Saturday, November 27, 2010

War of 1812: A Battle "Somewhere" in Canada

 Today I had the opportunity to play a war game at Ernie's house (Architects of War).  I had thought we were going to play test his new Uncivil American Civil War rules, but Ernie felt that would be too "work-like" so he opted for a War of 1812 game using his house Napoleonic's rules (Gentlemen of Rank).  The rules are command and control oriented and use command cards which means units, especially militia and indians can do unexpected things.  It's a fun game system.  The first picture shows the table which features some of Ernie's gorgeous Architects of War terrain.

The US force (commanded by me) was the attacker and our objective was to seize the port at the other end of the table.  The US attacking force consisted of 3 Regular infantry battalions, 2 Militia battalions, 2 dragoon troops and 2 guns.  Opposing the US were a mixed force of 2 Regular British line Battalions, 1 Canadian Militia Battalion, 2 Bands of Indians (think foot calvary) and a single gun.

 Here are my brave troops entering the board.  The bulk of the regulars entered on the right flank.  The center was held by a gun and 1 regular battalion and militia and a Dragoon troop made up the left flank.  By the way there is a sneak peak of some of Ernie's future terrain releases in the pick but I'm not allowed to tell you what they are.

 The British deployed in depth with their 2 regular battalions up front with the gun in the center.  The Militia made up a second line, just behind the white church/meeting house in the upper center of the picture.  The Indians were just arriving via canoe at the dock and would soon join the fray.  A few other notable features of the battlefield are the hedges along the road and the stone walls, all which played important roles in the battle.

 The bulk of my forces advanced up the right flank, shielded by a hedge on the left.  One of my two guns was with this force also - you can just see it behind the large tree.  Just prior to this picture being taken, the British (played very well be Mike) had dispatched my other cannon with very effective counter battery fire!  My remaining cannon was not long for this world either as a few turns later, Mike played one of his command cards, which indicated a fuse malfunctioned on my cannon and it blew up.  We lovingly call these command cards "F-U Cards"

 But all was not lost, the Dragoon troop with the main force charged the lone British cannon and quickly dispatched the crew.  Unfortunately I lost control of the unit (command cards again) and it plowed forward into a waiting Indian Band.  Let's just say the Indians "took care of business" and my dragoons routed from the table.  At this point neither army had artillery - the battle became an infantry focused slugfest.

 The most dramatic action of the day occurred on the far left flank.  The second band of Indians charged my other dragoon unit which was dismounted and already reduced to 8 figures for 12.  My unit had to draw a reaction card and the result was a counter charge - 8 dismounted calvary troopers charging 21 blood-thirsty Indians.  My guys took 5 casualties and inflicted 3 on the Indians - but one of those was the chief and the unit broke!  This as complete luck on my part and was the turning point in the game my left flank gained a very large advantage.

 The indians managed to rally but were then charged by one of my militia units and further worn down.  In the center the second Indian band charged one of the US regular battalions (in the cornfield) but were held in check.  On the following turn the US unit counter-charged the Indians and put them to flight.  The carry through of the charge then brought the unit into contact with the flank of the center British battalion which was not in position to repulse the attack from where the Indians were supposed to be.  The British broke and routed back.  The resulting morale check forced the other British battalion to fall back in disorder.

The US initiated a general advance across the line, chasing the retreating British and their remaining Canadian allies towards the port.  The game was called a US victory but it was a very near run of things.

All-in-all it was a great afternoon.  As you can see from the photos the terrain and figures were fabulous.  Ernie makes some great products which I think really enhance the overall gaming experience.  I also really enjoyed the War of 1812 setting - a nice combination of Napoleonics in a very colorful setting.  I hope we play another 1812 themed game very soon.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Day is my favorite Holiday - it's one that actually reminds one to be thankful for what you have and two it encourages gluttony!  While I am sure I'm biased, there is no finer food than my wife's Turkey.

I took the picture yesterday while my son, Sean, and I were waiting in line to pick up our Turkeys from a local poultry producer, Maple Lawn Farms.  Typically, I get the birds on the tuesday before Thanksgiving rather than the Wed so there usually isn't a line.  Not so this year!  It was a pleasant wait but there was an awkward moment as the line snaked past one of the Turkey pens where we were eyed very menacingly by a bunch of Turkeys who must have known what was about.

Thanksgiving is a bit of a chaotic show in our home - I've lost count of the guest list (things like that are above my household pay grade) but I think it's above 30 by now.  

I am worried about a playtest Ernie (Architects of War) is running this Saturday using his developing American Civil War skirmish rules - after the amount of Turkey and supporting food units that I plan to consume today I may not be able to reach any mini's in the middle of his table!!

Have a great holiday everyone.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

WWPD Podcast

There is a new podcast out there for historical miniatures that I highly recommend - "What Would Patton Do?: News From the Front"  The main focus is Flames of War but there are hints of a broader range of topics in the future.  

Like all new endeavors, this podcast has had some initial technical issues and an occasional rant, but it seems to have settled down into an enjoyable listen.  I especially enjoyed the most current episode (number 6) as there was a nice walk through of some of the new FOW books that are coming out.  Lets just say that either my or my son's Christmas list will be enlarged to add the new D-Day book that's coming out.

Give it a listen, I think you'll like it.

Note: some of the earlier episodes have some rough language, fortunately the level of colorful language appears to have been toned down to a more genteel level for the more current podcasts.  If bad language offends you, skip episode four.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Napoleonic Naval

 I needed a break from painting 28mm Romans, so I decided to descend in the lead pile and pull out something different.  Almost two years ago, I picked up a copy of the Napoleonic naval ruleset "Trafalgar" and a couple 1/2400 Figurehead Starter fleet packs.  Each pack has 11 ships - 1 120 gun, 1 100 gun, 1 80 gun, 4 74 guns, 1 64 gun, 2 40/35 gun and 1 20 gun sloop.  It's a nice little force.  I assembled one of the fleets and painted a 74 gun ship - the yellow hulls indicate these will be British.  The ships consist of a base, hull, main mast and rear sails.  While they look a bit fiddly, the ships go together very well and have very little flash.
 Here's a close up of the painted 74 gun ship-of-the-line.  The ships paint up well and have a good deal of detail despite the tiny scale.  I used the painting instructions that are in the Trafalgar ruleset and then washed the model with some Army Painter "light tone".  I think it looks pretty good.  The effort required to paint a ship is about the same as if takes to paint either 2 28mm infantry figures or one mounted one.  I think I can finish up the fleet in a week or so.  My playing surface is 8x4 feet, so that will afford a lot of room for large fleet battles in 1/2400.

The third picture is a close up of the unpainted 120 gun First-Rate ship-of-the-line.  As you would expect, it's a good bit bigger than the 74!

I did think about trying to do some minimal rigging on these models but after a few false starts I realized that was a silly idea.  I think if you squint, you can almost see the rigging!

I have also built up a handful of 1/1200 Langton Sailing ships.  These Models are really superb but are both difficult and time consuming to build.  The brass sails are a particular challenge.  The one pictured is the USS Ben Franklin, a 74 gun US Ship-of-the-line.  I two others completed and have a few more to play with - these are great models for a special "duel Scenario"

I'll be spending a few more weeks doing "naval modeling" before returning to pump out a few more Roman infantry Cohorts.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Auxiliaries and Artillery

 More progress on my Imperial Roman Army.  The first Auxiliary Infantry unit has been completed.  Again these are the plastic Warlord Auxiliary figures and they build and paint nicely.  As mentioned in a previous post, I had some issues with the sizing of the Little Big Man shield transfers and decided to use the shield decals provided by Warlord.  The decals look fine.  It appears that the LBMS shield transfers are for the metal Warlord Auxiliaries whose shields are a tad larger than the plastic ones.  One drawback of the plastic auxiliaries is that there are no command figures.  I did a minimalist job to convert one figure to a standard bearer and another to a commander (using a smaller shield).  A bit dodgy, but it will work for now.

I also finished the Warlord artillery box set.  I really like both the metal crewman and the resin scorpions and ballista.  They went together easily although there was a good bit of flash on the figures.  I will "dress-up" the artillery pieces with some elastic thread between the torsion arms and payload.

Here's the army as it stands now: 3 Cohort's of Legionnaires (24 figs each), 1 24 figure Auxiliary Infantry unit, 1 12 figure Auxiliary calvary unit, 1 Ballista, 2 Scorpions and two command stands.  It's a total of 120 painted figures which is a nice starting force for WAB.

I've got enough plastic figures to flesh out 2 more 24 man cohorts and 12 more Auxiliary calvary (you can see them at the back of the picture).  My next step will be to scenic the bases of the painted figures and try them out on the tabletop.  All-in-all, it's been great fun building this army and not bad progress for 2 months.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Legion Expands!

 The combination of a little free time and a trip to Fall-In has allowed me to expand my Early Imperial Roman Army.  I finished two command stands, the one in the first picture is the "Unleash Hell" figure from Warlord.  I'm very happy with how it came out and look forward to this gentleman leading my Legion to many victories across the table top

In terms of finished units I have 4 - the 24 man cohorts and a 12 figure Auxiliary calvary unit.  Both the calvary unit and the lower left infantry unit were purchased at Fall-In.  You can also see the second command stand towards the rear of the picture.

I have several units "on-the-workbench" including some more calvary, an artillery unit with 2 scorpions and a ballista, and a nearly completed 24 man Auxiliary Infantry unit.  All the figures are from Warlord.  I still need to apply shield transfers and attach and finish off the shields.

Here's a closer look at the Auxiliary infantry.  I will say I found these guys a bit of a challenge - I kept breaking the spears while painting - they are very delicate and I doubt will last long under normal table top wear and tear.  I think I will be replacing them with wire spears when I get the chance.  The Little Big Man Studios shield transfers also need to be trimmed a bit more than usual to fit the size of the plastic shields.  The transfers appear to be designed for the metal warlord Auxiliaries rather than the plastic ones.  The difference is that the plastic shields are a bit small for the transfer and the center metal "bump" is bigger than the precut hole.

I've got enough plastic figures to create 2 more infantry units (one regular legionnaires and one praetorians).  Once I finish what's on the workbench, I think I'll hold off on those until we see how the army plays on the tabletop.  Given the popularity of the new Gripping Beast plastic Vikings with my gaming group, I suspect their first foes will be Vikings rather than a more historically accurate foe.  Never-the-less, whatever foe they face will feel the might of Roman arms!

I hope to finish up the army by the end of November and move on to some terrain making.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Thoughts on Fall-In, 2010

Well Fall-In, 2010 has come and gone and I thought I would ramble on a bit about my experience.  Overall, I enjoyed the experience but not nearly as much as I enjoyed Historicon, 2010.

Each con has four aspects that impact my experience, the gaming, the crowd, the vendor hall and the venue.  On the first three out of the four, I would give the con high marks.

I had a good gaming experience, playing one long naval game (see my last post) and watching several others.  Given the crowd appeared very light, there was plenty of open spaces and gaming opportunities.

The Vendor Hall had fewer vendors than usual given the timing of the con but most of the main vendors I wanted to peruse were there.  I picked more than I should and enjoyed the shopping "experience".  I was also pleased to see that my friend Ernie's Architects of War booth was doing a very brisk business.  On the social front, I met some great people and had a fun time for the one and half days I was there.

The only real downer for me (and it's a big one) was the venue - the Lancaster Host.  Hmmmm, how can I put this politely.... there are likely better accommodations in a Mexican prison.  I got a room at the Host for Friday night and, honestly, would have checked out early if I was planning on staying a second night.  It's just an awful facility - from the quality of the meeting rooms to the unspeakable food.  Will the venue stop me from going to further events in Lancaster?  I'm not sure.  I will give Cold Wars a shot, but will stay at a different place and see how that goes.

I realize that the HMGS gets a lot flack on TMP and I certainly don't want to pile onto that gibberish.  I appreciate all those guys/gals do in planning and running large meetings.  I think they did a great job for Fall-In from a gaming and event management perspective and I appreciate their efforts.  More importantly, since my only contribution is the pittance I pay in annual fees and admittance charge my complaints should be moderated a bit - it must be a thankless task to run these things.  That said, please mark me down as a vote for a new venue for 2012 and on!  How about the VCC (where Historicon was this year) or any other place in the MD/PA/DE I-95 corridor?  Hey, I here there's a nice facility in Baltimore.

OK, that was a cheap shot, but I couldn't resist.