Sunday, November 27, 2011

Cards in Wargames

It is with a mixed sense of interest and frustration that I note all the new miniature and board games using cards to control turn sequences and/or events.  

What's old is new again...

I've long used cards in my games.  Many, many years ago, I subscribed to the "PW Review", a mimeographed 8 1/2 x 11 stapled monthly newsletter that featured the ramblings of Wally Simon.  Wally used cards for sequence management and action allocation, and I can't remember many of his homegrown rules that didn't use them.

I tinkered with The Sword and the Flame for a while - it had cards, after all!  I could never force myself to like the red/black one unit at a time activiation.   Too slow for my tastes, and it left most players to sit and watch.

Many moons ago - 12?  15?   I can't even remember - Bob Jones moved back to Denver in a career move.  I'm not sure how many out there know or have met Bob, but he NEVER thinks conventionally.   Bob has to be one of the most creative thinkers and game designers to have ever have graced the wargame hobby.   When I met Bob, he was just starting to tinker with concepts that would turn into Piquet, and the associated period supplements.   Many years of debate followed, as control enthusiasts decried the randomness of Piquet and its turn sequencing using cards.   "Too random!"  "No control!"  "It will never work!".  

Well - work it did!   Bob has since moved on to different methods of creative turn sequencing and action limitations in his Die Fighting and Zouave rules, and I've written the Field of Battle series of games, which had their genesis in Piquet.  

I've never thought that Bob has ever received enough acclaim or recognition for his original and unique game designs.

Maybe imitation is the sincerest form of flattery?   I now note that many new sets use cards (gasp!) - the new set by Sam Mustafa (another great designer) uses cards for turn sequencing; multiple boardgames use cards for events; even the new series of boardgames for Victory Point Games by Frank Chadwich appear to be using cards.  

Anyway - having lived through the criticism of cards as a game mechanic, its interesting to note that the new and "hot" game mechanic is to use cards.   Maybe next will be a realization of the fascinating and simple effects made possible by the use of multi-sided die types in a game....

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Pulse of Battle

Even though I'm working on Follow Me! right now, I'm always circling around Pulse of Battle (Ancient and Medieval ruleset).   I thought I'd toss some units on the table and see how it looked.

Keep in mind that this isn't any "real" army - just some Macedonians, Romans, Gauls tossed out in a sort of representative deployment to see if I like the look of the units as composing an army.

Looks pretty good...nice sense of mass.

Each 3 x 3 inch stand is a unit.  I'm still not sure if I want to do single stand units or 4 stand units.  I'm intrigued by what James Roach (Olicanalad) is experimenting with for his Italian Wars collection.  Single stand units offer some advantages - fewer figures required to give a sence of mass, ease of movement, diorama effect, speed of moves during play.  But - you have to mark disorder and losses on the stand or behind/next to the stand.   Multiple stands allows removing a stand and replacing with a loss marker, jumbling the stands for disorder.   I'm wondering if multiple base units might better represent the look and feel of a messy battlefield?

So - having seen a single stand per unit "army" - any preferences/observations/comments about single vs. multiple stand units?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

FoBWW2: Follow Me! Game Last Night

We (Greg C., Greg R. as Germans; Terry and Tony as Russians/Soviets) played another devlopmental game of Follow Me! last night.  Tony generated the scenario - a Russian force of around a company and a half, with 2 T34/85's arriving late defending a fairly open terrain - Class I hills, a couple of town areas.  A tough place to make a stand....

The Germans had around 2 to 2 1/2 companies of infantry, including a PanzerGrenadier platoon mounted in halftracks, 2 Panthers, and 2 Stugs. 

The Germans focused the armor and PzGrenadiers on their right flank, planning to loop through a wooded area and collapse the Soviet left flank.   This worked, with some losses on the open hill top.   In the end, the German force was too much for the Soviets, and the Soviet morale failed and they withdrew to fight another day.

Some game photos:

Captain Toby stands mesmerized and focused on a box of cookies brought by Greg C.

Soviet command staff (Tony, left; Terry, right) discuss the smoke in front of their forces outside the town, while noting the German assault force (right corner of the photo).

German assault force musters out of line of sight from the Soviet scum in the town.

Soviets on a hill.   They would soon vacate the hill as it was saturated with artillery and mortar fire.

Assault over the hill and onto the Soviet left flank.

Single platoon of Soviet scouts facing the German assault force.

Germans mopping up the Soviet force.

Captain Toby remains at his post, attempting to use a combination of Jack Russell/Jedi Knight mind control to will the cookies to move over to him.

All in all, I'm very happy with where the rules are.  A few tweaks here and there, and I think they are pretty close to done.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Finished Russians, er, Soviets, er Reds....

Whatever they should "officially" be called, here are a few shots of the infantry previously discussed being painted with a change in style.

All in all, I'm very happy with the figures and the effect of the style.  It certainly is quicker than black prime and 3+ shades/highlights, and at 3 foot away on the table, the styles are indistinguishable.

Up next - getting the table ready for the next game of WW2: Field of Battle "Follow Me!", the squad game in development.  This will pit attacking Germans vs. Tony's newly finished Russians.  Can't wait!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Painting WW2 Russians

I've started using a different technique to paint WW1/WW2 era figures.  I use black primer on almost everything, and use multiple highlight shades.  But - that seems lost to a large degree on figures that are khaki, drab, gray green, etc.   So, I took a page from the Army Painter method and modified it somewhat.  I'm sure there's nothing terribly unique in my method, but here it is.

First - spray prime with a light shade of the finished basic uniform.  In this case I used Rustoleum Soft Wheat from the American Accents series.

Next - block in basic colors for skin, equipment, straps/belting, etc.   I also add a highlight color to the basic uniform.  They look pretty ugly now.  OK - very ugly now.  I have to admit, that painting in this style doesn't reward you with good looking troops until they are completed, but in a way that helps drive me quicker to get them done so they look good!

Then apply clear gloss - brush or spray.  In this case I brushed on Future.

Then, the key to the quick style is applied - a wash of Future and black ink.  I use a pretty strong mix - 5 drops of Liquitex ink to a small amount of Future.  How much future?  If you have plastic dixie cups - as in the photos - the Future comes up to about the seam showing on the bottom of the cups.   This shades the figures, adding depth and dimension.  Still shiny, unfinished, and ugly.

I kill the gloss with DullCote, then go back over the figures.  Drybrush lightly with a lighter uniform shade - in this case the same highlight that I applied after priming - Apple Barrel Antique White.  This takes out some of the darkness of the figures, highlights equipment and straps, and generally brings the figure together.  I then go over the figures with some additional highlights - highlight the straps, paint the weapon barrels, highlight the boots, ink line the straps, etc.    The next step is to base - and they're now on their stands drying.  More photos of that stage to come later.

All in all, I paint 8 figures in about 2 hours with this method.  If I did the black prime/3 tone highlights, it would take me 6 hours to do 8 figures.   I think the final effect works well for WW1 and later figures, where I "expect" to see a more grubby figure than a horse and musket figure.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Promise for more frequent posts!

I've been lax in posting to the blog recently....well, more like most of 2011.   I'm not sure why; I enjoy the act of creating the posts.   I often just run out of time and quite frankly, just forget to update the blog.

Some items I'll be posting about:

1.  Broncos beat Raiders 38-24.   HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.    Did I mention how much I despise the Raiders?   The Broncos run for 299 yards, and bully the bully.   In your face Raiders!   Even better that they did it while playing in Oakland.    I have no idea how the Tim Tebow experiment will end (although I suspect it will end as an experiment), but he has more than proven that he is a very tough guy and a competitor to the end.

Guess I don't have to blog about that again.....

2.   Painting technique experiments, WW2 Soviet painting, etc.

3.  Build example of my terrain squares

4.  How I build houses for my games.

5.  Book reviews

6.  Historical movie reviews.

7.  Photos of our dogs in goofy Halloween outfits.   Oh wait - see below.   Now I don't have to do that again.