Monday, March 28, 2011


Schoeffen-Buschhagen and Wachovian forces face off during the recent field exercises ...

Milestones I

Having spent the weekend playing Charge! instead of working on my freelance proofreading job, figuring that the one could wait and the other was time-limited, I need to get to it...and this post will therefore be incomplete.

I mentioned that my birthday was this past weekend, and that I hit 50, something of a milestone in life.  In gaming, it was also a milestone.  I received, for my 15th birthday, a now somewhat more well-know set of rules for "Fantastic Medieval Wargames Campaigns", which shaped my gaming activities for years afterward.
(Yes, that's my original copy, tattered but complete.  The box also includes Chainmail, all four supplements, and the Swords and Spells miniatures rules.)

I've been considering some way to reconnect my original core group of three players and run a reunion game of some sort. We all still game, at least occasionally.  To the left, two of the former group, my brother Norman and long-time friend Joe Bargowski, play a 25mm fantasy skirmish game with my sons and me in November 2009.

Former group member Steve Doughty was most recently seen with his own sons in tow at the HMGS-East Cold Wars convention a couple of weeks ago.

I'd like to think that gaming has contributed to these long-lasting friendships.

The anniversary of our D&D game has a date, which makes it easy to remember.  But sometime this spring there is an unremembered anniversary of equal importance, without which the D&D game would never have formed in the first place.

One of the other treasures of my childhood is my copy of Terence Wise's Introduction to Battle Gaming.
A 5th grade classmate lent me his copy, sometime in the spring of 1971, which gave me a way to rationalize my play with the collection of Airfix figures I had acquired by then.  (My personal copy of the book was acquired at a slightly later date, probably in 1972 sometime.)  That's a nice round 40 years ago...time flies when you're having fun.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Things to Come

This has been a busy weekend, and I won't have my battle reports up immediately.  We fought two Charge! games on the home table, one on Friday night and one this afternoon.  The scenarios were adaptations of the C.S. Grant green book situations "Flank Attack" and "Wagon Train".  In the picture above (and I apologize for the lighting--my windows make for a difficult photographic situation), senior son Norman takes advantage of the pause in the second game to do some photography of his own.  You can see that our 5x6 table is none too large for work with 40s in Charge.  (Does everyone's war room tend to accumulate boxes of scenery and such around the table?)

I also celebrated my 50th birthday on Saturday.  I have some thoughts about milestones in life and games for a separate post...

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Recruitment Reprise

My compact fluorescent lights are not doing any favors to the colors on these troops, but I wanted to post something today rather than wait until I had time to fiddle photography under more favorable circumstances.  I've had some lunch time free the past couple of days, and have made some progress on the command figures for this infantry company, here seen with a varnish coat awaiting final basing, and on the musketeers, who have had some basic colors roughed out.
 William has been working on an artillery crew for his army, as seen in the previous entry.  This is probably more useful for Historicon; Ross and I discussed fortress plans today, and we'll probably need crews for 20 more guns than we presently have...

Sunday, March 20, 2011


I got 15 marching musketeers for my project cleaned up, attached to sticks and primed.  My second son is shown here working on a gun and crew for his army...

Dispatches from Wachovia

Since Cold Wars is now in the past, we've been turning our thinking toward Historicon.  Ross and I are working on planning for a series of games based around a fortress, including, we hope, Charge! siege games done in accordance with the Charge! expansion rules found in Christopher Duffy's Fire and Stone.  I'm clearing my workbench at home, and reading some inspirational literature (The Military Experience in the Age of Reason this week).  However, things are still moving a little slowly...

I was pleased, therefore, to receive a little additional impetus in the form of a dispatch from the Prince-Palatine of Wachovia (aka the Student Prince, aka my elder son, Norman).  Recruitment has been proceeding in Wachovia.  His school desk repurposed as a painting table is shown above.  I have found, in recent years, that I get as much painting done at lunch time at work in a similar temporary setting as I do at home, where my work space tends to accumulate junk between painting sessions.  There's a post in that one of these days...

He's at work on an infantry company and a Wachovian general.  He's also due for a visit next weekend; I think that we are going to have to look at our collection of castings and see what sort of collection of engineers we can come up with.  Without playtesting, I'm not sure whether we want to be attacking the fortress or defending it...and a lack of engineers will limit our options.
Here's a closer shot of the General.  For those who are very familiar with the Prince August catalog, I'll mention that this casting is from the small collection of molds from Nuernberger Meisterzinn which are compatible with the Prince August semi-flats.  Some of their molds produce figures too bulky to blend well.

Back to work on my own figures...I actually added paint to some NQSYW infantry yesterday.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Into the Valley of Shadows Player Handouts

Into the Valley of Shadows
Player #1: Chief Magumbe (Diamonds)
Forces: Chief Magumbe, Mrs. Magumbe, Zikali, Drums
             Unit #1 6 Spearmen, 6 archers
             Unit #2 6 Spearmen, 6 archers
             Unit #3 12 Zebra shield warriors (spearmen)
             8 civilians
Objectives: As the leader of your people, your main goal is to protect them from slavers.  In addition to direct protection by force of arms, you seek an agreement of protection with a European power. Luckily, representatives of two such powers are approaching your principal village.  You also need to seek medical treatment for yourself.  Perhaps the Europeans have a doctor with them? Rumor of the approach of a caravan of Zanzibari slavers has reached you—seizing  any slaves they may be transporting and adding them to your tribe would certainly increase your power and prestige.
Subordinates: A European, Dr. L.I. Presume (Player#2), has been living with you for some time, and has trained some of your warriors with firearms.  Too bad he’s out of medicine…
Player #2: Dr. Livingston Isembard Presume (Diamonds)
Forces: Dr. Presume, Mrs. Presume
             Unit #1 12 archers
             Unit #2 10 tribal musketeers
             Unit #3 10 tribal musketeers
             4 civilians
Objectives: You have been living for some time with Chief Magumbe and his people, and your main objective is to see that they are protected.  To this end you have been training some of his warriors in European fighting methods.  It is doubtful that your former English countrymen would understand your current position, and you have no intention of ever returning to England.  Besides, after the operation you are planning you might be in a good deal of trouble…You have learned that a German expedition is approaching.  Your first wife was killed by the Germans in 1870, and you have vowed to extract a terrible revenge on any Germans foolish enough to place themselves in your gunsights. 
Superior: Player#1, Chief Magumbe
Player #3: Abu Sauod (Clubs)
Forces: Abu Sauod, Ibn Dawud, Ibrahim
             Unit #1 10 Zanzibaris
             Unit #2 10 Zanzibaris
             Unit #3 10 Zanzibaris
             Unit #4 18 slaves 
Objectives:  As a simple Zanzibari businessman, your objective is to get your merchandise to the markets on the coast.  Your expedition will be passing the villages of Chief Magumbe and his people, which may give you the opportunity to add to your stock.  You have also fancied adding a European woman to your harem, and word has reached you that a particularly desirable specimen is approaching with a German expedition. 
Subordinates:  You have hired a group of Nkhukhu tribesmen (Player #4) to bolster your guard force. 
Player #4: Nkhukhu Allies (Clubs)
Forces: Suleiman, Chief
            Unit #1 12 Nkhukhu warriors
            Unit #2 12 Nkhukhu warriors
            Unit #3 12 Baluchi mercenaries
Objectives:  Your group of warriors has been hired by the Zanzibari Abu Saoud, to protect his carvan during a trip to the coast.  While the pay is adequate, you should keep your eyes open for the opportunity to increase your herds with any stray cattle you might encounter. (Naturally, any cattle that can be moved should be considered to be strays…)  It is also possible that you may encounter members of the hated G’Nareke, a tribe with who you have a long-standing feud.  If you do, attack them on sight…(Also naturally, if you should chance to encounter any of your fellow tribesmen, you must refrain from attacking them.) 
Superior: Player #3, Abu Saood 
Note: Suleiman can command both Nkhukhu and Baluchis, but the Chief can only command the Nkhukhu.  The Baluchis are not involved in local feuds and may not attack any G’Nareke found unless they have been
Attacked first.
Player #5: Lord Harland-White (Hearts)
Forces: Lord Harland-White, Lt. Fowler, Mr. Binney, Wellington
             Unit #1, 12 Native constabulary
             Unit #2, 8 Askaris
             Unit #3, 8 Askaris
             Unit #4, 7 bearers with gifts
Objectives:  As a representative of Her Majesty’s government, your tasks are simple.  You have been ordered to lead an expedition into the Valley of Shadows to sign a treaty with a local chief, to support the establishment of a British protectorate over this area—before your rivals, the Germans, are able to do so.  You have also been instructed to suppress the slave trade in this region, and to seek Dr. Livingston Isembard Presume, a missing British subject last known to be in this area, and return him to England.  It is vital that you avoid creating an international incident with the Germans, who are known to be sending a similar expedition.
Subordinates: Player #6, G’Nareke allies.  You have hired additional troops to support this mission.
Player #6: G’Nareke Allies (Hearts)
Forces:  Chief Bebul, Bardok
              Unit #1 6 Spearmen, 6 muskets
              Unit #2 7 Spearmen, 5 muskets
              Unit #3 8 Spearmen, 4 muskets
              Herd boy and 6 cows
Objectives:  Your warriors have been hired by the English to help protect an expedition to the Magumbes.  You have received payment for this in the form of cattle, and you must protect your payment.  You must also be alert for the presence of your deadly enemies, the dreaded Nkhukhu.  If you meet any of them, you should attack on sight.  Other than that, you should certainly support the English…
Superior: Player#5, Lord Harland-White 
Player #7: Dr. Erik Schlegel (Spades)
Forces: Dr. Schlegel, Fraulein Schlegel, Johann, Karl, flag
             Unit #1, 6 German colonists with rifles
             Unit #2, 10 Askari musketeers
             Unit #3, 10 Askari musketeers
             Unit #4, 7 bearers
Objectives: As a representative of the Kaiser’s government, your tasks are simple.  You have been ordered to lead an expedition into the Valley of Shadows to sign a treaty with a local chief, to support the establishment of a German protectorate over this area—before your rivals, the British, are able to do so.   It is vital that you avoid creating an international incident with the British, who are known to be sending a similar expedition.  As a medical doctor, it may be that you can earn the gratitude of the natives by demonstrating the superior knowledge of European medicine in some way.  You must also protect your daughter, the lovely Fraulein Schlegel, who insisted on accompanying you on this expedition.
Subordinates: Player #8, Nkhukhu Allies.  You have engaged some local auxiliaries to assist you in your efforts.
Player #8: Nkhukhu Allies (Spades)
Forces: Chief, Witchdoctor, Drummer
             Unit #1, 12 warriors
             Unit #2, 12 warriors
             Unit #3, 12 warriors
Objectives:  Your group of warriors has been hired by the German, Dr. Schlegel, to protect his expedition during a trip to the villages of the Magumbe.  While the pay is adequate, you should keep your eyes open for the opportunity to increase your herds with any stray cattle you might encounter. (Naturally, any cattle that can be moved should be considered to be strays…)  It is also possible that you may encounter members of the hated G’Nareke, a tribe with who you have a long-standing feud.  If you do, attack them on sight…(Also naturally, if you should chance to encounter any of your fellow tribesmen, you must refrain from attacking them.) 
Superior: Player #7, Dr. Schlegel

Prince August mystery

So here's the mystery Prince August mold I acquired over the weekend.  It makes a kneeling grenadier and a charging musketeer.  The musketeer looks like the same one as in one of the Wild Geese molds, but I don't remember ever seeing this one in the catalog.  Unlike some PA molds, there's no number on the sprue.  The only other PA mold I have with a top and bottom arrangement is one of the Rossbach Prussian infantry molds.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Annexation (and a word on future plans)

I mentioned this morning that we had a significant find in the flea market.  One of our HAWKs, Don Hogge (himself a participant in the NQSYW), had a flea market table, and sent word down to the HAWKs room that the fellow on the table next to him had some Prince August molds which we might want to take a look at.  Collecting up my son Norman (aka the Prince Palatine of Wachovia),  we wandered up.  We found someone selling a box of about 30 molds, cavalry, infantry, and artillery, and a box of (mostly) painted figures.  This was not originally his project, but was one that he had bought from someone else who had given up on it.  As a result, he was prepared to part with all of it for a very reasonable price.

So we appear to have annexed two additional countries, a heavy artillery battery (sans gunners) about two Charge! regiments of cavalry and about a regiment of foot per side, though the organization of the troops would suggest that some other set of rules had been in mind.  I've already had offers from other NQSYW powers to take over some of the troops, so whether I'll end up with an opponent for out of it or not is an open question.

Given the vast amount of entertainment my mold collection and Charge! project have generated to date, I must admit to feeling a little sorry for the previous owners of this material, who clearly weren't as enthusiastic as we are.  However, it also feels good to put things back to their proper use, so I'll raise a glass to our benefactors at the next convention, and hope to get these troops into action at the earliest opportunity.

We also had some time at the convention to discuss the planning of the fortress/siege game for Historicon.  Between a need for gunners and the need to fill out the new units, our agenda for the next casting day has been set.  We hope to set a date for some preliminary power saw work on the fortress itself.

Cold Wars 2011/ Into the Valley of Shadows

Despite the early hour, my prep team had the table laid out in about 15 minutes.

I expected to be busy this year, and knew Cold Wars preparations might be an issue, so I registered to do something from the archives.  I dusted off my Darkest Africa project, languishing in storage boxes since 2004, and ended up rerunning a scenario I'd used back in '02/'03, called Into the Valley of Shadows.  This is a not particularly serious or historical one involving four factions starting at the corners of the table.  Rival British and German expeditions are approaching the village, seen here at the lower left, which is having its own issues with a passing band of Zanzibari slavers.  It's designed for eight players, with each faction having two players with separate victory conditions, and threaded so that everyone has problems.

Early morning players are not the most energetic.

Unfortunately, probably due to our early start time, we had only one player, so I was forced to shanghai my preparation team to fill out the game.  We decided on the fly to simplify the scenario by leaving out the subordinates on each side.  This worked, but also reduced the game length considerably.  I suppose that's not such a bad thing for a show game.  We had four players again for the second running of the game at 2:00.  My lesson learned is that I need to have a clear plan for how to modify a convention scenario for less than the designed number of players.
The British expedition approaches the town in the 2nd run of the game.

It turned out to be a lot of fun to get these guys out of the box and on to the table.  Perhaps I'll "complete" this project sometime; there's still a mass of natives floating around one of my boxes of projects set aside.

We had a major find in the flea market, but that'll get it's own entry later today (I hope.)

(Special thanks to my preparation team, Marc Zerfas and Norman&William Dean, who spent Friday night sorting and reorganizing figures and scenery, loaded, carried, set up, and then pitched in to help play the first scenario. I couldn't have done this without them--we were simultaneously preparing for a possible evacuation of our home due to flooding, so I was a little distracted. Happily, the river has receded since yesterday.)