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 …