Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 becomes 2014

I'm not big on worrying about what I accomplished in the past year.   I've never felt that an arbitrary time block has much meaning...unless it is to define the start and finish of an NFL season.

Other than that - big things in my life this year:

Great vacation with our motorcycles this summer.   I've lived in Colorado all my life, and have travelled all over the US.   For the life of me, I can't imagine living anywhere other than in the Rocky Mountain west region.   Beautiful scenery, unbelievable weather....unless you're contemplating moving here in which case it is horrible here and you should look elsewhere.

This year we survived our bike vacation without being run into by a tourist moron making an illegal U-turn (See 2011) or having our tow vehicle seize up (tow vehicle - see 2011 - its a good thing to be able to get home after a moron hits both of you on your motorcycles and they aren't rideable, and various injuries make it unlikely you feel like riding 400+ miles anyway;  vehicle seizing, see 2012).   A brief word to those of you who don't ride - PLEASE watch for bikes.  You're in 3000 pounds plus of cage, airbags, and seatbelts.   A moment of neglect on your part can permantly change, if not end, a biker's life.   Please, please pay attention when you drive.  That bike rider is someone's spouse, father, mother, brother, sister.  You get the idea.

We lost our Westie (Bailey) this August.  She was a great little dog.   Toby, our Jack Russell, is enjoying his role as "Big Dog" in our home.

Rekindled an old friendship with Bob Jones, thanks in part to his energizing "Getzcon".   As I'm now past the half century mark, I realize that good friends are hard to come by, and that being stubborn is a stupid thing to do.   Thanks, Bob - I'm glad "we're back"!

Part of the joy in motorcycle riding is enjoying the ride, rather than purely looking forward to the destination.   I've learned from the thousands upon thousands of miles of biking that each moment is interesting, fascinating, inspiring, terrifying, confusing, difficult, and many other things all at once or by themselves.   The point is that too often we find ourselves busy being busy, and don't enjoy the ride.   Don't keep point totals on how many figures you paint - enjoy the process of seeing your armies grow, of seeing their character change as you create them.   If you ignore the ride, you'll end up with a painted pile of lead and nothing to show other than the lead, which, contrary to wargamer's beliefs, is NOT a precious metal.

And certainly not to be overlooked is the Denver Broncos magical season.   I cannot express my joy in watching the consumate professional Peyton Manning as he has virtually single handed changed the culture and personality of the Broncos.   Oh  yeah, and he's helped them win a boat load of games too.

And, while last in this blog entry, but first in my heart - my unbelievable wife Lisa.   My best friend and bike partner.  The absolute best thing that has ever happened in my life.  THAT is what makes each day special. 

I wish you all the best for many, many, years to come.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Franco Prussian War Game - And a New Period Project!

We got together for a game last Saturday afternoon/evening to play a FPW game using Field of Battle, 2nd Edition.

French Command Team (Left to Right):  John, Bob, Chris

Prussian Command Team (Left to Right):  Ed (Advisor/Observer), Terry, Greg
Rather than a blow by blow game report, I'll instead do a quick summary....the Prussians mopped up the table with the French!   I think a couple of things (Krupp grand battery rule, ranges relative to unit frontages, French "special" cards) made the game practically impossible for the French to win.  However, they lost with style!  Both sides planned a "left hook" flank attack, but the Prussians got theirs in first, and combined with heavy artillery support from the hill (at the bottom of the photo below), they pummeled the French defending the town and center - effectively destroying the French will to fight (their Army Morale Points hit 0 when the Prussians still had something like 21 out of 24 original points!).
Some photos from the game:

As for the new period project - I'm painting English Civil War!   I'll post more about that project in my next post.....which hopefully won't appear with as much space between it as has happened between this post and my most recent previous post.....

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Pulse of Battle Cover!

Thought I'd make a quick post and show the front and back cover for the very soon to be released "Pulse of Battle", the new ancient era, Field of Battle based set of rules.

We'll also be offering playing card quality sequence decks for those who pre-order, and then at intervals after that.   A sample of the sequence cards:

The final card back will not have as much shadow around the title, and the title will either be in white or blue.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Goodbye to a Dear Pet and Companion

August turned out to be a bad month.   Our dear little West Highland Terrier, Bailey, passed away in the very early morning hours on August 19.

Bailey was a sweet, energetic, curious little dog.  As a pup, she delighted in digging holes across our backyard, and catching the occasional sparrow.

Bailey suffered through a variety of health issues in her 12 years, 11 months - 2 knee surgeries for torn ACL's, skin allergies and shots, arthritis, and digestive issues.

However, even with those challenges, she never was aggressive or snippy, ever the happy little dog to greet us when we returned home.  

Bailey delighted in being around people, and was always an enthusiastic observer at games at our house.

Bailey on my lap, intently watching a Pulse of Battle playtest game

As I explaing some fascinating rule concept, Bailey looks down at Toby (our Jack Russell terrier) as if to say "there is NO way you're getting this spot"

The last few weeks have been trying for my wife and I as we deal with the loss.   But - we're to the point now where we can laugh about all the goofy things Bailey did over her beautiful life.

RIP Bailey.   We miss you tremendously.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Back from Vacation

After the last two years of incidents and accidents while on vacation, it was really nice to have a great vacation at Sturgis and in the Black Hills (South Dakota) that went smoothly.  Two years ago, a clown made an illegal U-turn at the entrance to Mt. Rushmore and hit both my wife and I on our bikes.   That took over a year and a half to resolve the health and legal issues.   My advice for any rider out there - make sure you immediately get a good lawyer involved.   You won't be sorry.    Last year, we decided to trailer our bikes up to the Black Hills - in case some moron hit us on our bikes we'd at least be able to get the bikes home!  Well.....all was going great until our tow vehicle seized up - a complete failure of the oil pump and resulting main bearing failure.    It's a lot of fun to buy a new vehicle while you're on vacation.

However - this year went flawlessly.   No vehicle problems, no incidents or close calls on our bikes.   Great rides in the Black Hills, and out to Devils Tower.   Some photos below.

Devils Tower, in Wyoming

My bike at Devils Tower

The Badlands
Next up is to finish off Pulse of Battle and get it to the printer.   I'm planning on that getting finished in September.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Historicon - Or "What I Did Instead of Historicon"

I went to Historicon for quite some time, but haven't been for a number of years.   I was one of the few (?) that didn't have a problem with either the Lancaster location, or the Lancaster Host facility.   It had a personality of its own, and I felt comfortable there.

I'm really not a "convention guy".   I don't really enjoy competitive gaming - I don't care if I win or lose, and instead just being with good friends.   I don't even have to play to enjoy myself.  I've never been one that gets much enjoyment out of playing a game with strangers; might as well play solo!

Another reason I don't attend Hcon anymore is that the two reasons I used to enjoy going are no longer necessary - the dealer's room and seeing games for ideas to steal regarding painting and terrain.   With the internet, I can get anything from any manufacturer in the world, including rare or hard to find books, within a matter of days.  Likewise, blogs and newsgroups provide a vast treasure trove of inspiration for painting and terrain ideas.

So what did I do on Historicon weekend instead?

Well, for one we had a great bike (motorcycle) ride.  Open fields and fresh air in our faces, with the deep rumble of HD exhaust in our ears.   SWEET!

In my job, I have the distinct pleasure of managing my company's sponsorship program for professional NHRA teams.   That's given me the chance to work and interact with top teams and drivers - which is VERY cool.

This week we had John Force Racing and their drivers (John, Courtney, Brittany Force, Robert Hight) visit our headquarters for a meet and greet session - as this weekend was the Mile High Nationals here in Denver.   For those of you who don't know who John Force is....he's a legend, and the face of the drag racing sport.   A 15 time Funny Car champion, and a personality bigger than imaginable.  On top of that, I find him to be a genuine, very nice guy.

Oh yeah, and Courtney Force was just in the ESPN body issue.   I'll wait while you Google that and then come back to finish reading this blog post.

My wife grew up drag racing with her Dad.   Drag racing, cars, and speed are in her blood.  For as long as she can remember, she's been a fan of John Force. 

My work gave me a chance to get us back to the more private area of the John Force Racing pits, so she could meet each of the drivers - and John Force (the MAN) in person.  She was so excited she could barely contain herself.   I don't think I've ever had more fun than introducing her to Brittany, Courtney, Robert, and then John.   Of course, photos with each followed!   She's still enjoying that event, and the memories will never leave her.

Here's a photo of my wife with John Force this Saturday at the Mile High Nationals:

All I can say is "thank you" to all the people at John Force Racing.  A legendary, outstanding, organization and team.

A fantastic, stand out, memorable weekend!

Did I miss Historicon?

Not for a second!

Off-Board Assets

A quick post of my first painted off-board assets - a pair of US 105mm artillery pieces (Old Glory/Westwind) and a pair of German 75mm Infantry guns (Blacktree).

I really like the OG/WW guns and crew....and the Blacktree Design, well, less so.   The BTD crew just look a bit odd to me - the helmets aren't quite "right".  But, they look functional for what I need in my games, so there they are!

Today I received 3 German 105mm artillery pieces and crew from Warlord Games.   Great looking castings.   I think I'll be ordering some 120mm mortars for some heavier battalion support weapons from them as well.

Sunday, July 14, 2013



I've finally decided that I have a lot of stuff.

Wargame stuff.

History books, reference works.....stuff.


I've organized, sorted, sifted.

I've given away stuff.   I've thrown stuff away.

And yet, I still have a lot of stuff.

How did I get all this stuff?   Where did it come from?

Do I really think I'll read a book about the South American War of the Pacific?

I think I've reached the point where I'm very likely done buying figures for new periods.  Why?   I don't need any more!   I have, painted and unpainted, listed chronologically:

Republican Romans
Early Germans
Late Romans
War of the Roses
English Civil War
Great Northern War
Seven Years War
American War of Independence
Napoleonics (British, French, Austrian, Prussians, Spanish, Russians, Portuguese)
American Civil War
Franco Prussian
Austro Prussian
Russo Japanese
Mahdist Wars
Zulu Wars
Plains Indian Wars
Early WW1 (British, French, German, Russian)
Late WW1 (British, French, German, US)
Early WW2 (French, German)
Early WW2 Desert
Late WW2 (USA, Soviet, German, UK)

Stuff.   Lots of stuff - all 25mm.  62 plastic shoe boxes of unpainted stuff.  

Oh sure...I'll buy more stuff.   But its fill in stuff - the odd support weapon or unusual troop type needed (yeah right - needed) to fill out an OB.

Books?   My collection in books mirrors the figure collection above.    Sorted, sifted, given away, thrown away.    My books feel like family.   

Where is this blog post going?

I don't know.   I just have a lot of stuff.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

WW2 Rules - Fields of Valor

I've been working away on concepts and cleaning up items from playtesting in the future set of rules "Fields of Valor".  FoV is a low level game, focusing on tactical WW2 actions.  It is NOT a skirmish game, as it is still unit focused.  Infantry units are a squad, weapon units represent 2 or so weapons, vehicles represent 1-2 vehicles.  

The above photo shows the card backs - medals for (left to right) Germany, US, USSR. 

I've been troubled by trying to show moving MG units without an abstract marker cluttering up the table.  I finally realized that the WestWind MG packs included figures moving/carrying the MG components!   Bingo!   Add that marker to the front of the unit, and it is broken down for movement and in movement mode.  Problem solved!

A simple solution, looks good, easy to use.  That's my kind of solution.

I'm busily painting offboard assets - artillery, in particular.   I finished a couple of stands of US 105mm's, and am working on some German 75mm infantry guns.

While they are "offboard", and not a tactical unit in play, I find that seeing the asset makes it much more interesting than just "105mm" scribbled on a notecard or piece of paper.

I'll post photos when they're done.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

My Two Rules for Wargaming Happiness

I see that I've managed to almost miss June without a post, so here goes!

Many years ago, I wrote a brief article for MWAN that proposed that most games that I'd observed as convention games, or games that I'd played in, or games that could be played in a reasonable amount of time followed:

a)  THE RULE OF TWELVE:   Simply put, any battle can be reduced to a 12 unit or so limit of the core type of unit in the army.   Obviously, in all but the most horse centered culture, this will be 12 units of infantry.   Artillery and cavalry would then be proportioned off of the 12 infantry units.

A second rule that makes for collection sanity, and games that look and play well is:

b)  THE RULE OF REASON:   Another simple rule - The total number of units in a game shouldn't be more than the square footage of your table.   If your table is 5'x10', that would be a 50 unit total.   That could be 25 units per side, or 30 vs. 20, etc.

The RULE OF REASON doesn't imply that games of this size are needed, or should even be a goal.  It really is just a common sense rule - don't put too much stuff on the table!!!   Games with too high of a unit density just turn into a version of a zombie hunt.   Pick of the first unit - guess what?  - there's another unit right behind it - eliminate it - and guess what? - there's another unit behind it.


Too many troops for the table size just leads to plodding games of attrition.  

I should say that both the RULE OF TWELVE and THE RULE OF REASON are based on "normal" unit sizes of 12 to 24 infantry figures, not the "old school" figure intensive 40+ figures per unit.   Yikes - I think units of that size require their own set of rules!

Friday, May 31, 2013

An Odd Question - Or Is It Perception?

Yesterday, I was asked by someone at work who knew of my interest in the ACW - "Who is your favorite General?"

For such a seemingly straightforward question, I was stumped.   I'd quite honestly never thought about a "favorite" ACW General.  

The more I thought about the question, the more odd it seemed.

Ask me about my favorite NFL quarterback, and I'll have an immediate answer.  (Peyton Manning, of course!).

Ask me about my favorite motorcycle, and I'll have an immediate answer.  (Harley-Davidson RoadKing Custom).

Ask me about my favorite movie, and I'll have an immediate answer.  (Glory)

But - I'd never even considered having a "favorite" ACW General.  That just strikes me as odd.   It seems as odd as someone asking me "Who is your favorite corporate executive?", or "Which US Senator is your favorite?".   Favorites?  

The problem I see with the question is that its such a complex question.   How would you have a favorite?  Why would you have a favorite?  Favorite in which way?

Tactical innovator?

Intriguing personality?   Good or bad?

Impact on the war?

In the event, I just mumbled something about not really having a favorite, which was quite true.  How do you explain the depth of that question to someone who is lucky to recognize that the North wore blue and the South wore grey....

There are those I admire, those I loathe, those that intrigue me, those that I'd find fascinating to have a conversation with.   The list of names that "interest" me as ACW personalities include Longstreet, Meade, Bragg, Burnsides, Upton, Stuart, Hampton, Custer, Gibbon, Rosecrans....in no particular order of admired/loathed/intriguing!   Everyone has their good days, everyone has their bad days.  I quite often find those who had more bad days than good to be more interesting!   It's the "if he'd only just done...." possibility that makes me dig deeper to look at the history behind the stories.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Review - "Bunker Hill", by Nathaniel Philbrick

This won't take long.

"Bunker Hill, A City, A Siege, A Revolution" by Nathaniel Philbrick was released within the last month.  I'd been looking forward to it since reading his book on Custer and the LBH battle.

In a word, disappointing.

While Philbrick is a great writer and his works are easy, pleasing reads, BH just didn't do it for me.  I recognize that it is probably intended for Joe Public that didn't know there was a battle in Boston, or that there was a war with England, and who only knows George Washington 'cause his face is on money and on a rock.

I'm a pretty forgiving reviewer, and typically only ask that I learn something new when reading an historical work.   Alas, that didn't happen here.   True, I learned more about Joseph Warren's personal life than I ever wanted to, but....

In short, my recommendation is to save the $32.95 and watch the movie (Ben Afleck has apparently purchased the rights....egads).   If you wait until RedBox gets the movie, it will only cost you a little over a buck.

Monday, May 13, 2013

New WW2 Game and Pulse of Battle Update

Sorry that it has been a while (well, actually...a long while) since I last posted.  Real life with multiple business trips and home projects had severely cut into my blogging time!

In reverse order of the post's title - an update on Pulse of Battle:   The text is complete, and edited thoroughly.   Final, final work is being done on the army list text, and then it will be time to take photos and do the final layout of the rules.  I'd really like to get this off my plate no later than sometime in June, but we'll see how the schedule works out....

I'm extremely happy with PoB and how it plays.  I think its a unique approach to ancient combat, yet fully in line with the Piquet/Field of Battle emphasis on the fog of war and command challenges.  

With that creative project wrapped up, I've turned to the WW2 squad level (every unit = an infantry squad, a vehicle = 1 to 3 vehicles, etc) game, tentatively (very) titled "Follow Me".   It's aimed at allowing multiple companies up to a battalion or more on the table per side.  

We played 2 games last Saturday night.  The first had two recon type forces fighting over control of a strategic road intersection.  The US had two companies of infantry (18 units) plus 4 MG sections, plus a platoon of M8's and a Stuart.  The Germans had an armored recon platoon (armored car and a halftrack) plus an infantry company with a couple of HMGs.   Both sides had offboard mortar and artillery assets (available via an asset deck of cards).

The second game was an extremely armor heavy game with 3 Sherman platoons (9 units), an M10 TD platoon (2 units) and the M8 armored cars, plus a couple of platoons of infantry (6 units) vs. a German force of a Stug Platoon (3 units), a PzkwIV platoon (3 units), a Panther platoon (2 units), and 2 platoons (6 units) of PanzerGrenadiers in halftracks.

The US won the first game handily, and the Germans did the same in game 2.  The first game (with the rules being entirely new to the players) lasted around 2 hours, and the 2nd game lasted around 1 3/4 hours. 

Overall, I was thrilled with how the games played and felt.  I always feel more than a bit nervous when I trot out a new game for the first time.  Its hard to guess how things will go...

Some photos from the games:


Monday, April 1, 2013

Lame, Lame, Lame

Well, it is April Fool's day, and with it the inevitable flood of lame (LAME) blog updates and TMP posts.  

You know the type:

a)   I've decided to leave wargaming as a hobby and take up (insert lame hobby of your choice).
b)  I've decided to only do 1mm armies, or armies made of rice grains, etc.
c)  There's a new manufacturer of X line of figures - in 31.8mm!    I've been looking for all of these for years!!!
d)  There's a new software program that reads a gamer's mind and requires no manual input to totally automate the game and rules process!

Maybe I'm just old and grumpy (I turned 50 in June)......but I find these repetitive, lame, April Fool's day posts to just be.....well.....lame.   They're not funny, not engaging, nor interesting.    At best, they're......lame.

Happy April Fool's day.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Musket, Rifle, Skirmishers.....Ranges

I'm reading a fascinating book by Earl Hess - "The Rifle Musket in Civil War Combat, Reality and Myth".   Hess follows very much in line with Paddy Griffith's earlier work, and convincingly lays out evidence that the rifle musket did very little to change battleline combat ranges.  A combination of visibility, unit control, tactical decisions, terrain, and weapon ballistic characteristics, made the rifle musket battleline engagement ranges somewhat longer, but still appreciably short of what the weapon's capabilities were.   I don't have the exact number, but he suggests that the average battleline engatement range was around 90 yards, vs. 60 to 70 in the Napoleonic era.

BUT - the big difference was that skirmishers and snipers now had a much more capable weapon, and used it with effectiveness.   The skirmish ranges would be 200+ yards, with skirmishers deployed from 100/200 yards in front of the battleline to as much as 500 to 800 yards!  

Hess points out that the Federal armies had a distinct skirmish advantage when compared to the Confederates in the Western theatre.  In particular, he spends considerable time discussing the Atlanta campaign, when skirmishers really came into their own.   Part of the Federal advantage was leadership and an emphasis on skirmishers, while part of the Federal advantage was that they had the supply system in place to provide plenty of ammunition for the skirmshers to fire off!  Confederate units labored under ammo limitations, and fired distinctly lower numbers of rounds.

I started thinking about representing skirmishers in Field of Battle.  I truly think wargame rules get skirmishers wrong.  In my opinion, they're best represented as an abstracted benefit.  Its very difficult to model one of their primary functions - intelligence, being the "eyes and ears" of a unit.

I think the best way is to look at unit ranges over the horse and musket period.   From "bad" skirmishing or non-skirmishing Napoleonic systems and earlier (SYW, WSS), I can broadly say that there aren't significant skirmishers.   They'd use the battleline vs. battleline model, with roughly a 100 yard range. 

As you get the "good" Napoleonic skirmish units (French, British, later Continental armies), that range doubles, as a skirmish screen proceeds the battleline.  So, let's say the range is 200 yards.

For the ACW, those numbers just go up, to a net of 400 yard range.

The longer ranges are abstracted in game terms by the long range of the units.   I'd propose that an interesting tweak to Field of Battle would be to disallow long ranges for units that were "out skirmished.   I tossed the graphic (below) together to illustrate my thinking.

I need to stop messing with this and get back to editing Pulse of Battle!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Pulse of Battle Update

I haven't been posting many updates lately, as I've been focusing on using my free time to work on writing on Pulse of Battle.   I chuckle when I see the "One Page Rules" discussions on The Miniatures Page.   Hmmm.   One page rules.   What they really mean is 1 page reference sheet.   It's quite impossible to have a 1 page set of rules.  There are sooooooo many situations and questions that players have when playing a game.  I'm not saying that my rules are exhaustive, but they are aimed at being precise, concise, and easy to use/comprehend.    You can't do explanations in one page for everything.....

We played a final set of test games last Saturday with Pulse of Battle.  Two games, 2nd Punic War.   The Carthaginians had the advantage of a large leadership advantage, and somewhat better troop quality.   They won both games, which wasn't too much of a surprise.

I'm very happy with PoB now.  Only a couple of minor fixes popped up in the game, and the games played really well and smoothly.

PoB is now in the edit phase.  It's in the hands of 4 thorough and capable editors, who are providing tons of edit suggestions to me.   I think this set of rules will be by far the best edited, "cleanest" set that I've done. 

That being said, I'm sure I'll see errors and typos when the first printed copy arrives!

A couple of photos from the games:

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Ravens - 49ers in SB

Hmmm.   Battle of the Harbaughs in the Super Bowl - what a great family accomplishment!

Being a lifelong Denver Bronco fan, this past week was tough after losing to the Ravens last Saturday.   I do have to say that I feel better after watching the Ravens throttle the Patriots, The Hoodie, and Tommy Boy.   At least the Broncos played the Ravens tough, and it took OT to win in Denver.   Losing by 15 at home in the championship game?   

I admit to enjoying this a great deal.   Maybe that has to do with McDaniels being the Patriots offensive coordinator again - after the debacle where he was the Broncos head coach and he ran the team into the ground.    After the Raiders, the team I can stomach the least is the Patriots.   Far too much smugness and arrogance for a team that hasn't won the SB in quite some time....and not this year either!

I only wish that some other team would give McDaniels a chance to ruin their franchise by giving him their head coaching duties.  Then I could add another team to root against on NFL Sundays!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Town Sections

I've been quiet on the blog front for a while.  I've been busily painting 25mm Carthaginians and working away on Pulse of Battle, the new ancient rule set.  

I also decided to finally create new town sections for all of my scratch built buildings.   The sections are 6" x 6", and are treated as an area/module in my rules of choice - Field of Battle 2nd Edition.

Some photos: