Sunday, March 20, 2011

This Week in Wargaming--Weeks Nine and Ten

Fire work shows some promise and some setbacks. I made contacts in Florida and Georgia, so next Spring may prove to be busy in February and March. That is good. The Fed's continue to be indecisive for the Wildland Firefighters over 45 years old. They cannot seem to iron out the paperwork and medical issues. This is a problem as the deadlines for medical review are fast approaching. The deadlines for our yearly physical and equipment tests are also approaching. Without approval, one cannot take the tests. We'll have to see how it shakes out. My current Red Card expires in mid-April. I was on the hook for some burns in NY State for Monday to Wednesday but weather prediction look unfavorable and family commitments require me to be out of State again. There is a very small chance I can get on a Florida burn, though.
My kids are doing well in their sports. Isabel has been consistently jockeying for first through third with the same girls. Her winter riding circuit is nearing cessation. Points-wise, she should be eligible to go to the big show in August. John Henry's winter lacrosse is winding down just as the Spring season starts. It is quite fun to watch him play as the joy is evident. No matter how much he hated most of the practices for the winter, it seems to have paid off. Interestingly, the winter sessions were drills, drills and drills which thankfully has given way to scrimmages. I suspect the coaches were using the winter to train their winter league team. Our township does not have a winter league because so many of the kids ski or play hockey. Maybe next year I can get him on the other town's winter team. We'll see...
This April we have the 150th anniversary of the start of the American Civil War. Interestingly, it was last year that I reinvigorated my ACW miniature collection without paying attention to the anniversary. Now that I have realized we have such an anniversary, it has me all fired up to visit battlefields, play games, watch movies, etc. In that same vein, I was surprised to see that Wizards of the Coast (owner of the Avalon Hill game stable) and Hasbro have teamed up to issue the game Battle Cry by Richard Borg, the game is system that spawned Battle Lore, Memoir '44 and Battles of Westeros. As a result, I bought it as soon as I stumbled on it. Not surprisingly, WotC has an online version but it is very rudimentary; fun but rudimentary and only good for one or two plays. I'll let you know how the boardgame plays...I did try the WotC online sampler of Battle Cry. It was good but lack all the extras that the online Memoir '44 has. It also lacks any scenarios so it is really only good to sample the system or teach you the basics of the game. Worth a look if you are unsure about the game as you will get a feel for the mechanics.

Board-, Card and Role Playing Games Played:
Six. Mag Blast, Battle Cry, and Memoir '44 (x4)
On the first night of the convention, we convened in the lobby and played a game of MagBlast, a card game of starship combat. The game is designed to handle upwards of two to eight players with more the merrier. It is very quick play with cartoon art by John Kovalic. One of the best parts is one's attack is not effective unless you make the sound effect of the lasers, maser, missiles, etc. as they blast your opponents. It was fun to play with six people. A house rule was in effect which only allows you to attack the person to your right or left. I am not sure if I liked the modification; but, it worked to keep the weaker players in the game longer. I had the dubious distinction of being the Brotherhood of Peace. Their special trait allows one to transfer a Blast from a fleet ship to another fleet...I called it Sharing the Love. My neighbors were the Freeps and the Tribots. Once I shared the love, the Freeps and Tribots learned not to hit me unless they could take out a ship in one volley. I survived longer than I should have based on my aggressive tactics. I would have been smarter to build my fleet especially since the Tribots build fast and the Freeps steal your cards. Needless to say I went out in a blaze of glory after the Freeps and Tribots had eliminated everyone else. If memory serves, Jimmy's Tribots won. It is a good game and is no wonder that Fantasy Flight is on its third or fourth printing.
The week after the convention, I waded through my emails to discover that Days of Wonder has added a bunch of new scenarios to the Memoir '44 online games. Many of them are set in the desert. Naturally, it has added all of the special desert rules. In addition, they added the Tent rule which makes it important to defend your Command Post. Lose it and lose a card. I played Flanking Maneuver at Bir Hacheim, Sidi Rezegh, Hellfire Pass and a generic Commonwealth against the Axis. The games are fun as usual. I look forward to the addition of the Russian Front battles which I hear are next. This is a good way to get a quick game in when your "Jonesin' for a game" and don't have the time.

Miniature Games:
On the first night of Cold Wars, my buddy Phil had brought along a completed set of figures, terrain, etc. that he had built and finally found the rules. The set is a beautiful painted terrain board, terrain, buildings and 15mm AB figures for the Peninsular War. The rules he settled on are Ganesha Games' Songs of Drums and Shakos. After I finished my MagBlast game, I spun my seat and played a skirmish right out of Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe series. I commanded a group of Spanish Guerillas loosely allied to Igor's British Rifles. Phil commanded a Squad of Irish Legion, a baggage train and some French Voltigeurs. We had a great battle, but contrary to expectations, the British and the Spanish were roundly defeated. As you all may recall, I am a big fan of the Ganesha Games system for its ease and playability. Typically, though, I do play with the 25mm ranges for 15mm figures. In addition, I also eliminate the maximum range, instead applying increasing penalties which tend to preclude people from shooting past optimal range. It was a great game an great set.
Friday morning I signed up for Alternate Chacabuco. This scenario was a refight of the Battle of Chacabuco fought on 17 February 1817. The Patriot army led by General San Martin had surprised the Royalists by marching across the Andes from Argentina. This scenario used the forces in the area but proposed refighting with all sides having their forces available. in the refight, the Royalists held the Patriots denying them the farm and crossroads although badly mauled. It was a good game despite Mr. Min-Max bossing around his own players, moving our figures, fudging distances, bullying the umpire, etc. I only lost my cool once when I grabbed his hand and said, "Let him move his figures, OK?"
My next three games were Two Hour Wargames' Red Sand, Blue Sky which had been released just prior to the show. Ed grabbed a few of us and put us through Gladiator Training. I thoroughly enjoyed my two games even though I played against Mr. Lucky. At one point, I even felt bad for suspecting him of dice fudging but I watched and he really was rolling well. I wish I remembered his name as he was a good guy. I tried out a Retairius, the guy with the trident and the net, and a Dimacaerus (a guy with two swords). Both lost to his Myrmillo (a sword armed gladiator). Both games were fast, furious and entertaining. The third game was Two Hour Ed, Rebel Mike, Splintered Dave and me, some of my favorite people to game with as there is tons of joking and laughing. We fought it out for the number one position. David had a fast and deadly Dimacaerus but his lower strength meant that he was the "Death of 1000 cuts. In a move that had me sweating, he almost won it with a truly Hollywood double stab...but it did not fully do the job. Rebel Mike cut us all down which was very painful (not really) after all his Gladiator's grandstanding. Great set of games with a great set of friends. TWH has captured the genre with the maneuvering, fatigue, armor and unique weapons melded into a system which flows. I bought it the next day as many a Gladiator game has come and gone from my table as either too slow, too detailed, too bizarre, etc.. This one is good.
The Saturday morning game should be labeled "Fool Me Once..." Last year, a Great Paraguayan War battle was offered using Fire and Fury. I got a ticket and showed up at the table five minutes early. As I walked up a teenager was already playing as an alternate. I did not kick him out as according to the book, I was late and it was a newbie probably trying a historical game for the first or second time. The rule is if you don't show up fifteen minutes early, the GM can give away the slot. Oh well, by the book I says...besides, I had a shot at a Hawks game in two hours [a safe trade in my book as Hawks games are fun]. This year, I walked up fifteen minutes [by the book]. To my confusion, the game was already going and by the rhythm, it had been going for a bit. I lurked long enough to figure out this was a bunch of friends and I have a suspicion it was a sneaky way to get free admission. Run a game for your buddies and start it early.
I got to play in a great game of the Battle of Laguna Salada. The rules are the GM's own Huzzah and to the Bayonet!. The scale is 1:10, one of my favorites for Horse and Musket. It was entertaining to no end as the Patriots were expected to destroy the Royalists but both sides engaged in Bell Curve defying rolls. The Patriots rolled terribly and the Royalist rolled very, very well. As a result, the younger Royalist players enjoyed whomping on the Grogards...and to think I was worried when I saw the younger gamers all wanting the Royalists. Oh, and the younger players had sound tactics. In the end, the Irish and British legion was probably no more. The rules are good and have promise as they capture the units, personalities and flavor of the conflict.
I managed to get a ticket to a Spanish Civil War game but opted not to play as Mr. MinMax from Chacabuco and one other guy with whom I don't enjoy playing were present and pre-registered. It's always a problem when someone makes sure to tell you they were pre-registered as an opening to a conversation. I also find that ACW, SCW, WW2 and Vietnam games tend to have people who are rabidly committed to playing a particular side...usually a good sign to find another game. "I was pre-registered and these are my troops..." tends to put me off. Well, I hung around long enough to make sure the umpire had enough players and then I wandered off never letting on I had a ticket. Instead, I went for a run.
My last two games were some of my convention favorites: the Schlegel's Ferry series of Blood & Swash. A good friend, Eric Schlegel runs a myriad of scenarios that start in the 1600's and run up to the present day. Each is set in the same town, Schlegel's Ferry, Maryland. The town naturally evolves as do some of the characters. This convention I got to play in "Al Capone Comes to Schlegel's Ferry" (1920's) and "The Russians are Coming to Schlegel's Ferry" (1950's). In the first I was the Lady's Temperance League out to destroy the Devil Gin and raise funds for The Movement. I would describe the Lady's as a bit fed up with the peaceful progression of things as I wielded axes and pistols to good effect. At one point, I even crashed an ambulance into Al Capone's roadster and on into the river in an attempt to stop his nefarious deals. Pistols blazed, shooting barrels of Devil Gin. And did it really matter if I got a few gangsters in the end? The next game was set in the 1950's where I was the Schlegel Brothers stepping in to take over from Eric. Finding a UFO, it had been towed home where I defended it from all comers while trying to break into the ship. Unfortunately, the game ended too soon. I wanted to use the ship to fly around and abduct Russian spies who I had seen cutting through my cornfields on the way to the time. Always great games I thoroughly recommend the series. Hey Eric, maybe you should put the scenarios out there in a scenario book.
The best part of Cold Wars is spending time with my friends. This time around I also got to meet face to face a few folks that I have corresponded with over the years. It was good to get together and play some games. As always, Cold Wars is a day too short. I could have used more time to hang out, more time to play and more time to look in the Dealer's area...the worst part was the Convention Crud I brought home. It sure made painting on a ten foot ladder interesting. I also missed my Friday game at Mike's as I needed to sleep...

No work on this area; but I did see some good stuff. I spent some time in hobby shops in North Florida and with dealers at Cold Wars which allowed me to purchase more flocking and foliage clusters. I failed to find the Silfoi brush clusters I wanted. I looked over some great buildings at Cold Wars but never made it back to purchase as I played too many games. Same thing happened at a hobby shop in Florida. I did sign up for some pre-release deals from Miniature Building Authority to add a few buildings to my Desert (28mm), Europe (28mm) and Mediterranean (15mm) collections of buildings...building-wise, I am, about saturated but for the odd special one. I also talked the Bunker Monkey into building me a still for my Hatfield and McCoy game.
I also spoke with a friend Howard who has always wanted to build an old West mine. It seems he has no use for it but wants to build one. He thought of me and my varied periods. As a result, I think he may start building this for me. The piece he envisioned was a mountain piece that divided the board and then having a variety interchangeable passages, etc. Howard has done a few pieces for me in the past and they are always durable, usable and affordable. I committed to picking it up from him. It would be good if he decides to do this piece as it has been something that I have always thought would be good for my adventure games in the West, Pulp and Horror periods. Not to mention his initial ideas on cost were far more affordable than if Dwarven Forge ever produces such.
Related to terrain, I got to hike through the Area of Operations of the Second Seminole War and one battlefield, the Dade Massacre Site. Of particular interest was the time spent with some Florida State Rangers. They showed the types of terrain which the actions were fought over and how those same areas had evolved. At the Dade site, the rangers have actually been allowed to use prescribed fire to keep a similar patch of land in the state it was at the time of the battle. Since this patch is in close proximity to the battlefield they have actually been allowed to cut the road, clearings, etc to effect a mock-up of the battle. Twice yearly, reenacters fight for an audience on the mock-up; one on December 28th (the actual date) and one approximately one week later. The best part is I have a decent chance to be on the crew for next year's burn...this is a big coup if it happens as I can then make contact with their burn crew and see some work from January to April in Florida.
Attached below are the pictures of the actual battlefield today:

Looking Down the military road towards the ambush site.
The site of the redoubt where the last stand occurred.
The ersatz battlefield maintained to appear the same as it appeared at the time of the conflict:

Two views looking Down the military road towards the ambush site.

The last stand location with the logs for the reneenactors to construct the redoubt.
American Civil War
I purchased Pascal Le Pautremat's book First Bull Run in the "Men and Battles" series from "histoire [sic] & Collections". At first glance it looks similar to an Osprey. The maps, plates and artwork seem nice. I plan to read it after I finish the three books I am currently reading.
Mark Fastoso printed a Sikh War Scenario Book. That is a must have. I enjoy his books for the knowledge, ideas and the scenarios. My 15mm Colonialism collection is a continuously growing beast. It is not inconceivable that some of my troops could do battle in the Sikh Wars with the addition of a few troop types. That is the beauty of the period, one theater bleeds into another. That is the curse of the period, one period bleeds into another...I blame it on The Sword and the Flame.
My modern 15mm collection got some reinforcements. I picked up a bunch of packs from Rebel Miniatures as I have been painting and I thought it was time to add a bunch of odds and ends: African Militia, African troops, Hostages, Police, Rioters, SWAT, Terrorists and the Splinter Cell. I will be priming these up sometime next week. I also pre-ordered the Force on Force hardcover. The pricing at the convention was good.
I added some figures from Rebel Minis Post Apoc goodness to my Road Warrior collection in the form of Gangs, Survivors and the Superheroes to use as mutants if I ever want to go the Fallout route.
I picked up a bag of Old Glory Ninjas for my son. It seems he wants to create a ninja game. Thirty figures works perfectly for him as he wats to split it up into three to six different colors and have ninja wars. It sounds like fun to me. Especially, if it gets him back into figure gaming. And as an Old Glory Army member, the price is right. Besides, the ten extra ones might have to become Pulp-era Japanese Zeppelin Ninjas.
Seminole War:
This project got some joy. During my stay in north Florida I reached out to the State Rangers to see about deadheading on thier prescribed crews. The Rnager I wanted to talk to was stationed at the Dade Massacre. We had a a great conversation and their is a chance to get on some fire down there next Spring. After chatting, I walked around the battlefield and the park. I then stopped into the gift shop and found three great books and a replica map on the Second Seminole War.
South American Wars of Liberation:
Most of my collecting is at 1:15. Evil Bob's commission was at a slightly higher men per figure ratio. As a result, I am trying to decide if I leave Vilcapugio at its current ratio or add some fusiliers to the units to beef them up to to 1:15; 1:10 or perhaps a generic size in the my old Favorite Charles Grant. I also need to task Evil Bob with the Limbers and caissons for the set. My part of the project are the casualties and the mules for the alb Mountain Guns.
My friend John brought along new pre-release figures for British Legion, Irish Legion, Llanero cavalry and Militia for the South American Independence Wars in The North. How could I make him carry that heavy lead back to CA...couldn't, so I picked up a pile of it. Looks like I have some painting to do this summer after the book on The British and Irish Legions come out. As for the militia and Llaneros, they are needed for the battles in both of John's books.

Painting and Painters:
I managed to get some more painting completed on the 80+ figures my table. They are all getting very close. In one massive completion, I should clear the way for some 15mm painting (new figures) and basing (old figures for South America, WW2, Korea and the Renaissance).
Evil Bob delivered the Vilcapugio armies on time and beautifully done. I already have plans to add command stands to some of the units so they can do battle in other theaters and other wars. I also plan to beef up the battalions past 24 figures, add casualty markers, limbers and caissons to the artillery. All the figures were by Liberators. The additions, except for the casualties, caissons and the limbers will be the same manufacturer.
I bought some used Dinosaurs made by DAZED from RLBPS. Dazed and RLBPS stopped having an exclusive, so Bob has been selling off his painted samples. I got a good deal on three Raptors, an Ankylosaurus and a Protoceratops.

Miniature Wargames March issue has its usual fare of convention reports; product reviews; "The High Ground" a historical perspective and products review; "Dark Horizons" a SciFi/Fantasy perspective and products review; and, "From the Archive" looking back at the past. The articles included one on a what-if Trajan's Rome and the Han Chinese had clashed; a painting guide for the same; making a "Stand at Maidstone" a what if the Spanish Armada had landed, The Battle of Dettingen 1743 which was an excerpt from Charles Grant and Phil Olley's Wargaming in History, Volume 2; the Battle of Barrosa 1811, and Part Two of a WW2 Small Unit article.
On the block for the next few weeks: Two issues of Wargames Illustrated; Two Issues of Arquebusier; and one issue of Wargames Recon.

Judge Dredd Fans, CSI fans and crime show fans should take a read of The Wonderful World of Nozza BLOG ( This week's entry was a Judge Dredd/CSI adventure using the 5150 rules. It looks like a good play and an interesting use for Two Hour Wargames 5150, a great set of SciFi rules that allow you to play everything from Alien to Blade Runner to Farscape to Star Wars. The rules have the genre covered and the play well solo. If you want to try the system there is a free download of Chain Reaction ( THW also has a number of free supplements of rules add-on or genres from the bizarre Cereal Wars where Kaptain Krunch takes on other cereal killers to Horror (rules for mortars, Santa Wars, Cereal Killers, Dog Soldiers, Gangsters, Gunfight at Ok Corral, the Scourge and of course as I mentioned it before 5150, Illegal Aliens).
Anatoli's Gameroom ( had two Strange Aeons battle reports involving Marines and Sailors raiding cultist warehouses and caches. They were worth a read if you enjoy Cthulu. And, if you have caught the Fallout bug, he has started a post about converting figures to play Fallout in 28mm
Matt's gaming page[sic] ( had a Dr. Who battle report pitting the David Tennant Dr. and Martha against the Weeping Angels. It was interesting to see how that episode was made into a playable game.

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