Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Holiday Paint table A-Z

The holidays have left me penniless. Combined with saving for a new house (with a new war room), I is broke. So, what a perfect time to make a dent in all those poor souls sitting half finished on my table. Here she is:
Could have taken a panoramic shot with my nifty camera but, eh?
a. Used and now useless brushes. Probably get recycled on the terrain side
b. Old plastic applesauce containers. They shall be wood mini Leonardo style tankettes.
c. Armorcast steam tank
d. The Boy's area
e. Barrels for terrain and resource locations
f. Landsknects mounted singularly for my Leonardo Tech game.
g. 15mm Dwarf flyer for Fantasy Commands and Colors
h. Ace Heroclix fig to be converted to Mammoth
i. Mage Knight Gatling gun off a to give my VSF Brits some extra fire power.
j. M.U.S.C.L.E. thing the Boy painted.
k. 7/8" washers I mount all my singles on.
l. a lamp post for something
m. Retro Sci Fi figs for my "Dash Dixon & the Galactic Rangers" games.
n. 10mm tank. Soon joining the ISA forces in a Crimson Skies land/air campaign
o. crossbow
p. Painted and based Viking. They haven't left the table because it's too cold to spray varnish on. They may         be here awhile.
q. Big lizard for GASLIGHT Venus game. Lizard's done. Just need to finish the coppola.
r. Old Foundry WW1 germans. Need a touch up to add to the RCW collection.
s. Flock containers
t. GW Knight getting a fresh life as a Leonardo Tech standard.
u. Old glue container that will make a fancy sci-fi thingy.
v. More Landsknects. These will end up on a group base for Renaissance battles.
w. Warmachine mechs. VSF
x. 15mm AK-47 figs for a game of the same name.
y. another Knight for the Song of Blades warbands.
z. where the paint goes
So many projects, so little time. But, as a wise man once told me "Remember, if you paint all your miniatures,'ll die". So keep that lead pile high!

I'll be taking a break to game and paint over the next couple of weeks. Happy Holidays!

Aeronef Wednesday

I've had both the Aeronef miniatures by Brigade Models and the rules by Wessex games for a while, but never played the rules. They seems simple enough, but maybe a little too simple, so I always used a Full Thrust variant to play with sky-ships. Like a lot of wargamers, I fell in love with flying ships with "Sky Galleons of Mars" back in the late 80s. The rules were a bit cumbersome by today's standards but the idea of battleships tooling around the skies stuck.
A tipsy elf told me I'd be getting the Spartan Games "Dystopian Wars" mega-fleet in my stocking this year. I thought I'd give Aeronef a last chance before I dived into DW project.
The scenario involved a German Air Task Force making a bombing run on the English countryside in hopes of knocking out an X-Matter refining facility. Spies weren't share which town exactly, and German maps were sketchy, so best just to hit them all. The British fleet was there to stop them.
We struggled with both measuring (centimeters) as the ships crawled across the table, and the turn sequence. You do half your movement, then after everyone's gone, the other half.
The German bombing was abyssmal, but we managed to knock out 3 towns by the end. THe ero for the German side was the little Hamburg. That ship took a pounding and kept on flying. In the end she was boarded and had to surrender. The English dogs scuttled her.
The brits had there own stalwart, the Exeter. I made it my mission to pour as much lead as I could into her, but never went down. After the German fleet lost it's flagship, we headed home.
If we played again, we decided there needed to be some changes. Inches! Otherwise the ships went too slow. One move phase. With the added movement, you could drop it down. Boarding rules were weird too. Otherwise a fun game easy to use for cons.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Civil War Thursday

"Deploy behind that there wall, boys!"
I forgot how much I liked playing smaller scale Fire and Fury. As lovely as a table full of troops looks, being a able to finish a game in an evening is much more satisfying. This game, everyone commanded a division of three brigades, with some divisional artillery support and an extra cavalry unit for fun. The

Union side got some extra troops and canon to offset the Rebs combat bonuses.
It was a simple meeting engagement (a wargamers crutch, I know). My plan, on the Confederate side (we chose randomly, Kenny) was to use 2 brigades to pin down the Union on my left, take the town quickly to use as a strongpoint, then, throw most of our troops on the right and roll up.
Sweeping around the Right
Everything was going according to plan. The cavalry on the far right swept around the flank and managed to break up a couple of formations. The town was taken.
"Let's give them Blu-bellies a lickin'"
But then, an extremely obstinate Federal brigade on the Union far left (our right) refused to die. The earned the nickname "Iron Brigade". When they finally did break, the had managed to hold up the Confederate advance enough that my pinning units were destroyed, and they managed to re-deploy to counter any roll up the flank.
My poor brigades left defend the far left
In the end, it was decided the Rebs would consolidate in the town near nightfall, but ultimately fall back under cover of darkness.
We're getting ready to start an ACW campaign early next year using the "House Divided" boardgame for campaign moves and Fire and Fury for tabletop. We've done it before with great results.I've also picked up Ganesha Games "61-65" which looks great for small scale battles.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

In Memoriam: MIss Maisy

Our dog, our family member, our friend, Maisy lost her all too brief struggle with cancer. The vet gave her 3 months, almost 8 months ago. She gave it her best until the end.
We knew we had the right dog when we brought home this German Shepherd- Doberman mix at age one, and she passed the ear and tail pull test, with our then very young kids.
She has been a watch dog, with her loud, deep bark keeping away would be burglars and salesmen alike.
A protector, once stepping out into the street to stop a car before it hit my son, who wasn't paying attention.
An unofficial mascot of the Basement Generals, snagging treats and getting pets from all the boys.
And, most of all, a loving companion. Eight years was not enough. You were taken from us too early, and if you're not waiting on the Other Side, then there is no God.
Maisy. The best dog I ever had.

Some painting. Some playing.

First, the holidays gave me a chance to get some painting done. Two motivators. 1- Need some room on my desk to paint. 2- Some of you might recall I have a large Renaissance Army that's been looking for rules and some cavalry. Part of the reason I've held back on an army that's so close to completion is a lack of good horsies. Every seems to make the heavies (Gendarmes), but nobody I really liked made all the other cav for the period (Stardiots, Genitors, Spanish and Italian knights) until last week when The Assault Group came out with just what I've been waiting for.
No excuses now. Get on it.
As far as rules, I think I've got it, but stay tuned. Now, for the minis.
The Landsknects above are to help fill out my larger ranks. I paint them in batches, then spread them out over different bases to give that motley appearance of the German mercenary they are.
The two mounted standards are actually OG Spanish Genitors I bought in a moment of weakness that are standing in for mounted Arquebusier command (Because the OG packs come in units of 10, with no command). These will, of course, be replaced with TAG when they come out.

The Viking Bows have been sitting around for awhile needing paint, so they got it.

Next, play test time. Lead Addict came over. He is on the quest for some 15mm SciFi rules to compliment his wonderful figs. We used Crossfire for this play test. Crossfire is one of those games that I love on an intellectual level. For squad to platoon sized encounters, I think it's one of the best rule sets around. It takes some time to wrap your head around because they end up being very realistic, not like a wargame at all. 
Without spending too much time on detail, you keep initiative til you lose it. You lose it through having a unit suppressed or ineffectual fire from your side. Cover and line of sight is crucial, along with setting up kill zones. 
Playing the alien mercenaries attacking a mining outpost, we were outplayed, out maneuvered and shot all to hell from the start. So, it can be hard to be objective. It's going to take some time to convert a WW2 ruleset and convert to the far future.
Some of the terrain is unfinished (but it's a play test)
On the rule list next is Future War Commander, (which I love Blitzkreig Commander) and Tomorrow's War from Ambush Alley.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

VSF Saturday

The Baroness took her quarterly tour of the kingdom last end of week (girlfriend's weekend), so I called for a special Saturday edition of the Basement Generals.

"As the Great War of 1883 ignited, the Czar, in need of funds sold Alaska to the nefarious Professor Nightshade in return for his cutting edge technology. This, of  course, upset the British who were already at war with Russia, but also angered the U.S., who had been not only eyeing the territory for themselves, but had personal scores to settle with the evil genius.
America soon joined the war after  one of their frigates was sunk by a submersible of unknown origin. It was obviously another one of Nightshade's contractions. As a show of faith in the new cause, the U.S. dispatched an American Expeditionary Force to France to aid their new allies in a push into German occupied France."
The Franco-Americans were surprised to see Russanas among the Nighshade-German forces. Before they could react, Rokkittruppen took to the skies and quickly captured some ruins. With their aerial troops holding a strong position on the right flank, boilers were stoked and the German, Russian and Automated forces came to life.
French and American contraptions fired round after round into Nightshades enormous Steam Walker. Finally one shot crippled, but didn't destroy it. It blazed away with it's main gun, knocking out the French Roue.
Russinas troops trying a "straight up the middle" approach were cut to ribbons by the American Mobile MG Emplacement, and forced to flee. French Marines took the woods opposite the Rokkittruppen and began a fire-fight that lasted most of the game. It finally took a well placed shot from the French Spyder to break the German sky soldiers.
It was right after this small victory that things fell apart for the French and Americans. Within a few turns, all of their armored contraptions were knocked out. With no way to knock out the beats on the other side, they decided to withdraw. What started as a fairly balanced fight, turned into a crushing victory for Nightshade and his pawns.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Gettin' some painting done

I guess the Gendarmes I did a while back wasn't torture enough, so decided to return to the paint table by working on complicated paint scheme for the leader of a "Songs of Blades and Heroes" retinue.
Meet Sir Reginald de Bulle.

Dark Age Thursday

I wasn't sure who was going to show Thursday, so I dug out yet another old favorite rules set "Flower of Chivalry". For Dark Age you say? I think it works even better one of my favorite periods.
In this particular battle, Viking raiders decided they would take advantage of the current instability in England (what with a new king taking over) and raid a large village. The local Normans heard about the landing and are racing to stop them.
If the Vikings could spend 3 turns in the village, it would count as "looted", for purposes of the game, and give them extra victory points.
I had command of the Norman horse. "What? The horse killer himself in charge of cavalry yet again? He must be getting cocky". Facing me across the table and making a bee-line for the village was the Marshal. A ruthless adversary who would show no mercy.
My plan was to use my speed to reach the village first. But I forgot, horse don't move that much faster than foot, unless they charge, and I'd be blown once I got there. My first turn, they wouldn't even move, same for my ally controlling the foot. Across the table the Norse were making steady progress, although the Marshal's troops were spread out and not holding the tight formation his fellow commander had.
Well, I managed to get to the village first, then realized I would drop to a crawl once inside the village perimeter. There were a few rounds I was subjected to bow and missile fire and lost a unit. I almost dismounted, but decided not too. I'm glad I did, because once I came to grips with the spread out vikings, I slaughtered them.
On the other flank, most of the heavy Norman foot never got to blows. I single militia unit was holding the high ground against all comers, even the Viking Huscarls. We broke them, 7 stands to 4.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Thursday FPGA

Since I've been swamped lately, essjam was nice enough to bring over his 6mm Nappie collection to put on a Fast Play Grande Armee game.
Some things of note about this scale and rules:
1- Scott's (essjam) collection, 3 corps each of French and Austrians, fit neatly into a plastic milk crate. As posted in an earlier post, they look great, too:
2- Like most wargamers, I've played in a lot of Napoleonic games. I've been spoiled enough to play in some really beautiful engagements with giant tables packed full of gorgeously painted 28mm figures. And after 8+ hours not a dang thing is accomplished, except maybe a few cavalry skirmishes on the flanks. Not so with FPGA. It's a truly elegant system that lets you play huge battles to a conclusion in 3-4 hours.

This particular fight involved the French trying to make headway into Austria, fording a river (the Danube?). At first, we played it that the river was fordable only at the bridges. This proved a bit much, as my poor frenchies were forced to send one stand (brigade) across at a time where they summarily executed one by one. So, the river was changed to fordable. This may sound like giving too much leeway, but a brigade counts as "vulnerable" while crossing an obstacle like a river. This means they have to re-roll any successful hits in combat, and they're easier to combat by attackers. Even outnumbering the Austrians 2-1, it was proving a tough slog.
We called it early when my wife finally came home from a long business trip. Not because she made us, but because we missed her: )
It's like their sitting there laughing at me! And what are those in the background? Reserves? What self respecting wargamer has reserves?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

No Game Thursday

Don't you just hate it when life, your job and everything else gets in the way of gaming? The above picture is how I feel right now. A lot of pans in a lot of fires, and no painting of tiny lead men to relieve the stress anywhere in the immediate future. Pray for the Baron, loyal subjects.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Civil War Thursday

Must have been feeling nostalgic last night, because I pulled out an oldie-but-goody, "Fire and Fury", to me, the only rules for American Civil War. My ACW collection was one the first (and few) armies I ever finished, and they look great en masse. F&F does a great balance of looking the right size, but sacrificing playability.
This scenario was Union push over a river. They held one town, and were going to cross and claim some rebel held territory. The Rebs got wind of the planned crossing a raced to meet them.
Now being a dy-rect descendent of those heroic partisans of the Missourahh known as Quantrill's Raiders, I was duty bound to fight on the Southern side. We got the jump on e those dirty blue-bellied invaders and got across the river before them, taking the fight to the Federals.
Southern cavalry heads deep into Union territory
My Reb Cavalry flew across one the bridges to hold the crossing point. Now, as many who have wargamed with me will tell you, if I had an Indian name, it would be "Horse Killer". If I'm your cavalry commander, you might as well right off those pretty ponies, cause they'll be dead soon. And sure enough the boys in blue counter charged and drove me back with heavy causalities, but I managed to hold the crossing point long enough to get the infantry across.
The Rebel crossing
One of the things I love about F&F, is the see-saw push and pull the battles give you, which to my opinion, tipified most real life ACW battles.
We smashed into the Union lines, got pushed back, regrouped smashed in again, they pulled back, etc.
In the end, the Union lines fell slowly back to regroup around their town. We weren't going to dig them out, "they was dug-in like a tick". So, a marginal Rebel victory, as we kept from our side of the river. And, a major victory for me. I still had horses at the end of the night, actually poised to do some damage to the Union supply lines.
A fire-fight erupts at one of the two bridges. Neither side had the guts to cross.

Monday, October 18, 2010

41, Life, and being a "Gamer Dad"

Wow! Was it a year ago I blogged about the big 4-0?
Recently, I've been following a couple threads on being a Gamer Dad, both over at "I See Lead People" and Lead Addict.
This has had me in my time of reflection which always comes around B-Day time, thinking of my own Proud Gamer Dad moments, and my little spawn. The more I think about it, the more I see what little clones my children are.
The Girl was first, and she has grown up next to my painting table. She was the first to ask to paint her own miniatures and the first to realize how frustrating it can be. She has inherited both my need for perfection, not in all things, but in things creative. It's hard for both us of to continue if we don't paint it, draw it, or do it right the first time. Then, go back after months, tear it off the stand and remount or generally "fix" it. I often find half finished drawings in her trash can because she didn't "get it right". She has also inherited my strange eye color, artistic abilities, and the love of the quiet and balance. But, in everything else she is like her mother, along with her mother's looks and mannerisms.
Favorite Gamer Dad moment: Her character , Miss Adventure, used all her money to save her brother's PC from the Land of the Dead. And then constantly reminds him of it.

The Boy, on the other hand, is so much like me it's scary. I often find him sleeping with a copy of the Monster Manuel under his pillow, or staging an elaborate wargame on the floor of his room, with rules he made himself.
When it came time at school to do "Wax Museum", an assignment where the students research famous people, then become them in a sort of "Hall of Presidents" ala Disney, he chose Napoleon, when others kids did Johnny Appleseed and George Washington.
He is ruthless in games, both video and tabletop. Full of bravado, he is inside, a very sensitive kid, quick to be hurt. I dread the day his character dies, as I know he will, with the kind of "charge in, ask questions later" character he has.
Favorite Gamer Dad moment: Fighting in a 8 way skirmish, he had wasted most his troops in a futile battle with Lead Addict's middle boy. They agreed on a truce. Not five minutes later, he turned to player on his left a whispered, "Hey, how much to kill this guy?" nodding his head towards the kid he just made a truce with. He wasn't going to attack, but that didn't mean he couldn't get someone else to do it for him. Ahhh, my little Machiavelli. As Darth Vader would say, "Ruthless and Inventive."

Friday nights, we feast at the coffee table, and watch some SciFi or mindless blockbuster movie on TV. Then, dig out a boardgame and play as a family. No, not Monopoly, but Carcasone or Settlers of Catan. They say they'll never get tired of it, but I know they'll grow up soon enough and not have time for Gildrid and Miss Adventure. But, I know they will. I just hope they look back fondly on there own Gamer Moments fondly.
Vive La Emperor!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Mutant Thursday

For a "I don't have anything planned but the boys are coming over" game, I always fall back on Ganesha Games product, especially "Mutants and Deathray Guns". I usually just throw out a scenario. In this case, find the drinkable water source. I have cards made up for all the figures, so we just randomly deal each player 5, and make sure one has the "Leader" skill. So, with that said:
Somewhere in the Null zone, at the scene of an ancient battle between Giants, a source of untainted water springs. Five desperate factions fight for control...
Rombo and other members of the gang take cover behind a destroyed Giant Robot.
Mutants take the high ground.
Squilliam the Psychic
The battle rages.
In the end, it was called because of time. We could have finished quicker, but it was one of those nights where we spent alot of time BS-ing. The figures are mostly old GW stuff, repurposed for the dark future. I have more of a Kamandi / Gamma World / Thundarr take on the post apocolyptic theme. So the minis are painted in more of a comic style (bright colors) than a dark. dirty realistic vein.
The destroyed bots are old bases for Marvel action figures.

Monday, October 11, 2010

New Adventure

Hey everybody, just a quick note to mention we started a new adventure over at my OD&D (That's Old-School Dungeons and Dragons) blog:
I run these games with my gaming buddies from "back-in-the-day" and our kids. It's creative outlet and chance to dig out the sketchbook.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Thursday C&C Fantasy

Ahh, the essentials for wargaming...
Last night was the 3rd or 4th playtest of Commands and Colors with minis and a fantasy army bent. Like a lot of people, we found Battle Lore too limiting. Simply using the existing C&C Epic classifications and a few house rules worked great. It also helps that the Demonworld minis are great. Wish they were still around.
The elves were able to keep the greenskins at a distance for most of the game with a few probes here and there. The allied centaurs crushed their opponents on the left flank, but paid dearly for it. Elf victory!
Orc wolfriders in their "hex"

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Norman cavalry

Here's a fresh batch of Crusader Normans (or I guess they could work as Crusader crusaders, too). These fellas are on the chunky side, but a joy to paint.

On another note, I've been doing a lot of rules reading while sitting around waiting for soccer or volleyball practice to get over. I'm about halfway through the 212 pages that is Fields of Glory Renaissance. The book itself is beautiful to behold. Hardback, done by Osprey, so it has ll kinds of great art and miniatures with superb graphics. The rules are well laid out with color coded bars done the page to highlight each section and plenty of examples.
That being said, I don't think this will be my rules of choice. I know there are lot of FoG fans out there. Its very Armati to me. 
Things I liked: whole base removal ( I hates pulling single figs). Things I didn't: they tried to cover too much. I know this is a core book, with lots of expansions to spend your money on. You get 2 sample armies in the book (and not from the same period). Six pages is way too long for a "Quick" reference sheet.
I might playtest them, though.
On the other end of the spectrum, I'm reading HAVOC a set of rules for medieval and fantasy battles. Compared to FoG Renaissance's layout and strict structure, HAVOC has almost a zen-like read to it. No charts, no illustrations on how to organize your units or how to wheel or anything like what most rule sets have. That's because you don't need them, dude. That's how the Man keeps you down. That's what the "establishment" wants, man. Sorry, I digress. 
I wil give a fuller report when I finish them.
Tonight: Commands and Colors Fantasy. No, not Battle Lore.