Monday, April 25, 2011

Stuck Fast

I don't have much new to report.  It's sad I know.  I've been painting, but verrrryyyy sssllloowwllyy. I'm working on figures for the Hobkirk's Hill game, all Perry figures.  I finished the King's Provincial Regiment, and I don't have much left to do to wrap up--just some guns and gunners, a couple of limbers an ammunition wagon and a couple of British officers.  I did manage to finish one limber and horses as well as the British gunners. I've started on the American gunners, but the guns aren't done and, well, I know you can count.  Lots of stuff has gotten in the way--the trip to Anaheim, I'm stressed out about our deadline week in which seniors don't seem to want to work, and, I hate to say it, yardwork all day Saturday.  Thankfully I still have about four weeks to finish the figures and playtest the game. 

Pictures of some finished stuff soon.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Headed to points south

Thursday is the day I take some of my journalism kids down to the National Student Press Association convention in Anaheim.  It will be nice to get some sun-supposed to be in the 80's.  It will be a nice change given that my classroom is still freezing and I'm wearing sweaters to school most days.  Seems silly for April.  Of course we had snow here last week so what do I know.

 So I'll be away until Sunday.  The good news is that I did finally finish the last full unit I need for Hobkirk's Hill.  They still need to be based, which won't happen until next week.  I still have guns, gunners, limbers and a few other goodies to finish, but nothing major.  Seemed like the King's Provincial Regiment has been on my painting table since the first of the year.  Probably because they have.

Off to Anaheim.  You know what that means . . . a trip to the Happiest Place on Earth.  I know you were thinking Brookhurst Hobbies, which is pretty close, but I am without wheels and I don't know any students who would like to go with me.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Sluys Playtest

On Saturday I met with Dave Schueler and Mark and Joe Waddington at Daveshoe's house to try out Sluys.  I decided to play the scenario straight out of the box as it appears in David Manley's Medieval Fleet Battles rules.  I put together some quick sheets and hauled my ships up to West Seattle.

(Note, if you would like a copy of the Medieval Fleet Battles rules, which include the Sluys scenario, David is willing to send a pdf.  Just contact him at dm dot at dot dstl @ btinternet dot com  .)

 I set up the game so the English began within 6" of the French.  I allowed the French to configure their three squadrons in the order they wished explained their positions shifted two inches to right against the shoals of Cadzand island.  This was a historical occurrence that badly tangled the French deployment according to HYW historian, Jonathan Sumption.  It also left a gap for the English to move to and through. I gave the English the option of the cannon ship offered in the scenario and they accepted that. I also provided that the English would always be player A--given they were the attackers, and the French adopted such a defensive stance.
The English have covered the French front and are moving around the French left.  The closest cog, however, has run onto the shoal and will remain stuck there for some time.

Both players found the artillery exchanges were largely useless. Very few hits were made.  The French did well on their command rolls and usually were able to pull their damage.  Missile fire was a bit more successful, but not so much to offset the French close combat bonus.
Another view of the two fleets coming together

The English moved to the French left flank, but had difficulty making progress. With the French close combat superiority, it was challenging to get enough pluses to make a difference.  As turn four rolled around the French unchained their third squadron and moved to the attack. The English were stuck and not much good was happening.  The three galleys, with their superior boarding factors really made a difference, making short work of a trio of medium cogs.  When the Flemish appeared on turn 10, they were immediately confronted by three medium French cogs, and rather than turning the tide against their enemies, the Flemings found themselves fighting for their lives.
Turn seven.  The French third squadron is loose the galleys are beating up on the English flanking force.

At about turn 12 the pizza arrived and we called a halt to the festivities and debriefed the game.  We agreed on some changes and tried those out.  We made it more difficult to pull damage chits and gave the English a +1 boarding factor for this battle.  There were historical justifications for the changes that give the English a bit more of an edge, at least the opportunity to follow up on their missile successes. In the end, as with the historical battle of Sluys, the artillery and distance shooting is nice, but the battle had to be won with the sword. With the French close combat advantage, and the number of their supports that was going to be very difficult. 

 I think everyone had a good time and are anxious for another try.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Getting Serious: The French fleet at Sluys

We're about eight weeks out from Enfilade and my first project is pretty close to ready to go.  The Sluys game is finished.  I wrapped up the French last Saturday before my trip to La Conner.  Tomorrow I take the French and English up to Dave Schueler's house and we playtest with Mark and Joe Waddington.

 The action takes place in an enclosed roadstead at the mouth of the River Zwin, and there is a fair amount of land to represent.  I used the map from Fighting Techniques of the Medieval World, by Matthew Bennett, Kelly DeVries and others, a book which I've found regularly disappointing, but pretty helpful for this battle.  The map shows a fair amount of land representing the Zwin estuary and bay, the island of Cadzand and northern headland.

The game is tough to scale.  David Manley wrote his rules for 1/1200 ships on 30mm square bases and planned for a DBA 3' square table.  I'm facing a couple of different problems.  I'm looking at a convention game on an 8' X 5' table.  Sheer aesthetics require more complete use of that space.  My ships are small, medium and large and are unscaled.  They all have a 40mm frontage, but are 30mm, 40mm, and 60mm long respectively. They take up more room.  How much more room? Well, we'll find out how much tomorrow.  Dave has an 8' X 5' game table which I can cover with my 10' X 6' felt mat, will lay the terrain over top and see what I need.

I took advantage of Jo-Ann Fabrics' felt sale and bought some green and blue.  The green represents the land and the blue represents the shallows.  They will almost certainly come into play.  I hot-glued the blue and green pieces together, but it was pretty messy and left quite a bit of residue.  If the pieces seem to be scaled properly, I may remake them and glue them with fabric glue.
All the land elements are seen on the table.  I may draw Cadzand Is. out more from the shore with the wider table.

 The pictures of the French fleet show their array for the battle.  It's always a challenge to determine command vessels, so I gave Behuchet's (the French commander) cog Christopher a sail with the Oriflamme.  The cross of St. Denis appears on the squadron commander's sail.  The French first line is very long, with each line subsequently shorter.  Only four cogs and three galleys in the last line.
French in battle array.  The galleys are clearly visible on the right of third line.

 For all intents and purposes, Sluys is complete.  It's been a very satisfying project from start to finish, and I hope the playtest goes well tomorrow.