Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Caldwell Clears the Wheat Field; Regimental Fire and Fury Scenario

A rather long winded post about the ACW gaming

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

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

Soldiering on:

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

Serious map of the action stolen from the internet

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

Scenario Map from the book

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

Setting up the Scenario: 

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

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

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

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

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

Spray painting in my backyard...

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

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

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

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

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

On With the Game Already

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

This pic is rather exciting...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not too shabby.  

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

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

Game / battle report…On with it already.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Early Union moves

The Union advancing onto Stony Hill

'Advance through the field me boys!'

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

Mid game struggles...

Attacks and Counter attacks...

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

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

Though the Union rallies though and pushes through the Wheat Field

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

End state of the game

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

(reverse angle)

Thoughts on the scenario and wrap up..

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

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

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

Hope you enjoyed this long post!  Thanks for reading. 

Things about blogging and blogger I've learned...

Random thoughts on Blogging

My next big post on ACW is under way, but thought I would write down some quick thoughts about blogging.    I'm new to this blogging venture, and there are some things that surprise me..

You don't get notified when someone decides to follow you, which I find strange. I wish I could say "thanks."  I know it's not a huge effort to follow someone, but it does feel like an endorsement that someone states 'when this Stewart fellow writes something I at least want to know about it.' 

You do get notified when someone leaves a comment, which I do like but didn't know.  Now I want to go back to some blog posts on other blogs that I found really useful but didn't leave a comment because I thought the post was so old it wouldn't get noticed.

When I click on a follower profile, it shows other blogs being followed by that person but not their own.  However, if someone leaves a comment and I click on that profile in the comment section; the profile WILL show someone's own blog.  If someone is taking the time to comment or follow my blog I am naturally curious about theirs, and in fact I've started to follow several more blogs just because someone left a comment here. 

Comments are Awesome

I've discovered the thrill of getting comments.  It's fun to put something out there and get feedback on it.  Since I like it so much I've also started to leave more comments on other people's blogs, even small comments like 'nice job."    Of course, I can only find your blog by you leaving a comment here, or  a link on TMP.    On a similar note; I've learned that really nice and/or informative posts take effort to produce, and my appreciation of such posts has increased.  Even if the post is not on something I'm very interested in, such as colonials and Zulus, the Roman slave revolt, almost anything with aliens or what have you, I now understand better the effort it took to produce such a post. 

I sometimes struggle (well not really struggle but over think) about what to share and what not to share.  I know it's my blog and all, but sometimes I write something and when I edit later (when I do edit) I erase something that seemed too personal.  I don't mean political or religious statements because those are just derisive.  Dunno.  I'm actually something of a private person (not a secretive person, I don't have any good secretes anyway...) (except that one...)  so blogging in general is something outside my norm.  I blame social media for corrupting me and making it sooooo  eeeaaassy.   I have no one  to please but myself, and I do want the blog to be a light hearted and fun, with a theme about wargaming and hobby of another 40 ish slightly pudgy wargamer. 

Thanks for reading. 

Saturday, October 7, 2017

"We must now face the long dark"

Awesome people will recognize the Gandalf quote of the post title.  A better title would of been "we must now face the long dark of mor -thelastquateroftheyearisalwaysreallybusyandhardtogamein - ria"

Winter is coming...  

(That's right, I went from LOTR to GoT, I am unrepentant).

October is usually the beginning of the end of actual gaming for the year.  It just happens that way.
Everybody gets too busy with end of year stuff, there's more other commitments, and there's a holiday at the end of each month (Halloween counts as a holiday when one has little kids whose needs must include getting a costume, a trip the the pumpkin patch, pumpkin carving, and being taken out to trick or treat).  This means less time for gaming.
I usually shoot for about 2 games a month which represents the happy medium of my life between goofing off and being a responsible family member, and now this will likely drop down to about 1 a month...or none.

"Yooouu  shall not mix LOTR and GoT!"  

Sorry Gandalf...

However last weekend I did play a game of Starwars Rebellion with the new Rise of the Empire expansion with my buddy Mr. G.    It took FOREVER!  but I think in part because we played the new combat system completely wrong.  But no matter, it was fun.  I won as the rebellion though I had to move the base not once, not twice, but thrice, which shows you just how tight the imperial net was.

I didn't take any pictures of the board game because pictures of board games are super boring.  Have this picture instead.

This is what the new cinematic combat rules are supposed to be like

and if you like board games, and who doesn't like board games I mean c'mon, this a gaming blog for crying out loud, then you should know that Starwars Rebellion is the BEST 2 player SW themed game EVER.

There is no debate.

No, I have not played Imperial Assault, why do you ask?  And while we're talking about Starwars games; I do like X wing a lot, but don't particularly like the fleet building aspect of the game nor the constant expansions, so I got the ships that I like and that's that.  It gets broken out once in awhile.  I also get bored of the lack of 3D while flying, I mean even Wings of Glory has a altitude aspect.

I played SW Armada a couple of times and did not especially like it.  Too many dials, and didn't really gel with the turn sequence, and why only 6 turns?   I gave away all the models I had, and I'll tell you why...
It's not that I hated the game, I would play it if someone said "I really want to do some SW Armada" and I wouldn't complain.  But I was unlikely to say any such thing myself because SW Armada would be way down on the list of 'games I want to play that evening' which means it's never gonna get played.  If it's never gonna get played then there's no point of holding on to it.

Paint'em if you got'em.   The 2 current projects.

On the Civil War front, I recently completed a bunch of Confederate soldiers.... and by completed I mean purchased.  A long time ago in an email far far away Dai (from the the blog found on the blog roll "Lost, Damned, and the Stunted)  and I started the ACW gaming together.  He did the CSA and I did the USA, and then I did some more USA, and then while he painted some WW2 Bolt Action stuff I painted up some CSA to add to his for larger games, and now I just purchased his CSA collection.  Probably his plan all along the mastermind.  Though it's QUITE a bargain when he threw in his unpainted CSA troops, fences, flags, and etc...

"Reinforcements at the ready suh!"
Better painted than my own troops.  

so the current strength of the CSA now comes in at:
126 infantry stands
16 infantry command stands (bases with flags, each unit needs one to look awesome)
12 cannons
7 Brigadier Generals
8 mounted and dismounted Cavalry
1 divisional commander.
in other words, plenty for most scenarios.

the only negative is that his stuff is based on 1.5mm litko bases and my stuff is based on 3mm litko bases, so the bases won't line up even when grouped next to each other so I'll have to rebase all his stuff.... I'M JUST KIDDING THAT'D BE CRAZY.

Nah, the only negative is that I blew my hobby budget for the rest of the year on it.  I allow myself a pretty generous hobby budget because I am grown ass man gainfully employed, but it's still a budget and only works if adhered to; so this large purchase means that the rest of the year the theme is Paint'em if you got'em.   No new purchases.

But first, for the Age of Sail project I want to finish these two 3rd rate 74 gun ships, one British and one French.

The ship yard.  British on the right, French on the left.  I tried putting a little more effort into the decks, though I don't know why as you'll hardly see it under the sails and rigging.  

The British is already basically painted.  So the plan is to paint the French; then both ships will get a wash in AP strong tone, dull-coat sprayed, sails and masts attached, and then rigged together.  Forever binding them together in shared experience and brotherhood so when they shoot at each other on the game table they will roll poorly...

thanks for reading!

Friday, September 22, 2017

Post Captain AoS rules review (and small batrep)

Opening ramblings:

As I said before, I went a little nuts on buying AoS rules, which in the long run could be a waste of money, because if you buy a set and then never play it....  However, it's hard to get an idea of what rules are good; which is completely down to personal tastes.... so this is just more thoughts from the AoS rookie.

Some general advice from what I've found in starting AoS gaming; first decide if you want a hex based game or a non hexed base game... hex based games will make maneuvering easy but limit you to moving in 5 directions...(not 6, because one hex side will be where the wind is coming from 'an ya can't sail into t' wind').  Non hexed games will have much more freedom but be a bit fiddly due to the use of wind gauges, measuring movement, and turning gauges.  So far, I have liked NON hexed games better. you feel more like a sea captain! you play on the open sea!

for open sea games I have Kiss Me Hardy by TFL, Post Captain by ODGW, Form Line of Battle by David Manley, and Captaincy by Cursd Captain (John Carnahan).  And I'm kind of playing them in order of my comprehension.

KMH left me like I had just eaten mediocre pizza; it wasn't bad, but wasn't great either. So I was very excited to play Post Captain (review below). I passed on FLOB as it's more of a fleet game and on Captaincy as it's a complicated rule set.

So with 2 ships complete (did you see the pretty ships in the previous posts?) and 2 other stand ins... I asked my friend Dai (check out his blog, found in the blog roll over there why not ----->> ) to a game.  Since he down for anything (and I mean any-thing! chuckle-chuckle-snort) he was most obliging.  Also with  him being an avid gamer he had the necessary D12s which I don't have in my collection (because I haven't played an RPG in 15 years..)

I didn't take any pictures of the Post Captain game, so enjoy these pictures stolen from the internet.
They're actually pretty close to what was happening anyway (in my mind's eye).

PC Batrep:

Dai took the French and I the British.  The forces were roughly equal with the French having the 120 gun Orient and the 80 gun Bucentuare, while the British consisted of the 100 gun Queen Charlotte and the 74 gun Spencer.   The squadrons started just 30" apart.  The French had the weather guage, and the Brits on an intercept course.

Played out like this:

Can you follow that?  basically each arrow equals about the same game turn, roughly.  It's a very rough map drawn from memory.  This process will likely improve over time.

Here's a rough summary of each ship in order of excitement...

The Orient sailed in a semi circle firing broadsides as they bore, and ended the game in pursuit of the Queen Charlotte.  The Queen Charlotte managed to sail in between the Orient and the Buc, firing off both broadsides and pounding the Buc somewhat roughly, BUT suffered a critical hit to her wheel (which makes you sail straight ahead) and basically spent the last half of the game sailing away to nowhere as slow as possible trying to fix the damage.  The Spencer was setting up to cross the Buc's bows early in the game when the wily French captain suddenly turned toward the Spencer, so they exchanged broadsides as they passed.  The Spencer then tacked and chased the Buc, firing at her and receiving fire from the Buc in return as well as the Orient.  The Spencer lost it's Mainsail yard (and attached sail), and then a critical hit shot away the jib boom, which sprung the foret'gallant mast, and a turn later both the Foret'gallant and Maint'gallant masts went crashing into the water (failed rigging and sprung mast checks), and left her drifting until the wreckage could be cut away.  The MVP of the game was the Bucentuare; who out maneuvered the Spencer, and exchanged broadsides with both British ships.  She also suffered wheel damage but managed to repair it quickly, to continue the fight and even do a victory lap around the dismasted Spencer before setting course to support the Orient versus the Charlotte.

So at the end of the game (as we called it there); on the British side the Spencer was dragging two masts, and the Charlotte had a damaged wheel so both were in pretty bad shape.  The French were alright, with the Orient only loosing a couple of guns and the Buc handled roughly but serviceable.  Victory for the French!  Good game Dai, lots of fun.

For those of you keeping score at home, the French are 2-0 so far....

POST CAPTAIN wargame rules review:

Short Version: Game is awesome, go buy it.  Moderate complexity, a fair amount of book keeping is involved.  Probably best suited for 1-2 ships per player.  Interesting decisions to make during the game besides which way to steer.

A more in-Depth Review: unlike KMH which has several in depth reviews already online, I could find very little on PC before I purchased it, so I'll now endeavor to write one.  This of course only my opinions, which I naturally find to be infallible but really are just my personal tastes....

PC is one of those games where it looks more complicated than it actually is, and plays rather smoothly.  The rule book contains everything you need to play, and comes chock full of ship cards, deck logs, QRS's, and charts, Charts, CHARTS!  One new thing to me is that the game uses a scale, so 1/1200 scale ships (as my Langton ships are) has a scale measurement of 100 yds = 3".  I'm more used to games that use a measurement; for example will give a range of 12" (as in "the range of X gun is 12") but PC will say 400 yds instead of 12".

The book is also very newbie friendly with sections on models and observations of the Age of Sail in general.  Also very much appreciated there is a glossary of game and nautical terms in the beginning for those of us that don't know a yard from a spar, or a top sail from a t'gallant sail.
there's also a bunch of freebies and scenarios available online from ODGW.  Including some top-down ship counters for those who want to play but lack the ships.

A game turn basically goes through a movement phase, a repair phase, and then a command phase.

Movement: Each game turn movement phase is broken into 3 'tactical phases' labeled Red, White, and Blue and each corresponds to about 1 min of actual time; so in 1 game turn a ship will move 3 times.  the order the ships move will be determined by who has the weather gauge when far apart and a die roll for initiative when close.  Each side moves one ship at a time.  The tactical phases are also the way that the game tracks time, so actions that take some time to do (like reloading  or repairing the rigging) will take a number of tactical phases.

How to move: Depending on what sails a ship has deployed a ship has a number of Movement factors, and naturally more sails = more movement factors.  This number is fairly static as one doesn't change sails much while in battle.  Next, take a 'wind gauge' and line it up with the ship to determine it's speed: either Slow, Medium, or Fast.  You then use the corresponding turning and movement gauge that matches that speed to pilot the ship.  Now here's the clever part; the movement factors on the S, M, and F gauges are NOT the same size so a ship will travel more distance if moving on the F rather than the S.  

This IS slightly fiddly but after a turn easily understood.  There are of course rules for turning, tacking, etc... though a ship may turn slightly as any time but more pronounced turns require the ship to go straight first. 

Firing: Ships can fire broadsides from loaded cannons at any time, doesn't matter who's actually moving.  After firing it takes a certain number of tactical phases to reload.  French and Spanish take longer to reload than the British and American.  I actually REALLY LIKE this aspect; as after a ship shoots at you, you know that there is now some small time to maneuver / jockey for position before she can fire again.  In general a ship can only fire once per turn but in 12 tactical phases (12 minutes time) a British ship will fire 4 times to a French 3.  Gunnery modifiers are what you would expect with the initial broadside, better crews, and getting really close make for better shots.

Boarding: is something that didn't happen in my game but the mechanic is somewhat complex.  You get two ship diagrams that are broken up into 3 areas, and assign the crew and marines to each section as boarding parties represented as counters.  When ships are in contact, you see who boards who, and the boarding parties fight it out every Blue tactical phase, with the goal to capture the enemy's upper deck.

After the three tactical phases the action pauses for the next two phases.

Rigging and repair phase: In this phase you first roll to see if any weakened masts fall down.  There are a bunch of rules of what happens when a a mast falls depending on which mast and which part, all are easy to understand.  You then roll to see if any repairs you attempted to fix are complete.  This is when you also assign crew factors to repairs to be attempted next turn. More on this later when I talk about crew management. 

Command phase: In this phase you assign marines and crew to boarding parties (to be available next turn) and also take any morale tests needed if a ship is damaged enough.

Crew Management: in the rigging & repair and the command phases are also when you manage a ships crew.  A ship has a number of crew and marine factors on board at the beginning of the scenario.  .  Of these, a certain amount (a very small amount) will be needed to sail the ship, the rest tend to work the guns.  This is potentially a very book keeping intense part of the game.  The authors are clear that their intention is not that one should assign every crew factor to a task for every turn, but it is important that the limited resource of manpower be tracked, especially as casualties mount.  The book provides a little aid / cheat sheet for quick assignments but it DOES get complicated when you start to do many necessary things:  X number to sail the ship. X number to repairs; do your marines help work the guns or off to the fighting tops to fire musket volleys, form any boarding parties? so how many does that leave to work the guns?  (and if a gun isn't being worked then it can't be reloaded as makes sense).   It's also annoying that the guns often take fractions of crew factors which makes the math difficult.  for example, a 32 pound gun box takes 1.75 crew factors.. which makes the lower deck of a first rate ship requiring 8.75 crew factors.  I find fractions difficult.

In my game, we found that doing what the authors suggest worked fairly well:  on the cheat sheet at the beginning of the game, you have worked out how many crew factors are working each gun deck, and as crew get pulled out to do other stuff (or due to casualties) you know which guns go unloaded.  Marines can help fire the cannons while the seamen go off to do other sailor stuff.

After the rigging and repair and Command phases, a new game turn starts with movement, and the 3 tactical phases...

Overall:  All of this makes for a very enjoyable game where commanding a ship feels like commanding a ship, being the captain and making decisions.    But a lot goes into that so unless one knows the rules very well I suggest 1-2 ships per player.  2 would be ideal; though ships can take a fair amount of damage 1 lucky hit can effectively knock out a ship for the short term so having another ship to play with would keep a player involved.    Maneuvering and managing the ship are the essence of the game.  This is not a fleet game, but more about ship to ship actions.

I really enjoyed this game.  I hope this review will be helpful for anyone looking into the rules for their AoS gaming.

The Dai bump

Just a quick note of thanks to my friend Dai, whose well followed blog can be seen over there in the blog list (the lost, the damned, and the stunted).  Dai wrote a post promoting this little blogging experiment, and I've noticed an increase in comments and follows. 

So thanks Dai for the bump, and to anyone whose checked this blog out bc of that, and really to anyone who reads this no matter how you stumbled here.  I hope that any of my posts will be entertaining, amusing, and informative. 

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Set Sails II: First French 120 and other AoS stuff

Finished my second ship and the first in the French fleet.  As the British have a 100 gun ship it seemed right to give the French a corresponding behemoth, so this is a French 120 gun ship of the line.  Once again, this is a Langton 1/1200 miniature.

I had to do some research (research means look around online and ask on TMP) on what colors French ships used on their hulls as I didn't know.  I'm still pretty ignorant of the actual history of this period.  BrainW (whose blog is in the blog roll over there ---->) recommends that French ships were either red or yellow, but I also found that they could have blue or white stripes / patterns.

As you can see, I went with red (because I think it looks awesome!).

abut half way through the photos I remembered to add the flag...
so some photos will have the colors flying and some won't...

As it's the second ship some practice effects are apparent.  The rigging on this ship is more involved than the first and I think it came out looking pretty good!  I can tell that each ship is going to be an individual as the places where each sail is attached to the masts is going to be slightly different each time.  Also as I look at more and more at examples of rigging from the internet and books I get a better idea where everything goes.

On this model I did more 'backstays' than the previous.  I also angled the sails to the masts instead of making them straight.  As in 'wind a-quarter' versus 'wind astern.'  (Hooray for nautical jargon!)   While gluing them on I thought the angle was quite rakish but it turns out to be subtle on the model.

The next run of pictures will have large amounts of ship booty.

There's almost always a rear shot when it comes to ships...

Does this flag make my stern cabin look big?

With one French and one British ship done, it's time to schedule a single ship duel and try out another set of AoS rules.  Out of the ones I have, Post Captain by ODGW is my current favorite of 'AoS rules I've read but haven't played.'    I was going to try and get in a game soon, but I discovered to my shock that I don't have any D12s..  has it really been that long since I played a RPG?

Other AoS stuff:

As I've stated, I don't know a lot of the history of the Age of Sail and this is a recent endeavor.  SOOO I've done what all good historical gamers do and started some research to learn of the time, which is what always makes us better people than fantasy and scifi gamers.  (that's obviously an outlandish statement meant to amuse).  So I got the book; Fighting at Sea in the Eighteenth Century; The Art of Sailing Warfare by Sam Willis.  I  ordered it online from Barnes and Noble because I couldn't find it anywhere I went and I had B&N giftcards.  It was kinda pricey though at $40 for not a large book.

However, it's already paid off.  let me illustrate:

At the same time, my latest order from Waterloo Minis arrived; 2 74 guns ships, 1 French and 1 British.  I of course opened them right away because I'm like that.  But the ships aren't labeled British and French, just by the hull model, so I couldn't tell which is which.  Oh no!

BUT! About 10 pages into the book, on the chapter of telling friend from foe, There is a diagram of a French stern and British stern; the French being more of a "horseshoe shape" and the British more "conical."    There diagrams matched the sterns of the model ships providing identification.

French on the left, British on the right in the book
and pics of ship booty.

French on the left, British on the right in my hand...
Why yes, my thumb is rather manly...
and yet even more ship booty.  

Probably and argument about how well sculpted the Langton miniatures are.

Coming up for AoS; those two 74s  AND I squeezed in a game of Post Captain and will be writing a blurb about the rules....

Thanks for reading and comments welcome!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

DIY cornfield tutorial

What’s an ACW battlefield without a cornfield or two?  I’ll tell you what it is….BORING! 
Actually, one day I’m going to do some wargaming around one of my favorite ACW battles, the battle of Antietam.  The battle voted most likely to be mispronounced.  So naturally I would need a cornfield.

This is one of those situation where one is trying to balance 3 things; aesthetics, playability, and budget.
You can spend a lot of money for really nice corn, but to get a field of any decent size this starts to become really expensive. 

So looking around the internet for ideas, I found that people were using Christmas pine stems for their cornfields, so I decided to give it a try.  Here is a tutorial; which is simply the way that I did it copied from others.  I’m not sure who did it first, but that person had an ah-Maize- ing idea.   Ok, I’m sorry for that corny joke.    Oh man, they just keep coming.    

Step 1!  Buy some pine stems.  I got these off of Ebay.  I found some in two sizes, 15mm and 12mm.  I think the 12mm looks better for my 18mm ACW figures.  You will need LOTS.  I like these ones shown here as they have green and brown in them. 

Step2!   Take some wire cutters (scissors won’t do as the center of the stem is made of wire) and cut the stems to the length desire.  I went with about an inch but I also varied it some to create…variance… in the corn stalks (didn’t want them to be too uniform height).  You will need to do this LOTS.  It is most tedious.  Also, you will get the little pieces of plastic fletching falling off making a small mess.

And if you’re like me and have delicate little girl hands, this can start to hurt after doing it a hundred times. 

Step3!  Prepare the bases!  Now this is the place where I diverted from others and put my own spin on the process.  Most people do this on square bases because, you know, the fields are square.  However I went with round bases as I am an original thinker and dare to be different. 

Actually, I went with round bases as I thought it would be easier to model irregular shaped fields.  I also think that it’s easier / looks better that when troops move through the fields to place the batches of corn stands around the troops.  Troops on square bases moving in square based corn stands just look a little too artificial, like the troops have to move in just the right way, basically at 90 degrees. 

I used 50mm circles bought from Litko, the same 3mm thickness as my ACW bases. 

I was also persuaded to skip the step of adding ground texture to the bases, as it would be extra work for little payoff.  I dunno about that in hindsight but too late now. 

To break down step 3 into smaller steps;
3a!  Cover in ground texture or not…
3b!  Create a pattern of where you want the corn “stalks” to be.  Even back in those ACW days corn was planted in rows, lay out how many rows you want per base depending on how thick you want it to be.    Because of the circle base I went with a 3-4-4-3  pattern.  That’s 14 stalks per base (see above comment about needing LOTS of stalks).   I cut out a piece of cereal box in a 50mm shape, and cut the holes in it, and then used a Sharpe pen to mark the holes in the wood.  

3c!  odds are, if you are bothering to read this, you are a MAN-ly wargamer.  So  get thee to your manly tool area for your power drill (do you remember that TV show with Tim Allen with all the power tools, that was funny),  and skillfully drill all the holes.  Just drill all the way through the wood.  Naturally use a small bit. 
3d! Paint the bases.  Award yourself 5 extra ‘awesome wargamer’ points if the color you use compliments the material that you’ll use to outline the borders of the field. 

For example, I am using the Lemax Moss matt, that you can get right now at Michaels, actually.   This is the thing they use to base those cute Halloween villages.   I just like the way it looks on the wargame mat. 

I used spray paint, and had to try a few different colors before settling on Nutmeg. 

Nutmeg is the 3rd up

Step4! Plant corn.  Feel free to listen to a banjo or country music or something while doing this if you think it’ll improve the experience.  To plant the stalk, just pull off some of the lower ‘leaves,’ dip in glue, and stick in the hole in the wood.  There’s likely a dirty joke in that sentence somewhere.

TAAADAAA  repeat process a couple of hundred times…

So the assemble the cornfield, you cut the field material into the shape you want, and cover it with cornstalk bases until it starts to look like a field.  Add fences and what have you….

It’ll look more like a dense cornfield with more bases.  This is somewhat a labor intensive project, as you will need LOTS.  But I think the effort will be worth it to bring just a little more terrain to the ACW battlefields.  

Hope that someone will find this useful.