Saturday, July 30, 2011

Shelob Lives!

This morning my lovely wife decided it was a perfect day for gardening, which she enjoys.  Of course her participation consists of writing a "to-do" list and handing it to me.  As she is my wife, I am terrified of her, so it was off to the garden with me.  Little did I know the horror that awaiting me...

There I was picking cucumbers, lettuce, tomatoes and eggplants, merrily checking off this that that from the list.  I was blissful in my servitude until I stumbled upon Shelob herself.  A demon spider that was at least 10 feet long.  Ok, 10 feet or three inches but it was really big.   Just for scale the fence strakes are 2 inches apart.


This is no normal spider, it's big and I even got a picture of it shooting it's white jagged lighting ray of icky spider death.  Look at the picture as it nearly cost me my life.  It also has some form of mind control capabilities - just after catching sight of this horror I was overcome with a desire to leave the garden.

Hmmmm, maybe there was something more to my wife's insistence that my insurance policy be updated....

I decided to use the Web to find out what kind of spider I have in the Garden (thank you Al Gore!).  I was sure it was either some form of man-eating, venom shooting, irradiated mutation with name like "Death Stalker"or "Widow-Maker".  I'm pretty sure I've seen one of them face Godzilla in one of those movies from the 60's.

Deftly my fingers searched the web, google-fu in full contact mode and I discovered the species -"Argiope Aurantia" better known as the "Yellow Garden Spider".  The spider is harmless to man (if one doesn't count causing the heebie-geebies as harmful) and are viewed as a good thing to have in the garden as they are voracious eaters of pests.

Kind of a let down, isn't it.  While a Argiope Aurantia is viewed as a "good spider", it's still damn big!

Monday, July 25, 2011

CSS Alabama and USS Kearsarge in 1/600

 Monday saw a little more progress on my expanding ACW fleet.  I completed assembling the CSS Alabama (on the left, USS Kearsarge on the right).  The model of the Alabama is also from Thoroughbred Miniatures and was a bit of a challenge to build.

 Next are two shots of the Alabama by itself.  It's a nice looking model.  Hopefully the heat wave will break so I can prime these guys up for painting!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

USS Kearsarge in 1/600 scale

I've decided to take a break from painting scores of ancients for the next week or two and return to ACW naval modeling.  Next up is the Kearsarge, a Thoroughbred Miniatures kit in 1/600 scale.  Toby at Thoroughbred makes what I consider the best line of 1/600 scale ironclad and ACW models out there and the Kearsarge is no exception.

 The model went together without any fuss and it very detailed.  Painting will have to wait until later in the week given the temps and humidity now making priming a bit of a chancy proposition.  The model is about six inches long.  I have a number of other ACW models to build including, of course, the CSS Alabama, which fought a famous duel with the Kearsarge.  The current rule set I use for ironclads is "Sail and Steam Navies" but I'm thinking of switching to the simpler but just as fun "Beer and Pretzels" Ironclads.

Lastly, a "only in America photo".  On my way back from picking my son up from Boy Scout camp we happened on the pictured vehicle.  It was a 1950's hearse mounted on a Monster Truck frame.  The Maryland license plate reads "UNDRTKER".  Don't worry, it had an official "street legal" sticker on it.  One never knows what one will see while driving around the roads of the rural Maryland Eastern Shore.  Perhaps some cemeteries are harder to get to than others.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Thoughts on Hail Caesar

 Displayed are a few more photos of my recent "Hail Caesar" game a few weeks ago.  The dashing man in the green shirt at the head of table is yours truly.  I've have been often reminded that I look just like George Clooney.  Well to be more specific, I look like George Clooney, if Mr Clooney looked liked Roger Ebert.  This picture was taken at the beginning of the game where I was likely pleading / bribing the players with free drinks if they would just look like they are having fun!

 Some photo's taken later in the game showing the Dacian main force trying to catch those pesky Romans.  After 6 games of Hail Caesar, I've realized the key to the game the employment of leaders and that can be further influenced by thoughtful use of 2 rules - Initiative and the "Follow Me".

 Once you've maneuvered your army to within 12" of the enemy, one can rely on initiative moves and then attach your leader to a unit to drive home a flanking attack.

 A picture of Paul Sawyer, looking very Buddha-like.  I'm pretty sure his visage wasn't due to the extreme satisfaction of seeing a well run game but more due to the forthcoming free beer promised post game...

 All of the pictures on this post were taken by a friend Dick C. who was a great help in setting up the game.  Dick also ran a few games of Ernie's and Architects of War new ruleset "Uncivil Wars". Those games were also a lot of fun and since they were sponsored by AofW, the scenery was the best of the show.

The casulty markers worked great and helped to reduce the clutter on the table top.  I'll do a quick tutorial on how to make them in a future post.

 This is my favorite picture from the con - lots of Romans and Dacians!

I'm leaning towards doing another Hail Caesar game at Fall-In but may also do a 1/1200 Napoleonic Naval game if I can figure out how to transport my ship models securely.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Historicon Report: Rome on the March

 I ran my "Hail Caesar" game at Historicon on Friday afternoon.  I think it went very well and in no small part to the help I got from Dick and Les (pictured standing at the end of the table) and Paul Sawyer from Warlord Games.  I was also very fortunate in my first outing as a GM that I had a great group of players who were knowledgeable on the subject and tolerant of my foolishness.  We had a good crowd watching the game that averaged about 15 -20 people.  The first picture shows the initial set up with the Romans escorting the emperor to the fort and about to be ambushed by two Dacian hordes.  Victory was very simple - get the emperor to the fort and the Romans win.  If he doesn't get there, well then it's a good day for the Dacians.

 I didn't take a lot of photos during the game (too busy) but here's one about a third of the way through.  The Romans used a very creative strategy of flooding everything to the left side of the table in the hopes of hooking around the trees and out running the main Dacian force of Infantry and a Cataphract unit.  The first few turns of the game saw three blunder roles in a row (12 on two D6) but then settled down into a see-saw action that was very close.  In the end the game was called for the Romans but they just eeked out a victory!

 It takes a lot of work to put on a game and I must admit there is a bit of elementary school "show and tell" or "hey look at my cool toy soldiers".  I had a blast doing it and will definitely do more games at cons in the future.  One very gratifying aspect was being asked to run a second game to accommodate players who couldn't get into the first game.  I ran that game late (for me!) Friday night at 9:30pm.  The set up was the same.  I was helped by one of the players from the first game, Malcolm (pictured standing at the right in blue).  Malcolm was a great sport and he definitely knew the rules better than I did so his help was greatly appreciated.

 During the second game, the Roman side used of different strategy - they attempted to take on the Dacian main force head on while delaying the calvary with their auxiliaries.  Dacian infantry with falxs are too Legionaries in to open as ginsu knives are to tomatoes.   The second game was won by the Dacians as they overwhelmed the Legion cohorts.  Over all it was a great game and I think the players had a good time.  My last comment will be to thank all of the guys who played in my games - they were a great group and their attitudes are what really made the games fun.  It can be confusing and frustrating playing a new system, especially with me babbling about, but these were true "gentlemen and scholars" are the real reason why the games were fun - thanks guys.

I did get an Ironclad game in Friday morning.  The game was put on by the Rogues gaming club using a set of rules called "Beer and Pretzels Ironclads".  The game was in a tongue and cheek style and it was a blast.  I commanded two Confederate ships and am very proud to say that my brilliant seamanship quickly turned those fine Confederate vessels into prototype submarines!  Despite getting my butt kicked it was a great game and the rules where a lot of fun!

With my GM duties being done with (unless asked to run another game tonight), I'm off to have a bit fun today!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Packed and Ready for Historicon

 As of 7:45 Eastern Standard Time, I'm all packed up and ready to head out to Historicon tomorrow morning.  All of my figures for the Hail Caesar game on Friday are packed up and I've included some modeling supplies to fix the inevitable transit damage.  I have a new level of respect for GM's after experiencing what a pain-in-the-*** it is to get everything packed up.  Never-the-less, I'm looking forward to the game and hope I don't botch things up too much.

 Here are some better pictures of the completed Warlord Sarmatian Cataphracts.  They really are lovely models and will likely be the star attraction on the table top.

 The long kontos (lances) make them a bit awkward to pack up, especially the 2 figures in the back with the kontos at port.  These guys take up twice the room other 12 figure calvary units use.  They are very nice looking sculpts.

 I still need to attach the bows and swords and just will not get around to it by the time of the game on friday.   While slow, cataphracts are very formidable units in the Hail Caesar ruleset.

 Here's a shot of the completed unit status markers. A die in the upper right will track loss levels and I'm using a skull in the lower right to indicate if the unit is shaken.  The squiggly red marker indicates disordered status.  I'm hoping these stands control the clutter that can occur with unit tracking in a Hail caesar (or Black Powder) game.  We'll see how they work out.

Lastly, here's a shot of all the status trackers.  I gave up on using figures and resorted to shields to make the stands a bit easier to finish.  I find the look of the shields to be a bit "cleaner" than the wounded soldier figs.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Warlord Sarmatian Cataphracts Finished and Casualty Stands

 The 12 Warlord Sarmatian Cataphracts are now painted - whew that was a lot to complete in three days.  As I've posted earlier, the figures are amazing and I can already see some opportunities to clean up the paint job.  Sorry for the poor pictures, I'll post some better ones later.

Here's a picture of a single trooper.  Those Kontos are very sharp!  I still need to scenic the bases but will get that done on Wed and then it's packing up and heading off the Historicon.

 I also made 20 casualty stands to be used in the Hail Caesar game.  A dice will go in the upper right box to track casualty levels and I have markers that denote Disordered or Shaken status for the lower right box.  There are 10 trackers for the Romans and 10 for the Dacians.  I stole the idea from Curt over at Analog Hobbies.  I think this help reduce the clutter that can occur when playing Hail Caesar and its associated casualty tracking.

Since I play both Hail Caesar and Black Powder, I magnetized the casualty stands so I can swap out period specific markers.  It wouldn't do the use a Roman Auxiliary marker for Napoleonic French.  As you can see, like the cataphracts, I still need to scenic these bases which shouldn't be that trying.

I have some scenery elements to finish for my game on Friday, but I think I'm nearing the finish line.