizers and supporters. I had a most pleasant conversation with Nicole Lindroos of Green Ronin Publishing about school, and chatted with Allan and Chris Pramas about miniature gaming. In his introduction and remarks about NHMGS Gabriel was quite complimentary and solicitous of our support. I followed up our evening with an offer to coordinate miniatures events at Dragonflight and ConQuest.

Since the convention, I've been trying to gauge the lay of the land in terms of NHMGS support for historical miniature games at both conventions, and I've taken a two pronged approach.

  1. On our leadership group I've proposed an NHMGS presence at both of the other conventions. However, rather than focusing on the draw of pulling non-miniaturists into our games, we would have fixed game periods as at Enfilade, with perhaps 5-8 periods over a weekend. We would try to set up four games per period and perhaps pre-register players for that game. That way there wouldn't be games unplayed for a lack of gamers. Bruce Meyer also had a serious discussion about a NHMGS rate that would reflect the customary rates historical miniature gamers pay at conventions, such as Enfilade and Historicon. My view is if we can provide organized, high-quality gaming at a familiar price to our membership, show the flag to non-historical miniature gamers, and bring in paying customers to these cons, then everybody wins.
  2. On our membership group, the feedback regarding the convention has been largely negative. Those who attended the convention were frustrated by a lack of organization, admission prices they felt were exorbitant, and a lot of sitting around. I haven't shared a lot of my thinking there, hoping to do that here with opportunities for interested parties to respond.
My goal is to move this agenda head with buy-in from the stakeholders, and some guidance from our membership.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

The NHMGS calendar

It's another rainy weekend, with a great deal more time spent painting the family room than little men. I've begun this blog as a live update for the NHMGS website. As many of you know, our website, which is a great resource, has not been updated recently, and there are many important upcoming events. Think of this as your calendar of events:

February 18th-19th Harborstorm. This is Bruce Meyer's annual DBA tournament. This year it is hosted at ConQuest, a new multi-genre convention, and is held at the Sea-Tac Marriott February 17-20. Their address is: http://avalonconventions.com/conquestnw/index.php?center=coninfo.php

3201 South 176th Street
Seattle, Washington 98188

Expect some other NHMGS members to host events. Paul Hannah is hosting DBA on Friday night and Saturday. Ian Croxall will be hosting one of his excellent Red Shadow games on Sunday.

We're not sure what to expect at ConQuest, but consider taking a shot and spending some time there. This could be a valuable winter event for us. For further information go to:

February 25th NHMGS Auction
This is the date for our annual fund raiser. This year we are American Eagles in Tacoma. This is the information for the auction:

The auction will be mostly silent. The rules are as follows:

· Sellers are limited to a maximum of ten lots.

· Live auction is limited to A) painted miniatures and B) silent auctions that receive bids of at least $50.

· Sellers pay NHMGS 10% of their proceeds.

· Sellers may make donation items available to NHMGS

Sellers must first focus on setting up their auctions. The silent auction will last from 10:00-2:30. At this time auction staff will wrap up silent auction items, have buyers and sellers complete their transactions. My goal is to have silent auction items wrapped up by 4:00, so we can have a short but lively live auction session.
The format will feature a time for morning gaming from 10:00-1:00. If there is enough interest, we can have a second game period from 1:00-4:00 We can host games on two large tables (6’ X 10’.) If you are interested in hosting a game, please contact me—first come first served. We are mostly looking for something fun and low stress that handle a fair number of people.
March 10-12th Trumpeter Salute
This is the annual Trumpeter hoo-hah game fest in Burnaby, B.C. I go nearly every year and always have a good time. There is a huge variety of games: usually a DBM tournament, 40K tournament, and tons of good looking displays and friendly dealers happy to take your American dollars at a reasonable exchange. I often take my wife, who also takes my American dollars, and disappears into neighboring Metrotown, a mondo shopping mall. It's a good thing the convention is reasonably priced. For more information, consult the Trumpeter web page: http://www.trumpeterclub.com/

June 9-11 Enfilade
Yes, it's true, we try to schedule our flagship event for Memorial Day weekend, but we couldn't make it work this year. We have a couple of big events scheduled for this year, including a 300th anniversary Battle of Ramillies, and Little Big Horn. It will be great. We return to the Olympia Red Lion. I will be sure to post more information as it becomes available.