Tuesday, August 29, 2017

CSA base done (with Paint Palette)

Finished some more bases for Regimental Fire and Fury (or Picket's Charge or Brigade Fire and Fury or really any ACW rules..) 

but first off; the Paint Palette part in the title is for my future self, to record what colors I have been using to paint these troops; because in six months I'll have forgotten...

Dear future self! Use these colors from Vallejo:
(50) shades of gray: basalt grey, medium grey (the best), light grey, sky grey, or dark grey.
(and will I still get that joke).
shades of butternut: yellow ochre, brown ochre, USA tan earth, 
leathers and belts and stuff; german camo brown
canteens; german camo beige
skin tones: pick any one 

method; pick a color, start painting and mix and match.  The idea is to get enough grays in the troops to make them look uniform, but enough other colors to make them look un-uniform, see!

alright, enough of that,  I suppose if anyone likes the color scheme they may copy it....  

It wasn't a large project, just to add some bases to the Confederacy and continuing the slow build up of forces for larger scenarios.  My USA force is around 100 stands, and I want the CSA force to be about the same.  just for Symmetry.  And so I can't be accused of favoring one side over the other, but it's the Union! (there goes the southern readership...)  

19 bases, 3 command (with proud flags), and 3 out of ammo markers of guys loading guns

Now I don't pretend to be a great painter.  I paint to wargame standard, and it all looks good on the table.  Just a method of: base coat, maybe a highlight here and there, Army painter dark tone wash, army painter antishine spray, and flock...)

These fellas all hid their cell phones and posed for their close up.
I think the buttons on the officer look nice.

And from the back, which is how one usually sees them....
No, not because they're cowards but when you command they advance away from you....

Now! Get into the storage box with the others.  

This makes the whole CSA force comprise of:
87 generic bases (guys with rifles)
10 command stands (each Regiment would get a command stand)
6 cannons
2 generals
4 Brave Colonel /  ADC / single based officer waving swords and pointing in a manly fashion type guys.

and apparently still all fits in one box as seen above.

The most immediate need is a few more generals, and a divisional commander or two, and cannons seems to be in short supply.  However for now, this  good enough to satisfy most gaming needs.

Overall, the ACW project is looking pretty good.  If stuff continues to accumulate slowly then it will be quite large by the end of the year.  I should go find a scenario (or create one) that uses just over what I currently have completed, just to make a goal to shoot for.

oh, or do some more terrain.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Sharp Practice 2 (at the club)

Why hello again!

Over the weekend I got in a game of Sharp Practice 2 at the wargame club meeting.

I'm a BAD club member these days, I've haven't gone to meeting in months (and then some more months).  When I was in the bay area, I had no use for clubs  because I had a large enough group of wargaming friends and we all played together.  But when I moved to the SAC area I knew no-one, so I joined the local club (actually, I joined two).  So far, everyone I met through the clubs has been a good person. 

But I haven't been in a long time, mainly because the club meets during the day, like 10AM through to the late afternoon, and honestly this is just a bad time for me.  It's easier for me to do wargames that start at late afternoon and go through the evening.  It's just the rhythm of my life; later games mean I can attend to some family stuff / whatever and then vanish for the rest of the day.  Also, while playing at other locations (like game stores, libraries, and such) is perfectly fine; my preferred gaming location is my own house.  There's a reason that while we were shopping for houses I made sure that there would be a room with enough space for hosting wargames.

But this weekend I was able to go, and was extra motivated because Mr. R, a very nice man and good guy gamer, I always try to play with him, was hosting a game of SP2 during the AWI. 

I've had these rules forever, and have yet to play them, so I was excited to give them a go. 

4 players plus the GM, and I was given 4 leaders (all status II) and basically 4 units to control of glorious and brave soldiers of the army of the new United States of America.  1 unit of awesome skirmishers, 1 unit of NOT awesome skirmishers (these guys were really on good for taking long range shots from cover so I of course used them up front to guard a flank), and 2 units of 2 groups of line troops.  That makes sense if you know the rules.  Everyone had 3-4 Leaders / units.

Moving off from the deployment point of the wagon.  the LAME skirmishers to the left, and the two formation of line troops on the right.

 Like most TFL games it tends to start pretty slow and then ramps up as the battle unfolds and things get heated.  I had a Hard luck game though; one leader got knocked out early on (like turn 2) and NEVER recovered; robbing me of much needed command initiatives.  Also latter in the game, my large formation had a random event and suddenly all the powder was damp, firing at 1/2 effect.

My troops at high tide.  but not really that high.  4 groups with 1 leader on the ground, 1 leader with insufficient initiatives
shock beginning to accumulate, and damp powder

The casualties were light, but SP is not so much about removing figures so much as it's about inflicting enough 'shock' on the units that they quit the field. 

The BAD GUYS!  so smug, so droll, so British!

I tend to like card based activation games, though they can be somewhat frustrating if the cards turn against you...which is where SP2 really shines with it's command cards,  as you can spend the cards to activate your units.  For example: my large formation in the middle of the action had taken some serious shock, and because one leader was knocked out I only had 1 status II leader to manage it all, he was having trouble rallying his men.  The turn was winding down, and the leader had yet to activate, but there were 3 command cards available.  I could: use the cards to activate and get the usual 2 initiatives, or gamble that the leader card would come up before the turn ended and then use the cards to get 5 initiatives;  allowing to rally off 4 shock and still activate to fire.  A good risk versus reward decision.  I gambled, and the next card ended the turn.... leaving my brave troops in poor condition. 

It's funny how over 3 hours of gaming can be displayed with some simple arrows.  

And Low and Behold, there was a game of Form on Admiral's Wake!!  Random AoS game.  Seems like me getting into naval sailing games just shows that I am on the pulse of gaming fashion!  The host was also just getting into AoS fresh from some AoS fun at Historicon,   So we talked about our experiences of getting into AoS gaming. 

you can barely see the hexes....These are Sails of Glory ships

That's all for now.  See you next time.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

A Conflict of interests...

Alternative title: How I cope with multiple wargaming projects.
All of this is, of course, just my opinion, and what works for me.
This post is more of a short essay about wargaming, and an aspect of the hobby most of us deal with at one time or another; how to be productive and complete projects.

Here's a typical wargamer / hobby conundrum...What to paint next?

what to do, what to do --  1/200 ship on the left, 18mm ACW on the right.

Here is a shot of the projects on my hobby desk.  I just got my next ship in the mail, and I eagerly tore open all the packaging to verify it was all there, and giggle.  AoS is my newest genre and I'm all excited about it.  But while I was waiting for the ship to arrive, I picked back up my ongoing ACW project, with some CSA reinforcements that are nearly done.  Which project to do?

(of course, it doesn't seem nearly done when you start thinking about what steps are left; paint some rifles, paint the flesh, paint the hair, paint ALL the bases, Wash in AP strong tone, spray with antishine, flock all the bases, and then attach the flex steel to the bottoms for storage).

My CSA troops, needing reinforcements to stand up against the Yankees.

Like most people, even though wargaming is really my only hobby, I have limited time and resources (bascially money) to devote to it; after work, family, chores, and everything else that people have to do.  And I have learned that if I spread those resources too thin over a too many projects then nothing gets done.  When nothing gets done I get frustrated and unhappy in my wargaming.

When I moved a couple of years ago, I did some searching into my wargaming soul, triggered by having to pack up and inventory all the wargaming miscellany.  It was quite sobering how many half started (or purchased and then never started) projects / genres that I had lying around.  Miniatures bought and never painted.  Rule-sets read and never played.  I ultimately determined that this was a BIG waste of resources (money and space) and looked very hard and very ruthlessly at what I was likely to complete in the near future, what still held my interest, and determined that most needed to go.

I won't bore you with a list of what I jettisoned, because it would only make sense in the context of what I kept, and that's a lot of writing for what I suspect would be little interest, even to me.  But I sold some stuff at a flea market or two for very cheap, gave a lot away, and just threw away other stuff.  Threw away in the trash!  It was a tough but necessary step, and honestly I can't even remember what it was now really that got tossed.   It was the great purge of 2014, and honestly...

It was a very liberating experience.
In one fell swoop (one fell swoop that actually was over a month long of packing, sorting, selling, etc..) I rid myself of the thought of "guh, when am I going to get around to painting those Romans (and the Gauls). "  "I can't start another project because I have so many already..."

I am now waaaaay more selective of what I invest in and collect.  But the up side of this is that when I do start a project there is actually progress and sees the wargaming table, versus being bought, and just being put into storage when the next "oooohhh shiny" comes along.

I limit myself to purchases of miniatures in only two genres as at time, as in, only have 2 projects going.  I like having 2 genres going at once, because it's too hard to focus on 1 project for an extended period of time but bouncing between 2 will still provide some variety.  An 'extended period of time' for me means about a year or more, because it takes that long to go from nothing at all to having 2 painted armies plus some terrain.

For example, going through my emails I see that I first started talking about starting an ACW project in October 2014!  That's over 2 years ago, and during that time I focused on ACW and Dark Ages, and it's paid off because now I have a decent collection of both.Here's  a shot of an ACW Game I ran at Kublacon.  Enough figures for 5 players.

ACW game, the Union attempting to push the CSA off the field.

The civil war project has benefited from my constant focus, as it's gone from nothing to a large force of Union, a medium force of CSA, plus fences, fields (see the other post about plowed fields and cornfield), some cavalry, and artillery.

Normans cross a river to attack a Saxon village.
The "Harrying of the North."  

Here's a Hail Caesar game that I hosted at my place while ago (I had to did through my pictures to find a shot).  There were more figures coming on as reinforcements even.

The Dark ages has been complete 'enough' for awhile now, having enough troops to play any skirmish game I like and big battles large enough for 3 players per side (though there is always some more I would like to do, like even bigger battles!).   The DA collection  includes about 200 miniatures of Vikings, Saxons, and Normans; also civilians, movement trays, carts, and terrain.

Completed genres hang out in the storage containers, ready to be broken out whenever I like. This makes me happy and increases my enjoyment in wargaming.

In closing; I have found that I get more done and enjoyment by focusing my limited resources across two genres at a time.  I get the variety of different things to paint or model so my hobby doesn't become tedious (though painting is always a little tedious ins't it?).  The focus also means that 'things get done' which results in the thing I like best; playing with painted armies!

Painting the ship will result in a second ship complete, for a total of  1 French and 1 British; meaning that games that focus on smaller actions (like ship versus ship),  like the rules Post Captain, are ready to be played.

Painting the CSA will result in having enough troops to play the next scenario that I am interested in playing, taking place in the wheat-field of Gettysburg.

I'll write more on another post about  how I keep my focus and avoid the "oh new shiny" more often than not, and some thoughts about using 'the rule of 2' and organizing your hobby.

I hope this was, at least, somewhat interesting.  Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

International naval Wargame Day -- Kiss Me Hardy Review

On TMP (yes, I spend some time on TMP, especially at work while it is slow),  David Manley informed us all that August 6th was 'International Naval Wargame Day.'

Who knew this was a thing?

But what an excuse to play an Age of Sail game (AoS) and play test some rules.  As I've already stated, I'm newly getting into AoS gaming and went on something of a rule acquiring spree... and now have more rules than I need.

It's one of the dilemmas of starting a new genre; while there is no real reason to stick to one set of rules, in actuality you will only play 1 or 2 of them regularly and the rest will just sit on the shelf.  Yet to know which rules you like you have to do research (which only takes you so far, as most research are just people telling you 'yay' or 'nay') and ultimately end up buying multiple rule sets because you don't know what you like yet....

So far I've gotten:

(Games that use Hexes)
Wooden Ships and Iron men (free online)
Beat to Quarters (free online, but really is just a hex version of Form Line of Battle)
Bloody Broadsides ($$)
Form on Admirals Wake ($)

(Games without hexes)
Kiss Me Hardy ($)
Form Line of Battle ($)
Captaincy ($$)
Post Captain ($$$)

And let's say that each $ represents around 10 dollars (some more, some less) then I've already shelled out around $100....  Hopefully I'll get around to writing a detailed review of these rules for other gamers.

But since I was family-less that day, I put out a call for an AoS game at my place, and choose to play KMH, mainly bc the rules seemed simple and I'm familiar with TFL.  It should of been FLOB because those are the rules that Mr. Manley wrote, but I chickened out as I hadn't read them all the way through yet.

I got some takers, and was all set to throw down a sheet and print up some top down pictures of ships for miniatures (IE, very low key) but Mr. Martin volunteered to bring his 1/2000 ships, which no one knew he had and are apparently over 20 years old.  This meant I had to go get something ocean-y because a white bed sheet would not do.  I went over the Joanne's and bought some blue-toned sheets of fabric;  two combined to cover a 5 x 6 area.  Looked like this:

sail away, sail away, sail away

There's shot of my lone ship sailing by itself.....  anyway, the fabric will  do for now.

My ship is bigger than your ship....

My ship is 1/1200, and here's a size comparison with the 1/2000 ships.  Just for funs.

Ships in the back are French, foreground the British

For the game, I devised a scenario where: a British blockade has been blown off station and before they could come back, the French ships inside made a dash for it, attempting to make it to the next port to combine their strength in the channel with other French.  Sounds good yes?  That could be the whole plot of a Hornblower novel....

Because I know KMH favors the British (as for the time, the British navy was very dominate) the victory conditions were that the French, starting in one corner, had to sail to the other corner across from it, and hurting any British ships on the way was a bonus.  The British were to stop as many ships as possible.  This encourages the French to stand away and shoot at rigging at long range, and the British to get in close and disable the ship...playing to the strengths of each in the rules.  The French also had more ships.

French Squadron 1: 120 gun 1st rate, and two 74 gun 3rd rates.
French Squadron 2: three 74 gun 3rd rates.

British Squadron 1: 100 gun 1st rate, one 74 3rd rate
British Squadron 2: two 74 gun 3rd rates.

We rolled for crew skill, resulting in the French having mostly average and one elite and the Brits being Elite with some average.

SIDE NOTE: I learned that San Cullottes means "without underpants."  A strange name for French sailors but funny.

So the Brits in one corner and French in the other, the wind coming down the length with everyone having 'Wind off Quarter' destined to meet in the middle... which is generally what happened.

Now French (bottom right) are making the get away.  

A very cluttered table in the end.   

I'm not going to do a detailed AAR because they are always boring to read and take forever to write. The two first rates hammered each other into splinters, One British 74 was very damaged and taken out early due to steering damage, One British 74 boarded a French 74 and would of taken her if the game continued, but we called it as the rest of the French were clearing escaping.  Victory to French.

What did I think about the rules, it being my first time playing KMH....Well first let's agree what makes a rule set good is very subjective and a manner of opinion.  Opinions are like... well you know, so here's some on mine....

Negatives (these will make more sense if you've read the rules): The rules are FULL of vagueness.  I don't expect rules to cover everything, but there are several parts that are unclear, contradict, or just not explained fully.  I personally find this irritating.  Here's some examples: Rules in the beginning  state that a 'determined' crew is less likely to strike so adds +10% but under strike tests this is a negative modifier (ie, to make it less likely you subtract 10%).  In the beginning it says the 'boarding party' characteristic means it may double lowest die in a boarding action, but in the boarding action section is states that boarding party is +1d6 and  makes no mention of the doubling (so which is it, or both?).  In the special damage chart, when you loose a mast, it says 'loose 3 speed points and 5 DPs' but there are no such things as speed points, there are speed boxes - two types actually- so which is meant?  Ships also loose a speed box for every 5 DPs, so it that a total of 4?  There are others but I don't mean to belabor the point.

I also thought boarding actions really favored the Brits, so much that if playing Brits I would almost board right away, as I get +2d6 over the French just for being JJT.

Positives: It was a fun game.  Rules were simple and everyone understood what they were doing pretty quickly (which for me is a positive as I like convention type games).  Firing was easy, and I liked the card mechanics / alternate activations.  Book keeping was just enough to track what was going on with a ship but not too much to be a chore.  Everything players wanted to do, was in there.

Other observations: it helps to have a marker for when a strike test needs to be taken at the next strike test card (otherwise you forget).   Game play I think is suited for each player having 2 or 3 ships, especially as some of the special damage can be quite nasty and disable a ship early.  As each player moves and shoots one at a time, 4 players I think is a good maximum to minimize down time  between turns (and it's fun to have a sentence with maximum and minimum in it).

Overall:  A decent game, fun, but needs a lot of work ahead time clearing up vagueness and deciding what is what.  You can go on forums and the yahoo group for answers, which are forth coming, but ultimately you get a lot of 'we do it this way and it works for us.'  the end product then will be my unique version of KMH, which will be different from your version.  The rules were good, but not good enough for me to say "now these will be the go-to rules for AoS."  I definitely want to try out the others.  Of course, since being new at this, after a few more rule sets I might come back and say KMH is the best ever.

More AoS to come, but I'm still waiting for my next ship to arrive.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

DIY wargame mat

So awhile ago, I made some DIY wargame matts using the method of mixing caulk and paint, spreading it on canvas, and while it's all wet throwing down static grass and flock in various greens.  

I of course, learned about this from the internet and other blogs and youtube, so I hope that this will add to that body of knowledge and at least encourage others to give it a try.  because if I can do it, anyone can.  : ) 

so I used painter's drop clothes and DAP painters acrylic painters caulk.  I was told that you need to steer clear of caulk with silicone, though now I forget why....

I've made 2 mats; one 5 x 7.5 and one 6 x 10 for large games.  Pictures are from both projects.  

here's the process: 

first clamp down the canvas to the table.  This is important as the caulk dries, it'll shrink and pull on the canvas.  Clamping will keep it the size you want.  

A shot of the supplies.  one the first table I mainly used Woodland scenics supplies but on the second I got stuff from Scenic Express; two large tubes of flock and static grass.

IMPORTANT TIP: flock goes on much better than static grass, and the main ground color will come from the flock.

So: mix the brown paint of your choice with the caulk, and some stuff for texture. I used some woodland scenics ballast and coffee grounds.  It should be the consistency of a milkshake.

Now, take the mixture of caulk and paint and spread it out on a section of the mat.  I just poured it out on top and used my hands to smear it around (I wore latex gloves, and went through several pairs)
I do think spreading it on thinly is better than think.

now while the caulk and paint is still wet, sprinkle on the flock and grass.  by sprinkle i mean hold your hand about 6" and sprinkle it on...

IMPORTANT TIP:  I found that's it's very help to premix the flocking/static grass in large amounts ahead of time.  you're going to have 1 mix that will be the dominate color so you'll need a lot of that, and a couple of other mixes of the dominant colors plus other shades and you lie these down to create variations.

Then you work around the table in sections to the whole thing is covered, and let dry for AS LONG as possible.  maybe over 2 nights just to be sure.  Then when you're sure it's dry to brush off the excess flock (this can be saved for later use, like maybe for the miniatures so that everything will match for extra cool points).

end product will as above, a nice grassy field to the dimensions of your choice.

NOW some shots with miniatures and terrain...

and some close ups of the ground.....remember included are pictures from both the mats that I have made that used different mixes of flock and grass.

In this picture, you can see a large seam going down the middle.  If you use drop clothes like I did they often have seams.
Because the light is coming in from the side of this picture the seam is much more pronounced than it really is.
You can avid seams if you can find canvas artist sheets in the size you want. 

The mat is flexible as well, and rolls up for storage.  I keep mine wrapped around some tubes that I got from Home Depot.

One more thing: One reason I wanted a large mat was for ACW gaming, so that you could place stuff under the mat to make hills and such.  I usually use moving blankets and towels.  Some shots below of an ACW scenario that demonstrates the undulations the mat can do.

And there you have it.
In the future I want to try and make another one but without the grass and cut it into strips for roads.

Thanks for reading.

Plowed fields from Corduroy

Some unnecessary  backstory: 

I had a bunch of threads on TMP showing how I did some hobby projects.  The pictures I posted were hosted on Photobucket; which has recently changed their policy and no longer will allow 3rd party links.  So now all those pics on TMP are useless, and so are the threads because without pictures they don't make a lot of sense.    

so one of the first things I wanted to do on the blog is port over (or just redo)  some  of those threads and pics; mainly so that I can remember how I did things and also maybe be helpful to someone else...  

First up: plowed fields from corduroy fabric.  Most of this year I have been into ACW gaming, using 18mm figures from Blue Moon and usually Regimental Fire and Fury rules.  I wanted some plowed fields just to add to the variation of the battlefields.  They always look cool next to farmsteads.  

I tried all sorts of materials to make some plowed fields; carpet samples, door mats, and the 'ridges' were all off or the material didn't take paint well and it was all frustrating.  I finally settled on using Corduroy as has most everyone who has come before me.  Bow I found corduroy fabric actually hard to find, it NOT being 1970...  I went to Joannes and Hobby Lobby and where-ever I thought they sold fabric and it was never there, so I ended up getting it online.  

Teaching moment: the ridges in the corduroy are called "Wales" and density / size of the ridge is measured per inch, for example "X Wale Corduroy;" the higher the number the thinner and greater number of ridges per inch.  The first fabric I got was 14 wale, because I just guessed, and this was NOT the right size.  The ridges were too small, and hard to paint, and hard to see from a distance.  

so the next order I got was 6 wale, which looked like this: 

Looks to be the right size
I think the scale is a matter of personal opinion, but at least I could see the ridges easy. But the color was off (Brown wasn't available so I got Mocha, but it looked more light Tan to me than Mocha) so I spray painted it with dark brown paint...

and then along the ridges, put a line of glue and over it, and over that put down some static grass or clump foliage or whatever I thought would look good.  

and the end result looks like this:

"Everyone stop!  I dropped my keys!"  

The field with clump foliage is more bumpy than the one made of static grass

Not too bad.  or at least good enough to add some more variation to the table top.  

Here's a shot of them in use in a recent game last month.  It helps the effect when surrounded by fences and other stuff that promote the impression of a miniature battlefield..

the cornfield in the foreground was another project that I'll write about later.  

So there you have it.  I need to make some more of course, these first two were experiments.  Least now I have plenty of fabric.