Monday, April 25, 2011

50,000 Hits!

Wow - the Lair of the Uber Geek just passed 50K in hits - who would have thunk that!!!!!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

FIW using Black Powder

Ernie, of AofW, hosted another game last night.   The theme was the French and Indian War (FIW) and the rules were Black Powder.  Ernie set up the opposing forces to be exactly even with 3 brigades of infantry each and 2 guns.  Neither side had any calvary but we did have a wide range of light troops including Indians and American militia.  The first picture show the initial entry of the forces.  I was in command of the French along with Les and Bob.  Dick commanded the British along with Mike.  Ernie played part time umpire and full time comedian.

My Brigade formed the extreme right flank of the French line and you can see them advancing to the fence line.  This was a bit of a feint just to see what those British chaps were up to!  I also had a group of Indians that I sent into the town (at the bottom of the picture) to cause trouble.

 Once I saw that 2 British Brigades were moving to opposing me I quickly ordered my French gentlemen to run away and form a defensive hedge position by some stone walls.  I kept 2 battalions in the front line and kept one back to take advantage of the Black Powder Support rules.

 The real action of the evening took place on the French left flank where Bob and Les's brigades made contact with the lead elements of the 3rd British brigade.  Pictured is Les's infantry advancing to contact.  In the center left you can just see some of Bob's light troops picking there way through the forrest to flank the British.  In a few turns 2 British Battalions were routed at the cost of a group of Indians.   A word about the forests.  You can see that Ernie has very impressive and true to scale forests for his 28mm forces.  What's even better is that the canopy's are removable to allow for easier movement - very cool.

 Another view from the "hedgehog".  Mike poured fire on my position all night long and succeeded in routing my Indians and causing some casualties to the artillery.  I used my leader to keep rallying the gun crew (removing a wound) to keep in action.  This actually was a bit foolhardy on my part as if the unit had routed my leader would have gone with it.  The British saw two battalions broken as a result of counter fire.  Entrenched units (stonewall) are very difficult to root out in Black Powder as they have significant advantages in saving throws.

 A view from the British side of the table.  Here was some nice slight of hand from Dick.  The lead elements of the 2 British brigade are shown at the bottom of the picture and we were convinced they were coming for the entrenched French (me!)
 But they surged towards the French left flank and launched a brigade level charge.  If it wasn't for some very lucky closing fire die rolls this attack might have swung the battle to the favor of the British, as bulk of Bob's brigade was not in the line yet.  Alas the charge was halted just before making contact.  The next turn saw the British flanked and routed by French musket fire.  We called the game then as two of the three British brigades were broken.  You can see one of Ernie's forest pieces with the canopy removed in the upper center of the picture.

Here's a silly mood shot of the advancing french taken from the perspective of being in the forrest.  All in all everyone had a grand evening and both Ernie and Bard were fantastic hosts.  We were also regaled by the exploits of Ernie's grandson, Aidan, who truthfully, can do no wrong.

Despite all the players having some experience with the Black Powder rules we did struggle a bit with the the finer differences between being disordered and being shaken.  Combat is very quick given that each unit only has three causalities.  No melee's lasted more than one round.  I like Black Powder for 6mm ACW, but those games are much more firepower focused and have less melee combat given the range and greater effectiveness of the firearms.  If we wanted more staying power we could always raise the level of wounds a unit can withstand (usually 3) to 6 or 7, which appears to be the approach the new "Hail Caesar" rules use.  Net, net Black Powder is a ruleset that emphasizes fast play and sweeping movements.  A beer or glass of red wine is definitely in order when playing!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

An Award!

It seems that I've been selected for an award from that erudite and dashing chap over at the Man Cave blog.  Far be it from me to look either a gift horse or underserved praise in the mouth.  I'll take it whenever I can get it.  While this award thing has the look and feel of an electronic version of a chain letter, it does allow me to add the honorific "Award Winning Blogger" to my CV.

Let's see here, the award has the following four stipulations

(1) A thank you and link back to the nominating blog

Thanks Man Cave!

(2) Share 7 things about yourself.  

(3) Nominate 10-15 other blogs (hence the chain letter reference above)

(4) Contact said nominated blogs to let them know of their good fortune

Ok so here are the seven things about me.  Lets just keep this between you and me.

- I am often mistaken for George Clooney and...  Oh the rules require truthful things about me, well that's not as much fun but we'll start over.

Ok here we go, for real this time:

- I am an avid sailor and 1:1 scale boat builder (my other hobby)
- I coach my son's Robotics team (we're competing in the World Championships next week!)
- I am a economist by training and used to be one of those nasty banker types
- I am on the board of several non-profits
- I love Greek food (is there nothing that Feta cheese doesn't make better?)
- I spent an extensive amount of time in post-Katrina New Orleans for work reasons, including 3 weeks in a tent pitched on an off-ramp for I-10.  Lets just say the decontamination showers really sting!
- I am often mistaken for Roger Ebbert (two thumbs up!)

and one more for good measure

- My personal business cards list my title as "Pompous Ass"

So here are my nominations.  They are in no particular order, so you at number 10 don't get mad, I'm sure I like your blog better than all the others.  As this award seems to be making the rounds of our little society there may be some double winners.

Well that's it.  Are there any prizes associated with this award?  Do the blog's I've noiminated send me money?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

5 Completed Napoleonic Ships

 I was able to spend a good chunk of Sunday morning finishing up 5 Napoleonic Sailing ships - in the front are 2 French Third rates (74 guns) and behind them 3 US ships, 2 Third Rates and the 44 gun USS Constitution.  I'll be adding specific names to the ships later this week.

 Here's a close up of the French ships.  All of the models are 1/1200 Langton models and, as I've posted in the past, they are the best table top miniatures I've come across.  I find the rigging (which I've done at a very basic level) to be very challenging but I think these came out OK.  I stall have a bit of detailing to do.
 Here is the US contingent - I still have some shading to do on the decks, but I'm happy with the results.  You might notice the bases are different shades of blue - I find this helps with recognition on the table top, especially for new players who aren't sailing nuts like me and notice different sail patterns etc.

 A close up of one the Frenchies.

Here's a shot of the ships in line.  Once my son's robotics team season is complete (the world championship is only a few weeks away (4/27 - 4/30), I'll get the game room back and will get some games going using the Trafalgar rules.

Next up will be a French Second Rate and two French frigates.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

I Survived....

 Well this year's version of my wife's reception for women dental students has come and gone.  I managed to survive without any permanent physical scaring.  It was tough as I had to be social and gracious and all that other "good manner's stuff".

 Perhaps the most harrowing episode was when two guests discovered they were wearing the same blouse.  If it were not for some fast acting diplomacy on my part this meeting engagement could have turned ugly as these things are wont to do.

Here's a picture of the hostess, my wife, in full food prep mode.  All-in-all I think everyone had a good time and I managed to stay out of trouble.  Of course the best part is that there are leftovers that must be consumed.  That's a job that I am uniquely suited for.....

And so it Begins

 Today is my wife's annual Spring party for the Univ of Maryland's women Dental student society. Soon my house will be over-run by 50 20-ish females.  It's a very dangerous environment and I will subjected to comments such as "Look at all the pretty soldier dolls" or "Those remind me of Ken's" or (and this is the worst) "do you play dress up with your toys?"

The one benefit of the whole ordeal is the food - oh it's a glorious French theme this year and today this "real man" definitely eats quiche and mass quantities of it.  Sadly, my wife has banned my traditional greeting of the students which involves a lawn chair by the front porch, and 10 cards numbered 1 through 10.  Now before you gasp, I realize this is a social event, so I never use a card below "5".  You see I am the very model of decorum and class.  Unfortunately, this practice has fallen victim to the fickle whims of propriety.

Friday, April 8, 2011

A Return to Napoleonic Naval

 Last weekend's Peninsular game at Ernie's re-ignited my Napoleonic flame - what's not to like about big battalions?  One of the first era's I've ever gamed was Napoleonic naval and I just love the 1/1200 Langton models.  They are the most challenging miniatures I've ever done.  The first picture is the start of my British squadron.  Now I need to admit I did cheat with these guys as I had them built and painted by my US Langton supplier, Rob from Waterloo Minis.  Rob did a great job and his quality / prices can't be beat.  I plan on using his services again as I build out my fleet and will likely be in a position where half the fleet was built by him and half by me.  Give him a try,

 The pride of the British fleet is the 1st Rate HMS Victory.  While she might be on the slow side she does pack a wallop with her four decks of guns.  These ship models are about three inches long and you can see they have a great deal of detail.  While challenging, they are a lot of fun to build.

 The Vanguard of the squadron are a pair of 74 gun 3rd rates (know as 3rd rates, large)  These were the most numerous of the capital ships and have a nice balance of firepower and speed.

 Here are some of the ships that I've done and had on hand.  The one of the left is a recently assembled and painted French Third rate (74 guns).  Once the paint has set, I'll seal the model and complete the rigging.  If you try and matt coat a rigged model it becomes and awful mess.  The ship in the middle is a recently started French 74 gun third rate.  Lastly, the one to the right is the USS Constitution, which was the first Langton I ever completed.  The Constitution is classified as a frigate with 44 guns but she was unusually large and could take on larger ships.  She's a beautiful ship up close.  The Constitution model has brass sails rather than cast metal.  The brass sails look a lot better but are very difficult to put on and a bit delicate on the tabletop.

Here's a staged shot of the USS Constitution tangling with two smaller British Frigates.  It's an even contest (at least with my rules!)  I have a number of other completed Langton models (mostly US ships including the USS Ben Franklin, which was a rare US 74 gun Third Rater.  I also have a number of unbuilt French and Spanish ship models to complete.

My goal is to build out 12-15 ship fleets for the British and French / Allies and a 7 ship US fleet for some "what-if scenarios".  I've tried gaming Napoleonic naval with 1/2400 ships and while they are nice models, it just not the same as seeing the Langton's on the table top.

Hopefully I can convince Ernie to stage a combined Land / Sea Napoleonic or War of 1812 campaign using his game room and my fleets.

Game Room Design

Follow this link to a blog post about my friend, Ernie's game room - he has a very cleverly designed game room which focuses as much on the player experience (light, sounds) as it does on the table top scenery.  Ernie has an amazing setup and there's a lot one can learn from his techniques.  Take a look and prepare to be jealous!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Peninsular Campaign Battle "Somewhere in Portugal"

 We played a rather large Napoleonic's game at Ernie's last night and, as usual, it was a blast.  I just have a few pictures to post as Ernie will be doing a proper battler report over on the Architects of War site.  We had some new players last night and it's always fun to see new faces.  The scenario had the British / Portuguese fortified with a river to their backs.  The French mission was simple - break through the British lines and send them into the river.  I was given the overall command of the French and my forces was essentially a full corps - 27 36 figure infantry battalions, 5 calvary squadrons and 12 guns.  The French were organized into 3 infantry divisions of 8 battalions each, a calvary division and a reserve brigade of 3 infantry battalions.  My plan was simple - the 1st division, commanded by Chris would hold the left flank and demonstrate in front of the fortifications in the hopes of tying down the British right flank.  Next would be Patrick's calvary division which would support the main attack.  Bob G commanded the 2nd division, which was to form into a divisional column and make the main attack in the center.  Lastly, Les commanded the 3rd division, which had all our elite light troops and his job was to attack the Brits in the village.  Les had the toughest assignment of the night as the village proved to be excellent defensive terrain.  The first picture shows the initial entry of our French forces onto the table.

Opposing us was a formidable combined British / Portuguese army that was 2/3rds the size of the French but well fortified in terrain suitable for defense.  The British had fortifications on their extreme right and had a large hill running down the one half of the table to hide behind.  Lastly, their extreme left was the village and those damned walls.  The British were commanded by the sly Dick C - a dangerous opponent on any field of battle.

 The next picture shows the initial skirmishing on the French right flank.  Les had a lot of rough terrain to maneuver through so his initial attacks where forced to be piecemeal.  In the center left you can see our main attack forming up.  Just prior to this picture was an artillery duel which saw the French get the better of their British opponents.

 A view down the British line - that's a lot of Frog's coming their way!  As you can see the terrain was fabulous and featured a lot of the new Architects of War stuff.  It was also fun as the game proved to be a great shopping event for the players. We had access to the complete Architects of War inventory - including all the newly added Perry metals (oh my).  You can see some of the temptations on the shelves in the background.  I picked up some more Perry artillery crew and some limbers.  I also got a chance to look at the Perry Sudan range - wow, very tempting.

Back to the game.  The French Column strikes home!  Bob's second division makes it across the table and slams into the Highlanders.  His left flank was screened by Patrick's calvary division which lost 3 squadrons doing so but successfully protected the exposed flank of the column.  The divisional column proved to be unstoppable and fought its way through 4 infantry battalions and several calvary charges to break the British lines.

While Bob's Borg-like divisional column was chewing its way through the British center, Les was making headway against the Brits in the village.  The Brit's put up a terrific fight, but ultimately lost two battalions and saw the 95th rifles surrounded and forced to withdraw.

The game was called at this point as a French victory.  All-in-all, it was a grand evening and both Ernie and his lovely wife Barb did a fabulous job hosting yet another great gaming experience.  I'm hoping Ernie will use this game as the basis for a tutorial on how to host a game event.  It's not as simple as it seems and Ernie does it better than anyone I know.

Friday, April 1, 2011

The French Prepare to Move Out

 Tomorrow night is the big Peninsular game at Ernie's house and I'll be contributing my meager French Army to the fray.  It's been awhile since my guys have seen the table top and I'm excited for another big Napoleonic game.  My army currently consists of approx 380 figures and boasts 7 36 figure Line Infantry battalions, 1 42 figure Guard battalion, 3 guns and crews, 1 20 figure Light Cavalry, 1 24 figure Cuirassier and 1 28 figure Carabiniere unit.  The total French force for saturday's battle will boast 26 infantry battalions alone!
 Here's a shot of my infantry.  All the Line infantry figures are Perry plastics.  The Guard are Foundry figures.  I really like the Perry plastics and find painting them a lot easier than metals.

 Here's a picture of the artillery and my carabiniere unit.  The artillery are Perry metals and the carabiniere are Perry plastics (French heavy cavalry set).  The artillery crews were some of the first figures I painted and you can see they need some touch ups.
 The other 2 calvary units of my little army are a 20 figure Light calvary (Perry Metals) and a 24 figure Cuirassier unit (Perry plastics - again).
 Here's a close up on the artillery and the rather basic crew painting - well one has to start somewhere.

 That must be a terrifying sight if your a British soldier on the table top!

 Here's some close ups of the Line infantry.  All of my figures are based as singles with magnetic bottoms which facilitates using different basing standards.

 Another view of the infantry.

The Carabiniere's are my favorite unit - I love big heavy calvary units thundering across the tabletop. I've had mush success with these lads in the past - sometimes their mere presence is enough to sow confusion in the ranks of my opponents.  Alas, I'm not sure if these guys, my Cuirassier or the Guard will be included in the battle.  Ernie is trotting out something to do with "historical accuracy" and indicating these troops were not present in the battle we're playing.  I think it's just a plot by the British players to gain an edge!