Saturday, March 30, 2019

General D'Armee: First Test Game

There is a good bit of interest in at the club in the General D'Armee ruleset, which was written by David Brown.  I've read the rule book and really like a lot of the concepts and so have set up a small solitaire test game to learn the mechanics.  It a division sized engagement pitting relatively equal French and Austrian forces against one another.
The Austrian force consists of 2, 4 battalion infantry brigades and a 3 squadron bridge of Heavy Calvary (that's the only calvary for the Austrians that are painted up).  I'm putting the Austrians on the offensive early on.
Against them are a similar sized pair of French infantry battalions.  The calvary brigade has 2 heavy on one light calvary.  Both sides have a pair of artillery batteries.

The Austrians are have initiated a charge and so have moved to the required 3 inch distance and we'll leave it there as I need to re-read the charge mechanics.

I'm going to hold off any detailed comments about mechanics until I've played a few rounds at home and then with someone at the club live.  I'm likely doing a lot wrong now.  By the way, that's not a criticism of the rules presentation and writing style - they are clearly written and have good illustrations.

First impressions are very positive, especially the command control /  aid d'camp system.  It's an elegant form of command friction which introduces command risk but also doesn't totally throw the game if ones luck is really bad for a turn.  I like it a lot.

The ruleset does use D6's exclusively but there are a lot of different types of die roles so I'm working up a standard which is:

Large National Color Dice for command rolls / ADC's allocations
French: Blue
Austrians: White
British: Red
Prussians: Black
Russians: Green

(not a lot of creativity in the above color selections)

Vegas Style Dice for combat rolls

Small grey dice for combat die - for some action in addition to rolling a pair of D6's a unit can roll pool additional combat dice which can inflict incremental casualties.  It's an elegant way to influence the probabilities but still use the same type of dice.  It did take me a few re-reads to grasp the concept.

Small green for casualties - Units can take 12+ causalities before breaking and start to have negative modifiers upon reaching 4 and 8 casualties.  I may go with tracking casualties on a player force reference card and just denoting units that have the -1 or -2 modifier with a wound figure of simple marker.  A pair of dice can work for now but will become unwieldy in a large game.

Results so far are very encouraging.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge IX: Details

Challenge IX was very different for me on several fronts.  As mentioned earlier, I posted a personal high of 5,051 points and came in second overall - that's a pretty big achievement right there.   As the chart on the right indicates a lot of the points production was backloaded.  That wasn't me being cheeky but rather the reflects that scenery projects take a lot longer to get to a completed state.  With figures you can post them as they're done in small groups but with scenery it's just not done until it's done.

The other big change is what was painted during this challenge.  Usually my topics of choice are 28mm scale and fall into either the American Civil War or WW2.  Challenge IX was very different as it was dominated by two different topics - 15mm Napoleonics and Scenery which combined for 83% of my production over the winter. as shown in the chart below:

 Challenge IX Points Distribution:  
 15 MM Napoleonics  Points  Percent 
       Naval               638 13%
       Land            1,495 30%
         Total            2,133 42%
 28MM WW2                90 2%
 28MM ACW               335 7%
 Gunfighters Ball              365 7%
 Scenery            2,055 41%
 1/600 ACW Naval                16 0%
 Blood Bowl                 57 1%
            5,051 100%
 15MM            2,133 42%
 28MM               847 17%
 1/600 Naval                 16 0%
 Scenery            2,055 41%
            5,051 100%

I didn't really do a lot of 28MM stuff this Challenge and it was a nice break.  I still love the 28mm scale but there are other aspects of the hobby to explore.  The one thing that did link this Challenge to my past ones is the bulk of what was produced is in support of my planned summer convention games at Historicon.  More on the in future post.

Thanks to Curt and Sarah for putting on this madness and thanks to all the participants.  The Challenge remains my favorite hobby exercise and I look forward to Challenge X!

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge IX - Fini'

 Challenge IX is in the books - and it was a grand event.  I posted a personal best of 5,051 points and came in second overall, so I'm pleased with this year's productivity.

The other big plus is that I've painted just about everything I need for this summer's Historicon games.  More on that topic in a future post.
There was some 28mm stuff painted also and a lot of terrain.

Now where to store all this stuff...

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Cold Wars 2019

Cold Wars was a lot of fun.  I ran my "Sink the Tennessee" game 2x on Saturday as part of the Little Wars TV space and had a blast.  I had great players - 8 for the first game and 9 for the second, almost all of whom have played in my past convention games.  It really was a great group of people and a pleasure to GM for.  Shockingly, the game was awarded two prizes, which was very nice.  I'm pretty sure it was because of the quality of players and not the ham handed GM.

The terrain panels worked really well.  I was very pleased with the ease of transport and look at the con.  I may have found my preferred solution for sectional terrain.

I need to make more generic fields.
Both games ended with desperate fighting on the dock with the first game going to the Union as the US Marines barely held off a desperate charge by the confederate militia.
The crew from game one - we had players from all age groups and it worked exceptionally well.  If only I had the energy of the young gentlemen in the red cap.....

The second game was a bit more bloody with lots of fighting at both ends of the table.  Still the climatic point was, again, on the dock as a confederate calvary charge ran down the US Marines and engineers - clearing the docks and allowing the CSA Tennessee to escape.  Win for the Confederates!
The crew for game 2 - another great group of players who really ran the game for themselves.  I was essentially just a carnival barker, which was perfect.  I do kind of like the "gansta" look Walt is going with on the far left.  It's a good look for you Walt, keep it.

There will be a follow on post with my ramblings about the con and the inevitable comments about the Host (spoiler - the Host is well on the way to recovery).

I do want to thank my club mates at Little Wars TV for letting me set up with them - they ran some fabulous games which you'll see in the convention report video.  Looking forward to Historicon!

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Attack on Foy / Disposable Heroes

Last Monday night at the club, I got a chance to play in the final test game of the Attack on Foy prior to Cold Wars.  This WW2 action was featured in the Band of Brothers TV series and was also one of the games in the first season of the club's LittleWarsTV project.  Here's a link to that video.

As you can see the table looks great.  This version of the game uses the WW2 ruleset Disposable Heroes, which were written by Keith Stine.  Keith's also the gentleman putting on the game at Cold Wars so at least there will be no rules disputes as you'll have the author at the table.

The game has a very interesting activation structure where each side is given a number of activation chits and during a turns the sides alternate actions were a chit is used to allow a squad/fire team to do 3 actions.  It can move 3x (3 inches each), shoot 3x or combinations of those and other actions.  A player can activate the same squad multiple times in a turn so it's really interesting and forces you hard decisions on what to do each turn.  I'm sure I'm not explaining it well but I really liked the mechanic.  It provides a very nice ebb and flow for tactical action and avoids the alpha strike issue one can experience in more traditional I go / you go type games.

I had never played the rules before but was able to pick them up after the second activation, that makes these really good for a convention game.

I think the people who have signed up for this game at Cold Wars are in for a real treat.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Terrain making and a biological disaster

All work has stopped here at the Lair by way of Royal decree.  It seems that executive management (the lovely, yet fierce, Dr Reidy) has grown alarmed at the level of debris created by terrain making and called a household vote on the matter.

We run a very democratic household and when there is a dispute as to the direction of our tiny realm we have a fair and open election.  I get to cast my one vote and MB casts her 99.  Once the votes are tallied we know the decision by the people.

As with many elections the pre-vote debate was fierce and my faction - "The Mess Makers" seemed to be winning the day but then we were hit by a scandal that our superior policy arguments could not overcome.  Now this is kind of a funny story.  We've got a small freezer in the unheated garage where MB stores overflow items.  The garage isn't really wired to be a workshop so sometimes I need to unplug the freezer to avoid blowing a circuit.  I only do this during the winter months when it's really cold (one of the few times an unheated garage comes in handy).  Well, heh-heh, I unplugged the freezer and seemed to have forgotten to plug it back in.  The fact that this event happened in December and was only discovered yesterday did not help my case.

My political aides suggested counter arguments built around the theme that the fault is really with my wife as she never checked on the freezer all these months.  We organized a series of toady-like talking heads to make the rounds of the Sunday news shows.  Sadly, their cogent arguments could not overcome the raw video images of the biological freak fest going on inside our once innocent freezer.  The election was lost and the winning party has enacted her draconian laws of cleanliness.

So today, I don my bio hazard suit and commence operation clean up.  I do this with not a little trepidation as the mass that has formed inside the freezer seems to have developed self awareness and is likely to put up a stiff resistance.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Workbench Clean Up & So Long to a Old Friend

One of the side effects of miniature painting (well, at least the way I do it) is the creation of a giant mess and periodically I need to stop on clean the place up.  I was in the process of doing just that and came to the conclusion that is was time to replace the self healing mat.  Mr Green (mat) has seen many years of service and been through a lot, but sometimes it just time to hang things up.  Let us all tip out hats as Mr Green exits stage right into a well earned retirement.  We shall not see the likes of him again.
I also cleaned the workbench off and have also realized that after the challenge it needs a full sanding and re-finishing.
Here's the new mat in place.  I know I'm being very avant guard going with a dark grey version.  Sometimes one just needs to shake things up.  We'll see if doing so improves my rather limited painting skills.

11 days of the Challenge left to go and I've got a business trip and Cold Wars in between so I'm not sure how much more I can get done.  At least everything needed for the cold wars games is finally completed.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Some last minute painting for Cold Wars next week.  I had forgotten that I borrowed some Union troops the last time I ran "Sink the Tennessee" at a convention so am filling out the ranks now.  I'm very lucky that (i) the Perry Brothers have very fast mail order delivery and (ii) I didn't discover this shortfall while packing up the day before the con.

That last point has happened for other games.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Terrain Storm

 With Cold Wars less than 2 weeks away, terrain making has kicked into high gear here in the Lair.  I needed a simple bridge so slapped this together from some scrap balsa and bass wood.  I need to add some ramps to either end but it will do.

 There are also some simple hills being added to the inventory - the base is Expanded Polystyrene (the stuff that makes lots and lots of dust)
The hill sections are smoothed via a knife and sander (wow that created a lot of dust) and then covered with sculptamold.  Once that dries a thin layer of tile grout/PVA glue is applied for texture.

Lastly, I made some "tree plates" a few years ago (Link) but was never really happy with them.  I found them bland as you can see from the top of the picture to the left.  I've cut out some new shapes (MDF is cheap) and have been experimenting with different mixes to get a more varied forrest floor look.  Still some work to do but I already like the new stuff A LOT better.

Also experimenting with magnetizing the tree bases - that may be a bit much to complete before Cold Wars.