Saturday, December 10, 2016

"I lost the game slightly less than you..."

A cold evening in the Trenton Gaming Emporium for a Cold War micro-armour game using Battle Captains... this time pitting 1984 Soviets and East Germans v US Cav and Kansas National Guard. As with most of my experiences with Battle Captains, the fun was primarily in the battle of wits and decision-making, rather than in execution of the combat mechanics. The nitty-gritty of the BC mechanics is, to my mind, rather secondary (that's not to say they are unimportant or poorly constructed... quite the opposite actually). But the meat and bones of the rules are the emphasis on the command decisions made by a company commander. At this scale of decision-making, I'm little interested in which vehicle is firing at which enemy infantry section etc. Now, that part of the game is fun too... the shooting and scooting! But as with a real-life company/kampfgruppe commander, the player's mind should be on the bigger picture.

I took the helm of the Soviets and Michael steered the Americans. The game ended with a US victory but as Michael cogently pointed out:

"I lost the game slightly less than you."

And so, onto some pics of the game. Photos of micro-armour games are notoriously difficult to get right so I thought 'd concentrate on the magnificent terrain Michael has put together. In this case, a 12' x 6' table bisected by a broad river, nestled in a wide river valley (although the valley contours are difficult to see in the pics).



Monday, November 28, 2016

some planning... of sorts

Perusing a number of blogs on my regular daily feed, I've noticed some stock-taking and planning for the new year (for example, here and here). And because the year is rapidly drawing to a close, I thought I'd lay out some of my plans for the foreseeable future, with the usual caveat that whenever my gaming muse appears in her normal guise of enticing siren, I will, of course, listen intently and all my well-laid plans will most likely be forgotten.

Chain of Command 1944 (winter)

Earlier in the year, I banged up a platoon of US armoured infantry (see here). Immediately after, I started their opponents, a German infantry platoon (see here), but was soon distracted by other hobby madness. In the last couple of months, after a four-week painting funk, I was able to whip up the rest of the platoon and supports.

Thus far, four sections of regular German infantry (i.e. only one LMG team per section), two panzerschreck teams, MMG, FOO, vehicles, and various commanders (mostly Artizan Designs figures with some Warlord sprinkled in for variety). This force is complete but for a 75mm infantry gun and crew (four figures) and a flamethrower team (figures for which I have yet to source). So, first on the planning list, these last few bits to complete the force.

I also have a dozen or so US infantry from Artizan to bulk out my existing US armoured platoon into a bog-standard GI platoon. So, these are added to the first batch with the German stragglers.

Conveniently, if I can complete these by the end of the year, my 2016 painting point total will just top my goal of 2500 points.

Oh, and some winter terrain would need to be worked on too... sigh. Maybe in 2017.

Sharp Practice 2 - British

Also this year, I put together a US War of 1812 force for use in Sharp Practice 2 games. They've faced off against Vidal's British force a few times and come away without a loss as yet (just saying!). But my normal predilection for building both sides in any project had me start looking around for some suitable Brits to face the Yanks.

First up, I ordered some of the lovely new reinforcement packs from Front Rank, enough to field three infantry groups and some Big Men to accompany them. These are just beautiful figures and a fair step away from the old, rather chunky, FR sculpted poses. So, perhaps to be painted as Upper Canada Incorporated Militia? Green coats and blue trousers? Ummmm, yeah! Fortuitously, while pondering more purchases, Ohio Bob offered up a pile of unpainted natives from, I think, North Star. There are enough for three six-figure skirmish groups and a couple of Big Men (thanks again Bob!). OK, the plan was coming together but more was needed. Taking advantage of recent Warlord Games sales, I picked up a box of British infantry (enough for three more groups) and one of 95th Rifles. This last would serve to represent the 95th Rifles (as it says on the tin) or the Glengarry Light Infantry in the War of 1812 (purists step away please... they're close enough for me). I also pondered some British Light Dragoons as an addition but realized two things. First, in the War of 1812, cavalry played little or no battlefield role (although it could be argued that SP2 is the perfect vehicle to play out those petite geurre moments where cavalry could be represented). Second, if I were to expand this force to work for the Spanish Peninsula, I already have painted, from a previous collection, some cavalry support in the form of two eight-figure Spanish cavalry groups (Front Rank figs, in the photo above). And yes, I did say Spanish Peninsula.

Sharp Practice 2 - French

As most gamers do, I was thinking well beyond the War of 1812 project. I could easily use the Brits for games against the French. Now, while Vidal does have a Napoleonic French force for SP2, again my need (obsession?) to do both sides kicked in. So, back to Warlord Games (I'm such a sucker for sales) and soon arriving at my door was enough metal and plastic to field four eight-figure infantry groups, two six-figure skirmish groups, and some engineers. Again, I pondered cavalry and artillery supports but decided to wait on adding these and instead decided I could use some already painted Front Rank stuff as a stop-gap. Granted, the cavalry is all Imperial Guard but the Empress Dragoons will do as regular dragoons in a pinch. The Front Rank horse artillery is in line to be expanded by two figures (a five-figure crew and one Big Man is required), but ordering only two figures from FR seems silly. I'll just need to put together a bigger order....hmmmm :)

Sharp Practice 2 - Prussian

And since I had already moved my planning to Europe, why not give the French someone else to pick on, other than the Brits? So into the shopping cart went some Prussians. I've stayed conservative to this point and ordered only Landwher, Jagers, and mounted officers. Enough for a basic force...supports, I'll worry about later.

My planning for the next while then looks something like this:

WWII  >> Napoleonic Brits >> Napoleonic French >> Napoleonic Prussians

But where do the Carlist Wars additions fit in? And the Boxer Rebellion? And English Civil War? And ImagiNations... perhaps another nation to add?

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Niagara battlefields tour

A couple of weeks ago on a glorious autumn day, my good friend Bob drove up from the wilds of Ohio to partake of southern Ontario civilization and the glories of our military past. In one day of touring about the Niagara Peninsula, we visited Ridgeway battlefield (of Fenian Raids fame), Fort Niagara, Battle of Chippawa field, Queenston Heights, and Fort George. The next day was a rather lax touring day when we trekked into Toronto and visited  only one site, Fort York. I didn't take a lot of photos but I've added a few interesting ones here.

A lovely Napoleonic field forge in the Fort Erie Visitors' centre. 
I'd never seen one of these "in the flesh", so to speak.

Western approaches to Fort Erie. 

The view south from Fort Erie towards Snake Hill.

Interior Fort Erie blockhouses.

Brock Memorial on Queenston Heights.

Fort George interior blockhouses. 

A lovely shot of the officer's quarters in Fort George.

Master & Commander Bob expostulating on how he would have defended Fort George... or maybe just striking a heroic pose for the assembled media.

War of 1812: American artillery

A couple of weeks ago, various bits of paraphernalia were added to my US War of 1812 artillery. I've always liked the look of artillery limbers and caissons on the table (witness my ImagiNation collection) and in what better type of game to field them than a skirmish. Thus, as part of my American War of 1812 force for Sharp Practice 2, I decided to go ahead and add some horses for my one lone gun.

Old Glory artillerists and Front Rank French limber and caisson. 
Strictly speaking, both should have 6-horse teams but I do have my limits. There will eventually be limber riders added once I source some appropriate figures and discover some uniform information (neither a small task).

Q3 2016 Painting Point - update

Although this post is a bit late, I've totted up my Q3 2016 painting totals and I'm quite pleased with the progress so far this year (see Q2 post here). My goal is to get to 3000 points for the year. This is quite achievable, assuming no painting malaise rears its ugly head. Planned additions are some cavalry for the US War of 1812 force, more winter '44 Germans, a few winter '44 US additions (to allow me to field a standard GI platoon or an armoured infantry platoon), and possibly a return to the Boxer Rebellion project (no, really).

Total Points by year: red line represents total points additions and blue my personal output.

Q3 saw 530 points added to the yearly total, somewhat down from the previous two quarters but I'll blame that on summer and travelling. This year's output still soars above the previous two years.

Percentage of the totals of my personal output by year .

And my personal output continues to grow, up from 66% at the end of Q2 to 70% at the end of Q3.

And the total list of additions:

collection unit type # figs total points
ImagiNations Musketiere Marzen foot 28 140
ImagiNations Fulisiere Wiesbier foot 28 140
ImagiNations KaiserReich command mounted  7 70
ImagiNations Hussars Grand Duc mounted  8 80
English Civil War foot regiment foot 28 140
World War II US infantry foot 62 310
World War II US infantry artillery 1 10
Carlist Wars Aragon infantry foot 12 60
World War II 1944 Wermacht foot 11 55
World War II 1944 Wermacht artillery 1 10
ImagiNations KaiserReich civilians foot 4 20
ImagiNations KaiserReich commanders mounted  2 20
ImagiNations KR carriage mounted  n/a 55
World War II German MMG & FOO foot 6 30
World War II US 3" AT gun foot 4 30
World War II US vehicles vehicle 4 80
World War II panther vehicle 1 20
World War II PzIV, Stug III, hetzer vehicle 3 60
Carlist Wars Tortosa infantry foot 15 75
ImagiNations Fusiliere Schwarzbier foot 28 140
ImagiNations Dragons Grande-Duchesse mounted  8 80
Carlist Wars Isabellino artillery foot 12 60
Carlist Wars Isabellino artillery artillery 3 30
War of 1812 US militia foot 36 180
War of 1812 US mounted commanders mounted  3 30
War of 1812 US regulars foot 26 130
War of 1812 US artillery foot 6 30
War of 1812 US artillery artillery 1 10
War of 1812 US artillery horse 8 40
War of 1812 US artillery wagon 2 20
War of 1812 US militia rifles foot 13 65
World War II 1944 Wermacht foot 12 60

Monday, October 3, 2016

Action in Ohio

In August, I made the pleasant drive down to the Lehman Gaming Emporium in the wilds of Ohio to spend a couple of days of gastric over-indulgence and many laughs over the gaming table. Bob and Matt are great hosts and Bob is able to host games in his hobby-shop-like basement grotto. I'm not sure I've ever laughed so much gaming as I did that weekend.

First game up was one of L'Art de la Guerre featuring Mongols and Teutonic Knights. These rules (which I've subsequently ordered) are highly reminiscent of Armati, a set that provided me many hours of enjoyment in the distant past. The armies are beautifully painted, the Teutonics by Bob and the Mongols I believe were bought by Matt at Historicon(?). Some shots of the game:

The second game saw my ImagiNation armies wander about the table but of this I seem to have lost all photographic evidence. No matter... it was a great weekend and looking forward to the next.

Indiana Autumn: Tippecanoe Battlefield

I spent a few days near Indianapolis recently and besides the glorious September weather, I was able to amble northwestwards to see the Tippecanoe Battlefield. Rather than go on at length about the battle: link

From the potted history therein:

The Battle of Tippecanoe was fought on November 7, 1811, near present-day Lafayette, Indiana between American forces led by Governor William Henry Harrison of the Indiana Territory and Native American warriors associated with the Shawnee leader Tecumseh. Tecumseh and his brother Tenskwatawa (commonly known as "The Prophet") were leaders of a confederacy of Native Americans from various tribes that opposed US expansion into Native territory. As tensions and violence increased, Governor Harrison marched with an army of about 1,000 men to disperse the confederacy's headquarters at Prophetstown, near the confluence of the Tippecanoe and Wabash Rivers. Tecumseh, not yet ready to oppose the United States by force, was away recruiting allies when Harrison's army arrived. Tenskwatawa, a spiritual leader but not a military man, was in charge. Harrison camped near Prophetstown on November 6 and arranged to meet with Tenskwatawa the following day. Early the next morning, however, warriors from Prophetstown attacked Harrison's army. Although the outnumbered attackers took Harrison's army by surprise, Harrison and his men stood their ground for more than two hours. The Native Americans were ultimately repulsed when their ammunition ran low. After the battle, they abandoned Prophetstown and Harrison's men burned it to the ground, destroying the food supplies stored for the winter, and then returned home. Harrison, having accomplished his goal of destroying Prophetstown, proclaimed he had won a decisive victory.

The battlefield is only, in my conservative estimate, only three acres in size, and not really much to see (besides some magnificent oaks). But there was a rather nice little museum with a comprehensive bookshop (more of that anon). 

Recreation of the 4th US Infantry colours.

A curious assortment of figures in the museum diorama of the battle: Old Glory 28mm and some other figures that I can only estimate at 20-22mm size. 

Of course, as a serious wargamer (perhaps more accurately, seriously obsessed), my mind went immediately to the logistics of gaming this battle. Sharp Practice 2 would seem to be quite appropriate and I even have some of the American regulars already complete. But painting all those natives?