Sunday, September 8, 2019

Triumph of the Orcs

As mentioned in the previous post, it was my plan to get a game on the table with the "new" Middle Earth figures, and my brother was able to give me a hand by commanding the orcs remotely.  We played using Dragon Rampant, and tried the "Death Chase" scenario, basically an ambush.  We surmised that the orcs ambushed the allies while the latter were marching between Dale and Laketown, or some such...


My brother had a unit of elite foot (the goblin king and bodyguards), two units of better orcs (light foot with bows mixed), one unit of lesser orcs (light foot), one unit of wolves (lesser warbeasts) and  one unit of goblin scum (ravenous horde).  I had the elf king and bodyguard (heavy foot), two elf foot units (light foot with mixed bows), one human foot (light foot), and the dwarves (elite foot with magic weapons).  We rolled for leader special characteristics and both rolled a 9, giving us the ability to ignore fear.  Since there were no fearsome units in the game, we promptly forgot about that.  I rolled to see if the dwarves' magic weapons were effective, which they were not.  

With Norman remoting in, we kept the board simple, so that my forces were basically just trying to get down a road, and the only piece of terrain that got involved in the action was a small patch of woods on my right.

The basic set up can be inferred from the overarching shot (3rd picture) below.  I had, from left to right, humans, elves, elf king, dwarves, and elves, and the orcs were split into two detachments (per the scenario instructions) with a better orc, the lesser orcs, and the goblin scum to my left, with the balance, the wolves, the other better orcs, and the goblin king to my right. 


My brother consults the rules, with his view of the table inset on the left
The ambushed side cannot, by the scenario special instructions, attack or shoot in the first two turns. One of those was quick, as we each failed to activate early in the turn, but, unlike some Dragon Rampant games, we didn't have many turns with sudden shifts of fortune related to activation failures.  We had plenty of turns in which all units successfully activated.

Armored goblins, in their first outing as a full unit
Norman's basic plan was to sweep in with his two detachments and block the road.  The light foot predominating on both sides is better defending than attacking, and I had the obligation to attack him to push through to the far table edge, so it was a good plan. 

As the battle develops; note the wolves lurking in the woods

As can be seen above, by a few turns in, each side ended up in a U.  The red marker on the humans above is a battered marker; they were routed early by the shooting of the armored goblins.

The elvish foot on the left stands off the lesser orcs
In the center, the lesser orcs attempted to drive back elvish foot, but failed, and were eventually routed by bow fire.  Unfortunately for me, the elves soon went the same way...

The wolves make little impression on the dwarves
The dwarves advanced straight up the road, and were first hit by the wild charge of the wargs.  They successfully repelled the wargs, and then went toe to toe with the goblin king.

The dwarves withstand an attack by the goblin king
By that time, everything else on the goodly folk side had routed, leaving the few remaining dwarves to attempt a heroic charge up the road into a somewhat reduced unit of better orcs.  Unfortunately, the orcs shot well, and the last few dwarves perished under a hail of black-feathered arrows.

At the end, all allies fled, the dwarves final charge at the orcs

So it was another sad day for the good folk, and there was celebration in the tunnels of the Misty Mountains.

It took us about two hours to play the game, and Dragon Rampant works pretty well remotely.  The 3" required spacing between units and the one unit at a time activation mean that exact positioning is seldom important, so command is made a little easier for the remote player.

These figures are likely to be back out again as soon as a few additional units are painted...

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Minifg ME Orcs — Game like it’s 1975...

I have a game using the Mythical Earth (ME) collection scheduled for this afternoon, so I was pleased to be able to put a final varnish coat on a few more troops.  Several of these guys will be needed for the game.

As seen in the August painting post, I have managed to acquire some inspiration (from epic muse Calliope, no doubt; historical muse Clio having taken the week off) for working on the ME project, and that carried through this week, with 4 ME23 true orc archers and 3 ME24 true orc swordsmen.  The ME23 isn’t a bad one to paint; with modern techniques you can get a quick shading effect on the folds of the cloak and tunic, but there isn’t much to do with ME24.  My brother has done some with red eye tattoos on their foreheads (since it’s the largest blank area on the figure), and I took that as the inspiration for some warpaint.  Since I already have a composite unit of archers and swordsmen completed (with three of these archers), these swordsmen are the first of a second composite unit, and I think I’ll go ahead and do the warpaint on the rest of the swordsmen as a handy way of identifying the units on the table.

However, before I do that, it’s time to file and prime, because these seven were the last orcs and goblins ready to paint.  With any luck, I’ll set up another 8 this weekend, and a unit of 12 ME50 goblins.



Saturday, August 31, 2019

August painting

Now that we have reached the 31st, I am pretty sure that I am not going to get any more painting done this month.  It’s been a pretty good month, overall, with the 40mm artillery, a handful of 1/72 plastics including the carts for the next solo game, and two batches of vintage Minifig ME figures.



This is the third unit of 12 ME50 goblins; I did a quick inventory and found that I have 36 on hand, so I need three more shield design themes for the units.  I’m thinking hands, skulls, and mountains.


My old friend Joe handed me a little batch of 5 ME56 armored goblins a while ago, and I got them finished this week as well.  That gives me 13, a unit with one left over.  When I played a game with them back in February, I had them mixed in with the true orcs.  Now that they are to be split out, I need to finish up enough additional true orcs to round out those units.


Getting in another solo game with the 1/72 Portable Fantasy Campaign is on my to-do list.  I worked out recently what the next scenario was to be, and found that I needed three convoy elements, so I figured that I would use a Robin Hood Maid Marion as an escorted noblewoman for one.  That left me two to find, and I had these two carts from the Strelets Crusader Transport set primed.  It seemed like a good time to finish them.  I’m on my own next weekend, so I hope to set the game up and actually play it.


Thursday, August 29, 2019

NQSYW Artillerymen

Inspired by the recent games, I have been painting an artillery crew for one of the minor NQSYW countries, Hesse-Hattemstadt. Some years ago, we collected the remnants of someone else's 40mm imagi-nations project from the flea market at Cold Wars. My son and I added a number of figures to each of the armies in 2012 and 2013, but got away from that as priorities shifted. We added a red-coated artillery crew for the other country from that group as part of that effort, but these figures had remained stubbornly on the "to-do" list...until this month.

Monday, August 26, 2019

The Campaign Season Opens (NQSYW Battle reports)


As mentioned previously, Chris Palmer and I got together for a game day on the 12th of August.  His report on these two battles has already been posted, and can be found here.  For both of these battles, we used A Gentleman's War, and randomized the exact orders of battle.  We then poked around in the book's scenario suggestions for something that look plausible with the forces involved.  

I don't think that I can sustain a full fictional battle report today...


My notes for the battles
The first battle, the Defense of Schepper's Farm, used the Isolated Detachment scenario from the rules.  Both sides had six units, but the Schoeffen-Buschhagen defenders had only two of them (a battalion of the Adelmann regiment and a battery of field guns) at the start, defending the walled farm enclosure, while the other four (2 battalions of the King Rupert Jaegers, a squadron of the Szathmari Hussars, and a horse gun battery) formed the relief force, and did not appear until the first joker was drawn.  

Schepper's Farm: The North Polenburg cavalry advances.
The battle opened with the North Polenburg cavalry sweeping forward in the center while their infantry slogged through the woods on either flank.  The Schoeffen-Buschhagen field artillery, emplaced behind the stout walls of Schepper's Farm opened fire, causing casualties among the hussars on the near end of the cavalry formation.

Schepper's Farm: Extended view of the action; defenders to the right.
As the North Polenburg infantry struggled forward, impeded by the woods and the steady fire of the farm's defenders, the cavalry formed up on the unprotected side of the farm and charged toward the S-B positions.  Although the gunners managed to level a gun or two around and get off a last round of canister, the dragoons swept across their position and the last gunners fled.  The infantry defenders managed to form up in the newly introduced square formation, and repelled the horsemen.  As the N-P attackers reformed to continue the attack, the King Rupert Jaegers, arrayed for battle, were seen approaching the farm, and other S-B troops were also arriving. 


Schepper's Farm: The Schoeffen-Buschhagen relief force arrives.

Conscious of the need to husband troop strength at the very beginning of what might be a decisive campaign season, the North Polenburg commander made the decision to sound the retreat.

Schepper's Farm: Overview of table position at the end of the game.

After some lunch and a visit to the friendly local game store, Chris and I reset the table for a second game.  This time we started with the scenario, electing a deliberate attack to seize a strategic point, which we chose to represent with a bridge.   I took a force of six units generated from the garrison table (and ended up with a light infantry, three line infantry, and two guns), and Chris took nine units from the main force table, ending up with five line infantry, two guns, a heavy cavalry unit, and a light cavalry unit.  After deploying, it looked like the defenders standing in the open were a bit vulnerable, so I grabbed some earthwork pieces from the collection and put down a redoubt.  I split my light infantry into two detachments, one on each flank.

Schlegelsbridge: The opening positions

North Polenburg commander oversees the deployment of his troops
As the battle opened, North Polenburg cavalry advanced on their left flank, to be met by intense fire from the Schoeffen-Buschhagen guns.

Schlegelsbridge: North Polenburg cavalry sweeps forward into a hail of cannon fire.
Nevertheless, their advance concerned the 2/Adelmann commander, and he ordered his unit to retire to a more secure position.  Meanwhile, in the center, the North Polenburg infantry advanced bravely into a withering fire from the redoubt.  No progress could be made until an astute N-P artilery commander realized that his guns could be emplaced in an enclosed field in such a way as to enfilade the right end of the redoubt.  As their fire began to tell, the issue was in doubt...briefly.  The S-B guns on the south side of the river opened a long range fire on the N-P artillery position, and, with a sudden roar and vast column of smoke, half of the N-P artillery were eliminated by a lucky shot.  One presumes that a howitzer shell set off a carelessly deployed powder stock...

Schlegelsbridge: the 2nd battalion of the Adelmann Regiment falls back.
The North Polenburgers, though, did not lack bravery, and pressed forward with an attack on the S-B left flank.  Briefly driving the defenders from the wood and the left end of the redoubt, mounting casualties left them unable to hold the position, and, once again, the North Polenburg commander was compelled to retire.
Schlegelsbridge: The Jaegers defend the woods at the S-B left flank.
As Chris notes in his battle report, perhaps this would have been better balanced if the redoubt had been rated as a little less sturdy, but he came close to clearing it, so I suspect that another unit, or perhaps two, would have given a fully balanced scenario.

I am hope that a rematch will come soon.  It has been a great pleasure to see these forces on the table again, and we have been enjoying the rules a lot.  I am considering some sort of formal but simple campaign system, but more about that when it actually occurs...

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Gencon 2019 AAR


It has taken me longer than I like to get this report written, but here we are at last.

After the usual months of planning, Team Dean started arriving in Indianapolis for Gencon this year on Tuesday, 30 July.  I wondered whether the airport would have welcome mats out by then, since they didn't last year, but they did, on the individual jetways instead of a big one at the bottom of the escalator as they've had in some years.

My brother, a resident of nearby Bloomington, Indiana, picked Irene and me up from the airport, and we spent the night at his house.  He found himself up against the deadline with things still needing doing for his convention games, so he spent the evening painting.

The airport had the welcome mats out in the jetways this year
Wednesday remains the unofficial and trade day at Gencon.  Attendance is light, at least in the morning, but we were dealing with the consequences of a poor draw in the room lottery this year.  We had a hotel out by the airport and my brother wanted to park early, so that we could haul a handcart load of miniatures from the parking space to our assigned game table.  We arrived, therefore, around 9:00AM and had some breakfast.  We were signed up to run two Wednesday games, one being the Burrows and Badgers game at 3:00 requiring the hand cart, and the other being a warmup session of the Carcassonne board game.  We had none of the ticket holders for the Carcassonne game, but a wandering gamer from Sweden stopped by, so we recruited him and played a quick four-player round.  

The city was welcoming too
The Burrows and Badgers game was more successful.  We had five of the six pre-registered players show up, and could have filled the sixth seat as well, but the walk-in player also had a friend, and we couldn't take them both this time.  We dodged the question of how to play this game in a multi-player mode this year by setting up three one-on-one games, so six seats was a hard limit.  My brother ended up playing the sixth position.  For convention purposes, I went away with a few minor lessons learned specifically for this game, about information I could have included on each players' order of battle sheet, so a next effort will be better yet.  All of the players were actively engaged and required little referee intervention, both of which count as strong recommendations for this game.  I suppose I should post a full review one of these days...
   
Burrows and Badgers in progress

Two of my war bands clash in B&B
The B&B game took us up to supper time, so we deposited the packed up miniatures gear back at the car and headed out for a nice dinner.  William had arrived by car in time for dinner. We noted that the convention had basically come to life in the five hours we'd spent in the basement of Union Station.  After dinner we headed out to check in to the hotel and to await Norman's arrival by air.


We got an early start on Thursday.  My brother and I were running a Chaos Wars demo at 9:00, for people who didn't want to be part of the initial crush in the exhibition hall.  Four players showed up for this, and it was also a good game.  We had a brief break, enough to grab some lunch and plunge into the exhibition hall for a couple of booths' worth of time, and then it was time to run B&B again.  I got so busy running that I didn't take any pictures of the second session.


My brother sets up a Chaos Wars game
I wasn't signed up to run anything on Friday.  Irene and I did two dance classes by Counts to Nine.  These ladies do historical dance (English Country, Renaissance, etc.) for fun and professionally, and we had tried and enjoyed their classes last year.  This was a pleasantly physical interlude between all of the mentally challenging gaming, and I am looking forward to seeing what they have on offer again next year.  We also wandered out to Lucas Oil Stadium to see how the gaming was getting on there.  It's an interesting space.  This year they had the field lights turned on, so it was well lit, and the enormous volume dampens the sound, so it wasn't too noisy.  Apart from being a dedicated walk from the rest of the convention it's not a bad space.


Overview of the Lucas Oil Stadium floor converted for gaming

Since my second year at Gencon (and this year is the sixth consecutive), I have been signing up for speed painting (45 minutes, limited color selection).  You usually get a miniature and a brush for $2.00, so what's not to like.  This year, I managed to get two sessions into my schedule, back-to-back on Friday afternoon.  One was a Reaper Miniatures round, and the second was a Wyrd Miniatures round.  As painters go, I'm a decent wargame painter, and couldn't even begin to compete in the Gencon artistic painting event, but speed painting is pretty much what I do all the time, so I usually can hold my own.  In fact, I've been in a final round every year before this that I have entered, so I was hoping that I might be able to pull that off again.  For the Reaper event, we got a Chronoscope modern figure instead of a fantasy wizard, which was a pleasant surprise. I was first in my heat (of 16) for this, and once again had a seat in the finals on Sunday, and an extra miniature as a prize.

Reaper speed painting preliminary round figure

I don't play any of Wyrd Miniature's games, so I was curious to see what they might throw at us.

You have to love magnification
 Our figure ended up being this reasonably straightforward steampunk lady with a big axe(?).  I ended up second, which didn't have a prize but did come with a seat in the Wyrd finals on Sunday.

Wyrd Miniatures speed painting preliminary round figure
With that out of the way, we could go out to the stadium for a meet-up for cooperative games with the host of Nelly's Nerdy Adventures.  If you're curious, we show up at time 18:00 in the linked video.  From there, we picked up the kids and had the traditional all hands dinner, and then called it a night.  The kids and I played a little Keyforge back at the hotel, before I crashed for the night.

There was more dancing on Saturday, and my brother and I ran the fifth (and last) of our games on offer, another round of Chaos Wars at 6:00PM.  The timing of this, perhaps, was not good, since we only had two players.
Chaos Wars second game
On Sunday we finished up shopping, and I sat down for my two speed paint finals at 11:30 and 2:00.  The Wyrd event was first.  We got this inexplicable figure of an old man perched on top of a demonic clock.  At least we had 60 minutes instead of the 45 of the first round.  I ended up third, so I got a prize in addition to the miniature.  The Reaper round was less successful.  We had a mechanical wizard of some sort, and my use of the metallic colors didn't quite work.  I'll get around to touching him up sometime soon.

The Wyrd Miniaturees speed painting final round figure
 Between rounds, the kids had to head out, so we gathered for a final group shot in front of the speed paint tables.

Team Dean on Sunday

Following the painting, the convention closing was rapidly approaching, so we decided that we were done and headed out for one final dinner.

Irene and I had extended out stay through Sunday night, so we were able to pick up a hotel shuttle back to the airport on Monday morning.  I was pleased to see that the gaming space was set up again this year, and the departing Gencon crowd was making good use of it.  Our plane was probably more than half Gencon returnees, so we were in good company on the trip home.  We finally walked in the door around 3:00PM on Monday; another Gencon for the books.


The airport's dedicated gaming space

Everyone has a different Gencon experience.  This year, I ended up not actually playing any games except the co-op game with Nelly, and my shopping was quite limited.  (I came home with one indy roleplaying game, Companions' Tale, and a solo dungeon crawl game, Four Against Darkness, from Ganesha), plus a shirt and a new dice bag.) While not unsatisfactory, it was quite different from previous years.  We shall see how next year's planning evolves, but I am considering whether there would be an audience for some sort of historical miniatures game, and perhaps a seminar on how to get into that branch of the greater hobby realm.






























Monday, August 12, 2019

A Game Day

I’m getting behind on posts—I have a Gencon AAR pending, and today Chris Palmer visited for a day of games.  I shall hope to post a full report eventually, but we played two games of Howard Whitehouse’s A Gentleman’s War with our 40mm Not Quite Seven Years War figures.

As we see it, Chris’s North Polenburg had attempted to take the initiative at the beginning of a campaign season, perhaps as a response to a recent attack by the Wachovians.  We randomized armies in accordance with the rules, and played out two scenarios which were separate attacks by North Polenburg.  Both attacks were eventually fended off by the forces of Schoeffen-Buschhagen, my imagi-nation.

In the first battle, S-B relief force arrives to save the isolated detachment by the farmhouse.
In the second battle, S-B forces defend the woods on their left