Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Franco-Prussian War Game Photos - 2009

Some photos from a Franco-Prussian War game from a year or so ago...I can't remember who won, although it was notable that the Prussians had one unit in enough of a bind that they formed square to repulse a charging French cavalry unit!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Russo-Japanese Russian Modification

I'm still basking in the glow....the Broncos have fired McDaniels (a few weeks ago), Tim Tebow shows promise (played a very nice game for a rookie), and John Elway appears destined for a front office job on the football side of operations.   The corner hasn't been turned, but at least they know where the corner is now.

Anyway,  on to gaming.

I have a bunch of Boxer Rebellion Japanese and Russians from Old Glory (25mm) that will be used for the RJW.  Unfortunately, the Russians don't have bayonets.  Russians without bayonets?  Say it ain't so!!  The photo shows the original figures, plus the modified figures with bayonets added.  The bayonets are just brass rod filed to a slight point, then cut off with clippers with the butt end filed smooth.   Super glued onto the rifles and there you have it - bayonets.   I like the look better.  Quick and easy to do.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

1:1 World War II Games

The title to this post should really be "Why I don't like 1:1 WW2 games".   First - read this excerpt from a newspaper article discussing the recent passing of a WW2 Medal of Honor winner, Mr. Biddle.
By T. Rees Shapiro Washington Post Staff Writer Wednesday, December 22, 2010

It was late December 1944 and a ragtag company of American cooks and clerks were stranded in Hotton, Belgium, about four miles from Mr. Biddle's unit near Soy.

The Battle of the Bulge had just begun, and the troops in Hotton were surrounded and outnumbered by German forces. They needed to be rescued. Leading the stealthy advance through the snowy forests was Mr. Biddle, who took over when his unit's two lead scouts were injured in a land-mine blast.

For his courageous actions during the 20-hour rescue operation, Mr. Biddle received the Medal of Honor, the highest U.S. decoration for valor.

Mr. Biddle, 87, died of congestive heart failure Dec. 17 at his home in Anderson, Ind.

"I'm not a hero, not at all," he told USA Today in 1999. "When the Army put me out front, they put the responsibility on me, and you think about that responsibility instead of the fear."

On Dec. 23, 1944, Mr. Biddle came under enemy fire as he crawled toward Hotton through snow and underbrush. In quick succession, Mr. Biddle killed three German snipers with "unerring marksmanship," according to his Medal of Honor citation.

He continued his advance 200 more yards before coming upon an enemy machine-gun nest. After killing its two occupants, he lobbed grenades at a concealed machine-gun position nearby and killed three more German soldiers. After signaling back to his unit to advance, Mr. Biddle moved forward, shot three more Germans and tossed his last grenade into a third Nazi machine-gun emplacement.

As darkness fell over the American soldiers, German tanks rumbled in the distance. Mr. Biddle volunteered to go out alone and scout the enemy armor location. He crawled through the woods, getting so close to German sentries that one stepped on Mr. Biddle's hand. He stifled a groan of pain into the snow beneath his face and returned to his unit unscathed.

Before I type any more - what an amazing action, and a humble and brave man.  We are lucky as a nation to have been served so well by our WW2 vets that are passing each day.

On to the game aspect.   As I read this, it hit me like a ton of bricks as to why I don't like 1:1 scale WW2 games - where individuals are represented with single based figures.   Read the combat summary above once again.   Sound familiar?   It sounds like EVERY single figure based 1:1 WW2 game I've read about or seen!  The extreme actions, extreme bravery, extraordinary achievements are present ALL THE TIME in those games.  Plus, add in an unreasonable amount of supporting weapons and armor, and it all adds up to comic book reality.  So - yet another explanation as to why I won't be doing that level of WW2 game.   I am really interested in the command aspect in combat, and when you try to represent the actions and behavior of each figure/person on the table, I think the command aspect goes out the window and it turns into "blam", "boom", and "Medals of Honor for everyone!" types of games.   I know a lot of gamers (the majority of WW2 gamers, in fact) love this scale of game, but its just not for me.

Back to painting....Austrian Cheveauleger  (spelling?   I could check....but does it really matter in this informal setting?  I think not!)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Things that make you go "Huh?"

To start off, my latest painted unit - Austrian cuirassier - waiting for basing to be finished!

I enjoy painting cavalry, but I find that I always have to work up the enthusiasm to clean up the next unit to paint.  Right now, I have the next unit (Austrian dragoons) sitting on the workbench.   For some reason, I just dread cleaning up and preparing cavalry for paint.  I don't like messing with the seams on horses, I don't like attaching arms...maybe I'm just lazy.

Which brings me to the title of this post:  Things that make you go "Huh?"

No doubt, I'll probably tick somebody off with things that make me go "Huh?", so I apologize in advance.  If you recognize yourself as any of these people - good for you, enjoy your hobby!

1.  Plastic, multi-part 28mm figures.   Huh?   I just don't get it.  Why on earth would I want to put that many pieces together.  "Build a man" Frankenstein soldiers.  Ick.  I'd rather prepare lead cavalry.

2.  The penchant for 1:1 WW2 games and rules.  Huh?  I have to believe this is tied to comic books, video games, and cheesy WW2 movies.   The common reason given for 1:1 preference is that any higher scale of representation is too abstract.   Huh?  Really?   So....you play that 1:1 squad with correct tactics?  The LMG is almost all the firepower?  Your rules reflect that at this scale, if you're seen you're dead?  It doesn't bother you to control each individual on the battlefield?  Zowie, bang, boom (insert explosion sound here).  

3.  ImagiNations.  Huh?  I really don't get this.  Our hobby is all historical fiction anyway...but I'd much rather that my fiction be "historical fiction".  I rather enjoy playing ACW with Confederates and Federals, rather than the "American Social War" with Corndoggians and Finials.   No purple tunics for me, thank you very much.

4.  VBCW.  Huh?   What's up with that?  Is the allure using goofy armor?  Maybe 'cause I'm not British....

5.  Steam Punk.   Huh?   I don't even know what that is.  

6.  Buckets 'o Dice.   Huh?   Is that faster than a chart or a CRT?  I don't like mangling my terrain and figures with dimples from the buckets o fun.  If I want more noise in the game I'll just turn the stereo up.

7.  2mm figures.  Huh?  HUH?   Why not paint rice grains?  I can cut a square of 60 grit sandpaper, paint it black and drybrush on some color, add a flag, and it looks just about the same..I once glued sand to a stand and did this...didn't look half bad....

8.  Zombies.  Huh?  Now, I like a zombie movie as much as the next guy....but zombie games?   Does everything have to be a game?

9.  Weird WW2.   Huh?   Isn't the real thing interesting enough?  Aren't there enough fascinating technology developments in 6 years from '39 to '45 that you don't have to create an SS Tiger-Walker with a Confederate flag flying from it?

10.   Opinionated wargamers that post stuff on their blog that most people don't care about reading.  Huh?  Sure glad I'm not one of those guys.....

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


I finally decided on the look and design for my rivers.   Here are some example photos of the first sections:

After many trials of design and finish, I ultimately decided on glossy, "blue-ish" water.  I'm really happy with the pieces - more to finish!

I'll detail the materials and steps to make them in the next update.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Denver Debacle Fire Head Coach

At last!  The Broncos fired head coach Josh McDaniels late this afternoon after posting 11 wins vs. 17 losses, botching countless player personnel decisions, dragging the organization down into an ethical issue with taping a small portion of the 49ers practice....it was well overdue.

I look forward to the Broncos coming back...this is the first small step of many in transforming from the Denver Debacle back to the Denver Broncos.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Austrian Generals and Artillery

Thought I'd take a few minutes to post some shots of my Austrian Napoleonic army's officer corps and artillery park.  I still want to add another battery or two of artillery, but I'm now working on cavalry (cuirassier).

That's all for now...lots of other projects underway as well...rules writing, terrain building, rebasing WW2 being completed.  More posts to follow.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Bunker/Dug In Markers

I've been dissatisfied with the version 1 markers I made to show "bunker" units in FoBWW2.  The version 1 marker was 3" wide to match the unit frontage, but beyond that it didn't do much visually for me.  Its the small piece in the photo below.

Version 2 is made to just drop the infantry unit into the marker...and bingo!  Instant dug in/bunker status.  The entrenchment is made of 3/4" wide quarter round epoxied to a plastic base.  I think they're a big step up in appearance.   AT guns will use the same thing, but adjusted to fit their stand.

I've sketched out a similar construction method for things like ACW entrenchments, horse and musket redoubts, and WW1 trenches.   I'll be making some up to see how they look and work.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Field of Battle WW2

I'm taking the first three days this week off as vacation - I had some extra days to get in this year and thought it would be good to make some progress on some hobby stuff.

So far, I've completed Austrian Napoleonic artillery, Austrian command, created dug in/bunker "markers" for FoBW2, and rebased my entire WW2 collection, as well as created numerous terrain pieces.  Unfortunately, that has been sandwiched around yet another pathetic Denver Bronco effort, but enough of that!

I decided to rebase my WW2 stuff because the previous 3" wide by 1.5" deep stands just felt to linear to me.  I wanted more of the depth illusion of a company deployed 2 platoons up/1 back, etc, so I rebased all my infantry to 3x3 inch stands. 

The top photo shows a US infantry battalion of 3 companies.  I just love the "chunky" feeling of the bigger stand, and I think the look is what I was going for.

The markers on the stands are some experimentation on marking losses/status.  The 2nd photo shows the "fired" marker, which is a round terrained piece with shell casings on it.   I'm still torn between which way to go for loss (UI and Pinned) markers.   I could use round markers with no stones (Pinned), 1 stone (1 UI loss), 2 stones (2 UI loss), or be more direct and use round markers with S, 1, and 2, on them.  Unfortunately, the "2" example marker doesn't have terrain on it yet for the photo.

Any preferences?  I think the stones would be less visually obvious, but given the fact that players need to see loss/status, maybe the numbered/alpha markers are a better method. 

Monday, November 8, 2010

Table Mess!

I doubt that I'm much different than most gamers...my game table becomes a catch all in between games.  Here's a couple of photos of what it looks like now.

 As you can see, a bit of everything.  The terrain is generally set up for the next game, but not quite...need to finish some river sections.  WW2 armor being rebased shares the table with some ancients (PoB) and an Austrian Napoleonic battalion crossing a "river" (or where the river will be).

I'm currently working on new tree pieces, painting Austrian Napoleonic artillery batteries, and rebasing WW2 stuff.  Lots of fun, a variety of projects, and not a ton of progress on any of them!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

New Team Name for Denver Broncos Proposed!

Let's see.  Another Sunday, another Broncos' loss.  This time to the SF 49rs, quite possibly one of the most ordinary, worst teams in the league.  At this point, I have to believe that the Broncos are the worst or next to worst team in the league.   I'm going to officially send a suggestion to Bronco headquarters that the team name be changed to "Denver Debacle", with a train wreck as the new logo.

I have no idea where to start....the defense is pathetic.  I have no idea what the defensive philosophy is.  The 49rs were starting a guy at QB that had only 2 other games under his belt, and made him look like an all pro in the 2nd half.   Knowing that the Niners wanted to run the ball, the Debacle played a vanilla 3-4 and didn't press the line of scrimmage.   It seems like any defensive coordinator with a brain cell remaining would have recognized the limitations of the Niners and played tight man coverage on the outside and 8 in the box to stop the run.  Not good old Wink!   Apparently, the Debacle needed to play a soft zone due to the passing excellence of Smith, or Jones, or whatever his name is.  Please.

Offensively, yet another statistically good game by Orton, who turned in an Ortonary performance on the scoreboard.   Orton specializes in racking up yards between the 20's, but seems paralyzed when it comes to pulling the trigger and making a play in the red zone.  He's athletically limited, and has no chance when a play breaks down. 

The Debacle goes into their bye week.   Or is that "bye bye" week to the season?

I see NO ALTERNATIVE to benching Ortonary and playing Tim Tebow.   I'm not saying he's ready to play, but he can't produce fewer wins than Orton, and the season is obviously over.  Time to season Tebow for next year.

The Nuggets and Avalanche are doing well though....

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

France '40 Sample Figures

I had a few sample Battle Honors (25mm) figures on hand, so I thought I'd toss some paint on a couple and see how I liked them.  A couple of photos of the test follow below.

I "think" I like them.  The Battle Honors figures have a lot of animation, but are a bit trickier to paint because of some of the extra folds and creases included on the arms and legs.   My other option is to use Crusader, if I do this period.  From the photos I've seen, Crusader figures look to have relatively little animation...not sure what that would look like in unit groupings on stands.

"The Fall of France" arrived yesterday (by Julian Jackson).  A quick glance through it showed it to look pretty interesting.   I'll add that to the reading list.  Right now I'm reading "Soldiers and Ghosts" by J. E. Lendon.  Subtitled "A History of Battle in Classical Antiquity", I'm using it to get in the mood to finish up work on "Pulse of Battle".   Did I say finish??   

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Review: Denver Broncos

Same rating scale as for books.


I'd go down to a D2, and possibly a D1.

The brutal fact is that the Broncos SUCK.  The clock has officially started on the "Fire Josh McDaniels" watch.   I've never seen a professional football team so poorly prepared and motivated.  Its halftime vs. the Raiders (BARF), and the score is Raiders 38, Broncos 7.

Any head coach that can make Tom Cable look like the 2nd coming of John Madden should be fired at halftime.   I'm embarassed to have supported McDaniels in the past.   His teams are soft, poorly disciplined, and mentally weak.

Definitely a D1.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Book Reviews and Rating Scale

I'll get a bit more organized with my book reviews/recommendations from here on.   The new scale, using the sliding die size scale familiar to Piquet players:

D4:  I can't recommend this book.  Save your money for gasoline, figures, or another book.  I won't save space on my shelf for this turkey.

D6:  Some redeeming qualities.  Questionable facts or conclusions.  A difficult read.  I'll keep it, but will probably only use it for a research resource.

D8:  A solid recommendation.  Not the best, not the worst.  I learned something I didn't know before.  Something just wasn't there that kept it from getting a higher rating - maybe bad maps, bad editing....just something that held it down.  This book could be recommended for those interested in the specific topic.

D10:  A really enjoyable book.  Good writing, interesting topic.  Good feel and appearance.  Nice maps, etc.   A definite recommendation, even outside of a period you might normally be interested in.

D12:  WOW!  Great writing, an easy read.  Inspirational - I can see the games this will lead to.  Where is that figure catalog?  A recommendation without reservation.   I'll read this again and again.

So - on to the first reviews!

"Inside the Nazi War Machine" by Bevin Alexander.  ($26.95)

An odd title...just short of "Hitler's Mighty Army" or some such drivel.  I almost didn't pick this up at the bookstore because of the title.  I'm glad I did though - its about the France 1940 campaign, and the contributions to the German victory by Manstein, Guderian, and Rommel.  Alexander's writing style can sometimes be a bit stilted, but it is a pretty quick read.  With few books covering this period, it serves its purpose as an introduction.  Not detailed at the tactical level, but there's enough meat there to come up with some scenarios.   Rather than being inspirational, I found the campaign to be depressing to me.  Only the French army of 1940 could make the Army of the Potomac in 1861/62 look well led!   I had been contemplating doing France 1940 with 25mm, but now I don't think I will.   I'm not sure that the campaign holds much tactical interest for me.

Rating:   D8

"Exodus from the Alamo" by Phillip Thomas Tucker  ($32.95)

This book has elicited some pretty heated opinions.   Tucker spends a good chunk of the book (maybe 25%?) discussing slavery and the possibility of economic gain as the reason for expansion into Texas.  OK, OK, I get it already.  Early on in the book I felt like I was getting hit over the head again and again with a pretty heavy handed message.  However, I'm glad I stuck it out.  About midway through the book, the study turned to the "siege" and then assault of the Alamo.  Tucker makes some quite interesting statements and conclusions about the "battle" - or almost total lack of - in the final assault.  His discussion of the action outside of the Alamo's walls are particularly interesting.  While some have said that this is nothing new, I haven't seen it explored in this depth, or with such conviction.

Rating:  D10

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Common (Unfortunately) TMP Posts

I enjoy The Miniatures Page (TMP).  There are often posts that lead to investigations of things I wouldn't have imagined, or links to interesting sites, tips, book reviews, etc.   But....there are always the posts...you know which ones.....they go something like this:

I'm building a 28mm Napoleonic Spanish army for use with Volley and Bayonet, and I'm wondering what the best source of uniform information might be?

Spanish?  Why would anyone want to collect the Spanish?

I hate Volley and Bayonet.  I only play Shako.

Shako isn't any good.  If you're interested in a skirmish level game, try my new set on my web.  It's titled "Flashing Blades of Bloody Glory".

Skirmish?   You have to be an idiot to play skirmish games.  Tactical is the only way to play.   I think you're wrong using 28mm though.  Everyone knows that 10mm is the only way to go for massed games.   I use 10mm exclusively for my WW2 games.   See my blog for photos and a review I wrote myself of my new WW2 game "Hitler Drives a Big Tank".

You're all wrong!  Didn't you read his original post?   I think WAB is coming out with a WW2 set that would work for him.   Just don't use WRG - they suck.

He didn't even mention ancients.   I think Osprey has a book on the French or something.

Where can I get pikes for my Macedonians?

Does anybody know why acrylic paint dries up?

And so on.....

Friday, October 15, 2010

1809 Game

 Menacing line of French

 French attack closes in on the Austrian held town

John's Austrians advance in the (surprise!) woods

 Austrian command leaps into action

 French command appears overconfident..."they're deployed just like I thought they would"

 How can the French assault be repulsed?

 Just like that!   French suffer heavy losses and the Austrians hold the town

My bike near Devil's Tower, Wyoming.  Sorry...had to get a bike pic in.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

1809 Game Report....ish

We played an 1809 French vs. Austrian game about a month ago - sorry I don't have a complete report, but I don't remember much of the game details!  

General Toby surveys the field (mmmmm....those French look tasty)

I'll try to add more photos in a later post....for some reason, Blogger doesn't want to cooperate with the file upload tonight.

I've been working on a few writing projects, but can't really talk about the details of those quite yet.   I've also been working on some terrain projects that will be the subject of future posts.

This 1809 game was supposed to be the first of a campaign.  I have to admit, I'm frustrated with expectations and realities of campaigns.   In theory, everyone loves a campaign.  In reality, there is usually not much participation except at game time.  Excessive record keeping, lack of participation, time lapses between games - all combine to kill campaigns.  I'm more and more convinced that the best campaigns are games that are tied together only because they're in the same period, and have random situation and force generation.  In other words, you show up and do the best with what you're given.  I wouldn't exactly call it a narrative campaign, and its not a ladder campaign - maybe a "thread" campaign.  Over time, the thread of the series of games weaves a story itself, based on the game results and slant of the actions.   We did an ACW campaign like this a couple of years ago, and it worked well.


Thursday, September 2, 2010

FPW Game - Quick Report

We played another FoB game this past Saturday.  I didn't have the time to redo the terrain from the previous game, so we played the same scenario, but some 57 years later set in the Franco-Prussian War.  We also played the grand tactical variant.  The game was a reversal of the Napoleonic game - the French battered the Prussians.  At the tipping point in the game, both sides were at 0 Army Morale Points, and then the French won a 10 initiative roll - and inflicted devastating casualties on the Prussians through those 10 initiatitive points and cards.

Prussian advance
French destroy the Prussian center
Prussians close in on the French right flank

French cavalry routing!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Marker Thoughts

I'm very satisfied with the new UI hit/loss markers I made for the last game.  Each hit marker has a single loss indicated on it..."1", "2", or "3".  For the 4th UI loss, we just remove a stand.

I like the 1 hit per marker much more than having multiple hits on a single marker.  Having multiple hits per marker means that the marker has to be oriented, and inevitably in the heat of battle, that orientation gets lost and the question comes up "is that a 2 or 3 UI loss:????".

The really nice thing about the single UI loss per marker is that it is a tangible, tactile event when the markers are place and or replaced.  It marks a dramatic event, and serves to remind players of the loss, as well as the need to remove/lose a Morale Point.  It just "feels good" to see your opponent have to take off that 1 UI marker and reach down to get a 2 UI marker and place it on the unit.   Maybe its just me, but I find that much more satisying than seeing him just twirl the marker to 2 instead of 1!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Black Hills Rides

Back from a week vacation riding in the Black Hills region in South Dakota....wrapped around a visit to Sturgis, SD for the rally.  Lots and lots of bikes....speaking of which - have you ever seen a motorcycle with a rotary plane engine?

Looks cool, but I'm guessing it is a beast to ride!

Our bikes loaded up and parked at our first stop, first day...breakfast!  Mine is the yellow RoadKing Custom, my wife's is the black and white Softail Deluxe.

My wife nervously waits (9 hours!) while her bike gets some custom paint from "The Wizard".

That's "The Wizard" with his back to the camera, loading up his airbrush.  My wife's bike's front fender sits on the work stand in front of him....

Posing with the completed front fender - winged skulls are "good luck", besides looking cool on bikes....

And the back fender as well.  Lisa has named him "Fred".

An interesting choice for a trailer body....

Lisa poses with Wild Bill in Deadwood, SD

My bike, near Devil's Tower in Wyoming.  I LOVE my bike!

Devil's Tower  (and not a UFO to be seen)

A great week of riding.  1400 miles with no incidents, no rain, clear blue skies and absolutely breathtaking scenery.   Spearfish canyon, Black Hills, Wyoming - great, great riding and roads.

So - no wargaming in this update, although I did have plenty of time to think of projects I'm working on.  More of that later!