Saturday, July 28, 2012

July 2012 Gaming

Here are some photos of games I've played in the past couple of weeks at Wargamers Cave in Granite City, IL.  The first set of photos is from a 28mm ECW game I ran in the middle of July 2012:

                                          28mm English Civil War meeting engagement.

                                          More 28mm ECW battle lines before the engagment.

I played the Royalists with Steve Hood against Joe Collins and Don Cox using Warhammer ECW.  The battle see-sawed.  But the Royalists finally won after we routed the Parliamentarian cavalry off the board.  That's what Cromwell gets to listening to an Irish captain named Collins!

However, I spent today playtesting Sharpe's Practice for the French and Indian Wars with Steve Hood and Joe Collins as our sadistic game master.  Steve and I had a French indian war party.  Our job was to raid and burn down an English settlement.  Joe had another player with American militia to rescue the settlers.

This was my second time playing the Two Fat Lardies system.  I am used to playing card driven systems like The Sword and The Flame.  What I don't like about the Two Fat Lardies systems is the Albatross cards that end the turn.  I like being able to allow each unit on the table the ability to react/act before a turns ends as in TS&TFTwo Fat Lardies is different.  The Tea Time/Albatross cards end the Turn.  So if a unit doesn't get to react, then it's turn is wasted.  The only good thing is the ability of a unit to move or shoot if it hasn't done anything. 

But then there is the issue of Big Men.  They are the leaders/heroes in the game that are needed to activate units.  The higher level a leader, the more actions he is allowed to take.  And the more bonuses he is allowed in close combat.  Without Big Men, a my warbands were stuck without the ability to move 1D6" per turn.  I finally got a Big Man out of my surviving warband.  But Steve had give me a special card to leave the battlefield.  As we played the scenario, Steve and I got our war bands to burn down the settlement and capture the white women.  We also captured a child sentry and killed off all the male settlers in combat.

That made Joe rather ruthless.  He wanted Steve to pay for ruining his scenario.  Needless to say, we got our surviving warbands off the table by the game's end.  The colonial militia showed up two turns too late to do any good against us.  Again, that is the nature of a card driven system like Sharpe's PracticeThe Too Fat Lardies mechanics are simple to learn.  But I still prefer The Sword and the Flame.

Here are photos from 15mm French & Indian War game Joe Collins ran today using Sharpe's Practice by Too Fat Lardies:

                                          Sapper Joe explaining the Two Fat Lardies Cards.

                                          Colonial Settlers minding there own business.

                                          Steve Hood's War Party ambushing the unsuspecting settlers.

                                          Blake Walker and Steve Hood's War Bands burning down the settlement.

                                          Male Settlers and Their Big Man defend the fleeing women from evil Hurons.

                                          Evil Hurons finish off the male settlers as the white women flee.

                                         Our indian raiding party captures the female settlers.

                                          Steve and I have achieved our objects.

                                          Another view of our raiding party and captives.

                                          The colonial militia arrive two Turns too late.

                                          The victorious Hurons hurry up back to Canada.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

"Their officers thought it was chic to die with white gloves on..."

I love the First World War.  I specifically like Western Front - 1914.  The problem is translating it into miniature wargaming.  I do have WWI rules.  But they are appalling violent with 80% casualty rates.  As a friend of mine said, I might as well be playing with blocks.  What rifle and MG fires doesn't destroy, artillery fire will.  This doesn't translate well into good gaming. 

I've written rules for 28mm WWI Western Front and 28mm Balkan Wars, too.  They are more skirmish based with the battalion being the largest unit on the table.  My house 20mm WWI rules are brigade level.  Those are the ones I've played.  And those are ultra-violent.  The subsequent mass slaughter defined an entire era.  The quote "Their officers thought it was chic to die with white gloves on..." is attributed to a British Expenditionary Force soldier about the French infantry officers in the heady days of August 1914.  There was still movement on the Western Front.  The problem was there were too many men deployed throughout the theater.  There was no room to manuever.  People started digging in and trench warfare became the norm. 

France bore most of the Allied casualties in 1914 on the Western Front.  If 1870 had been a year of defeat, 1914 was a year of suffering.  The French army survived.  But it was not prepared for attritional warfare.  No one was.  No one was prepared for the massive casualties lists and wholesale destruction of an entire generation. 

Several things made this possible.  First was the Industrial revolution and massive production of weapons.  The second factor was the wholesale increase in Europe's population from 1815-1914.  Whole army corps filled northern France and eastern Europe.  While in western Europe there was no room to manuever, Eastern Europe saw the movement of fronts. 

Millions of men perished under horrendous conditions.  In the words of John Keegan, there was no longer any illusions to make the military life bearable as there had been in previous generations.  There were mass mutinies both in France and Italy.  Out of the four years of carnage, four empires collapsed.  The German, Austrian, Russian, and Ottoman Empires.  And the peace didn't last long.  In the space of a generation, the world would be at war again when Nazi Germany invaded Poland.

But a question begs to be asked, why is WWII consisted a "just" war that has enjoyed more sympathetic press than the First World War?  WWII could be argued just to be a contiuation of WWI.  In order to understand the global Armageddon of WWII, one should look to the causes of the First World War.  WWI happened by mistake.  No one wanted it.  But everyone prepared for it.

There was no mistaking the starting of the Second World War.  I still wonder why a company like Battle Front Minatures can come up with a 15mm WWII miniature gaming system that plays like WH40K, while no one has marketed something for the Great War.  WWII was bloodier and more catastrophic than WWI.  But the First World War doesn't have the ring of a just cause.  There no famous leaders or important generals to cheer for.  Most the WWI generals earned the nickname the "jackasses" or "mules" from their troops.  How does someone explain a person like Field Marshal Haig and the mass slaughter of 600,000 men at the Somme?  Criminal incompetence on the verge of folly. 

So I retreat back to 1870 with the Franco-Prussian War.  The war is similar to the First World War.  The battle fields are similar.  But the outcomes are different.  Empires were both created and destroyed in 1870.  They were destroyed in 1918.  And  cries for revenge would resonate into total war by 1939 to consume the entire global with 55 million casualties.  And that is the butcher's bill for the known casualties not including those known only to their God. 

And you wonder why I don't game Flames of War? 

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Mountain of Hoarded Lead

There are two gentlemen I know who have an entire basement full of unpainted lead.  Enough lead to shield themselves from a nuclear explosion.  They will never get their horde of unpainted minis painted.  I think they are working on the theory they shall never die so long as they have unpainted lead. 

Fortunately, I only have rubbermaid containers of unpainted stuff.  They range from 1/2400 WWI dreadnoughts to 40K Chaos Space Marines and 40K Dark Angel Ravenwing.  I also have a 25mm Korean Turtle Ship from Old Glory.  I also have bits boxes of GW stuff in plastic containers along with my metal stands and plastic slotabases.  There is a need for storage boxes.  It's just how much stuff you want to store. 

I've made it a habit to get what I own painted.  I've gotten into a lot of projects.  But I've painted them for the most part.  I'm not looking at tons of unpainted lead.  If I'm going to get into a period, I plan out what I need to buy.  I then go ahead and purchase it.  I usually get around to painting it within a year. 

Some people never get around to painting their lead pile.  Other people just want to collect things.  The problem with unpainted stuff is that a significant other will usually tell a person to get rid of it or not let them buy any more until some of their lead pile is painted.  Some people don't like to paint.  Paint is part of the hobby.  Unless you are independently weathly, you usually have to do your own painting.  Good painting services aren't cheap. 

I probably have too many figures for the different historical periods I game.  I see the fortune of carrying cases I own when I go downstairs to work on figures.  Then again, I can't compete with a friend who has an entire basement full of toy soliders.  At least most of my stuff is painted! 

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Maximilian Adventure

I own a copy of The Sword in Mexico.  It's a The Sword & The Flame variant for the Maximilian Adventure.  That was the Second French Empire's attempt to create an empire in Central America while America was torn by Civil War.  It's also where Cinco de Mayo came from.  That is the commemoration of the Mexican victory over the French in May 5, 1862.  After a protracted gurilla war, the French left Mexico in 1867 under pressure from the Union army.

Anyway, the Mexican Adventure was never popular in France.  Though several French generals earned their marshal's baton there.  The Armee d'Afrique and regular French line served in Mexico.  The French Foreign Legion also celebrated Camerone each year in April.  That is where 42 FFL infantry held off 1000 Mexicans for several hours until they ran out of ammo and then fixed bayonets.  The Legion parades a wooden hand of a dead Captain as the object of religous affection.  Something all Legioniares should aspire...

But I digress about Camerone.  I know little about the Maximilian Adventure itself.  The Sword in Mexico just consists of play charts.  There is no force organization.  I have no idea how many French infantry units should face off against how many Mexican regulars and irregular militia.  Wargames Foundry is the only figure manufacturer I know with figures for the conflict.  If I could use my 28mm FPW French troops, I'd still have to buy twice as many Mexicans if I wanted to game this conflict. 

I'd like to use my 28mm 1870 French troops for other games.  I hedge my bets on 28mm Maximilian Adventure.  It would a lot of Mexicans to paint.  And I have too many other projects staring me in the face.  Though I would like to know what force organization to use for a Mexican army. 

My Feelings about They Died For Glory

The problem with my historical gaming is that I sell off projects and then get back into them later.  I've done this with samurai, British colonials, and the Franco-Prussian War.  My first 15mm FPW project was They Died For Glory.  I spent 14 months painting up a 15mm 1870 French Division, and 15mm 1870 German Corps.  In the end, I used the battle of Weissenburg as the basis of my generic 15mm FPW game. 

Now, I am back at the grinding wheel painting up 28mm FPW armies.  What have I learned from all this? 

Don't get me wrong.  They Died for Glory is an excellent rule system.  It is playable in both 15mm and 28mm.  One of the problems with They Died for Glory is the scale of figures needed for corps or army level games.  Some of the scenarios say they can be watered down if players don't have enough units.  I just could never paint up two corps of French troops.  It is enough paint up a corps of French or Prussian infantry.  The basic unit is an infantry battalion or cavalry regiment.  A division might have 12 battalions.  That is a lot of figures.  I sometimes think it might have been better to have used the Wargames Illustrated issue back in the 1990's about a Fire and Fury variant for the Franco-Prussian War.  You could play the game at a larger level of organization.  There's also Volley and Bayonet

They Died for Glory came across as more tactical rule set designed for big battles.  The game mirrored the historical battles where divisional skirmish lines protected advancing columns of German infantry as Prussian Krupp batteries shelled their French opponents.  Nothing sexy about that.  Just a pretty vulgar fight between the masses.  Lines of skirmishers became key for any possible German attack on a French position.  If you could wipe out the skirmishers, then you could stall out the German attack. 

I've now moved my figure scale up to 28mm.  And my organizational level is now at brigade/divisional.  I'm looking at completely my first 28mm 1870 French infantry brigade this month.  I've also am basing a 28mm 1870 Prussian infantry brigade this week, too.  Chassepot & Needlegun doesn't make use of skirmishers.  That is the biggest difference between it and They Died for Glory.  You can play a brigade sized game with Chassepot and Needlegun.  You can't with They Died For Glory

Monday, July 16, 2012

"All the Tactical Finess of a Sledgehammer..."

I got my 28mm 1870 French Foreign Legion infantry brigade done this morning.  All that is left is to flock the bases and put on the regimental standards when they finally arrive in the mail.  My 28mm 1870 Prussian infantry brigade should also arrive this morning from Eureka Miniatures USA out of Boston, MA.  I've seen some of the Eureka 28mm 1870 Prussian infantry.  Those figures will be by themselves and not mixed with my other Wargames Foundry infantry.  The only Foundry I'll have with the Eureka figures are mounted Prussian infantry command. 

My next project is 28mm 1870 French Cuirassier.  And they are the subject of the quote I stole from an Osprey booklet on the French Army in 1914.  French heavy cavalry commanders didn't learn their lesson in 1870, either.  Battlefield cavalry was useless by this period.  The only real cavalry battle of the War happened at Mars La Tour.  And that end in a stalemate.  I went with heavy cavalry for both 1870 French and 1870 Prussians.  They do have a use in Chassepot and Needlegun.   You hold your cavalry back and wait for spent units to run over like withdrawing infantry or limbered artillery.  Anything else, and your cavalry will get destroyed.  That doesn't appeal to wargamers, who love to launch suicidal cavalry charges.

I waited until Wargames Foundry had 30% off sale at Christmas last years.  I bought my regiments of 1870 French and Prussian cuirassiers then.  It was still expensive.  I want another regiment of 1870 French cavalry to go with my French cuirassier.  I'm thinking about Chasseurs d'Afrique.  I can purchase a regiment from Askari Miniatures when I get the rest of my Armee d'Afrique in September 2012.  Still, I'm surprised how fast the 28mm 1870 French Foreign Legion infantry brigade painted up.  I expected it would take longer.  What will take longer is the basing and painting of my 28mm 1870 Prussian infantry brigade because of the size of the individual units involved. 

The only good thing is that I could possible run a small Chassepot and Needlegun game here in St. Louis, MO come October 2012...

Thursday, July 12, 2012

More Progress on 28mm 1870 French Foreign Legion Infantry

I've gotten a regiment of 28mm 1870 French Foreign Legion infantry painted for Chassepot & Needlegun.  Historically, there was only one provisional regiment of French Foreign Legion infantry fighting during the Franco-Prussian War.  The other FFL infantry battalions were stationed in Algeria.  I have enough 28mm 1870 FFL for an entire infantry brigade.  And the FFL only fought during the Republican phase of the Franco-Prussian War.  I'm using my FFL infantry brigade with another brigade of 28mm Zouaves and Turcos for my Armee d'Afrique division.  I decided to buy 28mm French Turcos and Zouaves from Askari Miniatures and fill in my French infantry division. 

I also have a 28mm 1870 Prussian infantry brigade coming from Eureka Miniatures next week.  I will also have another 28mm 1870 Bavarian infantry brigade from Wargames Foundry in August 2012.  I don't know if I can get an infantry brigade painted in a month.  It's a noble goal.  Doable.  But it's a lot of painting.  The 28mm FFL infantry have been coming along.  I'm now to the point where I'll work on an infantry battalion an evening.  That puts me to finish with the entire brigade by Sunday evening.  I still have an entire 28mm 1870 French Cuirassier Regiment to paint, 28mm 1870 French artillery, 28mm 1870 French command, too.  How fast I can paint will determine when I can field my Prussian and French infantry brigades for a game of Chassepot & Needlegun.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

How My Painting Evolved

My painting has evolved over the past two decades.  I painting Ral Partha Miniatures as a teenager.  But I really didn't get into learning how to paint until I was in college.  I discovered WH40K in 1990.  I then starting priming figures and highlighting miniatures.  My painting was horrible.  I used paint that was too thick.  I learned how to paint 30mm Redoubt Zulus in 1994-1997.  That is when my painting became much better.  But I didn't use inks and washes until the early 2000's. 

When I first started painting, I primed all my figures black.  When I painted my 28mm samurai and British colonial figures, I primed them white.  My Zulus and Darkest Africa figures were primed black.  My 28mm Medieval Koreans were primed black.  Priming makes a difference in how brillant the colors shine. 

After I prime a figure, I then do base colors.  I start with the unifom or clothing and then work out to armor, equipment, leather, hats, gun, and finally metal trim.  I use inks or washes on a figure when I do a particular color.  So I'll use a green ink for green paints, brown washes for flesh, black washes for armor, etc.  Once I've used an ink or wash, I then allow the figure to dry overnight.  I'll then come back the next day work on doing more base coats.  Once I'm done with all my base colors.  I then go back and work on correcting individual mistakes on a figure. 

However, I favor industrial style/assembly line painting to get units of figures done.  I am wargamer.  Not a collector.  I want to get as many units painted as possible.  I want them to look good.  But I want to get things done.  I don't believe in dying with a mountain of unpainted lead.  I have several rubbermaid containers of unpainted figures.  I want to keep it that way.  I don't see the point in hoarding unpainted lead that will never get painted.

But I digress.  I believe I now paint decent looking armies.  Part of it is due to the fact I use short cuts like inks and washes.  They make my life easier and allow me to cheat dry brushing.  I've never been a fan of dry brushing.  I can do it.  But I like to let inks and washes do my work for me.  I don't paint eyes anymore.  I use washes on faces and dirty up the figure's features. 

I use a variety of paints.  I've used the Delta Coat and craft paint available at Walmart for horse flesh and texturing bases.  I've also been a big fan of GW paints and Vajello Game Color.  I've also recently discovered Privateer Press P3 paints, too.  I also have a range of brushe available from Michael's and Games Workshop.  For fine detail work, I swear by Winsor & Newton Series No. 7 000 brushes.  This is what I use for fine detail work.  The Series No. 7 000 brushes take much abuse and last a long time.  I don't mind spending money on good brushes.  For the amount of paint I do, the Series No. 7 brushes are worth it.  I buy mine directly from Dick Blick Art Supplies online. 

GW has reformulated their paints.  I haven't broken down and bought their new paints, yet.  I still use a combination of paints for my various projects.  The GW paint pots require you to use matches to hold them open.  I also use a paint palette for the Delta Coat and Vajello paints that come in dropper bottles.  I still use the GW washes for highlighting flesh colors.  I use the old GW inks for some of my colors.  Though I mainly use the Winsor & Newton drawing inks for my miniatures.  The Winsor & Newton drawing inks give contrast to the figures and make a particular color stand out after it's been inked. 

I'm going more to the P3 paints to replace my old GW paints.  I like keeping a supply of paint on hand so I have something when I run out of a particular color.  I also use the Folk Art craft paint to prime my figures.  I use a brush on primer.  But I water it down with water so it isn't so thick with I apply to to a miniature.  I also a Krylar Gloss finish to seal my figures.  But I also generally use Woodland Scenics grass to flock the bases of my figures.  It gives a good look to particular army and matches my Geo-hex mats.   

Progress on 28mm French Foreign Legion

I got a battalion of 28mm 1870 French Foreign Legion done this evening.  If I can work on a battalion a day, I can get entire 28mm 1870 French Foreign Legion infantry brigade done by the end of this weekend.  That is my goal.  I primed a 28mm 1870 French Cuirassier regiment this weekend.  Based on what's been done, I should be able to cruiser through my 28mm FPW project.  I want to get a 28mm 1870 French Infantry brigade done and a 28mm 1870 Prussian Infantry brigade done for a small game of Chassepot & Needlegun.  I thought that would take me about six months.  I'm thinking more like three months, now.  That leaves me open to work on more 28mm FPW brigades as I acquire them.  I also have various other projects to work on like 1/2400 scale WWI dreadnoughts and WH40K Space Marines.   

I must confess my 28mm painting is much faster than my 15mm painting.  I only started the 28mm 1870 FFL about a month ago.  And I've made this much progress.  New Winsor & Newton Series 7 brushes have made a definite difference in my painting.  I use an assortment of paints and brushes in my miniature painting.  I'll save that for my next blog article.  However, I have to go through Dick Blick Art Supplies for my Winsor & Newton Series 7 brushes and Winsor & Newton drawing inks.

40K Chaos Space Marines, WIP

Here are some works in progress for WH40K Chaos Space Marines.  I took a break from all the 28mm FPW French Foreign Legion infantry brigade and switched back to several small 40K CSM squads.  The first Chaos Space Marine squad is a 5 man Chaos Raptor close assault squad.  I painted them purple, black, and gold trim so they would be Slaneesh looking.

                                         40K Slaneesh Raptor Close Assault Marines.

The next squad is partially my work and partially the work of another person.  I had to finish up a Thousand Son Chaos Terminator Lord and his command squad.  Most of the terminators were already done.  Two weren't.  One was base coated blue and the other was primed black.  I finished up the terminators in a Thousand Son's motif.  I turned a Thousand Son HQ character into another regular terminator for the sake of completing the command squad.

                                          40K Thousand Sons Terminator Command Squad.

                                          40K Thousand Son Terminator Lord.

                                          40K Thousand Son Terminator with power weapon.

That completes the current WIP 40K Chaos Space Marines.  I'm switching back over to 28mm French Foreign Legion infantry this week and I'll try to make a dent in that particular painting project.  Though I would have like to have worked on 1/2400 WWI Naval Dreadnoughts.  That project will have to wait for another month...

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Done with Basecoating FFL Infantry Brigade

The Fourth of July was a dud here due to the fire burn warnings.  Few people blew up fireworks and all the local fire works displays were canceled.  So I spent the evening painting.  I finished up the basecoats on my 28mm French Foreign Legion infantry brigade.  I just now need to go back and work on individual details for each infantry battalion. 

I see Wargames Foundry brought back their entire FPW range for sale.  There are things I definitely want to buy next month from Foundry.  My goal is to get an infantry brigade purchased each month.  July is 28mm 1870 Prussians from Eureka Miniatures.  August is 1870 Bavarians.  And September 2012 is 28mm L'Armee d'Afrique from Askari Miniatures.  October will focus on 25mm Europe terrain from Hovels.  This is an expensive project.  And I've been putting it off for five years. 

Originally, there were three people working on this project.  There would be one French player, one Prussian player, and I'd help build up 28mm French, Prussians, and Bavarians.  The other French player has stopped responding to my emails.  I don't know when I'll meet him again.  Don Cox can't paint right now.  So I am left holding the bag.  Whatever 28mm French and Prussians I get done is what we'll get to play with.  I should be discouraged.  I'm not. 

If I can get an 28mm infantry brigade done in six weeks, then I get a French and Prussian infantry brigade done in five months.  I should be able to play a basic Chassepot & Needlegun game in November or December 2012.  The other two infantry brigades will take me into 2013.  That is about a year's worth of painting.  It took me 14 months to paint an entire 15mm 1870 French infantry division and a 15mm 1870 German infantry corps the last time I did a FPW project.  Fortunately, this isn't 15mm figures.  But it would be half the expense if I'd it in 15mm scale.

This 28mm FPW project will not allow me to work on other projects like 28mm Trojan War or 28mm Balkan Wars.  Those are intersting side projects I'd written rules for.  But I haven't bought figures for.  Except for some Trojan War heroes.  Those are projects for another time until I get this massive undertaking done...

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Summertime Projects

I'm now into a painting groove.  I've been working on 28mm French Foreign Legion infantry.  It's been much easier to paint these figures than work on 15mm minis.  I gave up on my 15mm Vietnam project and got rid of the figures.  I still have other projects in need of completion.  This 28mm Franco-Prussian project is a labor of love.  I don't mind working on it.  I'm willing to shelve my other 40K and WWI naval dreadnoughts for it.

40K should be my main priority right now.  I've been working on 40K throughout 2011-2012.  And I've been buying 40K armies.  With 6th edition being released, I'm unsure whether to try it out or stick with 5th edition.  I'll play a couple games of 6th edition WH40K before I make up my mind.  I have enough other games not to worry about 40K.  If I have to shelve my armies for a while, so be it.  I play 40K because that is what my friends play.  I have other friends who also play historical games.  My friends who do play 40K aren't thrilled by the new rules, either. 

But I digress.  There are other things I could be doing.  I could be assembling 40K vehicles.  I could be assembling 1/100 scale paper Japanese castle.  I could be working on a 25mm Korean Turtle ship.  Now that I've into painting 28mm FPW forces, there's no turning back...

One of the things I did start collecting earlier this year was 25mm Trojan War from Wargames Foundry.  A friend of mine named Don Cox and I agreed to put together Trojan and Greek forces for a game using Warhammer Ancient Battles.  I'm consoling myself to buying my Greek and Trojan forces in November 2012 from Old Glory Miniatures as an X-mas present to myself.  I already have a pack of Classical Heros from Foundry.  I just need the infantry, skirmishers, and chariots.  And Old Glory is the cheapest way to buy them.  That is my next project for 2014!

Monday, July 2, 2012

28mm French Foreign Legion, WIP

I've been working a 28mm French Foreign Legion infantry brigade for Chassepot & Needlegun.  Here are some photos of the WIP:

                                         28mm French Foreign Legion Infantry brigade.

                                          28mm French Foreign Legion regiment.

                                         28mm French Foreign Legion battalion.

I'd like to get done with this 28mm French Foreign Legion infantry brigade by the end of July 2012.  At least, that is the goal...