Monday, September 26, 2022

Another Hail Caesar Dark Ages game

 What? more Dark Ages mass battles with Hail Caesar? whodathunk.

On The Road This Time

Have swords, will travel.  I took my Hail Caesar game on the road to host for one of the clubs that I belong to; off to a library community room.  I was hoping to get around 4 or 6 players but only got 2; which was fine as then I got to play along in a 2 versus 1 battle.  Why the poor turnout?  Some regulars where busy that day, others had no interest, and I think word has gotten out that I haven't brushed my teeth in over 2 weeks and my breath is killer.  Especially since I started to flavor my coffee with garlic.
Even if only 1 person was going to show up I would of hosted; anything to get out of the house and away from my cloying I mean loving family for most of the day.

Funny story: being in a community room means the public could wander in and some children and parents did wander in to see what was the happenings.  People were suitably impressed.  Moms told their young children to look and not touch and I immediately chimed in with "Don't listen to your dumb mother, of course you can touch.  You just have to be careful."  Then selecting a base that had mostly plastic figures on it (because it was lighter) I handed it to the kid and said "here, look at this one."  Kid looks at it for a minute or two and hands it back to me.  It's in my hand for 10 seconds when I drop it to the floor.  Kid laughs and laughs... "you told ME to be careful and then YOU dropped it!"  He did help me pick up the pieces though.  Only minor damage was done.

On with the Game

Setting up on a 5x10 table with the Vikings deployed in 3 division and the Saxons in 4.  

Saxons on right, Vikings on the left.

No longships today; I forgot them at home.
Too bad; everyone likes a Longship.

From the other side of the table.

Saxons be like...
"Hey Saxon King, how should we feel about Vikings on our borders?"

"We shall disDANE it."
(get it?  like disdain? You have to laugh because he is the king)

In this scenario: The Viking and Saxon leaders start out in the center
accompanied by 1 unit of their best troops.
They're having a prebattle meeting.
You can see the 2 units and leaders in the center of the board.

Vikings be like:

"Danegeld please!  And then we'll go away!"

Saxons be like:

And while the two leaders are arguing back and forth something goes amiss and the fight breaks out and the battle is ON! 

Battle Report

You know me: I don't do battle reports.  It's too much work for too little reward.  It's like trying to make your wife happy.
So instead here are some groovy pics of some dark ages action that make my collection look good.  Like taking a selfie at the proper angle..

Opening moves with the mandatory inclusion of someone crotch.

In the last battle players gave me feedback that it could be difficult
to tell what a unit was.  So in this battle I attached a label to the back of each unit.
I think black labels fade away when not looking for it.

Hail Caesar Dark Ages
above: 2 angles of same moment in time.

Hail Caesar Dark Ages

Hail Caesar Dark Ages
Above: 2 actual good battlefield pics that DONT have gamer junk in them.

Hail Caesar Dark Ages
I'm pleased that the Shieldwall markers (shields on the ground), the small dice tracking hits,
and the casualty figures (that track who is winning/losing a fight)
all work together well and look good.

The Saxons I was playing got paste-ted but the fellow Saxon player on the other side of the battle were doing OK.  In the end we ran out of time / interest and called it a Viking victory.  

Saxons on the other side of the table to my Saxons be like:

So not a good battle report but maybe an entertaining read all the same.

This Post Grows long and the Content Short

Very true.  Now that I'm home all comfy and cozy I gotta find that base I dropped and fix the damage. 

I'm hoping to get in one more practice game of Hail Caesar before my big convention weekend in Nov.  Though October is gonna be a busy month.  But practice will help me appear like I know what I am doing when all eyes are looking at me with hope and expectation of a good game. 

Till next time.
Thanks for reading.
Double Thanks for writing a comment.

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

reflections on the 100 effort

 And here we are again.  Prepare thyself for text.  Lots of text.  

I've been absent form the internets for the last couple weeks or so due to working my ass off.  Having grown frustrated at being broke all the time I went to that place that broke people should go: to work
I've been doing a lot of on call shifts which is basically the way someone in my job does over time.  It can be nice because you get paid just for being on call and then if they call you in then you get more extra monies.  The plan has worked too well as I've been called in a LOT in the past weeks.  On the positive side the extra money is welcomed (and kinda the whole point)  and I've barely seen my family.  My children become adorable when you don't see them for very long.   On the negative side I've had little-to-no time for miniatures.   

I've Been Thinking (a Dangerous Pastime)

I've been thinking about painting, mostly while driving.  My dislike for painting is well documented on the internet, which I of course ham up for entertainment purposes.  My own entertainment really, not sure about anyone else. 

I found that focusing on the dark ages miniatures exclusively until the goal of 100 miniatures was reached to be a real boon in getting that collection to the playable state that I wanted it to be.  But it did take a long time to do (8 months).  Out of curiosity I did a post on TMP asking how long it would take those unwashed masses to paint a 100 figures.  You can see the post here: Linkity if inclined.

To invite comparison is to invite misery.  Most people responded that it would take them just 2ish months to paint 100 miniatures.  Man that makes me look slow.  Course, Who knows how representative that sample actually is.  Whenever you post on the internet that you did something cool in X amount of time, I think it naturally selects responses from folks who did it in X-n.  I'm a little suspect though, because one doesn't see a ton of folks out there with huge armies in enormous mass battles.  It's out there, but it's not the norm.  What I do see are people playing medium sized games and talking about how they got a lot of unpainted lead and too many projects on the go.  

Obviously there's no right or wrong way to do anything in this silly hobby, it's a HOBBY after all and supposed to be fun.   And it's a stupid thing to try to tell someone else how to do a hobby.  But it's a smart thing to think about my own hobby and what I really want from it.  Self reflection is very interesting to read (NOT!).   But maybe if someone is in the same situation they might find some pearls of wisdom.  

My goal of painting anything is to have it painted.  I like playing with painted armies; it's the end result that matters and not the process.  Just like going to the gym; I like having the sculpted abs and not doing the crunches.  If I ever went to the gym that is.  A better analogy for myself is that I like to eat my bacon and melted cheese sandwich but not make it.  I balance the plate on my tummy while I watch TV. 

I've described my painting / hobby time before; in that I'm basically only able to get any painting done late at night after the kids and wife have gone to bed and some chores are done.  The wife might not be asleep but she's 'retired for the evening.'  It's a big affair when she retires, we have to light candles and dim the lights while she ascends the stairs in a night gown and I play an organ solemnly. 

So painting time is limited till between the hours of 9:00ish till around 10:30ish PM.  I like to hit the hay around 1100 since most days I'm up at early.  Either due to work or the children because kids never sleep in.  Damn youth and their zest for life. 

How to put that time to best use is the question of the day.  Because I actually want to get things done. Most gamers that I know have several projects on the go at once, and while they do a lot (or not) no one project/genre moves forward very much.  Everything is starts and stops.  I've always limited my number of projects being worked on at once to 2.  Called the rule of 2.  What a project is can be anything, 1 project could be a regiment of ACW infantry and the other 2 Ships of the line.  The idea that when I say down at the hobby desk I could do either of those projects but wouldn't start another till one was done.  This works fine.  Yet the projects are often disconnected from one another.  The ACW regiment when done would be swapped out for some LOTR Orcs; when the ships were done it was swapped out for terrain piece, and when the next project in would be AWI and so on.  

Painting the 100 dark ages miniatures was started on a lark, just a goal I set to get out of some hobby slows.  It's probably the first time where I worked on a specific genre for months on end.  It's also the first time I ever kept track of how many miniatures I was painting.  

The more I think about it, the more I like that process.  Setting a large goal (naturally being broken down into smaller ones) and keep at it until it's done.  It provided a real sense of progress and completion for me; which is important for my own mental health as I've really just plateaued in life.   

So I'm gonna try it out for awhile.  Pic a genre, set a goal that gets it to the next game-able state, and focus on that.  Not  focusing so much on the number of figures but what the state of play is: A small skirmish can be moved to large skirmish; a large skirmish to a mass battle, a genre not playable at all because not enough has been painted moved to a playable state.  

It'll be an experiment with very low stakes because nothing important will be affected and who cares.  You all will get the watch / read about it and I'll get back to you.  Gotta blog about something after all. 

 What's Next? Same Ol' Same Ol'

"What do I want to paint next?" is the wrong question.  The answer is nothing, I hate painting.**  Why can't I just have a bunch of wargaming buddies with big armies and terrain of their own that host games whenever I want in whatever genre I want so I can just show up play?  And While I'm imagining things why not also have strippers and strobe lights; but the stripper costumes would have a matching theme to the game being played.  

A better question would be "what to game next?"  Dark Ages will dominate games for the rest of the year with the big finale in November when I host several convention games.  he Dark Ages have  gotten a lot of love lately; but I had still had 4 of the big battle bases left over so I thought... what the hell?  Finish the job. 

Mass production mode.
4 Bases and the miniatures to go on them.

the last 4 big battle bases will make each army of Vikings and Saxons 24 bases strong.  These don't have to be done till November so I'm just doing everything at once.  

Edit: forgot to add teh actual paint goal.  which is 10 Thegns, 10 ceorls, 10 bondi and 8 skirmishersand 4 movement trays by Veterans day weekend in November.  Crunch time!

Some other odds and ends:

2 more priests to help out Saxon morale.
The one on the left is super fancy.

Shieldwall markers

Its helpful to mark which units are in shieldwall.  The 10 on the left I made YEARS ago and used LMBS transfers.  The 18 on the right (with 2 shields) I made recently but was out of shield transfers so I painted those by hand.  I think 3 of the 36 came out alright.  I ordered more transfers.  No one looks too hard at markers anyway.

Painted up a mess of casualty figures to use as markers
to help remember which side is winning or losing a fight.

These painted up pretty quick as I only had to paint half the miniature.

Deep Thoughts and Leaving

Thanks for taking the time to read these deep and useless thoughts about painting miniatures.  Hopefully not a complete waste of time for you.  It's in no way to try and convince anyone that what they are doing is wrong; I'm not convinced myself one way or ta other; its just some hobby talk about the painting side of our silly hobby.  Here are some other deep and useless thoughts:

Sand is called Sand because it's in-between the sea and the land.

We have fingers and toes; Our fingers have fingertips but our toes don't have toetips but people can walk tiptoe.  

Thanks for reading.
Double thanks for writing a comment.
Till next time.

**for the record; I do like painting.  I like the sense of free time, of doing what I want to do over what I should do.  I like that I'm not just wasting time watching TV.   I like the creativity, I like the process, the time spent by myself, and the relaxation.  But what I really like is when a genre that I've painted hits the table, and everyone oohhs and awwws and applauds.  OK, no one applauds.  

Sunday, September 4, 2022

Hail Caesar Dark Ages Game


...because after all, I didn't paint all these Vikings and Saxons for nothing.

"Hi!  We're Vikings.  We're here to take your stuff."

Hail Caesar Dark Ages

Over the Labor Day weekend (first weekend in Sept here in Ah-merica) there was a game convention called Pacificon.  Which I didn't go to because I am big loser and too poor right now.  I hate being poor, but it's kinda my own fault because I blew all my hobby money on limited  edition DVDs  of all 5 seasons of "I dream of Jeanie."  

Too sexy because she always calls him master...

So instead I invited some other losers who weren't going to the convention either, to my place so we can suck less together.  And for a chance to get all these Dark Ages troops of mine on the table. 

I have a couple of rules for Dark Ages mass battles that I like but am not really in love with any of them.  Just haven't found my 'Go-to" rule set yet.  They're like women you date in college but you know that you're not gonna marry.  These being Sword and Spear and Hail Caesar.  Other contenders are Impetus (which I found hard to read/understand and haven't tried) and Triumph (liked what I read but haven't tried).  I selected Hail Caesar for a game that's really good at moving blocks of infantry and rolling lots of dice.  Mr. CG and Mr. AS took the roles of the dastardly Vikings while I took the noble Saxons.  

Setting Up

My morning set up was super rushed and chaotic as my wife was busy cleaning because her parents were coming over, and all of them were going out with the kids while I stayed home and played miniatures.  Which is of course super nice all around but it did mean I had to set up the game with added 'assistance' of little helping hands....

Actually daughter #1 and Son #2 were quite content to sit on a coach and watch TV.
Son #3 however was quite ...helpful...

I set up a 6x10 foot table; figuring that was big enough to hold all the troops and still allow for some room to move around.  There are two important tricks to setting up a good Dark Ages mass battle.  ONE: resist the tempting temptation of just lining all the units end to end on each side and have at it.  While it is historical (almost all Dark Ages battles are just that) it's not very exciting to play.  TWO: Allow enough room for the players to line their troops end to end and have at it because it's exciting and it's what everyone expects and what else you gonna do where the primary formation is the shieldwall....  it's a paradox.

Game On

The game had 3 players so I split the Vikings into 4 divisions; 2 for each player.  The Saxons are in 3 divisions controlled by me. 

In this scenario:  The Vikings are in the process of leading a loot train from a village back to their longships.  There is 1 Viking division on the table to start and must keep 1 unit with the loot train in order keep the 4 units; livestock, slaves, ale cart, and food.  The train needs to be ordered to move toward the boats and will move 6" each turn if successful.  The train only ever gets 1 move and if a blunder is rolled the would-be slaves will fight the guards.  The other Viking divisions are off exploring the countryside..

The Saxons have shown up to put a stop to this.  1 division starts on the table edge.  Vikings have the first turn...  

Every turn after the first each side gets a division entering the table...

With my friends arriving and family leaving all at the same time I did NOT have my usual quiet before the storm to take pictures of the table right after set up.  So we join the game in progress...

Saxons at the bottom of the picture.
Viking to the right and ahead.
Off in the distance the loot train is moving toward the longships.

Same scene; different angle.

Another Saxon division enters from the long table edge.


Whole table so far.

Get into Shieldwall!
Vikings in lower left and right side (Viking archers on the hill)

ANYWAYS; I'm playing, running the game, as well eating pizza and drinking to much coffee so there is no blow by blow of the game.  Divisions enter and fights break out and the soon..

.. the whole table table looks like this.

Same scene, from the other side of the table.

Saxons and Vikings on a Collision course.

Hail Caesar Dark Ages
Same scene but just behind the Vikings.

If you got the idea that during the game I would suddenly think "hey, I haven't taken any pictures in awhile..." *Click-click-click-click* Ok, back to the game."        You would be correct. 

Yay!  Dark Ages

Time for some random pictures:

Hail Caesar Dark Ages

Hail Caesar Dark Ages

Hail Caesar Dark Ages
Can you tell who is who?
No you can't.  Because everyone is harry and smelly in the Dark Ages.

Enough pics though.  Lookit, I played a game.  You get the idea.  On a side note: I think every picture has some gamer junk in it (dice, tape measure, paper or some such) making me the lamest wargaming blogger ever.

Things Learned, Things Remembered

I haven't played Hail Caesar in at least 5 years and the rules came out in 2014 (what?  really?  Daaaamnnn time flies.)  and I liked the rules way more than I remembered.  Some memories are still accurate in that I don't love the orders system and I think the best experience is to have more than 1 division to command as we did here; so than when a division blows it's first roll and does NOTHING you're just not sitting there watching but move onto the next division.  There is a fun risk versus reward aspect in the orders phase and combat is a fun bucket of dice fest. Here's an example of a sentence you say in combat: "My Thegns have 7 dice in combat that hit on a  3+ because I charged, add in 2 dice for the attached leader for 9 dice at 3+ (rolls), that's 6 hits so far; these two supporting Ceorls have 3 dice each that hit on a 4+ (rolls); that's 3 more hits for a total of 9, so you need 9 saves of..."

I did really like the shieldwall rule from the dark ages supplement which helped make the lines crashing into each other a more grinding pushing shoving affair.  

One big thing I learned from feedback is that I should label the units in some way.  It's my collection so I can instantly recognize a Saxon Thegn unit from a Viking Hirdmen from a Ceorl from a Bondi but CG and AS said they couldn't.  I'm assuming this is because all the painted miniatures just looked too awesome.  

The scenario also needs some tweaking here and there but I'll leave that to another time.  Overall a successful day and a good dusting off of the rules.  And it felt good to get this collection on the table after a long time.  I'd almost forgotten how much I like the Dark Ages. 

Another game of Hail Caesar is scheduled for later in the month.  WHAAAT???  2 games in one month??!!  That's crazy!  Who am I?  The King of Wargaming? 

Thanks for Reading
Double thanks for writing a comment.
Till next time.