Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Board game day makes me(eples) happy

(post title inspired by e.e. cummings)

Board game day!

Last weekend I traveled back to my old stomping grounds in the southbay to see my friend Mr.C (who used to be a neighbor of mine in the southbay area before I moved to the Sacramento area, it's terrible when you move away from nearby gamers with similar tastes).  Last weekend was something we've been planning for awhile, and finally got our schedules to match up!

so I arrived late on Friday and had a night of catch up ad conversation, and stayed over so that we could get a full day of game fun on Saturday.  Scarfed down breakfast and rushed off to the board game area.

 Mr. C. has a, shall we say,  LARGE selection of games.  So we could be playing anything...

First up Mr C picked was a space dungeon crawler called "level 7 Omega Protocol"  by Privateer press.  Boardgame geek says it's like SpaceHulk but with some more options, but as I've never played SpaceHulk (but have often heard about it) I'll take their word for it.

The setting: Govenment has a secret laboratory / facility to study and experiment on the Aliens, who inconveniently break loose and take it over for their own alien nefarious ends.  Aliens everywhere!  so enter the commandos from Disco team (I was told that they're called Disco team because they're "stayin' aliiiiiiiiiiive")  to kick ass and chew bubble gun, and guess what?

Best Sci-fi movie EVER!

we played the first scenario; 3 commandos go in to get some intel and get out alive with half their number at least.  I played the commandos and should of done more Schwarzenegger impressions from Predator..

if you want more info on the game there are better sites for that, but some thoughts:
If you like dungeon crawl game then you'll like this one.  I find these games kinda same-y in that you do this process over and over: 1) prepare/position everyone to open the door 2) open the door and deal with whatever mind blowing horrors are in that room, 3) secure the area / flank and brief search for loot, heal if needed 4) prepare/position everyone to open the next door....

game table

Close up shot: Mr C went to the trouble of painting most of the game pieces because...actually I have no idea, but they look cool!

I happened to kit out my commandos perfectly; what? poison gas?  here's a guy whose immune.  what? tons of aliens?  here's the guy with the machine gun with a bunch of stabilizers and strafing fire.. Oh no we're all bleeding?  No worries as everyone has a med pack.

however the mechanics are great!  There's a great swapping mechanic that's one of the major crux of the game: Every time the commandos do something they get 1-2 'adrenaline' tokens (to a max number) placed on that character, and at the end of the turn all those markers are given to the alien player as resources to use against the commandos... neat!

took about 4 hours, and we stopped when it was obvious that the all three commandos were likely to leave intact and with the intel.

break for lunch and then on to one of my favorite games; StarWars rebellion, again playing with the expansion as Mr. C. had yet to experience that joy.  We did the mandatory 'playing the SW movies in the background.'  I played the rebellion as Mr. C. is a dictator at heart...

"The Rebel fleet near Sullust is of no concern"  

Gosh, I do like that game.  However it does require a bit of poker face / bluff to it, and there are moments with high drama that have to be down played in order not to tip your hand; usually when the rebels are about to complete an objective but the empire does something unexpected and prevents it.  The rebel player can't let on that his plan was RUINED because it'll tip the Empire player off to watch for it in the future.  Or when the Empire has a force big enough to wipe out the secret rebel base if only they knew where it was....

Play it cool Stew, Play it cool...
(might need to enlarge the pic to read the text)

and after two games with the expansion I'm not sure those green dice are worth anything.  They rolled A LOT OF BLANKS in our game...  : )

Game ended with the rebel base moved to a new secret location, making me 2-0 for the day.
And with that it was too late and we were too tired to start another game, so it was time to pack up and head off, back to responsibility and respectability. 

Thanks Mr C for the fun day!

so enough blabbing about Sci-fi board games and back to painting historical miniatures for me.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

General updating: Vietnam and ACW progress

Gooooood Morning Vietnammmmm!

As you might of gathered from reading the blog; I really like wargaming with a few good people, some nice terrain, a good scenario, and at my place.  In fact the only thing that comes close to that is wargaming with a few good people, some nice terrain, a good scenario, and at SOMEONE ELSE'S house who lives nearby; thus having minimal travel time and NO clean up.   : )

Such was the case last weekend when my buddy Mr. G who lives conveniently on the other side of town invited me to a wargame set in Vietnam, using the Charlie Don't Surf rules from TFL.

Of course, this was ruined slightly because in the same morning I also had a birthday party for a 4 year old I wanted to attend; you go to other kids bday parties so that parents feel obligated when it's time for my kids bday parties.... nah, I'm just joking, I actually like little kids bday parties, but it does demonstrate how little kids ruin wargaming.   But Mr. G allowed that I could come in late with no problems so I jumped at the chance to squeeze in some more wargaming.    So the game started at 10 and I didn't get there to about 1.  But I was hoping that the game would follow the usual gamer pattern and I wouldn't miss much; someone who was supposed to be on-time would be late, there'll be some hanging out, then explaining the rules, and then typical TFL feature that all of their games take some time to get off the ground and take awhile to play:  So that being 3 hours late would mean only missing like 3 turns.

Not quite; the game was going strong when I arrived but the players Mr. K, Mr B, and Mr. O whom I know from the MWS club were humming along and allowed me to join Mr O on the Viet-Cong side and took over a platoon.  So far no-one had made any 'Good Morning Vietnam" quotes.

No detailed Batrep and I came in late and was playing catchup.  but here are some shots of the table.  The figures are 15mm.

It's amazing that patches of artificial grass and aquarium plants can look so much like a jungle.  Though our western hemisphere bias was evident as we kept referring to the jungle as 'woods.'

I've never played Charlie Don't Surf or any Vietnam game, but even with only playing a couple of turns thought the rules went well and the game fun.  Plus it was fun to hang out for a bit afterwards and talk wargaming.  And I even helped with clean up.

In other news: Some ACW plans and more Paint'em if you got'em.

Still not buying anything for the remainder of the year and like most wargamers this is actually not a problem, as the lead mountain has plenty stashed away for such an event. And after acquiring the CSA force from Dai, I was SHOCKED and HORRIFIED to see that my CSA force now outnumbers the USA force in both artillery and infantry.   This had to be rectified.  

So started a project to add 20 more USA infantry bases and 12 guns, all of which I had lying around already. 

raw materials that I had laying around...

Yes, I am one of those weirdos that bases the miniatures first and then paints

I also started some more cornfield bases for use in upcoming scenarios. 

Some more raw materials, see the post on DIY cornfields for a detailed description of the process.

I have some BIG plans for ACW in the new year so need to get cracking on.  I've the new Brigade and Fire rules and am itching to try them out, but I'm new to brigade level games and the scale of 1" being 45 yards is strange to me.  Anyway, for the BFF rules I want to try a scenario featuring the dawn attack through the cornfield at Antietam, and the 2nd day assault of Longstreet at Gettysburg.  I'm also working on a scenario for Barlow's Knoll for RFF.  

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Set Sails III: added 2 more ships, both 74's

seems like forever that these have been in a state of almost done.  There was always just one more thing here and there...

But complete now.  Here are two 3rd rate 74 gun ships; 1 for the British and 1 for the French, so it seems rather fair.  These are also my 3rd and 4th ships ever!  Overall; I think that I'm getting better at these models.  The rigging gets more complex, the paint job better, etc... I mean gets better for me; others with actual talent and skill can and do make my stuff look like the amateur effort that it is.... though wargame modeling is like golf in that you don't have to be good at it to like doing it.  Though for the life of me I can't think of any reason why anyone would like golf....  but I've also heard the same phrase about sex...


I've also learned that it's easier to see the details when I place a white background, so I tried to follow through with that with a very expensive light box that I made out of holding up a sheet of paper in the background when I could.....
These are also 1/1200 Langton models.

So first, here's the British 74.  The color scheme is 2 small dark yellow lines on the hull.

And now for the French 74.  Somehow, I always think the French ships come out looking just a little better than the British.  Not sure what that implies, but everyone knows that the French are more attractive than the British.

And now, for the fleet and the future:

And lastly, here are a few photos of "the fleet."  as in the 4 total ships (each side has a 1st rate and a 3rd rate).  And this is where it'll have to stop for now, as I don't have any more ships and I'm not purchasing any wargame stuff till next year.  Though 2 ships each is enough for a good game of Post Captain.  It will also give me some time to ponder how far to take this project.  I really don't have a strong desire to recreate the Battle of Trafalgar so I don't need 30 ships per side.  In fact I still don't know the history very well either so don't really have a solid grasp on any other historical action I'd like to recreate; and most of my reading so far is the Aubrey/Maturin series by Patrick O'Brain (I'm on book 7 now).

on a side note, I did finish reading Sam Willis "Fighting at Sea in the Eighteenth Century: the Art of Sailing Warfare."  It's a nice book about how war at sea was done, the issues and challenges that went into it.  It's NOT a summary of specific battles, though there is a timeline in the back of the book which puts major battles in chronological order which is helpful.  Some parts are very interesting, and some parts are quite dry.

I also don't yet have a rule set that can handle large amounts of ships anyway (though Form line of Battle looks promising).
So, I see myself just running generic AoS scenarios for the time being; small actions and such.  probably a lot of variations on the "the British are on blockade and the French want to break out" and just having different starting positions, wind direction, crew traits, etc...   To which I see about 8-10 ships to be the max needed.  plus markers and such that I'll be devising for things like fallen masts and such.

I'm also planning to purchase some magnet bases from Shogun Miniatures to glue to the bottom of the sea bases.  I like Shogun as the magnet can be the same size as the sea base, and this will allow for storage on something magnetic, and will provide a thicker base to handle the miniature with.

For awhile, I was contemplating getting a longer magnet base than the sea base by about 10mm  and printing a label and putting it behind the stern.  Ultimately I decided against it though so that the ships can be more generic.

Thanks for reading and comments welcomed!

Happy Halloween

A real post about wargaming is in the works, but for now, I hope everyone had a fun and safe Halloween.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Caldwell Clears the Wheat Field; Regimental Fire and Fury Scenario

A rather long winded post about the ACW gaming

Since my ACW purchase and completing the latest CSA troops (see some previous posts HERE and HERE ) I have been itching to do some ACW gaming.  It’s been awhile.

Side note: Hosting games is hard   
So I squeezed a game night into the schedule and invited people over; proving my earlier post about October being the beginning of the end of gaming for the year; for at first I had 5 players saying maybe, which all started to cancel,  and overall the number steadily declined to 2 (not counting me), of which 1 cancelled 15mins before game time….   Maybe this means I’m a terrible game host and no one wanted to come?  Maybe it’s because I serve gluten free pizza…. Maybe it's because while at home I game in the nude and do yoga stretches in-between turns...... But if I had known it’d be just me and Mr. L, I might have chosen a different game / scenario.  Oh well. 

Soldiering on:

I’ve wanted to play the scenario ‘Caldwell clears the Wheat field’ from the Regimental Fire and Fury (RFF) scenario book for a while now.  It’s too bad that the second day of Gettysburg gets short shrift when it comes to press coverage, and most of that is given to little round top (Even though we all like Chamberlain).  but I mean cmon; the 2nd day assault by Longstreet on the salient created by Sickles was way larger and more dramatic than anything Pickett did, with the added bonus that Longstreet actually had a chance of victory.   The fighting into and around the wheat field has always been interesting to me. 

Serious map of the action stolen from the internet

The scenario is good for 4 players, and as you can tell from the title it focus on the counter attack of General Caldwell into the wheat field where the CSA have just broken through!  I also wanted to see if this would make a good convention game (I was originally planning on going to a local small con in November but plans since have changed).  It’s a small little game, only 3 x 4, about 65 stands each…   

Scenario Map from the book

Here is the scenario map from the book.  Now some of the challenge of doing historically based scenarios is that you’ll need specific terrain items.  Like in this case, the wheat field, an oat field of a certain shape, and some streams.  All items I didn’t have, so in the week or two before the game this became my focus. 

Setting up the Scenario: 

What follows is how I set up ACW games.  I really like blog posts that go into details about how they create the games, and have gotten several tips and ideas from such posts.   So here I offer up for display ‘how I do it’ so if someone finds it helpful then that would be awesome.  ALSO!  If someone wants to offer up suggestions for improvements that would be… awesomer?   awesome again?  It’d be more awesome.  I also talk about minor things I would do differently next time. 

For the Wheat field, I went with some teddy bear fur, mainly because I had it laying around from previous projects.   I don’t really love this teddy bear fur for fields but haven’t really found another suitable material yet… 

Anyway, real easy, just draw and cut out the shape you want…

Or not so easy, as I did this backwards; as in I drew the shape that I wanted on the back side of the fur, so when I flipped it over I got the mirror image  : /    so I had to do it over again using smaller pieces which is why in other pics the wheat field is in two pieces….  While I was setting up the game I also made it a little small.  So sometime I’ll make it again and larger. 

For the streams, I used a technique that I read about on the RFF forum.  You get some Acetate sheets and spray paint one side, and the other side shows the color but with a shiny gloss that water would have.  I got some Acetate sheets from Staples (they sell these in large packages of a hundred which are pricey, but if you go to the copy center they’ll sell you individual sheets).

Spray painting in my backyard...

and I somehow did 2 different browns for the streams...

You then cut the acetate sheets into little hotdog / sausage links and lay them down to make a stream in any fashion you like.  Then add bits of flock and what have you to make it look better and more like a stream rather than pieces of sausage shaped acetate.  

I used brown because that’s what the example I had used, and I had brown paint already.  I don’t know if brown was the best choice actually.  It might be more realistic to have brown streams, but I think we’re trained to think blue when we think water. 

For the oat field, I sacrificed an old brown towel, making sure to cut it correctly this time… and hit it a few times with spray paint to break up the textures.  I actually think this came out OK and now will be on the lookout for more appropriate colored towels…

And lastly the night before, I printed up all the troop labels that RFF uses, taped them onto bases, and organized them into commands for easy deployment. 

On With the Game Already

So the day off I went about building the board.  One of the main reasons I made wargaming matts is so that I can put hills underneath and lay the mat on top of it.  Theoretically this will enable me to create any geography that I like.  It doesn’t quite work perfectly, but overall it does the job.  Since 15/18mm ACW stands are very light, you don’t need to use to foam or hard materials to make the elevations like you would with metal 28mm figures / units.  So again I use a mixture of towels and old moving blankets. 

This pic is rather exciting...

Step 1!  mark out the game area with some tape, and lay down the towels and such where you think the elevations will go.  I like to pick a corner and go out from there adding hills as I go.

Step 2!  Lay you wargame mat over it, and press down firmly on the depressions.  I put some white poker chips down were the corners of the game area are.

Pictures never really do a good job showing the elevations when taken from above, so here’s a shot from more eye level that really shows the elevations.

Step 3! Start laying down the major land marks and adding scenery.  Reach under the matt and pull the hills hither and thither as necessary.  Add first the things that are easy to pick up and those items that anchor the rest, in this case the road and streams.  Then the fields, fences, troops and trees and rocks (you put the trees and rocks on after the troops so you don’t have to move them to place units where they’re supposed to be). 

Daughter#1 surveys the scene.  She likes the little trees.

Step 4! Guard you set up from curious little hands that want to touch everything and ruin it while at the same time instilling a love for wargaming.

However! There’s no way to have generic do all terrain and have an exact historical terrain.  So really the best we can hope for is a good-enough fit.  So let’s see how we did:

Not too shabby.  

All this took over an hour to do, but that will decrease with practice effects.  The first time I did the Brawner’s farm scenario it took forever to set up but by the 5th time I had it down pretty quick. 

So; here’s some more self indulgent shots of the set up…. 

Game / battle report…On with it already.

So Mr. L took the CSA and I took the USA simply because there were 4 brigades on the union side versus 2 on the CSA. 

The goal is for the Union to push the CSA out of the wheat field’s lower stone wall and off of the Stony hill (markers X, Y, and Z on the scenario map) for one victory condition, and another if the USA get a unit past the fence at V –W.  The CSA get the victory conditions if they hold it.  There’s also a victory condition of causing heavy casualties to the other side.  Game lasts 7 turns. 

So I girded my lions and did my best impression of ‘relentless advance.’ 

Quick summary: The union succeeded in pushing  the CSA out of the wheat field past the stone wall, and withstood the CSA trying to push back into it; and in the end Luffman’s brigade was mostly broken units.  However,the Union never really succeeded in getting the rebels out of the woods on Stony Hill; just when they looked like they were going off they rallied and counter attacked.  The USA did succeed in inflicting heavy losses on the rebs without taking heavy losses themselves (though just barely).   So in total the USA had 1 victory point and the CSA had 2 for holding the field.  Rebel victory!

So I was playing and running the game so there aren’t too many pictures… that is something of a lie.

First half:  USA; General Cross (already in the Wheatfield) went straight toward the stone wall, while Zook’s brigade (behind and off the right) angled toward the Stony hill.  General Kelly moves to be in-between Zook and Cross, and General Brook comes onto the field with his brigade searching for a hole….  The CSA stand firm and bring up they’re two hindmost regiments and give a blistering fire to the advances Union troops 

(The first 5 rolls for shooting that Mr. L did were a 7,9,10,8, and 9 on a d10…) 

Early Union moves

The Union advancing onto Stony Hill

'Advance through the field me boys!'

And basically a huge epic struggle ensues… (in 15mm) 

Mid game struggles...

Attacks and Counter attacks...

Luffman’s rebel brigade is forced to fall back but Kershaw’s CSA brigade is bolstered by reinforcements and stalls the advance of the Union brigade under Zook on the Stony Hill.
Union Generals Cross and Kelly continue to face Luffman whose still dangerous, so can’t turn on the flank of Kershaw, who swings out a regiment in the USA wake to face the oncoming USA general Brooke; who gets thrown back like a fish too small to even be used as bait.  

2 of Brooke's regiments are thrown back in a surprise upset defeat..

Though the Union rallies though and pushes through the Wheat Field

End phase:
due to losses, most of the CSA troops fighting in the Wheat field break and run, leaving the Union in charge of the field and the stone wall.  However Stony Hill is firmly in CSA hands.  the game is 7 turns long (represents 3.5 hours)

End state of the game

CSA advancing up the Stony Hill near the end of the game, when they SHOULD be retreating...

(reverse angle)

Thoughts on the scenario and wrap up..

That IS a fun scenario.  Took us about 4.5-5 hours to play, which is about right for a convention game in my book.  There is just enough maneuver to be interesting but it's really the bare minimum, and the action starts right away.

Improvements for next time:  the Wheat field needed to be about 2" bigger and the angle of the stone wall less steep.  More important: there is a 4" section of ground in the middle of Rose woods that is not wooded (see scenario map) that needs to be more obvious on the game table.  Lastly, in the pure scenario some units have smooth-bore muskets, which we all forgot about; probably just make every unit armed to rifle muskets to avoid confusion.

I'm likely to run this scenario (or at least one based largely on it) at a convention or again at my place.  If anything to practice setting out the terrain again.

Hope you enjoyed this long post!  Thanks for reading.