Sunday, January 30, 2011


Yesterday was the annual Drumbeat gathering held in Seattle each January.  This year it was in a new location, the Lake City Community Center, and a little later in the month which attracted a few more bodies. I really liked the new space and saw lots of friends I don't normally get to see except at Enfilade.
28mm Napoleonics using the Black Powder rules.
Dave Schueler and I hosted our Airwar C21 game.  It was just our second playing of the game, and I gotta say I just liked it more. We didn't have a ton of players, just Dale, Larry and Denny.  I helped run the Taiwanese, and Dave ran the Taiwanese frigate. Four RoC planes and ship vs. six PLAF bombers and six PLAF fighters.  We upgraded the the Chinese J-8's to include radar guided missiles, and that paid off.  One of Denny's RoC Chin Kuo's was shot down outright and one had to be abandoned by its pilot.  Nevertheless, all of the PLAF Fantans were shot down before they reached the frigate.
Larry and Dale plot their attack on the RoC frigate in a game of Airwar C21

A look at the advancing PLAF from my Taiwanese Mirage 2000.  Each of my planes shot down an adversary and excaped unscathed. (There's a first time for everything.)

A pair of Larry's J-8's overflies Denny's burning Chin-Kuo

I think what impressed me most about the game is that there is the potential of considerable maneuver in the missile age.  We were all launching left and right, but they didn't all hit or even lock on.  The ease of play made the game a very good time.  David Manley et al should be congratulated for writing a fun, very playable set of rules.  I've got an idea percolating for a Cuba 1962 scenario.

In the afternoon I ran my Lewis and Clark game.  It was my first game running a Brother against Brother game. I was really inspired to try this by Lawrence Bateman's Northwest Indian War game at Enfilade last year.  I thought it was really great and was perfect for the size of my scenario.

 How did my game go?  Well, it wasn't god awful, but let's just say Lewis and Clark didn't make it to the Pacific.  The Americans had problems with die rolls.  Shooting, moving, you name it, the Americans didn't have much luck moving back to the keelboats, or not far enough ahead of the Spanish.  On the other hand, the Spanish rolled extremely well, shooting, moving, you name it. Hmm, sounds like a pattern.

Spanish troops crossing the Missouri River bank before they attack the Corps of Discovery's boats.

Bruce Meyer, a Brother against Brother veteran had some great suggestions for future scenarios, and I'll have to give them a try.  They were excellent.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Show and Tell: The block 10 cogs completed

I put the finishing touches on my first batch o' cogs.  This is the finished project.  I painted the beads, er, fighting tops simple colors.  The hulls are pretty basic.  Tried dry-brushing them, though it isn't my long suit, and I think I'll need to find a better dry-brush color.  I really like the sails, even the plain ones, because it adds something too them, including disguising some of the masts that didn't quite end up perpendicular.

I put them on Litko bases.  They're actually modified Litko bases that began life as 80mm X 40mm and were chopped in half.  I painted them Ceramcoat Midnight blue, added a little foam, and coated with Liquitex gloss gel--miraculous stuff.

I've begun working on the block 20 cogs with the properly faced bow and stern castles.  I hope to have them up to view next week.  Consider the block 10 vessels a down payment on the Battle of Sluys.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Cogs: Work in Progress

After reading over David Manley's comments, and taking a look at my 28mm cogs, he is correct, the fighting platforms should be reversed.  Too late for these fellows.  I like to call them my block 10 cogs.  A step beyond my prototype, but with improvements to be made on future models. 

I'll be painting the vessels and gluing the  sails tonight.  I'll have to see if the sails are worth the trouble.  At least the sails should distract the viewer from the silly castle problems.

 Also on the learning curve, the large cogs seem too long and thin at 2" X 3/4".   The small cogs seem too tiny at 1"  Don't quite know whether I should just call a do-over on these or not.  I did cut some larger hulls at 2" X 1" which seem more reasonable.

The video is just kind of silly, a lot of me talking and not showing much in a very useful way I'm afraid.  Yes, my den is very messy-you don't even see the worst of it.  Final update on the block 10 cogs soon. 

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Bug that bites you.

Painting figures and working on projects are hard work.  It takes money, time, dealing with a certain amount of tedium and the mental toughness to persevere a project through to completion.  I don't have all that.  I have to "walk away" from what I'm working on from time to time just keep moving forward on my painting goals--which is always to paint a lot.

 I promised myself no new projects.  I lied. Sort of.  One of the big deterrents to taking on new projects is cost.  I rattled on a couple of weeks ago about cog wars.  I truly believe I've found scratchbuilding, in this case, to be the antidote to the cost of taking on this project.  Deadline also broke my concentration on the AWI unit I was working on, and yesterday, my first day of not not working on the paper  in over a week, imbued me with enough energy to focus my attention on the mass production of English cogs for the Hundred Years War.

 Here is my improved prototype.  I've added a sternpost and a small bowsprit, as well as a crow's nest for the mast top.  The stern post is just a chunk of flat toothpick.  The bowsprit a bit of brass wire, and the crow's nest a simple bead.  Given the scale I think they all work.  The production models will be a bit different.  The forecastle will be smaller at Daveshoe's suggestion.  The mast will be the same height, but the yard will be raised higher and will be thicker-brass wire the same thickness as the bowsprit.  I'm at sea about sails (pun intended.)  I will probably try to determine if it is worth the effort. 

If I can retain some momentum on this I'd like to finish 15ish vessels this week to show off at Drumbeat on the 29th.  Dave and I are hosting at an Airwar C 21 game, and I've agreed to pull my Lewis and Clark project out of the box and host a game using the Brother Against Brother rules.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Wrapping up the Indians

Tonight I finished my first figures of the new year.  The remaining 22 Indian figures are done.  I'm going to be moving on to the RAFM Martian askaris.  These are nice, if very tall, figures.  They were the first of the post-Bob Murch sculpts for the range and a worthy addition.  It would be great if there. 

The Old Glory figures are pretty simple and generic.  Nice sculpts and cleanly molded.  There are three different turban types, though none of them are super.  I wish the rifles had bayonets.  Anyway, I put them in khaki with some color distinctions to tell the difference.  I have the unit with red turbans inspired by pictures of Madras infantry in the 1890's.  I gave one unit a green turban tassle and green cuffs, inspired by an Osprey plate.  The last is a group with the tall turban/fez which I colored blue with blue turban tassle-simply out of my imagination.  These were fun and fairly quick to paint.  I especially liked painting the distinctive officers.  Two of them come out of the RAFM Victorian Adventurers pack.  The other is a Parroom Station officer.

I really like the Martian colonial figures.  There are two different figures plus a Martian NCO.  I've painted them up in rifle green for the Parhoon Rifles.  Still a ways to go on them. The officer is a colonial artillery officer by Old Glory.  He'll be in red trousers with red facings.  Color, ya gotta love color.

I have a second unit of the askaris, but am short a couple of figures.  This, of course, prompted my first miniature order of the year--two more askaris and ten sword wielding Martians to serve as tribesmen types.  Probably my last figures for this genre for a while.  I still have more Space 1889 figures to paint, but I'll continue to whittle away at them in 2011.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Gah!! Deadline's got me.

I'm in the middle of the first deadline of the year.  On a Friday night no less. It's actually been a couple of fun weeks of painting which I can honestly say I've had very few of the past few months.  Maybe I'm just getting used to wearing those cheaters.  In any case, I'm hoping to have some pictures of completed Indians and the Parhoon Rifles. to share this weekend.

My current painting subjects are the The King's Loyalist regiment.  16 nice little Perry figures that should go fairly fast--whenever I get the time.  If I can finish these guys fairly quickly I'm going to spend the rest of the month working on cogs.  I think I can mass produce a fair number of them quickly and I'm really looking forward to trying it. with some of the suggestions I've heard.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Scratchbuilding Cogs

What's a cog?  No not those, you've been watching too many episodes of the Jetsons.  Cogs were medieval warships, as ungainly as they sound.  Typically they were the simple clinker built merchant vessels planked over front and rear with raised fighting platforms.  Some were big--120 tons--some were small--30 tons--all were tubs.  Big tubs, small tubs, medium sized tubs.  They were difficult to manage in any kind of weather or rough seas.  It could take months or more simply to cross the English Channel.

In any case, after Lepanto and the acquisition of David Manley's medieval naval rules I've been trying to figure out how to acquire enough cogs to game with.  NavWar makes cogs, but they're NavWar, and without pictures to look at I'm skeptical .  Outpost miniatures makes some really nice looking cogs but at three pounds a pop and 50% shipping (!!!!) it doesn't seem feasible to put together a large fleet. Daveshoe and I were mulling this over yesterday and we discussed sizes and building materials.

Today I went to Michaels while out on my errands and picked up some bass wood. The   I purchased enough to make quite a few hulls and a fair number of castles and set to cutting the wood I'd need.  this is my prototype miniatures.  A simple tubby hull 1 1/2 inches X 3/4 inch X 1/4 inch.  I made the base for the castle 3/4" X 3/8"X 1/8" trapezoid.  I cut 1/4" very thin plasticard and cut crenelations in it to represent.  Plastic pole mast with steel wire yard.  Voila.  It probably took me an hour to make, but it would be very easy to mass produce and make eight in an hour using my Dremel tool. 

Interested in your feedback.  Considering I would like about a hundred of these, do you think they're workable?

Play test: Airwar C 21

Today Dave Schueler and I got together at a deserted Game Matrix and pulled out our Airwar: C21 rules and ran through them using my Chinese and Taiwan jets that have laid dormant so many years.

Dave and I have lamented our lack of air games a number times over the past year, and because we already have a lot invested in mats, planes and flight stands for something like Mustangs, we're reluctant to plunge into Check Your Six.  While I'm sure it's a fine system, I'm not wild about sinking another hundred bucks into rules, flight stands, another size hex mat, etc. David Manley is a game designer I truly trust and when I ran across them and discussed them with Dave, it seemed the right thing to do to at least try them out.

Arrived at Game Matrix at 11:00 and found nobody there.  The shop stayed empty most of the time we hung out, about three and a half hours.  Hopefully everyone was just watching the Seahawks game.  It being an air game, things set up quickly.  The scenario was simple: A group of Chinese attack planes (Q-5 Fantans) escorted by J-8 fighters were attacking a Taiwanese frigate and encountered their air defense, a pair of Mirage 2000's that were later joined by a pair of Chin-Kuo indigenous fighters that are rated much like F-16 block 30 export fighters.

 While I was really more interested in walking through the rules than the outcome of the game, the Chinese always have it tough in these games.  They don't have the advanced missile capabilities the Taiwanese do.  Armed with all-aspect infrared missiles they just don't hit very well.  When trading fire with radar guided missiles, the IR 's are always at a disadvantage.  Even so, I had six planes with missiles and Dave's Taiwanese only had four.  Of course they had the ship too, another story.

The game turned out much as expected.  The J-8's couldn't effectively fight off the RoC fighters.  We actually did get into a bit of a dogfight and managed to damage a Chin-Kuo with gunfire.  Missiles got all of my planes.  Sort of.  One of the Fantans actually got through the missile screen, including those fired by the frigate and was about to drop its smart bombs when the ol' radar guided three incher blasted me out of the sky.  Such is life. I think we're set with a scenario for Drumbeat on the 29th.

I found the rules pretty easy.  Scale is variable.  Planes are rated for a maximum speed with maximum allowable turning rated by plane.  Trickier turns are done as maneuvers.  There are seven maneuver choices you can do, and each must be diced for to complete.  All the maneuvers are tricky and require a better than average roll.  Failed maneuvers leave you out of position and a vulnerable target.

 I liked everything about Airwar C21.  If you have a hankering to try some jet combat it's worth your while.