Monday, December 30, 2019

2019 Year End Summary

"Winter must be cold for those with no warm memories."
-Deborah Kerr


December, the last year of the month, and the time one usually takes to look back at the year and see what's been done.

Overall: I've had a decent, if a little lack luster, year of miniature wargaming.  Not as active in my hobby as I would of liked to be, however I had some big stuff going on in life which took up a lot of spare time.  Mainly to do with my father; selling the house in southern CA where I grew up, then his funeral, and then everything that follows.  Not that it was all sad, I also took two long family trips that were a lot of fun and celebrated my 10 year wedding anniversary with a vacation.  Time well spent, just spent doing other things as life would have it.  Plus as kids get older they get more active, and you have to, you know, take them to go do things or they just end up destroying the house (worse then they already do).

There is a price to pay for everything, and that price is time. 


Back in January, I posted a bunch of goals for the year.  This is a silly practice in hindsight.  So instead of going over each one and giving a pass or fail, let's instead focus on the positives.

I played 13 games this year, which I track in that little box over on the right that you can see if you view the blog in the web version versus the mobile.  13 is well short of my goal of 24, but what can you do?  I know there are some people who would of loved to reach 13, so I best be grateful.  Especially because a several of those games took place over a 'wargaming weekend' where I played 2 days in a row, which is kinda like a mini vacation.  In that light I've had  a banner year for vacations!

I only attended one convention this year, while I usually attend 2 or even 3, so that lack of gaming hurt the bottom line.  It was because I was double booked on those weekends.  One convention I missed because I went with the wife to a convention of her own to keep her company.  It was for cookie decorating, as I've mentioned she's big into decorating cookies.  Another I missed due to a wedding.  Next year will be free and clear from such commitments.

Big Winners

The ACW was the biggest winner this year as I played 4 ACW games and even managed to paint up some more troop stands and some terrain.  This is hardly surprising as I've mentioned that the ACW is fav-vor-writ. 

Wargaming genres are kinda like children; you love them all but there's always one that you love a little more than the rest.

Second place big winner is The Lord of the Rings.  Two games of that were plated out of the 3 I hosted (I hosted LOTR games at a convention and for one session no one showed up to play, probably because I had been eating nachos all weekend and had the thick cheese oozing from my pores). 
However LOTR is the big production-wise winner as I painted up around 50 miniatures for it, 1 troll, and made around 6 totally-kick-ass terrain items out of the Hirst Arts blocks for Osgiliath. 

You can tell from this post..
that I like a good meme.

3rd place is the Age of Sail.  I played two game of AoS (using Post Captain rules) and constructed 2 ships.  This happened early in the year and then the genre just languished as I got distracted by LOTR.  But I love these little ships.  what I ought to do is start reading some AoS fiction again, because readingaa genre almost always triggers miniature painting. 

Biggest Winner

Two goals that I did set out for the year that was to play a variety of games and to have fun while doing it.   Accomplished that! 
 I also enjoyed reading the blogs of others; leaving comments and reading the responses, and being part of the online community of super bloggers.  Here's to another year and more to come.

So who has two thumbs and is the biggest winner because people like you take time to read this blog..

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Merry Christmas

Oh Man, is it Christmas Already? 

Where did the time go?

Like a lot people, during this month I've had a wealth of distractions from blogging and hobbying. 
Mainly because Christmas only magically happens for children.  The rest of us have to work for it.

The next post will be one of those 'year end wrap ups' that all bloggers like to write and read. 

But in the meantime;

Merry Christmas to all. 

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Actual Games Played; Veterans Day wekend.

Hurray for playing miniature war games!  Especially in Real Life and not just in my imagination while I drive to work..

A Wargaming Weekend

It's been awhile since I was able to play any games, just because life is like that sometimes.  So I decided that I would use a cunning plan to achieve my nefarious needs (my writing staff greatly approves of alliterations) and employed a seldom used tactic in marriage called (wait for it): COMMUNICATION. 

I said to my wife, "I would like to be able to play some games before we all get all crazy busy with the holidays and such.  Think we can find a weekend where you take the kids with you to the bay area (where she works on weekends) so your parents can watch them while I stay up here and goof off?  pretty please?" 

"Of course, let's get it on the calendar." 
Best Wife EVAR...

SO, through trickery and manipulation, I arranged it that on Veteran's Day weekend my wife and kids left Friday afternoon and would not return until sometime on Sunday, leaving me all of Friday night and Saturday as a bachelor and free to play with toy soldiers.  Also to eat a lot pizza and not shower.

Friday Night is Two-for-One Tank Night

Friday night arrived and I had 4 players plus myself scheduled for the evening.  I was thinking I wanted something fun and lite but good for an evening game, a ruleset that I knew but haven't played in a bit.  It also occurred to me that I haven't used my 15mm WWII stuff in ages.  I used to be an avid WWII gamer but it's fallen off the radar these last couple of years, but I still have all my stuff of course,  because wargamers never get rid of anything!  Especially if it's painted. 

Friday night game became What a Tanker (WaT) by Too Fat Lardies.  It's a great game for making tank sounds while moving the miniatures, and shooting your friends for fun and profit.

Table set up for WaT.  I like it when there is a lot of terrain that blocks the fire lines.
If the table is too open, nobody has to move.

The tanks are from my old Flames of War collection:  the Allies had choices of Shermans and M10s, while the Axis could choose from  Panzer IVs, Panthers, and Tigers.
I also aware myself 5 hobby points for knowing what kind of tanks I had in the WWII collection even though I haven't laid eyes on them in years. 

Panzer IV burning in the woods, it thought it was safe...

I like my bocage.  

The first game was a (re)learning game and just Panzer IVs versus Shermans, and just gave everyone a few turns to roll the command dice and see what the terrain did.  If someone blew up they just got another tank next turn.  After a few rounds of that we went onto the scenario proper for the evening (which I literally just made up a few minutes before we started playing it....don't tell anyone, not that it was anything super complicated).

In the Proper Scenario, the 2 Axis and 3 Allied players started in opposite corners.  Each Ally got 2 tanks and could choose M10s or Shermans (because that's all I have), while the Axis could choose 2 Panzer IVs or 1 Panther or 1 Tiger.  In the end it was 3 M10s and 3 Shermans versus 2 Panzer IVs and 1 tiger.  The Allies had to eliminate the Axis tanks to win, the Axis just had to stay alive (see, not very complicated at all). 

Saturday was a Ball, a Minnie Ball that is...

Saturday morning it was time for that ALL TIME best historical genre, the ACW. Rules being used: Regimental Fire and Fury.

side topic: I'm never as popular as I think I am

When I was planning out the weekend I was hoping to get around 6-8 players for the ACW game so I could do some large, spectacular scenario using ALL my troops and cannons on the table.  I sent an invite to both of the local miniature wargaming clubs that I belong to and really did not get much of a response.  Not that I can blame them, I only attend like 1 club meeting a year so it's doubtful many of the members know who I am.  But I like to fantasize that people would think "Stew's putting on an ACW game?!  I got to make that!"

I also had a few good gamer buddies not able to make it due to conflicting schedules.
Maybe more next time.

Back to the Point..
With 4 players committed to the battle (3 + me) I decided we would trot out the Port Republic ‘what if’ scenario that I ran at Pacificon last year since I think it’s a good 4 player game; with each player controlling one half of the battlefield.

Set up for the scenario.
Basically the CSA comes from the left in ever increasing numbers turn after turn.
The USA gets some reinforcements late in the game to try and hold on.

It’s always hard to take a enough pics to capture the whole battle  when one is playing and hosting, and we’ve all had the experience of not taking pictures when the battle grows especially hot and engaging, so below is the random assortment of pics that I remembered to take, and this is clearly not a run on sentence that a better editor would correct; I must speak with my writing staff.

Set up pic

another set up pic

The Brave Union line

I really like this scenario.  I love how the CSA attack builds and gains momentum, and how the USA reinforcements arrive just as all seems lost.  It’s got a variety of unit sizes, unit skill levels, and varied terrain that make meaningful tactical decisions.

Early Game

CSA advancing through the woods

The only draw back is that it takes for-ever to play all the way through. Of the 3 times I’ve ran it we’ve only made it to the end once, and that was at the convention with a bunch of die hard gamers with no where else to go.  This time we started at 10 am and quit a little before 3, with the game still hanging in the balance. 

CSA begins to crush the flank

The CSA attack becomes earnest.

After the battle Saturday night I had a birthday party to go to.   Sunday I cleaned the house while muttering to myself that I'm too old to be this tired and hungover. 

Jackson gathers a 3 batteries into a powerful large gun line.
He's able to do this in the rules because he was an artillery teacher at West Point.
However, I think people male too much of this; by all accounts he was a terrible teacher
and just recited the text book from memory.

End game: the CSA have taken one flank,
could the USA reinforcements stem the grey tide?
(those USA batteries are fleeing in the pic by the way)

I had a great weekend and it kinda was like a miniature-miniature wargaming convention at my place (see what I did there? The writing staff found that amusing).  All my guests; Mr. C.G., Mr S., Mr. M.S, Mr. A.S., and my good friend who came ALL the way from the bay area Mr. P.C; all expressed that they had fun playing.  And since we all had fun, I'm gonna call it a very successful weekend. 

It’s also probably the last hurrah for me gaming-wise for the year, so it felt good to go out with a bang.

Monday was a Parade

Monday morning was spent with the family at the Veterans Day parade.

The kids got a kick out of this float

Thank you to all veterans for your service; military and law enforcement.

We also made a little over a hundred patriotic cookies...and by "WE," I mostly mean the wife as she is the cookie master, but I did help.  Someone had to eat the mess ups.

On the morning of Veteran's Day, we delivered the cookies to my father’s old assisted living facility in honor of his memory.  He served in the navy for 20 years and saw combat during Vietnam.

See you next time.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Morannon Orcs Completed

Yay, I finally finished painting some miniatures...

Morannon Orcs

Morannon Orcs are made up by GW for their Lord of the Rings game.  I'm not sure if in the actual books there is a huge difference between Orcs from the Morannon and Orcs from elsewhere, maybe they have something like a southern drawl when they speak.  In game terms Morannon Orcs have slightly better stats and armor to satisfy the power gamers, and are supposed to represent the bad ass orcs that broke through the garrison in Osgiliath and sieged Minas Tirith.

I painted these guys for use in upcoming LOTR scenarios from the Gondor at War supplement.  It took me awhile to paint these 36 miniatures but what can you do?  I'm glad their done though, as these 36 figures (or some portion of them) are used in many of the scenarios, so the heavy lifting is done to get those scenarios playable.

These are GW plastic miniatures, a little less than 2 boxes worth that I got for cheap from a guy selling them on TMP. 

Where is all the flock Stew?
I'll tell ya.  These guys will mostly be fighting inside Osgiliath and  Minas Tirith, on my stone mat that doesn't have any grass on it, so they don't need no flocking flock.

Tried to Paint like Kuribo, and failed, by varnish

I also painted up these two special Morannon Orc characters; in the game they have special abilities and act as leaders for the rest of the mush for brains Morannon Orcs.    These miniatures are from Forgeworld and are resin.  They're also very detailed and more than anything else... expensive. 
Because of these traits, I decided that I wanted to put some extra effort into these two miniatures and try to paint them, you know, well.   with highlights and stuff, even used a magnifier to see the details.  Hot stuff. 

The Two characters are:
 'Guritz', the guy in the middle with the attractive skull on top of helmet which is probably
in no way unbalancing to have an 8 pound dead weight on top of your head and a bad idea in real life...
'Gothmog's Enforcer' is the orc on the left.  I guess no one could think of a cool orc-y name, maybe Mr. Piggles?

The guy on the right is a red shirt orc.  A  nobody

I summoned my inner Kuribo and set about the task.  Kuribo is one of my online best blogger buddies who paints his LOTR figures and terrain REALLY well.  You can find his LOTR themed blog HERE.  Check it out why not?  When I think of well painted LOTR figures, I think of Kuribo.

I've said before on this blog that in my core I am a 'paint to play' gamer, and I don't especially enjoy painting for it's own sake.  However, I enjoyed putting in the extra time and effort on these miniatures.  Maybe just because it was change of pace and using different skills, or more appropriately, using all my meager painting skills.  In any case, I was quite pleased on how they came out which was a good enough reward.  Other LOTR leaders will likely get the same treatment. 

That is I enjoyed it because it was all going so smoothly until I varnished them, which for some reason went a little cloudly.  I tried my tried and true solution of putting on a second coat of varnish and it helped aaaaaa liiiitle, but overall these did not come out as good as they first looked.
oh well, what are you gonna do?  luckily for me these are bad guys who obviously don't have parents who love them so no one really cares. 

Side Topic: Miniature photography is Hard.
taking pics of miniatures so that one can actually see the paint job is hard to get right.  I have yet to master it.  So instead of super close ups you get regular pics.  Even the regular pics are trash. 

Good enuff.  

does the red make my butt look like it kill everyone in Minas Tirith? 

38 and Clear!

With  36 Orcs + 2 Orc leaders for the LOTR project complete, the hobbydesk is now clear to focus on something else.  And I really gotta try and get some games on the table before the year turns. 

Hope to see you again soon. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

AWI verus ACW and Travel

A post about resisting the temptation of starting a new period, namely the American War of Independence (AWI). 

I Did a Bad Thing and Read a Book

Repeat readers of this blog will know of my long standing temptation to start gaming some AWI.  I know that it will happen eventually, it's more of a question of when.  But what I don't want to do is buy a bunch of miniatures and have them sit in the boxes for months (or in some our cases; years) before I get around to painting them up.  There is only so much time that I can devote to hobby pursuits and adding another genre will just increase the demand on that limited resource.  As it is, hobby time has been sparse these days and I'm trying not to fall into that trap very common to many wargamers;

There might not be time to paint or play, but there is always time to BUY. 
(Thus, the lead horde grows and grows)

In order to scratch the AWI itch I bought and read a book.

Now I've read up on the AWI in the past, but I really like this author and have enjoyed his work before, mainly his WWII trilogy.  This time he is tackling the AWI and this first book was extremely good. 

Like many historical gamers, the primary thing that makes you want to wargame a time in history is learning about it and being immersed in it;  so reading a book turned out to be a very bad thing, because it just made the AWI itch  even worse.  Kinda like trying to use poison oak to cure poison ivy.  Soon I found myself looking at Perry AWI miniatures and debating the merits of doing AWI in 28mm or 15mm.  Which rule set would be a good fit for the battles, then ideally I'd want a skirmish rule set and a bigger battler one...
For the record, I think 28mm is winning out, just because I want to 28mm spectacle. 

But now is NOT the time to be starting a new project, tempting temptation that the AWI is. 
But how to get it out of my mind?   

It occurred to me that the best way was to get re-excited about a period of history I already have and wargame.  So of course my favorite black powder war is the good ole American Civil War.  So next I read this book.

Of course, I've read all about the ACW and Gettysburg before, but this is also a very well written book and I do like that author, especially his other book on Antietam.  Which worked like a charm, because my brain is basically a donkey following a carrot on a stick, and got me thinking about how I have everything to do that Little Round Top scenario that I've been meaning to play, not to mention that I also have enough figures to do a Shiloh scenario in the Hornet's Nest for Brigade Fire and Fury.. and don't I have some ACW terrain that I've been meaning to paint up...

And just like that, I was CURED of the AWI itch.  At least until the next AWI book in the trilogy comes out.

But Then I Traveled to Boston, Actually To Lexington to be More Precise

The home of American Independence.

Officially the wife, the two surviving children, and I went to Boston for 4 days to attend a wedding.  So there was much to do and not much time for sight seeing, but just even being in New England and surrounded by that unique New England-y architecture and landscape had me thinking of AWI scenes.  I managed to squeeze in some sight seeing anyway because I can't be stopped.  The day of the wedding my wife and daughter #1 went with all the women to have hair, make up, and nails done so they all can look fabulous next to their ogre husbands; leaving me and son #2 with some free time.  He's only a year and a half years old so he goes where I tell him to.  Turns out the famous Battle Green, WHERE THE FIRST SHOTS OF THE AWI WERE FIRED, was a whole 10 min walk away from the Inn where we were staying...

Here we are

A nice looking monument to the minutemen.

A pic of the whole Green.

A suitably Patriotic monument.

Dedicated to the fallen.

Son #2 is the cutest.
Pictured here having a snack on the Battle Green.

In truth there isn't much to the Battle Green, just a green triangular field with some patriotic monuments, but it's extremely pretty and makes a wargamer think of the AWI in all sorts of ways. Like how rules like Muskets and Tomahawks and Sharp Practice 2 just scream out for 28mm troops and terrain...

I had a bad case of the AWI itch all over again, like a flare up of athlete's foot, that no ACW book would be able to control, as I was scratching all over the place.  Itch Itch Itch.
So what to do?  How to apply the ACW antidote before I buy a whole army?

I Then Traveled to Tennessee; Murfreesboro to be Exact.

While Flying back from Boston the family and I landed in Tennessee.  Officially we were there to visit some family that we never see, specifically my wife's 92 year old grandmother that we all love to pieces.  We were there for 4 days but without a wedding agenda so there was more free time. 

And while we were there I took the opportunity to see an ACW battlefield, because there are many in Tennessee and how often is one in Tennessee?  The answer is never.

The Battle of Shiloh is the most famous battle and attraction, but that was 3 hours away so too far drive there and back in a day.  However, right in the back yard there is a lesser known battle: The Battle of Murfreesboro or Battle of Stones River (depending on what side you were on.  And in case you are unaware, the CSA tended to name battles based on the closest city while the USA named battles based on geographic features, so some battles have 2 names).  Awesome!  and just what was needed. 

So one afternoon while all the ladies had an afternoon tea, the men folk went to the battlefield, and all was proper in the world.

The Battle of Stones River is not one of the well known battles of the ACW, but still was important.
My pet theory on why this is; because the two main big generals who fought the battle; Rosecrans (USA) and Bragg (CSA) are not darlings of history like Lee, Longstreet, Grant, Sherman, McClellan and etc..

I'll let those interested read up on the battle in detail from google.  Otherwise, here is a quick summary:

Day 1: CSA attacks the USA and does extremely well, pushing back and shattering most of the union units. Only the Divisions of Sheridan and Negley hold their ground at a high cost in casualties (the rocky ground where Negley's Division stood was dubbed "the slaughter pen") until they finally collapse as well.  But this slowed the assault down enough so that Rosecrans had time to cobble together another line backed by mass artillery.  When the CSA launched it's final assaults through the cotton fields, they were repulsed at a high rate of loss, though they charged 5 times.

Day 2:  The two armies stared at each other and collected the dead and wounded.

Day 3:  Most of the day nothing happens, but Bragg ordered his general Breckenridge to attack the Union flank, that Breckenridge knows is fruitless and suicidal.  He stalls all day but finally at 4 PM he does what he is told.  The Union troops quickly fall back behind Stones River and the Union guns massed at the McFadden Farm on ridge blow the CSA to pieces.  Over 1800 casualties in 45 mins. 

Bragg retreats.  Rosecrans marches into Murfreesboro and makes it a crucial supply depot for the western theater.

And NOW;  some pics with some context provided in the nifty captions. 

side discussion:  taking good battlefield pics is hard.

Pictures of fields and trees are not interesting to look at, and that's what many of the battlefield pics I took were, so are not included. 

We started with paying respects at the Cemetery.

Another view of the cemetery.
That cannon however, is in the position it was in in the closing of the fighting on the first day.
The Cobbled together final Union battle line was on the road yonder,
and the CSA attacked through those fields.

Some more cannon in an overrun Union position on the first day.

A pretty sign descrining how Sheridan held his part of the battlefield until casualties
and lack of ammo forced him to withdraw. 
The field beyond was not much to look to at; all overgrown weeds.

To the Union left of Sheridan's position is the Slaughter Pen

A picture of the rocky ground in the Slaughter Pen.
The battlefield has lots of these silhouettes of soldiers to illustrate which way the battle lines faced,
which was really helpful to see how the battle progressed.  

The Cotton fields are mostly gown replaced by other grasses, but these are the fields that the CSA crossed
in the last part of the first day.  The cannon and cemetery from earlier are located on that
rise of highish ground in the distance. 

Whose that handsome man by the cannon? 
Yes, yours truly.
This cannon was at the McFadden Farm that decimated the final CSA attack.

The battlefield is free to enter, so I felt compelled to pick up some items from the gift shop.
A coffee mug, a fridge magnet, and a Union Kepi.

When I bough the Union kepi I got 3 good natured comments in about 10 mins about how the CSA Kepis were better,
made people better looking, etc..
Tennessee was a CSA state after all.

I resisted the urge to be a smart ass and say something like "I only back winners."


By this point you're thinking "This whole post just seems like a thinly veiled excuse to post some vay-cay pics, and only has a dubious link to miniature wargaming."  "I was expecting a post debating the merits of gaming the AWI versus the ACW."

No it's not.  I swear.  Reeeaaally.
Ok, you got me. That's all it is.

But why would there be a debate about which is better, the ACW or the AWI?  People should do whatever they want, and there's no reason why people shouldn't game both.

Like I will.  Some Day.

Thanks for reading.
Maybe next time I'll actually get some wargaming or painting done to blog about.  😊