Saturday, June 20, 2020

Down the Rabbit Hole, Part 2 ...

I mentioned last time that I had decided to cast a batch of Prince August fantasy figures (as well as some historicals for my Dux Bellorum project).  I grabbed five of them with reasonably good casting quality and tried painting them with my travel paint kit.  It’s taken all week to get them finished, time being somewhat scarce, but here they are.  The sorceress and the spearman were shown before basing last week.  From left to right, we have a sorceress from mold 657 (Wizards), a female rogue/fighter from mold 660 (Female Adventurers), an archer from mold 669 (Heroes and Fighters), a spearman from mold 652 (Men of the City), and a barbarian leader from mold 670 (Barbarians II).

Sample Troupe of Prince August Figures

I had fun painting them, which, of course, is the main object.  I set up another dozen, including some sample dwarves, and enough spearmen to start looking like a unit plus a Men of the City swordsman/officer, and we’ll see if I make any progress on them in the near term.

While the Oathmark game remains the end goal, once I finish this dozen, I will probably try cleaning up and painting some goblins, orcs and trolls, which would give me a chance to get them on the table as a small skirmish game, probably using A Song of Blades and Heroes.

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Down the rabbit hole...

TL;DR version: Got out some Prince August molds, cast things unrelated to any recent projects...

This has been an eventful month here in the United States, which has been interfering with my motivation to play with toy solders.  I delayed a remote game expected to be played with my brother (a re-visit of Chainmail) and it’s now been several weeks since I laid out a game, and (until yesterday) as long since I put a brush to a figure.

However, I have been keeping my eyes open for anything interesting in vintage toy soldier molds, and recently received two packages containing these three molds:

Newly arrived vintage molds
 The top one is a Buck Rogers in the 25th Century mold, one which is new to the club collection.  I foresee a resurgence in the influence of the Tigermen of Mars in the near future...

My brother has been practicing his sculpting again recently.  (He’s the artistic one in the family.) That led him to think about mold-making and casting, so that he’ll be ready when he sculpts something he likes.  He has a small collection of Prince August molds that I gave him a few years ago, and decided that he would finally get them out and try casting.  He ordered a melting pot, and ten pounds of lead-free pewter (“Britannia metal”, an alloy of ~92% Sn, ~8% Sb, balance Cu, to be specific) from  Nathan Trotter.  (You’ve got to love a company that’s been in the pewter business since 1789...).  They were very polite about his inquiry and ten pound order and responded promptly, which is the sort of business style getting to be all too rare these days, so I wanted to give them a shout-out.

Prompted by his interest, I ended up deciding that it was finally time to convert over to lead-free material as well, so I ordered 25 pounds of the same material, and had it on my doorstep the next morning.  The very same delivery also brought me my long-ago-preordered copy of Oathmark, a new set of fantasy mass battle rules from Osprey Games, written by Joe McCullough, the author of  Frostgrave and Ghost Archipelago.

Osprey’s latest, from the creator of Frostgrave

I had agreed to watch over my brother’s shoulder (remotely, of course) as he tried casting, and then I set up my own casting equipment so that he could watch the way I did it.  That’s how I ended up casting Prince August figures from rubber molds rather than trying out the new vintage mold collection.

Setting up the melting pots outdoors
I decided that I would cast some figures I would want for my Dux Bellorum project.  To prepare for that, I went through my existing inventory of castings and started organizing them into unit sets.  I concluded that I needed some horse, some shields, and some skirmishers, so I pulled out the appropriate molds and went to work.

I was interested to see that the Britannia metal has good flow characteristics, and my success rate in pours was pretty good.

Results of a casting session
I had spent a little more time preparing the molds in advance, cutting additional vents pretty aggressively.  I was pleased to find that the Persian cataphract figure (who at Prince August in 1982 thought that multiple part 25s was a good idea?) was suddenly casting with both arm variations and the open hand all in good shape.  

Prince August 605, Persian Cataphract
The bow and quiver will need to be removed or disguised to render him a more generic western Dark Ages horseman, but at least the multiple separate head system allows me to substitute something more generic (e.g. a spangenhelm) for the big Persian hat.  It will be time to work on cavalry.  

Because I needed shields, and also wanted the somewhat Roman-esque archer from the Prince August 652 (Men of the City) mold, I ended up pouring that mold quite a few times.  Add the figures that were coming out reasonable well, and the new fantasy mass battle rules (which my brother also decided to buy), and the next thing I knew, I was deciding to do trial casting on all of the fantasy molds I own, especially the ones that have never been tested. 

That had to wait until this weekend, though.  To keep the process orderly, I decided that I would take them in catalog number order, starting with the molds I hadn’t used, so I skipped over 651 (Barbarians) and 652 (Men of the City) and started with 653 (Dwarves).  You can see from the picture below what I mean about aggressive venting.  However, it seems to have paid off, since between that and the new metal, the success rate was running above 75% yesterday.  

Prince August 653, Dwarves (old mold)
I tried molds 653-658 (Dwarves, Wood Elves, Orcs, Troll and Goblins, Wizards, and Armored Dwarves) as well as the half-armored Persian cataphract horse to go with last week’s rider.  I turned out about 70 reasonable castings in a two hour session.  Irene, my partner, wanted to know whether this was really cheaper than buying figures.  I weighed the human-sized figures in the new metal, and it looks like one could expect about 40 25mm humans on foot from a pound of the material.  At $12.50 per pound for a 25 pound order, that works out to less than 32 cents per figure in metal cost.  With vintage 25s from Iron Wind metals running $3.50 or more, the answer is a resounding “Yes”.  She also wanted to know how long the molds lasted, and I really don’t know the answer to that.  The most-used 40mm NQSYW molds I own have produced hundreds of castings and seem to be fine.  At $15/mold or so, the amortized cost  of the molds is probably less than a penny per figure.  The amount of time invested in the casting process is also not much; yesterday’s session averages out to less than two minutes per figure.  There is certainly more time needed to prepare a home cast figure for painting than a commercial figure of similar complexity (i.e., if containing the same number of pieces needing assembly).

That leaves questions of art to be considered.  An individual home cast figure, due to the limitations of the process, is going to be less detailed than a commercial spin-cast figure.  On the other hand, simpler castings can be easier to paint, and that’s a plus if your goal is to fill the table with painted armies. On the third hand, the variety of castings in somewhat limited.  On the fourth hand, limitations make good art...

My brother has tentatively decided that he is building his Oathmark armies with home cast figures (jumping into the deep end?).  While considering the question of whether I am backing him up in this endeavor (in the hopes of running a joint game at a convention someday), I started painting a few trial castings.

Sorceress from Prince August 657 (Wizards)
While the main benefit of casting things is that masses of troops are inexpensive, I do have molds for things that would only be needed in small numbers.  I don’t think the sorceress came out badly as an individual.
Spearman from Prince August 652 (Men of the City)
The spearman is one I cast last weekend.  I’ve got five more sitting on my desk to be cleaned up, and we’ll see what a unit might look like.  

I’d like to try a small skirmish with Oathmark before I write a rules review.  My first observation, though, is that the use of a non-standard basing system is mildly off-putting.  Units have a fixed maximum frontage of five figures, with a fixed base size of 25mm square for most foot.  Prince August “true 25s” are going to look like they are in pretty loose order, so I am currently thinking that I am going to be using group movement (sabot) stands.  

So that’s what’s been going on here. I’m glad to have painted anything, and hope to get back around to the French Revolution, the Renaissance, and even the NQSYW while I’m in the mood for home cast projects.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Death on the Nile, in Remote DBA

During the current  difficulties, I have been keeping in touch with the hobby by playing games remotely.  Happily, years of practice left us ready for this.  Yesterday, my sons had their turn, as I hosted a game for the two of them, separately remote.  Since younger son William acquired DBA 3.0  fall, we have had a resurgence of interest in the game, and older son Norman and I (well, mostly Norman) have been at work reshaping and extending an earlier 1/72 Bronze Age project to cover more of the possible armies of the 13th century BCE.  For yesterday’s game, we pitted the ancient Libyans (DBA Army I/7b) against the New Kingdom Egyptians (I/22b).

 I set up the iPad on a tripod, having recently acquired a tripod mount for it, and laid out the reversible 3x3 ground cloth on the desert side.

Norman elected to command the Libyans, and William was therefore cast as the Egyptians.

We had to use a spare Egyptian chariot on a sabot base in lieue of the as-yet-unbuilt Libyan chariot, and the camps were also improvised.  Of the choices that we could make, Norman elected to take an element of Sea Peoples “blades” rather than a second chariot, and William elected to deploy his Sherden guards as “solid” (rather than “fast”) blades.

The terrain system gave us a waterway along one edge (as the Egyptians, a “littoral” culture, were defending).  William chose to use his amphibious capability to land two elements, some Nubian skirmishers and a renegade Libyan warband, behind the Libyan line in a bid to capture the enemy camp.

The battle then commenced.  William’s amphibious force won an early advantage by destroying two of Norman’s right flank skirmishers, but faltered in their attack on the camp.  After a single attempt, the situation in the main battle demanded all of his attention and command pips.

There was a good deal of pushing and shoving along the left end of the Libyan line (the Egyptian right), and eventually Norman’s Libyan “warbands” came screaming down off the hill in a bid to destroy the Egyptian infantry (against which they had a quick kill capability).  He was in the unenviable position of attempting to hold off chariots with skirmishers while hoping for some luck with the warbands, and the dice were not with him.  A couple of turns into the main fight, William finally overcame his cold dice situation, and killed two elements out on his right flank for the win.  

The video quality was still a little underwhelming, so we supplemented it by taking and texting pictures of the situations on demand.  As a result, the game took rather longer than it would have face to face.  However, if there’s one thing that most of us have these days, it’s time on the weekends.  With side discussion, set up, and the like, we were at it for about two hours.  We all agreed that we need to gain a little more familiarity with the rules, as extensive play with the first edition of Hordes of the Things was tripping us up fairly regularly.

Next time, perhaps we shall dig out the 2nd Punic War figures; they haven’t seen a battle in several years...

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Catching Up a Bit — Scenery and Remote Games

I haven’t done well at updating my blog the past couple of weeks, but all is still well here under lockdown.  I am still finding myself too distracted to paint as I would like to, but I have gotten the big brushes and craft paint out and had a go at some scenery.  First up is another of the resin village buildings I’ve been working on, the “Trader’s Shack“ from Apocalypse Miniatures.     
Apocalypse Miniatures “Trader’s Shack”

I am looking forward to getting the village into a game; at three buildings plus the outhouse, it’s starting to look like something.  A fourth large building, the Apocalypse “farm house” is on the painting desk with some paint on it.

Last weekend I pulled out all of the 25mm scenery boxes, sorted, consolidated, and labeled, so I now have an empty 12 liter Really Useful Box earmarked (and labeled) for transporting scenery for away games, and all of the scenery pieces have a labeled box to call home, so that can be sorted back after use.
Scenery Organization in Progress
In the upper right corner of the organization picture, a tan ruined tower can be seen.  I think I acquired this from a dealer at Huzzah a couple of years ago.  The manufacturer had already gone out of business, so I couldn’t get one in the grays I usually use for scenery.  Since I found it while organizing, I was reminded that I should try repainting it.

Wartorn Worlds ruined tower repainted...

...and with a little vegetation added to enhance it.
Happily, the recycled tire material seemed to take paint well, and I am pretty happy with the enhanced piece.  Now that it looks like it fits in with the rest of the scenery, I hope to have it on the table soon.

Following the scenery sorting, I set up a game of Burrows and Badgers.

My brother joined me remotely, seen in the upper right where a clamp to mount my iPad to a photographic tripod had arrived to make remote gaming easier.

We ran B&B last year at Gencon, so I used two of the war bands I had statted out, printed, and laminated.  I took the unlucky Reynard the highwayfox with his new-fangled pistol, and Norman took Sir Caradoc, a noble dog of the old school.

Reyanrd’s camp about to be attacked; ruined doorway by Reaper
A roll for scenarios brought us an ambush of a camp, and Reynard was elected to be the ambushee.  While he actually had some success with the pistol, for a change, Caradoc personally managed to bring him to justice.  I was reminded that I have an unfilled appetite for some detailed skirmish gaming; I should do something about that.

Just before everything locked down, I ordered a Hot Wire Foam Factory kit and picked up some 2’x2’ sections of pink insulation board from the Home Despot to work on my scenery upgrade.  The first warm day we had, I took the foam cutter outside and sliced up a few test hills.

Hot Wire Foam Factory test output
I recently acquired a neoprene mat from Frontline Games to be the usual basis for miniatures in the gaming table.  I hoped that Woodland Scenics flock would be a reasonable enough match; otherwise it’ll be post-lockdown before I can use the sand and house paint technique.  When I flocked the first test hill, I found that I had misplaced the reserve stock of flock, so I needed to reserve what I had for miniatures.  It was close, but I thought that it might be improved with some mottling of other flock shades. 
Small test hill with a rocky section
Eventually the flock supply arrived. (Thank you, USPS, for continuing to work during this!)  I tried again, and thought that would probably do.

Multiple flock colors
With the remote game this weekend, I was able to open up the table, which has generally been in use as my partner’s work-at-home space, and set up a game, including the test hills.

Corner hill...2.5” will be the limit if I want them to be flush with the top of the well.

You can judge the overall results from the set-up picture.

Terrain layout for this week’s game
This week’s remote game was played by Chris Palmer, who volunteered to help me out by taking one side in a pending battle in my Northlands (usually solo) campaign.  I shall hope to get a separate battle report up for that, but the short version is that the defenders of the kingdom of Darmis defeated a detachment of raiders from the neighboring kingdom of Verdance.  The small encounter was played out using the Dragon Rampant rules, and the “Crystal Gale” scenario from the rule book.  With that out of the way, I can figure out what the other pending battle looks like, and then get on with the next month’s worth of map movement.

The leaders of the two forces meet in battle, with the local cavalry sending the raiders packing
  At least with a solo campaign, nobody else is inconvenienced if it takes a while to resolve the next event.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

The Pass at Gelbehuegul (Player’s Commentary)

 Ross Macfarlane and I were planning to run a couple of games using A Gentleman’s War at Huzzah in Portland, Maine next month.  With Huzzah cancelled for this year, that isn’t going to happen, but we decided to go ahead and try a remote game using the rules anyway.  I volunteered to host the game, and decided that I would deploy my Alpha Gaming Table in the library, as it seems likely that the extra space (4x6 vice my dedicated game table at 3x5) would be welcome when using the 40mm figures.

 There isn’t a lot of aisle space around this table when deployed.  I like the Alpha Gaming Table, but there is no denying that it trades portability off against stability (i.e. it shakes when bumped), which means I’m happier playing solo on it when in tight quarters.  I have nobody to blame but myself if things get knocked.

Ross left the choice of scenario to me, and, having nothing particular in mind and wanting to see how AGW handled the use of our usual scenario library, I dug into C.S. Grant’s class Scenarios for Wargames.  I resolved to set up the first one that I came to that a) I hadn’t tried before and b) seemed suitable for the force and table constraints.

The Green Book

I didn’t have to look very far, as Scenario 3 was one that I had not set up before.  

Holding Action (1)
Now, as it turns out, I had forgotten that Ross had run that same scenario as an NQSYW game using A Gentleman’s War as well.  I should have read that report before playing this game as the attacker.

In any case, the order of battle was such that I could pull it out of my troop boxes without any problem, with 1 Grant Green Book unit equal to 1 AGW unit.  (I have a translation note for Charge games, which don’t work out as well at a 1:1.). The game is supposed to have a time limit, but we decided to leave that question open, since AGW doesn’t have a specific time translation built in.

So, at the agreed time, I had all the forces pulled out and dropped on the table.  Ross was represented by an iPad perched on a ladder, with a power cord available in case the game ran long.  I have finally gotten smart and ordered an iPad mount for my actual photograph tripod, which should be an improvement over ladders and such when it finally arrives.


The view from his perch was approximately what is seen in the first picture.  

To spread the work around a little bit, I asked Ross to handle the card deck.  I pulled out a deck as well, so that I had a visual reminder of the hold card situation, requiring only some occasional questions to keep up to date.

Ross talked me through deploying his troops, and I rolled dice to distribute my forces into the two columns discussed in the fictionalized version of this report.  As it turned out, my cavalry all ended in one column, and that one being the one whose natural avenue of advance was into the decidedly cavalry-unfriendly hill.  

My main player problem was that I couldn’t get an  substantial attack organized.  Deployment out of the town was slow, and each unit, advancing to create room for the next to try to deploy, was shot up by Ross’s cannons, perched one on each hill.  It took him a few moves to get into his troops into his final battlefield configuration, but, when he did, it only took 2 cards for him to activate his entire force, clear his activation markers, and start over.  At best, with 13 units on my side, it was going to take 4 cards to cycle and start activation again, and I got scattered and was not always able to approach that, often needing 5 or 6 cards to cycle.  

The net result was that any unit approaching his position was likely to be fired on 2-3 times between its actions, which meant that I needed to assemble a mass to dilute the effect of the fire, or to be lucky on activations.  Attacking piecemeal was certainly my own fault, but I feel that my luck was a little below average on the saving throws against fire and the morale checks...and it would have to have been considerably above average to have prevailed.  

Both of my forlorn hope attacks on the guns, one by the hussars on my right and one by the light infantry on my left, had one chance to succeed, and luck wasn’t with me.  (Luck is not a strategy...) After that, the cycle advantage took care of those troops as well.

By the time Ross ground my 3:2 advantage in troops down to less than parity, I could see the handwriting on the wall, and decided to throw in the towel.  

I should note that the cycle advantage that Ross was exploiting so ably is a deliberate feature of the rules.  Had we played using Charge, it would have been difficult for the defender (i.e. Ross’s side) to put so much unanswered fire on the attackers.  I suspect that I have avoided using that scenario with Charge due to an assessment that the attacker’s superiority in numbers would render the situation impossible for the defenders. (Now I’ll have to test that in some future game...)

In any case, it was a good afternoon, and I’m always glad to see the NQSYW troops on the table.  perhaps I’ll now be inspired to paint some extra standard bearers for them, so that I can deploy my 60 man Charge units as 4 or so AGW units each with a distinctive flag.

One note on the fiction: In our game fiction, the Not Quite Seven Years War proper is a conflict between Schoeffen-Buschhagen (and allies—The Pragmatic Coalition) and North Polenburg (and allies—The Northern Alliance) and takes place around 175x.  When none of the principal armies of the Alliance are available because I (and my sons, before they grew up and moved away) are playing at home, our fictional convention is that the battles take place in the earlier War of the Western League (around 174x).  It stays rather more loosely defined, to avoid “historical” anomalies.

The name for this battle commemorates the use of the desert terrain hills, since my hill upgrade remains a future element of the whole scenery upgrade program, so the town ends up being named after the distinctive Yellow Hills to the north.  Town buildings are Dave Graffam card models built at their default scale (for 30mm figures) and are therefore somewhat sub-scale, which does not seem inappropriate with the overall toy soldier look of a game in action.

The Pass at Gelbehuegel

In the summer of 174x, the Nth year of the War of the Western League, an army of the Pragmatic Coalition was advancing northward in an effort to lay siege to the city of Schluesselbrett, and perhaps cause the Archbishop to sue for peace separately.  However, the Archbishop had turned his defenses over to General Schachlaufer (reportedly a nom-de-guerre of the notorious mercenary general MacDuff).  Schachlaufer, whose coupe de lo’oeil seldom failed him, looked over the possible approach routes to the city, and chose to make a stand at Gelbehuegel, where the northward roads converged, and the then combined route ran through a defile which would allow him to make the most of his limited troop strength.

The battlefield, before the arrival of the armies. Schachlaufer’s line of deployment in red, roads used by converging Coalition columns in green, North to the top of the picture.
 He had available to him two brigades of troops, a native Schluesselbrett contingent of two infantry battalions, a battery of artillery, and a squadron of light dragoons, and an allied brigade of two infantry battalions and an artillery battery from Hesse-Hattemstadt (in blue coats) and a battalion of Saxe-Kirchdorf jaegers (in purple).

Later in the battle, but illustrating the deployment of the League forces, with Schuesselbrett troops on the southern hill, allies on the northern, and the light dragoons in reserve on the road

As seen in the illustration, he elected to deploy with his local brigade guarding the hill to the south (his right) and the allied brigade guarding the hill to the north (his left).  With the troops emplaced, there was nothing to do but await the approach of the enemy.

The plans of the Pragmatic Coalition that day were flawed from the outset.  Bad maps had led General Nordstrom (a distinguished Wachovian officer in overall command of the Coalition forces) to believe that two roads continued to parallel each other beyond the defile at Gelbehuegel, and that the actuals hills north of the town were less of an obstacle than was actually the case.  He had divided his forces into an infantry column (of five battalions of line infantry, a battalion of jaegers, and a battery of artillery) and a cavalry column (four squadrons of various cavalry supported by a battalion of veteran Wachovian line infantry and a second battery of guns).

Coalition infantry deploying and attempting to assault the northern hill
There was a great deal of confusion as the heads of the columns ran into each other in the streets of Gelbehuegul.  General Nordstrom found himself stuck in the back of the infantry (left) column attempting to bring some order to the chaotic situation.  At the front of the infantry column, his subordinate, General Adelmann, was the first to see that that the enemy had decided to make a stand at the defile.  He ordered the lead battalions of infantry to deploy and to attack the lower slopes of the northern hill, where the enemy artillery could be seen deployed, and the King Rupert Jaegers to attack the southern hill, using light infantry tactics to (hopefully) suppress the battery there, and allow the remaining infantry to deploy.  The attack was unsuccessful, and the Jaegars suffered fearsome casualties, pinned down by canister fire from the guns.

Visible at the top right, the Jaegers make their unsuccessful attack on the Schluesselbrett position

Meanwhile, on the Coalition right, the cavalry brigade, under the command of Prince Norbert of Schoeffen-Buschhagen, attempted to untangle itself from the traffic jam in the streets of the town. The Prince sent his light cavalry, a mixed lot of Hussars from both Wachovia and Schoeffen-Buschhagen, forward to see what could be done.  The S-B hussars gallantly attempted a charge against the gun position on the northern hills, but difficulties in traversing the terrain left them exposed to the fire of the guns, ably supported by the Saxe-Kirchdorf light infantry infesting the woods, for far too long, and they withdrew (a considerable distance, as it turns out) to the rear to regroup.

The Coalition infantry attempts to organize an attack

General Adelmann’s attempt to attack in the center was doomed from the start.  Coalition forces were unable to suppress the League artillery, and the entire area of fields north of the town were swept by artillery fire.  As each infantry battalion debouched from the tangled streets of the town and attempted to deploy, it was raked in turn by the deadly fire of the massed artillery.

The Coalition artillery finally reaches the battlefield, as the cavalry begins to clear the town

The provosts were finally able to untangle the mess in the town, and a lone Schoeffen-Buschhagen battery began to deploy, hoping to finally bring some fire onto the seemingly impregnable enemy position.  But it was too little, too late.  General Nordstrom, riding forward to view the situation, was appalled by the shambles left by the attempted infantry attack.  He ordered the General Retreat sounded.  The attack on Schluesselbrett might yet succeed, but not today.  As night fell and the guns fell silent, the battered Coalition army withdrew, to reorganize and perhaps try a more deliberate attack.
Remnants of the King Rupert Jaegers and infantry from the attack in the center stream off the field

Wachovian hussars withdraw, and the Wachovian infantry arrive, just in time for the retreat.

Another House for the Scenery Upgrade

In between other activities yesterday, I finished up another resin building for my (mostly fantasy) scenery upgrade project.  This one is simply called the cottage in the catalog of the Tabletop World 
company.  As with the Apocalypse Miniatures house I finished recently, I owe this one to my brother, who found an American distributor carrying them a few years ago at Gencon. I bought two, this one and a forge.  The forge is still awaiting work.  

While the painting work on this was spread out over several sessions separated by many months and a household move, it wasn’t particularly difficult, and, as you can see, the pieces are highly detailed and very cleanly cast.  They are not inexpensive, but I would happily buy soon as I get a few other things done, and provided that I can come up with a good storage system for them.  Unlike the Apocalypse Miniatures buildings, this range is hollow (in fact, it has some basic interior details), and is therefore lighter and perhaps a bit easier to transport.  This is still likely, though, to remain as part of the “home” set of scenery.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

A Slow Weekend...

Under the current circumstances, I am finding it more difficult to get anything hobby related done than I had hoped.  However, I am stress-baking like everyone else, so at least we have nice bread.

My neighbor gave me a sourdough starter on Friday, so I am experimenting with a loaf smells good, at least.
Bread baking results

I was politely asked to clean up my hobby space a bit, and one of the things cluttering the floor was my ready supply of bases.  I took the opportunity to replenish from the reserve stocks, so my bases are now neatly organized (and restored to their designated “place”) and merely need a few soldiers:

The Really Useful Box company sells the organizer trays; two will fit in a 4-liter box, and I have 60x60, 60x40, 60x30, and 60x20 bases and their flexible steel bottoms ready to go, as well as several sizes of round bases and a few specialty things like the 25x50mm cavalry lozenge bases in the bottom right pocket in the second picture.

Even if I haven’t been painting, I did find time for a game.  I mentioned that my brother and I had a Chaos Wars intro scenario on off at Cincycon last month.  Unfortunately, it had some balance issues, and we discovered that one side (the elves) would find it nearly impossible to win if the other side (the orcs/goblins) played a reasonable game and paid attention to their objectives.  We wondered, in retrospect, whether the basic forces were at all balanced.  So, my brother set up the two armies for an open field battle.  I took the elves, who had lost consistently during the demo games.  We played via Facetime, so all I have for pictures are some screen captures.

Here, as the armies advance to contact, the elves attempt to maintain a solid formation, and hope to use their bows to maximum advantage.

After some elvish dancing about, firing and falling back, etc., the elves were doing pretty well.  

As the orcish casualties mounted, the situation grew ever more dire.  At the end, only one elven unit (some horse archers barely discernible at the lower right) was routed, and the goblins had but a single relatively intact unit.  As it was a unit of longbows who had wreaked significant damage on the elves, it was decided that the elves would not press the pursuit closely, but would permit the orcs to retire and lick their wounds.

All in all, not a bad game for an idle two hours on a Saturday afternoon.  The elves won so handily that we agreed that the problem we had had was the result of a scenario/victory condition issue rather than a basic imbalance of forces, so the next game is likely to be about changing the victory conditions for the demo scenario.