Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Technical Difficulties - Please Stand By

I'm sorry for the lack of posts recently. I've been alternatively, sick, on vacation then sick again. I'm finally on the mend and should be back to painting and gaming soon.

Not dead yet, I've been getting better......

Monday, April 3, 2017

The Force Is Strong With This One

Last game night Ralph ran a Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures game. Our club doesn't play a lot of Science Fiction, but who can resist pre-painted Star Wars miniatures that also have a fun rule set to play with? Not me, that's for sure.

Recently I've saved up a bit of 'mad money' income from my side-business selling R/C glider kits that I design and make. With the strong temptation of pre-painted miniatures, I hit up a couple large lots on Ebay and augmented that with a few singles auctions to fill out the lot. Above is my Rebel collection: 4 A-wing wings, 4 B-wings, 2 E-wings, 3 T65 X-wings, 4 T-70 X-wings, 2 Y-wings, 2 T-95s, one YT-1200, one YT-2400 and one Arc-170.

 For the Empire, I have 8 Tie fighters, 2 Tie/FOs, 2 Tie interceptors, aTie Defender, a Tie advanced, a Tie Adv. Prototype, a Tie bomber, a Tie Striker and a Tie punisher.

Since we're playing for fun locally and not doing any 'official' tournaments, I was able to pick up many of these ships cheaply because they came without the upgrade cards that were originally packaged with them. For casual play I can use proxy prints of the cards. I doubt I'll ever play in any tournaments, so no worries on that.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Northern Conspiracy March 2017 Game Night

Tonight was our club's monthly game night. Although our club usually has mostly historical games, tonight I played in a rare Science-Fiction game - Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures hosted by Ralph. Something in this game must have scratched an itch because it was very popular as you can see by the Imperial players at the table in the photo to the left.

Ralph set this up as a series of small introductory games with the first being with 'vanilla' pilots without upgrades - your basic X-wing on Tie Fighter duel with two tables of 4 Ties vs. 2 X-wings. After that we played a second game with each player getting some upgrades and a final game with upgrades and 'Ace' pilots with pilot skills. The games were fun and fast. Everyone seemed to pick up on the rules quickly.

Some close-up of the game and models which come pre-painted are below.

Mike ran a dark ages skirmish game using Saga rules. These are relatively new to our club and the game looked quite fun. I'm looking forward to giving Saga a try.

John ran a 15mm ACW game. Apologies to John as his game was in the dark end of the room and my camera had trouble getting good photos of his table. 

Sorry for the brief report, I'm heading out of town tomorrow for a week's vacation so I wanted to get this out before I left. Thanks to everyone who ran great games.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Bemis Heights Play Test - Electronic Brigadier

May 20th I will be running this scenario at the Huzzah! convention in Portland, Maine. The game is #306 and will be during the Saturday morning 9am-1pm slot. When I run convention games I prefer to play test the scenarios at home first to insure that the scenario is well balanced so that everyone at the convention has a good time. After having to cancel this game TWICE due to having a bad chest cold, I was finally able to run the play test with the help of five friends from the Northern Conspiracy. I was fortunate that all were experienced with the rules so they were able to handle the seven commands of the scenario with ease.

Kevin and Rob were the British. Kevin was the advanced wing, Rob was the center (Hessian) wing and they split the third command, the reserve wing.
Bob, Ralph and Mike were the Americans. Mike had the American light brigade, Ralph and Bob had Learned and Patterson's brigade with all three splitting Poor's brigade, Mike getting the majority of Poor's troops with Bob and Ralph taking one regiment each.

This scenario starts after the initial British advanced guard probe has been contacted and pushed back by the American light brigade. Starting the battle any sooner would cause several players to have to wait a long time for their troops to come into play. This way all seven commands can be used on turn one. I've kept several units that didn't fight during the actual battle out of the OB to keep the game clean and for balancing purposes. The Americans have orders to drive the British from the field, and with a 4:3 advantage in brigades, my hopes are that they have the resources to make that task achievable. This photo shows the troop locations after the British have taken their first turn.

 The British plan was to defend in depth with the advance wing along a pair of woods at the north edge of the wheat field. Bob's center column would support this and use the woods to the east of his redoubt as an extension of this line.

The Americans would have Mike attack the advance wing while flanking the British redoubts to the east with a majority of their force. Mike's initial attacks pushed the Queen's Loyal Rangers skirmish line away initially but had more trouble with the British Light infantry which surprisingly held to a charge winning. Across this area for the next couple of hours (game time) Mike and Rob continued to firefight heavily. In the end Mike's NY militia headed for the rear, and after a counter-charge, the British 20th line also routed to the rear. Morgan's rifles also drove off the gunners of the British howitzers, who found themselves uncomfortably exposed as their infantry support fell back.

On the British left multiple attacks went in against the Hessian Grenadiers, who stood resolute in their woods, turning back several coordinated American attacks. Eventually the Grenadiers wore out one American regiment and bloodied at least two others, causing well over 100 casualties across the combined attackers at a loss of just over 40 to the Grenadiers. This defense earned them the honors for the battle.

On the British far right, Bob's flanking units were able to finally get around the British flank to threaten the redoubts from the rear. Rob was forced to rush his only reserves, the British Grenadiers into the gap. This attack was met harshly by Bob's flanking regiment causing significant damage to the British Grenadiers. Due to their high quality, the Grenadiers held and stopped the American attack. Elsewhere on the British left flank the Canadian loyalist militia, having fired their three volleys, was driven from the line. They later rallied and re-deployed, but were not looking like they would be very combat effective for the remainder of the battle.

As we called the game due to time, the American attack had been successfully defended by the British. In terms of the overall campaign situation, the British victory was not enough to save Burgoyne's position in New York, so this was at best a Phyrric victory for the British. The post-game statistics, which were heavily skewed in favor of the British early in the battle, were definitely shifting in favor of the Americans towards the end of the battle.

Of particular interest to me is the American army still retained an advantage in army cohesion even after having to maneuver and attack. I think this speaks to the efficiency of how the American troops were handled compared to the pressured British, who needed to use more double-time marches to react to the attacks. Here are the end of battle statistics:

British Army
  • Army cohesion: 69.3%
  • Total Casualties: 353 / 4920 (7.2%)
  • 1 unit dispersed
  • 1 routed unit

  • Honors to: 124 - Brunswick Grenadiers
American Army
  • Army cohesion: 72.4%
  • Total Casualties: 517 / 6800 (7.6%)
  • 1 routed unit
  • 2 shaken units

  • Honors to: 221 - 1st New Hampshire
I would like to thank Bob, Ralph, Mike, Rob and Kevin for helping me play test the scenario, and for giving me constructive feedback that will allow me to fine tune the scenario in preparation for Huzzah!

Friday, February 17, 2017

28mm German WWII Motorcycle and MG-42 Team

These are two more teams I've recently finished for my 28mm WWII skirmish army. I'm not 100% positive of the manufacturer of the motorcycle, but I believe it is from Artisan. The MG-42 team is from Warlord. I was afraid that during use the motorcycle and the sidecar would eventually break away from each other so I mounted them on a small base to hopefully increase the piece's durability.

While most of my German armor is in dunkelgelb, I opted for panzer grey for this piece. My thoughts are I may use it as a feldpolizei patrol, a scout or a messenger. Several of those are quite likely to have not re-painted the cycle in dunkelgelb.  The MG-42 team was based among some fairly substantial ground cover as I felt that made the most sense.

Next up on the painting table are some more British WWII weapons teams and infantry. My current push is to finish up my German WWII army which is about 90% done. After that the British, which are about 75% done will be finished. My reward for finishing these two will be starting either my American or Finnish WWII armies. Hopefully with those I'll be smart enough not to try to work on both at the same time.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

28mm French Napoleonic Artillery

These are two sections of French Napoleonic artillery. All of the artillerists are Perry Brothers lead figures as are the left two guns. The right guns are Old Glory. All of the gun models are supposed to be 6 pound pieces, but as you can see, there is a noticeable size different in the barrels. My plan to correct this in the future is to purchase another pack of each and duplicate this effort in the future to make two full four-gun batteries each with matching models.

I used my airbrush on the gun carriages before brush painting the metal portions and barrels. I also primed the barrels with a dark brown undercoat followed by a bronze heavy dry brush. I like the effect. These bases are slotted to allow for labeling as needed for Electronic Brigadier as well as Napoleon's Rules of War.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Northern Conspiracy February 2017 Game Night

Last night was our club's February game night. We had 16 attendees and three games run. I ran an Iron Cross 'big game' with my previously tested 'Radar Station' scenario. I only had three people at my table, so I played with Mike on the German side and Bob and Kevin played as the British. Since there was only four of us, we had each side spend one command token at a time and this worked very nicely.

Kevin and Bob scored big hits early knocking out Mike's Stug with some accurate fire from a Sherman I (75mm) brewing it up and scaring the hell out of Mike's nearby infantry on a react move. Bob took out my Panzer IV with his Cromwell from long range with another nice penetration roll. Down our heavy armor, Mike's Pak-40 AT gun had to be all over the table fending off the British medium tanks. Mike didn't score any kills, but he kept the British armor honest and caused them to make several react moves to avoid being taken out.

As the game progressed both sides occupied the villages and started close-range building to building firefights. Mike and I teamed up to knock out Kevin's MG team. On a following turn Mike and I each eliminated a British infantry detachment with our MGs. Bob forced one of my infantry teams to fall back with his MG and infantry team combined fire. When we called time, Each side had the same number of points for village buildings and the Germans had kept the radar station and killed one more British squad. Minor victory for the Germans.

Update! My friend Ed M. from Ed M's Wargames Meanderings blog took these photos of my game that he forwarded me to share here!

Ralph ran a game with his 28mm ACW armies and his rules, Steady Boys!

Phil ran a 15mm Crossfire WWII game, early war French vs Germans.

Sorry for the lack of quantity and quality of photos. My game was a handful to set up and having to GM and play kept me too busy to re-visit the other games during the evening or even take many decent photos of my own game.

Next up on the painting table, more German WWII and a French Napoleonic artillery battery.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

28mm Late-War British Weapons Teams (2)

For my upcoming club WWII Iron Cross game, I wanted to start off with a scenario that featured mirrored armies. This will allow me to scale the game to the number of players I get easily. It will also remove some complexity in the scenario design. I'm new to Iron Cross so I'm not confident enough to make a balanced scenario with different force compositions on each side.  Hopefully soon that will change. In order to match what I have for German weapons teams, I needed to paint up a British mortar team and a 17 pounder AT gun. The latter is the closest in the British TO&E to the German Pak-40. I painted these up Wednesday evening and based them up on Thursday - just in time for Friday's game.

The mortar team is from West Wind's 'Berlin or Bust' line. They describe the pack as 'Medium Mortars'. I believe this means they should be 3" ordinance mortars. Since they're nonspecific I suppose they could also be lend-lease US 81mm? Either way I'm particularly happy that I did my research and painted the mortar bombs with the appropriate colors and striping on the heads. I think it dresses up the stand a touch.

The 17 pounder AT gun is from Warlord Games. I like the looks of this gun and the figures. The seated figure on the gun trail gave me some trouble. He's supposed to sit on the gun's seat to sight the gun. For the life of me I couldn't get him to fit there after assembling the gun. Sitting him on the gun trail seems quite natural for me based on the historic photo below that I found while doing my research on how to assemble and paint this gun.

Friday, February 3, 2017

First Iron Cross 'Big Game'

Last Friday I asked ten of my friends to my home to play test a scenario I plan to run at our club next week. The scenario is 'Capture the Radar Station'. It's a blatant excuse to put my new Freya Limber Radar and Sd.Ah.24 Heavy Generator onto the tabletop.

When my friends Mark and Gordon (shown in this photo, the two at the left) found this rule set, it was everyone's hope that Iron Cross would be simple and 'fast play' enough for large games. All but four of the ten players tonight were new to the rules. Playing this large of a game with mostly new players was probably too ambitious. For the game night I'll be stepping the scenario back to eight players with the hopes of having a larger ratio of experienced players. Having six new players 'trained up' at this game sure will help the chances of that. Shown are the German players. Apologies are due to the British. The photos I took of their team were not usable. Apparently I'm a terrible war correspondent photographer!

To start the game, I had each army march onto the table. My fear was deploying on table with a rule set that has unlimited ranges for most weapons might put units into immediate peril before players learned the flow of the rules. This ended up slowing the game down as it took too long for players to get their troops into the action. For the game day I'll be using a deployment zone with players putting their commands down using blind markers with dummies. After everything is deployed, the dummies will be removed, and troops placed onto the table.

For big games in Iron Cross, each army (company) has a CinC (lieutenant). The rules authors state that this player need not have any troops on the table other than their command squad. I chose to give the CinCs in my game a small command which included a Mortar squad and an APC for their command squad. These assets weren't deemed as very useful by the players. The mortars in Iron Cross seem too ineffective to be worth spending a valuable command token on, and the APCs made the command squads too vulnerable to anti-tank fire. For the club game I'm going to replace the mortar squad with an infantry squad to ride in the APC. This will give each CinC  a mobile reinforcement to use where needed. This will let us test out the transports rule a bit more.

For the game, it was a tight affair. Early on Gordon's Panzer IV got in deep trouble trying to duel with the British Sherman I and Cromwell. Gordon used the 'Fall Back' move in successive turns and eventually saved his nearly-dead tank with a 'full recovery' company morale check. Later in the game Byron took out the Sherman with his Pak-40. This was revenge for Rob's destruction of Ralph's Stug III with the British 17 pounder. As the night got long, the British managed to get more of the village buildings on each side of the battlefield occupied than did the Germans. This allowed them to edge out a 1-point victory in the scenario victory points. My favorite moment of the game was when the radio operators in the radar bunker finally opened up on the approaching British. The surprise was worth the wait. The German players showed good discipline to wait to reveal them to save them undue casualties early in the game.

I'd like to thank everyone who helped me refine the game. First plays of new rules are always rough, and everyone took it with great cooperative spirit. I got a lot of excellent feedback and suggestions on how to make next week's game even better.