Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Big Austrian Re-Basing Project

After my recent Napoleonic play test of Electronic Brigadier with Ed, I decided I should get off my duff and finally get to re-basing all of the Austrian Napoleonic figures I've purchased from Ebay over the past three years. While I was at it I tossed in a couple French dragoon officers Ed sold me and a German WWII 88mm AA gun. To the left is the group shot of the total project. This is a total of 36 stands re-based.

First up the two Perry plastic Dragoon officers Ed sold me. These are beautifully painted and were based when I got them. Unfortunately Ed's lovely oval officer bases don't match my slotted system which makes re-labeling for Electronic Brigadier much easier so I re-based these to match my other officers. The trooper combat stands I left on Ed's original bases as they're easier to adopt to my labeling system.

Next up a nicely airbrushed 88 factory fresh from Collector's Battlefield. These pre-painted figures came out about a decade ago? I'm not sure the company is still in business. Google searches didn't net me any good links to them any more. Still this was a STEAL on Ebay. It came un-assembled, and it was a touch tricky to get the gun shield onto the model in a way that made me feel comfortable. The irregularly shaped base that came with it was OK but the gun carriage hung off it. I ditched it for a square 3mm plywood base.

The cream of the crop for the Austrian figures are the two of the officers on the right. These were originally on a two-figure stand, but like Ed's not compatible with my labeling system. Since I have enough two-figure command stands I split these two up. the third figure came with the bulk of the infantry and is normal tabletop quality. He'll do fine for larger games.

Eight stands of Hussars I bought in a separate auction. Lead figures of unknown manufacturer. Tabletop quality. This brings my Hussars to twelve bases (squadrons in Electronic Brigadier). More than enough for even large games.

Infantry regiment number one. This one is lead figures of an older vintage. The castings are soft, and the original painter made up for this with some effort with shading and painting. When freshly painted I bet these were quite nice for the time. Now they're a bit worn. I did some touch-ups where the paint was chipped off and based this in three battalions of four stands each and a three-stand battalion of grenadiers.

The last unit was the worst to deal with. These are more modern plastic figures, painted to an OK tabletop standard. The big issue was they were mounted on MDF bases glued down with superglue. This was a NIGHTMARE to un-do. I had to soak the MDF for 3 days and eventually peel it apart layer by layer to get it thin enough to finally carve off the figures. After that I had to re-paint all the bases of the figures before re-basing. Even then the final two battalions aren't all that great. These will eventually be replaced by something a bit nicer to match the rest of my collection. Still for now, serviceable tabletop troops to bulk out larger games.

Finally some group photos and a short video of my complete Austrian collection so far. This is more for me to refer to in the future than for any other reason. Still satisfying seeing a full shelf. On the long-term to-do list is to have my French collection match the Austrians in size.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Electronic Brigadier Napoleonic Playtesting Begins

With the American War of Independence working to my satisfaction in Electronic Brigadier, it's time to jump up to the 800 pound gorilla in the room - the Napoleonic period. I was strategic in picking the AWI for the first period for Electronic Brigadier as it's mostly an infantry on infantry affair with that infantry primarily fighting in lines. In terms of complexity, on a scale of 1-10 if AWI is a 2, Napoleonics is a 10. With Attack Columns, Battalion Mass, Lines, Squares, Heavy Cavalry, Light Cavalry, Irregular Cavalry and a much more diverse spread of unit types and nationalities, the Napoleonic period provides me with a lot of balance tuning to get things working.

I invited my friend Ed of Ed M's Wargame Meanderings Blog over for the first rough play test. I knew there would be some significant issues, so a one-on-one seemed best. I expected some of the testing would be intentionally doing things that might not be the best tactical decisions for the sake of testing.

Ed and I played a small skirmish with Elements of Davout's corps from Austerlitz matching up against a portion of an Austrian advanced corps from the same battle. The scenario was simple, secure the walled farmhouse to insure clear access to the road. The Austrians had larger battalions so more men in total. The Austrians had a section of two four pounder battalion guns with each infantry regiment, and six squadrons of Hussars. The French had better morale for their line infantry and four eight-pounder guns in two sections. The French also brought Dragoons which were sure to out match the Austrian Hussars.

Ed's French moved first and dashed towards the Farm while keeping their lines in good order to each side.  I charged Ed's Dragoons initially on my right flank with my Hussars, eager to see if I could get lucky.....I couldn't. Ed's Dragoons caused 97 casualties on my Hussars while suffering only 37 in return. Possibly there will be some adjustment in the calculations involving cavalry of different weights. The disparity was a bit high for my liking. Lucky that's why we're trying this to dial things in. My cavalry would recall, then retreat, then finally rout off the table over the subsequent turns.

Ed's right regiment deployed with an open-order skirmish line forward of two attack columns. The skirmish like pressured my battalion guns eventually driving the gunners from their pieces. Ed used his eight-pounder artillery well here softening up my middle regiment that was preparing to assault the town. Ed's right flank Dragoons flexed their weight and my other Hussars, knowing what was in store for them, gave ground while my Grenzers squared up hoping to secure the flank from the marauding dragoons. Ed's attack columns closed on my battered middle Grenzer unit, but one of his columns failed to close and I won the melee, then fell back shaken due to the cumulative damage on the unit. My left flank was in trouble, Dragoons in the rear, infantry to the front and my infantry squared up or in disorder. Combined arms used by Ed masterfully.

Later on my assaults on the town ended up in my troops pulling up into firefights. The same occurred when I charged Ed's attack columns. Possibly bad 'dice' rolls in the computer, possibly something to consider. Likewise Ed's charges on my infantry lines ended up with his cavalry refusing to close due to musket fire, which was fine, but my infantry's willingness to stand roll had numbers that were too confident for the tactical situation, so also needs some adjustment.

At this point time was running late and Ed granted me the favor of a last test of charging his dragoons into my grenzer square. This also ended up on the 'to adjust' list because Ed's cavalry was very willing to charge, and the 'to succeed' chance to close was off the charts. Once he did contact the square it was obliterated. It's ok for Cavalry to break squares, but in this case it wasn't ever in question, so that needs adjusting.

All in all this was a very productive evening of testing. Once I make the necessary corrections I think I'll need one more one-on-one test then I'll be ready to start doing real games with more people. Thanks to Ed for the help testing, constructive criticism, and excellent game play. Ed treated the test like a real game and gave me good 'data' in the computer to use for future self testing.

Also I got my work-in-progress windmill on the table for the first time. I still need to do a lot more painting on it, but this will motivate me to do so.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Wright Con 2019

This past weekend Mike, Josh, Scott and I took Friday off from work and binged on two full days of board gaming for my birthday. Wright Con 2019 was GREAT! Any time you can board game with friends instead of a day of work is a day well spent. Topping it off with a full second day of gaming on Saturday, luxury!

Friday morning Mike's daughter Maria came up and proceeded to kick our butts at Roll for the Galaxy, one of our favorite games. She used the produce and ship for victory point strategy. She got her 'engine' running much faster than I did and beat me at the same strategy I was using. I got in a few wins, but all of the games were close. We played a bunch of favorites, Caribbien, Power Grid with fixed power plant deck and the France expansion board, Lords of Waterdeep, Merchants and Marauders, Evo (first edition), Age of War, and at the end of the day on Saturday Scott's girlfriend, her son and my wife Lori all joined us for a seven player game of Seven Wonders. Before dinner Lori and I had to sit out for a game while our dog was having some health issues, but the rest of the crew played a raucous game of Dungeon Fighter.

After Scott and his group left Mike, Josh and I finished the weekend off with a game of King of New York that I picked up on clearance from the local wargames shop. This is another game in the King of line and consensus was that the silly Japanese Monster Movie Themed game is better than our previous favorite, King of Tokyo due to having a bit stronger theming, allowing the monsters to not only fight each other, but crush buildings and military units defending the city. Even the Statue of Liberty gets into the fray!

Another HUGE thanks to all my friends who made the drive up to New Hampshire, stayed the night and gamed their asses off for two whole days. The whole thing made me feel young again!

Monday, October 14, 2019

More 28mm Russian Militia Crossbowmen

This is the completed unit of Fireforge City Militia Archers that I converted to crossbowmen previously shown in a WIP post. These figures were painted for the Saga Thorsday painting contest announced in their most recent video.

These Fireforge resin figures gave me some trouble. Some of that was completely my fault and was a result of me being a very amateur sculpter and figure converter. If I had a chance to do this project again I would have made some different decisions in re-posing and re-sculpting the figures. The rest of the trouble was due to the texture and flaws in the resin. I normally do a process of base coloring, washes, then highlighting. For these figures I was afraid washes might bring out the wrong detail, so they were only used on the fleshy bits. Instead of washes I used more dry-brushing and intentional highlighting.

I'm super happy with the faces on these, and they look the part on the table. I'm proud enough with them to submit them to Rodge at Saga Thorsday for his contest. This adds twelve 28mm figures to this year's painting totals. Next up on the painting table are some Crusader Cavalry and a ruin terrain piece for Saga.


For the contest, here's the obligatory 'thumbs up' from Rodge photo!

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Northern Conspiracy October Saga Game Day

Yesterday, our club got together for a large game day featuring the Saga rule set. Club president 'Dr. Dick' is shown here going over the layout for the day. Crusades Era and Viking Era armies were grouped into teams geographically with each team defending their home region with two armies and invading another region with two armies. Games would be 2 vs 2 with a center 1 vs 1 table to handle odd numbers. Co-hosts Greg and Michael not pictured also did a TON of work to make the day go smoothly.  Below is a YouTube video of the room at the start of the day.

My Eastern Princes Russian Crusader army was teamed up with several Mongol armies commanded by Paul, John C. and Rob as well as a roaming army of Vikings commanded alternately by John M, Dick and Greg. We were defending the steppes board and our team was named the 'Steppenwolves'. So fun! The other teams were the Northern 'Baltic Terror' team with Ordenstadt, Goths and Vikings, the 'Defenders of the Cross' with Last Romans, Byzantines, Crusaders and Vikings, and the southwestern 'Jihadi' with Sarasin, Mutatawwi'a and more Vikings. Photos of each table below.



 Round 1

Round 1, let the games begin! Lots of photos of the players and tables here. I ended up on the center table playing Greg's Spanish with my Eastern Princes army. Before we started I was able to snap photos of each of the other tables.

For my game against Greg's Spanish, we used 'Clash of Warlords' and I rolled set-up B - diagonal. Considering the terrain and the 'loot' on the table (for game day objectives). I chose lower-left to upper right in the photos for the deployment line. I put my Crossbows closest to the woods in hopes of using them as cover. This didn't happen as quickly as I would have liked, but eventually they became a bulwark for me to withdraw my captured loot to. With an all cavalry opponent, I chose to bring a unit of Black Hood cavalry to increase my mobility.

I used my Saga board to discourage Greg from using his Jinnettes ability.  I was able to give better than I got with the crossbows eliminating two small mounted warrior teams, one in turn two from crossbow fire and one in turn three with a charge from my Black hoods.

After turn three Greg chose to use Jinnettes regardless of my Saga ability use, giving me some extra Saga dice to use. Jinnettes is that good for the Spanish. Greg's shots throughout the game took out a lot of my figures. And some charges from his Hearthguards killed all but one of my warrior figures. His large warrior unit using Jinnettes did at least half of the damage his army caused. The other half came from his large hearthguard unit.

In the end I used the 'Drug' Saga ability with my warlord supporting him with a nearly exhausted three-figure hearthguard unit. My warlord was able to finish off Greg's heavily wounded hearthguards. I then began to withdraw to my crossbows in their oasis of palms with my 'treasure'. Greg's army harassed me with Jinnettes fire, but I was able to weather the storm. Elsewhere in turn one, the Steppenwolves did fairly average putting us in the run. One upside, our invaders and I had brought back a lot of loot to our home region which we now had to defend in round two.

The standings after round one. Note the 'loot' numbers are numbers of loot items, worth a yet to be revealed amount of massacre points. Loot values were only revealed and added to the overall totals at the end of the day.



Round Two 

Photos of the tables and opponents for round two. We had some people who could only stay for the morning, so the center table wasn't used.

Unfortunately for the 'Steppenwolves' we lost two players for the afternoon, so Dick stepped in and commanded the Vikings in for our team. We chose to defend with the all-foot vikings and my force of Eastern princes using a mostly foot composition including two crossbow units. The all-cavalry double Mongol force went invading into the southwestern Jihadi board. Horses in the desert....more on that later.

Ralph's beautiful Ordenstadt were opposite my Eastern Princes on our board. The game day rules don't require players opposite each other fight exclusively, but this worked out that way. My crossbows were denied benefit of cover courtesy of Kevin's heroic commander. Dick countered with a unit of Viking bezerkers in his army. Ralph and I played a chess-like game, both not wanting to make too many mistakes. In the end losses were minimal for both of us. Kevin and Dick were having none of that and their side of the table was a slug fest! In the end across our table I believe Kevin and Ralph bested us on massacre points and ran off with three of our treasure. Our invading Mongol allies, were repulsed from the Jihadi's homeland without any loot for their wounds.  The Steppenwolves finished middle of the pack for the day in score, but I think everyone scored first place in having fun.

Single most aggressive army went to Charlie's Byzantines who totaled something like 57 massacre points in two games.

Thanks again to the hosts and organizers of the event, and everyone who showed up to participate and have great fun.

Google Gallery with all of the photos I took is here: