Sunday, February 27, 2011

Roman Marines: First Stand

 Here's a few pictures of the first 6 of 24 Roman Marine Auxiliaries for my Roman Army.  The figures are metals from Warlord Games.  The painting is simple block painting followed up by three GW washes - ashurmen blue for the cape and shield front, ogryn flesh for the exposed skin, and gryphonne sepia for everything else.

 I like the overall look and the darkish blues of the capes will make the unit standout a bit more on the tabletop.  These figures are metal and sold in lots of 8, so putting together a unit isn't that expensive.

I'm going to wait a few days to see how the colors hold after drying before sealing with a matt finish (army painter brand).

I also managed to get in a very quick play test of "Hail Caesar" this morning using 5 units of Romans vs some Guals.  No pictures as the Gallic army was just cardboard cut out to the proper unit sizes.  It was an ambush scenario and lets just say when caught out of formation Romans just aren't as formidable an opponent.  The game is great fun.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Hail Caesar Play Test

The gaming gods are smiling upon me as I have received a rough draft of the upcoming "Hail Caesar" rules from John Stallard at Warlord Games to play test with my gaming group.  Well to be honest, I received a bunch of word documents that have the text but no pictures, but it's more than enough to start testing.

Before anyone asks, I can not and will not share the files with anyone else so please don't ask.  I will share the results of our play testing and, of course, my witty banter - what a deal!

As posted on the Warlord Website, the game is similar in structure to Black Powder, but with more emphasis on melee combat and, in my opinion, maneuver.  The basic mechanics are simple, but there is a nice level of optionality in how various units and capabilities are combined.  I've played a couple of basic turns with my 28mm Roman army and I feel that Hail Caesar plays a bit more deeply than Black Powder - there a few more things to think about.  Of course, when playing solitaire, my opinions are of questionable value given the rather limited capabilities of my opponent.  I have determine that Legionnaires with support are a very tough nut to crack.

I'm going to get my gaming buddies together over the next few weeks and do some proper play testing (assuming I can "borrow" my table from my son's robotics team).

One note - I remember when BP first came out, there was a lot of hemming and hawing about the cost of high quality books with glossy pictures and what a crime it was for publishers to "force" people to pay a higher price for a higher quality book.  Well I've had the opportunity to see the rules in a rather basic format - just text, no pictures and I've come to a conclusion on this topic.  With all due respect, those of you clamoring to save $20 - $25 dollars or so to get a stripped down version are, shall we say, ummm, "missing the point" (see, I was polite).  Our hobby is a visual one and seeing top flight miniatures is half the fun and I think well worth a bit of a price premium.  That's just one gamer's opinion, void where prohibited by law, your milage may vary...

Friday, February 25, 2011

I May Never Get My Game Room Back!

Big news on the robotics front - my son's team has been invited to compete in the World Championship tournament, which will be held in St Louis April 27-30th.  This invitation is a pretty big deal and the team is very excited.

Of course it also means that the old gaming room will remain a robotic's room for a few more months.  I'll get some painting in but rather limited on the game hosting front.  I think that's a small price to pay!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Roman Calvary Finished and a Review of the Legion

 The second unit of Roman Auxiliary Cavalry is finished and based.  I'm happy with how these figures came out, although my free-hand painting skills for the banner are somewhat simplistic!  All of the figures are metals from Warlord Games and they were good to paint up.  I still prefer plastic over metal but that's just me.
Here is a close up of the calvary command and you can see the somewhat sketchy free hand work on the banner but it will work.  I'm not sure if any Roman calvary wore yellow - I used the color to ensure the unit stands out on the table top to make playing a game a bit easier.  The shield transfers are from Little Big Man Studios and I had a bit of a challenge getting them to fit the shields.  While the packaging stated they were for Warlord Auxiliaries the shield was too small for the transfer.  They look OK and I'll likely go back and touch up a few in the next few days.

 Here's my Legion as it stands now, 3 cohorts of Legionnaires, 2 Aux Infantry, 2 Aux Calvary and an Artillery Unit plus 2 commanders.  The vast majority of the figures are from Warlord and I really like the EIR product line.  Sorry about the background but my war games table is being used by my son's robotics team right now.

 The center is the heart of the Legion and boasts 3 Cohorts of Legionnaires (the center and right side Warlord plastics painted by me).  The Scorpions and Ballista and command figures are also from Warlord.  I know, I know, I still need to scenic the bases....
I have enough plastic figures to build 3 more 24 man cohorts (2 regular, 1 Praetorian).  Overtime my goal is to have 10 24 man cohorts - now that's a legion!

 The right flank consists of a unit of Warlord plastic Auxiliaries painted by me and a unit of Auxiliary Calvary that I purchased at Fall-In from Pictors Studio.  I think the figures are from Wargames Factory.

 The left flank has a similar make-up as the right - one unit of Auxiliary Calvary (the newly finished ones) and a unit of the famous Roman "Ghost Marines".  Yup, you heard me, Ghost Marines - hey it's my army.
 OK so maybe they're just primed and awaiting painting.  The figures are the new Warlord metal Roman Marines and they are fantastic figures.  I especially like the metal spears that they come with but let me warn you those spears are sharp!
The last picture shows the marines from the rear wear you can get a better picture of their cloaks.  I'm looking forward to painting these guys up.  I'm not sure if Warlord makes a command pack for these guys so I just added a brass rod for a standard and will paint up another figure to be the commander.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Progress on the Roman Cavalry & Uncivil War Play Tests

Just a quick post.  I just about finished my second unit of Roman Auxiliary cavalry.  The only steps left are some clean up, shading and applying the Little Big Man Studios Shield transfers.  This unit unit should be finished be next weekend.

I also made some progress on the USS Monogahala, which has been primed and had it's deck painted.  The replacement brass rod for masts seems to working very well and the model is very durable.

Next up will be some "uncivil war" figures from Architects of War and then I'll likely start the 24 Roman Marines from Warlord - think auxiliaries with capes.  The Marine models are metal with wire spears.

The next statement may sound like heresy to some, but I definitely favor modeling and painting 28mm hard plastic figures over their metal counterparts.  It's not the cost factor the drives this inclination, I just find painting the plastic figs a bit easier than metal.  I should probably feel ashamed...


On the gaming front, I did help with some more play testing of Ernie's upcoming "Uncivil War" skirmish ruleset.  Ernie had us concentrate on some of the introductory scenarios which only have a handful of figures per side.  One game features a sherif's posse hunting deserters and it was a blast.  To be honest, I was a little dubious about how much fun a game could be with only 4-6 characters per side but I was proven wrong.  Here are some pictures of the games in progress.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

A ACW Ship, a Well and Romans

 A bit of eclectic out put today on the modeling front.  After Friday's ironclad game, I decided to expand the fleet.  All of my current ships are models from Thoroughbred Miniatures and they are fantastic pieces.  I did pick up two Union frigates from Bay Area Yards and decided to build one of them, the USS Monogahala, this morning.  To be honest I was disappointed with the model's casting quality and sparse detail parts.  The masts that came with it are very thin white metal that just will not hold up on the table top.

I decided to chuck the masts that came with the kit and scratch build my own from brass rod, plastic and green stuff for the furled sails.  The first picture shows my progress so far and I'm satisfied.  Once rigged, I think the model will look fine.  There was also a great deal of flash and casting knobs I had to remove from the hull which was a bit of a pain.  We'll see how it turns out over the next few days.

 I also finished up the Well kit from Architects of War.  It's a nice, simple kit and the casting is top notch - zero flash or bubbles.  The well is scaled for 28mm and will make a nice accessory to an upcoming skirmish game.  The kit even comes with the thread for the bucket.

Lastly, I made some progress on my Roman Auxiliary cavalry and should have these guys finished up in a week.  While I didn't plan on doing this my Roman army was expanded on Friday when I had the chance to purchase some of the new Warlord Roman Marines (think auxiliary infantry with cool capes!).  Ernie had just received a shipment from Warlord for AofW and called to let me know they were available.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

ACW Ironclad Game

 I hosted a ironclad game last night to try out a new rule set "Sail and Steam Navies" which were written by Dave Brandon and are available from Bay Area Yards.

The purpose of the game was to get familiar with the rules so I can use them as part of a larger ACW campaign game I'm planning.  The scenario was simple - a force of 6 Union ships commanded by Ernie and Mike had the objective to sink the commerce raider CSS Stonewall which was attempting to deliver a confederate ambassador to England.  Escorting the Stonewall was a fleet of four confederate ships (The Virginia, Tennessee, Richmond and Baltic).  I know it's not a historic scenario and the fleet composition was really just based on what I had painted!.  The Confederates were commanded by Dick.  All of my ship models are from Thoroughbred Miniatures

 "Sail and Steam Navies" plays very cleanly once you understand the sequence which consists of (i) Movement speed, (ii) Cannonade, (iii) Movement round 1 and (iv) movement round 2.  There are other aspects to the sequence I've omitted.  One has to think ahead for moving, especially when trying to set up ramming attacks.  In our game the bulk of the confederate fleet rushed forward to meet 3 of the Union ships in a narrow channel in the hopes of bottling them up and dispatching them with ramming.  The only hitch is the fleets passed each other (often by less than a half inch!  The result was six Union ships bearing down on the Stonewall with the four CSS escorts back in the distance trying to catch up.

 The last picture shows the end of the Stonewall.  While a fast ship, her boilers were hit which reduced her speed from 10 inches to 3, which allowed the Union to catch her and in the end after hammering her armor on the starboard side down to zero dispatch her with a ramming attack!

The heart of the game system are the ship status logs which have a wealth of information about the ship and are used to track damage, movement speed etc.  One of the more impressive things about the game system is that it comes with around 1,000 unique ship data cards - sometimes ships have multiple versions to reflect equipment and/or armament changes during the course of the war.

I really liked the rules and I think the guys got the jist of it after a couple turns.  We did have some confusion on when to write movement orders and the two impulse move structure.  This wasn't due to unclear rule writing but more force of habit from other naval game systems and my poor instructions.  I do appreciate Ernie, Mike and Dick being such gracious test subjects.  Sometimes it can be frustrating to be thrown into a new game system and these guys were great sports about it.

The highlight of the evening was when Dick showed up with him Naval Gaming brief case - it was stuffed full of gaming templates and markers and was a hoot.  Good show, Dick!  The base structure for my planned civil was campaign is becoming clear

Major Land Battles:   6mm figures, Black Powder Rules
Naval:                        1/600 scale ships, Sail and Steam Navies
Skirmish/Raids:          28mm figures, Uncivil War rules

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Uncivil War Battle Report: The Battle of Swamptown

I wrote up a rather detailed battle report on our recent test game for Arichtects of War's new skirmish rule set for the American Civil War entitled "Uncivil War".

The game was a blast and featured a waterborne assault, calvary battles, looting and a brave last stand in a Pig Sty - one of the most fun table top games I've ever played.

Ernie has posted the report on his website so you'll need to click on the link below - I think you'll find it worth the time to read it.