Saturday, May 31, 2008

A New Year Begins

As I babbled earlier this week, my painting/project year always begins after Enfilade. I've actually had a pretty busy and productive painting week, though it's unfocused, scattered and just kind of painting for fun--never a bad thing. When I got home from the convention I was in a bit of a painting mood so I looked at some things on my desk and thought about some figures I had laying around and decided to work on those. This week I finished another hydroplane. It was Miss Spokane. It was a boat from my childhood. (Photo courtesy of the Hydroplane History website.) This particular boat also appeared in a beautiful lilac and lavender color scheme, but there is no lilac paint available. I could have mixed it but my concern was for when I would have to match that base paint after I made my inevitable errors. I'm looking forward to continued painting of boats over the summer. I'm actually considering painting all the boats that appeared in the 1965 Gold Cup in Seattle. Then I could have a real historical miniatures game. Ironically Miss Spokane was in that race as the Miss Lapeer, weird tail and all. However, my next boat will be Miss Century-2, the former Miss Thriftway, with all the striping. Hope I'm up to it.

Another wild hare that took my attention were my old Houston's 28mm Maxmillian adventure cavalry. I've had thirty of these sitting in a drawer for over a year. I mounted up the Austrian hussars, and given their colors they should be something to see. I'll take pictures when I'm done with them. I'll have enough horse for two units per side, which should make things a bit more interesting.

However, what I'm really hot and heavy to finish is another DBA army. I'm working on the Anglo-Danes--you know them, the guys who lost at Hastings in 1066. That Harold fellow got it through the eye (ouch!) Anyway, it's one less DBA army awaiting paint. I've finished the huscarles and psiloi, and am working on the eight stands of fyrd spearmen. Don't know when I'll have them done, but maybe by next weekend.

It's our last deadline week of the year. I don't expect to get much done in the evenings this week. However, with the summer vacation not far away, I'm already beginning to plot about how I'll spend my time.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Enfilade 2008: Final Thoughts

I just wanted to post some final words about the con. I actually thought it was quite good. David and Allan did a great job of enticing folks to attend with plenty of people to play the games.

Speaking for myself, it was one of my less favorite conventions. I tried to do too much, and didn't get around to see the other games. I'm chalking it up to lessons learned.

I would be remiss if I left out my list of purchases. I had purchase plans--which I exceeded of course, but here's my list of ill-gotten treasure:
1. Two of the excellent Acheson Indian longhouses from Reviresco. They were on my buy list, and with the two I picked up last year, should give me enough for a small village. An incentive to work on my Wayne's Legion stuff a little more seriously.
2. From Stonehouse Miniatures--a steam powered elephant in 28mm. Every VSF army needs one of these babies. Armed with a revolving turret and a cannon in the elephant's mouth, don't leave home without it.
3. Ten more hydroplanes from Shawn McEvoy at Craftworks. Hell, it could have been thirty more and I don't think I would have run out of ideas.
4. The last purchase is the goofiest purchase. As things were closing down on Sunday I walked by the Reviresco booth, and saw the interesting gigantic tree house John McEwan assembled the day before and commented on its coolness. It's about ten inches tall with room for a few figures or a light or swivel gun. When John offered me a deal, I took it though the $40 price tag was a bit steep. I gotta figure out something to do with this damn thing.

Hey kudos to all of my Enfilade colleagues--David Sullivan, Allan Dyer, Damond Crump, Bruce Meyer, Bryan Shein. A special thanks to all who helped on the reg desk--they were simply fabulous--Mark and Joe Waddington, Arthur Brooking, Mark Serafin, Bryan Shein, Scott Williams, Mike Snively, Ted Henkle, Wes Rogers, Matt Rocco, and Chris Bauermeister.

Last, but not least, I was incredibly impressed by the careful consideration given by the judges in the painting competition on Sunday. (It didn't hurt that my beloved hydroplanes won in their category, but I was impressed none the less.)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Cowpens at Enfilade

This was my big project for Enfilade. As I've said before, it is a battle I've always wanted to do, but due to the unique nature of the battle--the British fighting in open order and the American militia's defense in depth, retirement and subsequent return to the battlefield, there are a lot of moving parts. My goal is and was to create the conditions for a historical result, but not build a simulation in which the results were pre-determined.

In my final reading for the battle, I learned that McDowell's troops-they formed the first line of sharpshooters reformed with the second line, adding twelve figures to them. In addition, the third line had two small additional units of militia. All militia was set up historically in a single rank-open order. The British infantry was also set up in a single rank-open order. I also added some dense woods on the very edge of each side of the board. This represented the swampy ground that prevented a flanking movement by the British during the battle.

The conditions for turn one were pretty much the same as they were for the last game test in May. The Brits rolled forward--quickly this time as they didn't have to slog through the woods in close order. The Americans fired per their scenario table and did significant damage only to the British lights. Being elite veteran infantry, they shrugged it off when it came their turn to move. None of the 2nd line militia routed from the table, and they were all able to make it behind the third American line and were removed from the table.

The British line continued rolling almost up to the third American line, where things began to fall apart. On the British right, the 17th Light Dragoons chased off the Beatty's small militia company, and was blasted by the Brandon's Fair Forest militia when it reentered the board. Tate's Virginia Rifles, firing at long range and low on ammunition rolled double tens at the British lights just as it looked as though they would be swept away. It disordered the lights, killed their commander and caused them to spend a turn just milling around. The American left held when Hayes' militia battalion returned in time to reinforce them. The British light infantry escaped--the only British unit to do so.

In the center, the big British Legion infantry unit marched right up to the American continentals in close order, only to receive a withering blast. Losing three stands, the British traded volleys ineffectively with the Americans before taking one more stand loss. They retreated one move in disorder before routing ignominiously while trying to rally. This left a huge hole in the British center and unmasked the right flank of the two British battalions-7th Fusiliers and 71st Highlander, which the Continentals gradually moved to occupy.

On the British left, the three squadrons of the British Legion Dragoons advanced cautiously toward the Virginia/South Carolina State troops and a pesky unit of militia. Expecting the American cavalry reserve to pop up, they were not disappointed. The Brits quickly disposed of the S.C./Georgia Dragoons, but had no answer for the 3rd Continental Dragoons who routed to of the squadrons, while the third was shot to pieces by rifle armed militia.

With both flanks collapsing, and the cavalry destroyed, it was impossible to cover the withdrawal of the fusiliers and highlanders, and at that point the game ended.

Game-wise there was no fault to attribute. The Brits attacked fearlessly, and I really thought the Americans were done. The devastating fire on the British Legion followed by their rout was just some die rolling gone awry. The case was similar for the die rolling by the British Legion Dragoons commander. Rolling ones in melee for a Fire and Fury based rules system is just bad.

I really enjoyed all the guys who played-Lloyd Bowler from Astoria, Gene Anderson from Chehalis, Lawrence Bateman and Damond Crump from Tacoma were the Brits. Shawn McEvoy from Normandie Park, Mitch Berdinka from Silverdale (?), Norris Hazelton from Lake Forest Park, and Andrew Mah from Vancouver, B.C. were the Americans. They were great to play with and I appreciate their kindness.

Monday, May 26, 2008

What Next?

Enfilade always marks the beginning of my painting and projects year. It goofs up what is already a strange year in my other, teaching, life. I can honestly say I have no interest in beginning a new period, though I can't exactly say I'm not interested in a new project.

I'm in negotiations with Daveshoe about perhaps doing the Raid on St. Nazaire in 1/600. I've mentioned this before. It would likely be a project for Enfilade and it would take some doing. The miniatures aren't difficult, but they are many, and we would also need to buy the seawalls, lock gates and etc., from Skytrex.

I'm interested in cleaning up some of my other incomplete projects. I actually have begun preparing some of my 30 Maxmillian in Mexico cavalry figures. It is likely these will be the first 25mm figures I work on.

I have some Martian figures that need painting too. I have lots of mounted figures to do as well as some sepoys. There is also the matter of the two lob cannon I bought earlier in the year. This would be a clean up activity together with Maxmillian.

I still have a skazillion DBA armies (okay, that might be hyperbole, but I almost certainly have ten) that need some paint. I am currently working on the Anglo-Normans. I'd like to also get the Early Byzantine Cv morph done I've been holding onto for years. I'd also like to paint up the Alans.

Just some thoughts for summertime painting activities.

Thunderboats at Enfilade

As planned I ran Thunderboats at Enfilade. Or maybe Daveshoe really ran Thunderboats at Enfilade. We raced on Friday afternoon and Friday evening. We had full heats in the afternoon session, and I think that those who raced had a good time. Some guys tried different things and it looked like the Enfilade Cup race would be full and fun.

Actually, we had difficulty attracting a full house for the Cup race. However we did eventually get six. Unfortunately I didn't see much of it as I had to run home to retrieve items important to the con, so Dave did yeoman service running the races. Darryl Allison won the race and I'll be ordering his trophy from Crown Awards in the next day or so.

We didn't see Shawn McEvoy until Saturday, and unfortunately it was with only a handful of boats. He did hand off the first production buoys which should paint up pretty interestingly. Shawn explained that he had smoothed out his production process, so that should make getting the next batch of boats easier. I ordered another ten, which was one of my projected purchases.
We planned some racing on Sunday, but it simply didn't attract a crowd. Arthur Brooking and Steve Winter ran against Dave and I, just one heat. Dave, playing against type won, while Steve and I tied for second and in a runoff I won.

Though the the enthusiasm for Thunderboats did not quite reach my expectations, I did have one source of support for my interest in this game. I entered three hydroplanes-Miss Bardahl, Miss Exide and Miss Pay 'n Save-in the painting competition. They won in the vehicles category, which was quite gratifying.

I have primed another boat--Miss Spokane--and I will paint her in the black and white paint scheme of 1960. I owe Dave one more hydro, and it will be Slo-mo-shun IV. The large aircraft type tail should pose a challenge.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Eniflade '08 is History

Made it back from Enfilade a few hours ago. It was a remarkable convention in many ways and one I found frustrating in others. I'll be devoting several blog entries, with photos to the convention doin's in the next 48 hours or so. I thought I'd just share some general high points along with a few of the lows.

First, it was a hugely successful convention. Not sure of the final count, but I'm guessing attendance was in the 250-260 range. It was the largest count since we've located at the Olympia Red Lion, and one of the largest in the convention's seventeen year history. When a convention has great attendance, it's also important that there be lots of games--preferably some really good ones. I confess to being very busy with "duties" at this con, so I didn't have a chance to get around and see as much as I usually do. However, I got impressions from lots of the guys, and all seemed to be happy with the number and variety of games. Tables were full in almost every game period.

It was also a pretty smooth running convention. I put in a lot of work on the front end to get the reg desk to run easily for the volunteers. We had great volunteers who took on the responsibility of the Bring and Buy. Very rarely did volunteers have unanswered questions, and I think that was really a testament to their quality. There seemed to be few hassles in terms of game schedules and table locations. That might be because Allan Dyer did such a great job of filling the game tables. I was really impressed with the number of games and the very few number of empty tables (but I've said that already.)

The best part of any convention is seeing old friends--I hesitate to call them convention buddies or once a year friends, but I really do have a fondness and feel a connection to so many. I missed seeing Doug at Salute this year, and I was ridiculously busy this weekend, so I didn't get to spend as much chat time with him. I'll do better next year. Loved seeing the other Canadians too, Bruce, Wayne, Tom, and Andrew as well. I also got a little bit of a chance to talk with Matt and Lloyd from Oregon-two of my favorite retired teachers. Met some new folk as well. David Kujit was our special guest-the creator and moderator of the Fanaticus page. Though I didn't get a chance to play DBA this year, I did have breakfast with David and Doug Saturday morning, and had a great chat.

I guess there was only one downside to the convention and that was the my own doing. I was just over-committed with games and time on the desk. I'm going to commit to max two games and one period on the desk year. I found myself exhausted, frustrated and on edge much of the weekend--unable to appreciate the convention for the success that it was until I got home--and that's just wrong. As with all things there is room for improvement that I'll share with the organizers, but all in all a very nice gathering we can all be proud of.

In the next couple of days I'll have at least two entries about games at Enfilade, particularly Cowpens and Thunderboats. While I didn't get as many pictures as I'd like, I will have a few to share as well as some reflections on lessons learned from the games.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

New Hydroplanes

It's off to Enfilade tomorrow.

In addition to preparing for Cowpens, I've painted some more hydroplanes. Painting hydros has been really fun. They are all historical from 1951-1965, so they are classic hulls. I painted a couple for Dave Demick. Miss B and I is interesting because it has the pink sides and cowl. It's supposed to have big block letters and I just couldn't get 'em right. I also painted Gale V for Dave. It is one of my favorite boats from my childhood. It is a foreign boat from Detroit, but it has great colors. The model turned out well too, despite my endless search for the right shade of yellow.

For myself, I painted boats that would have had dropped sponsons. Because the models don't show this, it means that some details that would have been easier to paint require a bit more care. I painted Miss Pay N Save. It's a beautiful boat with the striped tail. I just couln't get the pin stripes straight, but I really did enjoy painting the unique striped details on the hull. Miss Madison (1962) was a boat I chose because of the interesting color scheme. The blue on mahogany scheme was attractive, but the odd shaped tail with the black and white pinstripes was difficult.

The hardest part of painting the hydroplanes is trying to shape the tails properly. At the bottom of the tail it is difficult to fit it into the slot of the body. The other challenge is shape the top of the tails. Miss Madison and Bardahl had odd-shaped tails. I really struggled to get Madison's correct. My next boats will be Slo-Mo-Shun IV and Miss Spokane. Sl0-Mo has a tail like Bardahl's only larger, and Spokane has a free form tail. They'll be a challenge.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Countdown to Enfilade

I have four days to finish what must be finished. Chief among these are my Enfilade duties. I am in charge of organizing the registration desk--rounding up and scheduling volunteers. Thankfully we have enough, and I am eternally grateful to them for giving up their time. It's a little different, as they will also be running the Bring and Buy feature, which replaces the old flea market tables. The pre-registration is my other job. We had a huge number of people go through pre-reg--145, which is an increase of thirty five over last year. This might be due to the PayPal feature we used. In any case it makes a lot of work for me, making badges and organizing all those who who have pre-registered. However, it should make life a bit easier for the reg desk volunteers. My work with this is almost done, but between typing badge names, assembling and stuffing badge holders I bet I have at least twelve hours in. The good news is I'm not waiting until the last minute.

I am running a passel of games as well. The painting is pretty much over. I am still wrapping up a few things. Cowpens is all painted. I finished four of the five 1/600 scale boats for Action Stations today. I have two hydroplanes 75% complete. However, there is still some work to do on the Cowpens scenario and the accompanying quick sheets. Once I get started it shouldn't take too long. I also need to organize all the militia units and determine what goes where as I do the set up for both sides.

I'm hoping to do one more entry before Friday. I have some pictures I'd like to take and post of at least my new hydroplanes, and perhaps some of the Cowpens minis as well.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Preparing for Enfilade

With Enfilade next week, I've been trying to get as much as possible done in the evenings to do my share of the planning preparation, as well as readying my games for the big hoedown.

I'm responsible for all the pre-registration prep, and this year I agreed to take on making the name tags for pre-registration. I finished that last night, only to realize that the font size I used was too small. Because I saved 'em as PDF's I couldn't simply change the fonts, so I actually re-did them all. I hate myself. My next big chore is to double-check the front desk volunteers and see if or where there are holes.

Last night I finally put to bed all the Cowpens miniatures. I rebased the highlanders, and magnetized the bases on the all the cavalry figures, highlanders, and Continental infantry. I still need to update the rules and charts a bit, and I need to write up the scenario stuff for both sides, but that is a project very nearly complete.

My last big must-do gamewise is painting and basing some Action Stations minis. Really not much to that, just enough to keep me busy for a few hours over a couple of nights. I have five mostly PT boats to finish. It's the basing that is time consuming.

On Sunday I finished Dave Demick's Miss B and I and my Miss Pay 'n Save. I just couldn't quite get either of them right. The big block numbers on B and I completely eluded me. Pay 'n Save went better. It's a beautiful boat with a dark hull and interesting accents. I've begun two more boats that I'd like to have for the convention. Dave wants Gayle 5, and I'm going to do the first Miss Madison (1962) which has some beautiful coloring. Unfortunately the latter has a very oddly shaped tail that I haven't quite gotten right, but I don't know if I ever will.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Final Cowpens Test-Success at last

Mark Waddington, Gil Fussel, Jr., Scott Abbott and Lawrence Bateman helped me out with my last Cowpens test yesterday. I made some changes based on our last go-round about five weeks ago. We agreed that the conditions of the battle were, in fact, difficult to reproduce. It's not surprising-often battles turn on such small chances, it's those little things that generate such interest. At Cowpens, Tarleton turned out to be a rash commander, rushing into battle without reconnaissance, not knowing that he was facing a considerable militia force with just enough backbone to beat his brains in. However the mechanics of allowing a large American militia force to retire safely from the battlefield in the face of an advancing enemy, returning again to fight, is difficult to re-create.

After our last playtest-which was so discouraging, I put the advice of others into action. The Americans were able to fight their second line off the table and return, while the cavalry did arrive on the flank of the British and administer a crushing defeat. Though enough of the Brits were present to retreat a chunk of their troops off the table-avoiding the Tarleton calamity. However, with most of the British cavalry gone and the American horse relatively intact, it might have been a nasty show for the little force.

In any case I'm looking forward to Enfilade and trying the game for real. I need to finish up some troops, and make some modifications to the rules and the tables, but I'm much further along than I was afraid I might be. Thanks to Mark, Scott, Lawrence, and Gil.

My Desk is a Mess

I'm sure you all have this problem from time to time. You work in a small space, and you have far more crap than you can easily manage. I've also managed to distract myself innumerable times with a variety of different projects and activities. Hence my desk is just damned messy right now.

I inherited my game space from my youngest son when he moved into the bigger bedroom eight years ago. It's 8' X 8' so the name game room is a bit of a misnomer. It's nowhere near big enough to play games in. It's really just my work space. I have my painting table and all my supplies here. To the right of the table is a large closet, which has a lot of storage. I keep almost all my unpainted figures here. Across the table, which you can see, is a bookcase with all my Ospreys, rulebooks, and other game related writing--some history books too.

Usually I amuse myself with movies while I'm painting. I've got the DVD racks against the wall, and like everything else, they've overflowed to other areas. I love to watch BookTV on CSPAN-2 on the weekends, especially since the Mariners are in the proverbial death spiral to the bottom of the American League and are difficult to watch today-down 8-2 to the hated Yankees. Lorri bought me a 36" HDTV a couple of months ago--bigger wouldn't fit in this space, and that was a nice upgrade.

I have too many things on my desk at the moment. The white pile of 15mm figures is an Anglo-Norman DBA army awaiting paint--has been for months. I have some of the Bronze Age 25mm Martian heroes range (I know they don't actually call them that-there is a copyright issue) The figures I'm working on and desperately hope to finish soon are the redcoated 17th Light Dragoons. I need these for my Cowpens scenario at Enfilade.

What does your painting space look like?