My brother and I had a chance to play a couple of games during our family Christmas visit. We had agreed that the game this year would be Dragon Rampant, and that the theme would be “No Ral Partha”. I certainly have nothing against Ral Partha, but we have been playing a lot of Ral Partha Chaos Wars in a demo game context, and we usually feel obliged to stick to Ral Partha figures when we do. We thought it would be nice to allow some of the other figures a chance to shine on the table.
Wednesday, December 28, 2022
Reflections on 2022
Monday, December 5, 2022
Home Cast 40mm Renaissance Revival and Other Random Events
A lot has been going on since I last blogged, both in life and in hobby activities.
My younger son has returned to this part of the world, so, with both sons relatively nearby, we are looking forward to some family wargmaing time. However, moving just before the holidays has meant that everyone has a lot of activity already scheduled. We did manage to get a good game in on the margins of the Thanksgiving feasting last week:
We played the Battle of Montebello scenario from Neil Thomas’s Wargaming Nineteenth Century Europe. There’s a full report on elder son Norman’s blog.
I managed to get my limited French Revolution collection on the table for a solo game recently.
This was in service of a playtest of some new horse and musket large skirmish rules currently in development, so I won’t comment on that part of it, but it was good to see these figures on the table. While Norman ran a game with them at an HMGS convention in the mid-teens, I personally haven’t had them on the table since 2009. Until November, they had been my second longest unplayed project, topped only by my neglected little 6mm Spanish Civil War collection, which was last on the table in 2005. I plan to bring out the French and Indian War figures (last played in 2016 when Ross came down for Fall In) for the next playtest, but with the holidays, that might be a few weeks yet.
A few weeks ago I visited Days of Knights, my friendly local game store, and was surprised to find that the latest release in Osprey’s series of role playing games was a “clockpunk” Italian Renaissance game, set in a 1510 that included advanced Leonardo da Vinci technology.
Now, as it happens, I have a 40mm 16th century toy soldier project already in hand, and I am currently the possessor of some Leonardo-type machines built by my friend Chris Palmer back in the late 1990s. I dug them out to take a look, and found them all to still be in good shape:
We used these for a year or so and then got distracted (as is so often the case). Chris dug out some print pictures of them in action back around 1998. Here’s a sample:
So I have spent much of my reading time these last few weeks gathering inspiration to jump back into the period, with a historical book on the early Italian Wars, and a historical novel (Prince of Foxes) on Cesare Borgia. In podcasts, I’ve been listening to quite a bit of the Yarkshire Gamer’s Reet Big Wargames Podcast lately, and Ken Reilly, the eponymous Gamer, has been displaying his Italian Wars project lately, for additional inspiration. So, we’ll see what becomes of that. I am always glad when the Muses grant some inspiration relating to something already in my collection at a playable level.
I have been trying out the “slapchop” painting technique on some old Hinchliffe Byzantines. That deserves a separate report later…
Tuesday, October 11, 2022
Some recent 1/72 scale painting
I wasn’t sure what to do with the cows. My wife suggested that I look at “belted cows”. I hadn’t heard of this as a color pattern, and there aren’t any that I have noticed locally.
Monday, October 10, 2022
Barrage XXV, 23-24 September 2022
It is hard to believe that the HAWKs reached Barrage 25 this year; it still seems like only yesterday when someone suggested at a club meeting that a game day would be a good idea. We went to two days a couple of years ago, and this year we had over 200 attendees including club members.
Unfortunately for me, I had to miss the Friday events, as I was returning from a work trip to Utah over which I did not have schedule control, and didn’t walk in the door at home until 9:30PM on Friday. I was signed up to run a Not Quite Seven Years War game on Saturday morning. While I had spent the weekend before the trip organizing my flea market offerings, and ensuring that I knew where all of the Bronze Age gear that my son Norman was going to need was stowed, I did not have the NQSYW scenario materials pulled out.
Therefore, I got an early start on Saturday morning, pulled all the stuff up from the basement, and got it loaded. It still wasn’t early enough to avoid a bridge closure due to a running event, but at least I knew that it was likely to be happening this year. Carrying around a stack of boxes loaded with Charge! regiments in 40mm does leave me wondering these days whether I should be recreating the NQSYW in something a little more portable, such as 1/72 scale plastics …
My flea marketeering went well. I arrived with four boxes of stuff and returned home with two, plus $370 in pocket, so I was pleased. It’s no fault of Reaper Miniatures, but I sold off a lot of Bones 5 figures. I have concluded that I am more interested in recreating (or perhaps just creating) the vision of fantasy miniatures I had in my youth, so I expect to be putting my effort into expanding my vintage 25mm collection instead of trying to keep up with the latest styles.
I mentioned that there were a couple of reasons why the NQSYW was on my mind. Back in August, right after Gen Con, my pre-ordered copy of Henry Hyde’s Wargaming Campaigns arrived. As might be expected with Henry Hyde, horse and musket campaigning is front and center, so perhaps this will finally kick me over the edge into doing another NQSYW map-based campign.
Additionally, William, my second son and the originator of the Pragmatic Coalition’s Imperial Free City of Wiegenburg, has landed a job in the Washington DC area, and will be returning to this general area next week. His appointment is for at least a year, so his brother and I have been considering some possible agendas for game days, especially since Norman’s basement, as seen back in June is suitable for miniatures.
Friday, September 2, 2022
Gen Con 2022 — Better late than never …
We (myself, my brother, and my wife) made it to Gen Con again this year, after being on hiatus since 2019. I did participate in the 2020 virtual convention, and I would have gone last year, except for the pandemic-related rescheduling that moved it to a weekend when I could not travel due to work commitments.
After the usual participation in the planning phases starting in January with the room lottery, it was finally time to pack things up and get on the road on the 2nd of August. My brother had signed us up to run two miniatures games, a Burrows and Badgers skirmish, and a Chaos Wars mass battle. I was to provide one of three B&B battlefields, and three of six B&B war bands. That didn’t take up much space, so I was able to strap it all together in a stack of Really Useful Boxes, a 12-liter, a 4-liter, and a 2.5 liter (the latter my usual GM paraphenalia box).
Irene and I got in late on Tuesday, the 3rd of August, after having struggled with accidents and construction along the way. The map software estimate a 10.5 hour trip, but we nneded about 13 hours, with the disruptions. Our plan had been to check in, get our wristbands from the vaccination check station, and have dinner with my brother, but that did not end up happening. The vaccination check station was already closing when we checked into the hotel.
We ended up with a room at the Conrad downtown, way up in the air. The Conrad is more or less at the northeast corner of the collection of hotels attached to the convention center by an enclosed skywalk. Judging from my walking times, it was about three quarters of a mile over to the far end of the convention center, where we would be running miniatures.
As usual, Indianapolis was more or less ready for the influx of nerds.
We got our wristbands bright and early on Wedneday, with no waiting. On top of that, Will Call (where I had a few paper tickets from late-added events to collect) opened early, so we got through that with no wait either. There was a wait for purchasing Gen Con merchandise, and attendees were pressed into service as gonfaloniers (there’s a word you don’t need every day …) to allow folks to rally appropriately on the end of the line.
We all had lunch at the District Tap (which did have the Sun King Gen Con beer on tap), and then my brother came back to our room for a quick round of Burrows and Badgers for practice.
Wednesday events are free, though ticketed. There seemed to be fewer of them this year. Nevertheless, we were all signed up that evening for our first scheduled event, a demo of a card game called Usurp the King. It was, uh, interesting. There were six rounds of card laying followed by a resolution phase ordered by card type. After that was all over, the table situation was compared to a hierarchical chart of victory conditions. While there was technically no randomness and only a little bit of hidden information, there was also very little ability to predict whether a play would be useful or not, so I didn’t feel like I had any control over winning or losing. Ultimately, not recommended …
Irene and I had a seminar on ballroom history (with a section on how to use this in your LARP) to start Thursday, after which my brother and I ran the official B&B game. We got 5 of 6 registered players, which I thought was pretty good. There have been conventions where the pre-registrant appearance rate was under 50%. B&B is optimized for two-player play, so we got a six-player game by running three simultaneous two-player games. We used the same scenario on all three tables, a “Capture the Paychest” thing where finding and dragging off a treasure chest was the objecctive, regardless of the terrain. My brother had to fill in to even up the number of players. I have to say, despite being a somewhat detailed set of rules, all of our public B&B games have gone very well. Kudos to Michael and Jo Lovejoy for the rules and the charming miniatures!
After the game, I ended up having enough time to drop the miniatures off at the hotel room (the Conrad being about a 12 minute walk each way from the ICC) and get back in time for the one speed painting round I had signed up for. These involve painting a pre-primed miniature with a limited palette of 12 colors using two brushes of dubious quality in 45 minutes. The figure we got was a Reaper Miniatures “Persephone”. I was fortunate enough to be first in my round, and so maintain my streak of qualifying for a final every year I’ve tried this, despite the dubious brushes. I had to decline the actual final this year, though, as I already had another event scheduled.
After the speed painting, I did a quick recon of the Exhibit Hall. I ended up having dinner from the food trucks (reasonably familiar Mexican street tacos) before heading on to my one scheduled RPG event of the weekend. This was a Monster of the Week game (a Powered by the Apocalypse implementation) run by the folks from the Crit Show live play podcast. As with the one I played at Gen Con Online 2020, we quickly built characters, formed a team, and tackled a mystery, improv’ed to the extent that the team wasn’t predictable in advance. I played a time-traveled magician from Arrthurian times, and the mystery involved finding and destroying the “anchor” keeping a malevolent ghost in a haunted house. I’d play with them again.
On Friday, Irene and I had two sessions of dance with the ladies of Counts to Nine. We have danced with them before, and they were thrilled to see Irene (and me) back. The second of these was an intro to Celtic dance, which is very energetic. They had been hoping for a couple of years to be in a position to offer an intermediate class and go a little deeper, and we were signed up for that on Saturday.
I followed up the dancing with some 6mm SYW action, Prussians versus Austrians. This got off to a slow start due to a decision to have the sides choose their set ups sequentially from scratch. This is not a decision I would make for my own games unless the number of elements each player was deploying was, say, five or fewer. The rules, from The Games of War by John Bobek, were ok; my side lost, but it was nice to see some historicals there.
On Saturday morning, my brother and I had five players for the Chaos Wars game; unfortunately we had one player elect not to continue before the end, so I jumped in to take over the abandoned position for the last hour. The scenario was an elf/human punitive expedition into the territory of the orc/undead/lizardman alliance. In retrospect, there might have been a few too many monsters on the table for a satisfying game.
After Chaos Wars, Irene and I had enough “leg” left to get through the Intermediate Celtic Dance class, but Michael Flatley doesn’t need to fear for his job on my account. Irene and I had a quiet (early) dinner at the Old Spaghetti Factory after a brief foray into the Exhibit Hall. By Saturday night we were both hitting the wall, but I did hobble over to the JW Marriot to look at open gaming set up in one of the ballrooms.
While “open”, there was some organization to assist you, and various flags and cones were available from a headquarters desk, to assist you in recruiting the appropriate people for your table.
I’m not sure the wide angle lens is providing the proper impression of the scale of the open gaming area, so you might want to tap on that picture and take a closer look. Most of the tables were playing various board games, both new and classic, but I saw a few roleplaying games going on, and a table of Gaslands miniartures as well.We finished up with ticketed events on Sunday morning with one more dance, after which I finished shopping. I didn’t really intend to do a lot of shopping this year, but I came home with a few t-shirts, the annual pin, a few odd little indie rpgs, and a few other bits and bobs.
We took a commemorative picture, had a farewell meal with my brother at the restaurant attached to the Downtown Marriott, and then headed home, with a planned overnight stop in Columbus.
By the way, after it was too late to do anything about it at the convention, I learned that the Pin Bazaar event event this year included a pin memorializing the rather distinctive carpet pattern from the Indianapolis Convention Center, as seen in the picture above. Happily, I was able to acquire one after the convention.
Overall, it was a good con, and I was glad to be back among my tribe for a while. It looks like the vaccination requirement, the masking, the handwashing, and perhaps an element of good luck, were sufficient for us to avoid the plague.
Now it’s time to start planning our events for next year …
Saturday, July 16, 2022
A Test of Army Painter Speed Paints with 1/72 Caesar Elves
I’m usually a little behind the latest trends, so I finally picked up a few Army Painter Speed Paints for a trial.
I picked up five colors from Critical Hit Games in Abingdon, Maryland. I was actually expecting to do a test of some skeletons, so that’s why the pallid bone, and I’m honestly not sure why I chose red. The brown and the green, I thought, would be a fair test for some “traditional” wood elves.
Since I would like to get an elvish army on the table as part of my plan for the Portable Fantasy Campaign, I pulled out a dozen 1/72 scale Caesar Elves earlier this week and washed them up as usual. Yesterday after work I primed them with a Reaper brush on white primer, in keeping with the general instruction to use these over white. I pulled out a cheap brush from a Dollar Tree craft section, which was unmarked, but about the size of a typical #2 round brush, since I didn’t want to risk any unforeseen side effects with a more expensive brush. I also pulled out an oatmeal container lid to use as a palette. I then queued up the latest episode of the Yarkshire Gamers Reet Big Wargames Podcast (which is appropriate because the host always asks guests what they think about contrast/speed paints), and started brushing.
Before the 1.5 hours podcast was over, I had paint on everything, with figures and sand on bases. I did touch up some belts and metallics with conventional paints within that time block. The Speed Paint seems to do a reasonable job of staying where you put it, so you can probably paint trousers first and a tunic after, if that made sense. The one point that I should have considered before starting (but did not) is that the lighter colors do not cover darker colors. Add that to the paint staying put once applied and it is clear that the correct order of application is “lightest to darkest” rather than “innermost to outermost” or “bottom to top”. So I should have started will all “pallid bone”, then done the flesh tone, then the brown, red and green in any order that made sense. That would have required me to consider the whole paint scheme first rather than starting (as I did) with the cloaks (because I knew what color I wanted them to be).