Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year and Best Wishes for 2013!

First, my best wishes for 2013 and Happy New Year.  I'm now another year old, a little wiser, and sadder.  But I look forward to more miniature wargaming locally and completing some painting projects this year.  And for those who shudder at the amount of unpainted lead they still own.  Some helpful suggestions:

1)  Consolidate the figures you are never going to paint due to disinterested, lack of space, or lack of time.

2)  Prioritize what you'd like to accomplish this year.  Do you want to work on a particular project?  Is there something you want to get done.  It could be something as simple as rebasing figures to completing a Napoleonic army.

3)  Set aside time to paint each week.  This is your hobby.  It's a part of wargaming.  If you can't paint, then save up the money for a decent painting service. 

4)  Don't get sidetracked by the "New Shiny Lead Syndrome."  Your significant other or wife will be more understanding of our niche hobby (which is weirder to the general public than chess) if you make a concerted effort to get some unpainted lead you currently own painted than throwing money away of figures you'll never get around to priming.

5)  Work on some area of interest with fellow gamers.  Even if its one or two guys.  I'm tired of doing projects for both combatants.  It's more interested and easier on you if you just do a small project with a friend who won't screw you over by backing out of it at the last minute.

6)  Finally, do things that interest you.  It's your hobby.  If you have two different small projects, you can bounce from one thing to another until they both get done.  And you won't get bored just painting one thing.

Hope this helps,

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Waiting on my Xmas toys

It's been one of those months.  I put together a rather large Old Glory Miniatures order with a friend for 25mm Trojan War armies at the beginning of this month.  He sent off the order.  It's nearly New Years Eve and neither of our figures have shown up yet at his house.  I want three days of my life back from Father Nurgle in his infinite wisdom sending me his Zombie Rot in the form of the flu.  I'm getting better.  However, my friend Don Cox came down with it, too. 

So I have nothing to report.  I spent Xmas night in bed.  I slept the next several days with a sinus infection and generally stayed away from my roommates.  I've done no painting or basing of figures.  I spent an evening writing out bills and watching NBA basketball.  So I thought I'd be into writing.  Alas, I've haven't sat down and written out an outline for a new sci-fi story.  The two speculative fiction novels I have are complete and in need of a copy editor.  2013 is the year I find one and get a literary agent and a publisher.  The good thing about my sci-fi worlds is GW can't sue me for copyright infringement.  I came up with something original.  It was a lot of work.  But I shouldn't cross blog about my sci-fi manuscripts.  That is for Bruckner, Writing, Orchids, and Relationships...

But I'm yearning to get back to painting in early January 2013.  I also want to devote time to writing a new novel.  Gaming related, I tried to rewrite a digital copy of my 20mm WWI house rules called No-Man's-Land.  It's too much work to get it onto a computer.  I lost my digital copy when my computer ran Windows 95.  All I have is about 200 pages of scenarios and rules for the Western and Eastern Fronts.  My next project after the 25mm Trojan War in 2014 is putting together Western Front 1914 forces for my 20mm rules.  It's a large undertaking.  But I feel it would be worth it for the 100th anniversary of the First World War.

Yet, I dream big of another massive painting project.  I did that about fifteen years ago when Britannia Miniatures introduced their 20mm WWI range.  And I didn't like any of the commercial rules available at the time.  So I bastardized my own.  These will always stay house rules.  I don't ever intend to publish them.  But I like the way they play.  Fast and furious.  And very bloody.  Sapper Joe says its like playing with blocks because of the 80% casualty rate.  But does he claim to be a fan of the War of the Triple Alliance?  Didn't Paraguay suffer 90% casualty rates during their war with Brazil and Argentina? 

So I sit here waiting for my Xmas toys to get to me in St. Louis, MO.  I'm sick of being Father Nurgle's chief whipping boy...

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Review of "Greetings from Afghanistan" By Benjamin Tupper

I finished Captain Benjamin Tupper's book, "Greetings from Afghanistan:  Send More Ammo," today.  The book was a series of blogs about his life as part of a ETT (Embedded Training Team) with the Afghan National Army during his year long deployment in southern Afghanistan.  The war took a toil on Tupper.  He lost about 40 pounds, wound up divorced, and suffered from Post-Tramatic Stress Disorder when he got back to New York City, his hometown.  But Tupper said it helped him to write down all things that happened as a kind of therapy.  I believe that was the reason he wrote his book. 

Aside from the combat patrols, dealing with insurgents, target practicing, and occasional R&R, much of it was dealt with the daily toil of combat operations in Afghanistan.  The terrain is unforgiving and climate hostile.  Tupper commented on something I already knew but few people actually talk about.  The lack of winning hearts and minds with the local population in the face of a more militarist response to the Taliban insurgency.  And no one is the current political administration or Congress will publicly talk about why we should still be in Afghanistan.  Though Captain Tupper generally supported US policy, his view was we couldn't militarily win in Afghanistan without winning the goodwill and support of the local population. 

This is what happened in Vietnam.  It is now playing out in Kabul and Kandahar.  But I still don't see any public discourse about why America is still involved in Afghanistan.  Tupper commented on the fact that deployments were often extended three months by the Pentagon to cover manpower shortages.  Some soldiers who were coming home to Fort Bragg were sent back to Afghanistan for another 90 days within hours of their "homecoming ceremonies".  MP's had to hauled in to stop rioting Army wives who were throwing food at military officials. 

These are the kind of things that aren't heard on TV or in the newspapers.  And the Obama administration wants to continue deploying US and Nato forces in Afghanistan until 2014?  I don't see the point in wasting anymore US lives in a futile war.  My own opinion is we have outlasted our welcome and the local population wants us to leave.  It would only be a matter of time before the Karzi regime collapsed without US support.  Again, I see many shades of Vietnam in my mind. 

But the Taliban weapon of choice that stood out was the RPG-7 and IED's.  Tupper and his soldiers feared both.  There were also mortar attacks on command posts and the daily possibility of sniper ambushes.  IED's were feared by US service personnel the worst.  There would be no warning when they might hit.  And the effects could be devastating.  Loss of limbs is a real fear.  That combined with an enemy that believes in suicide bombings sickens most troops.

Though I enjoyed reading "Greetings from Afghanistan" by Captain Tupper, I find the lack of suitable reading material about combat operations in Afghanistan disheartening.  The current campaign is being fought similar to a 19th century war of empire.  One of the lessons to be taken away from all this is Afghanistan has traditionally been the graveyard of empires from Alexander the Great to the British East India Company and the Soviet Union.  We would be foolish to think that we are any better with our modern technology and high-tech weaponary. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

28mm 1870 Chasseurs d'Afrique Cavalry Regiment

Here is a photo of my completed 28mm 1870 Chasseurs d'Afrique Cavalry Regiment for Chassepot & Needlegun.  By completing this regiment early, I back on track for my painting this month.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Open Letter to Games Workshop

To:  Games Workshop,
        Nottingham, UK

From:  Blake Walker
            St. Louis, MO

Dear Games Workshop:

I have played your flagship game, Warhammer 40K, since it first came out as the Rogue Trader first edition in 1989.  I have invested thousands of dollars into four different WH40K armies.  I also have recently purchased two Warhammer Fantasy Battles armies.  However, I am now at a point where I will no longer play your games or purchase new product. 

My reasoning is simple.  I can no longer afford to keep up with the constant codex creep and annual price increases.  Your marketing ploy of coming out with new editions of the same game has gotten old.  I also resent the fact you killed off Warhammer Historical Games.  I play Warhammer ECW and have the booklets and rules for Chariot Wars and WAB 1.5.  My next project is going to be 25mm Trojan Wars using the Chariot Wars codex.  The way you handled WAB 2.0 and using Forge World to kill off a viable gaming system is outrageous.  I could go.  But there is no point.  There are still people who play Warhammer Ancient Battles.  But they are few and far between now.  Gamers have moved onto other historical systems like Hail Caesar!  and Clash of Empires.

Aside from that, I decided to put up my WH40K and WHFB armies in storage for a year.  I thought about selling everything off I now own.  I can briefly list what I own, namely, Blood Angels, Dark Angels, Chaos Marines, High Elves, and Warriors of Chaos.  I also bought the 6th edition box set, Dark Vengeance in October 2012.  The figures are now assembled.  But I won't be painting them.  I won't work on the rest of my WH40K armies that are in need of painting like DA Ravenwing and Chaos Space Marine vehicles.  I don't see any reason to work on them in 2013.  I don't see any reason to buy any additional GW products, either.

GW seems to think it's market is teenage boys who's parents will pay for anything they want.  The truth is rather complicated.  There are have always been a certain segiment of gamers who play 40K for the "fluff" aspect.  There are also a number of gamers who have grown up playing the system and have stayed loyal to the GW brand name.  And there are powergamers who game it for tourament aspect.  GW's nebulous product release schedule and arbitary price increases have driven many of its older customers away. 

Privateer Press has also made major inroads here in St. Louis, MO.  I know more people who play Hordes/Warmachine than they do WH40K.  That will continue to happen until GW either lowers their prices and no longer marks up the margins on their products.  Or GW spires into bankruptcy and closes its doors, or is bought by another entity.

For the record, I'm not going to buy or work on any GW related product for 2013.  I have too many other things on my table to worry about missing WH40K.  However, it's the game I have played the most this year and I do enjoy the game itself.  It's the company and current management I distain.

Mr. Blake Wood Walker

Monday, December 17, 2012

2013 Plans

I looked at Sapper Joe's blog this evening.  I laughed.  My pile of unpainted lead and plastic is slowly being painted.  Sapper Joe is hopeless.  I don't have a lead mountain range in my basement.  I just have a couple of boxes of unassembled and based miniatures in need of painting.  However, I still have a lot of stuff.  And I spent the past two weeks organizing books.  The bookshelves are about full.  I am in need of an ereader for for future literary purchases. 

I do have to make some decisions for myself.  Do I continue with WH40K next year?  Do I scrap it and sell the figures off?  Do I just keep going with what I have?  Should I primarily focus on historicals, instead of playing 40K?  What do I do about my WHFB armies?  I'm not playing right now.  They are painted and complete.  I have some more metal 28mm High Elves that are unassembled.  I also have some more Chaos barbarians.  I haven't played Warhammer fantasy in months.  But I have armies painted for other things.  I tried selling them locally.  No one moved on them.  So I just kept the figures...

I'm taking a break from my 28mm FPW Chasseurs d'Afrique light cavalry regiment.  I should get done with them tonight.  Afterward, I'm wondering what to do next.  I have unfinished 40K armies in need of painting and assembly.  I am tired of dealing with Games Workshop.  Kind of like a crack addict gets tired of dealing with their pusher.  The last GW item I bought was back in October with the new Dark Vengeance box set.  I have the new Chaos Space Marines codex to deal with.  And I have to update all my army lists for my four various factions.  I guess it could be worse.  I could be playing Warmachine.

I might just shelve my 40K stuff for a while and continue working on 28mm FPW armies.  I do have more 25mm Trojan War armies coming in the mail this week or next.  I might just make the leap and eventually close out my 40K armies for historical wargaming.  The problem is I'm now gaming with 40K players.  No one is making a move to game historicals.  I know GW will have another price increase next year.  And the cost of their models is getting too much for me to handle.  I don't like the way the system is going.  I hear my friends complain about it.  But no one seems to do too much about it.  I feel like we are frogs in a frying pan as the heat is slowly turned up on us.  The costs for GW products didn't seem too bad at first.  Then, the costs went up and up.  Now, no sane person could afford to get into their gaming systems.  And I have four different armies!  Look where it's gotten me? 

Completing the basing of my 28mm FPW armies

I spent the weekend completing the basing of my 28mm FPW armies.  The French and Bavarian infantry are now based along with Bavarian and French artillery.  It was a lot of work.  I figure I must have prepped and based hundreds of figures.  I did it over the course of five days.  I got done with it last night. 

I went back and put the finishing touches on my 28mm 1870 Chasseurs d'Afrique cavalry regiment this morning.  I assume they were a light cavalry regiment.  Different authors have given me the impressions they were more mounted infantry.  But I'm using them as a light cavalry regiment. 

However, one of the problems I had was Foundry shorting me on 1870 Bavarian infantry command.  I'm going to have to get three more packs of 28mm 1870 Bavarian infantry command to complete my 1870 Bavarian infantry brigade.  I'm not sure about dismounted Chasseurs d'Afrique.  At this point, my 28mm 1870 French and German armies are complete.  The only thing lacking is light infantry.  But I've run out of room for any additional figures in my storage boxes! 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

How I defy probability and December projects

I am tired of losing WH40K games.  Wednesday was the last straw.  Afterward, I didn't want to play yesterday.  I didn't bother calling my friend who I normally play 40K on a weekly basis.  I guess he must be upset with me. 

Let me explain somethings.  As my friends such as Steve Hood (Combat Colours), Joe Collins (Sapper Joe), and Curtis Turner (Hostile Contact) can testify, I have the worst luck for dice rolling of anyone on the planet.  When I run my 40K Deathwing terminators, I need "2" or better on armor saves, I'll roll several ones.  I needed a "2" or better to hit with my Terminator captain and chaplain with their storm bolters.  I rolled four "1's"!  Then I needed a "3" or better to hit with my terminator's assault cannon on 4D6.  I rolled two "1's" and two "2's"!  Needless to say, things went downhill from there Wednesday evening.  I didn't feel like play 40K this weekend.  I don't feel like playing 40K the rest of the month.  My luck is consistantly bad.  If I need 10 or less on a morale roll, I'll roll "11" or "12". 

Statistics should be on my side.  I should be rolling at least average.  That doesn't happen on a consistant basis.  Let's say I won't be playing craps at a local casino anytime soon.  In fact, I won't be doing any gambling.  My luck is horrible.  Ask Hostile Contact about our 40K games?  Occasionally, my luck will turn around and I'll win.  But usually, it goes downhill.  It's like I've offended God or Satan and they've cursed my dice.  It doesn't matter what dice I roll.  They'll do awful for me whatever 40K game I'm playing.  People joke they don't me handling their dice in case I cursed them!  Anyway, I'm tired of losing 40K due to horrible dice rolls...

I spent the last several days basing 28mm Franco-Prussian figures.  I based an entire 28mm 1870 Bavarian infantry regiment this morning.  I come to find out Wargames Foundry only put four command in their command packs.  I'm short three command packs for my second regiment of 28mm 1870 Bavarian infantry.  That means I'll have to order more 28mm 1870 Bavarian infantry command from Wargames Foundry next month.  I'll also need to get two packs of dismounted 28mm 1870 Chassuers d'Afrique for my dismounted French infantry, too.  Small things like that kill me.  The second French infantry brigade was easy to assemble.  Everything got based except for the artillery stands.  That is on my to do list next!  Besides finishing up painting a 28mm French Chassuers d'Afrique cavalry regiment this coming week...

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

My experience with Big Muddy Historical Gaming Alliance

The Big Muddy Historical Gaming Alliance is a local historical gaming group in St. Louis, MO.  I've been involved with it since 1995.  The club has expanded, declined, and stagnated during that time.  It still puts on several conventions a year.  Barracks Battles/Die Con in June, August Spearhead during the summer, and Command Con in November.  There have been monthly game days in years past.  Now, gaming is ad hoc and localized.  People seldom leave their gaming circle to play in other games.  Hopefully, this is changing. 

At one point, I was an elected officer in Big Muddy.  I gave that up when I moved away.  I now feel no need to be directly involved.  I know the limitations of the club.  Gaming conventions are what I expect.  An occasional Game Day will happen at a local shop.  I've moved on with running my own games at local shops with my own friends.  I always would welcome more players from Big Muddy. However, that usually doesn't happen.  This is St. Louis.  What happened to Big Muddy is just a large microcosm of what goes on in St. Louis.  Other places where I've lived aren't like this.  People are willing to travel in order to game.  People aren't afraid to cross rivers or bridges. 

Big Muddy had the potential for campaign gaming.  There are enough people with similar interests that could support an involved campaign.  Some local campaigns have been ran involving Coral Sea and WWII Pacific airwar.  There's also Napoleonic and ACW gamers.  But people talk more than they do.  The lack of campaign gaming has forced me into annals of WH40K.  If I had my way, I get rid of my WH40K stuff.  I lose many of the games I play.  And I have too many figures as it is.  I play GW games because that is what the majority of the gamers I hang out game.  The only thing I can say about WH40K is that it's miniatures gaming.  The price of the models has gotten to the point where I can't afford to purchase anything.  You can't play 40K if you're broke.  You can if you play historicals...

But I digress.  Big Muddy runs gaming conventions.  There is ad hoc gaming locally.  One has to make a effort to leave one's pond if them want to game someplace else.  I publish the games I'm going to run a year in advance.  I have a feeling I'll probably just wind up gaming once a month, instead of the weekly gaming I now do.  Whether by circumstance or happenstance, that remains to be seen.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

WIP, 28mm Franco-Prussian War Figures

Here are some photos of 28mm FPW figures I've been working on the past two months:

                                         Incomplete 28mm 1870 Prussian Infantry Brigade.

                                    WIP, 28mm 1870 French Chassuers d'Afrique Regiment.

                                          Completed 28mm 1870 Prussian Cuirassier Regiment

28mm Darkest Africa Game, 09DEC12

I ran a 28mm Darkest Africa Game today at Wargames Cave in Granite City, IL between Steve Hood (Combat Colours) and Don Cox.  Steve ran the Arab Slavers.  Don had the native Africans.  The game started out with Don Cox advancing his Africans against the Arab slavers.  Steve shot up the first attacking wave of spearmen.  A second wave of native spear attacked his right flank and engaged the Arabs in hand to hand combat.  The natives were wiped out but forced a squad of Arab muskets/rifles to retreat off the board.  Two more units of Arab rifles and Ruga-Ruga mercenaries were forced to fall back due to casualties.  But both groups were able to regroup the following turn.  Don lost five units of native African spearmen and lost army morale on turn 5. 

We were using modified The Sword in Africa for small unit games.  Several things to note.  I didn't have enough trees for the native spearmen to hide behind.  I intend to resolve that when I run another game sometime next year.  I want to buy jungle terrain for Darkest Africa and 28mm Vietnam games.  Getting palm and jungle trees is on my list of things to do.  I'd also like to get a tribe of Masai warriors for native African tribal warfare.  I'd also like to use the Masai for German East Africa and games vs. Arab slavers.  However, the rules worked out well for a Darkest Africa game between native African spearmen and Congo/East African Arabs...

Here are some photos from the game:

                                          Initial deployment before the game.

                                          Arab slavers armed with muskets and Remington rifles.

                                          Steve Hood (Combat Colours) moving his troops.

                                          African spearmen moving across the table.

                                          Ruga-Rugas holding the left flank against native spearmen.

                                          Don Cox moving his native spearmen into battle.

                         Arab slavers fend off the attacking native spearmen on the center and right flank.

Star Trek Full Thrust Game, Dec. 6, 2012

I played one game of Star Trek Full Thrust with Don Cox, Adam Jones, and another player from St. Charles Thursday afternoon at Game Nite in St. Louis, MO.  I ran a Cardassian cruiser against a Klingon cruiser.  Photon torpedos crippled my ship.  I lost my FTL drive and was forced to limp off the battlefield with the second Klingon cruiser finished off the other Cardassian ship commanded by Adam Jones.  Adam and the other gentlman played a second game of Full Thrust while I watched. 

This was one of the few times I didn't have to GM a game.  I'd like to play more often than GM.  That doesn't seem to work.  The only time I just get to play is when I game WH40K.  Then I mainly lose!  But todays 28mm Darkest Africa Game will be my last historical gaming for the month.  I get one last 40K game Wednesday with Scott McCoy before the X-mas holidays.  Afterward, it's just get together when we can to discuss things until January 2013. 

My X-mas Book Push and Other Possible Projects

I spent Friday afternoon reorganizing my bookshelves.  I have a lot of books.  It's getting to the point I need to invest in an e-reader or a tablet.  I've run out of storage space for my books.  I moved my rule folders to the closet to make room for my general military history books.  I moved my colonial war histories to another bookshelf to make even more space for books.  The Ospreys got their own bookshelf that is almost completely filled.  Wednesday and Friday were the days I got my latest shipment of books from Barnes and Noble.  I organized the Ospreys by series and title.  The other books are organized alphabetically by author and then title.  I took the oversized books I had and shelved them back in by turning them on their side.  So all my military history books are shelved together.  I also have a small group of orchid related books on part of my bookshelves, too. 

But most of what I own is military history.  I also picked up two more books on the Vietnam War.  One was a unit history by a LRRP member of the 101st Airborne.  The second books is a general history of the US Marine Corps in Vietnam from 1965 to 1975.  Those are my two read list once I get done reading about Afghanistan.  The Ospreys were a CAM:  Dunbar 1650, CAM:  First Ypres 1914, and MAA:  The Belgian Army in World War I.  I also have two more Ospreys on order.  The first being ELITE 190:  US Marine Uniforms and Equipment 2000-12.  The second is MAA:  The Adowa Campaign 1896.  That should round out my Osprey buying for the year. 

There are other titles I'd like to buy.  I'd like to the MAA:  Armies of Fredrick the Great for my reference collection.  One thing I'm doing different is trying not to do everything.  And affording within my means.  However, there are some projects that interest me enough to consider doing for the next five to eight years:

28mm Western Front, 1914; 28mm Russo-Turkish War; 28mm Vietnam skirmish between US forces and Viet-Cong; 28mm Adowa Campaign 1896; 28mm Sudan 1881-1898; 28mm Masai warriors for Darkest Africa; 15mm SYW Prussians; 28mm 1864 Danes; 28mm 1859/1866 Austrians.

I spent yesterday working on 28mm FPW Chassuers Afrique.  I'll have pictures of them and my 28mm 1870 Prussian infantry as a work in progress later this weekend.  I'll also have pictures from a 28mm Darkest Africa game scheduled to be played today, too.  I'm running 28m Arab slavers vs. Congolese natives.  Should be a different kind of game from the usual WWI "Great War in Africa" games I've run...   

28mm Masai are on my list for figures to buy for next year.  So is 28mm US and Viet-Cong figures for Vietnam.  I'm thinking about using Ambush Valley.  I'll need to see about buying the rules and playtesting them.  I'm thinking about a 28mm platoon of VC at most with jungle terrain and a village.  I like the 28mm Eureka figures.  I also like the TAG's Up Country 28mm Vietnam range.  They are nice figures.  I'm shying away from 15mm.  It sounds great in theory until I start painting them.  I'd also like to have 15mm SYW Prussians for completeness. 

However, I'd be better off affording a painting service for the figures than attempting another 15mm SYW project.  My friends like Sapper Joe, Hostile Contact, and Combat Colours are sick and tired of me complaining about painting 15mm figures.  I don't think they'll put up with any more of my complaints.  I nearly drove them made this past year when I painted up an entire 18mm SYW Austrian army... 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

28mm 1870 Painting Update

I spent the weekend working on a regiment of 28mm 1870 French Chassuers d'Afrique.  They are my light cavalry regiment.  I just have one mounted 16 figure regiment.  I'd like to also have a regiment of dismounted Chassuers d'Afrique for gaming purposes.  Maybe that will happen later.  For now, I'm putting together a second regiment of French cavlary.  The 8th French Cuirassiers are done. 

The Chassuers fought with the Armee d'Afrique.  They were the mounted infantry that fought with the French Foreign Legion.  A brigade of Chassuer d'Afrique were also massacred at Sedan on September 1, 1870 trying to break the German lines.  1st French Corps, 2nd Division is the order of battle for my 1870 French division.  I still have an entire 28mm brigade of French Zouaves and Turco infantry to paint.  Along with another battery of 1870 French artillery and command. 

That is in addition to the 28mm 1870 Bavarians and Prussian infantry I need to finish.  I look at this project and I question my sanity and resolve.  I'll be painting 28mm 1870 armies for at least the next seven months.  Maybe longer...

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Gaming Blues and Resolutions for 2013

I am wrapping up my gaming for December 2012 next weekend.  I am running another 28mm Darkest Africa game at Wargamers Cave on Sunday, December 9th at 1 PM.  Afterward, my friend, Don Cox, and I are calling it quits until January 2013.  I should be scheduling games for next year.  I haven't.  Even though I assume the world will continue and I'll get bills each month, I'm am uneasy about Friday, December 21, 2012.  I don't think anything will happen.  But who knows?  Anything is possible. 

If I didn't spend money on myself, I wouldn't have any gifts for myself that I wanted.  So I did the responsible thing and bought presents for others.  I have gifts for my family.  Now, I feel I can spend on myself.  I caught up on spending with the purchase of a half dozen books.  Most are Ospreys.  Two are actual books.  I could have bought a Nook for my troubles today.  I wanted hard copies for my bookshelves.  I focused on the First World War.  I bought Ospreys on Dunbar 1650, Russo-Turkish War 1877, First Ypres 1914, and the Belgian Army in World War I.  I also bought a book on Cattleya Orchids and another book on the German Army on the Somme 1914-16

I also got my friend, Don, a check for some 25mm Trojan War figures from Old Glory Miniatures.  I would have rather had 30mm Redoubt Enterprises or 28mm Wargames Foundry Trojan War figures.  Old Glory Miniatures is what I can afford.  This is my entry in 28mm ancients.  The problem is I love too much ancient history.  I settled on the heroic Bronze Age and the gates of Troy.  I would have liked to expand my collections to include New Kingdom Egyptians and Hittites.  There is a limit about what one can do.  I would have loved to gotten into 28mm Greek Successor States with Hail Caesar!  Now I am going to game Warhammer Ancient Battles 1.5 with 25mm Trojan and Greek armies.

Alas, I never did get done with my 28mm Franco-Prussian War project.  That is for 2013.  I should be more realistic and gentle with myself about getting things painted.  The 25mm Trojan War figures can wait for the autumn of 2013.  They shall be here collecting dust whether I get them painted or not. 

There are 500 figures in this 28mm FPW project.  There are another 300 figures in my 25mm Trojan War collection.  It took about 14 months to get 380 Zulus done.  It was one of those things I questioned my sanity when I got halfway through.  Colonials are great.  It's the painting that's the problem.  My painting speed has increased.  I just have too many other things competing with my attention.  I got fed up painting 144 figure 28mm 1870 Prussian infantry brigade.  I switched over to a 16 figure 28mm 1870 Chassuers d'Afrique cavalry regiment.  I should have that done in about three weeks.  I started on it early this morning.  I'll be working on it as the weeks progress towards X-mas.  The 28mm 1870 Prussians can be finished in January 2013.  There are other projects I'd like to attempt.  28mm Darkest Africa Masai, 28mm Sudanese Ansar, 28mm Russo-Turkish War 1877, and 28mm Western Front 1914.  Even if I bought figures for the 100th anniversary of WWI.  I wouldn't get them painted in time for August 2014.  It would have to wait until the fall of 2015 before I could do anything with them.  I do have a method to my madness.  It's just finding the time to get them completed!

My Reading for the Past Year

2012 was bad year bookwise for me.  Borders went out of business in September 2011.  My local Barnes and Noble folded its doors on December 31, 2011.  I didn't get to a book store in July 2012.  I didn't buy any books until the summer.  I went shopping for some light reading.  I picked up a Black Library novel called Legion of the Damned.  I never got into it.  It was too poorly written to excite my interest.  I did have military history to read from the local Border's fire sale and liquidation.  I read about three books before I tried another GW book called Fear to Tread.  I'm about 120 pages into it.  It's a good read.  I'm enjoying it.  I only read when I have downtime now. 

I have too much competing for my attention to just sit down a read a novel like I used to when I was young.  I look back in amazement at the free time I had to read when I was a young adult.  My mother still reads a book a week in her retirement.  I wish I had that kind of discipline.  I've noticed my tolerance for reading has lessened since I've taken up writing.  I feel my writing and editing should come first.  I'll save that for another blog I have dedicated to writing, music, and relations.

Needless to say, I thought I'd put together a list of the books I've read over the past 18 months in my down time.  It's mainly military history.  So here goes...

I was on a Vietnam kick when I started purchasing books about the conflict.  I thought I'd game it.  So I wanted background unit info on what it was like to be "in country."   I started out with American Warrior:  A Combat Memoir of Vietnam by Brigadier Gen. John "Doc" Bahnsen, Jr.  I then moved onto Steel My Soldiers' Hearts by Col. David H. Hackworth about 4/39th Infantry Battalion.  That was followed by Force Recon Command:  3rd Force Recon Company in Vietnam 1969-70 by Lt. Col. Alex Lee and Inside the VC and NVA by Lanning and Craig. 

I developed a deeper understanding for what it was like to be in combat while those on the homefront wanted to ignore what you did.  Never had the divide between soldier and civilian seem so complete.  I am still torn by the service our men and women provided America during the Vietnam War and the total disregard our politicians held those who served them.  Fortunately, I was only born during the end of the conflict and I didn't have to make a conscious choice whether to serve or actively resist being sent to die for an unpopular regime in Saigon.  So the more I read about Vietnam, the more it has killed any desire to game it for a long time...

I aslo read one of my Border liquidation purchases called Fortress Raboul.  It was on the airwar in the southwest Pacific during WWII.  The difficulties that particular theater presented reminded me of Vietnam.  The cost in Allied pilots and planes was also straggering.  It was an education for me, since I know the bare basics of the Pacific campaigns.   

I also picked up Ospreys on the Viet Cong, NVA, and special operation forces in Afghanistan.  Those were relatively easy reading.  I also purchased Greetings from Afghanistan - Send More Ammo by Benjamin Tupper and New Dawn:  The Battles for Falllujah by Lowry.  They are on my to read list.  I also have Queen Victoria's Little Wars by Bryon Farwell.  Though I did get some more Ospreys read about the Russo-Turkish War 1877, Bronze Age Greek Warriors 1600-1100 BC, and Mons 1914. 

I'm taking a break from heavy military history right now.  Fear to Tread is pure escapist garbage.  Enjoyable but not serious reading.  I have to be in the mood for serious military history and analysis.  My tastes ebb and flow depending on how I feel.  Sometimes, my tolerance for violence will allow me to read about accounts on the Eastern Front during WWII. 

Other times, I rather not deal with it.  Reality doesn't fit into neat boxes.  Real life can be ugly.  There is nothing glamorous about people dying.  People shouldn't die violently.  Yet, it happens all the time.  More oftern than we care to admit.  Even though I play with toy soldiers, I believe there should be an end to war.  We own it to our children and those who come after us to at least try to make a difference in this world.  I'm tired of listening to people who say we are doomed to repeat history. 

That isn't true.  I study history to learn from the mistakes our forebearers made.  If you look at most history, its military history.  History soaked in 5,000 years worth of blood.  It doesn't have to be this way.  What matters is that we try to make difference in the lives of others so that people in the future learn about military history by playing with toy soldiers instead of sacrificing their lives for a worthless piece of real-estate....       

Thursday, November 29, 2012

28mm Darkest Africa Game, 29NOV12

I ran a 28mm Darkest Africa game today between German colonial troops and British infantry in the heady days of 1914.  I use a modified version of The Sword in Africa.  I don't use the event cards and run small 10 man units for each side.  In this case, a company of German colonial troops took on a company of British regulars.  Outside of TSIA charts, the game plays like The Sword and The Flame. 

We got done in about 1 hour.  My friend Don Cox ran the Germans.  The German askaris manage to reduce two of my British infantry squads to 50%.  They fell back and rallied near the table edge.  I also lost my Maxim machine gun in the first turn of combat due to a German Krupp mountain gun.  Things then went down hill for me.  I had another squad of British regulars rout off the table due to casualties from the German Marines and field artillery.  My remaining squad of full strength regulars failed to move all of 5" and took more casualties.  I called the game after that turn.  All I could do was withdrawal and pray for the best.  It wasn't a good day for Tommy Atkins!

Here are some photos from the Darkest Africa/WWI game between the Germans and the British:

                                          Initial battle lines.

                                         Platoon of British regulars.

                                          British right flank and Maxim gun.

                                          Developing battle lines betwen the Germans and British.

                                          Platoon of German askaris.

                                          British infantry receiving fire.

British retreating off the field to the victorious Germans

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

My early X-mas presents...

I broke down and bought some Osprey military history booklets this month.  I had a free Barnes and Noble gifts certificate, so it didn't cost me that much.  I made sure I'd stick to projects I'm working on or eventually get around to doing.  What I first bought was WARRIOR 153:  Bronze Age Greek Warrior c. 1650-1100 BC.  The second title I bought was CAMPAIGN 049:  Mons 1914.  There is a third Osprey I'll buy next week called MEN-AT-ARMS 277:  The Russo-Turkish War 1877

WAR 153: Bronze Age Greek Warriors c. 1650-1100 BC I bought for the color plates.  I am putting together 25mm Greek and Trojan War armies for Warhammer Ancient Battles 1.5.  I wanted some more color plates to give me an idea of what I'm painting.  There are no "uniforms" for the Heroic Age.  I know the Greeks tended to wear greens, browns, reds, and yellows.  The Trojans wore blues, greys, and whites.  Shield colors were oxhide types.  I seperating tower shields for the Greeks and Figure 8 shields for the Trojans.  Aside from that, I'm on my own for what the differnt armies wore!  That isn't too helpful.  Once I get my 28mm Franco-Prussian figures painted, I'll then move onto 25mm Trojan War next year. 

The next project after that is the 100th anniversary for the First World War.  I have armies for German East Africa.  I have nothing for Europe.  I'd like to do Western Front 1914.  I have 28mm rules written and need of playtesting.  I'd like to get 28mm French, British, and German armies from Renegade Miniatures.  It's one of those things, I'll probably get the figures next year.  But I won't get any painting done them until 2014.  That works out fine with the 100th anniversary of WWI, too.  The Osprey I bought concerned the Mons 1914 campaign that saw the British army retreat from Belgium into northern France in time for the miracle on the Marne.

I also have want to do 28mm Russo-Turkish War to complete my 19th century "horse and musket" era armies.  It's a rather strange period to game.  I have a chance to pick up an Osprey for a good price.  It's now out of print.  And gettting it would be expensive on  Lance Western mentioned he'd like doing Russo-Turkish War of 1877 sometime.  Maybe I could work with him if he wasn't so busy.  Otherwise, it's one of those basement projects I'll do when I get the time...

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Week of Editing The Sword and The Flame Variants

I spent the past week editing and revision TS&TF variants of different rules systems I'd written.  I have about six different variants to my credit.  Only one rule system has extensively been playtested.  I'd like the others to be playtested at some point.  I have rules for the following conflicts:

Russo-Turkish War of 1877; Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05; Balkan Wars, 1912-13; Western Front, 1914; Japanese Feudal Warfare 1550-1615; Mongol Campaigns 1205-1350.

I also have some oddball rules for 28mm Japanse/Korean naval warfare and a generic sci-fi skirmish system.  I also printed out all my different wargaming projects and rules and organized them into binders and plastic sheet protectors.  I now have hard copies of my rules, lists, and various projects.  I also know how many figures I own.  The number is rather depressing.  I did sell my 1/2400 scale WWI ships and rules to two Australian gentlemen.  I have my 28mm FPW 1870 Prussians call me to be painted.  I'm wanting to get the base colors done by next week.  I doubt I'll get all the figures done in time for a game on Sunday, December 9th at 1 PM at Wargamers Cave in Granite City, IL.  Most likely, it will be 28mm British Colonial game, instead. 

Until then, good luck painting!

Flames of War Playtesting, 24NOV12

My friend Steve Hood (Combat Colours on The Miniatures decided to playtest the basic Flames of War bootcamp rules today at Wargamers' Cave in Granite City, IL.  I thought it would be a small affair.  There were at least a half dozen people turning out for it.  I decided to pass on playtesting, though.  I'll get a chance to play FoW later with Steve, Curtis Turner, and Joe Collins (Hostile Contact and Sapper Joe on TMP).  Steve ran a early war 1941 Eastern Front scenario with his new armor.  He hadn't a chance to work on his infantry.  I believe that is his next project for 2013. 

From what I could tell, the basic FoW rules are similar to WH40K with a you then I go activation style system.  Shooting and close combat is the same as WH40K.  The system is designed for company level actions.  Steve was trying historical scenarios without the point system.  My friends in Ames ran 5000-7500 point "evil vs. evil" battles on the Eastern Front between the Soviets and Germans.  I never played in their games, but they were able to fight large scale engagements with little problems.  Steve should have similar luck if he sticks to historical scenarios.

As I've said previously, WWII isn't my cup of tea.  I am more interested in WWI.  There aren't all the cool toys in the Great War as there is in WWII.  But I don't like playing WWII Germans.  I feel they were definitely on the losing side of history.  Too much of my judgment is colored by the Nuernburg war crime trials.  I'll still play WWII.  I just won't collect anything for it....

Here are a couple of photos I took from the Flames of War playtesting at Wargamers Cave in Granite City, IL today:


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Getting rid of odd ball projects

I sold off my 1/2400 scale WWI naval dreadnoughts to a gentleman in Australia.  I also got rid of my 1/2400 WWI General Quarters II rules.  They were odd ball projects I hadn't done anything with in 18 months.  I wasn't going to get around to them in 2013, either.  It was best just to cut my losses and sell the figures off before I started working on them.  I look at my basement and I realize how much stuff I own.  It's rather amazing. 

I had a half-hearted attempt to get rid of my 30mm WHFB armies locally.  No one bid on them or contacted me.  I'd agreed with a friend to work on several historical projects.  One was 28mm Franco-Prussian War.  I'm still working on that.  I'll continue trudge on through with painting into the spring of 2013.  I also agreed to work on 25mm Trojan War ancients.  I have a pack of 28mm Foundry classical Trojan War heroes.  My next task is to purchase 25mm Trojan War figures from Old Glory Miniatures.  That is my X-mas present for next month.  After that, I'll finish up my 40K vehicles and Space Marine biker army and be done with painting for a while.  I don't feel motivated to work on anything else.  The 100th anniversary of WWI is coming up in August 1914.  I'd like to do something for that.  I'm wondering if my 28mm Franco-Prussian armies will be a jumping off project for something larger like 25mm 1859 Austrians, 1866 Saxons, and 1864 Danes. 

WWI could be done in 15mm.  I'd prefer 28mm.  The 28mm Franco-Prussian War is close enough to WWI, so I don't need to game both.  I'd also like to purchase 28mm Darkest Africa Masai from Wargames Foundry to complete my Darkest Africa armies, too.  There are many side projects I could undertake.  But I'm committed at this point to 28mm FPW and 25mm Trojan War ancients.  There is only so much money and time to work on things.  The more I come to terms with this, the better off I am.  One person can't game everything...   

Reduced Price on They Died for Glory

Hi, I've reduced the price on the following:

                                          $12.00 including shipping in the continental US.

I'm interested in getting rid of the rules.  They are new.  I've never used them.  But I've played They Died For Glory and they work out fine for 15mm Franco-Prussian War games.  If interested, email me at blakewoodwalker(at)yahoo(dot)com

Thanks for looking,

Monday, November 12, 2012

Command Con 2012 Photos

Here are some Command Con 2012 Photos from a local convention here in St. Louis, MO:

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Wargame Rules & Figures for Sale

I have the following wargaming rules and figures for sale.  These are projects I wanted to do but never got around to doing.  And I don't expect to get around doing them in the near future.  So I am selling them off:

 28mm Zombie Infantry.  Squad of 10 figures.  $10.00 plus shipping (which is extra).

Mr. Lincoln's War.  Regimental Rules for American Civil War.  Brand new.  $10.00 plus shipping (which is extra).

Price of Glory.  New.  28mm WWI Skirmish Rules by Ivan Ivan Games.  $10.00 plus shipping (which is extra).

They Died For Glory.  New.  15mm Franco-Prussian rules.  $10.00 plus shipping (which is extra).

28mm Zombie Cavalry.  $10.00 for the lot plus shipping (which is extra).

I do accept PayPal.  If you buy more than one item, I'll combine shipping together.  I'm also willing to ship internationally.  Just please email me at blakewoodwalker(at)yahoo(dot)com and let me know how you'd like your items shipped.  I'll look for the most economical way to ship items.  If you are in the St. Louis, MO metro-area, I can set up a time and place and meet with you in person so you don't have to pay shipping.


November's Projects

I spent quite a bit of money getting new painting supplies this weekend.  I now have brushes and paints to complete my 28mm 1870 Prussian infantry brigade.  I started back working on them Friday evening.  I also have about 40' of magnetic tape to complete another storage case for my 28mm Franco-Prussian armies.  I also have more glue, too.  I spent too much money on paint.  Currently, I've put any more purchases on hold.  I would have liked to have gone to Colonial Barracks in New Orleans, LA with a friend this past weekend.  I wasn't able to afford that trip.  I wasn't able to afford going to the Seven Years War convention in South Bend, IN either this past March 2012.  Those are two conventions I'd like to make.  Hence, the need to conserve my money.  I have other obligations like Christmas presents for family members staring me in the face.  Whatever money I have left over in December will likely be saved for my future trips...

There are several local conventions going on here in St. Louis, MO.  The first is Warmachine Weekend in Sunset Hills, MO.  I don't play Warmachine.  But I know a lot of people who do.  There are about 240 people at their convention playing this weekend.  The convention I'm involved with is Big Muddy Historical Gaming Alliance out at Chesterfield, MO November 9-11, 2012.  I'm running two The Sword and The Flame games at the con.  There's also a silent auction next Saturday and a flea market Sunday. 

I do have things I'd like to get rid of.  One is a 1/2400 scale WWI naval project that will never happen.  Another is some rule sets I now own but don't play.  I could also put them out for sale on the blog if someone is interested in them.  They are projects I wanted to do but never got around to doing this year.  The rules have been collecting dust on my crowded book shelf.  Same as the 1/2400 WWI German and British dreadnoughts.  I also have some odd ball 28mm painted zombie infantry and zombie cavalry for 40K.  They'd make great cultists for a Nurgle or Slaneesh Chaos army. 

That's about it.  My 28mm Franco-Prussian War project is rolling back along.  Not at the speed I'd like.  But it's moving none the less.  This was too ambitious a project for me to start.  I will only be about halfway through it by the end of November 2012.  The rest of the 28mm 1870 Bavarians and Armee d'Afrique will wait for the spring of 2013.  And I still have more 40K figures to paint after that!  Painting never ends.  So it seems...    

Sunday, October 28, 2012

How I spent my weekend

My painting projects have come to a complete halt.  I don't have any brushes of note to finish my 28mm 1870 Prussian brigade.  I've destroyed the Winsor Newton Series No. 7 000 brushes I use for fine detail work.  I don't know when I'll get around to ordering them.  And the holidays are quickly approaching.  I don't know how much free time I'll have to complete any painting projects.  This has been a concern of mine throughout the fall.  Time is the one quantity I don't have a lock on.  As I shut down my painting drive, I did get a 28mm Copplestone German colonial officer done this week.  I also started a Reaper 25mm samurai lord.  That has been the extent of things...

However, I got side tracked with the Russo-Turkish War of 1877.  I googled it and read some articles online.  I need to get an Osprey for uniform guides of the different combatants.  This is another side project down the road of Victorian conflicts I game.  I pride myself as a late Victorian wargamer.  My various projects are intertwined with British colonial conflicts in Africa and other nefarious European colonization projects in the Congo and German East Africa.  When I look at the $1200.00 I've spent on GW figure cases, most of it is for Darkest Africa/British Colonials.  I thought about getting another British Colonial/Darkest Africa project going.  I've gaming interests in Egypt, South Africa, and now the Sudan.  I then started looking at the Russo-Turkish uniforms and especially the Turks. 

These uniforms look familiar...  So I put together a 25mm Russo-Turkish War of 1877 house rule system using The Sword and The Flame.  I just have modified off of some rules I'd worked on for the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05.  I then played around with The Miniatures and looked up any posts for the Russo-Turkish War of 1877.  After finding the Yahoo Users Group for the conflict, I joined and was asked by the moderator to post my preliminary rules on their website.  I toyed around with it some more and then posted them there this afternoon. 

Now, I am at a quandry.  Do I spend the money I was going to buy my next miniatures project for the Trojan War?  Or do I switch over to buying 28mm Russians and Turkish forces?  Or do I see about getting some 28mm Sudanese Madhists?  Where do I spend my X-mas money for myself?  Decisions.  Decisions.  All the while, my 28mm FPW project flounders for lack of good brushes. 

Part of my problem is I'm too ambitious.  I have too many projects going on at once.  And my lack to time is now catching up to me.  At some point, I should say enough.  I've reached that point today.  I like history too much for my own good.  I'll get back to my 28mm FPW project in late December/early January 2013 once I've survived the holidays.  Even I play 40K, the latest antics of GW are causing not to buy any more figures.  If I didn't buy any more Citadel figures, I can easily spend another $400.00 on figure cases and foam for my remaining figures and vehicles that need to be painted.  I could also spend another $150.00 on GW vehicles.  I also need to spend another $50.00 a Chaos Space Marines codex.  The cost of this is literally killing my finances.  I really can't keep up with it.  It's getting more price effective to work on an obscure 19th century gaming project like the Russo-Turkish War of 1877 in 28mm than buy another space marine or xenos army.

And I'm curving back my ambition.  I'll paint whatever 40K armies I have.  I just won't add to them.  So I guess I'm done buying Games Workshop.  So that leaves me with what historical projects I want to undertake in the next several years.  I think I'll do 28mm Russo-Turkish War because its different and I can use The Sword and The Flame for gaming it.  I also think I'll get 28mm Trojan War figures from Old Glory in the spring of 2013 and have my final 28mm ancients project ready it time by 2014.  The 28mm Franco-Prussian War project can see me through for 2013.  Assuming the world doesn't end in December 2012 and I am not the victim of a zombie outbreak.  I'd hate to paint for brains!

40K Game, 28OCT12

I played a 40K Game using the new 6th edition rules with my friend Curtis Turner (Hostile Contact on The Miniatures Page).  We usually try to get together play at least once a month.  This time, we hadn't played since August 2012.   Curtis wanted to try out the new Chaos Space Marines codex.  Luck was not on his side.  When he rolled for special attributes for his chaos champions, Curtis got three Chaos Spawn results for his champions along with two eternal warrior results. 

However, I thought Curtis would win the game early on.  Most of his army was in reserve, I kept my terminators in their land raiders until I needed to disembark them for assaults.  My one squad of terminators I teleported on to the board held out for two turns until it was wiped out in hand to hand combat.  I attacked Curtis's command HQ squad with my assault terminators.  They engage his Chaos lord and Chaos terminator squad.  I managed to finally kill his Lord after several rounds of combat.  Curtis then engaged his raptor squad against my close combat terminators.

On my left flank, my Land Raider Crusader got blown up by squad of obliterators.  My second command HQ squad and close assault terminitors came out and attacked his Chaos defiler.  I managed to blow it up in the first round of combat.  Curtis then charged his obliterators into my close assault terminators.  I lost a couple of terminators.  But I managed to wipe out an obliterator.  Curtis also lost a Chaos dreadnought to las-cannon fire on my remaining land raider.  The game was over by turn 6.  There were still two squads of chaos marines on the board with a Chaos predator.  But I won on victory points.  It was not a good day for the Chaos gods...

Anyway, here are some photos of the Chaos Space Marines vs. Dark Angel Deathwing Terminator Company at a 1500 point battle:

                                         Squad of regular Chaos Space Marines.

                                 My squad of Deathwing Terminators teleporting onto the board.

                                         Surviving squad of Terminators about be attacked.

                                         Remaining Chaos Space Marines backed up with a Nurgle Predator.

                                          Nurgle Chaos Demon possessed Defiler.

                                         Survivors staring at each other at the end of Turn 6.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Imjin War Game, 25OCT12

I played a 28mm Imjin War game on Thursday, October 25th with a friend of mine.  My samurai engaged his Korean cavalry.  But the game went downhill from there.  I got a unit of samurai cavalry to rout off the table before I could engage them in combat with some of Don Cox's Korean bow cavalry.  On my other flank, my four samurai cavalry routed another unit of Korean cavalry off the board.  I also lost a unit of samurai infantry before I blew an army morale roll into the fifth turn. 

However, the rules play well for the period.  I usually lose with my own house rules.  They don't treat me well.  I can say about other rule systems I've written, too.  Here are some photos from the game this past Thursday:

                                         Beginning of the battle.

                                          Both sides engaging in battle.

End of the battle with me losing.