Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Not Quite Seven Years War with One Hour Wargames

 I am not making much progress with my resolution to blog more this year…perhaps I can alter my habits by January, a more traditional time for resolutions.

At any rate, I have a list of rules and periods I have been wanting to try, and I had some time this past Sunday to check another one off the list.  At some point during the pandemic, I bought some magnetic movement stands from Litko, sized for units in One Hour Wargames. My intention was to use them to temporarily mount stands or figures from other projects; I should be able to do some sort of ancients, Dark Ages, Pike and Shot, and Horse and Musket.  First up (finally!) was Horse and Musket.  I randomly selected a scenario from the book, which turned out to be Scenario 1, Pitched Battle, based on Ceresole in 1544.  I used figures from my NQSYW collection to field a Red (League) army of 3 infantry, 1 skirmisher, and 2 cavalry aganst a Blue (Coalition) army of 3 infantry, 2 artillery and 1 cavalry.

While not the best idea, I looked at that and decided that the League either had to withdraw or attack, since they would otherwise be worn down by artillery fire without being able to respond.  The 3x3 table doesn’t allow a lot of maneuver, and the horse and musket rules give infantry a 12” range, so it was a die rolling contest for the most part.  The game ended on turn 11 with a charge by the Coalition dragoons scattering the last League infantry.

I followed the suggestions in the short chapter on campaigns, and did a follow-on game by allowing the winning side to choose which position they would take in randomly determined Scenario 12, where an army defending a town is about to be outflanked by an attacking force which discovers a usable ford.

I elected to have the Coalition play blue, the attacker, and thereby relegated the League to the role of Red, the defenders.  The dice gave the same force composition for Blue (obviously they just continued the advance after the first battle), and Red now had 4 infantry, one artillery, and one cavalry.

The attacking army is prohibited from shooting on turn 1, and must set up within range of the defenders, so things got off to a bad start for the Coalition; three League units concentrated fire on one Coaltion infantry unit and broke it immediately.  The Coalition cavalry rode for the objective hill and were met by the League cavalry. By the rules (as I understood them) this resulted in an indecisive melee on the hill for several turns.  The Coalition artillery was generally ineffective, and the final situation saw all units broken except for the League cavalry and one Coalition artillery surviving on Turn 15.  Without the hill in their possession, victory went to the League.

This was only my second experience actually laying with this rules, and the previous time we played the 19th century version.  They seem reasonable for a first introduction, but I do have an urge to complicate them a bit … perhaps next time.  It wasn’t a bad way to spend a rainy Sunday afternoon, though, and, as is usually the case, I was glad to get some figures on the table.

Monday, September 4, 2023

An old favorite on the table

I had the French and Indian War collection on the table yesterday, for the first time since Ross and I hosted a couple of games at Fall In in 2016.

Sunday, August 13, 2023

Gen Con 2023 After Action Report

 My wife and I did all the necessary Gen Con planning (badges, hotel reservations, flight arrangements, and event sign-ups) at the appropirate intermediate milestones this year, so we were able to pack up calmly on Monday, July 31st, to be ready to head to the airport on Tuesday morning, 1 August 2023.  Since we were flying, I had to keep the miniatures down to what I could easily carry on.

My brother and I were signed up to run three sessions of Burrows & Badgers, so I didn’t need more than two dozen miniatures and a single 3x3 foot terrain set-up. That all went into two Really Useful Boxes, a 9-liter and a 4-liter, which I banded together with a transverse strap and a “Strap-a-handle”. This configuration fits in the overhead compartment without difficulty. We had an uneventful flight, and checked into our hotel with enough time to spare to meet my brother for dinner.  Since only a few of the con-goers are arriving on Tuesday, we figured that we could have anything that we liked, and ended up at The Social Cantina, not far from the convention center.  It’s new since last year, and I wonder how the rest of their weekend went. 

We enjoy being at Gen Con on Wednesday for the unofficial Day 0. This year my younger son, William, made it in on Wednesday morning, so we started the day with a brunch at the Cafe Patachou, anticipating that Wednesday was probably the last day where we could find seats at that hour. After that, we headed off to our first ticketed event.  It has been our custom for the past several trips to sign up for some board game, usually something still in pre-production.  This year we tried Eureka Science Academy, a card game themed around recruiting historical scientists and developing and defending scientific theories.  It has some potential, and I enjoyed the idea of trying to defend the phlogiston theory, so I will keep an eye out for the final version. We finished the day with a visit to the Block Party.  While we were able to get the special Gen Con pizza from the folks at Hot Box Pizza, the line to try the Sun King special Gen Con beer was longer than I could stand in.  One of William’s grad school gaming friends attending this year arrived while we were eating.  We left them to explore the convention on their own, as my brother and I needed a good night’s sleep before our early start on Thursday.

As noted above, we were running three sessions of Burrows & Badgers, for six players each.  The first of these was scheduled for Thursday at 0900.  This year our games were out in Lucas Oil Stadium.  As can be seen from the shot below of our setting up, there was still extra space on Thursday morning.  We have

not GMed out there previously, and we have agreed that it’s not a bad place to run games.  (For the historical miniatures gamer, I might note here that we were setting up just beyond a large group of tables where an event organizing group called Able Company was running a large Flames of War event.) With the dome ceiling, sound does not bounce around as badly as it does in the event halls, so my voice was not as damaged as it has been some years.  With a game at 0900, we know that we are not trying to get into

the Exhibition Hall for the 1000 opening, and all of the players have presumably made that decision as well.  We were pleased to find that all six of our preregistered players showed up.  The session went well, and we had an hour to reset things for the afternoon session. In between, I ran down to the Exhibition Hall to get a copy of Free League’s Dragonbane, an English translation of the latest edition of the earliest roleplaying game in Swedish, Drakkar och Demoner, itself originally derived from Chaosium’s Basic Role-playing and Magic World as presented in Worlds of Wonder in 1982.  The crowd was very heavy, and that was as much as I could do in the limited time available.  Like the morning session, the 

afternoon session was also full, with all six players appearing.  Another fun set of games was played.  We set these events up, by the way, as three parallel one-on-one tables, all playing the same scenario, “Seize the paychest”, though on different terrain and with different war bands.  We do this so that we are flexible.  If an even number of players shows up, we pair them off and both of us advise and adjudicate.  If we have an odd number, one of us can jump in and play, so we are ready for anything from just one up to the six players planned.  My wife found us just as we were finishing and packing things up, so we headed back to the hotel.  We met up with our favorite dance instructors, Whitney and Reesa from The Revel Alliance.  We had some supper with them, and then I headed off to my evening game, a Pendragon (6th edition) adventure that William was also playing.  We managed to save some part of England from being ravaged by a dragon by putting it to sleep with a well-fed magical panther, so I guess we’ll call that a success.

On Friday morning, I met by brother for breakfast at the Lincoln Square Pancake House.  It is far enough from the Convention Center that it wasn’t too crowded.  After breakfast we took a quick look at the Auction’s consignment shop.  This year, it seemed to be mostly recent Euro-style board games, so the only thing I came away with was a copy of a vintage GDW Series 120 game, 1940, which turned out later to be short the rules.  (I expect I can find them online somewhere, but haven’t had time to search yet.). Then it was time for my main foray into the Exhibition Hall.  As with Thursday, it was quite crowded and two hours was as much as I could stand.  I ended up with some pins, some Games and Gears paintbrushes, some Dryad Tea, some Campaign Coins to use as fate tokens in Burrows & Badgers, a few little games from Indie Press Revolution, and a few more coins from the Shire Post Mint. 

Friday afternoon was scheduled for dancing.  Irene and I were signed up for four sessions of dance run by the Revel Alliance.  We have been doing their events since they started in 2017, and they are always fun.

After four hours of dance, I was a bit worn, and didn’t make it to the fantasy miniatures game I had scheduled. (My apologies to the event organizer … )

My brother and I ran our third Burrows & Badgers session on Saturday morning.  We had five of the six

registered players, so we were 17 for 18 for the weekend.  I believe this was our best show-up rate ever for Gen Con.  After that game I had no choice but to carry my miniatures boxes to my next events, the Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff live podcast, and another dance session.  At that point things caught up with me, and I carried my boxes back to the hotel room, stretched out on the couch, and fell asleep.  I woke up just in time to make it to the pre-scheduled family dinner.  Our previous customary location for Gen Con family dinners had closed during the pandemic years, so we made reservations after the event sign up weekend for the Weber Grill, conveniently across the street from our hotel. We try to schedule one dinner, usually Friday or Saturday depending on how the gaming schedules work out, to allow us to catch up on what everyone has been doing for the con.  After dinner, William and I took a walk to the other end of the convention world, the JW Marriott, to see how the open gaming looked this year. One ballroom is

dedicated to open gaming, and it takes a wide-angle lens to capture it.  I was too tired to actually play anything, but there was a wide variety of board games as well as a few pick-up roleplaying games on offer.  Perhaps next year I will actually schedule some time to try this out.

By Sunday morning, I was dragging a bit, but I still managed to get up before my alarm went off so that I could go play my final scheduled game.  My son William has been playing a great deal of Crusader Kings 3, from Paradox, and decided that he was interested in playing Kingmaker.  I had played quite a bit of Kingmaker, in the original British edition and the Avalon Hill version, back in the ‘70s and ‘80s, so it wasn’t hard to convince me to join as well.  The only issue was that signing up for an 0800 Sunday game made sense back in May, but was a little daunting in August on the fifth day of the convention. We both made it, though, and it was a good game, pleasantly more dynamic than I remembered it being. 

There is a new edition about to be released, and I have a copy on order.  In the meantime, we can play the Avalon Hill version. There was time for one more dance session after that, and a final quick peek (with no purchases) at the Exhibition Hall.  We all had lunch together after that, and then headed to the airport, where the traditional departure game tables were set up:

The official Gen Con press release says that over 70,000 unique individuals attended, a new record.  The crowds in the high traffic areas bear this out, and they sold out their limit of 4-Day and Saturday passes.

So that was Gen Con; this was my tenth consecutive year including the two virtual pandemic years.  With the crowds and the general uptick in Covid, I was not surprised to hear quite a few con crud/Covid 

stories.  I’ve had some serious con crud this week, but have tested negative for Covid. Next year I may need to reconsider my masking decision and mask more consistently.  But who knows what the viral environment will look like by then … 

I’ll throw in one random background fun shot.  Among the other Gen Con traditions, a large balloon sculpture is built, starting on Wednesday.  This year the balloon sculpting team built a life-sized model of the Apollo Lunar Excursion Module, which was amazing.

Hope to see you in Indianapolis next year!

Saturday, July 15, 2023

6mm Games and a New 1/72 Challenge

 In the previous post I was painting some 6mm characters and commanders with the intention of using them in a game of Fantastic Battles by Nic Wright. I had mentioned back in March that my sons and I had tried them for a Renaissance game with Leonardo machines, and that the rules were not what I was looking for to run a multi-player convention game.  I wanted to give them another try, and my friend Chris Palmer agreed to be my guinea pig, er, opponent.  As I noted, I am interested in squeezing more gaming out of small spaces at the moment, so I wanted to use the 6mm troops.  I took my box of 6s and a Cigar Box Battles general purpose mat to Chris’s house and we played on his dining room table.  We used armies of orcs (basically impetuous barbarians) and Romans (doughty and drilled).  Allowing for some first time rules look up, we got through a battle in about two hours. As anticipated, this worked better in a more standard fantasy context, and as a two player game looking for that 1-2 hour game.  I look forward to playing it again, and will hold a formal review until we get at least one more game in.  As for an informal review, Chris ordered a starter army of 6mm elves from Baccus Miniatures after the game, so I think that it is safe to say that he was favorably impressed.

View from the Roman right flank as the battle opened

Another view, from behind the Roman center

This past week business took me to Colorado.  Since I knew that the first leg was going to be over three hours in the air, I decided that I would take the tray table game with me and try it out as intended.  Apart from the fact that the Roman legionary infantry did not make it back into the travel box after the fight against the orcs and I was compelled to improvise a bit on the order of battle, I am happy to say that it worked splendidly. The children’s play organizer did a good job of keeping dice and damage tokens confined.  I played two games, with each side (Romans and Sassanid Persians) having one win.  (I should go put the infantry back in the travel box before I forget about it again … ) It was nice to have something to distract myself from the fact that I was packed in a thin-walled metal tube hurtling through the sky six miles above the ground for a little while.

Now, on to the challenge.  Most of the miniatures content on YouTube is Games Workshop related, so I’m always interested when something shows up that isn’t.  There was a video posted on the Tabletop Minions channel last week (Friday, 7 July 2023) in which Uncle Atom presented a route to get into the hobby from scratch with a budget of $100.  The HAWKs presented a similar challenge back in 2003, although our $100 budget then specifically excluded the tools and painting supplies that were necessary to build the projects.  According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the $100 November 2003 budget translates into $165 in June 2023.  Add that to the excluded paint, glue, and tools, and it looks like we were pretty generous in our conditions back in ‘03.

Uncle Atom’s budget includes paint, brushes, and tools.  After considering the matter for a while, I went shopping.  Here’s what I came up with:

I decided to follow Uncle Atom’s advice and start at the Dollar Tree.  For $5.50, I came home with a craft knife, some glue, and a package of cheap brushes that I won’t care about when they get messed up.

For rules, I decided that I would use Nordic Weasel’s Knyghte, Pyke and Sworde, which is available at Wargames Vault for $9.99. KPS is a skirmish game using only standard six sided dice, with forces of up to 20-30 figures per side, but still usable at smaller levels.  So, as troops get painted, the games can begin before all the figures are finished.  Uncle Atom allowed that d6s were probably available for scrounging, so we’ll count them as free although I could have bought a package of them a the Dollar Tree for $1.25.

For figures, I decided that this was a good excuse to paint a set of 1/72 scale figures I’d been wanting to do anyway.  For $25 (including shipping!) on eBay, I was able to find a box of the Italeri Medieval Tournament.  This set was originally pointed out to me over on Benno’s Figures Forum when someone posted pictures of the civilians from the set they had painted.

This set includes some tournament knights and specators, plus a viewing stand and the barrier for jousting.

In addition, it comes with one set of the Italeri Hundred Years War English.

It also comes with one set of their opponents, the Hundred Years War French.

The box contains a total of 55 foot figures and 20 horsemen, which should be plenty for a reasonable KPS game.

In order to paint these figures, I would need some primer.  I already have a can, but I priced Krylon Fusion matte black at $6.98.  I’ve used this successfully on 1/72 plastics before.

Uncle Atom used an Army Painter starter set with 10 colors and a brush for $30, but in looking around on Amazon I found a pack of 16 Vallejo “Medieval Colors” for $28.74.   It includes a black and a white for mixing and an assortment of metallic colors, but is a little short on browns, so I’ll have to see what I can do with mixing.  At least most of the horses are caparisoned, so the lack of horse variety will be less apparent.       

To finish the miniatures, a large (60ml) bottle of Vallejo satin varnish cost $7.96.

I ordered a set of three small brushes from some unknown supplier on Amazon for $6.59. I am dubious about their durability and ability to hold a point, but we shall see.  I intend to use the cheaper Dollar Tree brushes as much as possible to save wear and tear on the little brushes.

I priced felt for a ground cloth from Joann Fabrics.  They’ll sell you a yard of 72” width felt for $7.99.  I haven’t gotten over to the local Joann to see what they have in stock yet. That would give me a 3’ by 4’ battlefield with some left over for other possible uses in a potential Phase 2.

So, there we have the plan. The grand total for all of that is $98.75, leaving a surplus of $1.25, enough to buy one thing at the Dollar Tree if necessary.

I am going to count a few things as free which might be reasonably found around a house.  I will need some sand for base texturing.  If I wanted the easiest and cheapest circular bases I could find, I would mount the troops on pennies.  Since I intend to use these troops after I paint them, I will mount them on steel washers which will engage with my magnetic transport boxes, but the pennies would actually work as well for most people.  I will use some white glue.  I will also mount the troops on large craft sticks for painting as I usually do since I have a huge box of them, although strips of corregated cardboard could easily be salvaged and would work as well.

The scenery situation is a bit dire, with nothing but the contents of the box and a ground cloth.  I’ll also count as free some buildings from the  Dave Graffam Models free sample selection. Those are still some way off in the future.  

Given the scenery situation, if I actually get this completed, my Phase 2 challenge will be to enhance the game with a $50 scenery budget.  That will still be under the $165 current value of the 2003 challenge. 

By the way, I might note that my 2003 challenge entry was a 54mm medieval project, using figures that are now out of production.  While I’ve added a few things to the original set, it remains one of my top 6 most played projects since I started keeping records in 1999, so I count it as a solid success. 


Monday, June 12, 2023

Playing Around With 6mm

 In the current age of the world, my nice gaming table has a 3’x5’ playing surface.  While we have had some fun games using 40mm Not Quite Seven Years War figures on it, it has occurred to me (more than once) that it might make sense to use some smaller figures, at least some of the time.  Since I had the troops out for the FP3X3PW digression, my thoughts turned to 6mm fantasy.

My 6mm fantasy/ancients collection is based for De Bellis Antiquitatis and Hordes of the Things.  Across all the DBA/HotT armies, I’ve got about 200 bases of troops.  That turns out to be enough to field two armies each with two ranks of stands from table edge to table edge, which ought to be (more than!) enough to give this a try.  The only question is “What rules should I use?”…

One of the candidates is Fantastic Battles by Nic Wright. It does anticipate that you will have some individually based heroes, wizards and rogues to lead your armies, and some other candidate rules probably do as well. Since I recently got some fantasy reinforcements from Irregular, I thought it might be fun to paint up a few individuals.  

So, yesterday’s project was a group of four wizards, an ogre, and a large demon (tap to enlarge):

I have some knights and such to use as leaders and heroes, so I’ll give them a try next. I apparently still have the brush control to do this, but it would be nicer to be able to brace my arms at a higher level and not hunch over the painting desk.

Friday, June 9, 2023

And now for something completely different … “FP3X3PW”

 TL;DR : A wargame to play on an airline tray table…jump down to the pictures if you don’t need the background…

Last weekend was a good one for gaming.  There was a meeting of the HAWKs on Friday night.  I played in a WWI 1914 battle with Duncan Adam’s collection of 28mm WWI miniatures using the Square Bashing rules for a gridded game.

On Saturday I drove down to the Washington area to play some games with my sons.  We had a couple of rounds of DBA in an ongoing tournament of most of our existing 1/72 scale armies, followed by a 19th century imagi-nations game using Norman’s Proxia armies and Neil Thomas’s rules from his book Wargaming Nineteenth Century Europe 1815-1878. He noted that this was our fifth game with these rules, so I am starting to have a grasp of what my forces should be trying to do.  We played scenario 41, “The Dominant Hill” from C.S. Grant’s Scenarios for Wargames (a.k.a. The Green Book).

On Sunday, one of the other HAWKs members hosted a monthly Saga day at Critical Hit Games in Abingdon, Maryland, so I took my pair of freshly painted Normans to try them out along with the rest of my Norman warband. (It needs another batch of cavalry and enough archers to fill out a batch to really shine, I think … )

Four sets of rules in three days is almost a convention level of play, so I felt that the month had gotten off to a very good start.

However, that’s not really the topic of today’s post.  In the usual convoluted way in which the Muses work, two weeks ago I was reading the Nordic Weasel Games Discord discussions, and conversation turned to Demon Ship, a hot new game from Black Site Studios. It doesn’t really look like anything that would be to my taste, but it was noted that one of its features is that it has a small enough footprint to be playable on an airline tray table.  I like miniaturized things in general (hence this hobby), so I search the web to find out what the dimensions of a tray table might be.  (About 15” by 10”, by the way…) The algorithms decided that I must really want a kid’s folding tray table play organizer. While I had’t realized that such a thing even existed, it did seem like it might be a good idea for keeping miniatures and dice contained, were one actually to wish to play a miniatures game in flight. There followed a rapid group brainstorming session, and one of the other posters suggested that I look at the 3x3 variants of Bob Cordery’s Portable Wargame. Bingo! That mapped neatly onto a set of 3” squares with a reserve zone at either end.  I figured that I could use my existing 6mm DBA/Hordes of the Things troops based on 40mm frontages. I promptly ordered the organizer and the two Portable Wargaming Compendia, all of which arrived over the weekend while I was playing other games.

When I got back from the Saga game I started getting things organized, starting (naturally…) with the organizer:

I dug into my scenery supplies and came up with a piece of sage felt, already somewhat mottled by spray paint, in the approved HAWKs manner.  I cut a piece to size, and marked off the grid:

Since the scenery requirements are fairly minimal, I thought that I could borrow scenery from the 6mm project box along with the troops, at least for long enough to get an idea of what it would look like.

The hills in my 6mm box are a commercial product, purchased at a Historicon when it was still at the Penn Harris…approximately 1989.  They didn’t quite fit neatly within the grid.  I scrounged around the basement looking for more blue felt, to cut a piece for a river which wouldn’t hang over the edges, but I am apparently out of blue felt right now.

I cut a couple of somewhat abstracted hills out of foamcore and covered them with more felt, simply glued in place with white glue. In the absence of blue felt, I dug around in my cupboard and found a roll of disused neoprene stream from Deep Cut Studio.  Since I wasn’t using it for anything at the moment (a little too straight for my taste), I decided that sacrificing 10” of the six feet I had was acceptable. I cut it with some curve to it, about half of the original width.

Conveniently, when Mark Cordone originally proposed the 3x3 grid version of the Portable Wargame, two of his sample armies were Romans and Sassanid Persians, both already painted and among my 6mm collection.  So the next step was to give it a try.

The suggested scenery generation table gave me the river with no other terrain.  It took about four turns and perhaps twenty minutes for the Sassanid army (to the right) to break the Roman left wing.  As played, Roman reserves had one turn to re-establish a presence in their left sector, and failed.  Round one to the Persians…

I’m not sure that a steady diet of this would be satisfying, but as something to stick in my carry-on bag to while away a flight, or to be available in the evenings on an otherwise dull business trip, it seems to be good.

After that, it was time to consider how I was going to render the troops portable.  Most of my troops are on steel bases of one sort or another, and the storage/travel boxes are lined with magnets.  The 6mm troops, however, go way back and are on matteboard.  I considered cutting foam for a while, but decided that it was probably better to dip into my stock of flexible steel bases and go with magnets.  I already had a small plastic box earmarked for a game that was supposed to fit in a carry-on, about 5x8x2 inches, or approximately the size of a reasonable trade paperback book. I added some flex steel to the two buildings borrowed as a built-up area, and the trees were already on steel washers.

Here’s the box, packed with the two armies, the scenery, dice, and damage tokens:

Opening it up, the hills are on top of a piece of foam.  While I didn’t want to try to fit the miniatures into the foam, having some foam as a back-up to help stabilize anything that might come loose seemed prudent.

Once the hills and foam are removed, we reach the troop layer.

While the rules found in the PW Compendia don’t contemplate using too much scenery, I decided that the extra set of trees wasn’t really limiting things too much.  Even if they weren’t there, there isn’t enough room to squeeze in a third army.

In the near term, I would like to type out a quick reference sheet to fit in the box, and I have some metal Roman buildings from Irregular which I could paint to swap for the generic English/fantasy thatched cottages currently in place, and I have seven other armies, both fantasy and historical, which could be magnetized and would be available to choose before a trip.  The two PW compendia include a couple of different takes on PW fantasy, including a 3x3 Hyborian Age version, so I see no reason not to include all the available troops as options.

If the Muses choose to inspire me to paint some additional 6mm troops (or monsters or heroes), well, I also have somewhat limited gaming space at home these days (with my main table being 3x5 feet), so some 6mm mass fantasy combat might be fun.

Meanwhile, all I need is a flight … 

Monday, May 29, 2023

May Painting (mostly Mythical Earth)

 I have been painting this month, for the first time in a few months.  I have also been trying to clean some of the unfinished (and unstarted) projects out of my basement, so I have been doing some thinking about what I am actually most interested in working on and playing.

I have mentioned before that my start in the fantasy miniatures end of the hobby with Minifigs Mythical Earth figures, which are (arguably) the earliest fantasy range cast.  In addition to a few handfuls I have left from the early 1970s, I have been accumulating them diligently since I ran across a small batch for sale at Cold Wars in 2015.  As of today, I have about 280 painted, and another 500 unpainted, including a batch of 40 hobbits which arrived a few weeks ago from England.  Anyway, there are enough to play some games already, something I should schedule in the not-too-distant future.  As I consider what I want to do in fantasy, it’s pretty clear that I want to indulge this nostalgia project, and finally have the armies (and games) that I visualized as a kid back in 1975.  I posted some pictures of this month’s first project to the Lead Adventure Forum, and someone sent me a link to Rick Priestly’s blog Notitia Metallicum, where, coincidentally, he is also working on a Minifigs Mythical Earth project.

ME33 Ithilien Spearmen and ME34 Ithilien Archers

View from the other side

My first selection this month was Faramir’s Ithilien Rangers.  There are only six official Gondorians in the range, and the Ithilien archer is the only one armed with a bow.  As my brother will tell you, I like my wargames armies to be able to reach out and touch you (as AT&T used to say) before they get stuck into hand-to-hand combat, so it seemed like a good time to paint these.  Like the Wood Elves I did a few years ago, I did them in a semi-random assortment of browns and greens.  Having their faces hidden behind masks, they were relatively simple to paint. I still have a unit of Citadel Guards, another unit of spearmen, and a unit of Gondorian knights on foot to go, plus some extra figures not neatly divided into twelves. 

I am going to try to alternate the Free Peoples with the forces of Sauron and Saruman, so I chose to build a unit of “man orcs” next.  While these are presumably intended to represent Saruman’s troops, I have no qualms about using them as larger orcs in the service of Mordor, or as Bolg’s bodyguards and similar in the Battle of the Five Armies.  There are three poses of these figures, varying mostly (entirely?) by the weapons with which they are armed.  I picked a packet of a dozen spear-armed orcs from my painting reserve, and then added one axe-armed orc to serve as an officer.  While I have dozens of the spears and swords, I have only a handful of the axes, so I’m mixing them in as officers.  While I am pretty sure that all three poses are currently available in the Minifigs current production revival, I don’t intend to order any more orcs unless I finish all of the ones that I have and find that I still need more.

The man-orcs are not the most detailed and attractive figures out there, and I have painted a few already in this project, so I knew that like most fantasy/ancients/medieval figures, what you see is mostly the shield when you look at them on the table.  They do have large generally flat shields, so I decided that I would concentrate my painting effort on the shields.  As every Tolkien fan knows, the main iconography associated with Saruman is the white hand, and the main iconography associated with Mordor is the red eye.  While I have seven units’ worth of these figures, and will eventually do a unit with white hands and a unit with red eyes, I thought it best to avoid both of those to start with, so that these troops will comfortably fit into any of the three possible armies I might deploy.  Since I had thirteen figures pulled out and cleaned up, I painted one as a quick test of the shield design, and based him individually.

I didn’t really think that I could reproduce that design faithfully 13 times, so I decided to embrace that, and make each one of them an individual variant on the “gaping maw” theme. The spears are quite long (and will present a bending hazard in play) so added a flag to the command stand.  Don’t think too hard about the wind conditions that would cause it to display like that…

I am thinking that it is time to add some mounted troops to the mix, and I have had a dozen Rohirrim primed and ready to paint for quite a while, so, in keeping with my plan to alternate, I think that will be what I try to do next.  I have also pulled out a batch of ME28 Southron mounted swordsmen, several of whom will become lancers as they need weapons replaced.

While it’s not quite the end of the month, it looks like I am probably not getting another game played, so I’ll be at three.  The first of those was some Saga, and I needed a couple of figures to replace proxies used for a Norman warband.  In addition to the Tolkien work, I did also get these two finished up:

My sons and I are planning to meet for another games day next weekend, so I am hoping there will be a few more games in June than there were in May …

Sunday, April 9, 2023

Scrum Con IV

 Yesterday was Scrum Con IV at the Silver Spring Civic Cetner in the suburbs of Washington.  Scrum Con is a small one-day local convention which aims to be split about evenly between miniatures and role-playing events.

As noted before, I ended up deciding that the best course of action was to modify (and hopefully simply, for convention purposes) a recent version of Rough Wooing/Gathering of Hosts by Ross Macfarlane.  The original is generally intended for two players and goes by a unit by unit card activation.  I divided each of the sides in this game into three sections and let them activate three units per side with each turn of the card (one per player).  This still wasn’t quite as fast as I’d like, but we got through six full turns.  Some of the unit activations could take a while.

It was fun to see Chris Palmer’s war machines on the table after an absence from conventions of over 20 years, and I hope to use the inspiration to get some project expansion painting done.  

Landship “Celia” tussles with the Duke’s gendarmes

The “Romeo” advances in the center…watch out for the solar ray projector!

The players were all engaged, and not all my age…

Away from the landships, conventional troops had a place

I had a lot of interest in the Nuernberger Meisterzinn home cast figures in the game.  I suppose that not many players are casting their own pewter anymore…