Saturday, December 28, 2013

Review of The Lost Stars: Perilous Shield

Author:  Jack Campbell.
Title:  The Lost Stars:  Perilous Shield.
Publisher:  Ace.
Copyright Date:  2013.
Pages:  406.
Price:  $26.95 (Hardback).

The Lost Stars:  Perilous Shield is the second book in Jack Campbell's third series.  The first two series set the stage for the third installation.  As the result of a galactic wide war, the Syndicate Worlds are falling apart.  There is a successful rebellion in the Midway system.  The newly liberated worlds surrounding Midway are the background for the novel.

The story centers on several main characters, namely Midway's President and her main general.  There are assassination attempts by the Syndicate internal security agents (or snakes), fleet actions, and rescue of prisoners of war.  The pacing is good and the story is easy to follow.  Jack Campbell was recommended to me by a writer friend who also is a librarian.  His writing style reminds me a late of David Drake's Hammer's Slammers with a naval twist.  Campbell is a retired naval officer who writes hard military science-fiction/space opera.

Being new to his universe, I got thrown into it with the second The Lost Stars book.  He developed characters from his previous novels to populate this world.  That's fine.  It just took me a while to get my bearings as far as characters go.  Alliance Admiral Jack "Black Jack" Geary is still an essential character in this novel.  There are also many subplots and turns that move the story along.  It's clear from the ending of the book, it's meant to be a long series.  Campbell has captured his target audience for Ace Publishing's cash cow (similar to David Webber's Honor Harrington universe).

I was looking for some of Campbell's writing earlier this year.  I just didn't come along to until I found a hardback copy of The Lost Stars:  Perilous Shield for 30% off retail at Barnes and Noble in late October 2013.  I then started reading this book at the beginning of December 2013.  Due a series of family emergencies, I didn't get to finish reading it until this morning.

Recommend for readers who enjoy David Drake type military science fiction.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Rummage Sale Rules from Warbeads

Warbeads emailed me last week about a bunch of wargaming rules he had for sale.  I bought three of them.  He got me them today.

They are in no particular order:  Star Grunt II from Ground Zero Games.  They Died for Glory by Dave Waxtel and Robert Burke.  And Yellow Ribbon by Greg Novak.

I played Star Grunt several times back in the 1990s.  I remember some of it.  I know it's scenario driven.  The game hadn't been played and all the chits are still unpunched.  I wanted something else in case GW goes bankrupt next year and people are no longer playing WH40K.  I doubt that will happen.  But with the current turmoil at Citadel, who knows?  If I ever get around to playing Star Grunt II again, great.  If not, I have the rules.

I'd gotten rid of my last copy of They Died for Glory:  The Franco-Prussian, 1870-1871.  I then found out the rules are no longer available from the publisher.  I thought I'd get Glenn's copy when he put it up for sale.  The good thing about it is the detailed scenarios you can use for other FPW systems.  I plan on using some of them for Chassepot & Needlegun (if I ever get around to painting all my figures).

The last rule set is Yellow Ribbon:  Rules for Indian Wars 1850-1890.  I've heard of them before.  Will I ever play them?  Doubtful.  I'd have to collect US army and Native Americans both mounted and dismounted if I was ever going to play a game.  Maybe one day, when I win the lottery...

Out of all these purchases, Star Grunt II is the most useful.  Yellow Ribbon is the least.  But I have all three for future reference if I get side tracked on other projects....

Happy Holidays,

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Late in Posting...

My apologies for not posting in awhile.  I've had family emergencies to deal with this past week.  They are now resolved (mostly).  Unfortunately, most of my free time has been spent in hospital waiting rooms.  I did get some reading done.  I started a book called The Lost Stars:  Perilous Shield by Jack Campbell.  It's a brand new military sci-fi book published this year.  I'll try finishing it this weekend and then posting a review.

Otherwise, I'll also do some painting on a 28mm 1870 Bavarian infantry brigade that needs more work.  This project will never end.  I'd like to have it done by February 2014 at the latest.

However, I've been buying presents for myself.

I've bought the following books:  Gone Native:  An NCO's Story by Alan Cornet and The Element of Surprise:  Navy Seals in Vietnam by Darryl Young.  I'll eventually get around to reading them and writing reviews.  I also purchased Fangs of the Lone Wolf.  It's a new book out on the Russian-Chechen wars 1994-2009.

I also purchased a large Warmachine mercenaries army.  That will be another painting project for 2014.

Gaming hasn't happened recently because of what transpired.  The weather has also canceled most of my plans (including this weekend).  I hope to get some 40K games in next week with friends.

That's it for now...

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Review of Chronicles of the Black Company by Glen Cook

Author:  Glen Cook.
Title:  Chronicles of the Black Company.
Publisher:  Tor Publishing.
Pages:  704.
Copyright:  2007 (originally 1984, 1984. 1985)

Chronicles of the Black Company is a reissue of Glen Cook's first three books, The Black Company, Shadows Linger, and The White Rose.  The story is told by Croaker, the chronicler of the Black Company.  They are a group of competent mercenaries hired by the godlike Lady to crush a rebellion against her authority.  After a group of hair raising adventures, the members of the Black Company come into possession of the infant White Rose, a female messiah who will eventually break the Lady's tyrannical reign. 

Along the way, the Lady falls in love with Croaker.  He has a hard time dealing with it.  I won't spoil anymore of the plot.  Needless to say, there are at least ten Black Company books.  You'll see lots more of Croaker, Lady, and One Eye, a crazy old wizard.

Give Chronicles of the Black Company a try.  It's different and the stories read fast.  I enjoyed them when I first read them back in the 1990s.  But the later books I found weren't as good as the first three novels.  Still, recommended.  Besides, Glen Cook is a local St. Louis writer.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Born in the North to Die in the South: 10mm FOW Vietnam AAR

Sapper Joe (Joe Collins) ran a 10mm FOW Vietnam scenario today at Wargamers Cave in Granite City, IL this afternoon.  Joe was new to the rules.  So was Combat Colours (Steve Hood), Hostile Contact (Curtis Turner), Warbeads (Glenn Wilson), and myself.  Steve and I ran the PAVN/VC forces.  Curtis and Glenn had the American armor and mechanized infantry.  Joe was the GM.  The Americans had to get across the board.  The NVA/VC were supposed to stop them.  Problem was the Americans had too many recce units to detect the NVA/VC ambushes.  The VC/NVA also didn't have enough firepower to damage the American M48s or enough troops to properly ambush them.  But Sapper Joe threw this scenario together.  He later admitted there wasn't enough terrain for the NVA/VC to sneak up on the Americans once they came on the board.

Barring those problems, the NVA/VC slowed down Americans enough to prevent them from exiting the table on time.  But Steve and I had our behinds handed to us as far as casualties go...  Some victory!?!?

The FOW Vietnam rules work fine.  We just have some getting used to jogging around all the special rules and charts.  There also should have been American air power on the board to make things more interesting.  I leave that to more play testing and getting familiar with the rules.

Here are photos of the actual game:


                                    Steve Hood and Curtis Turner before the game at Wargamers Cave.

                                          Steve Hood talking with Joe Collins.

                                         American armored column at the beginning of the game.

                                          The guys discussing things.

                                         The initial NVA/VC ambush on the armored column.

                                          Remaining NVA/VC fade out to become guerilla reserves.

                                          Americans responded to my attacking NVA company.

          My horrendous die rolling.  I needed 4 or better for casualties.  Nothing higher than a 3!

                                          Remaining American armor rolls on while my NVA rout off the table! 






Sunday, November 24, 2013

Review of The German Army on the Somme 1914-1916

Author:  Jack Sheldon.
Title:  The German Army on the Somme 1914-1916.
Publisher:  Sword and Pen Books.
Copyright:  2006 (2007 and 2012).
Pages:  432.
Price:  $32.50 (US).

Even after a week of constant reading, it took a while to get through The German Army on the Somme 1914-1916.  The author does an excellent job with his sources.  The narrative flows uninterrupted throughout the book.  However, there is so much material to cover with the Battle of the Somme, I felt overwhelmed at times reading it.

There are nine chapters.  Each chapter runs about 40-50 pages.  Chapters 4-9 cover from July 1, 1916 to December 31, 1916.  The grind of positional warfare comes across in the reading.  Units are chewed up and spent by artillery and machine gun fire.  What's left is sent back to the rear to rest and rebuild.  Afterward, the same units are put in the trenches again to began the process all over.  But the German army held the Somme despite the huge expenditure of Allied men and material.

I've always had a bad taste for Field Marshal Haig.  Historians have given him mixed reviews.  Even though this was mainly about the German war effort on the Somme, the loss of British soldiers is folly bordering on criminal.  Some 600,000 casualties for five months of slaughter.  60,000 dead on the first day of July 1916 alone.  Statistics like that boggle my mind.  The losses are enormous.  But that is the product of industrialized death during the modern era.  I read about the Germans running out of shells for their artillery batteries and having to conserve them in the face of the huge Allied shell expenditure.  Landscape becoming as barren as the moon because of the constant shelling.  Trench-foot, rats, flies, and the mud sapping the life out of the combatants during the lulls in fighting.  Talk about hell on earth.  That was the Somme...

The Germans did a good job husbanding their troops.  They stopped defending every inch of ground when Ludendorff and Hindenburg took over the German war effort in the summer of 1916.  Until then, the Germans suffered high casualties with their hold at all cost tactics.  But the whole Somme effort crippled the German army with losses it could never make up afterwards.

Recommended.  Though I've had an easier time reading other WWI histories.  Most of this book is actual after action reports and recollections of German veterans.  

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Review of The Roman Army

Author/Editor:  Chris McNab.
Title:  The Roman Army:  The Greatest War Machine in the Ancient World.
Publisher:  Metro Books (New York).
Pages:  280. 
Copyright:  2010.
Price:  $12.95 (US).

This books was a compilation of different experts on the Roman army.  It covered from the founding of Rome in 758 BC through the fall of the western Empire in 476 AD until the Muslim conquests in the 7th century AD. 

Different sections were dedicated to the composition and tactics of the Roman army during each phase of its long history.  Afterward, particular campaigns and battles were highlighted in detail.  I found the Republic and late Empire fascinating reading. 

I know the most about the late Republic and early Empire from my other readings.  I used to be able to read Latin and survived it as an undergraduate student.  I recognized the different Latin for soldiers and military units in the Roman army.  However, it's has stagnated without constant use.  I doubt I could sightread Caesar or Plinty if I tried.  I had trouble translating Latin 20 years ago.  I don't even want to try now.

However, the book is a solid piece of scholarship.  If you're looking for what the Roman army was like when it waged war, The Roman Army is a good start.  It has borrowed heavily from Osprey Publishing for its color plates of what Roman soldiers looked it. 

The problem with Roman history is the amount of time covered.  You really have to delve into a partial section of the Republic or Empire in order to really study it.  Outside of reading classical text in their original language, I recommend a decent English translation of primary sources.  If you're looking for information about the late Republic, I'd recommend Caesar Against the Celts if you can find a used copy of it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or a used book store.

Recommended for introduction to the Roman war machine.  Though rather dry on some of the technical aspects of unit tactics. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Review of Queen Victoria's Little Wars by Byron Farwell

Author:  Byron Farwell.
Title:  Queen Victoria's Little Wars.
Publisher:  Pen & Sword.
Pages:  394.
Copyright:  2006 (originally published in 1973).
Price:  16.99 British Pound Sterling.

I bought this book several years ago and read parts of it.  I then remember finishing one Xmas.  I started reading it again thinking I hadn't read it.  But I then realized I had!

This book covers all the military campaigns fought by Queen Victoria's armies during her long reign.  If you're looking for campaign ideas, the list is endless.  Crimea, Sudan, Egypt, India, Ethiopia, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, the Gold Coast, and Canada are a few places where the British fought and expanded their empire. 

Many of the chapters are devoted to the Indian Mutiny and Afghanistan.  In reading about the places the British fought and died, an eery familiarity can be seen today with the international forces stationed in the county.  The terrain is the same.  The occupiers are new. 

But getting back to Queen Victoria's Little Wars, the last major war covered was the Second Boer War.  The British fought two different campaigns in the Sudan before conquering it.  I look at all these military campaigns and say what ever became of them besides imperialistic glory chasing.  All the places the British ruled are governed by a common language and customs.  But what was all this gained at what cost?  As Farwell noted, people would rather be misruled by their own leaders than justly governed by another country.  That's just one of the perversities of history in looking at the Victorian era...

Recommended reading for a global view of the British Empire at its height. 

Friday, November 8, 2013

Review of Everything We Had by Al Santoli

Author:  Al Santoli.
Title:  Everything We Had:  An Oral History of the Vietnam War.
Publisher:  Presidio Press.
Pages:  235.
Copyright:  1981.
Price:  $7.99 (US).

This paperback is a personal history of the Vietnam War told from the perspective of 33 different people.  It covers from the opening days of 1962 to the fall of Saigon in 1975.  I enjoyed some accounts.  Some I found repetitive or boring. 

Being an oral history, you get a bunch of different viewpoints.  There were special forces, medics, marines, nurses, chopper pilots, and Navy personnel.  However, you get a good overview of the whole war.  Mostly recommended.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Review of The Hill Fights by Edward F. Murphy

Author:  Edward F. Murphy.
Title:  The Hill Fights:  The First Battle of Khe Sahn.
Publisher:  Presidio Press.
Pages:  330.
Copyright:  2003.
Price:  $7.99 (US).

This is the second book I've read by Edward Murphy, a Vietnam War historian.  I liked The Hill Fights:  The First Battle of Khe Sahn much better than Semper Fi Vietnam.   The book focuses on the March and April 1967 battles for Hills 881 N and 881 S near Khe Sahn.  US Marine infantry became engaged with entrenched NVA units occupying Hill 881 N and Hill 881 S.  The US Marines were drawn into a piece-meal battle with infantry companies being ambushed and calling for relief forces.  The relief forces in turned were then ambushed by the NVA.

Murphy's battle narrative is excellent.  But the combat losses are gruesome.  This is my eighth book on the Vietnam War.  I lost track of more ways to die by napalm, concussion grenades, mortar rounds, snipers, 155mm artillery rounds, RPGs, and AK47 rounds.  The problem the Americans had was the jamming of the new M16s.  I read of more men being killed in combat due to their inability to shoot back at their NVA opponents than anything else.  A section at the epilogue is dedicated to the whole M16 fiasco and subsequent congressional investigations.  The US Army rushed the M16 to production using inferior gunpowder.  So the weapons tended to jam in combat.  US commanders denied that the weapons were defective.  But later field testing proved otherwise. 

The whole problem with the occupation of Khe Sahn was it wasn't needed.  The US Marines didn't want it.  General Westermoreland saddled them with it.  Westmoreland wanted it to draw out the NVA for several set piece battles where US firepower would crush their Communist opponents in northwestern South Vietnam.  The reverse happened.  Several NVA divisions eventually besieged Khe Sahn in the spring of 1968.  The surrounding terrain is mountainous rain forests.  What the vegetation wouldn't hinder, the fog and rainstorms did.  Located in a valley, Khe Sahn was an unsuitable location near the DMV as a forward base. 

But General Westmoreland got what he wanted.  The hill fights of 1967 were a prelude to a much larger action the following year during the Tet Offensive.  One must question the logic of just keeping three US Marine infantry companies in a place like Khe Sahn when the whole area favors the enemy.  In that regard, the whole Khe Sahn campaign was unnecessary.  It would have made more tactical sense to have built a fire base further back from the DMZ out of the NVA's artillery range.

I recommend The Hill Fights for those wanting to learn more about the first battle of Khe Sahn.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Review of The Arab-Israeli Wars by Chaim Herzog

Author:  Chaim Herzog.
Title:  The Arab-Israeli Wars.
Publisher:  Vintage Books.
Publishing Date:  1984.
Price:  $14.95.

This is book, The Arab-Israeli Wars, by Chaim Herzog was my crash course into modern Middle East military history.  Though dated, the book covers all the conflicts from the War of Independence in 1948 to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982. 

The most interesting campaigns to me were the War for Independence in 1948 and the Yom Kippur War in 1973.  Part of the problem in reading this book is the all too familiar repeats of history like the backstabbing on the part of Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, and to a less extent, Iraq.  The Israelis were either able to play different Arab governments off or use interior lines from being overwhelmed. 

The Sinai desert factors in the conflicts starting in 1948.  Egypt lost the Sinai peninsula in the subsequent campaigns.  The Soviet Union basically bankrolled the Arab governments with their equipment until it got trashed by the Israelis in the different wars.  The Yom Kippur War of 1973 was the only campaign were Arabs (and the Egyptians in particular) showed real imagination and ingenuity in dealing with the Israeli military.  The Egyptians were able to launch a surprise attack on the Israelis and almost rolled over them in the Sinai.  But lousy Egyptian leadership and a divided officer corps gave the Israelis time to recover and launch a counter attack.  The Syrian attack on the Golan heights turned into another Marianas "turkey shoot" with the destruction of over 850 AFVs and thousands of support vehicles.    

Now that I've educated myself on the Arab-Israeli Wars, I'm not thrilled about Battlefronts Arab-Israeli Miniatures Game.  What's the point in playing the Arabs in 1965 if I'm going to get trashed every time I game them?  I think the 15mm Khurasan Yom Kippur range would be a much better investment for a wargamer's time and cash.  I'd just use unofficial stats for Egyptian, Syrian, and Israeli forces for the Yom Kippur War if I were going to game the conflict.  But that's just me...

I'm more interested in 28mm Arab-Israeli figures.  Or 28mm Israeli-Hezbollah figures for the more recent Lebanon campaign.  But I recommend the Herzog book as a single volume history.  

Sunday, October 20, 2013

28mm FPW Game, 19OCT13

I ran a 28mm FPW game Saturday afternoon at Wargamers Cave in Granite City, IL using Larry Brom's Chassepot and Needlegun.  Despite some learning curves on initiating close combat, the game  flowed smoothly.  Part of my problem is my forces are too big for the playing area we had.  I only deployed one infantry brigade per side on a 8' x 5' table.  I have an entire division aside for each army!  And I'm still painting up my second brigade 28mm 1870 Bavarian infantry brigade along with another 28mm 1870 Turco regiment! 

When I started this project, I thought I'd be done by X-mas 2013.  Now, it looks like spring 2014 at the earliest.  Even if I get a wargaming table in the house, I won't be able to field my entire 28mm FPW armies.  I should have thought this through.  I should have done this in 15mm.  I can go on with the lamentations, but I do now have 28mm forces for 1870. 

Getting back to the game, Don Cox and Steve Hood (Combat Colours) ran the Prussians and the French respectively.  The French were able to shoot up the Prussians before they got into range with their Needleguns.  But the Prussian artillery eventually hammered the French artillery off the board.  The cavalry action on the right flank began as a Prussian cuirassier charge that got shot up.  Two figures were left out of the regiment.  Their morale held and they were charged by a regiment of Chassuers d'Afrique light cavalry.  The Prussians held up the French cavalry for a turn before failing morale and routing off the board. 

I still have many questions regarding close combat with Chassepot and Needlegun.  This is only the third time I've ran a game.  So I'm new to everything.  The Prussian army eventually failed army morale.  Not before it hammered the French infantry.  I did army morale with stand loses.  Once someone got to 60% losses, I declared them the loser.  That's how the third game of Chassepot and Needlegun finished.

Here are some photos from the game:

                                          28mm 1870 French infantry brigade defending "Frenchyburg."

                                         French infantry falling back from a 1870 Prussian cuirassier charge.

                                          Don Cox looks over his Prussian troops attacking "Frenchyburg."

                      End of the game once the Prussians suffered enough losses to fail army morale.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

WIP, Menoth Warcasters, 17OCT13

Here is a photo of the Warmachine Menoth Warcasters I've been working on:

                                          30mm Menoth Warcasters:  Epic Kreoss and Harbringer of Menoth

WIP, Part II, 16OCT13

I spent yesterday evening and this morning drilling out the spear hands for 25mm Old Glory Greek Spearmen with tower shields.  It's tedious work.  I would have preferred having the figures with open hands for weapons.  But Old Glory is peculiar in that regard.  Most spearmen have hands that need to be drilled out. 

It gets to be a problem when you have hundreds of figures to work on.  It's also another reason I started working on basing my 25mm Old Glory Greeks and Trojan armies earlier this year.  By the time all the figures based, I'll be ready to start painting them.  I also have a dozen 25mm Old Glory chariots to assemble and base once all the spearmen are done.  The work never ends, so it seems...

I also made some progress on my 28mm 1870 Bavarian infantry brigade.  I got all the backpacks painted last night.  This is another project that is taking longer than I'd like.  The goal is to have the figures done by New Years Day.  We'll see if that becomes a reality.  Though I did make progress on my 30mm WM Menoth Warcasters.  The figures are about done.  All I need to do is finish the bases.  I'll take photos of them when they are finished.     

Monday, October 14, 2013

WIP, 13OCT13

I didn't get much painting done this weekend.  I spent Sunday evening/Monday morning working on two 30mm Warmachine Menoth Warcasters.  My plan was to work on my Menoth Protectorate at least one day a weekend, that being Friday.  My weekend got destroyed this week.  Too many things going on and nothing got accomplished. 

So I felt I needed to do some painting tonight.  I'm basically done with the two Menoth warcasters.  All I need to do is finish the detailing.  That can wait until Friday.  Until then, I have no photos to show, yet. 

The only other things I got one was the basing of 60 25mm Trojan War skirmishers onto metal bases.  The last batch of figures are drying.  I'll put them away later to be painted at a future date.  Not much else going on.  I'll try and get some work on a regiment of 28mm 1870 Bavarian infantry later this week if things work out in my favor. 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

WIP, 40K Chaos Cultists, 06OCT13

Photos of WIP, 40K Chaos Cultists of Nurgle from the Dark Vengeance box set:

                                          WIP, Nurgle Chaos Cultists, 06OCT13

This finishes my Dark Vengeance box set of figures.  I'll add on about 10 more zombie troopers/plague zombies to round these guys to go with my Typhus Chaos Lord and Plague Marines.


Review of Rolling Thunder in a Gentle Land

Title:  Rolling Thunder in a Gentle Land:  The Vietnam War Revisited.
Editor:  Andrew Wiest.
Publisher:  Osprey Military Publishing.
Publishing Date:  2012.
Pages:  310.

This was the first book I purchased for my Nook ereader.  I read the entire work over the course of several weeks.  The book is a collection of essays by different authors about the Vietnam War ranging from historians to former ARVN generals and South Vietnamese civilians.  The articles themselves cover French involvement in Indochina, life in the North Vietnamese Army, American media coverage during the conflict, American political leadership, American air power, American naval operations, American air mobile operations, and the after effects of the Vietnam War on American military policy.

There is just too many things to talk about in this book.  It gives a good overview of the conflict. 

Though I'm troubled by the last essay.  It hits too close to home.  The author basically says there was no political discussion of America going to war in both Vietnam and the War on Terror.  This is true. 

There is no political discussion of why we should have gone to war in places like Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq.  And there is no serious political discussion of this today!  The author also pointed out the people who made an issue of others questioning their decisions to go to war in 2001 were the ones who hid from their draft boards in the 1960s! 

That aside, Rolling Thunder in a Gentle Land will make a good addition to your military studies.  Whether you purchase it for Kindle, Nook, or buy an old fashioned hard copy.     

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Warmachine Demo Game, 02OCT13

I was introduced to Warmachine this evening.  It was my second game using the Cygnar and Menoth Protectorate battleboxes.  I had a press-ganger named James show me the basics with the Menoth spellcaster and warjacks.  Things are starting to make more sense with the game.  It's resource based.  How you allocate you spellcaster's focus helps determine what actions your units can do.  It's truly a skirmish game (unlike WH40K).

You are probably wonder how I talked myself into learning another gaming system?  My friend, Scott McCoy, and I had toyed with learning Warmachine/Hordes for about six months.  I played a game when it first came out with the old Mark I Prime rules using a Khador battlebox.  Eventually before Scott's mother got ill, we played a demo game of Warmachine/Hordes in mid-August 2013 at Game Nite in St. Louis, MO.

Fast forward to today.  Game Nite has their Warmachine league night on Wednesday evenings.  I make a trade with a guy named Brad for his Menoth Protectorate army in exchange for my painted 2500 point WHFB Warriors of Chaos army.  It's a far trade.  Brad gets a painted army and I get 70 points of Menoth figures. 

Most of the figures need to be primed and painted.  I'm an old school historical gamer.  I figure I can paint about 50 figures no problem.  So I make the mistake about asking about Menoth army colors.  The reply I get is you can do any paint scheme you like!  Jame's Cygnar and Menoth armies were painted forest green and metal!  There's no real way to customize an army list (unlike WH40K), so people do all sorts of color schemes to individualize their armies.  When I'm told about Menoth, think angry medieval catholics who like to cleanse everything with fire...

So, I'm stuck with figures that need to be primed.  I want to get Army Primer Bleached Bone and pick up a Menoth paint box so I get these figures finished.  I guess it's part of my old school mentality.  I want figures to be painted before I play with them.  I'm going to get about half dozen battle box games in before I start playing with my own figures.  That will give me time to paint and experiment with a decent color scheme for the Warmachine force.

I'll keep people posted with how things progress.  But I might let my 28mm FPW 1870 Bavarians rest for a month or two until I get all the WM stuff completed...


Thursday, September 26, 2013

WIP, 28mm 1870 Bavarian Infantry

I've been priming an 28mm 1870 Bavarian infantry brigade this week.  There are over 172 figures to paint.  I'll be painting 1 28mm 1870 Bavarian Jager battalion, 1 28mm 1870 Bavarian infantry regiment No. 4, 1 28mm 28mm 1870 Bavarian Guard Regiment, and 28mm 1870 Bavarian mounted infantry command. 

This project should take the rest of the year to complete.  This also means I won't get done with my 28mm FPW armies until the beginning of 2014.  It also means lots of painting on weekends and holidays.  I'm also starting to get into Warmachine.  I'm trading one of my WHFB armies locally for a Warmachine Menoth army that needs painting.  I'd like to learn to play WM on Wednesday evenings at Game Nite in St. Louis, MO. 

Not that I need another game to play.  However, I've been toying around with Warmachine for six months now.  I didn't have the money to sink into a new army at once.  I haven't played WHFB in six months.  And I haven't kept up with the new codexes for my different armies.  Getting down on Thursday evenings to play WHFB has been problematic at best.  Wednesday evenings work out better for me logistically.  I'll keep people abreast of what I think about Warmachine on the blog...

Until then,
Good gaming,


Saturday, September 7, 2013

WIP, 07SEP13, 28mm 1870 French Zouaves & WH40K Nurgle Marines

Here are photos of my latest painting projects:

                                          28mm 1870 French Zouave Regiment.

                     WH40K Nurgle Chaos Marines and Hellbrute from the Dark Vengeance box set.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Review of Semper Fi Vietnam by Edward F. Murphy

Title:  Semper Fi Vietnam:  From Da Nang to the DMZ, Marine Corps Campaigns, 1965-1975
Author:  Edward F. Murphy
Publisher:  Presidio Press
Copyright:  1997
Price:  $7.99 US

Semper Fi Vietnam is part of my summer reading.  I just finished the book today.  The book chronicles the US Marine Corps' involvement in South Vietnam from the initial deployment at Da Nang in 1965 to the final US embassy evacuation in April 1975.  The book's chapters are organized by year. 

Even though I was born during the Vietnam War, I feel like I lived through this conflict after my constant reading about it.  The book is filled with endless recon patrols, firefights, LZs, and VC/NVA ambushes.  I have more ideas for war gaming this conflict than I can recall.  Semper Fi Vietnam is written as part combat history/part unit campaigns.  The author focuses on unit participation and the officer who commanded them. 

Take it for what it's worth.  I've enjoyed books written at the squad/platoon level than reading divisional campaign histories.  The unit history is interesting.  But it doesn't necessarily convoy the daily grind of combat operations.  I'd rather have a first person account than reading about a particular event third person.  Murphy handles the campaign history admirably.  But Vietnam was fought at a squad/platoon/company level.  However, I do have a better appreciation of the battles for Khe Sahn, the DMZ, and Hue now. 

At a more practical level, I have a better idea of what my father's generation went through in the 1960s.  The whole subject of Vietnam was a heated topic.  I had a vague understanding of the conflict when I was youngster.  It's only as a adult do have a truer picture what actually happened.  That's one of the reasons I've spent the past several years reading unit histories written by actual combatants.  I feel I owe it to my former mentors who served in country about why the US fought and lost the war.  And also have a better idea how to run a proper Vietnam war game when I do get around to gaming it next year.

But I still have three more books on the Vietnam war to read this year, namely Rolling Thunder in a Gentle Land, Everything We Had, and Khe Sahn:  The Hill Fights.  I'll write more book reviews on the blog as I finish them.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Photos of August 2013 Games

Here are some photos of games I've played this August 2013:

                                         Chaos Demons vs. Chaos Space Marines, Photo 1.

                                          Chaos Demons vs. Chaos Space Marines, Photo 2

                                          Chaos Demons vs. Chaos Space Marines, Photo 3.

                                          28mm ECW, 17AUG13, Photo 1.

                                          28mm ECW, 17AUG13, Photo 2.

                                          28mm ECW, 17AUG13, Photo 3.

The first 40K game I played Chaos Space Marines vs. Chaos demons I lost on Friday, August 9th.  That was against my friend, Brian Bigford.  He brought out his Chaos Demons of Tzneech.  They are no fun to play. 

Afterward, I did two 40K demo games with Don Cox.  Though I don't have any photos of those, Don won both games with his Nurgle Chaos Space Marines.  The first game I ran my Chaos Marines.  The second game today I ran 40K DA Deathwing terminators against the same Nurgle Plague Guard army list and still lost a second time!  Dice are not on my side this time of year (or any year for that matter)...

The last game I played was 28mm English Civil War using the Warhammer ECW rules.  I played Parliament.  Don ran the Royalists.  It boiled down to a cavalry duel.  I won by turn 6.  It was a quick game at Wargamer's Cave in Granite City, IL.  We spent more time driving and waiting in traffic on the highway than we did actually gaming.  That's how things go in the summer...   

Friday, August 16, 2013

Ides of August 2013

I've been spending my time working on assembling figures.  I've stopped painting miniatures for the rest of August.   I do have a bunch of 40K figures that need to be sealed.  I'll try and do that this morning.  The rest of my time has been ordering and tracking down misshipped figures.  Here's what I've been working on this week:

1)  28mm Vietnam - I got the rest of my 28mm US Marines and ARVN this past week.  However, there was an error on the shipping codes.  I resolved with the distributor I dealt with.  Instead of getting US Vietnam Marines, I got four packs of Asian Water Buffalo!  It's been resolved.  However, figuring out what happened was a headache when I realized the codes on the figure packs didn't match what was on their website...

I also had some minor issues with broken landing gear on a 1/55 diecast US Marine Sea Knight helo I bought from them.  It was easier just to repair the landing gears with superglue than send it back to the retailer.  I don't know if the package was damaged before the retailer got the helo or after it was shipped in transit.  It got resolved again when I fixed the landing gears.  Other than that, I have few complaints.  The two US Marine helos are prepainted and I didn't have to do anything other than get them out of their boxes.  And they were the same price as the FOW 15mm Vietnam Hueys (that's the scary part).

I now have a complete 28mm US Marine and ARVN mechanized platoons.  I'm now waiting on my 28mm Vietcong order from Eureka Miniatures  That should come later this month from Australia...

2)  25mm Trojan War - I spent nearly two hours cleaning a basement sink by hand to get all the paint flakes off of it last weekend.  I never want to go through that again.  Until I get some bathroom cleaner and rags for the basement, I vowed not to paint.  Instead, I started working on 25mm Old Glory Trojan War armies.  The good thing is I'll get my ancients assembled.  The bad thing is drilling out 180 spearmen.  The hands of Old Glory figures need to be drilled out for the spears to be assembled.  I only have a hand Citadel hand drill.  It's been slow going.  I got my first unit of spearmen based this morning.  I got the Trojan archers and slingers done earlier this week.  It's going to take me the rest of August and a good part of early September to get these figures done (that's including the 28mm chariots, too)...

3)  28mm 1870 Prussian Heavy Artillery - I assembled and based an entire battery of 28mm 1870 Prussian Heavy Artillery this week.  Problem is it's 28mm siege artillery.  I went to the Foundry website and bought Krupp Siege Mortars instead of heavy field artillery.  Now, I have guns that range the entire board for Chassepot and Needlegun.  However, the Germans need in the extra fire power based on play testing of the rules.  But, I don't know about siege guns.  However, that's my fault...

4)  WH40K - My Khorne Chaos vehicles are done.  Now, my Blood Angel army needs to be resealed.  The weather is supposed to be good.  So I have no excuse not getting it done this weekend...

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Gaming Posts, August 4, 2013

I played a game of WH40K this week with my friend Kevin Joyce.  He ran Black Templars.  I ran Khorne World Eaters in a 1500 point game Thursday afternoon at Game Nite in St. Louis, MO.  We both ran mechanized forces.  I had two Chaos Land Raiders and one Chaos Rhino.  Kevin had a Land Raider Crusader, Rhino, a Razorback, and a Space Marine Dreadnought.  We stood around each other and shot each other most of the game.  For 4 turns, I rolled hits on his dreadnought and rolled double "1's" on armor penetration!  My shooting at his Land Raider Crusader wasn't much better. 

We did get into hand to hand combat with one of my units of Khorne World Eater marines and his Black Templar close combat squad.  Again, Rev. Kev and I couldn't kill each other.  The combat went on for the entire game.  I finally lost by one model at the end of turn 6.  All I had left where a squad of Chaos marines and a pinned Land Raider with another squad of Chaos Marines and Kharne the Betrayer who never got out of his vehicle!  I also forgot to bring in my squad of Khorne Chaos Obliterator Marines, too at the end of the game.  So I gave into Rev. Kev and sent up another demo WH40K in two weeks.  So much for my newly mechanized Chaos army...

I also played a game of 28mm Darkest Africa/WWI with Don Cox on Friday afternoon.  I ran Belgian Force Publique.  He had German askaris and regular Marine troops.  Don took out my artillery and proceeded to nail my askari units.  I only had one whole unit of Belgian askaris left on the table by turn 3.  All the other units were retreating or broken by that time.  It was not a good day for the Force Publique in Tanzania...

I spent yesterday catching up on sleep.  I did little last night gaming-wise.  I did clean up the basement with my various painting projects.  I boxed up my Ravening models and put the Dark Vengeance figures away.  I got a bunch of Blood Angels to respray with gloss coat today.  I'd touched up the bases that had gotten beaten up since I don't have foam for the figures.  I also have my original 28mm FPW 1870 French Zouaves on my painting table needing to be finished with their base coats.  That is my project for this morning...


Sunday, July 28, 2013

Working on 28mm Vikings/Barbarians

I decided to start a 28mm Viking/Barbarian army this past spring.  I have an odd assortment of Vikings, barbarians, and Dark Age figures for it.  I went ahead and worked on 24 28mm Vikings/Barbarians a month ago.  I'd work on the figures and then put them down to work on something else.  I finished the WH40K Chaos vehicles and started back up on the 28mm figures yesterday. 

I have about 96 Vikings/Barbarians.  I'm currently painting up about 24 28mm Vikings/Barbarians.  The figures are a mixture of Heartbreaker Miniatures, Eureka Miniatures, Foundry, and Old Glory Ghost Miniatures.  I'd like to eventually have the following:

80 Vikings with sword, spear, and shield
40 armored Vikings with axe or spear
24 armored archers

The majority of the figures will be Old Glory Ghost Miniatures along with some Foundry and Eureka Dark Age figures.  My friend Steve Hood (Combat Colours) has several boxes of the plastic Wargames Factory Vikings and armored Saxon Theigns.  He also has some wooden Viking long ships, too.  I'd like have some the 28mm Viking raiders from Dixon Miniatures to go with my 28mm Viking/Barbarian army.  I'd also like to game Viking raids and battles with Steve's army.  He'll eventually get around to painting up his 28mm Vikings and Saxons. 

Anyway, I still have time to work on my 28mm Vikings/Barbarians.  I just don't know when I'll get around to finishing them.  They were primarily for a third 28mm fantasy Warlord army to fight Don Cox's figures.  And the figures are a change in pace from all the GW models I've been assembling and painting...  

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Completed 40K Chaos Vehicles, 27JUL13

Here are some of photos of my completed 40K Chaos vehicles:

                                          Completed 40K Chaos Land Raiders.

                                          Completed 40K Chaos Rhinos (APCs).

Monday, July 22, 2013

WIP, WH40K Chaos Land Raider, 22JUL13

Here are some photos of my first completed WH40K Chaos Land Raider:

                                          First WH40K Chaos Land Raider completed

                                          First completed WH40K Chaos Land Raider from the front.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

WIP, WH40K, 17JUL13

Here are some photos of some WH40K figures I've been working on the past few weeks in my spare time:

                              Completed Dark Angel figures from the Dark Vengeance box set.

                              Ravenwing Landspeeders and Master of the Ravenwing on jetbike.

                                          WIP, Khorne World Eaters Land Raiders (Heavy APC/AFV).

                                          WIP, Khorne World Eaters Rhinos (APCs).

Friday, July 5, 2013

WIP, 05JUL13

I spent the Fourth of July holiday with family during the day.  I stay home last night and finished assembling my WH40K models.  Not much of a holiday.  I'm tired of punching out bits and sorting them into my storage boxes.  Here is what I worked on:

                                          Two WH40K Chaos Land Raiders assembled.

                                         A squadron of 3 Chaos Rhinos (1 command and 2 regular APCs).

I also have been painting my WH40K Ravenwing army.  The bikers are halfway done.  However, I need to finish them this coming week.

                                          First two Ravenwing biker squadrons.

                                         Third Ravenwing biker squadron, chaplain, and scout bikes.

                                          Entire Ravenwing biker force.

I'm going to prime all the WH40K Chaos Marine vehicles red with Army Painter spray.  I'll then dry brush and detail the vehicles as needed.  Unfortunately, I also have an entire regiment of 28mm FPW 1870 French Zouaves to get back to.  Besides painting the Master of the Ravenwing and three Ravenwing land speeders.  I'll try finishing up the WH40K stuff by the end of August 2013 so I start using it in my armies.  The WH40K Chaos vehicles have been sitting my basement unassembled since October 2011.  It was about time that I got around to at least building the kits!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Review of New Dawn: The Battles for Fallujah

Title:  New Dawn - The Battles for Fallujah
Author:  Richard S. Lowry
Publisher:  Savas Beatie
Date Published:  2010
Price:  $29.95

New Dawn was one of those impulse purchases I made when Borders, Inc. went through its bankruptcy liquidation in 2011.  I bought this book at 80% off retail.  I didn't get around reading it until this year.  I hadn't read any operational accounts of the war in Iraq.  It's probably too fresh for an objective appraisal.  I wasn't impressed with some of the tag lines people were using to sell it.  I don't think the US won the Iraq campaign.  And I was never a supporter of the military campaign to overthrow Saddam Hussein.  I could go on with why I think the whole theater was botched from the onset.

But those are my views.  I wanted to read something about the actual fighting that happened in Iraq.  New Dawn covers two months of fighting in Fallujah from November to December 2004.  It was a combined operation of US Marines, Army, and Air Force personal.  The fighting was up close and personal.  Lots of house to close and clearing actions.  It was hard to read because the numerous casualties the Marines took clearing out the insurgents.  The whole operation to bypass insurgent strongholds and then go back and clear out each building block by block was gruelling.  It reminded of the house-to-house fighting that happened at the end of WWII on the Eastern Front. 

The soldiers involved knew what they were doing and carried themselves in a professional manner.  The author made sure the reader also knew the insurgents wanted to kill as many Americans as possible.  The jihadist ideal seemed to only surfaces when Al Queda in Iraq were winning their firefights against the the hated infidels.  The insurgents also fought with a fatalism they were going to die no matter what the outcome of the campaign.

The list of casualties the Marines took clearing out Fallujah is horrendous.  But that is the price of urban warfare.  It's never neat and tidy.  Urban combat is one of the worst operational theaters to be in.  You need heavy infantry to do the job of clearing city blocks.  Urban combat is also where an attacking force will take heavy losses despite whatever technological advantage they might have. 

If you want a detailed account of the campaign for Fallujah, New Dawn is good for that.  But I'm not jumping on the apologist bandwagon for the Iraq War.  I don't see the point of sending in young people into a dubious conflict with no exit strategy once we're involved.  That is folly bordering on criminal.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Review of Blood Angels Omnibus by James Swallow

Title:  Blood Angels Omnibus
Author:  James Swallow
Publisher:  The Black Library
Published:  2008
Price:  $15.00 US

I read the Blood Angels Omnibus by James Swallow over the past several months.  The is a WH40K Battle Book that focuses on Rafen, the main protagonist of the story.  Without giving too much away, the story involves a corrupt Inquisitor, a powerful chaos demon, and the World Bearers Chaos Marines who fight the Blood Angels. 

I didn't know the Blood Angels' archenemies were the World Bearers.  I haven't read too many of the WH40K novels.  This one was well written.  I enjoy the descriptions of the battles and fight scenes.  There was lots of action through out the novel along with the back story.  Overall, Blood Angels Omnibus was a much better read than Legion of the Damned.  Once I got into the book, I cheated by reading the end and then going back and finishing the novel.  I do that with some of the stories I read to see if its worth finishing when I'm pressed for time. 

I've never been one for the WH40K fluff.  I played the game for nearly 20 years because I liked the models and fan of Space Marines.  One of the armies I collected were Blood Angels.  Afterward, I picked up some WH40K novels to see if they were worth reading.  The first one I had, Legion of the Damned, was awful.  I didn't finish it. 

I've been told the Black Library novels are hit or miss.  A friend of mine who has read most of the WH40K novels recommended James Swallow.  I started out with Fear to Tread.  The next book I moved onto was the Blood Angels Omnibus.  The novel is about 600 pages.  I didn't read it in one setting.  Instead, I worked at it over several months.  I finally got done with it last week.  I have a fourth book called Ravenwing by Gav Thorpe to start sometime later this year.  I don't know how that will flow. 

Anyone who reads these novels should be forewarned.  They are designed for fans of the WH40K universe.  They aren't serious reading.  If you're looking for hard sci-fi, you'd better be off with Orson Scott Card or Arthur C. Clarke.  However, I was entertained enough to read and eventually finish the novel.  But I'm still not sold on the whole GW fluff...

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Die Con 13 AAR, 22JUN13

Die Con is a local gaming convention held in Collinsville, IL near the end of June.  I ran three games for Big Muddy Historical Gaming Alliance (a local gaming club here in St. Louis, MO) at the con.

The first game was a 28mm Modern Afghanistan scenario using Ambush Alley.  A group of US Marines had to locate and call in air assets to neutralize a Taliban insurgent rocket position.  In the first game, the Marines ran into trouble and their Humvee and one fire team was either KIA or WIA.  The Marines were also unable to get air support to neutralize the Afghan rocket launcher.  The Taliban players finished shelling an off-board position and then claimed a morale "victory" against the Americas.  The second game, the American players were able to call in a predator drone strike with Hellfire missiles and wipe out the Afghan compound on the second turn...

The second game was a 28mm Warlord game using Max Carr's old rules between two GW fantasy armies I own.  The game got done in 2 hours with my friend Don Cox winning.  His Warriors of Chaos ground my High Elves into the ground by the end of the game.  I couldn't roll to save my life.  That contributed to my downfall.

The third game was a 28mm FPW - Battle of Woerth:  August 6, 1870.  It had a brigade of infantry with a cavalry regiment and a battery aside.  It filled most of my 5' x 8' table.  I only put out half the figures I own.  The rest need painting.  I could have had a heart attack moving 70-80 pounds of lead.  Unfortunately, all my 28mm FPW figures are lead.  They don't make any plastic figures for this time period...

Getting back to the game.  The French were defending a town and the Prussian attacked.  The Prussian had horrible movement and command activation rolls.  In hindsight, the Prussian needed another battery of artillery to even things out.  I just got a heavy Krupp gun mortar in the mail from Foundry this past week.  I didn't have a chance to assemble or paint it, yet.  Though the Prussian players took a pounding, the French weren't much better near the end of the game.  Both sides had heavy losses, the Prussians just got to 60% losses faster than the French.  So the Germans lost due to army morale, giving the French a marginal victory.

Getting back to the 28mm FPW figures, I swear I'm not going to take them to another convention or game with them at a store because of the weight of the figures.  It's just too heavy for me to move everything.  I think they'll be reserved for gaming at my house when I finally get a gaming table situated in the basement.

However, here are some photos:

                                          US Marines and a Humvee with a 50 cal MG.

                                          Glenn Wilson pondering what to do.

                                          Initial deployment for my 28mm Warlord Game.

                                          Chaos Warriors on the other side of the table.

                                         Initial deployment for the 28mm FPW game.

                                          An entire 28mm 1870 Prussian infantry brigade.

                                          28mm 1870 French infantry brigade deployed in line.

                                          Second turn of the 28mm FPW game.
                                          15mm Bugs.

                                          15mm Bugs attacking Teddy Roosevelt's Rough Riders.

Combat Colour's 15mm FOW Russian Front Game.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

WIP, 25mm European Buildings, 15JUN13

Here are some 25mm European buildings I hope to be able to use for an upcoming con next week in Collinsville, IL June 21-23, 2013 at the Gateway Convention Center:

                                          WIP, 25mm Euopean Stone Church.

                                         WIP, 25mm European Stone Church, side view

                                         WIP, 25mm European Stone bridge.

                                         WIP, 25mm European Town Houses.