Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Ending and Beginning Part II: 2018 GOOOAAAALLS

"It isn't a calamity to die with dreams unfulfilled, but it is a calamity not to dream."
  -Benjamin Hays

Uuuuhhhh, what?     (Actually, Benjamin Hays is pretty cool guy, you should google him, he said all sorts of this stuff). 

alright, enough quoting people smarter than me in an effort to give the blog an air of sophistication, lets move on to...

Wargaming Goals for 2018!

Folwing up from the previous post about what was accomplished in 2017 (precious little), Lets commit to the internet a bunch of goals for 2018, so that in a years time I can look back and see either stunning success or utter failure. 


1) Continue to blog as long as it's enjoyable and rewarding; probably re-evaluate every few months or so.  The plan is to post 2-3 times a month.  There's some self imposed pressure to "have something to say or show" for each blog post.  There definitely seems to be a link between being more productive at the hobbydesk and writing about it.  

2) Continue to promote the blog some; mainly by linking it on forums like TMP and such, and leaving comments on other's bogs.  I don't feel the need to promote every post, especially if it's just me saying "hey look, I painted something at a mediocre skill level!"  But if I am gonna put effort into writing and posting it follows that I want to increase readership. 

Did you follow a link from TMP to get here?  Then the plan is ALREADY working!  


I'm going to set a gaming goal of having 24 "gaming experiences" throughout the year, which averages to 2 games a month.  Some months will have more, some less.  Doesn't really matter what the games are, though I'll probably host games with my collections which reflect genre's that I like.  The idea is to just play enough games to feel like I actually have a hobby of wargaming.  I'll also plan to go to 2 conventions in 2018, which is my usual.  1 will be Conquest Sac (in March), because it is local, and one other that I will travel to.  Usually I go to Kublacon, but this May I'll be busy at that time so now I'm thinking Pacificon. (in September).  

However, I do foresee a bunch of ACW and AoS gaming in 2018.  As those 2 genre's have been dominating the hobby desk.

There's also some people who I want to game with More often.  These being Dai (see his damned and stunted blog over in the blog roll) and Mr. G, my most local wargame buddy, and Mr. L.  I might try and be more involved in the 2 clubs I am in as well, in an effort to expand my gaming circles.  


Side discussion: Rule of two:  
When it comes to painting, I have a rule that helps me organize and be productive; called the "rule of two."  I know, it sounds pretty cool right?  (note to future self, find a better name for 'rule of two.') 
It simply means that I only ever have 2 projects going at once.  I can jump back and forth between those 2 projects all I want, but cannot switch to another project until one of those two projects is complete.  'Projects' can be of any size and genre.  This keeps me from going unfocused and having too much stuff going on at once and nothing getting done; I don't end up with a desk having some plastic viking figures half assembled, some LOTR figures primed, some ACW figures half painted, this other terrain project three quarters  done... you get the idea.  Instead of minimal progress on a lot of fronts it's definite progress on 2.  

Having said that; there's some specific projects I have in mind:
ACW: Currently each army is around 120 bases strong, and I'd like to increase that to 150 each so slightly bigger games can be played; this will also mean that I'll need some more markers for things like being disordered, low on ammo, generals on horseback, command stands,  etc..., 

It also helps me to complete stuff if I plan a scenario that uses juuuust over the amount of stuff I have ...There's also an Antietam scenario I want to run eventually.  

Age of Sail:  I want at least 4 more ships, making 8 total.  Then that genre can be called "complete."  (for now)

Terrain: first comes the miniatures, then comes the terrain.  Really I want just to make the ACW battlefields POP, and I like a  good looking game.  And for any other 15/18mm mass battles that I want to take on in the future. No, not Naps, Naps is for INSANE, but maybe AWI.  but that's in the far off future.  (In the far off future, there will be games set  in the distant past).  So I have some ideas for 15mm roads, MORE snake rail fences, some bases with multiple trees on them for easy "Woods," more fields, and some houses / buildings.  

Generic casualty markers/trackers: I have several games that I like that instead of removing figures you add a casualty tracker, that counts up as the unit takes damage.  Games such as Hail Caesar, Sword and Spear, Picket's Charge, and Sharpe Practice 2.  I don't have a good way of doing it and just leave a dice behind the unit, and I want something prettier.  At first I was planning / attempting to have specific genre markers (like dead / wounded vikings and saxons for dark age battles, dead / wounded soldiers for ACW, etc.) but this turned out to be too hard / too much work.  considering that a decent game has about 15 units per side, so that's 30 ish each.  I made about 6 dark age markers before calling that idea ridiculous; I need markers that can go across genres.  I do have a plan....

Any of these can be done in the order I want. Though with a convention looming in March I feel like the ACW terrain will get priority. 

Thanks for Reading!

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Endings and beginnings part 1: 2017 wrap up

"For last year's words belong to last year's language and next year's words await another voice.  And to make an end is to make a beginning."   - T.S. Elliot

There's probably some sort of statistic somewhere, where X is the amount of time of having a blog and Y is the rate in which the blogger starts to quote poetry and prose....

Year 2017 wrap up

Do you like it when blogs do self indulgent year end summaries?  You do? Great, because here's mine.  But really; when I started to read blogs more often, I began to look forward to these type of posts because I did think it was interesting to see what other people had accomplished and done in a year; sometimes quite a lot and sometimes not so much.  And how plans had changed or not,  etc...  and how the posts presented a small snapshot of wargaming hobby goodness.  Hopefully this will be somewhat like that.

SOOOoooooo, lets talk some stats.  Let's see what the winning games were in Stew's World (party time! excellent!).


In the future, what I actually get produced for the table will get easier to accurately track because of having this blog, but this year I guess-stimate that totals are:

Age of Sail: 
4 - 1/1200 ships (see post HERE)

American Civil War: 
68ish - CSA ACW infantry bases, with some command bases
6 - CSA cannons
30ish - USA ACW infantry bases
6 - USA ACW cannons
plus an unaccounted number of disorder markers, low on ammo markers, and generals on horseback.

Dark Ages:
I vague remember doing some repair with some 28mm Normans back in January, because the last game I did with them I dropped a tape measure on top of the figures.  They likely deserved it.

Some stream pieces
some fields (can be seen HERE
some cornstalk bases for cornfields (HERE
LOTS of snake rail fences

Picture I had on my computer from making snake rail fences

and an unaccounted number of trees. 

"why don't you make a tree, and get flock out of here."  

So the clear winner here is ACW, as most of the miniatures and all the terrain is toward that genre.  This is not surprising; what happened is I clearly hit the threshold of having 'enough' ACW stuff to start playing it a lot, which increased motivation to expand the collection and it became something of a virtuous circle; that I and REALLY enjoy that period and genre.  

What's also clear is my "rule of two" guiding principle: Where I only work on 2 projects at a time.  More on this in some future post.  

Games Played:

We'll focus on games played rather than games won or lost, because really it's the playing that matters.  You can assume that I win ALL my games through a combination of guile, cunning, audacity, superior generalship, propaganda, and outright cheating ("hey I rolled all my saves while you were looking away / in the bathroom and it looks like I made every one. What are the odds huh?")
When I started to track my gaming back in 2016, I set a goal of 24 games a year.  I reckon this averages out to 2 a month, which feels realistic enough to accomplish.  Honestly, 2 games a month with the odd convention here and there is about all the hobby / game time I can manage anyway against other obligations.  24 games feels like I actually have a hobby of 'playing games' that I enjoy responsibly (painting and production is also an aspect of my hobby, but really the goal of any production is to play a game with it).  And by Games I more mean "A distinct gaming experience."  How's that for a vague definition?  Games 'count' when played at the club, at a convention (in which case there are usually 2 or maybe 3 a day),  hosted at my place or someone else's.  All miniature wargames count (because they're my FAV-orite), and some boardgames count more than others.  Can you really compare Starwars Rebellion to Small Worlds? No you cannot.  Games of  Disney Princess Memory or Uno played with the 4 year old do NOT count because she wins too much.  

Let's break it down by type shall we:

Miniature Wargames:
x1- Chain of Command (WWII).  I used to play a LOT of WWII and have a sizable collection, but not this year apparently.
x1- Charlie don't Surf (Vietnam) see post HERE
x1 - Form on Admirals Wake (Age of Sail).  Played this at Kublacon and loved the genre so much I started it for myself.  A couple of games played in one sitting equals 1 "distinct gaming experience."
x1- Highlanders and Habitats (FIW). Played at Conquest Sac.

Highlander! game pic

x1-Kiss Me Hardy (Age of Sail). can be seen HERE
x1- Picket's Charge (ACW).  I will blog about this game in the future...
x1 Pike and Shot.  played at Kublacon
x1- Post Captain (Age of Sail).  Really liked these rules for AoS, might be the go-to set. see the post HERE for review.
x1 - Rank and File.  I like these rules, played at a con the "Battle of Lingy."  Played at Conquest Sac.

my troops assault a village in "Battle of Lingy."  

x7 - Regimental Fire and Fury (ACW).  My favorite ACW rules.  Scenarios of 'the cornfield,' Brawner's Farm, and Caldwell clears the Wheatfield.

Pics of "the Cornfiled" scenario put on by a friend with a much larger collection of ACW.

x1 Sharpe Practice2 (AWI). see post HERE
x1 Xwing mininature game.
x1 year end game. Haven't played yet but it's on the schedule for this weekend.  Something about Pirates. I've RSVPed and unless prevented by sickness or worse, it shall happen so we'll count it. 

= 19 miniature wargames.  Not bad.  The clear winners are ACW games (7 RFF and 1 PC) and AoS games (3 of those), which nicely mirrors what I was producing from my hobby table.  Some people would call that 'synergy.'  The AoS games are all on different rules, which reflects the starting of a genre and getting the feel of different games to find the one I like most.  The rest of the list are really just one-offs and reflect me playing with other people's toys at conventions, houses, and / or the club.

It's curious there are no Dark Ages games (Viking, Saxons, and Normas oh my) as that's another genre I enjoy and have a large collection of figures.  oh well, they all can wait in the garage until I need them!  Or maybe I just forgot; I kinda remember a Lion rampant game somewhere...

Board games:
x1 Blood rage (that's a good game, Vikings and Valhalla, what's not to like?)
x1 defenders of the Realm
x1 Guardians of something or another, I really don't remember and I believe it was French.
x1 Level 7 omega Protocol
x5 Starwars Rebellion, (twice with the expansion).  I LOVE this game.
x1 - and in the beginning of the year I had a bday boardgame weekend where there were lots of smaller games played over 2 days; things like Small Worlds, Ticket to ride, Settlers of Catan, Formula D, Carcasonne, etc..  We'll only count this as 1 instance though.

= 10 board games.  The clear favorite is Starwars.  In fact that was probably the only board game  where getting to together was for the express purpose of playing Starwars, because it's that awesome.  The rest were played at a con or some such as part of a larger game day.

= grand total of 29 games!  GOAL ACHIEVED,  I AM WARGAMING LEGEND!!  but just barely.  It was attending two gaming conventions that sealed the deal.  I'm sure others have way more games, maybe some less.

Other Accomplishments:

I gained some weight and drank a lot of coffee this year.  I also lost a tooth, so my smile is..unique.

Oh, and I started this blog; inspired by many others.  So far the experience has been pleasant.  So A BIG THANK YOU to anyone who reads these posts,  a BIGGER THANK YOU to anyone who leaves a comment; as I find those super rewarding and encouraging.  And the BIGGEST THANKS to anyone who has put this blog in your blog roll (you few).  I find that very complimentary and most encouraging.  

Stay tuned for Part II, beginning 2018; up coming plans and pitfalls, and as always;
thanks for reading.   

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

ACW (Union) progress, totals, and Winter quarters....

( I am on a roll lately with the postings, that's because I am a master blogger (after only 5 months...))

ACW Union Progress

so back in 11/9/17, started some more ACW Union bases and some terrain (see post HERE! to reread in original glorious-ness!)

AAANNND now complete; I had a spurt of hobbytime so completed 20 more infantry bases, 6 more guns, and about 20 more cornfield bases.

I feel like I say this almost every other post, but I don't especially like painting.  I don't mind it, but really painting is the means to the end that I want: which is fully painted armies.  There's a sense of satisfaction when a project is complete, but if I had more resources (and by resources I mean cash money) I would pay others to do it exclusively.

which is why 15mm ACW seems to be a perfect fit for me: The uniforms are basic and look good En Masse; so all the figures get a basic paint job, a wash, and flocked.  That's it.

so here's 6 more artillery pieces to add to the collection.  I painted 2 as brass barrels just to make them distinct.  All my cannons are 12lbs, because really, they all look the same anyway.

10 more bases of men in the famous 'Black Hats.'  10 more bases of regular guys.

Union totals (for myself)

126 infantry stands
12 Cannons
6 generals
2 Corps/divisional commands
18 ish command stands (some command stands are spread over 2 bases).

More terrain

I made some more cornfield bases, for now a total of 50!  
(A post detailing the method can be found HERE CORN

Hopefully that will be enough for most purposes. each circle is 50mm (2 inches).  So a 10" x 6" field would require 15 bases.  A 12" x  8" field would require 24 bases...

Pack it in, Going into Winter Quarters...

So with Christmas upon us and coming fast, the house is in full prep mode for visitors!  We're having 4 family members coming to stay with us from about the 21st to the 26th, which is 1 more than we can handle comfortably.  Which means we need an extra room, so the hobbyroom must be dismantled as it will now be my bedroom for Christmas.

so the wife and I cleaned off the hobby desks to make room.

Before pic...  doesn't everybody's hobby desk look like this?

after pic... so neat, so tidy, so inaccessable

SO no place for arts and crafts for awhile, and no time either (because it's not like I'd be able to go do wargame stuff while the wife cleaned house in prep for company).

so there won't be much more hobby progress until the new year, so any further posts I might squeeze in will have to be pithy opinion pieces....

So, in case I don't see you...

Happy Holidays to you and everyone.

RFF scenario: Barlow's Knoll

As mentioned in my previous post discussing brigades versus regiments in ACW wargaming (can be found HERE!), this is the full Regimental Scenario for Barlow's Knoll using RFF.  the purpose of this post is to 1) just to share what I've been doing and discuss wargaming scenarios and 2) act as my cloud storage so that I'll be able to run the scenario easily by having all the info in one place and not in a drawer somewhere.

Map stolen from the internet

I'll get into why I think this would be a fun scenario and some history later in the post.

Standing Taller..

Once again, I am standing on the shoulders of giants to appear taller.  This scenario is not made from scratch but based on the work of Brad Butkovich and his book "Summer Storm; Regimental Wargame Scenarios for the Battle of Gettysburg."

go buy all these books!

Mr. Butkovich has several books on Wargame Vault and they are excellent.  I have 'Summer Storm' (Gettysburg), 'Brave Hearts Trembled' (Antietam), "Battle of Antietam Maps," and "Musketry like Thunder" (fictional scenarios).  The PDFs are very well priced for the wealth of information in them.

The books are ACW rules neutral, and he makes it easy to convert the scenarios to the ruleset of your choice, so that's basically what I did.

step 1) simplify the map. The map of the area in the book looks like this:

Which is very detailed and which is awesome because I rather have the source material have too much info rather than too little.  However, there's no way I can reproduce that (and of course Mr. Butkovich states in his book that it's not necessary to even try..), so I just want to focus on the key features.  There should be enough fences to hamper movement, there should be a rise in elevation in the middle of the board (otherwise called the 'knoll'), a strip of woods and a small river / stream, and of course, Darth Vader in an AT-AT.  (just seeing if you're paying attention).

Also, the map is 33yds per inch while RFF is 25yds; which is close enough to make no nevermind (that's not a typo, it's an actual phrase I use), but terrain features could be a little bigger.  mainly the knoll has to be big enough to hold troops on it comfortably.  Also I removed all the houses / buildings as they don't matter in RFF.

standing still taller...

Another giant is Jay from Jay's Wargaming Madness. (also on the blog roll  ----->)  I asked him once how he made his scenario maps and he kindly showed me how he does it by using Powerpoint, and shared his technique WITH THE WORLD with this post (Link!).  A real stand up guy.  

so using the previous map as a guide I made this map for myself and placed the Regiments on it.

Barlow's Knoll

Terrain notes: fences are for usual in RFF.  The stream known as Rock Creek, ( probably because Metallica played a concert there) and woods are broken ground to cross.  Line of sight in the wood is blocked to 4".  It should be noted that cannons on the Knoll can fire and be targeted by other cannons using the plunging fire rules.  Woods has all the normal firing rules.  When charged through woods, rock creek, or up the north side of Barlow's knoll (the side facing the enemy I mean the CSA), units receive the +1 for favorable ground (and it's also broken ground).  The back south side of the knoll is a gentle slope and counted as open ground.  Fields are open ground.

On second thought, I would probably get rid of that second rise in the bottom left.  what was I thinking!!!

Troop notes: Deploy as shown.  CSA has the first turn, game is 10 turns long.  I think it doesn't really matter which regiment goes where in a long line of regiments, though VonGilsa's largest regiment should be in line on the knoll.  Regiments in Krzyz.'s brigade (that's short for Krzyzanowski, which is the coolest name ever!) start in field column.  The CSA off table batteries have normal line of sight rules, the cannons on the North edge are on a elevation (so can shoot over troops) and both add 12" to their range (measure from the edge of the board, then add 12); also the batteries can NOT coordinate their fire with each other but can with infantry.  off table batteries can be targeted for counter battery fire.  
CSA brigades of Avery and Hayes enter on turn 2.  Union Brigade Coster enters on turn 7.  All starting units can move immediately.

--a note on OOBs, CSA is annoying.  The didn't do a number system like the USA did, but used names. The commanders name usually.  So the Corps commanded by Longstreet was called "Longsteet's Corps."  The Brigade commanded by Hayes is called "Hayes Brigade."  but sometimes you have the name sticking around while someone else is commanding; like in this line up, you have Avery commanding Hokes Brigade (what happened to Hokes?  I do not know).

Union Artillery positions: 2 sections of the 4th US Battery are deployed on the knoll with Von Gilsa, with 1 section deployed all by itself on the right of Ames (or put it all together if you want).
The 13th NY Battery and the Battery I, 1st OH deploy with Amsburg.  Battery K enters with Coster.

CSA Artillery positions: The Jefferson Davis Alabama battery is off table from the bottom (west), and the  Morris Virginia Battery from left (North).  Charolette's, Courtney's, and Stanton's batteries all deploy next to Gordon.  

Victory conditions: holding the knoll of course!  USA starts with the key position, usual rules apply.  
Heavy losses: USA threshold at 40, CSA at 38.  (should be a close game).  Heavy losses and greater losses as usual.  

So before I get to the OOB, which will only make sense if you know RFF, let's talk about the battle scenario...

Why I think this will be fun...

Because it's Gettysburg and everybody loves playing Gettysburg scenarios!  Also this part is not in the movie so it'll be a fresh scenario.  but most importantly, there's a of fun history involved that influences the scenario....The USA is basically the XI Corps; which got it's ass handed to it in the previous battle of Chancellorsville when it was on the receiving end of Jackson's flank attack.  In XI Corps defense, they were staring at a giant thicket and thought 'who the hell would attack through that?  Jackson would.  Now here they are again about to receive another flank attack-- because just as General Barlow finishes moving his little division up the high ground in front of him, here comes general Early's division right down the road on his flank.  bad luck.  

in both instances, XI Corps fought bitterly before being crushed, and then were derided by the rest of the army because they were Germans.... (this is unfortunately true)

 The USA also has 3 poor commanders; this is not because they are bad people (well maybe they were, I did mention they were German?) but because General Reynolds has just been killed (that part IS in the movie), so General Howard of XI Corps has to go assume command of the entire field, so he elevates Shurz from his divisional command to Corps command, and Schimmelfennig assumes the divisional command from brigade, and Amsberg steps up to birgade command from his regiment...and nobody does a good job their first time.  The USA also has 2 very good commanders in Barlow and Krzyz (after reading "Cain at Gettysburg" you have to make Krzyz a Gallant leader..).  

In any case you can read more about it if ya like elsewhere.  I also think it'd be fun because it shows why flank attacks were so important, and is big enough that 4-6 players; 4 players could run 2 brigades each and have plenty to do, and at 6 everyone gets around a brigade.  Everyone is on the board by turn 2, with just enough artillery to make it interesting but not too much to overwhelm.  Plus it promises quick set and easy set up with simple terrain!  

What will make this more a fair fight?  Amsburg's brigade.  Historically his brigade kinda sat still while the CSA plowed through the knoll and then behind him, causing him to route and great loss to his brigade trying to squeeze through to the rear.  This happened because there were menacing looking confederates to his front, which don't really do anything but snipe at him.  Those CSA troops are not in scenario, which means that Amsburg will join the fight.  

Overall: the CSA is slightly smaller, but well lead and in a great position, the USA is larger (though not by that much), with mixed leadership.  should be fun.

So I should be bringing this out to the game table in the next few months.  There's some terrain I want to do (manly better roads) and maybe some more fences, but the troops are 98% done (MORE, on that later).   When Conquest SAC rolls around in March this will likely be a scenario if the first game goes well.   

and now for the OOB: 

These are the labels you would use for RFF, if you're familiar with those rules then you can read tehm and get an idea of what the unit sizes are:



Thanks for checking it out!  next post will be hot on the heels of this one!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Brigade versus Regimental scale illustrated with Barlow's Knoll

a blog post that discusses the differences in ACW gaming using Regiments and Brigades as the maneuver units.  Maybe mainly aimed at folks like me, who are new-ish to ACW gaming, or at anyone that just likes to discuss wargaming.  It's all fairly obvious, but not everyone has been doing ACW for decades...

A discussion of Perspective

For the last year or two, I've been wargaming ACW in the regimental scale; that is to say that the units that one moves around are regiments.  There are several good rule sets for this, I have my favorites though; and these are Regimental Fire and Fury (RFF) and Picket's Charge (but a rules review is for another post).

But a little while ago the new version of Brigade Fire and Fury (BFF) was released and I immediately scooped it up.  I've never played in any brigade scale games and I picked it up mainly because I wanted to increase the scope of the battles on the tabletop but use the same figures; and the difference in the scale was more apparent and significant than I realized, so I thought I would write a blog post about it.   And since I've been working on a scenario about the fighting on Barlow's Knoll, (just north of Gettysburg, on the first day) for RFF and Pickets Charge rules, I also (just for fun) put it into brigade scale and the differences really jumped out at me.  In this post I'll stick to talking about RFF and BFF as the two are easily comparable as it's the same system, same author (Rich Hasenauer), same awesomeness.

Throughout the post, I'll be adding pics of some of my ACW games, just because blog posts without pics are boring.

(side discussion about scale in general)

I also think this is interesting because a lot of games don't have a scale attached to it, so when games try to stay true to a scale it's an added dimension, and I've found that I enjoy games with a scale MORE.  Something about it just gets that extra click of 'looks right' from me.  For example; Flames of War (and I think Bolt Action) doesn't have a scale where 1" is supposed to be a measure of distance, its more of short-medium-long range type of game.  But the first time I played Chain of Command (with the same figures) which uses a scale; I was hit by 'oh man, this is cool, that guy with rifle can actually shoot across the whole table like a rifle could!!'
--this is not to say that good games need a scale and bad games don't; there are plenty of good games with arbitrary ranges more suited to the size of game table than real life and this is fine.  I just like it better with a scale; and I'd say this matters more in genres where weapons have a longer range versus more primitive weapons.  It's easier to believe that a bow and arrow can only shoot 12-18",  or that a musket can only shoot 24", than it is to believe that a M-60 rifle has a range of 24".  And of course buildings are never to scale....

RFF vs BFF scale differences and implications

Some basic info before we get to the implications for gamers;
RFF uses 1" = 25 yds, 1 base is 40 men, 1 gun is 2 cannons.
BFF has two scales, you select the one you want: the one I like is 1" is 45yds, 1 base = 150 men, 1 gun is 6 cannons.  This is not secret information, it's here in the product description: (store link)

There are some implications that are immediately perceived:
From the ground scale, you can see that if RFF is at one level, than BFF is 'zoomed out' x2 (in other words,  1" in BFF is worth about 2" in RFF).  So a RFF game set on a 4x6 table would be represented at the BFF scale on a 2x3.  this also means that any terrain features shrink by half from RFF to BFF.  The number of figures used to represent units also goes down per unit; A brigade of around 1080 men in RFF is going to be made up of about 24 stands, which are divided into different regimental units (like 3 regiments;lets say 3: 1 of 9 stands, 1 of 8 stands, and 1 of 7 ), while the same brigade in BFF will have 7 stands and maneuver as one whole.

That's quite a difference, which naturally shifts the focus to either the regiments that make up the brigade, or onto the brigade itself.  This either can increase or decrease the amount of detail for those 1080 men on the battlefield; is the player dictating what 1 group is doing or is the player controlling 3 groups (each with it's own morale, unique modifiers, formation, etc..).

Not so obvious is the effect on scale on terrain itself.  Besides shrinking terrain when moving up to brigade level, there's also a dropping off of detail of the effect minor terrain features have; basically  minor features become irrelevant, only significant terrain matters.  So in Regimental games nearly all the terrain matters, in Brigade only some matters.

Snake rail fences really illustrate the point; like most ACW gamers, I've invested some time and money in having a lot of snake rail fences (the fences that zigzag) and STILL need more. Seems like every battlefield was littered with fences.  Snake rail fences are practically iconic for the eastern country side.  You see zigzag fences on a game table and you think ACW (or maybe AWI).   In Regimental gaming the fences matter; it matters for maneuver, movement, and cover.  In Brigade level the fences don't matter, just there for looks.

Other aspects are affected as well; weapon ranges, command radius, weapon types, etc..  but you get the idea; Regimental is a magnifier glass, Brigade is a helicopter view.

this pic reminds me that I need to get busy making some in-scale roads...

(Yet another side discussion: Terrain just for looks)
I'm always of two minds when it comes to terrain just for looks.  On one hand anything that helps make the game look prettier is a plus.  I like the aesthetics (you can't tell, but I spelled that word right on the first try).  Also if the terrain doesn't matter you can just throw it out where it looks nice because it won't have any bearing on tactics; break up a large expanse of golf course with some fields.  On the other hand if something is not important to the game play then why include it at all?  It's just extra mental effort for the players to remember which terrain matters and which doesn't.  Especially for first time players; that stone wall matters but the fences don't, that group of trees matters but those houses don't.  you get the idea; and sometimes it's obvious and sometimes it isn't, but I feel that gamers are trained to respond to items placed on the tabletop.  I don't have a solution or a preference which makes me do weird things.  In a dark age game if I have a village on the table I'll put civilians, carts, animals inside it just to make it look better, and move them around from time to time.  But nothing about it matters to the game.  At a convention I put on an ACW RFF game and finished the game table set up with all the details.  And then in the middle of explaining the rules I said "oh, these houses here don't really matter, just for looks, I'll just take them off now."  Was there a point to carting the things around to just have them on the table for 10 mins....?  

Barlow's Knoll

Again, it's the level of detail you want to represent.  In RFF you can have lots of details like fences, shallow depressions, woods, a dried river bed, and a ridge-line; in BFF the same table would yield woods and a ridge-line.  However what you loose in detail you gain in scope.  Because in RFF the detail is turned up you're only able to play a smaller section of a battle, and not the entire battle itself (well, I guess you could, it'd just be huge and take forever).  Which brings us to discuss Barlow's Knoll.  The fighting at Barlow's Knoll happened on the first day of Gettysburg on the north of the town; if you're scratching you head trying to remember don't feel bad, it wasn't in the movie...

I find it interesting because you have the union 11th core, all down in the dumps because they just got routed at the battle before at Chancellorsville (the core was right in the path of the CSA flank attack), find themselves AGAIN in a terrible position being flanked....

Now, I didn't start this scenario from scratch, I stood on the shoulders of other men.  In this case that man was Mr. Brad Butkovich and his book "Summer Storm; Regimental Wargame Scenarios for the battle of Gettysburg."   He actually has a whole series of these books on Wargame Vault.  His books are rules neutral, and it's not a big effort to convert the OOBs (which he breaks down to bases) and maps that he presents into the rules of your choice.  Really for RFF all I had to do was add the morale level and modify the map some.  The map shows regiments in a skirmish formations which ins't really in RFF (there is an optional rule), and really his map is just too detailed; there are a TON of fences.  You just don't need quite that much in RFF, because if a unit crosses one fence or 3, it still moves 8".

I know I'm talking about a map you can't see, go buy the book.  : )   Here is the map I came up with to guide my set up.

Each rectangle is a regiment.  I got lazy and didn't label them.  The little cross looking things are cannons

I was going to go into detail about the scenario but I feel like that would be too long of a post now so I'll do so later.  But here are the total requirements:

CSA: 1 Divisional  commander, 4 brigadier generals, 11 cannons, 123 infantry bases, 18 commands. total.
USA:  1 corps commander, 2 Divisional commanders, 10 brigadier generals, 10 cannons, 117 infantry bases, 18 commands  total.

Now, I don't know about you, but I wouldn't call this a small game; there are 250 ish bases on a 6x4 table.  (by the way, there are 3 men per infantry base, so that's 720 miniatures carrying rifles).  I would call this a medium to large game sized game; good for 4 players.  It might take awhile to play.

Brigade Level:
CSA: 1 DIV, 38 infantry stands, 3 cannons, 4 commands total
USA: 1 Corps commander, 2 Divisional commander, 36 infantry stands, 3 guns, 5 commands total.

map something like this:

Each square-grid represents a foot of game table.

This would be a very small game, almost not even worth playing... : )  Well, maybe as a demo.

Actually, it would be a fine action on a section of a larger battlefield, which brings us back to full circle: using Brigades, you would only play Barlow's Knoll if playing the entire first day of Gettysburg (which the BFF book does have, a scenario for the entire first day), because using brigades as units means using a scale to fight an entire battle.

This pic just goes to show that playing the game will ruin all the pretty fence lines...

None of this solves the main problem with ACW gaming...
You'll need hundreds of infantry sands no matter what scale you choose!  I feel this is the biggest determent to getting into ACW gaming.  As you scale down to regiments you'll need more and more stands to get each regiment on the table, and as you scale up to brigades you'll need more and more stands to represent each brigade as the scope of the battle gets bigger and you start using multiple Corps and Divisions.

It took me about 3 years, starting from scratch, to get forces on both sides to over a 100 stands.  It takes a lot of effort (and money, especially if you cheat like me and use a painting service once in awhile) but if you like ACW gaming, then it'll pay off.  

Thanks for reading.  Hopefully somewhat illuminating for someone.  

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!