Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Hannibal at the Gates Rules Published

For those of you who've been following all of the game after-action reports and my ancients miniature painting, Ralph has published his excellent rules, Hannibal at the Gates that we've been using for these games. The rules cover ancient warfare in the period between the Battle of Marathon to the Roman reforms of Marius.  For those interested on obtaining a copy of the rules, they're available through Amazon.com here. It's a complete set of rules with diagrams and many color photographs and complete army lists for all of the involved armies.

For more photos of my painted units and photos and write-ups of many of our play test games you can access my other Hannibal at the Gates blog articles here.

Steady Boys! Play Test

Yesterday I visited my uncle's for a rare weekday mid-day game. A few of us are off for holiday shutdown, or retired so we were able to come up with enough players for a game. Ralph is working on a new set of rules for ACW continuing on his success of Hannibal at the Gates, Nexus and Charlie's Napoleon's Rules of War. All three sets use a two D-6 roll as the primary mechanism with similar combat resolution procedures. Steady Boys! is the ACW variant. Units are regiments made of a varying number of stands based on the regiment's size. Basing is flexible enough to use what you already have. In Ralph's case units are made up of multiple Volley & Bayonet stands.

The scenario we played was a hypothetical meeting engagement. The Union were Peter, Charlie and Rob. Mike, Bob and I (all not pictured) were the Confederates. The Confederate plan was to defend in the center and right where the fences and terrain made attacking difficult, and load up on the right pressing over some low hills across a relatively open area.

The Union also chose to defend on our left (their right) while putting a massive battery on the hill that dominated our path of attack. Bob bravely pressed forward into the valley of death. His troops fared poorly losing an entire Brigade plus heavily damaging two others. The exchange eventually cost the Union one full battery on the hill and the other was eventually withdraw, being heavily damaged.

My attacks on the far right were first repulsed by Rob, then partially successful, but eventually I was stalled by Rob's Zouaves on the right.  In the center with their battery destroyed, the Union switched to the attack, but were treated similarly by our hilltop batteries as we were by theirs. The end result was both sides felt they had payed to dearly for a battlefield not won by either army. A hard slug fest of a game. In the end, possibly a slight edge to the Confederates, but in reality best to call it a good old fashioned tie.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Murray Christmas

Merry Christmas and Happy New Years to all. I've been swamped lately and not a lot of time for updates. I hope to get an end of year summary written up during holiday break from work.

I hope all of you enjoy the holidays with your families and may you get plenty of toys under the tree!

Friday, November 20, 2015

NROW Play Test #2 in Charlie's New Gaming Loft

This update is a bit overdue. I've been swamped preparing for the American Thanksgiving holiday. The weekend BEFORE last my friend Charlie invited a bunch of his friends, myself included, for another play test of his Napoleonic rules, Napoleon's Rules of War. Charlie's recent adjustments proved to be a good improvement of an already solid set of rules. Game play was faster and therefore we got through more turns and more closely approached a conclusion.  The scenario was a meeting engagement between French and a combined Anglo-Spanish force.  Both sides managed local numeric superiority, attacking in columns while defending in line elsewhere. On my flank I faced my uncle, each of us possessing only two of the three combined arms. On my side infantry and cavalry, on his infantry and artillery. 
My cavalry was able to provide Ralph with some concern on his flank, but his artillery I believe did one better, causing consistent casualties over time. This was a fun cat-and-mouse game for both of us, although only because we were on the end of the line. In the middle where all combined arms were available, local superiority of one asset also played a significant role. All in all a fun game. I look forward to the next one.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

28mm Bocage and Windmill W.I.P.

After showing my uncle my 28mm hedges made from industrial scouring pads, I mentioned that I was interested in modifying the technique to make some true bocage for gaming post D-day WWII scenarios. I wasn't sure what to use for the core hedge material until my uncle gave me a left over piece of furnace filter material he had purchased to make a filter for his air brush station. These four 6" sections of bocage are my proof of concept test pieces. I think they've come out nice enough that I will be doing a full-scale run.

The bases are 3mm arctic birch plywood. The rocks are coarse cork from bulletin board sections, glued down then chipped up using a fingernail. After they're chipped I glued the extra broken bits on top to keep them from looking too regular. Once the base and rock troughs are made the filter material is painted green, flocked and glued in. After the glue is dry sticks for trees are glued in along with foliage clusters, model railroad vines and the odd tuft of long grass. All of this final step is done in one go. These four sections took me two one-hour sessions and a two-hour session on three consecutive nights. They're labor intensive, but I really like the look, so I think they're worth the work. The only materials that cost all that much are the model railroad foliage clusters. For enough bocage to fill a table I'll probably go through 6-8 bags of clusters.

These are a couple work-in-progress shots of a 28mm windmill I've been working on for use on 7YW, Napoleonic and possibly even the odd WWII table. I still have a lot of painting and detail work to do, but the base framework is there. The main body is made from a hard plastic cup from the dollar store. The top section was originally turned on my wood lathe, then the face section was added and built-up using 1/64" thick model aircraft plywood. The shingles are card stock cut in strips on my laser engraver and glued down mostly by hand. For reference that is a 28mm French Napoleonic officer on a 4mm thick base. The windmill vane assembly is removable for storage and transportation. I've laser cut the grids on it, but I may replace it with something a bit more delicate, possibly some metal screening. After looking at the photos and comparing them to actual windmill photos, I also think I need to make the vanes larger in diameter.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

NROW in Charlie's New Gaming Loft

Last Friday my friend Charlie had a bunch of us over for a Napoleonic game in his newly renovated gaming loft. I have to say it's a very posh space and even includes it's own bathroom! Charlie set out a massive game using his rules, Napoleon's Rules of War.  The battle was an Austrian defense against a larger French force. The Austrians had interior lines and significant terrain.

Charlie was testing some recent changes he's made to the rules. The game was fun, although with so many figures we didn't finish the game. Consensus was slightly less terrain and smaller forces would have let us complete more turns. Still the game was a fun time and Charlie got some great feedback on the rules and scenario. These rules are a lot of fun, enough that I started my own 28mm Napoleonic figure collection primarily because of Charlie's rules.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Conquest of Italy Ancients Campaign Day - More!

Mike has posted a movie of his photos taken at last weekend's game day. I've included it below.

British Grenadiers for AWI

This is a second unit of British grenadiers for my AWI collection. When I used Volley & Bayonet for AWI, I only needed three bases of Grenadiers as each represented a unit. Now that I use two or three bases per unit I need more Grenadiers for several scenarios, including Monmouth Courthouse, which I'm working on currently.

My existing unit I painted way back in 2005 or so and although they've been shown in many game photographs, they were never featured on the blog specifically as a unit. These figures I purchased painted from Gajo Miniatures. I've been very happy in the past with their quality seven 15mm Napoleonic figures so I gave these a try. I think they're definitely worth the money and Chris at Gajo always provides very good customer service. I'm not positive, but the figures appear to be Old Glory or Foundry. They're very compatible with the figures I already have which is a mix of those two mostly.

The basing features some new grass tufts I'm trying out from Leadbear's Tufts. Although ordering these from overseas is more work, so far I'm very happy with his products and customer service. Also on the bases are some Woodland Scenics foliage clumps and some scratch-made rocks that I make using painted cork bits. The latter may eventually end up being a small how-to article here on the blog if there is interest.

This brings my total number of painted 28mm figures purchased this year to 179. That's three more than the 176 I've painted myself. It's my goal each year to paint at least as many figures as I buy painted. That means I have some catching up to do. Next up on the painting table, thirty Austrian Grenzers for the Napoleonic period which should do nicely to put me back into the black.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Conquest of Italy Ancients Campaign Day

This past Saturday my friend Mike hosted our club's game day. The event was 'Conquest of Italy' - a one day ancients campaign set in the period near the First Punic War prior to Rome's dominance on the Italian peninsula. This year we broke from tradition and replaced our normal 15mm armies with 28mm figures that several members have been painting and collecting for the club's home brew rules, Marathon to Marius. Members providing armies were Bob, Charlie, Phil, Mike, Ralph and myself. I brought three Carthaginian armies and one Roman army. Each player picked a region and an army to control. I chose Rome since I hadn't yet used my Roman figures in a game. Two other players chose to use my Carthaginian figures. I was quite happy to get to play one of my games against one of those players.

The format was five rounds of DBA games with match-ups controlled by the campaign map. I ended up fighting my first game against Bob, who also was using a Roman army. Bob beat me soundly, 4-1. Because I was the aggressor, Bob retained his freedom, but I wasn't required to be his vassal due to him being the defender. Still not a very good start for me, squandering a campaign turn where I was lucky enough to be the aggressor. Also shown below is a photo of the other first round games.

Round two I faced Charlie and his Macedonian model army representing Phyrrus of Epirus. Thanks to Bob's generousity I was able to have an early enough campaign move to still be an aggressor in this turn. Charlie's pike put it to my Romans scoring an early kill on one of my legion stands. I followed this up by isolating one of his skirmish stands, and then getting a bit lucky when his advance took his general stand just a touch too close to some rough terrain. I was able to flank it with a velite stand, and due to the terrain factors I was able to kill his general securing the win. Charlie played well all day including this game. I got lucky that the terrain saved me as Charlie was out playing me up to that point. Since I was the attacker, Charlie was now my vassal, and his past and future successes, were also successes for me. Photos of other round two games are below.

Round three I faced Michael who was pushing one of my early Carthaginian armies. Michael is a very skilled DBA player. Michael used his post-deployment element switches well and positioned his warband Gauls right where they would cause me the most trouble. He played everything correctly and I just got very lucky on my combat rolls and won thanks to General Dice. Michael was now my vassal, and thanks to his previous and successive successes, I profited heavily in victory points from my fortunate dice rolls in this game. More round three photos below.

Round four I chose Earl as my opponent. I wasn't keen on attacking a fellow Roman, but Earl was the only potential opponent available to me that had vassals. Since consolidating the empire was the primary goal I attacked Earl. Roman vs. Roman battles in DBA often come down to whomever gets the first kill can then use that extra stand to flank the opponent's battle line. This is what happened in this game. I was able to score an early lucky kill on a stand and from there  I could whittle away at Earl's flank securing the win. At the end of the round I had firm command of all players as seen below. Unfortunately the very next campaign turn Charlie drew the rebellion chip and peeled off his portion of my empire as an independent state.

Round five I played new member prospect, Matt. Matt hadn't ever played DBA before. In keeping with what seems to be a club tradition, Matt kicked my ass in short order. We're not sure why, but new DBA players in our club always seem to do well.  The battle between Matt and I ended up coming down to single combat between his general and mine, both cavalry units, in the sand dunes. With so many negative factors this was a true Thunderdome moment. Two stands enter, one stand leaves. In this case it was Matt's general that was victorious. There are some more photos of other round five games below.

After the fifth and final round the national organization chart and scores are shown below. Thanks to a lot of luck on my part, and excellent play all day long by Charlie, Michael and Earl, my fourth turn win and score was able to carry me through round five for the win.

And here is a photograph of all of the participants taken by Mike. Not shown are Dick and Ralph who both had to leave early.