Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Deadline Weeks are Hard!

We're on deadline this week. I know I use that phrase sometimes, but what does it mean? As a newspaper adviser it means that one week per month we're working hard to get the paper designed and laid out and get it to the publisher. That's chiefly done by my five student editorial board. How does that affect me? I'm the last editor, so I'm busy reading stories. I'm not a designer, though I'd like to learn to use the software so I can help students as they encounter problems.

It does mean some late nights. Last night I left school at 9:00, tonight it will be 10:00, and tomorrow it will be later. It means I have less time to paint, read, sleep, correct papers-you name it. Other restrictions go with the territory too. For the second year in a row, I'll be unable to attend Trumpeter Salute because the state journalism convention is on the same weekend. The latter is something my students really enjoy because of the classes and write off competitions. I love Salute because I get to see my friends, play some games with Doug and spend the weekend in Burnaby.

So, I'll try to squeeze a few minutes of painting here and there. I'm nearly done with the figures for my three small battalions of Washington D.C. militia. I hoped to have them done last weekend, but no such luck. After that I have six HYW figs I want to paint, eight Space 1889 guys, before focusing on Lewis and Clark. I'm also in the middle of drafting some rules for an L and C skirmish game. I'll post pics when I get done.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Tarleton's Quarter Revisited

As I mentioned last week, I've just finished Matthew Springs book, "With Zeal and With Bayonets Only." Springs' work is intended to dispel commonly held beliefs about the formations, and battlefield philosophy of the British army during the American Revolution.

I think there are some basic points that Springs makes that can be easily be summed up in a little list:
1. The British generally fought in open formations with spacing of 18 inches between files rather than the Continental norm of 6 inches. This allowed them to move more quickly through difficult terrain, but made it more difficult to effectively dress lines and and maneuver with other regiments. There are exceptions to this rule, but they are few. American regiments also tended to fight in these formations.
2. Light infantry units tended to be the numbero uno elite regiments. These troops, nicknamed "bloodhounds" were the most active, usually operated on a flank, and in the absence a cavalry arm, became the pursuit force after a broken or retreating enemy.
3. British units in the American Revolution generally did not volley with American untis. It was first fire and then charge with the bayonet.
4. In the American Revolution, the first fire was terrifically important. Because it was typically the best loaded round in a firefight, it would be the best prepared. One great volley fired in defense could completely undo a bayonet charge, as at Cowpens.

In my own rules set for AWI, Tarleton's Quarter, it presumed that the British formations at Cowpens were not unusual. Springs states that they were common, and the British only rarely adopted close order. This may mean a rethinking of the rules, and perhaps eliminate the need for them. I am considering ordering a copy of British Grenadier, which is wildly popular. If they don't do the trick, I may instead go back to Loose Files, which at least treats the unique conditions of fighting a war in America as a unique experience.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

ConQuest '09

Today I went off to the fourth ConQuest NW. I didn't go happily. I hadn't gotten much buzz about the convention. It's large, multi-genre and frankly those cons are pretty risky. I agreed to run Thunderboats!, but would there be anyone to play it? What would happen after that? I agreed to play in Chris Ewick's DBA open tournament, but I really didn't want to? Finally, and not least, I've been incredibly busy on the weekends the last six weeks or so, and honestly I just needed some down time. I slept about four and half hours, and left the house a seriously unhappy camper.

Fortunately, the best part about conventions is seeing folks I really enjoy, and today was no different. Thunderboats! is a great convention game. I ran five guys through a one heat race in the morning and then participated in a three heat race myself later in the day. It was fun. Randy O'Bannon and his friend Nate, Bill Vanderpool, Mike Snively and I wended our way through three heats. I blew my engine in both of the first two heats, but did manage to finish the final in Miss Spokane. It was fun. There were many nitrous bottles purchased, some of which lit their boats on fire like so many flaming torches.

Another pleasant surprise was a game that I took part in for the late afternoon. Andy Hooper ran a DBA extension game of the Boxer Rebellion. It took a bit of getting used to, avoiding the temptation to melee as a colonial commander. Once I was able to get used to playing a firepower game-as well as a catastrophic string of rolling the dreaded numero uno-it went pretty well. I liked the game, and may investigate what it would take to do something similar for ACW in 15mm or 25mm.

I did run into folks I knew, Gabe Vega, Ed Texeira, Mark Verdeck and others. By the time I left around 4:00 I was exhausted, but was glad I went. Came home and took a nap.

Monday, January 12, 2009

RAFM Figures Arrive: So What?

Hey my first order of the year arrived in the mail today. They are RAFM Space 1889 minis I bought in December for the sale. Why is this important at all? I've declared the new frugality this year, and I'm anxious to see if I have more self control than a starving man locked in a pizza parlor.

I've started working out, and trying to watch what I eat, and I'm hoping this can be part of a larger picture of self-control. It's January 12th-so far so good

Friday, January 09, 2009

New Years Blahs

I can't say 2009 is off to a roaring start. I've pretty much stuck to some personal goals of painting for at least and hour a day. I've gotten some War of 1812 figures done, and am presently making progress on a militia unit for Space 1889. I haven't ordered any new figures, or spent any money on anything I don't need.

However, I haven't done any gaming either. I missed out on Drumbeat last weekend because I helped Casey move. I am going to ConQuest on the 17th, but I confess a lack of enthusiasm. The most lively game activity I'm presently involved with is the Space 1889 campaign, but even that is covered by the Shastapsh blog. Go figure.

I have read two great books that are related to two of my projects. The first is Alexander deConde's This Affair of Louisiana. De Conde wrote the book some thirty years ago during that "blame America" episode, explaining that America throughout its history has been an imperialist nation. One can do whatever one wants with that, but the importance of the book is that it laid out the seriousness of the diplomatic and potential military conflict between the United States and Spain over Louisiana, New Orleans, and its disputed border. It firmly establishes a basis for a series of hypothetical scenarios from 1794 to 1807 or so.

The second book I'm actually not finished with, With Zeal and Bayonets Only: The British Army on Campaign in North America, by Matthew Springs. I'm about a third of the way through its 300 pages. It is a scholarly analysis of the British army and its performance in the American Revolution. Springs discusses war aims, strategies and tactics, and I'm hoping he'll make clear the kinds of formations the British used. Particularly I'm hoping he'll clarify my question whether the British widely used the kinds of open formations Tarleton employed at Cowpens throughout the Southern campaign.

Thursday, January 01, 2009


Gosh, it's the first post of the New Year and time to set some goals.

My first goal is to stay on task. No new projects, regular blog posts, at least one game to write about per month. That's not always easy, but I'll do my best.

Stick to the projects I am really interested in:
  1. Space 1889-in terms of projects supported by a bunch of folk, this is by far my most active project. I also cover this with my other blog, The Shastapsh Chronicles, so I'll try not to belabor that here. I've ordered my last figures for this project, and hope to wrap it up this year.
  2. War of 1812-this is a project that I've done with Doug Hamm, but I really only have Americans and a few Brits painted. I have a lot of unpainted figures, including unpainted Brits, I'd I like to have enough painted figures to host my own games when Doug isn't in town or I'm not in Canada.
  3. Lewis and Clark and a hypothetical war with Spain 1794-1807/Anthony Wayne's Legion. These go together because American regulars wore the same uniform during this period. I have a lot of semi-militia looking figures for this period, I also have lots of woodland Indians painted-surely I can paint what I have, decide on a set of rules and host a game or two. This period has the most potential for figure growth during the year. I'll try to keep it to something that isn't willy-nilly.
  4. AWI-I still have some unpainted figures and I would very much like to build on the success of Cowpens. There are a couple of brand new books on the war in the South that I'll blather on about in a future blog post that directly relate to this game project and the future of Tarleton's Quarter.
  5. The Hundred Years War-I've taken a respectful little break from these and I anticipate painting more of the hundreds and hundreds of unpainted knights and etc., toward my Medieval Warfare/FOG and Arrowstorm armies.
There-stay on message as the political campaigns say. I've also reset my painting log for the year.

Oh, and one more thing. I'd like to thank each and every one of you who have stopped by to read these posts. I don't think this blog is anything particularly special. It's an opportunity for me to blather on about my little part in this fairly odd and wonderful hobby. But I thank you for taking the time to check in.