Monday, December 29, 2008

DANG 2008

I'm just back from my sojourn to Dave Schueler's house in West Seattle. Today was the date for the 2008 edition of Dave's Annual Naval Game, one of my most looked forward to gaming events of the year. I'm not quite sure what number or edition or version of DANG this year's hoo-hah was, but I think I'm a veteran of at least five DANGs.

Dave begins planning these affairs months in advance of the date, doing his best to be as inclusive as possible. They are almost always in the week between Christmas and New Years when most of us have some time off. After pinning down a date, Dave proposes several (usually six or seven) naval topics ranging from Lepanto, which always seems to make the list, to hypothetical contemporary scenarios. Likely attendees consider the possibilities, make their priorities down, narrowing down the list, before choosing between the two finalists.

This year the masses opted for a modern naval conflict between disputed oil-rich waters dividing Indonesia from Australia using the Harpoon rules. Six of us made the trip to Daveland-David Sullivan, George Kettler, Paul Hannah, Arthur Brooking, Dave Creager and myself. We are all DANG veterans, so we knew what to expect-an interesting scenario with some tricky wrinkles, good company and tasty eats.

David, Paul and Dave opted for the Australians. I was talking to Dave's wife Lynn while we were choosing up sides, so I became an Indonesian by default, but I got to play with George and Arthur, my comrades in last year's Arab-Israeli massacre.

The game was built around conflict over some oil rigs around some islets. Arthur's command started on the board first. My task force would not arrive until three hours later (in game time.) In modern naval warfare that is an eternity. Arthur saw a blip on his radarscope and observed the commonsense modern naval maxim of firing on first contact. Unfortunately his Harpoon missiles were intercepted. The Australian missiles were not, however, and soon his missile boat and amphib vessel were smoking oil slicks. George commanded a frigate in this group, and though he lasted a bit longer the HMAS Newcastle soon had his way with him too. A photo of HMAS Newcastle appears at the top of the page. Within an hour the Aussies were in complete control of the board.

Our picture on the right is of Arthur's ships being relegated to smoking ruin.

It was looking a lot like last year's game when we simply could not bridge the gap between our armament and our enemy's superior weapons. We deliberately held back our 0500 reinforcements, so that they could combine with those arriving an hour later. We attacked the Australians only to have our missions fail due to superior AA defenses and better fighter cover. What could we do.

When the 0600 hour arrived the Newcastle had fallen into our trap. In an effort to eliminate the Indonesian oil platforms, the greedy Aussies had shelled our island port, and begun wrecking the platforms themselves. Newcastle and a small patrol boat put themselves firmly in the path of our new naval forces.

Though we prepared to extract some quick revenge, and retire to Djakarta with a declaration of victory, our old friend lady luck was still kicking us when we were down. My salvo of eight Harpoon missiles, entering the target rich environment, missed the annoying (and dangerous) Newcastle. One missile struck my own oil platform, converting it to twisted wreckage sprouting from an inferno. Three struck the little patrol boat, which sank faster than a twenty-four pound cannon ball.

One of Newcastle's sister ships popped up on radar. While George and Arthur let loose a blizzard of missiles on our old tormentor, I popped off four missiles at our new enemy-who fired eight of his own. Newcastle took three hits-finally and thankfully rolling over and plunging to the bottom. Meanwhile the incoming missiles sank George's corvette and Arthur's frigate. I nearly had the last laugh when the new enemy frigate took two hits from Harpoons, badly damaging it and knocking out the ship's radar. A second attack should have finished him off, but despite the damage, its phalanx gun shot down the attacking missiles. Life is unfair.

With that, Indonesians turned tail and fled talking up their tremendous naval victory, and preparing their statement for the UN Security Council as well as the international press. No, I don't quite believe it myself, but that's certainly how I'd talk it up.

As with each DANG it was a tremendously fun game, and quite the annual event. My thanks to Dave and Lynn and to all of my DANG colleagues.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Year End and A Look Ahead

Yesterday I went up to Renton to pick up the keelboat from Mark Waddington. It looks just as beautiful as the pictures Mark sent. Now I need to figure out how I'll use it as a gaming piece. We exchanged some scenario ideas over lunch. Now I just need some figures for Lewis and Clark's adversaries.

As promised, I've ordered the Spanish from London War Room. One bag each of the dismounted soldado de cuera. These "leather soldiers" were Spanish Presidial troops, the frontier garrison types who fought the Indians and kept the peace. There is some great information about these troops in California, as well as a description of them at the California State Military Museum and David Rickman's page on the Royal Soldados of Santa Barbara. It is known that mounted cueros intercepted Zebulon Pike's expedition in 1807, so it's not unreasonable to think that such soldiers would have been deployed to catch the Corps of Discovery. The following pictures are from Jose Maria Bueno's book on uniforms and a photo of a re-enactor.

The other bag o' troops are simply your basic Spanish infantry dudes who will be attired in white.

Looking ahead to the rest of the year, I've set three priorities. One, is getting the Lewis and Clark figures done so that I can game with them. We're not talking lots of figures here. At least initially I'll be painting them all as dismounted troops. I'll order the eighteen dismounted Comanches from Conquest miniatures when I have a bit more dough. Second, I'm going to paint up more of the troops from the Battles of Bladensburg and North Point from the War of 1812. Those will probably be my big historical projects for Enfilade. My final big project will be wrapping up all my unpainted Space 1889 stuff. I need another two dozen or so RAFM figures to get my militia units up to the right size and that will be that.

I'm really feeling the need to be frugal in the hobby this year. I'm going to keep my figure purchases as low as I possibly can, and only buy what I really need. Right now, I've shared the needs that I really have. If that's it, that's it.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Keelboat complete

Crap, I'm not sure why I can't manage my photos better on this blog, but it is what it is. These are the final photos of the Lewis and Clark keelboat. I included these specific pics mostly to show off Mark's incredible craftmanship. The tiller looks fabulous. Check out the reinforcement on the cabin door. Amazing stuff. I hope others see this and Mark gets some of the recognition he deserves for the kind of work that he does. On Saturday I take possession of the vessel. I'm meeting Mark for lunch, assuming that I can navigate the roads to Renton, twenty plus miles through the snow.

What comes next is the big question. I have figures that will do for L and C, but enemies for them are a bit more problematic. If I include the intercepting Spanish forces, I'm likely to use these figures from London War Room. I will probably include the dismounted soldado de cuera or leather soldiers which seemed to be used through out the 18th and 19th century American West. I'd also like to include some of them mounted. The fusiliera figures are also quite serviceable, and if bought in bags the cost is about a buck per figure. Comanches also accompanied the Spanish. I'm looking at the beautiful Comanches by Conquest Miniatures. Some of the figures aren't quite suitable because their weapons are too 19th century, but a lot of them look great. I'll have to pick up some of the mounted figures when they become available. The other likely conflict was with the Teton Sioux (or Lakota,) but again I'd need a lot of pre-gunpowder miniatures and I just don't know how available they are.

I've hit kind of painting lull. I am nearly finished with another unit of Martian militia, but after that, I'm not quite sure. I am considering remounting my Lewis and Clarkish figures on somewhat smaller bases so more will fit on the keelboat, but I'd also like to make more progress on my War of 1812 stuff. With school out early due to the snowfall, I have a chance to make some extra progress.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Up the Missouri

These are final photos of the Lewis and Clark keelboat. L and C actually had a small flotilla as they ascended the Missouri river which also included two "priogues" or heavy longboats, each with a mast and sail. They were each armed with a boarding blunderbuss, but neither with appreciable artillery. In the end all the vessels were intended chiefly as transportation for the tons of food, equipment and trade goods the Corps took in anticipation of the challenges they would face on their journey. They aren't warships, though the keelboat is built like a floating fortress with its solid bulkheads.

Mark has built some incredibly nice features into the keelboat. The mast is removable. There are two brass pins holding the mast into place that are easily removable. The one pounder and and oars are extra details that make the model quite special. I paid for the materials, and Mark took the project on for the love of doing the project. It's a Christmas present to me from my wife and I truly thank Mark for his willingness to take this on.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Keelboat follow on

These are updated pictures of the keelboat in progress. It looks great. Mark and I have exchanged information about the mast and the construction of the one-pounder. This means I'll actually have to sit down and paint up my Lewis and Clark figures and the like--and soon. Maybe over Christmas break.

Not a lot to report this week. We were on deadline at school, which meant there wasn't much time for painting.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Geekdom That's Cool

This is Lewis and Clark's keelboat. It was built for them in 1803 at builder's in Pennsylvania. It's nearly sixty feet long and eight feet wide. It would never qualify as a warship, mounting only a one pounder and a couple of boarding blunderbusses. But it was like a floating fortress with thick sides that could offer cover to the riflemen of the Corps of Discovery.

I think I've talked about my Lewis and Clark geekdom before. I think the story of the expedition is fascinating. It has all the drama of a great exploring adventure. There is the tense moment when the expedition could have erupted into violence against the Lakota Sioux. Sacagawea's role in the expedition as honorary mom, carrying her baby on her back, and the coincidental meeting with her brother in the Rocky Mountains of Montana made the expedition unlike all of the other American military expeditions into the West. The nightmare crossing of the Bitterroots nearly ended in disaster. The descent to the lower Columbia and the long wet winter at Fort Clatsop is simply a tale of persistence in the face of adversity.
Recently, however, historians have taken note that the Corps of Discovery was first and foremost a military expedition, the first of many that would scout and map the regions of the west, but as much as anything aggravate the hell out our neighbors. How else do you think John C. Fremont ended up in California at the outbreak of the Mexican-American War with American troops, including artillery? The Lewis and Clark concerned the Spanish authorities so much they sent out an expedition of their own to intercept them twice-once on the trip out to the coast and once on the way back.
I've often thought about gaming this potential collision of forces, but with Spaniards numbering about eighty men, including some Comanches, probably all mounted, being caught in the prairie would be a bad, bad thing. I wistfully considered adding a seaborne side to the expedition, but I am simply not much of a model builder.
But I know somebody who is: my good friend Mark Waddington. These are a couple of photos of the keelboat Mark is graciously building me. He began by building the basic shape and is now in the planking stage. Mark says this kind of work is really fun. The planking is basswood strips that he has stained and then cut to the proper length before gluing. Mark says he soaks the planking in ammonia and water before bending them around the hull. It is an amazing, generous project, and I truly appreciate it. I'll keep you posted on the construction.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

PT Dockyard goodies arrive!!

As I explained last week, I took advantage of the PT Dockyard Black Friday sale to order some new goodies. Among the arrivals was the Littoral Combat Ship LCS-1 Freedom. It is intended to provide support for coastal operations. Unfortunately the navy never reached a consensus on design, and the cost for the two completed LCS designs were ridiculously over budget. So much so, that the Littoral Combat Ship was cited by John McCain as an armed services boondoggle in the second presidential debate.

The model is pretty cool. It's huge compared to my other modern vessels, and comes with a helicopter in both stowed and flying mode.

I also ordered and received two of the new, but small Iranian vessels, and a pair of Fairmile B's. I've included a picture of the Freedom at its launching in 2006, as well as a size comparison shot of Freedom with an Iranian missile boat.

One more quick item. I received notice yesterday that the Puyallup Wargamers, a group of Warhammer Ancient Battles enthusiasts are now being chronicled by a blog. The blog is kept by Dean Hachimantaro and is simply entitled WAB Corner. If you are interested in WAB, the Puyallup Wargamers are very active, and are quite prolific. They have armies for the Dark Ages (using the Shield Wall supplement,) the Punic Wars, Samurai, and they are working on Hundred Years War armies, all well painted in 25mm. If WAB is your thing, I encourage you to keep tuned into WAB Corner. It is linked in my Blogs of Note.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Freeman's Farm

Bruce Meyer sent out the word a couple of weeks ago about a game at his Palace of Gaming Delights. I don't get to play with Bruce often, but I really enjoy it when I am able. Last year we did Guilford Courthouse, and today it was Freeman's Farm. The action took place during the Saratoga Campaign, as Burgoyne approached his rendezvous with surrender. Freeman's Farm was the first of two quite desperate battles as the outnumbered, and out-of-supply British try to force the Americans out of their fortifications, opening the road to Albany.

There were twelve of us there for the game. Bruce asked if I would take Burgoyne, and I was happy to oblige. Tim McNulty volunteered to be Gates. Actually Gates was safely back at his bunker, but Benedict Arnold led the American forces on the ground that day. Tim behaved just as aggressively as Arnold.

We were divided into three commands--the right column under General Simon Fraser was commanded jointly by Mark Waddington and Bruce Duthie. Our center column under General Burgoyne himself was run by Jerry Nordbye and Steve Ghan. The left column under General Riedesel was the responsibility of Michael Koznarsky and myself, entering the board somewhat later.

Our right column immediately came under fire from Morgan's rifles, losing the commanding officers of the converged lights and a line battalion. It was the first of many bad things that would happen to Fraser's column in particular and the British in general.

While Burgoyne's column of four battalions moved dutifully to positions along a rail fence facing a field, dozens of American units poured onto the field, filling the opposite rail fence and pouring to flank. The battle had scarcely begun, the British were already in deep trouble.

Fraser's column on the British right was quickly unable to advance. Forced into line by the fire of American marksmen, the difficult situation rapidly went from bad to worse. American infantry began advancing in march columns aimed right at the British line. More fire forced morale checks the British commanders could not seem to pass. It would be a common theme throughout the day.

The British troops in the center and the right took defensive positions, rather than assuming the offensive as I had planned as British commander. There were simply too many Americans who were happy to bring the battle to us. Steve and Jerry in the middle had some initial success firing their cannon at the Americans in the center, but it was like a pebble tossed in the ocean in hopes of stopping the incoming tide. Jerry found himself holding the very end of the British line facing legions of Americans with two units.

He managed to hold things for a turn or two, but Jerry took his turn to fail an easily made morale check. Instead of holding the line, the threatened unit retreated, and the line turned into a bow.

On the right, things went from bad to worse. Repeated fire decimated the the British lights and line infantry. The Canadian militia sought refuge in the woods, and the Americans poured in toward the British right, forcing the survivors to find refuge in Freeman's Farm.

Just when all seemed lost the British got a bit of a reprieve when Riedesel's Germans showed up on turn five--exactly where the Americans expected them. Michael's Hessians pulled into the gap with the artillery, while I tried to pull off an attack on the American militia through the woods. For two turns the opportunity was mine for the taking, but I couldn't roll the six on a ten sided die I needed to attack disordered. I don't know if it would have changed the battle, but it sure would have made me feel better. I also attached Riedesel to the one attack I was able to make and he was killed in the melee. The story of the British army this day.
Although the Germans had five units to add to the eight British units already on the field, it simply wasn't enough to make progress against the eight slightly smaller American units arrayed against us.

As the Hessian counter-attack stalled out things went from bad to worse on the other fronts. On the right flank, a series of American attacks wiped out the British grenadiers and light infantry. They put up a good fight, but there simply wasn't enough to fight with. Steve's two battalions in the middle were being pressed from the front, and with his right flank now wide open, it was just a matter of time before he too was a goner. Jerry was fighting off units from his front and flank, but it was clear that the weight of the enemy would eventually end his resistance. At this point, with the Hessians clearly unable to draw strength from the American attack in the center I called a general retreat to save what was left of the army.

Though the game was a tough one to lose, and lose so decisively, it was still a great deal of fun. I met some new guys, and it was another great opportunity to pull out my AWI figures, which had lay dormant since Cowpens at Enfilade in the spring. I was really proud of the British players who did the very best they could under very difficult circumstances. On a positive note, I think we did as well as General Burgoyne, who suffered terrible casualties (just like us) and was forced to retire on his baggage (just like us) before his inevitable surrender after one more assault on Bemis Heights.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Black Friday

Wow, I was amazed at the number of specials going on in the hobby during this holiday weekend. I received an announcement from The War Store, a great hobby shop on Long Island with some weekend specials. They carry a wide variety of miniatures, notably Foundry and Perry figures. Unfortunately they weren't included in the sale.

I also received an e-mail from PT Dockyard, which makes my resin modern and WWII coastal vessels. 20% off a pretty reasonable group of prices sucked me in for some moderns (a U.S. littoral combat vessel and two more Iranian boats for my little navy,) and the first two Fairmile B's toward the St. Nazaire project.

Dunno if there were more big sales out there for Black Friday weekend, but hopefully some of view were able to get some deals to go with your turkey.

Musings and reflections

This is Thanksgiving weekend, and it was a pretty traditional one here. We had the family over to Smythland. Not a big gathering, there were eight of us. However, it seemed like a lot more work. We got things ready from 9:00 until guests arrived at 3:30, really working almost every minute. Then it was cleanup from after dinner until about 9:00, when I threw myself into bed and collapsed. Not quite as much energy as I used to have.

I've noticed some age issues creeping into my gaming too. Well maybe not so much the gaming as in painting. I love to paint. I truly do. I don't know what would happen if I was unable to do it. However, I am having vision issues when I paint. My trip to the ophthalmologist turned up nothing. My doctor assured me my surgically created mono-vision was about 20/25, but not enough to warrant further surgery or regular correction. But, I know what I see. Or, worse still, I know what I don't see very well. Painting small details is getting more difficult. Hell, just seeing the damn details is getting more difficult. As a result I find that machine painting, painting lots of figures as quickly as possible, with some regard for quality is more difficult. I am accepting work that I probably wouldn't have accepted a couple of years ago, let alone about fifteen years ago, which I believe was my best work.

It really leads me to the big question--realistically how long can I be a productive painter on a large scale? There are definitely projects I'd like to complete and they include the following:

The Hundred Years War--I want to fight Poitiers, Agincourt and whatever other battles excite me using the Medieval Warfare rules and Field of Glory. I also want to continue painting singly mounted figures for my own rules. This is a pretty big undertaking that I seem to gather up in spasms. I have many, many painted figures (600ish) and many, many unpainted figures.

The American Revolution-Again I have figures for pretty much two systems, though they can be combined fairly easily. I have many painted figures-probably 5-600, and a fair number of unpainted figures, though nothing like HYW. I'd like to continue to build units for the Southern Campaign, be able to fight any battle I want from Camden to Guilford Court House and beyond to Eutaw Springs. I'd need more Brits.

The War of 1812 is close to my heart, but kind of a black hole in terms of organizing my plans. I'd like to have the figures to do Chippewa, but would really like to focus on building for a campaign around Washington D.C. I'd like the troops to do Bladensburg and North Point specifically. I have Scott's Brigade at Chippewa, but need to finish the other American units. I have a lot of unpainted American militia, which I'm actually working on this minute. I also have a ton of British figures I picked up at the end of my Old Glory Army membership, but not sure I have enough to do the Chesapeake Campaign of 1814. This is complicated by my partnership with Doug Hamm, who is far away in Vancouver, B.C. I wish he lived closer so I could see him and game more frequently with him. He has over 600 figures invested in this project, while I have about half as many.

Wayne' s Legion. I've always been interested in this obscure little conflict. I think the period offers a lot of opportunities that really takes us up to the adoption of a new American uniform in 1809. I'm interested in the Wayne's Fallen Timber campaign as well as the Indian War on the Ohio. I think there is some potential for a Lewis and Clark intervention game. I also think there is the hypothetical possibility of a clash with Spanish troops and Indians. Lots of possibilities. I'd need lots more figures, but it's something I'm passionate about. Not much painting done on this, well lots of Indians, I guess-not so much on the Americans.

Space 1889--Love it. Have tons of Martians painted, and some Europeans and sepoys. We're actually starting our Martian campaign today, which should be a lot of fun. I'd guess I have about 220 painted figures with about 100 left to paint. I'd love to buy another 60 or so figures but they're expensive, which makes me crazy. It's near the top of my list in interest and priority.

15mm projects still looming on the horizon are more DBA armies (though I haven't played much in ages), King's War First Jacobite War. I'd like to play with my Spanish Civil War stuff. Just need to make time. Of course I have my Thunderboats, modern and WWII coastal vessels and ACW ships. I'd never part with those, or for that matter my 1/300 planes.

I'm thinking seriously of parting with the following
  1. 25mm Punic Wars Romans
  2. 25mm ACW
  3. 15mm WWII in the Pacific
That would clear some space for me, and would also unload some dead weight.

The pictures are of a portion of my unpainted lead piles all tidily bagged up. The top pic is many of my American Revolution figures left to paint. The bottom two are of my Hundred Years War minis. I believe the first HYW picture is English and the second is French. Ahh me.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


I have a lot going on right now. We're moving toward the holidays and all the requisite responsibilities that go with being the chief host for the big ones like Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve. Coupled with Casey moving home the first of the year, Lorri and I have been tearing the place apart, letting go of some cherished possessions (okay, she's letting go of crap, I'm letting go of cherished possessions.) Finally I have some leftover baggage from last year's controversial JagWire issue. The school district is being sued, and my name has appeared in the papers in most unflattering terms. It's been unsettling and unpleasant to say the least.

In any case, I've been trying to make time for painting and gaming as much as possible. I'm slowly making the move to focus just on my Martians and War of 1812 stuff. I haven't gotten too far with the transition yet, but I'm pleased.

The Space 1889 project is important because we're preparing for a SGoM and Space 1889 campaign. It should be a lot of fun, but I need to wrap up my RAFM miniatures for the land battles. At the very least, I need to finish up my 60 Shastapsh militia figures, and so far I have 24 finished with another dozen in the "ready to paint" category.

I've begun working on a pile of War of 1812 militia figures by Old Glory. I've gotten a real good start on the command figures, and should have nine figures or the command stands for three units done tonight-tomorrow at the very latest. My aim is to really roll on this project. It's just one of those times I feel energized about a period and need to take advantage of it. Militia first, then my remaining Amerian regulars, before heading on to the British.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Musket Miniatures Black and Tans

My Musket Miniatures Black and Tan figures finally arrived from Little Wars this week. They are 28mm figures I'd like to use to fight some skirmish actions from the Irish War for Independence. Musket is building a very nice range of figures, including the Tans, Royal Irish Constabulary, some British regulars and of course Irish Republican Army.

The figures are large, and well detailed, showing the miniatures in battle dress rather than in full uniform. All are armed with the SMLE. My only beef is that two of the figures come with separate rifles on a sprue, and one of them had the rifle broken off at the sprue. At three dollars per figure that is not welcome news.

The figures match up well with some early World War I British infantry I have from Renegade. I picked up a boxed set at Enfilade and it comes with a pair of extra machine guns. How handy. My IRA figures are from Cannon Fodder. They are a bit slight compared with the well fed Brits, but they are nicely modeled, each a true personality. I don't intend to add many more figures, perhaps a few RIC figures and a few more of the good Irish boys. I am planning to use Leo Cronin's rules Irish Rebellion: The Black and Tan Wars. That's assuming I can figure them out.

This is probably my last figure purchase for a while. The economy has me a bit spooked, and truthfully I have plenty of figures to work on for virtually every period I am currently working in.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

F and I at Game Matrix

Tuesday about eight of us took advantage of our Veteran's Day holiday to play a French and Indian War game at the Game Matrix in Tacoma. I was expecting a rather small gathering, and it was going to be great because Mark Waddington was going to run it and I was going to play.
It was a great game, but there were eight players slogging through the woods trying to lay hands on one another. The scenario required a British force to slog through the woods and across a stream and exit, with a pack train, the opposite side of the board. The tricky part for the Brits was to get their force through the woods on trails, that would doubtless be ripe for French and Indian ambush. The tricky part for the French and Indians was to determine which of the three possible exit points the Brits were aiming for.

The French, played by myself, Scott Murphy, Jason (of unknown last name) and Bruce Meyer, opted to put somewhat weakish forces on the either flank, with fairly strong forces in the middle that could fairly quickly move to either flank. Our task was further complicated by the use of counters to represent each unit until they were actually spotted. Both sides also had a handful of dummies, so it was possible to make a weak force look pretty strong.

The game opened with the British running their Rogers Rangers unit straight into two units of Indians and a unit of Coeur de Bois. Bad thing. Though we Bruce was only able to get two of their three units into melee, the Rangers were thrashed, which really opened the middle up to our strong reserves.

The British feinted on their left (our right,) and sent their main force up the left flank road. It might have worked, except our strong middle was able to crash the left flank of their advance. The Indians under my command also earned undying glory as they turned back a strong unit of British line infantry in the woods, in one of those Sword and the Flame rolloffs. I was down to my last two guys, when I trashed the eight or so Brits remaining. To quote Barry Fitzgerald in "The Quiet Man," "It was heroic."

As the reserved troops crushed the Rangers remnants and made mincemeat of a Highland unit, my surviving heroes sneaked into the pack train, and the game ended. It was fun.

The pictures show the British left flank as their advance is stalled. The Highlanders, trying to hold the column's left flank is fighting disordered and shaken in the woods. A British line infantry unit has taken its position in a rocky clearing. Dead Rogers Rangers are in the foreground. The second picture shows a coordinated Indian assault on the Highlanders. Bad things are about to happen. The last picture shows My Indians and Scott's Marines firing on British light infantry in the rocky clearing, moment before launching my deadly assault on the line infantry in the woods.

Sunday, November 09, 2008


It's been a while since my last entry. Sorry about that. At school, we went through our first production cycle and got out our first issue of the paper.

Even so, it's hard to believe this is my first post of the month and it's already November 9th. Of course, it's also important to have something to say, and I haven't gamed much or had any big gaming news.

One of the topics on the NHMGSyahoo group has been the Battle of New Orleans and how much fun it would be to take that on. It rose out of a controversy over the unveiling of the very interesting Douglas Coupland War of 1812 monument in Toronto. It's got me thinking some more about getting on with my massive pile of unfinished War of 1812 figures. Of course, I won't paint them for New Orleans. New Orleans is a bad game waiting to happen. However, I'm interested in getting some figures done. I have a large number of American militia figures, a few more regulars, and tons of Brits. I thought I might paint up the British regiments in the Chesapeake, because I'm sure Doug Hamm has painted up those on the Niagara frontier.
I have been painting pretty much whatever is on my mind. I am finished with a ten figure unit of Mexican lancers for the Maxmillian era, and I have one more unit of cavalry to paint for that project-Imperial troops. I'm considering a Maxmillian game for Drumbeat. I'm in the middle of another unit of Shastapsh militia for Space 1889, and then a half dozen longbows for HYW.
I dunno. I'm thinking its a War of 1812 kind of year.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Arrowstorm Part Deux

Last weekend my band of supportive friends met at Game Matrix to give a second run through of my Hundred Years War rules. I changed the name from Kevin Does the Hundred Years War to the somewhat less ego-driven Arrowstorm.

I decided that a good way to test out the rules was to try a scenario from a historical situation. I arrayed the English in a historical line of battle-knights and men at arms in the center with archers on the flanks. The French had one sixty and two forty figure blocks of dismounted knights and various lesser infantry. They also had a thirty figure unit of crossbowmen, and two ten figure units of mounted knights. I confess to messing with the French and their set up, having two of the infantry units become impetuous and run ahead of the army. However it seemed to have little effect on the game. Though the archers made life difficult for the dismounted knights, the cavalry, relatively untouched by arrow fire, drove straight through the middle of the board and through Prince Hal's dismounted knights. 15-love French.

That was quick, so we set 'em up and tried again. We really didn't get to a decisive conclusion. the action really mired in some lack of clarity in the rules. It's clarity I really hoped wouldn't be needed. Should French knights be allowed to rally when disrupted by arrowstorms? Could they rally back through other units? How long should the effects of arrowstorms last?

In any case, I've had lots to think about as I plug holes in the rules and re-imagine what they accomplish.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Shastapsh and the blogosphere

Two of my passions (I have so many) are Space 1889 and the Hundred Years War. Last weekend, while playing a Hundred Years War game, Mark, Dale, Scott and I met to discuss the future of our Space 1889 games. We've hosted many of them at conventions, the Game Matrix, wherever we can gather together and get out the figures. Mark's very cool toys makes the games very popular and we always attract a crowd. Last year at Conquest, our game planned for a dozen turned into a group of twenty. Even with Mark and I running the rules together, we were completely overwhelmed.

We've formed our own little group called The Red Captains, drawn from Chadwick's universe. About eight of us have painted the figures and played through the rules playtests, yet we rarely have an opportunity to just enjoy the games and one another because we're too busy showing newbies in massive games how it's done. We've agreed that one answer to this problem is to run a campaign. Because I've run some Sky Galleons of Mars games around the canal town of Shastapsh, we are in the process of conceptualizing a campaign around that city. I've even written an "official history" of the Shastapsh War. One other thing I've done to focus our efforts is I've created a new blog called The Shastapsh Chronicles . I'm hoping that may draw a little more interest from those who are inclined in the direction of VSF or Space 1889.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Hydroplanes: The Global Reach

The past couple of weeks I've had lots of contact about hydroplane racing outside the Pacific Northwest area. Yes, I know it's hard to believe that there are that many sickos out there, but it's true. First, I was contacted by a Washington DC area gamer inquiring about boats. I think Daveshoe sent him the rules, which is certainly helpful.

A short time later, Paul Hannah, back from Fallcon in Calgary sent me pictures of Ray Sam's boats. I know Ray from air games, and he raced in our Enfilade Cup in May. These are beautiful boats with great Canadian themes. Ray reveals:

The Molson and Tim Horton's art are hand formed decals from various logos and then printed by a friend of mine. Trust me, I would probably been better off hand painting them in the long run. Just the decals alone took somewhere in the region of 36 hours of work just to get them to look right.

Ray indicates that a Can/Am cup may not be far in the future.

Finally, on Sunday, I received an e-mail from Daveshoe, indicating that a British gamer has followed the topic on this very blog. He was interested in the rules, and had hand made some boats. Not a bad job. Love the roostertails.

Incidentally, our counter passed the 3000 hit mark last weekend. For some of you, that may not seem like a lot. However, given the regional appeal and the goofy scheduling and content of these self-indulgent ramblings, I thank you for your support. I don't know who you are, but I'm glad you're here.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Gunboats and Gambesons

I've finally finished mounting all of my completed HYW miniatures. I know what you're thinking-"Yes, I've already seen these in your previous posts." Well, no you haven't. You see, I have two different HYW projects-one mounted on individual bases for my own semi-skirmish adventures, one mounted on multiple figure bases for Medieval Warfare. I know Bill Stewart would simply slap me around if he heard of such a thing.

Three years ago at Enfilade I bought one of Reviresco's multi-media (re: paper model) kits of a gunboat. It was $15 and a great deal considering the boat was (supposedly) easy to assemble and came with a wealth of white metal parts. The past week I've been putting the little beggar together and I've included pictures. It still is a great deal, a bargain compared to a comparable resin kit. I don't think it was quite so easy, and I could have easily botched the whole job and be stuck with a bunch of landlubbers and their two six pound guns.

Nevertheless, I did finish with only a few scars to show for it. The biggest problem I had was properly assembling the hull, which accounts for the very bulgy looking stern. I also had difficulty with the paper funnel. I just wasn't going to be able to make it round. Maybe if I had a proper sized dowel to wrap it around that would have been fine, but I just have a feeling it would have looked lumpy. My solution was simply to replace the paper funnel with a 5/8ths inch dowel. Problem solved.

The bits that came with the kit are great. I finished painting and rigging last night. Though mine doesn't look nearly as nice as John McEwan's fabulous work, I was pleased.

I've decided to name the gunboat Papyrus in honor of the building materials.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Museum of Flight '08

Yesterday NHMGS returned to the Museum of Flight in Seattle. We've been there each year since about 2000. Some of the days have been great, some not so good, but yesterday's MoF day was the best yet.

We've had difficulty attracting game presenters and gamers to play the games, but yesterday that wasn't a problem. Bruce Meyer had a full house for his Napoleonic skirmish game. John McEwan hosted his balloon race to a crowd. Dave Schueler and I had nine hydroplanes going in the afternoon (in a game designed for six.) We also had a lot of curious onlookers and some players from those attending Educator's Day at the museum. I think it was a great symbiosis, one I'd like to repeat next year.

I've included a few pictures, but have many more available on Photobucket

The first photo is of our air racing game, using the Daveshoe's newly modified rules. It was fun, though my plane, Mr. Mulligan, the big white plane at the rear finished dead last.

The last is a view of the DBA games, balloon racing and Napoleonic game from the second level.

The last picture is of the hydroplane racers at the finish. Exide, in the middle, is being lapped at the end by Miss Spokane and Miss Madison at the finish line. Mark Waddington's Miss Spokane won with a final burst at the finish line.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Desk Clutter

I'm kind of betwixt and between projects right now. I guess that's not really true-I'm working on cleaning up my Space 1889 figures and getting everything done. However, I'm still trying to finish basing my Medieval Warfare HYW figures.

Basing is a chore for me. It takes me a long time because of the basing material I use-Celluclay really takes about 30 hours to dry, especially during our current clammy weather spate. And then there are base painting and flocking stages, which take additional time.

In any case I've finished my first couple of Space 1889 units. Only the first unit can be seen here. This is the 1st Virginia Steam Cavalry unit in the service of the Shastapsh City State. I use the mechanical horsey figures from Mage Knight and stick a Dixon Confederate cavalry figure on top. It was something fun and different to do. I've also finished one of my Shastapsh militia units, but they're still in the garage awaiting some desk space and the basing process.

The second picture is just some desk related flotsam. The figures on the left are longbowmen who have just received their helpings of Celluclay. They'll be ready to paint some time around the election. Just kidding. Hopefully by Tuesday night I can come home from my writing workshop and finish these babies while watching reruns of the debate. You can see them there with my ever present can of Diet Coke.

I've also adopted a new "go with what grabs you attitude." I'm going to stick with painting units of whatever interests me for the present time. After I finish with my militia unit I'll be doing a couple of things. First I'm trying to finish my Reviresco multi-media patrol boat. It'll be used for patrolling the Canals of Mars. Unfortunately I'm about as adept at assembling the paper model as Edward Scissorhands. I'm going to do the best I can, but it doesn't look quite like John McEwan's examples. After (or maybe even during that) it'ss on to the second of my three Houston's cavalry units for Maxmillian in Mexico. This will be a Mexican Federal Lancer unit. They look pretty decent for their very reasonable price, so I'm looking forward to getting them done.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The things I do

I had to break down and order brushes today. Yes, I know, bid deal, you can't paint without brushes.

I don't skimp on brushes, I buy the best I can find. I paint a lot, maybe 600 figures a year or more, and I can usually get a year out of a brush. I buy Kolinsky sable brushes. My favorite brand is Dick Blick from the art supply chain of the same name, mostly located in the East. When I started buying brushes from Blick about ten years ago, the 0 brushes I use most were less than five dollars each. Today I ordered, and on their current 30% off sale they were about $8.50. I get good mileage out of a brush-they often last for a year or more. They keep consistently sharp points, don't bend or have the hairs fall out. Maybe one brush in four is a loser. I ordered three single 0's and one 00. I wouldn't have ordered any brushes right at this moment except both 0 and 00 seem to have died on the same night. Makes painting rough. If the brushes seem costly, the shipping is a killer-ten bucks for four wee small brushes.

I know, there are some of you who are thinking-but what about Windsor and Newton series 7? They're Kolinsky sable, and you can even get them locally. I have some of the W and N brushes, and I just don't like them as much. They aren't quite as fine and the brush handles are thicker, I don't get as good a feel for what I'm doing. Picky, I know, but this is a picky hobby.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Arrow Doom

Saturday was the first playtest for my Hundred Years War rules. So many came to try out the game at Game Matrix on Saturday-David Sullivan, Mark Waddington, Dale Mickel, Scott Murphy, Gary Griess, Steve Ghan, Gene Anderson-and because these are always works in progress and the game might really stink, I really appreciate the long distance they travel and the time and patience they give.

The rules are intended to foster two important truths:
  1. The mounted knight in melee combat was superior to foot troops most of the time.
  2. The longbow generally was the ruler of the battlefield as long as they had arrows and could fight securely in a defensive position.

I wrote a simple set of rules for a semi-skirmish level game. The mechanics are pretty basic. I intended them for something I could easily run at a convention. I think that on that level the rules succeeded. However there are some content issues that need work.

Let's back up. I planned a basic chevauchee scenario. The English are trying to carry off their swag when they are attacked from the front and flank by a French force, and harried from the rear by the bereft peasants. The result of the game was unimportant. Each side earned some victory points.

The chief problem was with the strength of the longbow. When using the arrow storm the units simply were able to roll too many dice and kill too many troops. This was a trap I was afraid of, and I really need to work on that. The rules limit the number of arrow storms to scenario design, and there are rules for arrow depletion. I also allow that an arrow storm does some intrinsic damage, reducing movement and causing disruption that reduces melee value. The casualties caused need not be massive, but the effect of disruption should be very significant. Something to work on. I'm looking forward to running a similar game on October 18th.

I was able to pull out a fair amount of stuff for the game. The fields are my Barb's Bunker goodies, which I really like. The buildings are by Pegasus. The minis are all mine, a mix of Old Glory, Foundry, and a few Front Rank figures. The top photo shows the initial English

deployment. They generally used defensive positions quite well, and hoped the French would obligingly attack them. I allowed the French to divide their forces, and use some militia troops to flank the English which shook things up a little bit. The lower picture on the left shows the French massing for an attack on a unit of English dismounted hobilars. The picture at right shows the militia fording the stream, preparing to attack the English position (they were slaughtered.)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Moving Along

In my last post I confess to being a bit in despair. I've actually moved along a bit. The remaining figures for my first 48 men at arms in my Hundred Years War army are now finished and mounted. I'm still working on the basing, which will probably take a few days. I've stopped using Liquitex acrylic glop as my basing compound and gone back to Celluclay, which is a papier mache material. I just like the look of the Celluclay better, though it takes much longer to dry. All of the HYW bases are "clayed" but I still need to paint and flock them.

I included a fair number of flags on the twelve bases-okay five flags, I don't know if that's enough. My wife is a quilter and sewing person, and she has recently discovered a super cool looking silk and cotton material that one can print on from the printer. Lorri is still experimenting with the material, but I've seen some of what she's printed out and it looks pretty spiff and I'm considering it for some flag material. The only problem I can see is actually attaching it to a standard. I don't know that it would glue very well, or look very good if it was glued, and it might actually have to be stitched. That would be hard. Anyway, just a thought.

I've written a set of quicky HYW rules that I'm going to try out this weekend with my individually based figures. They are pretty simple, and steal conceptually from the Tactica Medieval Siege rules, and from Don Featherstone. I'll take pictures and report.

I've begun preparing for my next painting activities. I've got some mechanical cavalry to paint for Space 1889, as well some interesting foot troops to follow on.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


I'm stuck. I am definitely trying to move on to my next project-finishing my Space 1889 figures, but I can't seem to make the time to wrap up my remaining handful of HYW figures, get them all based and finish a handful flags so I can move on.

School is taking a lot of my time, I have a return of school year insomnia, and I'm about to be embroiled in a first amendment fight with my employer that may be difficult and time consuming. Who has time for a painting extravaganza? In any case, I'm down to the last eight figures and then I can get on with fore-mentioned flag-painting, basing and final photos.

My next game is scheduled for Sept. 20th. I'll be running a game with my singly mounted HYW figures. I'm writing my own set of rules called "Kevin Does the Hundred Years War." They should be easy, fun and bloody. We'll see. Look for some pictures here.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Every Man a Food Source!!

On Saturday I choogled down to Olympia for an all day game fest at Scott Murphy's house. Scott hosted a potluck and some garage gaming, which would have been perfect except for some unseasonal ridiculous rain.

This was a showcase for a couple of Mark Waddington's games. He's been wanting to run a Zulu War game in which each of the players has a stake in overall victory, but each of the commands has competing objectives. I had three specific commands. The first was a light horse unit in which I had to visit more terrain features than the other light horse unit in our army. I also had a martinet captain that could chirp at each of the units of the 24th (I believe there were six,) and could improve their movement and shooting, but gave a -1 to morale. The bonus was that I could also be shot by my own troops. Finally, I also had the Naval Brigade unit, clearly an elite shipboard force, but not so much on dry land. They couldn't shoot straight, melee properly or form square, but you should see them row a longboat.

Things got off to a super start with Whitehall's cavalry heading off to their first terrain feature, Snosworthy barking at whichever poor Welshmen could hear him, and the sailors dutifully covering the rear of the baggage train. By turn two, however, Zulu signs began to pop up. Where would the impi arrive, and would those we see simply be part of a feint. On turn four Whitehall's horsemen made it's high water mark, and encountered the right flank of the Zulu advance. The rest of the game would be spent running for their lives, shooting at the Zulus and keeping the unit intact (averaging two kills per turn shooting over their shoulders.) Snosworthy was an albatross around the neck of all those redcoats he could find, sticking too close to them to be shot in the back by his fellows. The sailors tried to form part of a brigade square, but couldn't form up in close order. Sent into a hole in the British center, it looked like they would play the heroic martyrs against an advancing Zulu regiment, but got the last laugh when they ran away instead. Well, I laughed anyway.

We played out the game for four hours until the food was officially cooked. I don't quite know what the status of the game was at the end. The Zulus seemed to be moving pretty handily through the center, while British troops were just beginning to flow to fill in the gaps. It certainly looked dicey for the Brits, I only know that my cavalry and sailors were quite prepared to run away the fastest.

After some great eats we settled down to game two--colonial adventures on Venus!! The Brits were on a mission tramping around the marshes of Venus to rescue some missing archaeologists. Yes, you're right the archaeologists were actually were in the evil clutches of the meddling Germans, mwahahahahaa!! The Germans were meddling in the affairs of the Skinks, the slimy little reptiliad Venusian lowlifes that inhabit most of the stinking swamps of the "morning star." You might be wondering what my command was during this episode of "My Venusian Vacation." Was it the 1st battalion Grenadier Guards? No! How about the Kings Royal Rifle Corps? Be real, they are so effete. Perhaps a squadron of Royal Marine Light Infantry, with all their expertise in boats and all? Nah, in fact I was a commander of the corps of Venusian lowlifes tasked with making life miserable for the Brits.

And I must say I did my best. I swamped about shooting tiny little Skink arrows at the Brits in their boats, and those slogging through the swamp. I heroically made 5 to 1 attacks on shot up British units. We made life pretty miserable for them, and by the end of the game, things were looking pretty bad for the redcoats.

It was a fun, fun day, and thanks to Mark for putting on the games and Scott and Dale for hosting the party.