Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Gencon 2017 After Action Report

Sunday, 13 August 

After double-checking my packing list, Irene and I loaded everything in the car and set off for Indiana on Sunday morning.  I have noted that packing to travel by air enforces some discipline on one’s luggage, and driving this year caused my contingency packing to be somewhat more expansive than was probably necessary. After a relatively uneventful drive of 12 hours (including meal and rest breaks), we arrived at my brother's house in Bloomington.

Monday, 14 August

Norman was mostly ready with the materials needed to run our two Chaos Wars games, but he had a craft project to try to complete before the convention: fire markers built over flickering battery-operated tea lights, to mark burning buildings during the border raid scenario.  We walked around Bloomington for a while, checking out a used book store and a game store, and then played a couple of warm-up games of Carcassonne.

Tuesday, 15 August

It was difficult to contain the eager anticipation, but there was little to be done for it.  Norman and I headed out to Lowe's to pick up a convertible flat bed/dolly to haul around the materials for miniatures games. We eventually headed up to Indianapolis around 2:00.  Through the luck of the room lottery, I had managed to get a room at the JW Marriott, while much of the rest of the team was in a non-convention block downtown hotel.  That meant that we were providing the forward operating base, so our plan was to park in the parking structure under the hotel and move all the miniatures game boxes up to the room before supper.  We were surprised to find that the hotel parking lot was full.  Apparently some other conference was still here, so we found space in a parking structure attached to the Circle Center Mall temporarily.  This is where having a brother who comes to Indianapolis regularly for events is handy.  We walked back to the JW through the skywalk (hamster trail) system, orienting Irene to the venue as we went, and checked in at the hotel.  We decided to finish Irene's orientation tour and then went to find something to eat.  By the time we were done, we were able to call the hotel and confirm that space had opened up in the parking garage, so we moved the car over and unloaded the gear.  Warning signs were all over the place...

Door sign on the sky walk

I love miniatures games, but there is no denying that they are not particularly easy to take to conventions.  My local miniatures club, the HAWKs, is currently setting up a contest to be judged next year at Fall In in November.  Details are to be made public soon, but the basic idea is to see what kind of convention miniatures game can be staged with all of the material packed in a 17-liter Really Useful Box.  (That size has been chosen as the largest which will fit the overhead rack luggage profile on most airlines.) By Gencon next year, this "Battle in a Box" contest will be in process, and I hope to be in a position to be testing my entry.

Wednesday, 16 August

I met my brother around 6:30AM, and we did a quick walk around the convention center. As expected, things were fairly quiet on Day 0.  The Will Call line had not started to form.  We landed at Bee Coffee Roasters, an independent coffee shop, which was getting into the Gencon spirit with a rack of promotional T-shirts and some themed signs.

Since they are on the street facing the convention center, they had elected to be open 24 hours a day starting on Wednesday morning.  They were running a loyalty card for dice promotion as well, with a d10 as the top prize, for ten visits. I had my d10 by Saturday, and the breakfast burritos were a lifesaver for the weekend.  The coffee was excellent...

My Bee dice and token, plus Crystal Caste and Scotty's dice

Speaking of free dice, we walked down to Scotty's Brewhouse for lunch, picking up a Scotty's die.  By then, it was nearly time to go pick up the cart with the Dragon Rampant gear.  We got over to the Union Station gaming space to kick off our Gencon activities with a six player Dragon Rampant game.  I had 24 point factions laid out for my "Myzantine Empire" home setting (fantasy Byzantines), consisting of a Myzantine mounted field force, a Myzantine foot field force, and an allied/mercenary centaur band, opposed by an "Easterner" (fantasy Saracens, essentially) force of actual Easterners supported by a mercenary band of orcs, and an allied group of Lizard-masters. While all six tickets were taken for the event, I didn't expect to see all of them show up.  So, I was not surprised to find that we only had four players. 

Dragon Rampant game

We let them choose which of the warbands they would use.  So the centaurs and the orcs went back in the boxes.  I haven't run Dragon Rampant at a convention previously, and I came home with some notes on improving my handouts.  Dragon Rampant has various ways of handling initiative in a multiple player game, and I went with the simplest; letting each side activate both war bands until they had both failed an activation roll.  Players new to the system are often frustrated by failing their first initiative roll, so I also gave each player three re-roll chips which could be traded in for another activation attempt.  Since we had an even number of players, my brother wasn't needed as a spare player. The game went fairly well, and I felt, as I dragged my cart back to my hotel, that I had gotten off to a good start. Irene and I met up for some dinner and a scheduled game of Carcassonne.  I was reminded by my own ticket situation that the Carcassonne GM was probably wondering whether anyone would show up for his game, so I resisted any temptation to jump into a different game.  As it was, we were the only ones that did show up, so I was glad of that decision. We had a nice game with the gamemaster playing, after which time it was time for some rest.  I was glad to confirm that the kids coming separately from different places in Michigan, had arrived safely.

Thursday, 17 August

We ran two games nearly back to back, a Chaos Wars demo on behalf of Iron Wind Metals, and a tweaked version of the 1975 not-Lord of the Rings game Ringbearer, which we also ran last year

Norman explains the rules

Setting up Ringbearer

I had the briefest period of time in which to run into the exhibit hall, which I used to pick up dice and a few selected books from Indie Press Revolution.  The Ringbearer game wrapped up at 6:00, so there was time to grab some sit down dinner with Irene and my brother before we headed off to our seminar.  My kids had both recommended, in previous years, a seminar on medieval foods, which was interesting, if a bit rambling at times.  I need to expand my food horizons a bit, and I marked his web site for further thinking.

Friday, 18 August

Norman and I wrapped up our convention gamemastering with a second run of the same Chaos Wars scenario we had used on Thursday. 

Last GM gig for this con

We had all four players, which was nice, and handed some miniatures samples out to people who stopped to talk as well.  In the usual way of things, the orcs had a pretty easy run of things on Thursday, but had the snot beaten out of them on Friday, so it's hard to say if the scenario really needed adjustment.  I decided that I was over-scheduled, and skipped a live show of "Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff" so that I could look around the exhibit hall for a while,  but painted in an Iron Wind speed paint round. I was about 3rd, so there was no prize for that one. I had signed up for a short craft seminar on building a portable wet palette.  I’ve used a commercial wet palette at home, but I do a lot of painting on the road and thought that it would be a useful addition to my tool kit.  I discovered that there are no deep secrets to this, since it’s just baking parchment on a sponge in a sealable box, but that was good to know, and we got one to take home. I expect to be using this technique more going forward.  I had signed up for a Saga game that evening, but  I ended up sucked into the auction.  I wanted a copy of TSR’s 1977 Star Empires game, which I had noticed was in the display case of rare items.  At Gencon, the rare items usually go up for auction in a special session on Friday night.  As it turned out, I could have played Saga and still been back in time to bid, as it turned out to be the penultimate lot.  I got it (including its companion game Star Probe) for $230, and it was past 0230 before I got to sleep.

Saturday, 19 August

Despite the lack of sleep, I made it to breakfast with my kids and the Dutton children, old family gaming friends with who they have a lot of shared childhood memories.  After that there were  two sessions of swing dance lessons with Irene from the good people at Dancing and Dragons.   I had tickets for two Reaper speed paint competitions in the afternoon, and a second pair intended for William, who had had issues with his events registration back in May. Norman and William discussed the situation and decided to switch events, so Norman came to speed paint with me.  I was parentally thrilled to find that we each placed won one round and placed third in the other, and therefore both earned slots in the Reaper speed paint final round on Sunday afternoon.  

Two Reaper speed paints; the left one is the round I won

This is the third year in a row where I've been in a speed paint final, so I guess I have some idea of what I'm doing.  After the speed painting, I met Irene and did some shopping in the exhibit hall before closing time. My local group, the HAWKs, have been playing Frostgrave by Osprey for the past two years, so I talked to Frostgrave author Joseph McCullough about the upcoming new game, Ghost Archipelago

I got a demonstration of the portable gaming tables from Game Anywhere, and now need to consider whether I would buy one. I went back to the room briefly to empty my pockets before we met the whole crew for dinner at our usual Gencon location.   Irene and I dressed up for the Gencon dance, but after a brief section of ballroom danceable music the DJ switched over to some rave club stuff, and we decided that sleep would be a good plan…  

Sunday, 20 August

We had agreed over dinner that we would make sure that we would check out in time to get to 10:00 games.  Norman and I ended up at Games on Demand for my only RPG of the weekend.  Games on Demand, despite being in a new location due to the remodeling of the downtown Marriott, was apparently popular all weekend.  They put on a selection of mostly indie press games, with a system for randomizing the line so you have a fair chance at signing up for something.  Norman and I drew a mid-range slot, and had a fair number of choices remaining, so we elected to try a Fate Bulldogs game with characters inspired by Guardians of the Galaxy.  I'm reasonably familiar with Fate, so learning the mechanics was no issue.  We had a pleasant session.  I ducked into the dealers' room for one last scan before my 1300 Darksword Miniatures speed paint event.  My brother had been in one of their events on Saturday and had been giving an anthropomorphic animal to paint, so I was unsurprised to find that I had the same.  However, I wasn’t quite sure what to do with a penguin rogue, and my Adelie color scheme was over shadowed by king or emperor penguins.  Of all of the figures I painted, I’m least sure what to do with him.   Norman joined me at 1400 for the Reaper final round.   

Norman and I intent on our work

We had 60 minutes of painting rather than 45 for the earlier rounds, but the miniature was more complicated. 

Not too shabby for 60 minutes

As expected, once I was among the experts, there wasn't a prize.  There was, however, another brush and a free miniature, so what's not to like?  After that it was time to depart...

Overall Impressions

Irene had a good time, and enjoyed watching all the cosplayers.  She came home with a dress on order, to be delivered later, so I may have to engage in a bit myself.  The kids had relatively few scheduled events, so ended up with several Games on Demand sessions and enough Magic to win half a booster box of prizes. My brother’s best experience of the weekend was an opportunity to play the old TSR Dungeon board game with Dave Megarry, the original designer.  

While I was working on my Bee “Die for Coffee” challenge, one of the staff asked what my favorite part of Gencon was.  I didn’t have a ready answer, but I suppose it’s just being there with my family among my peculiar tribe that’s the best part.

Lessons Learned and Path Forward

Despite the fact that I know better, I over-scheduled this year.  Next year I will plan to schedule less, and leave a comfortable amount of time for browsing and the auction.  All Gencon experiences chosen result in missing other things, so the best plan is to make a plan and stick to it, with the caveat that it should retain some looseness.

The handcart turned out to be vital; having used it to drag a game across the convention, I have no idea how we managed to run Norman’s Ringbearer game without it last year.

Because of the over-scheduling, Norman (son) and I did not run anything for Games on Demand as we had hoped; I’d really like to do that next year.  

The drive was long, so flying may be the plan again next year, and that would mean that having a portable miniatures game to run would be a priority.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Portable Fantasy Campaign, Part 3

As I noted previously on this blog, some gaming with my elder son in March left me with an itch to do a campaign.  I therefore sat down to do some reading, and pulled out five books from my collection that seemed pertinent.  These were:

The Partizan Press Guide to Solo Wargaming, Stuart Asquith
The Solo Wargaming Guide, William Silvester
Setting Up a Wargames Campaign, Tony Bath
Solo-Wargaming, Donald Featherstone
Wargame Campaigns, Charles S. Grant

Thus fortified by the wisdom of those who have gone before, I started considering how much record keeping I wanted to do, and what my goals were.  I have reminded myself periodically that my goal is to generate some interesting battles when no opponents are to hand, and to help to keep my painting focused on a broader goal of having this whole project available for conventions someday in the next few years.

Recalling that Hordes of the Things will be the army-level rules of choice, and that I intend to spice things up with Dragon Rampant games which will affect the outcome of the larger army-scale gaming (with skirmish games a possibility, but only rarely being something that would have a lasting effect at a higher level), I set down some preliminary thoughts on scale and record-keeping.

Having drawn the map, I started doing some calculations.  For purposes of the campaign, I wanted to use an area movement system, and have the turns be approximately a week.  With a movement rate of one area per week, this would imply a typical distance of about 50 miles across an area.  The map is about 7x10 areas, or about 350 by 500 miles.  

That is approximately half the size of France, an area which might have contained 6 million people before the Black Death.  If 5% were available for military service, that would be about 300,000 fighters.  Given that there are five countries on the map, if each had a 12 element Hordes of the Things army, each element would represent about 5000 men.  I typically imagine a HotT stand as about a thousand troops, and we are therefore in the right order of magnitude.  Let's assume that the population is only half of that, since it's going to be a turbulent period, and that each country can field two armies.  That would make each Hordes stand about 1250 figures, which is going to be close enough for a fantasy campaign which will not involve detailed logistics calculations.

This set of calculations implies to me, by the way, that the cities marked on the map are only the major population centers, and that there are undoubtedly a lot of smaller cities/towns/castles that are not represented.  At some point, I'll have to think about what that implies about sieges and control of territory.

The logistics that I am willing to deal with will be based around HotT army points.  So, each country will have 24 army points times two armies, or 48 army points.  If each army point is supported by an abstract tax point, each country would have 48 tax points distributed across its six to eight locations.

I could probably handle the paperwork involved with the idea that each territory has some inherent "value" and that the tax points collected each year are 5-10% of the total value.  The reason to do this would be to reflect the effect of raiding warfare, where a successful raid would produce tax points immediately and reduce the overall tax base of the area, so that things would gradually wear down unless some sort of reinvestment was made.  I'd probably want to start each country with some sort of reserve treasury. Ross Macfarlane suggested to me that I could probably just let the tax value regenerate after the collection season, so that raids would have to be sustained to keep a province's value depressed.  That would certainly take less record keeping.

The next question would be what the scale of a Dragon Rampant unit would be.  I am thinking that it would be hard to justify more than about 100 men per unit (so a ratio of about 1:10 against the figure representation on the table).  That would make a Hordes element worth 10 Dragon Rampant units.  So it would be a reasonable amount of bookkeeping to track the results of DR battles at the larger scale.  If a HotT element has lost 6 DR warbands it would round down to being undeployable in a HotT game, but from 0-5 DR warbands lost, it would round up to a normal HotT element.  

I have some thoughts about how to handle raiding/looting/chevauchee in more detail, but I think that will wait for later.

My hope is to kick this off soon with a Dragon Rampant scale game involving the forces of the Baron of Rienne against an increasingly organized company of bandits attempting to build a fort in the Debatable Marches.  The bandits will be "free", but I'll record any results against the Baron of Rienne's forces.  Whether there are follow-ups and what they are, of course, is what makes a campaign.  

I might also note that I have been brainstorming ideas for role-playing game scenarios using this map, and the broader military campaign will potentially be interwoven with any games which result.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

July Accomplishments

I ended up painting a fair amount this month, and haven't organized everything into the ultimate storage configuration yet. That left everything all neatly together for a group picture. Except for the 1/72 Vikings in the upper left, they are all vintage 25mm fantasy figures or recasts thereof.

My thoughts on that project are evolving, and I still hope to get back to doing some historical painting again soon.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Recent 1/72 scale barbarians

I am continuing to gradully chip away at the Hordes of the Things barbarian (Viking) army which I want for my projected solo fatnasy campaign. I finally finished up two more warband stands (though I should take their picture from a greater distance...), which puts me close to being able to deploy a 24 point standard Hordes army. When using these figures wih Dragon Rampant, as also planned, two stands are a unit, so I'm still short about 4 stands of a reasonable warband.

I also inventoried the 1/72 fatnasy recently, and came to the conclusion that I could (barely) deploy two armies for the feudal kingdoms on the fantasy map, so I am hoping to put some preliminary games on the table soon.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

More painting

With these two, my travel paint kit is temporarily empty of figures. On the left is a Minifigs ME19 Rohirrim lancer, of the topknot variant. I'm trying to work on getting cavalry painted more expeditiously, and this model wasn't too hard. The other figure is almost vintage--it's an unreleased Heritage wizard, available through Mike Thomas's Classic Miniatures. Time to base up this work...

Monday, July 3, 2017

More Vintage Fantasy Figures

I have had some time to work this weekend, and painted the Broadsword P11 ranger swordsman-captain for my Broadsword ranger unit, as well as two vintage Heritage Gondorian citadel guards, original catalog number 1060. Next up is a Minifigs Rohirrim lancer to match the archer from the previous post.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Some recent painting

I was out on a business trip last week with my portable paint kit. Here are a few vintage figures finished and ready for basing.

The Gandalf is a Minifigs ME4. The rather barbaric Rohirrim horse archer is a Minifigs ME20, and the lutenist is a Broadsword P11 ranger. I'm not sure that the lute would be my instrument of choice ranging through the woods, but I like the figure. I have, from the same set, a swordsman/captain and a handful of archers (five, I think), and hope to get them all finished as a little Dragon Rampant unit soon. They'll be scout unit, or, if one thinks of them as elite, a reduced model count bow unit.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Western League Defeat in the Spaetzelthal

Sometime during the War of the Western League, some years before the outbreak of the Not Quite Seven Years War,  a League army advanced down the Spaetzelthal.  Falling back before them Colonel Adelmann, of Schoeffen-Buschhagen, was determined to stand at the Spaetleseberg, a position which dominated the valley, hoping that reinforcements would arrive before he was overwhelmed.  He had sent word to General Schwarzadler, his immediate superior and commander of the combined Wachovia/Schoeffen-Buschhagen  Coalition force, to hasten forward with all possible speed to reinforce his position.

The Spaetzelthal, Adelmann Regiment deployed on the slopes of the Spaetleseberg (view to the south)

Anticipating a difficult fight, Colonel Adelmann ordered his troops to erect hasty breastworks to fortify their position.  A single battery of guns was sited near the center of the Spaetleseberg, and a squadron of cavalry placed in a reserve as the southern end of the ridge.  It was none too soon.  In the distance could be heard the fifes and drums of the approaching League army.  Scouts quickly reported that the defenders were outnumbered by almost four to one.  

Situation near the start; the cavalry battle begins
The initial clash of cavalry

After some preliminary maneuvering, the Adelmann detachment was faced by two regiments of League troops; the Hesse-Hattemstadt regiment at the north, and the Schluesselbrett regiment to their south.  A regiment of Hesse-Hattemstadt cavalry, somewhat reduced by the previous days' marching and skirmishing, swept around the south end of the Spaetleseberg, to be met by the depleted Schoeffen-Buschhagen dragoons.  An extended cavalry battle of charge and countercharge soon developed, and the S-B dragoons had never had a finer day.  More than holding their own against the League horse, they drew back the Leaguers with terrible losses.  They were sustained in their fight by the timely arrival of the lead element of the hoped for reinforcements of General Schwarzadler, a unit of Wachovia curiassiers.  Eventually, the survivors of the beaten Hess-Hattemstadt horse retired from the field, while the Coalition cavalry rallied in open ground between two small woods.

Schlüsselbrett infantry attack in the center
While the cavalry battle was raging, though, the situation for the Coalition was in doubt on the slopes of the Spaetleseberg.  The Schluesselbrett infantry deployed into line and engaged in a deadly short range firefight with a wing of the Adelmann regiment holding the south end of the hill, and, further north, the other wing of the Adelmann regiment was assailed by the Hess-Hattemstadt regiment, aided by a detachment of Saxe-Kirchdorf jaegers.

Reinforcements rush toward the fight
Help was near to hand, though.  A column of troops, led by the remaining detachment of the Adelmann regiment, hastened toward the fight.

The last detachment of the Adelmann regiment charges the Schlueselbrett troops

The arriving troops counterattacked the Schluesselbrett regiment, and were driven off.  The Schluesselbrett regiment's casualties had been horrifying, but their morale held, for the moment.  As they rallied after the melee, the survivors of the Adelmann regiment withdrew from the field.

However, the Wachovians had arrived, and a sharp fighter between the advancing Wachovian light infantry and the battered Schluesselbrett regiment proved to be too much for the latter, and they too retired to reorganize.

At the north end of the Spaetleseberg, the Hesse-Hattemstadt forces drove off the S-Bs and occupied their position, but the arrival of fresh Wachovians proved too much for them and they were shortly forced to retire.

It was now late in the evening, and the League commander considered his position.  His Saxe-Weilenz troops were still fresh, but slightly outnumbered by the Wachovians.  There seemed little chance of clearing the critical positions on the Spaetleseberg before dark, and, with the possibility of further enemy reinforcements to be considered, he ordered a withdrawal.

The commanders
Norman and I were probably at the game for a little over two hours, and it ran to seven turns.  The scenario was "Reinforcements in the Defense: On The Table", number 15 from C.S. Grant's Scenarios for Wargames (the "Green Book").  The rules were Lawford and Young's Charge!, and the scenario translation was on the basis of 1 book unit to 1 company or squadron of infantry and cavalry, and 2 book units of artillery to one gun on the table.

We have used the scenario on multiple occasion previously, and, given the rules, we added the breastworks to the defenders, to give them a chance against the attackers.  With no random morale rules, it's difficult for a Charge unit to hold against odds for very long.  Given the basing of our troops, and the fact the the book specifies that this scenario is to be fought across the narrow end of a rectangular table, it got a little crowded.  We had intended to fight it without the unsightly movement trays, but Norman ended up faced with a time constraint, so we tray-ed the troops for convenience.

Map of our theater of conflict
The War of the Western League is what we get when playing at home; it's our excuse for running a game using only the troops of countries stored here, and involves Schluesselbrett, Hesse-Hattemstadt, and Saxe-Weilenz against the coalition of Schoeffen-Buschhagen and Wachovia.  We used William's Free City of Wiegenburg troops as stand-ins for the still-to-be-painted Saxe-Weilenzers today.

It's been over a year since these troops were on the table, so we were glad of an opportunity to deploy them.  I do need to decide on some rules that would allow use of smaller units to make more efficient use of our limited 5 foot by 6 foot table.

Switching things up

We swapped armies out for a third game, and ended up with orcs against the elves (and allies). Prompted by the game I played with Ross at Huzzah, I decided I could be more daring with my approach to the terrain, and tried to attack his archers in the woods with my heroes. Things did not work out...eventually, I was vindicated in my notion that a hero-general in the woods with a total of +4 was still a powerful unit as I started to roll up his orcish warband. It was too late by then, though, as his general succeeded in his first attack on my stronghold for an immediate victory.

A Bad Day for the Emperor

Despite a careful rereading of the manuals, the Mizarenes were unable to prevent the Cold Islanders from sacking a second town. After a confused melee, the decisive blow was struck by heroic leader of the Cold Islanders, who took on the Mizarene wizard in hand-to-spell combat. Undoubtedly he had been angered by being forced to endure several magical attacks without the ability to respond...

1/72 scale digression

Norman was delayed somewhat by traffic yesterday, so the 40mm battle remains to be fought later today. While waiting for breakfast time to arrive, we set up a quick game of 1/72 Hordes of the Things, pitting my incomplete Cold Islands barbarian army against Norman's Mizarene field force. (Basically Vikings versus Byzantines...) Unfortunately for the Emperor's finest, their training and military manuals were no match for the ferocity of the Northmen in the first skirmish, as the Mizarene riders vanished under a hail of arrows, and their knights disappeared in a blinding flash of magic produced by the Blue Sorceress. Not long after, their general was surprised by the appearance of an angry warband on his flank, and he fell in the confused melee which followed...

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Help is on the Way!

My son, the Prince-Palatine of Wachovia, is on his way up for a visit with some gaming. Since the NQSYW troops haven't been out in a while, that will be the first thing on the agenda. We're actually dropping back in time to the War of the Western League, which occurred prior to the NQSYW, to the the defense of the Spaetleseberg. A detachment of the Schoeffen-Buschhagen Adelmann Regiment is holding the hill against a combined league force, hoping to hold out long enough for reinforcements to arrive.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Hinchliffe Week

I've mentioned previously that I ended up with a cache of mostly Hinchliffe mostly Byzantines from the flea market at Huzzah in 2015.  Last year sometime, I cleaned and primed a dozen Varangians with axes, intending to add them to my fantasy Byzantine project.

I recently finished them.
Myzantine Dragon Guards

Inspired by this success, I went to the box and pulled out eighteen peasants, a handful of crossbowmen, and ten Pecheneg horse archers.  I figured that, as long as I had the metal cleaning gear out, I might as well add a half dozen Ral Partha/Iron Wind Metals Mongol horse archers to the mix.  That was Monday, the 29th of May.

Metal cleaning day

Old Hinchliffes have a rough-and-ready sculpting style, which responds reasonable well to mass painting.  I'm not too fond of the crossbowman casting, but I painted them anyway, but the peasants came out reasonable well for as little time as I put into them.

Five Myzantine crossbow skirmishers

With eighteen peasants (including one stray Byzantine staff slinger), I decided that I would base two groups of six, and the rest as individuals.  Most of the fantasy rules I'm using now are based around twelve figure units.
Hinchliffe Peasants

Unfortunately for my budget, just as I was cleaning and priming the figures, somebody on the Old School Miniatures discussion on FaceBook posted a picture asking for identification of a Hinchliffe Robin Hood peasant woman.

I ended up deciding to thicken up the individually based peasants with a bunch of Robin Hood figures, since the castings are available from Hinds Figures. Mr. Hinds was very prompt with my order, so I now have a couple of dozen Robin Hood and Sheriff figures in hand, which will probably form a pair of matched war bands for Dragon Rampant, as well as serve as bandits for D&D.

Newly arrived Robin Hood range figures

I have a dozen of those, including the principal characters, primed as of this morning, and hope to get started on them shortly.

As a bit of a digression, I had some time to paint at lunch this week, and finished a unit of Ral Partha/Iron Wind Metals orcs, from the recent Chaos Wars Kickstarter.  They'd been sitting in my cupboard for a good while, so I was glad to clear them out.  I've also primed another dozen goblins to follow up.

Chaos Wars orc warriors

So it's been a good week or two for painting...

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Some Recent Painting

Following my string of defeats in Dragon Rampant (DR) at Huzzah, I decided it was time to add a new unit to the mix.  DR calls for 6 figure cavalry or war beast stands.  I had wanted to do some giant rats in Iron Wind/Ral Partha, so I'd bought enough for six bases some time ago.  They have been sitting around primed, but otherwise untouched, for a few months, and this was their week.

I kept it simple, three base colors with three corresponding dry brush shades over them.  The large swarm bases are Iron Wind catalog number 01-045, and the individual rats on the smaller bases are DF-106, originally sculpted by Julie Guthrie as part of her "All Things Dark and Dangerous" line for Ral Partha.  I had them done in about an hour; it probably took longer to base them than to paint them...

These two veteran Minifigs are destined to be part of the upcoming ME war bands project.  The Ithilien ranger (ME34) is an eBay acquisition, but the heavy goblin (ME56) was handed to me by my brother (one of seven), and is one that's been in the combined family collection for 40+ years.

I took my travel paint kit and half a dozen miniatures on my most recent business trip, a week before Huzzah.  My actual painting time turned out to be somewhat limited, but I finished these two Heritage figures.  The Boromir (movie version, catalog number 1750) is a Mike Thomas/Classic Miniatures recast, and completes (finally) my Fellowship.  I think it's been about two years since I bought them from Mike.  The cleric is from a package of four expansion figures for the TSR boardgames Dungeon, based, I believe, on an article in a Strategic Review or Dragon. (The expansion, that is...) He drifted in as part of an eBay lot with a lot of nice (and unusual) Heritage stuff early in my eBay obsession, so also almost two years ago.

While most of them have been done for a while, here's the Fellowship lined up:

I mentioned in my Huzzah report that I took my 1/72 Hordes of the Things armies with me.  These mixed manufacturer Vikings were finished in time for the trip, but Ross's army was using pretty much the same figures, so I thought it would be less confusing to leave them out of the game. (My army was mostly Airfix Sheriff of Nottingham and Robin Hood figures...)

That puts me at 5 bases of "Cold Islanders" for the campaign, so I hope to get back to painting more of them soon.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Huzzah 2017 After Action Report

After taking a year off from Huzzah in 2016 (for my son's college graduation), I made the trip again this year.

Huzzah takes place in Portland, Maine, at a hotel near the airport, which makes flying very practical.  This year my significant other was up for a road trip and some shopping at the nearby L.L. Bean outlet, so I was able to pack my 40mm Renaissance figures to be half of a game run with my long-time collaborator Ross Macfarlane.  In some future year, though, I may find myself limited to staging a game that is air-transportable, but that's a topic for a different post.

The general stress of life has been a little high this year, so I was fortunate that Ross was up to the task of doing most of the planning for our game, as well as acting as the convention liaison for the contingent of HAWKs who came up for the weekend.  As the convention approached, I have been working on something else entirely (1/72 fantasy), so Ross dipped into his vast collection of miniatures and came up with a 1/72 Hordes of the Things army so that we'd have an alternative pick up game.

Irene and I reached Portland on Thursday evening after an uneventful drive.  Official gaming at Huzzah starts after lunch on Friday, so there was a little time to relax and make ready.  When Ross arrived, we grabbed a table for a quick review game of the 40mm Renaissance rules we use, and then moved on to our first official game.

We were both in a 54mm English Civil War game, using plastic figures from A Call to Arms and the Very Civile Actions rules from The Perfect Captain.  The gamemaster, Jeff Estabrook, had chosen the Battle of Brentford, immediately after Edgehill at the beginning of the war, as the basis of his scenario, and we had a good game of pushing around pike blocks.  I used to do ECW in 25mm, but sold them off some years ago, figuring that one pike and shot project (40mm 16th century) was probably enough.  I think I'll maintain that resolve, but I was reminded that I like the toy soldier feel of gaming with the big figures.

My troops at Brentford

Ross surveys the battlefield

Ross and I set up our game in the after-supper time block.  We used a generic scenario drawn from the Stuart Asquith book on solo wargaming, which we set in the 1544 Boulogne campaign, part of Henry VIII's second French war, and which is more or less the default time frame for our troop collections.  The scenario involved two forces on converging paths, each tasked with holding a village and exiting troops off a single road on the far side of the field.  Our forces were somewhat asymmetrical, with the French being heavier, and the English (and allies) being superior in firepower.  I thought the game went well, with all of the players remaining actively engaged right up to the end at the four hour mark.  The French were edged out of the village and blocked from exiting, but it was a near run thing in both cases.

My pikes, French today, advance toward the village

The starting positions; armies converging

My village of Fat Dragon Fold-flat buildings

The English advance guard

Push of Pike!

Ross ran an impromptu demonstration of Bob Cordery's Portable Wargame rules in the Saturday morning block, and I had a go at evicting the British from Zululand a couple of times, using an eclectic mix of 54mm troops from Ross's collection.  Forces ranged from A Call to Arms plastic Zulus to 80 year old vintage Britains, recently restored and repainted.  I already have a copy of The Portable Wargame, so happily I'm ready to try this at home, perhaps using some troops that haven't been out in a while.

Some war-games veterans here...

On Saturday afternoon, local gamer Rob Wheeler (who does business as Pennyfew Painting) stopped in to deliver some commissions and to play a couple of rounds of Dragon Rampant.  His war band was composed primarily of vintage Ral Partha figures, and I fielded two different bands, one of mostly Ral Partha figures, "The Masters of Lizards", and one entirely of early Heritage figures, "Forest Defenders". They were equally unsuccessful, so I will be looking for some revenge at a future convention...

Two Robs

Heritage Treemen send the Ral Partha bugbears packing; one of my few moments of triumph...

Rob's army advances; my RAFM Reptiliads are helpless.

I had not preregistered for anything for the convention (see comment regarding life stress above), so the Saturday evening games were pretty much closed out.  Therefore Ross, Irene, and I had an unhurried dinner at a steak place across the street, and then came back to set up a pickup game of Hordes of the Things, using the 1/72 scale plastics we had brought.  Once again, my skills were wholly inadequate to the situation at hand, and my army was sent packing with a 6:1 loss ratio by Ross's barbarians (built from a mix of Revell Saxons, Orion Vikings, and the classic Airfix Ancient Britons).  

Ross with his improvised army

Ross's Black Cauldron

Ross did a reprise of the Portable Wargame on Sunday morning, so I had a quick session using Russian Civil War figures against fellow HAWK Duncan Adams, before heading out for the long drive home.

Time to go until next year

Huzzah remains a great local convention.  I was glad to be back this year, and look forward to attending again next year, although I might be a little more proactive about registering for games in advance.