Sunday, March 17, 2019

Cold Wars 2019

Cold Wars was a lot of fun.  I ran my "Sink the Tennessee" game 2x on Saturday as part of the Little Wars TV space and had a blast.  I had great players - 8 for the first game and 9 for the second, almost all of whom have played in my past convention games.  It really was a great group of people and a pleasure to GM for.  Shockingly, the game was awarded two prizes, which was very nice.  I'm pretty sure it was because of the quality of players and not the ham handed GM.

The terrain panels worked really well.  I was very pleased with the ease of transport and look at the con.  I may have found my preferred solution for sectional terrain.

I need to make more generic fields.
Both games ended with desperate fighting on the dock with the first game going to the Union as the US Marines barely held off a desperate charge by the confederate militia.
The crew from game one - we had players from all age groups and it worked exceptionally well.  If only I had the energy of the young gentlemen in the red cap.....

The second game was a bit more bloody with lots of fighting at both ends of the table.  Still the climatic point was, again, on the dock as a confederate calvary charge ran down the US Marines and engineers - clearing the docks and allowing the CSA Tennessee to escape.  Win for the Confederates!
The crew for game 2 - another great group of players who really ran the game for themselves.  I was essentially just a carnival barker, which was perfect.  I do kind of like the "gansta" look Walt is going with on the far left.  It's a good look for you Walt, keep it.

There will be a follow on post with my ramblings about the con and the inevitable comments about the Host (spoiler - the Host is well on the way to recovery).

I do want to thank my club mates at Little Wars TV for letting me set up with them - they ran some fabulous games which you'll see in the convention report video.  Looking forward to Historicon!

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Attack on Foy / Disposable Heroes

Last Monday night at the club, I got a chance to play in the final test game of the Attack on Foy prior to Cold Wars.  This WW2 action was featured in the Band of Brothers TV series and was also one of the games in the first season of the club's LittleWarsTV project.  Here's a link to that video.

As you can see the table looks great.  This version of the game uses the WW2 ruleset Disposable Heroes, which were written by Keith Stine.  Keith's also the gentleman putting on the game at Cold Wars so at least there will be no rules disputes as you'll have the author at the table.

The game has a very interesting activation structure where each side is given a number of activation chits and during a turns the sides alternate actions were a chit is used to allow a squad/fire team to do 3 actions.  It can move 3x (3 inches each), shoot 3x or combinations of those and other actions.  A player can activate the same squad multiple times in a turn so it's really interesting and forces you hard decisions on what to do each turn.  I'm sure I'm not explaining it well but I really liked the mechanic.  It provides a very nice ebb and flow for tactical action and avoids the alpha strike issue one can experience in more traditional I go / you go type games.

I had never played the rules before but was able to pick them up after the second activation, that makes these really good for a convention game.

I think the people who have signed up for this game at Cold Wars are in for a real treat.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Terrain making and a biological disaster

All work has stopped here at the Lair by way of Royal decree.  It seems that executive management (the lovely, yet fierce, Dr Reidy) has grown alarmed at the level of debris created by terrain making and called a household vote on the matter.

We run a very democratic household and when there is a dispute as to the direction of our tiny realm we have a fair and open election.  I get to cast my one vote and MB casts her 99.  Once the votes are tallied we know the decision by the people.

As with many elections the pre-vote debate was fierce and my faction - "The Mess Makers" seemed to be winning the day but then we were hit by a scandal that our superior policy arguments could not overcome.  Now this is kind of a funny story.  We've got a small freezer in the unheated garage where MB stores overflow items.  The garage isn't really wired to be a workshop so sometimes I need to unplug the freezer to avoid blowing a circuit.  I only do this during the winter months when it's really cold (one of the few times an unheated garage comes in handy).  Well, heh-heh, I unplugged the freezer and seemed to have forgotten to plug it back in.  The fact that this event happened in December and was only discovered yesterday did not help my case.

My political aides suggested counter arguments built around the theme that the fault is really with my wife as she never checked on the freezer all these months.  We organized a series of toady-like talking heads to make the rounds of the Sunday news shows.  Sadly, their cogent arguments could not overcome the raw video images of the biological freak fest going on inside our once innocent freezer.  The election was lost and the winning party has enacted her draconian laws of cleanliness.

So today, I don my bio hazard suit and commence operation clean up.  I do this with not a little trepidation as the mass that has formed inside the freezer seems to have developed self awareness and is likely to put up a stiff resistance.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Workbench Clean Up & So Long to a Old Friend

One of the side effects of miniature painting (well, at least the way I do it) is the creation of a giant mess and periodically I need to stop on clean the place up.  I was in the process of doing just that and came to the conclusion that is was time to replace the self healing mat.  Mr Green (mat) has seen many years of service and been through a lot, but sometimes it just time to hang things up.  Let us all tip out hats as Mr Green exits stage right into a well earned retirement.  We shall not see the likes of him again.
I also cleaned the workbench off and have also realized that after the challenge it needs a full sanding and re-finishing.
Here's the new mat in place.  I know I'm being very avant guard going with a dark grey version.  Sometimes one just needs to shake things up.  We'll see if doing so improves my rather limited painting skills.

11 days of the Challenge left to go and I've got a business trip and Cold Wars in between so I'm not sure how much more I can get done.  At least everything needed for the cold wars games is finally completed.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Some last minute painting for Cold Wars next week.  I had forgotten that I borrowed some Union troops the last time I ran "Sink the Tennessee" at a convention so am filling out the ranks now.  I'm very lucky that (i) the Perry Brothers have very fast mail order delivery and (ii) I didn't discover this shortfall while packing up the day before the con.

That last point has happened for other games.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Terrain Storm

 With Cold Wars less than 2 weeks away, terrain making has kicked into high gear here in the Lair.  I needed a simple bridge so slapped this together from some scrap balsa and bass wood.  I need to add some ramps to either end but it will do.

 There are also some simple hills being added to the inventory - the base is Expanded Polystyrene (the stuff that makes lots and lots of dust)
The hill sections are smoothed via a knife and sander (wow that created a lot of dust) and then covered with sculptamold.  Once that dries a thin layer of tile grout/PVA glue is applied for texture.

Lastly, I made some "tree plates" a few years ago (Link) but was never really happy with them.  I found them bland as you can see from the top of the picture to the left.  I've cut out some new shapes (MDF is cheap) and have been experimenting with different mixes to get a more varied forrest floor look.  Still some work to do but I already like the new stuff A LOT better.

Also experimenting with magnetizing the tree bases - that may be a bit much to complete before Cold Wars.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

AHPC IX: Western Themed Buildings

Continuing the real estate-theme of this portion of the Challenge - I now present 8 28mm Western themed buildings.  All of these kits are from Sarissa Precision and are very nice.  There are six Mexican themed buildings (I got the Mexican village pack) and two more general purpose - a large barn and a foundry.
A close up of four of the Mexican themed buildings 2 houses in the back, a small jail (front left) and a catina (front, right).

The jail even has 3 cells!  It's just screaming for a jail break game
The village has a rather large bank.  - too be honest it's a lot larger than the other buildings so will look a little out of place but it's still a nice kit.

A small adobe church
The two more generic buildings are the large barn and a foundry.  I still need to do some detailing on these buildings but I suspect you'll see them at Cold Wars in a American Civil War setting.

There are a "few" more real estate projects for this years Challenge

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Quatre Bras In Reverse

 Last night at the club we had the second tabletop engagement of our Waterloo campaign.  It was fought just to the west of Quatre Bras and was essentially that battle in reverse.  For the French we had four formations on the table - III Corps, VI Corps plus the Guard Cavalry division commanded by me and then Napoleon himself with the Imperial Guard.  A powerful force, indeed, but we didn't know who was attacking us.  We're in the lower left corner of the picture.

Some of the units are hidden, hence the paper flag markers.
 We soon discovered that we were being attacked by not two but three allied forces with lots of calvary!  In fact there were even more allied reinforcements entering the table to the north and and east.

It was decided that discretion was the better part of valor and we attempted to retreat to the west and south (lower right corner).
Our retreat was successful, but not without cost - a lone brigade of Young Guard sacrificed themselves to cover the retreat - you can see their valiant final stand against a mass of British cavalry - there was a lot of British Cav on the table.

The campaign is very still very much in doubt and we shall see what comes next.

For the "official" record, I'm Grouchy during this little outing.  Thanks to Tom for putting on this grand show!

We're using the Blucher ruleset for both the battles and campaign and it's working out very well so far.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Yet another Sectional Terrain Project

I've embarked upon yet another sectional terrain project.  Why?  The likely answer is because I'm nuts.  The reason I tell most people is that I just prefer sectional terrain to terrain cloths.  Terrain cloths aren't "bad", it's just I don't like how they don't stay flat.  The fist pictures shows 2 of the boards with some testing for ground cover.

This third iteration of terrain squares are based on a 24 x24 inch  base size.  To make them easier to transport they are only one inch in height, which is plenty of room for terrain depressions like craters, rivers and trenches.

Why 2x2?  It's the Goldilocks principal - my first iteration used mostly 2x4 panels which I found two hard to both transport and store.  The second iteration used 1ft x 1ft precut panels for Sally Forth which is a great product but I found them tedious to set up and I've got a good workshop to build my own.  2x2 ft seems "just right".

If you don't have access to power tools the Sally Forth stuff is a fantastic option.  I will incorporate the Sally Forth sections I build last year so the can be used with these.

I'll do a series of posts on how to build these but the construction is rather simple.  The sides are 1/4 inch plywood, the bottom 1/4 in MDF and the interior is 3/4 inch Extruded Polystyrene (EPS)

Here's a rather boring shot of my cutting the sides to length.  I went with a simple but joint so two of the strips are 24 inches long and 2 are 23.5 inches.

After an hour or so at the Miter Saw, I've got all the wood parts cut to length for 10 2x2 ft sections.  I'm making a lot of these

 These sections will be held in place with wooden pegs.  I went with pegs over magnets as they are a good bit stronger and way easier to install as one doesn't have to worry about polarity with wooden pegs.

 Another test of different ground covers.  The base ground texture is pre-mixed and pre-colored tile grout mixed with a little PVA glue.  It provides a nice ground texture and dries rock hard.   I went with the "earth" colored grout and was very happy.  I also has dome paint mixed up to match the Vallejo "Tan Earth" color to use to paint the sides and touch up thin spots.

I'm not using static grass as the base ground texture as these boards will be used for lots of different scales form 6mm up to 28mm.  A few are planned to be savanna type terrain and those will use static grass.

 Of course there will be rivers!
Lots of river options.  There was a bit of a resin pour disaster so most of my river sections require a good bit of "restoration work"

 Lastly some shore sections.  I'll still use terrain cloths for sea but did want to build 6 feet of "shore line" to effect the transition

These terrain sections will likely make their debut at Historicon this summer.  There is a slight chance they'll be ready for Cold Wars.

By the way, If anyone is interested, I've got a bunch of nicely used 2x4 panels for adoption if one is willing to come to Maryland and pick them up!  They need a little touch up work but I'll throw in the storage rack and a bucket of the static grass mix for patching.

Please, somebody adopt us.  Our owner keeps saying terrible things about being torn apart for spare parts.  Historicon veterans like ourselves shouldn't be treated this way

A picture of the boards in their youth....