Thursday, December 31, 2015

Book Review: Men of War

I recently finished reading "Men of War" by Alexander Rose (not Axl Rose), a Keegan/Face of Battle style look at American soldiers in battle in three different eras (AWI, ACW, WW2).

Rose focuses on three different battles to show the experiences of the common foot soldier - Bunker Hill, Gettysburg, and Iwo Jima.

I can't recommend this book.  The Bunker Hill chapters were good (around 100 pages), the Gettysburg chapters were a bit "eh" (Gettysburg is perhaps too familiar to me for this chapter to hold much interest), while I found the Iwo Jima chapters (the largest section of the book at around 150 pages) to be very dreary and depressing.  Rose focuses very heavily in the Iwo Jima chapters on casualties, shell shock, gore, and morbid descriptions of wounds and death.   After about 2 pages of that, my attitude was "OK, I get it....", but the theme continued throughout the chapters.

Rose is an excellent writer, and the book reads easily.

Overall, I'd have to give it a 2.5 stars out of 5.   Way too much graphic description of wounds in the Iwo Jima chapter.   Actually, Rose did seem to spend an inordinate amount of space describing wounds and death throughout the book.  Maybe if that level of traumatic discussion interests you, this book would be more interesting.  I think we all know how horrible war is, but this book grinds that fact into you.

His stated goal was to do a book similar to Keegan's "Face of Battle" focusing on the US soldier.  I feel like the resulting book is a pale comparison to "Face of Battle".

I do know that I'll never game Pacific island campaigns.  Maybe something in Burma, etc., but the island battles seem so predetermined once air/sea superiority was established.  But that's just my opinion!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Project Update

Wow.....I am tired!

Worked until 8:30 tonight putting in kitchen cabinets.  We now have approximately 60% of the kitchen cabinets in, with only the base cabinets on one side to remove and replace with the new cabinets.  Of course, once those cabinets are removed, I have to finish off installing the 1/2 of the kitchen hardwood floor remaining.    The goal is to have the kitchen floor done before Christmas, and possibly the cabinets done before 2016.   After that, we have to wait for the countertops to be fabricated/installed and the backsplash done before the kitchen is 100% useable again.

The scope of this project has been daunting.   Ripped out 100% of all the floors in the house, put hardwood throughout the house; new hardwood stairs upstairs and downstairs, new handrails and ballisters, 3 new bathrooms, new cabinets throughout the house, removed 4 windows, changed another window, added lights in the family room, added some kitchen lights, all new kitchen, new fireplace.....and other stuff I can't even remember.

Looking back, I now think "what were we thinking!".   We've been working on the project since April of 2014.

Did I mention that I'm tired?

I'm really looking forward to getting back to games in 2016.   I've been picking away on ECW armies, and they are sooooo close to being ready to hit the table.   I'm also wanting to finish up a WWII set of rules, and an Field of Battle campaign system.   Those are basically finished, but need final tweaking (WWII) and writing (campaign system).

I'm eagerly looking forward to the Bronco vs. Raiders game tomorrow, and another win for the Brock Osweiler led Broncos.  I've been enjoying watching a QB play that doesn't trip over his walker when he's dropping back to pass.

Sunday, November 29, 2015


The Broncos beat the Patriots 30-24 in OT tonight.  While I despise the Patriots' organization, I also grudgingly respect their consistent excellence.   Games vs. the Patriots seem to be like wrestling a python.  Just when you relax, or make a mistake, it squeezes you just a bit tighter, then tighter, until....well, you know.  The Patriots just seem to make things tougher and tougher during a game.

A big salute to Brock Osweiler, the Broncos QB.   I think the writing on the wall should be clear for Peyton Manning to read.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Biggest Book I've Ever....

Here's a pic of the biggest book I've ever seen or purchased.  It is MASSIVE.  "Kursk, The Battle of Prokhorovka" comes in at slightly over 1600 pages and several pounds in weight!  This is a fantastic book, full of analysis, summaries, sidebars, photos, etc.  It is a much easier read than Glantz.  Published by Aberdeen books, this is a once in a lifetime book.  While not cheap, I am thrilled to have a copy.

A quick note - if you are ever in the Denver area and have the time, I heartily recommend visiting Aberdeen Books.   Packed with any WW2 book you could want, plus a huge WW1 section, as well as a very large ancient, medieval, all the way up through FPW section.   They stock tons of books from Helion, and have so many specialist books that it is stunning.   I'll warn you - prepare to leave some money if you visit - you won't be able to just browse.

I've been out of action on the gaming front over the last month - here's what my game table looks like right now:

The table is covered with half of the cookware from our kitchen, as we're in the middle of a total renovation of it.  The kitchen is the last room in the house to finish, and while I've enjoyed the entire project (almost 2 years), I'm looking forward to having free time!  I'm guessing we won't be totally finished until after the start of the new year, but at least there's light at the end of the tunnel.

Since I haven't had as much time (or energy!) for painting figures, etc, I've been doing more fiction reading.   I just finished reading "The Heroes" by Joe Abercrombie.  I loved this book.  Great characters, fantastic action.   From the Amazon summary:

"They say Black Dow's killed more men than winter, and clawed his way to the throne of the North up a hill of skulls. The King of the Union, ever a jealous neighbor, is not about to stand smiling by while he claws his way any higher. The orders have been given and the armies are toiling through the northern mud. Thousands of men are converging on a forgotten ring of stones, on a worthless hill, in an unimportant valley, and they've brought a lot of sharpened metal with them."

You can find the book at your local bookstore, or at

I previously read "Virtues of War" by Bennet R. Coles.  A military SF book, this was also a great read.  Here's a summary, again from Amazon:

"Lieutenant Katja Emmes is assigned to the fast-attack craft Rapier, joining a mission to investigate weapons smuggling activity between the Terran colonies of Sirius and Centauria. If true, this act of rebellion could escalate rapidly, and lead to all-out war.

When combat does erupt, its ferocity stuns the Terran forces, and pushes them to their limits. It tests the abilities of Lieutenant Emmes, as well, along with Sublieutenant Jack Mallory and Lieutenant Commander Thomas Kane, commanding officer of the Rapier. But failure is not acceptable.

They must defeat the enemy... by whatever means necessary."

Both books were engrossing and a nice break from non-fiction works.

Here's a photo to show the relative sizes of the books.....I told you the Kursk book was big!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Back to Napoleonics!

Our group played a real nail biting game this past Saturday - 1809, Austrians on defense vs. French.  The Austrians had established a position on a ridge, leaving a sizeable town to their front undefended.  The Austrians had elected to not garrison the town, as they thought it was too exposed and would allow the French to concentrate against any troops posted there.

The Austrians were on the ridge to the right, the French beginning along the vertical baseline on the left.

The French begin to advance, poised for their assault on the Austrians on the ridge.

The French assault was aimed at the apex of the ridge, in the diagonal square behind the town.  Unfortunately for the French, this position of honor was held by a unit of Austrian Grenadiers - and a stout group they proved to be!   On the French left, the French basically held in place, staring down a few more Austrians to their front.   The battle turned into an assault on both sides of the town and on the southern edge of the ridge.  Eventually the French punched a hole in the Austrian line at the corner of the ridge, and their cavalry brigade poured through, decimating the Austrians (both infantry and cavalry).  At the end of the game, both sides had 0 or 1 Morale Points remaining, and gave points back and forth.  Finally, the French were at 1 point, the Austrians were at 0.....and an Army Morale card was drawn for the Austrians!  Unfortunately for them, they failed (rolling a 1).   What a game!

A variety of photos from the game:

I should mention that the rules used were Field of Battle, 2nd Edition, with a few house rules.  The ridge was a Class I hill, meaning that it didn't hinder movement, but provided elevation advantages and line of sight protection.  Also, no Maneuver cards were in the deck.  Units could maneuver or change formation on Move cards for the price of 1 move segment.  On Move cards with won even rolls, the maneuver/formation change was free.  Finally, and most significantly, ordered cavalry could melee on Move cards.  Disordered/out of command cavalry still required either a Melee or won even roll on a Move card.  These all worked fantastically well.  In particular, I really liked allowing cavalry to melee on a Move card.  It made them much more dangerous, and not a thing to be trifled with.

Thanks to Greg C, Greg R, Eric, Terry, Chris, John, and Rodney for playing!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Lil' Bill Belicheat

I think any reader of this blog now knows of my dislike (to put it mildly) of Belicheat, Tom Baby, and the New England Cheatriots.   I've always felt the saying "where there's smoke there's fire" seemed to usually hold true.....

Comment 1:  A former Indy Colts head coach said that Peyton Manning and the Colts offensive coordinator would have game discussions in the hallway outside of the dressing room at the NE stadium because they suspected that the visitors locker room was bugged.  


Belicheat smiles for the cameras

Comment 2:  I heard a radio interview at lunch today where former Chicago Bear QB Jim MacMahon had less than glowing comments about lil Bill Belicheat.   While I don't remember the exact quote, the question posed to him was about the football air pressure (his answer "I don't care").  When asked if he thought Belicheat was a cheater, MacMahon said ""I know he's a liar,"  "Cheating ain't far behind, I wouldn't think." MacMahon said Belicheat lied to his face in MacMahon's short time with the Cleveland Browns at the end of his career - something to do with pay and being kept on the roster.  To this day, MacMahon hasn't received the pay that Belicheat promised.


Tom Brady shows how much integrity he has remaining

The thing that just ticks me off about the grumpy lil Bill Belicheat is the repeated theme of stretching the rules, ignoring rules, pushing the spirit of the rules, and just downright cheating.   I think the guy is a scumbag, and will do anything to win - figuring that the penalty will never outweigh the wins.  It makes me sick to my stomach to hear TV talking heads talk about his brilliance.  We'll see how brilliant Belicheat is for the 4 games at the start of the upcoming season without Tom Baby.   From what I've seen, the Cheatriots 2nd string QB looks pretty pathetic.  Couldn't happen to a more deserving organization.


"I can't believe my wife talked me into this hairstyle"

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

One More Vacation Note - White Man Runs Him

I forgot to mention in my previous post - while at the Little Big Horn battlefield, I met the great, great granddaughter of White Man Runs Him, a Crow scout for Custer at the time of the battle.    How cool is that!

At the time of the LBH battle, White Man Runs Him was 18 years old.

Some photos of White Man Runs Him.

Later in life

At Last Stand hill

Approximately in 1908

I believe he is on the right.  Another photo on Last Stand Hill, at a young age

Friday, August 14, 2015

Back from Vacation

We returned safe and sound from our annual motorcycle tour of the Black Hills, Northern Wyoming/Montana.  The estimate was 2 - 2.5 million (yes, million) visitors to Sturgis for the 75th event anniversary.   Way too many bikes on the roads around Rapid City/Black Hills/ Spearfish.  Along with too many bikes, there were way too many really bad, dangerously bad riders.   Not a good time to go for your first time, or with only limited miles under your belt.   I think the final tally was 14 motorcyclist deaths over the entire event.  Most seemed to be "entered a corner too fast, went off the road, hit a rock", or were late at night - undoubtedly with alcohol involved.   Riding a bike requires skill and attention.  Leave it to the morons of the world to mix booze, curvy roads, and nighttime riding.   I guess the positive way to look at it is that it's natures way of thinning the herd.  After that crowd, it was fantastic to ride in northern Wyoming and southern Montana.  Absolutely beautiful.

This year we also visited the Little Big Horn battlefield - very fun.  My father in law was with us, so most of my time was spent explaining and interpreting for him.  I still get chills visiting the LBH battlefield.

I've read a LOT of LBH books, ranging from "blch" (the classic "Custer was a glory hunting fool") to the excellent (works by Gregory Michno).  I just finished what I consider to be the best account I've read.   "The Strategy of Defeat at the Little Big Horn, A Military and Timing Analysis of the Battle".

This is an excellent work, with deep analysis.  Not for the first time reader of LBH history, but if you have at least some background, you can't go wrong with this.  While it is a bit dense in details at time, it is a page turner.  While I'd generally had the battle outline in my head (which didn't necessarily agree with the typical battle narratives), the analysis and summary provided in this book really supported and clarified my thinking.

Here's a quote from the book:

"Calling Custer rash only serves as personal criticism, teaching us nothing.  To say the man made too many assumptions would be much closer to the truth and would serve as a platform into "lessons learned", always an important in military debriefings.  The reader should not get the wrong impression here, however.  We are not cutting George Custer any slack; the responsibility for the debacle rests solely with him, what we are saying rather than attribute the defeat to personality issues - which would be ludicrously wrong - it is more important to understand the outcome in terms of failed military procedures.....Custer made mistakes, but that takes little away from a great soldier".

I can't leave a post without once again commenting about Tom Baby and the Cheatriots.  Come on, Tommy boy!  Nothing is classier for your legacy than taking the league to court!  Geez, just say "oops, I screwed up" and this would be forgotten.  Methinks an ego is out of control.   I do have to say that I get an unseemly amount of pleasure watching him squirm.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

I'm Baaaaack

Not really a wargame post, though.   Today, the NFL upheld their suspension of Crybaby T (Tom Brady) of the NE Patriots.

In the opinion informing Brady that his appeal had been denied, Commissioner Goodell emphasized important new information disclosed by Brady and his representatives in connection with the hearing.
On or shortly before March 6, the day that Tom Brady met with independent investigator Ted Wells and his colleagues, Brady directed that the cell phone he had used for the prior four months be destroyed. He did so even though he was aware that the investigators had requested access to text messages and other electronic information that had been stored on that phone. During the four months that the cell phone was in use, Brady had exchanged nearly 10,000 text messages, none of which can now be retrieved from that device. The destruction of the cell phone was not disclosed until June 18, almost four months after the investigators had first sought electronic information from Brady.
Based on the Wells Report and the evidence presented at the hearing, Commissioner Goodell concluded in his decision that Brady was aware of, and took steps to support, the actions of other team employees to deflate game footballs below the levels called for by the NFL's Official Playing Rules. The commissioner found that Brady’s deliberate destruction of potentially relevant evidence went beyond a mere failure to cooperate in the investigation and supported a finding that he had sought to hide evidence of his own participation in the underlying scheme to alter the footballs.
Nothing says class like destroying evidence.   Stay classy, New England.

Monday, May 11, 2015

And Stuff - an NFL Post

So reality finally comes back and bites Tom Brady, Bill Belicheat, Kraft and the Patsies.

A 4 game suspension for Mr. "I can't grip a ball like a grownup" and lost draft choices and a fine for the organization.

Not enough.

Not by a long shot.

This is an organization, rotten from the ownership down to the player level.  Owners are not blind to rule infringements by their coaches.  Coaches are not blind to rule infringements by their players.  Equipment personnel don't make equipment decisions on their own.

It should have been a season for Brady, and time off for Belicheat as well.

After Kraft's pompous demand that the league offer him and his team an apology for daring to investigate the matter of deflated balls, I think this fat windbag now owes the other 31 NFL owners an apology, for, well, being a fat windbag that is an arrogant ass.

Does anyone find it odd that 4 games into last season, Brady had terrible statistics?  That he seemed to have lost his arm strength?  That the passes weren't hitting the receivers?  Suddenly all became well and he turned into the Super Bowl MVP?   Hmmmm.   Coincidence?  I think not.

This team and organization sickens me.  They've repeatedly skirted the rules and stretched the system to win. They've made a mockery of the game and the league that I, and millions upon millions of others, love.

What a disgusting group of scumbags.   They truly deserve each other.

My personal protest is to NEVER buy Gillette razors or blades.  Schick, Schick, Schick.  I wouldn't want a penny of my money filling the fat windbag's pockets.

Monday, May 4, 2015

"Destructive and Formidable" - A Quick Review

"Destructive and Formidable, British Infantry Firepower 1642-1765" - here's the briefest of reviews:

Brilliant.  Buy this book.  Don't wait and let it go out of print if you are at all interested in the ECW and tricorne periods.  This is a fabulous, detailed study of doctrinal development of British infantry firing systems over a century and a quarter.  Buy this book!

I now have a clear vision in mind for modeling the ECW period for my Field of Battle "module" for the ECW.

Did I say that you should buy this book?   What are you doing.....go buy this book!

A link to the book at Amazon:

Saturday, March 28, 2015

ACW Campaign Battle 3: Battle of Munster Creek

We played battle 3 of our ACW campaign today.  The Battle of Munster Creek was another crushing US victory.  I have never seen a roll of crushing victories like the US has been on.  Three battles to start the campaign, and 3 crushing US victories.  Or is that 3 crushing CSA defeats??

Some photos from the battle:

The battlefield for Munster Creek

The tabletop battlefield for Munster Creek with troops waiting for battle

Solomon Meredith urges his troops forward

Cadmus Wilcox discusses what's for lunch

US Command eagerly prepares to pounce on the CSA army
CSA batteries on center hill....never fired a shot!

So - game 3 of the campaign is complete, with the campaign hanging in the balance for the CSA.  I think Confederate paper money is likely at an all time low.....

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Battle of Bentley's Crossing - ACW Campaign Battle

About a week and a half ago, we played the first "official" game of our new ACW campaign.  As in the first couple of practice games, the Confederates were once again crushed.   The Federal army executed a heavy flank attack (Federal left, Confederate right) that chewed up the Confederate right and effectively won the battle.  Some photos of the battle below.  I apologize that I don't have more, but I neglected to take many photos - I was too distracted with the combination of watching the game and being pestered by our Jack Russell terrier (terror!), Toby.

 Battlefield at the start of combat, after initial deployments.  The large Federal flank force is at the bottom right of the photo.
 Closer photo of the flanking US division.
 When it rains it pours!  More US forces cave in the CSA right flank.
 This way!  No - that way!  US routers flow past an advancing unit in good order.
 CSA right flank grimly faces the upcoming Federal assault.
 Beep beep!  Traffic jam on the CSA left flank.
 Federal artillery in the center.
Federal infantry positioned in the center behind the river.

I continue to refine "A Bold Enterprise", the Field of Battle campaign system.  A few more tweaks as a result of this game/campaign process, and it has moved much closer to a finished, developed, game product.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Review: The Longest Afternoon

I just finished reading "The Longest Afternoon" by Brendan Simms. Amazon - The Longest Afternoon

This is a relatively short (approximately 130 pages), inexpensive ($24.99 retail; less through Amazon) history of the KGL's defence of La Haye Sainte at the Battle of Waterloo.

This would seem to be the first full length treatment of the defence of the farm of La Haye Sainte - Hougomont receiving far more of the "press".  Simms provides great backgrounds of the KGL and individuals at the farm that fateful day, and follows them through the battle.  While there are limited maps, that can be supplemented by the reader's other Waterloo books (or online resources).   Simms has a pleasant and easy to read style, and the pages fly by.

I enjoyed the book, learned more about the KGL than I'd known before, and found myself wanting to learn even more.

What more can you ask for?


Monday, March 2, 2015

These guys, Those Guys

I finished up my new set of unit label tags for my ACW armies for the game this past Saturday.  An example of them is shown below:

Here we see Richard Ewell inspiring the 48th Mississippi.

Visually, they are significantly better than the usual black background with white numbers that I normally use.  However, the unit ratings are a bit smaller to allow room for the unit and leader names.  Since the primary purpose is to quickly and easily identify the unit's ratings and the leader's rating, this can sometimes be an issue.

The biggest problem I noted in the game is that players NEVER referred to the unit or officer name in the game.  It was never "the 48th Mississippi is firing at...", or "Ewell moves to the 50th Georgia to attempt a rally....".   Instead it was "these guys are going to move up and melee those guys" and "this guy is going to roll for movement".

That makes those hours of preparing, printing, mounting and trimming the labels look like a dubious investment in energy....

So - my question - in your experience do players ever refer to units by name?  Or do they just ignore that in the heat of battle and just refer to "these guys" and "those guys"?

Monday, February 2, 2015

ACW Game(s)

We played an ACW game Saturday, that turned into two games!

But first - Robert Kraft and Bill Belicheat disgust me.  Proof again that NFL teams will continue to cheat if it means they ultimately can win the biggest prize, the Super Bowl.  The arrogance of an owner of a cheating franchise that out and out demands the league provide an apology for having the temerity to question the ball inflation issue, plus the continued track record of a head coach that has clear contempt for league rules - you must be proud, Patriot nation.   Someone needs to figure out that the more Robert Kraft speaks, the worse the Patriots appear.

As for the Seahawks.....what were you thinking????  Passing at the 1 yard line?  Really?????  Sheesh.

Anyway, on to our games.   The first game (FoB2) had an Abysmal CSA deck vs. an Average USA deck.  An even bigger factor was the D8 CiC die for the Confederates vs. the D12 (!) for the USA.    It wasn't much of a competitive game, as the USA was aggressive in attacking the Confederates (meaning - the CSA couldn't ever seem to get Move cards!) they caused loss after loss.   The game ended after 1 hour and 15 minutes with a crushing USA victory.

Game 2 was a bit better for the CSA.  I adjusted the decks to make them both average, and we re-rolled the CiC's - both ended up D10s.   This game ran about 1 1/2 hours, with the CSA pressing the attack.  Alas, the end result was the same - a decisive (rather than crushing) victory for the US forces.   A bad day to be Confederate!

I rated 90% or the troops as Raw, as this was a series of early war battles.  I'll adjust those to be a spread around a Regular rating as we move forward in beginning the campaign.  We ran through the campaign procedures (A Bold Enterprise) and set up the game for next month.

Photos follow below.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Photos from my ECW Collection

Thought I'd post some photos of one of the 10 ECW foot regiments that I've completed. The photo quality isn't great, but hey - it's Sunday night and tomorrow brings the first full week of work that I've had to do since my vacation started on Dec. 18!

The figures are Old Glory - a range I really like.  I also have a couple of Redoubt regiments as well.  The flag is homemade, with the basic layout done in Excel (I'm an engineer....what do you expect???).