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.