Monday, May 31, 2010

Enfilade: The Games I Played

I rarely have an opportunity to play in many (any) games at Enfilade. I'm not complaining, it's just a fact. I am a convention organizer and my responsibilities often keep me busy and I'm usually running a fistful of games. This year I cut back my games by one to three, and made some early decisions about the games I wanted to play in.

The first game was a Hundred Years War game hosted by Chris Craft. His troops are mounted like my own figures in my massed figure project. They're all Perry figures and very nicely painted. The scenario was very fun. I was an English player and the scenario was intended to be a prologue to Agincourt. Things didn't go very well for the English. There were no prepared positions, and we had to fight an overwhelming number of French knights. I commanded a longbow unit and small band of Irish kerns on the far flank. We just couldn't quite inflict enough damage on the frogs to slow them down or shake them before contact and eventually we just got squashed. Our center was broken, Henry V was killed rallying troops, and England was plunged back into a dynastic war. Gack! I have a copy of the rules and really wanted to play Chris's game and try out the rules. I enjoyed both and had a good time.

Saturday afternoon I played Lawrence Bateman's wonderful little Ambush on the White Rose game. It was a game modeling the Northwest Indian War fought on both sides of the state in the late 1850's. A four player game, there was enough for everyone to do without being overwhelming. It's also played with the Brother Against Brother rules, which I own, but have only played once.

I commanded Lt. August Kautz's squad of U.S. regulars campaigning up on the White River in 1855. Kautz was separated from the rest of his unit and was trapped in some deadfall along the river, badly outnumbered by Indians. While a relief force marched to his rescue, Kautz was forced to shoot it out with the natives. Lawrence noted that the Indians were reluctant to come to grips with the regulars, and chose to shoot it out instead with their indifferent trade muskets. While the regulars had percussion smoothbores and were better shots, it was still difficult to be outnumbered.

I liked how the rules handled shooting on a such a small scale. Either you move, shoot, or load and the firing was simple and straight forward. Not exceptionally bloody. Because the game was fought in the rain (what else?) we also had a chance of muskets fouling. In any case we shot a lot at each other, but I realized that I was going to have problems if I didn't start moving for safety. Supported by another company of regulars firing across the river, I gradually made my way to the ford across the White River. I lost scads of guys but had lots of fun doing it.

Unfortunately I only have pics taken of the White River game. You can see my little command surrounded on three sides by surly natives, surrounded by lots of gunsmoke. The picture on the far left shows my much smaller command hiding in some cover, ducking behind another unit, which very shortly will run away . . . leaving me alone again naturally.

Believe it or not all photos were taken with my iPhone.

Enfilade: An Overview

This is the first of several entries about Enfilade 2010. Just a quick, wordy snapshot.

First, it was a great weekend for the convention, because the weather was just crap. I can't imagine being a family that regularly camps over Memorial Day, because I think I would have been home by 5:00 on Friday. We had about 250 attendees make their way to Olympia through the rain and execrable traffic from various parts of the northwest.

There were lots of great games. I actually made time to play in a couple of them. I loved Chris Craft's wonderful Hundred Years War game using the Crusader Rules as well as Lawrence Bateman's equally great Northwest Indian War game that takes place on the White River near present day Buckley.

My own games went very well. The Friday Night Thunderboats! game was a hoot as always. Saturday night I re-ran the Alcalde's Daughter. I knew all the players and everyone seemed to have a good time. The Sunday Gold Cup Race I really liked, though it was pretty long. All the participants said it was worth it though.

More articles with pictures to follow.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Thank God it's Enfilade

This morning I head south for Enfilade. It's a perfect weekend for it. The weather is crappy with a capital crap. Lots of great things about this year. First, I have today, Friday off. No snow days, and the district usually reserves this as a snow make-up day. So, unlike last year, I didn't have to head down after school was out.

My job is to organize and manage the registration desk while still trying to run and play some games and have a good time. I've never been so organized as this year, though doubtless I've forgotten something. Nevertheless things look pretty good, so I'm hoping our set-up goes well.

Looking forward to seeing Doug. I'll try to talk him into walking the floor and deciding best of show tomorrow morning. I'm running three games, but two are hydroplane racing, so they aren't too stressful. The third is the Alcalde's Daughter game in Mexico I wrote about in March. Looking forward to that.

I'm dragging along my camera, but may just resort to using my phone.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Trenches Full of Figures

Just a quick entry to follow up my last. These are some quick photos of the finished trenches with figures. My intent was to provide the sense of "hey these are trenches!" on the cheap. I think they serve my purpose.

The two close ups are of the MacKenzie-Papineau battalion of the International Brigades. The shot of three trenches shows the Mac-Paps, the Abraham Lincoln Battalion on a regular Republican battalion.

They seem just right to me.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Entrenchments on the cheap

When I was a kid growing up I had some of the cool Who, Why Wonderbooks on various topics. I had one on rockets, another on dinosaurs, but my favorite was on World War II (of course.) The books were written for eight year olds with lots of pictures, big topic headers and writing easy enough for wee folk to read. My book mentioned the Spanish Civil War as a practice ground for WWII.

That was sort of true with more battlefield movement through the widespread use of tanks and aircraft. However there was also more than a little use of entrenchments. Though the war did not become the bloody stalemate of the Great War, no Spanish Civil War battlefield should be without trenches.

For the last year I've been promising myself some ways to come up with entrenchments. I've looked a the JR entrenchments. They are very nice and not super expensive. They have the advantage of being very flexible and expandable, but at $25 for eighteen inches of front, it was more than I wanted to spend. Company B has a real nice set of entrenchments, with great detail, though probably more for 28mm than my 15's, and pretty pricey.

No I decided I could do this myself. I am scratch building them. True confession--I hate making terrain. I'm not imaginative. I'm not good at it. It wastes valuable painting time. But in my new year of frugal gaming, it was the only way I was going to justify entrenchments for my 15mm battlefield.

I started with a simple trip to Michaels for 12" X 4" plywood and strips of basswood. The plywood was heavy enough to make a good base and thick enough not to warp. The basswood was dense enough not splinter when being cut.

I started by designing the dimensions of the entrenchment. I wanted something that could easily bear an 11 stand battalion of infantry on 1 X 1 bases, so I designed single battalion entrenchments with refused flanks. Orwell discusses these in Homage to Catalonia.

I drilled holes at the corners of each turn to sink corner posts. I also sank a post in the center (sort of) of each long straight section. I just used 3/16 " mini dowels, also available at Michaels.

Step three was to put together a framework for the trenches. No entrenchment for the game table quite looks like it's supposed to--trenches sunk into the ground. They have to fool the observer into believing the structure is a trench, even though it's above table level. I cut basswood into strips, and stacked them three high. Most entrenchments used some kind of timber to provide strength and structure to the fieldwork, so I wanted timberlike material that looked plausible. I assembled the structure with CA glue-that seemed to do the trick.

The hardest choice to make was the material to simulate the earth outside the trench structure. I've made similar earthworks before only to be disappointed when the base warped. I considered three substances. First was Celluclay, which is a form of papier mache. It looks earthiest, I've used it before, and I have some. However, it takes too long to dry, and the worst warping I've ever gotten in my efforts is with this stuff. Too wet. I also considered wood putty. Doug Hamm uses this for his basing and his stuff looks great. But Mark Waddington suggested modeling paste by Liquitex. It's an acrylic compound, and I've had lots of success with other Liquitex products. They dry fast, I can stir paint right in with the paste. So I tried that. I applied it with some artists tools and sprinkled some ballast and turf from Woodland Scenics over the top and voila.

I figured I paid about $12 for the three unit sized entrenchments. I finished three last night and hope to do three more today.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

A Better May

April was a down month for painting. Things got out of control early with trial practice. Lorri and I took a little vacation early in the month. All my effort went in to finishing my hydroplanes. When I got those finished, there was more trial prep, closing arguments, all of which demanded my time. I spent most of the rest of the month just reading, and that was fine.

My figure count sits at 194 for the year. Not great, but I still have averaged 48 figures per month for the year for the year. That's enough to get me to my goals of 500-600 figures for the year. Production will go up during the summer too.

I also made my first purchase of the year. I bought 88 15mm Peter Pig Spanish Civil War figures. It's enough for me to complete two battalions of Requetes (Carlist) militia, and two battalions of Republican regulars as they were reorganized. I won't buy any more until these figures are done, but SCW really has my attention right now. It's an interesting period, the figures paint up fast and the game is fun. I've had lots of inquiries since I ran it last August.

On the painting table:
12 28mm HYW horse-sort of a loose agglomeration of routier types led by a knight. Foundry figures I believe
4 15mm SCW artillerists and two 65mm infantry guns. They're FOW Italians, but they're going to be Nationalists. Infantry guns were attached to the Tabor brigades (Spanish Foreign Legion and Moroccans) moved fast, and were very effective.