Saturday, July 30, 2011

Jurassic Reich Playtest

I joined Bruce Meyer at his palace of gaming wonder along with the Olympia gamers (which seems to include gamers from all over the South Sound) for a playtest of Jurassic Reich.  Sound a little weird?  Well, weird and wonderful.  While Bruce explained the background details for the game's rationale, I simply can't remember it all. Let's just say that the Germans have found ways to re-animate dino DNA and have bred nasty meat eating critters.  In the scenario the Germans have turned their creations loose against an armored train and its escorts.  The train carries the scientist with all the DNA re-animation information, and is headed to Russia and the caring arms of every Nazi's friend, Uncle Joe Stalin.

The game is simple and straight forward.  Things move, shoot, fight (or eat) and die.  Vehicles and dinos accumulate damage.  The dino riders can shoot.  Alas, the poor foolish Polish cavalry do not.  The flying dinos are pretty nasty and carry bombs, or can dive down on unsuspecting train gunners and guards and gulp them down.  One dino carries a light machine gunner and a 37mm AT gun with a couple of rounds.  They are nasty buggers.  The dino pilots/riders are aided by German glider borne regular infantry.  Their job is to stop the train from leaving the table, while avoiding action that will kill the professor-such as derailing the train, or bombing/destroying/eating the car he's in.

I was one of the lucky Poles.  I commanded the small unit of Polish lancers and a few sub machine gunners riding on the roof of the train, and a Model T based armored car.  Our job was to get the train off the table.  The German dino pilots immediately made that difficult by bombing the tracks.  At first the track trashing was a ways ahead of us.  within a couple of turns the damage occurred much close to us and the train came to a stop.  The train came to a stop--a lot like the jeep came to a stop just before the T-Rex ate the silly lawyer next to Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park.  That was  our lot.  Shoot the hell out of the dinos before they eat you is the name of the game.  My lance armed cavalry vs. the SMG armed dino riders was pretty much a mismatch.  I had little chance of winning a melee, but I was nimble, and could perhaps entice them to chase me away from the marooned train. I mostly missed with the heavy machine gun on the armored car, and once dinos got hold of it, they shook it up pretty good. The train managed to use its assets, a mix of heavy and light machine guns and riflemen to inflict some damage, but a melee attack by the dinos, and fire from the ground and air destroyed must of the train's AA ability. 

Polish planes (oops, forgot to mention those) managed to shoot down one of the stukasauruses, but we were in a fairly bad way when the game ended to debrief the rules.  The rules were fun and playable, but with room to fill them out with more detail once the basic procedures are in place. A good time was had by all.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Dude-Update Your Blog!

I've been back from beautiful Bend for a couple of days.  It was a very enjoyable week with my parents, my sister and her husband, and of course my missus.  We stayed in the resort town of Sunriver, about ten miles south of town, but made our way in to Bend several times.  It's much larger than I remember it, about 90,000, and has some real attractions.  Brew houses galore, a wonderful town to bike around, and a very nice bookstore/game shop, Pegasus Books.  Sorry, board games only.

So, what's happening with those projects I set out at the beginning of summer?  The good news is, despite the 2001 Mariners detour I'm still painting Hallmark 15's.  I've painted four units, though only two of them are painted and flagged.  The British units really don't take that long to do.  No kilts means less work.  The bad news is I have enough figures to paint six more units.  That's more than seems to have served in Scotland during the entire rebellion.  I'm not quite sure what to do with the leftovers.  I'm thinking of painting a couple of units at the Battle of the Boyne.  I also have some cavalry and guns to paint-not loads of either.  I have the feeling that the Highlands was someplace cavalry was sent to die, or at least get off their horses.

The rules I'm using for this period is Bruce Bretthauer's King's War.  They seem pretty easy to play. Choosing rules for the Jacobite Rebellion is difficult.  I don't see any purpose-written rules sets for the Jacobite Rebellion general or the 1689 rising in particular. The Kings War rules at least don't treat the Highlanders the same as North American, South American and African aboriginals like DBR does. 

In any case, the project proceedeth.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Before I leave, an update

Yesterday the Sherco summer baseball tournament was held at my house in Puyallup.  It was a good time though it got started a bit late.  Many of the attendees hadn't been to my house in years, and Bill Nelson had never been here, so I had a couple of phone calls, despite the aid of GPS.

The tournament was set up in a round robin format, with each player playing every other player once.  With six players, that guaranteed everyone five games.  We set up three historical parks-The Kingdome in Seattle, Candlestick Park in San Francisco, and Tiger Stadium in Detroit.  I ran the idea for these choices past Time Barela, one of the participants, who was instrumental in helping with the set-up for the draft and tourney. We chose these ballyards because each had something unique.  First, none were in existence any longer.  The Kingdome was small, a home run hitter's paradise. Candlestick had the notorious wind that could play havoc for pitchers, defenders and right handed hitters. Tiger Stadium, with its right field overhang was another boon to left handers.

Games got under way at about 2:40, about 40 minutes later than anticipated.  Because everyone was fairly rusty with the rules, games lasted about two hours.  At that point we had to make a decision, and we chose to shoot for completing three games rather than five.  The last two games took much less time, about half as long, and we managed to squeeze in some time to eat some of the great food everybody brought.

Everyone seemed to have a good time.  In a drafted league, the players tend to get pretty invested in the success of their team, chiefly because it represents their philosophy of what a team should be.  There were a couple of heated moments about rules interpretations, but mostly it was about the fun and disappointment of seeing their teams win or lose.  Nine games were played, and all but one were pretty close.

How did my team do?  Well, my team started in Candlestick Park and built a 2-0 lead that I held until the 9th when Cliff Lee melted down.  Bill Nelson strung some singles together.  I brought in Mariano Rivera who gave up the game tying runs on another base hit, but snuffed the rally with a double play.  The game remained tied through the 10th inning and was won 3-2 by Alexi Casilla on a wind blown home run.  I was 1-0.

My next game was against Dave Schueler in the Kingdome.  I led off with a hit by the fleet Brett Gardner and stole second.  The next batter was my DH, Johnny Damon who singled.  I tried to score Damon but Dave made a great throw to nail Gardner at the plate.  Bad news, rally ended.  In his half of the first, Dave reached base with five consecutive batters, and I found myself down 3-0.  A home run in the 3rd inning padded that lead.  Though I managed to score a couple of runs, I lost 5-2.

My last game was against Dave Demick, also in the Kingdome.  I got off to an early 2-0 lead, but Dave hung in there.  As we headed into the later innings, Dave managed to score two runs to tie the game at 2-2.  That's where it remained  until the ninth when Dave managed baserunners galore, loading the bases with one out.  A walk-off single scored the winning run.

 I finished the day with one win and two losses.  We're going to try to wrap the series in the near future. The tournament  standings are as follows:

Dave Schueler   3 wins 0 losses
Bill Nelson        2 wins 1 loss
Dave Demick    1 win 2 losses
Tim Barela        1 win 2 losses
Pat Smyth         1 win 2 losses
Kevin Smyth    1 win 2 losses

 Interesting grouping. Unfortunately, I was so busy with the tournament and getting food ready I didn't take pictures.  Dopey me.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

In Search of Summer.

This is a bright sun in a blue sky.  Typical for July 16th even in the drippy, gloomy Northwest.  The sun has been largely absent this year.
 I'm going to be away for a week with the missus searching for that elusive summer sun.  Yup, that picture you see is summer someplace.  Sadly the picture of our Northwest weather is what you see below.  Look like summer to you?  Not to me either.

 We're sharing a house with my family at a resort area called Sun River, near Bend in central Oregon.  Usually a hot spot during July, they are predicting thunder showers for today and tomorrow.  Hmmm.
This was the scene in my from my back deck this morning. 
If the other picture doesn't give an adequate impression of gray, this is facing more easterly, toward Mount Rainier. See any mountain?  Me neither.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Doug Hamm's Solo War of 1812

Doug Hamm is one of my favorite people.  He's funny and smart, and is one of the fastest, most amazing painters I know.  We paint differently.  He uses a black primer method, and I use something akin to more block painting over white primer.  The last couple of years I've begun highlighting a bit, which replaces my old series of washes.  I don't mean to compare our painting techniques too much because Doug is a far superior painter.  In terms of understanding painting technique, dedication to getting the right color, and just doing a better job, Doug is great.

 Doug and I share a period of interest and a project, the War of 1812, that little tiff between the U.S. and British interests in Canada.  Which I suppose is only appropriate because I'm American and Doug is Canadian. I have a few hundred figures painted and a few hundred more unpainted.  Doug has pretty close to a thousand painted figures.  We started out wanting to focus on the 1814 Niagara campaign, but it sprouted into different directions.  Doug has taken on Crysler's Farm and the broader order of battle from the later campaign, as well as units from New Orleans.  I've gotten more interested in the 1813-14 Chesapeake campaign, though nearly all of my Brits remain unpainted. 

Our big problem, of course, is distance.  We are about 150 miles apart, and usually only see each other at Enfilade.  However we do stay in touch by e-mail and Doug follows this blog.  Because his house is big enough for a good sized game space, Doug does some solo gaming with his War of 1812 guys.  Today he sent me pics of a scenario based on the ACW battle of Corinth.  I've include pics from his scenario.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Dressed to the Nines Website back up

Yesterday when I was moderating comments, reader Timothyf35 indicated that while he was interested in the project the Dressed to the Nines website was down.  I had immediate fears the Baseball Hall of Fame who hosts the website and database may have taken the site down. 

 Dressed to the Nines is based on a the work of baseball historian Marc Okkonen.  In 1993 Okkonen published a unique and beautiful book on baseball uniforms in the 20th century.  When the HOF folks published the color plates in collaboration with Okkonen, they kept the uniform database continually updated. 

The really good news is the site is up and working again, so those of you who may have an interest in doing something with baseball miniatures have access to this wonderful site. 

Thanks to for covering one of my more unique projects.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Osprey's The Great Chevauchee

I finally broke down and ordered this book from Osprey's Raid series.  Frankly, most of the titles have little interest for me, but this story of John of Gaunt's 1373 mission of plunder into France held my attention.  I have hundreds of singly mounted Hundred Years War figures, and author David Nicolle suggests numerous semi skirmish possibilities for their use.  Nicolle is a veteran Osprey medieval historian and he doesn't disappoint with this interesting account of what began as an invasion of France in the "down" years, when France was reclaiming many of England's conquests during the reign of Charles V. 

Nicolle provides details of the preparations for the raid, as well as the activities of the chevauchee itself.  Drawing on the newly available databases from English archives revealed in Anne Curry's Agincourt: A New History, Nicolle is able to put some numbers to the raid, as well as information about supply.  What isn't available is John of Gaunt's, Edward III's son, thoughts about the expedition he was planning.

The book is different than a Men at Arms book, or even a Campaign book, though it is does include some color illustrations and maps.  Nicolle's writing is clear and his research is impeccable.  This book fills in a big gap in our knowledge of this period between the Treaty of Bretigny (1360) and the descent of both France and England into indifferent royal leadership and civil war.  It shows that Col. Burne was incorrect when he stated that during the is period "Nothing worthy of the name of battle was ever fought. . . The war is rather lacking in military interest , for there was remarkably little actual fighting."

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

2001 Mariners

The batter figure is right-handed, as are all the Reviresco figures.  I painted him as designated hitter  Edgar Martinez, the best right-handed hitter on the 2001 Mariners, or any other team for that matter.
 This is my rendition of the 2001 Mariners.  I loved this team. No they didn't get into the World Series, but there's something to be said too for tying a nearly 100 year old record for most wins in a season. There is something special about a team you support that you know will win every night, and when they don't it's a surprise.  The Mariners were 70 games over .500 for goodness sake.

These are the 2001 Mariners in their blue alternate jerseys.  It's my favorite Mariners uniform of all time (though I confess to liking the teal tops too, but most folks simply find them hideous.)  I tried to do as much with them as I could.  I have the numbers for some of the players:

Ichiro right field 51
Mike Cameron center field 44
Mark McLemore left field 4
Freddy Garcia pitcher 34
Dan Wilson catcher 6
John Olerud first base 5
Bret Boone second base 29
Carlos Guillen shortstop 8
David Bell third base 25
Edgar Martinez DH 11
Charles Gipson pinch runner 1
Stan Javier outfielder 28
I also painted up baserunner to represent Ichiro, Cameron, and McLemore.

The outfielders-Mark McLemore, Mike Cameron, and Ichiro Suzuki.  I especially like the Ichiro and Cameron castings.
The back of the Edgar figure.  Just not broad enough shoulders for me to paint Martinez across the back of jersey 
They were fun to paint.  I tried to include as much detail as I could.  The trim on the sleeves, the All-Star Game and Safeco Field patches on each sleeve.  The All-Star Game was held at Safeco in 2001 and the Mariners had an amazing eight players in the game that year. The cap they wore that year didn't have a S for Seattle that year, just a fairly plain compass rose.  with teal to represent the cardinal direction.  Despite a couple of efforts, I just could not paint the names on the back of the jerseys, despite using a tiny 3/0 brush. 
The Mariners battery-Freddy Garcia pitching to Dan Wilson.  My wife still believes, hopefully, that Wilson is the greatest ballplayer of all time and should be in the Hall of Fame.

David Bell, Carlos Guillen, Brett Boone and John Olerud were the Mariners' starting infield.  Boone and Olerud wen to the All-Star game.  Bell and Guillen were later disastrously traded. The story of my life.

This is the base runner figure.  I got a passel of them. Okay, four. I painted them up as Ichiro, McLemore, and Cameron as they did the most base stealing.  However I painted up the fourth as Charles Gipson, a little used back-up player, primarily used for defense and pinch-running. Wonder where he is now?
The team is limited a bit by the figure mix.  Everyone is right handed, and it would be nice to have another pitching choice.  However, some of the figures are really nice.  I particularly like the baserunners and the figures I've used for outfielders-the Cameron and Ichiro figures.The batter is nice too, I've painted him as Edgar Martinez. What I really, really appreciate, however, is that John McEwan at Reviresco has taken the trouble to create this range of miniatures.   I see myself painting many more bags of ballplayers at this intersection of my passions, historical miniature gaming and baseball.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Mark's Vietnam Playtest

My good friend Mark Waddington has been working on a couple of really interesting projects for a year now.  One thing he's working on are some gorgeous handmade ships for the War of 1812 on Lake Ontario.  They are spectacular and nearly complete, though he's still flogging the question of what rules to use.  Everything is scratchbuilt, from hulls to masts to guns.  I can't wait to give them a try when he's ready.

He's also been working on a 25mm Vietnam project.  We gave them a try today.  It was a meeting engagement between an American force and some Vietcong and North Vietnamese regulars.  Mark adapted the rules from some published sets to fill his needs.  The combat mechanics were puzzling at first, but I pretty much had it figured out after the second turn.  We all got into a serious firefight in heavy jungle, which reduced our fire somewhat after I was caught in an initial ambush.  Things bogged down enough to call in a gunship.  It was fun, because it could unleash lots of fire power (yes!! buckets of dice!!)  Unfortunately we didn't do a lot of damage with it.

 Even so, I think Mark was pretty happy with the first test.  A few things to work on but it was very enjoyable.  Joe Waddington and his friend Mike, and Dean Motoyama were also on hand to work through the game.  It was the first of our summer Truants' game.  Haven't quite decided on next week's game yet, but whatever it will be I'm looking forward to it.

Monday, July 04, 2011

And Now for Something Completely Different: Part Two

So, we're proceeding with our tournament.  The first step for any tournament of this kind is making lists of players.  There are six of us playing on the 16th and each of us provided a list of 20 players.  We made an agreement we would use players currently active and that Tim Barela and myself would rate them for the Sherco rules.  Fun stuff?  Well, tedious stuff actually.  Tim, who is much better at Excel than I could ever be, created a spreadsheet, which made the process a bit easier. 
If you're participating in a draft you need good information.  With numbers downloaded from ESPN and FanGraphs you can see the highlighted players chosen.  Wish more of the good ones were mine.  Page one of five.
The second step in this type of tournament is a draft of eligible players.  In this case there are six of us, Tim, David Demick, Bill Nelson, Dave Schueler and myself.  We drew for draft order.  In odd numbered rounds I draft first, but in odd numbered rounds I draft last.  The good thing is that my picks come one after another.  The bad thing is that I have to wait 11 picks between choices. We are currently in Round 9 of 21.  The best part about a draft is its actually the most fun part of the tournament.  You're constructing a team of players you really like.  If done with friends, and I've known almost everybody for 30 years or more, there is a lot of friendly insults and banter.  The games are simply a laboratory to see if your ideas worked.

So far, my team has some strengths and weaknesses

First, I have a couple of really good starting pitchers:
 Cliff Lee and Erik Bedard.  Both are guys who are having good seasons.  Neither walk many batters, though Bedard gives up a few extra home runs.  I really like Lee.  When he was with the Mariners for half of 2010 he was amazing.  I've never seen anybody throw so many strikes or work so efficiently.  The most amazing season I've ever seen. Bedard has been the feel good story of the year in baseball.  Here's a guy who was part of a terrible trade in 2008 and tried to pitch hurt for two years.  It looked like his career was over, but he's really having a good season.

I also have a good outfield.  I chose Peter Bourjos, Matt Joyce and Brett Gardner.  These are guys I really like.  Joyce hits for a high average with  power.  Bourjos and Gardner are both decent hitters who can give me speed at the top of the order.  They also cover lot of ground in the outfield.  All three are superior fielders, reducing the chance of error.

My corner infield is ready to go with Joey Votto at 1B and Adrian Beltre at 3B.  Both are guys I like.  Votto is a great hitter with power in this game. Beltre gives me some right handed power.  Both have good range and are superior fielders.

Problems: Mostly this has to do with pieces I don't have in place yet.

My two remaining starters are a little less than mediocre.  Jake Peavy, recovering from injury with the White Sox, and Brandon Morrow, former Mariner #1 draft choice, are still trying to find themselves this year.  They aren't godawful, but not likely to be terribly reliable either.  Still, could be worse, as some of my competitors are about to find out.

I have no bullpen--Many of my colleagues have a piece or two in place.  I have none.  The best are gone.  I need four guys, so we'll just have to see. The next couple of rounds I'll have to take at least one in each. 
My well-worn 1979 edition of Sherco baseball.
I have no shortstop, second baseman, or catcher.  There are lots of decent catchers in the draft, so that doesn't trouble me too much, there will be somebody out there.  The available shortstops are just okay.  I really like Brendan Ryan and would like to get him in the next round.  Just depends on if he is there.  If I don't get him I may have to resort to the aged Omar Vizquel.  There are still a couple of good choices available at 2B, with Ben Zobrist and Ian Kinsler available. 

Taken as a whole, the team has some really good pitching, great defense, and some guys who can hit. Bullpen is a black hole at this time. We'll see how it all turns out.

If this sparks any interest in the Sherco game for you, it is still in print and sold only on ebay through a small producer.  I have the 1979 edition of the game, but purchased a 1988 version of Sherco through this seller in 2006.  He does a great job of keeping the game updated and also has a bunch of the cool add-ons, all for a pretty reasonable price.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

And Now For Something Completely Different

Hall of Famer Goose Goslin patrols right field in Sportsman's Park during the '34 World Series.  All figures by Reviresco.
Sometimes things come along that just completely distract me. I'm not quite as distracted as three month old kitten.  In fact, I usually can stay on task for a good long time.  I had a plan for the summer-15mm Jacobites and 28mm hypothetical war in Mississippi 1797.  Then baseball happened and I was gone.

Yes, I'm sure I've mentioned it before, I love baseball.  I'm a fan of the Seattle Mariners, one of perhaps twelve in the entire area.  I also love baseball games.  Computer games, board games--baseball is really important to me.  Baseball has a rich history and tradition that other sports simply lack.
Pepper Martin bats and Mickey Cochrane catches in the World Series.  Cardinals won 4-3.
I've tried many different baseball games, but the one I enjoy most is called Sherco Grand Slam Baseball Game.  There's lots of things I like about Sherco. It's a great two player game because it allows the team in the field to position their defenders.  It's easy to rate baseball players from history and thus recreate players' best years, or notable World Series teams, or even really terrible teams like the 1930 Phillies (or 2010 Mariners.)  It's a fun game that plays really fast.  Once, I even had the idea to create a Sherco board and teams in miniature.
Right-hander Tommy Bridges pitches as the Tigers take the field .  The game area was on a 36" X 36" flocked mat by Monday Knight Productions.  I painted on the baselines, grid numbers and the infield area. The outfield wall was made from sheet styrene and based on the illustration below by Bill Purdom. 

I made the scoreboard out of wire and sheet styrene.  I did my best to recreate the advertising on the scoreboard and outfield walls.
Yes there is a baseball miniatures equivalent.  Reviresco in beautiful Olympia,WA makes a very serviceable range of baseball miniatures.  I bought some when they first became available and painted them up as the 1934 World Series teams, the Detroit Tigers and the St. Louis Cardinals.  In another one of my crazy adventures I even built the Cardinals' Sportsman's Park as it appeared for the 1946 World Series based on a painting by Bill Purdom.

 In any case, one of my baseball loving friends suggested a Sherco tournament for the rest of my baseball buddies.  We've agreed on a round robin six team tournament for July 16th.  It interrupts my current summer painting projects because it gives me an excuse to make game boards for the Kingdome, Tiger Stadium, and Candlestick park as well as painting up some representational miniatures for the games.  I've decided to paint the 2001 Mariners, and the 1975 Red Sox, two of my favorite teams.  The Baseball Hall of Fame has a wonderful website that provides pics of all baseball uniforms from 1900 to the present called Dressed to the Nines.  Think of it as baseball's online Osprey guide.
These two photos show my fantasy league team, the South Hill Flounders.  Uniforms modeled loosely on the Florida Marlins' teal jerseys.
In any case, this has derailed some of my painting plans for the next couple of weeks.  I already had the baseball figures and this is just an excuse to paint them.  Shouldn't take too long.