Sunday, March 26, 2023

March Madness

  To some extent, I am feeling like we are in middle of the long decline of the personal blog, but that might be just because I am having trouble getting anything posted lately …

March has actually been a good month for some gaming.  I met with my brother at Cincy Con the first weekend of the month, and had the opportunity to play in several historical miniatures games as well as a big game of Ral Partha’s Chaos Wars.

Chaos Wars on Sunday morning

Philistines against Israelites

Scrum Con in Silver Spring, Maryland, is coming up on the 8th of April.  I volunteered to run a 40mm Renaissance game with Leonardo da Vinci-style war machines, from my collection of stuff that hasn’t been on the table at a convention too recently.  However, I had been uncertain about the rules I was going to us, so I arranged to meet with my sons on the 11th for another game day.  

 Landships and Landsknechts for the first time in over 20 years
The DBA tournament continues

We continued the ongoing DBA preliminary elimination tournament with a few games, then set up the 40mm Renaissance (enhanced) using Nic Wright’s Fantastic Battles rules.  Unfortunately, despite having provisions for Renaissance troop types, and customizable war machines, as well as being designed for troops on 60mm square bases, the rules were not going to work for the convention game that I need to run.  I would like to try them again with something closer to their intended purpose before I say too much more about them.  However, vis-a-vis Scrum Con, it was back to the drawing board …

I missed a HAWKs meeting on the 3rd while I was at Cincy Con, but I made it out to the meeting on the 17th.  Duncan Adams was running one of the legendary “Space Station Accipiter” games, using the HAWKs collection of 54mm semi-flat Buck Rogers figures cast from vintage molds sold for home use in the 1930s.

That send me down a nostalgia trail, and I spent some time the next day reorganizing my Buck Rogers figures.

Possibly there will be more about that, too …

My brother and I have volunteered to run several games of Burrows and Badgers for Gen Con in August, so we decided to take a little time on the 19th to set up a remote game (using his table and figures) to remind ourselves of the rules.

Screen shot from the game in progress

Finally, I rounded out the month by meeting with Chris Palmer on the 25th for another try at the Renaissance game.  Chris had built all of the amazing war machines back in the late 1990s.  We ran at least one game at a Cold Wars using home rules, after which that project went off (for me) in a different direction.  

For this game, I decided to use the usual Rough Wooing, Ross Macfarlane’s home rules, with some war machine rules improvised from what I remembered of what we had done in 1997.  We also set it up on a full 6x10 table to see how things fit.

It worked well enough, so I just need to type up the Rough Wooing modifications into something neat enough to use with players on the 8th.

I was amazed, though, to find that Chris still had a folder of rules and handouts from 1997 through the convention game we did in 1999.  

That included a copy of the page from my notebooks of record with the basics of the rules, so I was able to pull the appropriate notebook off my shelf and see what else was occupying my mind in late 1997.

Not much painting has been getting done, but I have no complaints about the gaming this month …

Monday, January 16, 2023

Dean Con 2023

 Perhaps it wasn’t an “official” convention with a proper name, a program, and all of that, but I had the opportunity to get together with my sons for a two-day game gathering this weekend.  All three of us are employed by organizations that observe all federal holidays, so this was a three day weekend for all of us. That allowed us to seize the day(s).  We had been awaiting an opportunity to do so since younger son William arrived back in this general area in October.  Elder son Norman’s house was the obvious location, as he has been able to take over a finished basement room as his gaming and hobby space, with an adequate 5x6 foot table. 

Norman’s space, with the inevitable Really Useful Boxes neatly organized on shlves

As it worked out, we didn’t need the whole table, since the main program was a series of DBA games using various historical armies from our joint 1/72 scale plastic collection.  Norman had noted that we have at least 20 armies available to us at the moment, so he has decided to pit them against each other in an effort to determine which is the most powerful/successful.  He has divided them into four divisions of five armies each.  Each division will see each army play the others in a round robin format, with the two most successful armies in each division advancing to an elimination bracket tournament.  Some quick math will show that the divisional tournaments will consist of ten games each, and the final elimination will have three rounds of four, two, and one game respectively, for a grand total of 47 games.  This will not be a one-weekend effort.  Perhaps he will write something up about this eventually on his blog…

Between Saturday and Sunday, we completed the ten games of the first division.  Since William doesn’t own any of these armies, and Norman owns most of them, we tend to play somewhat objectively, and do not generally treat this as though it were a map campaign, with a strong personal identification with the fortunes of a particular army.  

Bronze Age Libyans face off against early Arameans

Once we had enough of DBA and needed a break, Norman set up a 19th century imagi-nations scenario.  We used (again) the rules in Neil Thomas’s book Wargaming Nineteenth Century Europe.  As with our Thanksgiving weekend, Norman chose one of the included historical scenarios, the battle of Oeversee from the Austrian/Danish War of 1864:

Neil Thomas is a proponent of fast, compact games.  This scenario is intended for a 2’ x 2’ space:

We had set it up on the 3’ by 3’ ground cloth we had been using for the DBA games before we looked closely at the scenario and concluded that the table was even smaller.  That’s how we ended up pulling a second ground cloth out of our ready supply of ground cloths and resetting. The town and bridge were provided by the usual toy soldier-appropriate Castle Blocks and the trees are from Norman’s old collection of 6mm scenery.  Wooden trees seen in some earlier battle reports are part of my collection of childhood toys, and weren’t part of what I was requested to bring.

As can be seen from the set-up above, there was little room to maneuver.  The “Danish” forces, at the bottom of the picture and represented by Norman’s white-coated Elabruners were a rearguard.  Their orders were to hold the “Austrians” (represented by Norman’s Occiterrans) for ten turns to allow the remainder of their army, off-board, to retreat.  The Occiterrans were restricted by a doctrinal preference for the bayonet over firepower, but also started with their artillery deployed on a hill safely beyond a stream, and with the range to bombard the Elabrun infantry from the beginning.  William commanded the Occiterrans, and pushed aggressively forward, clearing the road in just six turns, so the game did not take long.

We had some supper, and spent the evening with some board games.  We played several rounds of 
Kingdomino, which I received as a gift from my parents at Christmas.  It’s a fast and engaging Eurogame, and I’m not surprised to find that it received the Game of the Year (Spiel des Jahres) award in 2017.  We also played a round of Azul.  We’ve been playing quite a bit of Azul on Board Games Arena, one of our favorite online hangouts since the plague, but this was the first time I actually played with a physical copy.

I will have a separate post soon about my recent revisitation of some 6mm projects.  I took my 6mm Hordes of the Things/DBA collection, handily contained in a large tackle box, with me this weekend.  On Sunday morning, Norman and I continued with the DBA 3.0 theme, but switched over to 6mm and pitted some early Franks against 3rd century Romans.

Both games were routs, one for the Romans, and then one for the Franks.  I have had the Roman fortress for many years (a TCS Model, now sadly no longer in business, but once a mainstay of the Historicon/Cold Wars dealers’ room), but I believe this may be the first time it has actually featured on the table as an active fort.  In any case, I enjoyed seeing the “little guys” out on the table.  They were most recently on the table as fantasy forces in an experimental playtest game we had at Huzzah in 2015, and, according to my records, were most recently deployed as actual ancients in May 2012, also at a Huzzah.  As I recall, that was also a test, of the Basic Impetus rules.  These figures used to be my usual portable set, and were therefore along at conventions as a contingency game.

Huzzah 2015 6mm fantasy playtest

I asked Norman this weekend whether he recalled how it was that we got away from this well-used project, a staple of my kids’ childhoods.  He noted that, to the best of his recollection, we started down the path of recreating a Hordes of the Things set up in 1/72 scale after he realized, while fiddling with the wargaming impedimenta around the house, that an Italeri Saracen was just the right size and shape to ride a plastic dinosaur from a Jurassic Park board game.  On such chances do the fortunes of our lives depend …

We closed out the weekend with a game of the popular board game Terraforming Mars, which took a little longer than we had estimated.  I look forward to a rematch, now that I have some slight idea of what I am trying to do. 

It was a good start to the gaming year, and I hope that we will be able to gather again soon, even if not for a two day extravaganza.