Sunday, December 30, 2012

End of the Year

It was a busy Christmas season, involving a road trip to visit my parents in Michigan. It was good to have the whole family together for the first time since 2008...

After a delay for a winter storm, we arrived back in Maryland in time for Duncan Adam's traditional HAWKs post-Christmas game. This year we had a pre-WWI Gaslight game.

That gave me a total of 35 for the year, so there's room for improvement next year. My goal is one per week; this is harder this year, since my two gamer sons are mostly moved out.

I finally finished the base and varnished a Reaper fantasy figure today.

I also finished (i.e. varnished) this seven man contingent of grenadiers from the Schoeffen-Buschhagen Von Quastenflosser regiment. I'll tally up the year's painting and post something later.

Also coming up: Thoughts on project priorities for 2013.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Exodus 14:6

I had a few extra minutes on my way to a ballroom dance lesson last night, so I elected to stop off at the local general purpose hobby shop for some paint.

As long as I was there, I did a quick scan of the 1/72 scale plastic boxes. I was pleased to find one each of the newest Caesar chariot sets.

I did paint a unit for the Bronze Age project I share with Norman early this summer, so this project hasn't been totally neglected.

Opening the boxes we find this in the Pharaoh set:

I'm doubting that the lions were used in battle historically, but at least I'll get a beast stand out if this box for our Hordes of the Things game. The civilians are all carrying things, and should serve to dress up a camp or town. I don't know that it would be worth buying another box for more, though, as the spare Pharaohs don't have any immediate use. The chariot is the same model as in the Egyptian chariot box, with new, more elaborately decorated horses.

The Mycenaean chariot box includes two chariot sets:

There are also two women with jars and babies, identical to one of the poses in the Egyptian set. I should have plenty of these by the time I equip a Trojan War army pair. Oddly, only two shields are included. They appear to be identical to separate shields from the Mycenaean Army set. Each chariot has a driver and three warriors, so some variety is possible. One of the three is in full Dendra armor; one has a curved plume as seen in the Trojan army set, and the third is a spearman with a boar tusk helmet.

The chariot tongues are a bit twisted, so assembly could be an issue. If it works out though, I may finally have something to put on the table for an Iliad game.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Not a field bakery

This morning's project was handmade bread. I haven't done that in a couple of years...

It would be fun to have a NQSYW field bakery one if these days.

Bread making mixes well with painting, so I took the opportunity to work on some new grenadiers.

These figures are the first representatives of an as yet unnamed 4th S-B regiment.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Some additional Zerfberg pictures

I illustrated the previous post with the high level overview shots, to show the cpurse of the attack. Here are a few other shots:

Above, the Schoeffen-Buschhagen siege battery set up with supporting troops at the second parallel.

A Hesse-Hattemstadt company defends the covered way at the center ravelin.

Reinforcements from the Adelmann Regiment hurry forward to repel a sally.

The second Wachovian attempt at a forward battery was carefully supported.

Wachovians digging a position for a breaching battery.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Siege of Zerfberg, Battle Report

We finally had an opportunity to put on a game on the 11th. I don't have any World War I figures, but I suppose a trenching game could be considered an appropriate theme for Armistice Day.

Players for this game were my sons Norman and William, and Norman's former college roommate Mark Zerfas. With three players (a comfortable number for my small war room), we put two on the attacking side and one defending the fort. As described on Norman's blog, Mark elected to defend the fortress, which we promptly named after him.

In terms of the ongoing Not Quite Seven Years War, we determined that this would be part of a prequel, The War of the Western League, pitting the house imagi-nations against the blue and red coated units acquired at Cold Wars in 2011. It is hoped that this war will form the basis of a trial campaign, and that we will incorporate any lessons learned before springing another campaign on the larger NQSYW assembly.

The rules used were Charge!, with siege rules additions from Dr. Duffy's book Fire and Stone. The defenders had five infantry companies, four fortress guns, and a mortar. The attackers had ten infantry companies, eight siege guns, and a mortar. This was in keeping with the recommended force ratios in Fire and Stone.

Playtesting last year showed that the defenders of the fortress could do little to impede the establishment of the first parallel, between five and six feet from the walls, so we had no qualms about starting the game a few days into the action with the establishment of the second parallel at the table's edge (due to limited space), about three feet beyond the walls. No attacking guns were in place on Day 1. Here's the opening situation:

The attacking forces of the Pragmatic Coalition opened the game by driving three saps forward toward the fortress. Defending fire caused a few scattered casualties, but was unable to delay the excavations:

On the second day (turn) General Zerfas redeployed his guns to permit concentrated fire on the center sap, which was left incomplete at the end of the day. However, saps to the right and left continued to approach the fortress, perhaps a shade too close...

The third day saw some sharp action, as four of the five defending companies sortied, three to the left of the fortress's front, and one to the right, to prevent the establishment of third parallel positions in close artillery range of the walls. The Coalition commanders, somewhat overconfident, found that they had driven the saps beyond easy supporting range of the second parallel, and they were forced to fall back, abandoning the incomplete positions:

The Coalition commanders prudently stopped to build support positions.

With the covering fire provided, a battery position on the left front of the fortress was established on Day 5. The attackers had a minor setback when the first gun dragged to the forward position on the left was promptly disabled by a hail of fire from the defenders' mortar and guns, but their rejoicing was short lived as their mortar position disappeared in a huge explosion. A Coalition mortar shell had presumably struck the powder supply ....

At that point, it was nearly over for the defenders. Most of the artillery had been dismounted, so the disparity in firepower was growing. Sorties and the constant steady stream of casualties from artillery fire and musketry had reduced the defenders to a level at which another sortie was too risky. By the eighth day, the Coalition had established breaching batteries facing both bastions.

Now it was just a matter of time until the attackers could batter a breach in the walls that would permit an assault...approximately ten days.

With no relief force in sight, and their fortress breached, the remaining League forces surrendered the fortress on the 18th day and were granted the honors of war.

It was good to get the fort out after a year of doing other NQSYW related games. We had a few rules questions, but I will save those for a supplementary post, along with a few close-up action shots from the game. I was glad to have the impetus to complete a company of Schoeffen-Buschhagen engineers, so we will be ready for future sieges.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Siege of Zerfberg

I'll write a full report, but the game is in progress. The defenders of Zerfberg await the Coalition attack...

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Things to Come

We finally gathered today and cleared the games table of the hurricane evacuation debris, after which we reset the fortress. Tomorrow, a siege game...

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Hurricane Work, Part 3

Here is a painting trial, of a Saxe-Weilenz grenadier for the NQSYW. S-W has been my proposed opposing force army since 1996; this is the first SW figure I've actually painted.

Hurricane Work, Part 2

With the time on my hands and the power miraculously restored, I have been finishing off this engineer company. The picks and shovels are from a discontinued Meisterzinn mold owned by Chris Palmer. That should be enough engineers to get me through the planned siege game in a few weeks, but my plan says that it will be a full battalion by Charge organization when I'm done.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Hurricane work

The power is now out. My afternoon project was the S-B engineers for NQSYW.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Not the War of 1812

It has been very busy the past two weeks. I got to visit a War of 1812 location, Mackinac Island:

But we went to the Grand Hotel rather than the fort. We were up for a ballroom dance weekend, which was a lot of fun, but the weather was awful on Sunday morning when we had some exploratory time. The fort was closed for the season as well.

If we do this again, we'll add some tourist time to the agenda.

Meanwhile, I'm preparing to set up the NQSYW fortress for a siege game in a few weeks, so I expect to have miniatures activity to report soon.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

A little painting

I finally managed to get some painting time today. I got as far as putting a preliminary varnish coat on these two Egyptian chariots and crews:

Let's just say they have been in process for a long time... I did not have the bases handy, so they have not received their final assembly yet. However, with the new Caesar releases out, I'd like to finish some things before I add more.

I also bought enough Vallejo paint this weekend to try using it exclusively for a while, instead of my cheap craft paint. In addition tithe Egyptians, I worked on some Reaper fantasy figures. I got as far as putting varnish on this fantasy librarian (in more than one sense of that adjective), but also had to stop without basing her:

With the Reaper Kickstarter pledges being finalized this weekend, I had better be upping my painting game...

Monday, September 24, 2012

Lots of Activity

There's been a lot going on since the last time I posted, and quite a bit of it even has to do with gaming...
The 15th saw the HAWKs host Barrage XVI, our local game day. This year it moved from January, when we tended to have snow problems, to September, when we lucky to avoid hurricane problems, and from downtown Baltimore out to Havre de Grace, just across the river from where I live. Including club members we had about 120 attendees and several 'real' dealers plus a lively flea market. I put on one game, a kids' ancient game with 1/72 scale plastic 2nd Punic Wars figures. I used rules adapted slightly from Morschauser's How to Play War Games in Miniatures from 1962, and the scenario was based on Hannibal's initial encounter with the Romans after crossing the Alps, Trebbia. It had been quite a while since I had run a proper kids' game, and, to be honest, I had forgotten how high-energy a process that could be, with a constant stream of direction necessary to keep things moving.

I have been upgrading my storage from cardboard boxes to the 4 and 9 liter Really Useful Boxes, so I have been handling a lot of projects that haven't been out in a while. One of these is my 40mm French and Indian War project, done with a mix of Meisterzinn and Prince August home cast figures, and commercial figures from Irregular, Sash and Saber, and Trident. I want to get these on the table sometime soon, so I took a risk and picked up the hot new FIW rules, Muskets and Tomahawks, by the publishers of Saga. The import price of $40 seems a bit steep, but I had money from flea market sales to offset it. I hope to try it soon and post a report/review. At least I have enough figures to field any of the units contemplated in the game...

In any case, it was nice to have both sons home for the event. They weren't running anything, but were able to find some things to play. William was particularly successful at Aerodrome, earning his Ace pin in one long session.

The week following was not as interesting from a gaming view, until the weekend. Norman came home again on Friday night in anticipation of a gaming day at Chris Palmer's house on Saturday. We marked the Tolkien festival of 22 September early, with a lightly Tolkien-themed Hordes of the Things game. Norman has recently expanded his orcish army to 24 Hordes army points, and we matched them against a composite force of elves and men, plus a wizard. While I promptly botched my first attempt at bespelling the orcs, leaving the wizard vulnerable to "frogging", the rest of the battle went in my favor, and I won with a high-stakes general-to-general fight, in which neither general had room to retreat.

We celebrated Bilbo and Frodo's birthday the next morning with a hearty breakfast of waffles and ham, then loaded the car for the trip to Chris's house. The game for the morning was Charge!

While the lighting is not the best on this shot, the basics can be seen. A North Polenburg force has taken up a prepared defensive position anchored on two villages and constructed three redoubts. A Pragmatic Coalition force of troops from Schoeffen-Buschhagen, Wachovia and Wiegenburg is approaching from the right. (This is scenario 1 from Grant's Scenarios for Wargames, the Green Book.)

Faced with a requirement to force the position, the Coalition commanders looked at the dug in guns and concluded that there was no time to waste. Two regiments of infantry were detailed to assault the village in the center of the line while the artillery kept the North Polenburg redoubts under fire. The Wachovian regiment attack the village on the left, and the fourth infantry regiment was assigned to attack the redoubt at the right of the positon.

To the far right, a detachment of the King Rupert Jaegers attempted to work their way through the woods to a position to support the attack on the redoubt.
The SB dragoons were placed between the center attack and the right attack, opposite a regiment of North Polenburg dragoons, resplendent as always on their showy white horses.

Much to the surprise of the Coalition commanders, the battle unfolded much as planned. A cavalry melee developed quickly in the center right, as both sides moved forward in support of their infantry. (In these circumstance, I elected to use the rules for accidental melee.)

Despite the movement of the NP cavalry, a detachment of thier infantry was caught be a fierce charge and driven back in disorder.

The attack in the center eventually was driven home, though not without losses. The SB Adelmann regiment was reduced below strength and withdrew to regroup.
Shortly thereafter two of the three redoubts fell to Coalition action, and the NP commander assessed the situation. With half his infantry force gone, little fight left in the other half, and two thirds of his guns in enemy hands he decided that using his cavalry, in somewhat better condition than the Coalition cavalry, to cover his retreat was the best course of action.
After packing that game away, one of the other HAWKs laid out a 6mm WWII game using the the club's Look Sarge rules.

So I got three games in for the weekend, which is quite respectable. That brings me to 31 so far for the year, not too far short of an average pace of one per week. If I can keep that up, it should be a good year.
I had a little time to work on painting yesterday.
Here are the sample Prince August orcs I cast last session. I don't usually prime in rust color, but I was out of gray at home, and will add a thinned black gesso coat before I get started.

I also started in earnest on a 1/72 scale plastic fantasy army, earmarked for Norman's proposed Myboria Hordes of the Things campaign. I am building the Viking-inspire Barbarians of the Cold Islands, figuring that I have done enough Dark Ages figures in 28mm that the painting should come naturally.

This group will consist of 15 stands of figures, totalling 79 figures; 3 heroes, a sneaker (Valkyries), a horde of thralls to complement the 3 point sneakers, and a choice of 2 shooters, 2 spears, 2 blades, and 4 warbands. The figures are a mix of Zvezda Vikings, Orion Vikings, and Revell Anglo-Saxons.
I also stopped by the local game store yesterday, and found that they had some Reaper Bones Orc archers, so I picked up a pack and some others odds and ends to keep me warming up to the great fantasy makeover next spring.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

A time to cast...

To paraphrase, for everything there is a season; a time to cast and a time to paint ...

I had the opportunity today to finish some things that have been pending. The company of infantry for Schluesselbrett got a spray coat in the relatively cool dry weather this morning.

The Bones test figures, pending further investigation of a suggestion that they might not be compatible with Krylon, got a brush varnish coat.

I then set up the melting pot and set out to make up for the lack of cavalry last week. Without an assistant, I found that cycling through four molds kept things warm between casts.

I expected a fair amount of time on venting issues, and that turned out to be the case, so production was slower than it might have been. I also worked with the Prince August 40mm dog and fox mold:

Commanders may now be accompanied by favorite hounds.

I had some limited success with hussar mold 52. I also cast some carbine cavalry on both poses, a few classic 11s, and some officers, for a total of about 30.

After that I broke out the 25mm ancient and fantasy molds, for a try at some Dux Bellorum armies. In the process of sorting through the fantasy molds looking for the barbarians, I also ended up casting a handful of orcs, from some old single figure molds. These were my first introduction to casting, and I thought it might be fun to try painting a few with my current techniques.

Overall, I ended up with the dogs, about 30 NQSYW cavalry, half a dozen 25mm fantasy/Dark Ages cavalry, and about 80 assorted 25mm foot. If I get in another session this season, I'll try to work toward stocking up on castings for Dux Bellorum armies. If I don't, this long afternoon will still provide enough work to keep me painting for many sessions.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

More Casting

With Norman home for the long weekend, we decided to try some figure production for the NQSYW project. Our recent game sparked some interest, and some units were requested by members not previously involved.

As is often the case, some molds were fine and some were frustrating. Cavalry, in particular, was not cooperative yesterday, with the exception of the Prussian Garde du Corps Cuirassier mold, which was running about 80% good castings. Luckily, Norman is starting some Wachovian guard cavalry. The figure was also used as an officer in the two mercenary armies we picked up, so I can complete their cavalry regiments by Cold Wars. (I hope...)

I may have to try a solo session Monday after Norman leaves to see whether the cavalry will cooperate, and to diagnose the venting required for the 40mm dogs.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Dark Ages, really...

So today's lunch break really was for the Dark Ages, finally. I gave the Bones a rest and completed this figure, the 6th of the 15 figure Eureka Beowulf set. The focus is a little odd; I took this shot with my iPhone using a magnifying glass as an auxiliary lens to allow closer focus.

Monday, August 27, 2012


This past Saturday I dropped William off at school. It's an easy drive of an hour or an hour and a half away, so I can get more stuff to him in a pinch. However, until we do, that stack is all of his worldly possessions. There is a painting kit buried in there, but I don't really expect to see much painting in the near term.

His last pre-departure project was this steampunk mad scientist. It is a Reaper Savage Worlds/Deadlands figure, one of several samples I picked up the other week pursuant to the Reaper Bones Kickstarter project. He was inspired to paint it, so I thought it best to get out of the way and let him do that.
Norman is due to be home this weekend. We hope to get some NQSYW casting done. The recent game has stirred some demand for additional figures.
As time permitted this weekend, I worked on my storage box upgrade. I'm working on getting everything into the 4 and 9 liter sizes of "Really Useful Boxes". Most figures up to the 40s will fit in the 4 liter model, and the 9, which has the same footprint for easy stacking, will take the tallest figures I routinely use, 40mm Renaissance pikemen.

Thinking ahead to the Reaper-based fantasy skirmish makeover, I printed out a sample card building from MicroTactix yesterday (obtained from DriveThruRPG). Building it was my lunch project today. I haven't done much card modeling lately, but the necessary skills came back quickly. I am thinking that a) I should try the free models before investing in any PDFs, and b) if my miniatures are going to be plastic, it would be nice to keep the haul weight of the whole project down. I also had time to work on a stick of Bones kobolds, which I'll post when they are closer to being completed.