Monday, April 30, 2012

Napoleonic Naval Action in the Atlantic

 I hosted an impromptu Napoleonic Naval game yesterday afternoon using my 1/1200 Langton models and the Trafalgar ruleset.  The game was a fictional scenario pitting a combined British/US fleet against a French Spanish one.  In other words, a scenario concocted to get all the models on the table at once.  Dick and Les came over to play and were great opponents and guests.  The British fleet consisted of the one first rate, the HMS Victory, six third rates and two fifth rate frigates.  The US fleet was 2 third rates and 1 fourth rate (the Constitution).  The French consisted of one second rate, six third rates and 2 fifth rated frigates.  The Spanish had one "super-sized" first rate (the Santisima Trinidad) and three third rates).  From a points perspective the French/Spanish fleet was 2,610 points vs 2,300 for the Brit/US fleet.  No special rules were in play.

There were three islands on the 8'x4' board which really impacted game play (more than I expected).  The game evolved into 2 actions pitting unequal forces where three French third rates took on the bulk of the British fleet with the exception on one Britsh small third rate and it's 2 frigates taking on the Spanish fleet.  The bulk of the French fleet and the US fleet both tried to go around islands and missed the battle line entirely.

 The second photo shows the main British fleet, with Victory in the lead attempting to pass through the smaller force of three French third rates (Heros, Formidable, and Scipion).  In typical fashion, the French aimed high and managed to take out two of Victories three masts and the British aimed low causing some damage but nothing major.

 The action a few turns later shows the Scipion being surrounded by the bulk of the British fleet.  She gave as good as she got in the engagement and managed to dismast the Victory and bring her to within one hull box of sinking.  The 2 British third rates in raking position on the Scipion's bow and stern made her pay for that by sending her to the bottom of the Atlantic.

A close up of the glorious end of the Scipion.  Her former line mates sailed on but received a good bit a damage from the British and both sustained steerage damage which would lead them to sail of the table.  In return they savaged the three British ships that tangled with the Spanish, sinking the two frigates and almost de-crewing the accompanying third rate (Agamemnon).

Fire control proved to be a lost art for the Spanish as the fires of the Santisima Trinidad (front ship, top left) continued to burn out of control causing extensive damage below her water line.

At this point I called the game as the main fleet sections had passed each other and there would be at least 4 turns of maneuvering before we could bring them into contact again.  I would give the win the Dick and Les as their Brit US fleet was in much better shape, despite the near loss of the Victory but it was a very close game.

A few things I did learn from yesterday's game.
(1) The terrain used impacted play a great deal and probably too much.  Future games should either be on the "open sea" or restrict terrain to a scenario objective (harbor raid / fort attack).
(2) The Trafalgar rules are relatively simple but give a good feel for the period.  They also seemed very manageable for a large fleet action.

Overall it was a fun game and, as usual, Dick and Les proved to be great guests.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Roman Praetorians and Archers Completed

 Two more units are not complete for my 28mm Early Imperial Roman Army - a 24 figure Praetorian Guard unit and a 16 figure Auxiliary Archer unit.  This will bring my Roman army for Historicon up to:
- 6, 24 figure units of Legionnaire Infantry (3 regular, 2 veteran, and 1 Praetorian)
- 2, 24 figure units of Auxiliary Infantry
- 1, 16 figure unit of Auxiliary Archers
- 2, 12 figure units of Auxiliary Cavalry
- 2 Elephants
- 1 Scorpion Battery
- 1 Ballista Battery

 The Praetorians are plastics from Warlord and I found them easy to both build and paint.  I may go back and tweak some details but these guys are good to go for the table top.

 As I said in an earlier post, i gave up trying to put my Little Big Man (LBM) shield transfers on.  I think this was more do to my limited motor control and the need to very precisely trim the transfers to fit each half of the shield front.  I tried to free hand a few shields but the outcome wasn't that good so I think I'll stick with a basic red for now.

 The archers are metal figures (also from Warlord) and are based in four man units and they were painted up on Sunday morning.  A neat trick I've seen from Ernie (Architects of War)  is where he takes old brushes and cuts them up to use a strings for the bows.  It looks great and I think I'll give that a go just to see how it looks.

With 15 completed units of Romans, I now have enough to field 3 divisions for my upcoming Hail Caesar game at Historicon.  Next up will be some additional units for their arch foes - the Dacian / Sarmatian army.  I'm thinking some more missile fire units in the form of either Dacian foot archers / scorpions or Sarmatian horse archers.  For the scenario I have planned they'll need them....

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Day After

 Yet again I have cheated fate and managed to survive my wife's annual spring luncheon for her women dental students.  This year was as perilous as the rest.  The first pic of my wife (front row 4th from the right) and her wards.  Sure they all look nice in the photo but get between them and the food and you'll see a much more terrifying side.

 The girls did give my wife a nice platter for serving steamed crabs - very useful in our neck of the woods.  It was a very nice gesture.

 Here is an "action" shot of our guest swarming the cake and devouring it without pity.  I kept thinking of shark feeding frenzy - it was touch and go for a bit but I managed to get out of the room unscathed.  The only other rough spot came when as I was cleaning up plates from a table.  The young lionesses seemed to have been discussing their respective boyfriends and their associated deficiencies (which are apparently numerous).  You know how these conversations go - each successive comment tries to top the previous.  Attempting to lighten the mood, I suggested that they remember that men, as a group, are just not that bright and such things as sports on TV, action movies and the whole toilette seat thing are just some of our more endearing qualities.  Lets just say I failed my saving throw on this encounter and added more fuel to the bonfire of their furry.  The net result is that I fear  there are some boyfriends in real trouble right now - dead men walking.

OK what about the food.  Good lord how can such tiny girls consume so much food?  Here's a pic of the table about halfway through.

We need to order more food for next year.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

And so It Begins... Part Duex

 Well it's April and that means it's time for my wife to host her Spring luncheon for her female dental students.  The first few have arrived but the count is expected to swell to 72.  Think of these first arrivals as "pathfinders' for the rest.

 While I shall be banished to the basement and only called forth when my lovely wife feels the need to demonstrate "how to train a husband" for her young wards, all is not lost.  There's the food - oh the glorious food.

 The theme is again French and the food layout is even better than last year.  If only I can figure a way to keep those ravenous crones , oops I mean those delicate flowers from eating all the good stuff.  There's salmon, quiche (and this real man does eat quiche), veal, a roast.

Here's the crew prepping the food.  I volunteered to be head of testing an quality control - it's a tough job but somebody has to do it.

Oh no there's the door bell, that means those pathfinders mentioned above have successfully guided in the first wave.  To the Barricades! - wish me luck..... I'll need it.

Wait there's movement, what's going on???

Oh no, they're heading for the food "No, don't eat the Roast Beef - eat the damn salad instead -  Noooooo!!!!!!..."

Oh the horror, the horror....

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Shuttle Discovery Fly Over

 Today was an interesting day at work - the Space Shuttle Discovery made a fly over of Washington DC on it's was to be added to the collection of the Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum.  The flight path took the shuttle and it's specially configured 747 transport over the Potomac River and just past my office in the Washington Harbor complex.

I was able to snap some pictures as it flew over the Key Bridge (top) and over Teddy Roosevelt Island on it's way to the Washington monument.   The plane was at an altitude of 1,500 so it was a pretty cool experience.  It was also a tad melancholy to see such a proud machine on it's last flight.  I've had the opportunity to see a few shuttle lift-offs in person and it's a magnificent piece of aerospace engineering.

It sure beat listening to the silly conference call I was already ignoring!

Here's a link to a story on the fly over from the Washington Post

Monday, April 16, 2012

Roman Praetorians & Auxiliary Archers

 Another 24 figure Cohort is about to enter service into my Roman tabletop army.  This unit is about 80% done.  The figures are the Warlord plastic Praetorians and like the rest of the Warlord Early Imperial Roman line they're very good figures.

 I still need to finish out the detail painting / dry brushing and scenic the bases / movement tray.  I may also try to free hand a more interesting design for the shields.  I did try some Little Big Man Studio's (LBM) transfer for the shields but just couldn't get them to work.  Sometimes one is "on" for detail work like that and sometimes your just "off".

 One notable thing about this unit is that all 24 figures where painted in a single session Sunday morning.  OK it was a longish session but I've never done that many figures in a four hour session.  I'm sure as I go back to pick out details I'll see lots of opportunity for improvement.

Next up on the painting list is a unit of 16 Early Imperial Roman Archers.  These figures are, again, from Warlord but they are the metal "Western Empire"  Auxiliary archers.  I should be able to knock these gentlemen out by next weekend.  Doing so will finish up what I need to add for my Romans and then it's back to Dacians / Sarmatians.  I want to add a few more infantry and artillery units to flesh out that force for the game I'll be hosting at Historicon this July.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Roman Elliephanzers & Spring is Here!

 I know this really isn't truly "historical" modeling but I thought it would be fun to make some Roman crews for my Elephant models.  One of the great things about plastics is the extra figures you have on the sprues and the material is very easy to customize.  A few Warlord figures and plastic scorpions and "waa-laa" I've now got Elephant mounted Roman scorpions!

I'm not sure this was ever done by the Romans, but if it was I've now got the models for it.  These "Elliephanzers" should be a real treat on the table top.

Building the crew figures for the Elephants on removable stands has proven very helpful and allows one to make double use of expense figures like these elephants.

Now on to another manly topic, gardening.  It's now officially spring as my fig tree is budding and has figs starting to pop out.  It will be mid June before their ready to east but it looks like a good crop this year.  My wife and I are in the final planning stages of what to plant this year in the garden (you know this is the part where she tells me what to plant).  We have started some broccoli and early peas but haven't fleshed out the rest (other than the pre-requsite tomatoes, cukes, peppers and zucchini).

I want to try brussels sprouts again this year.  last year got eaten by deer in late september.

Monday, April 2, 2012

FOW: Anti Aircraft & HCON Game

Not a lot of painting done last week - I only managed to complete a small anti-aircraft unit for my German Panze Lehr force.   Its a small unit of 2 SdKfz 7/2 AA halftracks.  These units mount 37mm guns and can provide some level of defense against marauding Stuarts along with keeping an eye on the sky.

I did manage to do some planning for my the game I will be hosting at Historicon this summer.  After some thought, I decided to do another Hail Caesar themed game using my Roman and Dacian armies.  I had toyed with doing something naval - perhaps ACW ironclads or Age of Sail.  The real plus for either of those options is the relative ease of transport / set up.  However, both genres are well represented at the con by GM's who really know their stuff so adding yet another version doesn't really add a lot of value.

So despite the transport issues for large 28mm armies and their associated terrain, I'm going with Hail Caesar.  Hopefully there will be some other GM's using the system so we can try some add-hoc battles in the evenings!

I'm still tinkering on the scenario.  I'm not a big fan of set piece ancient battles two lines of troops bash into each other.  Last year's HCON game seemed to go well and was structured as a  Dacian ambush of a Roman column taking the Emperor to a fort.   Both the Roman and Dacian armies have been expanded a bit so this years game will be able to support 3 divisions of 4-6 units each, plus some surprises to shake things up a bit.  Any suggestions for scenario design will be greatly appreciated.