Monday, July 30, 2012

Casting Day

We finally got a chance to do some casting yesterday, despite some dodgy weather. My main interest was in trying out the molds I picked up a couple of weeks ago:

William had an agenda as well. He wanted to make the 19 figures necessary to form a third Charge! company and a regimental command group to round out his Wiegenburg regiment. William has chosen to use a uniform pose for all three companies, the advancing figure from Prince August mold i903:

I've considered the question of whether I want to keep my regiments uniform that way. My first two regiments were uniform in pose, but I'm thinking that my third regiment will have three companies in three different poses. This would have the advantage of keeping the companies easily distinguishable in smaller games when we're using the company as the morale unit.

Here are the results, minus William's company. We could have done better with a third pair of hands; carefully venting the new molds was taking quite a bit of time, though I was pleasantly successful in getting all of the molds to work after venting.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Historicon After Action Report

      I tried to keep my preparations for Historicon simple and flexible this year, which turned out to be a good idea, as Norman starting a job the same week as the convention could have been a problem. As it turned out, though, we would have had some difficulty packing everything if we had needed to put a third person in the Yaris for the trip. I signed up to run three games, all Not Quite Seven Years War scenarios, using approximately the same troops and scenery pool. I wasn't sure what the scenarios would be when I signed up, but I did, at least, already have the troops and scenery in hand. 

      As the convention approached, I realized that I had left the hotel reservations until too late. All of the near area hotels were booked, so I eventually (the week before the convention) resorted to Expedia and got a room at the Quality Inn, about two miles away. This didn't turn out to be too onerous, but I had better see about booking Cold Wars now if I want to be at the Host. I also realized around the beginning of July that I had better decided on what the scenarios would be. NQSYW and Charge work beautifully with C.S. Grant's scenario books, so I went through them looking for something suitable, not requiring new terrain to be built. I ended up settling on Scenario 10, The Important Bridge, from Scenarios for All Ages (the Red Book), and scenarios 15 and 12 (Reinforcements in Defence and Flank Attack) from Scenarios for Wargames (the Green Book). For reasons which will be clear later, I had some hesitation over the Flank Attack scenario, based on Frederick the Great's victory at Leuthen in the real Seven Years War. However, I was pleased to note that the scenarios all used very similar force levels, and therefore could be narratively linked into a short campaign even though I wasn't going to track the casualties across the games as we did with the St. Michel campaign at Cold Wars in 2010.

      Norman's new job came up while I was working scenarios and hotel arrangements. This, while generally very good news indeed, did cause him to need to cancel his two Bronze Age chariot games. We got him sent off to his new dwelling the Sunday before the convention. This left just me and William to pull our troops and scenery together before packing the car on Thursday morning.

William's Temple of the Golden Idol of Baga-Baga in a tray for transport

A peek inside the Temple
Since we had no particular schedule to keep, we finally pushed off from home around 10:30, with two last-minute errands to do on the way. I had hoped that the early afternoon would have been a reasonable time for traffic, but we found that traffic on 95 was at a standstill starting about 20 miles from Fredericksburg. We jumped off and tried Route 1 instead, but found that to be almost as bad. As a result, it was about 3:30 by the time we finally made it to the convention. After picking up badges and finding the HAWKs room, we did a sweep of the dealers' area. I picked up some new Eureka 28mm Dark Ages figures and a pack of new Sash and Saber 40mm Indian leaders for the F&IW. We then signed up for games for Friday. Game availability was somewhat limited. William also tried to sign for a Thursday evening game, but there wasn't anything available except Battletech by then. William's overall comment was that there were not enough ancients games on the schedule, so he intends to work on his 40mm Vikings before Cold Wars. 

      Since we couldn't find anything we wanted to play, and the table schedule for NQSYW the next day was available, we decided that we would set up a small NQSYW pickup game. By the time we were done setting up, we had three other players, so I dropped back into gamemaster mode rather than play myself. In keeping with the C.S. Grant theme, we used Scenario 41 from the Green Book, Chance Encounter (perhaps better known as "Sawmill Village"). Each side picked six units from a short list of possibilities. Interestingly, force composition turned out to be identical, with two squadrons of dragoons, two line infantry companies, a light infantry company, and a gun on each side. Schoeffen-Buschhagen and North Polenburg provided all forces, without the need to break out any allies. William took command of the S-Bs. Ultimately the S-Bs won the race to the town, at the cost of one of the dragoon squadrons, lost while delaying the enemy infantry. Once established in the buildings, the remaining N-Ps did not have sufficient strength to drive them out, and elected to withdraw in good order. While we have played Charge with the past few months, I was glad of an opportunity to remind myself of several of the fine points of the rules before running my "official" games.

Forces preparing to enter for our pick-up game

Cavalry melee at the north end of Graukopf

      I signed up for a 1:00 game on Friday, so I took time upon arrival to set up the scenery for my 7:00 game. Obviously this would not have been possible if the tables had needed to have been more tightly scheduled. With some help from William, the table was set fairly quickly, and I used the spare time to finish up my shopping agenda. I picked up three boxes of 1/72 scale plastic figures, mostly Vikings, to provide a Hordes of the Things fantasy army for Norman's proposed grand fantasy campaign in the Hyborian mode, which I've dubbed "Myboria". Our HotT armies are generally on double-depth bases for the infantry for a nicer appearance, so we generally need more figures than we would with the "stock" basing. 

30mm Austrians

     My 1:00 game was somebody else's retro-tricorne game, in this case actually using a 1971 set of rules called Tricorne to run a Seven Years War scenario with 30mm figures. Tricorne uses rosters to track casualties by the man, so it's probably not something I'd use at home, but we managed to have it running by the third or fourth turn without too much gamemaster intervention. I still needed to leave somewhat before it was done, to ensure that I had enough time to lay out all the troops for my own first scenario. 

      The first scenario, The Important Bridge, was deemed to be the start of the little narrative campaign. I had six players for this one, the only one of my games to actually fill during the weekend. Four forces, two from each side, converge on a bridge needed to enable (or prevent) further operations. A total of three infantry regiments, a cavalry regiment, two guns, and a few light troops are present on each side. I used this scenario once before, at Barrage in 2010, but I don't have detailed notes about the outcomes for comparison. In this running, overly bold use of the light infantry on both sides led to their quick demise. The detached Coalition force, composed almost entirely of Wachovians, forded the river downstream of the bridge and seized the walled chateau just ahead of the advancing North Polenburgers. After an extended cavalry melee on the Coalition side of the bridge, the Alliance's North Polenburg dragoons were compelled to withdraw across the bridge to rally. The Coalition cavalry pursued, and managed to force the bridge in the teeth of the advancing Alliance Stanzbach-Anwatsch infantry. This turned out to be the final straw for the Alliance forces, and they ceded the crossing to the Coalition. Norman turned up partway through the game, which was handy for me as I pressed him into service as an additional gamemaster.

Early in the battle; North Polenburg dragoons crossing the bridge, Alliance light forces advancing to the left of the river

      We had a successful trawl through the flea market on Saturday morning. I ended up with a small collection of painted 40mm stuff, including two cannons and three musketeers for my Renaissance project. Norman found a Bronze Age city/fortress wall, with two towers, a gate, and a breached section, which should enhance our chariot games. William got a real deal on a Playmobile pirate ship, which is large enough to to use with his Sash and Saber 40mm pirate collection. I also ended up picking up one last thing from the dealers, Dux Bellorum, a new set of Dark Ages rules from Osprey. It was a bit of a gamble, but I figured I already had a set of possible armies for it (since it stretches to cover the early Viking raids on the Saxon kingdoms), so it wouldn't tend to cause me to buy anything else new. (And if it inspires painting, that would be a bonus.) I hope to give it a try and post a review sometime soon. 

     I only had two actual players show up for my 1:00 scenario. I pressed William into playing, and enlisted an OSW blogger who stopped by for a look. This scenario involved the Alliance in a holding position on a ridge, waiting for the arrival of reinforcements. As it turned out, the Alliance players found the attacking Coalition cavalry sweeping around the ridge at the left end of their position, and blocked them with their own cavalry, more or less as I expected. Also as expected, this melee took several turns to work out. They decided to send in the lead reinforcing infantry regiment to back up the cavalry, which they agreed, in retrospect, might not have been the optimum decision. As is played out, this left the force on the ridge unsupported for at least a few turns too long, and when they collapsed and the assaulting Coalition infantry took the ridge, they were unable to muster an adequate counterattack. The game only ended up taking three hours, so we had two hours to sort the figures back out and reset the scenery for the third game. My sons then departed for their own 7:00 game, leaving me to run this one by myself.

Coalition forces massed for the attack in Scenario 2, Reinforcements in the Defence

     As I mentioned earlier, I'd had some hesitation over the choice of the third scenario. It is a surprise scenario, where one side discovers as the scenario opens that their objective is not what they thought it was, but turns out to be to simply survive. I ended up putting the one repeat player, who had won the previous battle, in the position of the greatest danger. He was a good sport about the whole business, but there was undoubtedly some consternation on the Coalition side when they discovered that all the troops visible on the set up table off to the side ended up appearing on turn one in a corner of the table that had been covered in gaming litter, such as spare Quick Reference Sheets, dice, and pencils. Norman and I have played this scenario at home, although I never got a battle report posted. It ended up in a solid victory for the attacking player. This time, though, almost all the luck was with the Alliance players. As mentioned in the separate report, they rolled the Coalition up like a carpet. I don't know that I would pull this one out for a convention again. There are too many ways a surprise can go wrong. My sons showed up after their game ended, just in time to help me pack the troops away all neat, orderly, and ready for their next deployment. We took the time to pack the car carefully into its travel load configuration before heading back to the hotel and collapsing into bed. 

     We didn't go back to the convention in the morning, having too much to do before the end of the day. As a result we headed north around 9:30, and William and I got home around noon, so the trip home was considerably easier than the trip down. We listened to the latest View from the Veranda podcast on the trip back. The topic of its discussion strayed to "the graying of the hobby". I'll just add the observation that each of my official games had two of the sub-25 crowd in them, none of whom appeared to have been press-ganged into accompanying a parent or otherwise coerced. For an advertised old school tricorne game, that doesn't strike me as being a harbinger of doom... 

    Now that the convention is over, I notice that most of my shopping was associated with my Dark Ages project. Once we figure out when Ross is coming down again, which will be an opportunity for the joint projects, I am thinking that next year's other convention games may be something other than NQSYW.

(Pictures added, 30 July; final version)

Disaster at Friedrichsburg--Coalition Army Routed

After forcing back the Alliance army in the second scenario, the third opened with the Coalition Army poised to sweep aside a thin covering force consisting of the understength survivors of the Stanzbach-Anwatsch infantry, a single squadron of Allied dragoons, and a couple of guns.

Coalition forces were informed that they were experiencing command difficulties, with the Wachovians restive after receiving heavy casualties in the earlier actions, which the Prince Palatine did not feel advanced his own agenda. "My quarrel is with Rosmark and North Polenburg", he remarked. A Fredonian regiment had arrived to augment the Coalition advance as well, requiring additional coordination.

Unfortunately for the Coalition, the Alliance commander had pulled off a coup; the missing regiments of the North Polenburgers were discovered at dawn, positioned in attack formation on the left flank of the Coalition army. Doubtless the Wachovian Hussars, seen above just before being ridden down by the North Polenburg dragoons, had been unable to scout adequately due to the need to reorganize after the previous encounters.

With untypical zeal, the North Polenburgers fell on the unprotected flank of the Coalition army, relentlessly rolling up the Coalition line regiment by regiment. The Coalition commanders desperately tried to reorient to provide an effective defence, but to no avail. With two thirds of the Coalition infantry shattered, the Schoeffen-Buschhagen Prince's Dragoon Guards charged the oncoming Polenburg horde, buying enough time to allow the shattered survivors of the Coalition army time to withdraw.

Lady Sarah's Robins, the Stanzbach-Anwatsch light infantry (seen above in fighting positions at the woods edge) received a special mention in dispatches. They seemed to be everywhere on the field, and maintained a galling fire against the flanks of the Coalition forces which contributed greatly to the ultimate Alliance victory.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Invasion of Stanzbach-Anwatsch continues....

After successfully crossing the border into Stanzbach-Anwatsch, the Pragmatic Coalition pressed forward toward their initial objective, Friedrichsburg. Encountering an S-A blocking force in a strong position on a ridgeline, the PC forces immediately launched an attack. Although North Polenburg troops in the area hastened to the sound of the guns, they were ultimately too late to prevent the Coalition troops from seizing the ridgeline. Unable to mount a successful counterattack, the surviving Alliance troops withdrew to reposition themselves for a more considered riposte...

Pragmatic Coalition forces cross into Stanzbach-Anwatsch

The first game in our three game NQSYW was played last night. The Historicon venue this year does not have the best acoustics, and I found that I spent most of my time scurrying around the table so that I could hear player questions, and both photography and my grasp of the big picture of the action suffered as a result.

I chose Scenario 10, The Important Bridge, from the Red Book, C.S. Grant's Scenarios for All Ages, as the first game. A Pragmatic Coalition force of three infantry regiments, a cavalry regiment, a (Wachovian) hussar squadron, a light infantry company and two guns attempted to sieze a bridge from a similarly sized opposing force, here represented by a Northern Alliance mix of troops from Stanzbach-Anwatsch and North Polenburg.

I am amused by how often these imagi-nation troops fight true to form, regardless of whether their commander knows their history or not. In the shot below, the dashing Wachovian Hussars have their moment of glory, charging into the rear of a mass of infantry from the N-P Hawks regiment, only to be charged in turn by the 32nd N-P dragoons. Their horses may be showy but their saberwork needs more practice, since they were defeated in the resulting melee. In fact, they had a perfect night, losing every melee in which they were involved. Unfortunately for the brave hussars, they had nowhere to go, and were caught by reserve infantry while rallying and reduced below strength.

Eventually, after ferocious casualties on both sides, the Pragmatic Coalition forced the bridge and broke the morale of the oposing commanders, who elected to withdraw. It is probably a good thing that I wasn't planning on actually linking these scenarios with carryover of casualties; there wouldn't be much left for the follow-on battles.

Friday, July 20, 2012

New orders received!

The colonels of the regiments observing the border of Stanzbach-Anwatsch gather to meet the courier from the Pragmatic Coalition headquarters. Irritated by the diplomatic vacillation of Stanzbach-Anwatsch, the high command has issued orders to invade. This in retaliation for S-As recent diplomatic defection and support of the Northern Alliance during the siege of Adelheim.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Action at Graukopf

Schoeffen-Buschhagen dragoons ride through Graukopf during a chance encounter with troops of the Northern Alliance today. After a sharp encounter, troops of the Pragmatic Coalition held the town as Alliance troops withdrew...

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Prince August Package

Yesterday was not a great day; I was off from work on sick leave with some mysterious fever which hit on Thursday night. I didn't even do any hobby activities (apart from reading), but I was cheered up midday by the arrival of a package from Prince August. Given that I ordered it early last week, I have to say that I think 9 days for trans-Atlantic service quite good. I also had an extended conversation with their webmaster, helping them debug the shopping cart. (-:

So! Eight new molds (Hunting Scene is a two mold package) have been added to the mix, and I'm eager to get casting on them. My old HE range firing line figures can now have a standing officer and drummer to match them in pose (or should I say, repose?), and the light infantry can now have bugles rather than drums as another visual clue. I've admired Ross's Carbineers for some time, though in my army these are likely to be styled light dragoons. I wish, though, that there was a fifer in the range...

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Schluesselbrett Infantry add-ons

As mentioned before, the project we adopted last year at Cold Wars was not organized for Charge! Thus, this group of figures will eventually fill out a batch of eight otherwise spare musketeers. There's also a regimental command, which I've decided will generally be painted along with the second subunit for any Charge! regiment. Still rough, and a cell phone picture to boot...

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Monday, July 9, 2012

Standard bearer of the Hesse-Hattemstadt Infantry Regiment

Please pardon the shot taken with the iPad's native camera. It'll at least enable me to get this online tonight instead of next weekend...

This is the completed flag, as seen in progress in the previous post. It's handy to have talented offspring. Next up may finally be some regimental "uniform guide" photos.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Recent Work

Despite the miserable weather in the Mid Atlantic this week, I have been able to get some painting done, inspired by Historicon being almost upon us.  Norman ran a playtest of his (now cancelled) Historicon chariot game last weekend, so I made a push to finish off this batch of Libyans:

A band of Caesar Bronze Age Libyans
I got so eager to finish them that I tried to convince myself that spray varnish would work in this weather; after coming out almost white, they were luckily salvaged when I found a cool dehumidified basement for a second coat.

Company of Schoeffen-Buschhagen Schultheiss Infantry Regiment (organized for Charge!)
I posted a sample shot of the S-B infantryman the last time around.  The unit is ready for basing, but I am waiting on a batch of basing products from Litko.  I'll report on that when they arrive.

I also mentioned that my next task was to work up a few figures to complete units we acquired last year at Cold Wars.  Here is the first group; three musketeers, a company command element, a colonel and a sergeant major to finish up a regiment of the (not yet permanently named) blue coats.  The original figures (with flesh retouched) are the group to the right.  I tried to match the original painting style as much as possible.

I also painted a standard bearer for the unit.  I got as far as adding a paper flag just before heading out on errands yesterday.  Norman picked it up and painted this, which he says is not quite done yet, while I was gone:
Blue Lion flag
He's also starting to work on the fabled second squadron of Wachovian Hussars ...

Mesiterzinn Hussar castings ready for priming

I still have one more day before I go back to work on Monday and hope to do a bit more.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Schoeffen-Buschhagen Schultheiss Infantry Regiment

Taking advantage of the holiday today, I finished up the NQSYW unit I've been working on the past few weeks. I don't usually post closeups, but I'm curious about how much work people typically put into these Prince August castings. Pictures of our battles demonstrate that they don't need to have too much detail to look fine en masse, but I like to paint at least a little more than is necessary.

The next task is to prime some completer figures for the mercenaries acquired last year ( Norman had a go at it prior to last summer's siege games (, and now it's my turn.