Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Gaming Vacation and Introduction to 'Food for Powder'

Last December my lovely wife and some of her girlfriends bought tickets to the U2 concert scheduled for Winnipeg this past weekend and so we made the pilgrimage for her to see The Great God Bono late last week. Don't get me wrong, I really like U2, but I have about as much interest in watching a rock concert with 50,000+ sweating, intoxicated, screaming fans as I have with sticking pencils in my eyes, so I quietly bowed out of the 'experience'. (Its funny as 20 years ago I would have probably given a kidney to see them...) Nonetheless, I tagged along so I could visit family and, like a complete geek, game my face off with some of my old pals from The Fawcett Avenue Conscripts

I played two games of 28mm Napoleonics: a largish Anglo-French scenario that I put on for the Conscripts and a smaller Austro-French scrum between Greg and I. (I apologize in advance for the crap photos - I was preoccupied with running the games and so just snapped these shots off when I both had a spare moment and thought of it.)

Here we have two battalion columns from a French infantry brigade negotiating around a muddy field in an attempt to deploy out into line.
After some initial success the French brigade meets a withering fire from British battalions supported by artillery.
For both of these games I used our new rules, Food for Powder which were originally inspired by our modification of Black Powder, but have since evolved beyond that premise to include an assorted mashup of interpreted game mechanics from Shako, Republic to Empire, Lasalle, In the Grand Manner and several other rule sets. Sort of a cafeteria pick-list of Napoleonic rules which together has created an entirely new beast. In point form, Food for Powder features:
  • interleaved player activations to replace the common IGOUGO mechanic;
  • streamlining of play by doing away with both shooting and close combat phases and instead incorporating them within the shared command phase;
  • a reaction mechanism to allow both defensive interdiction fire and countercharges during the opposing player's activation;
  • removal of any annoying (well, to us) saving throw mechanic;
  • rules which allow cavalry the power to harass enemy formations as much by their threat as by their use in pitched melee;
  • replacement of the D6 with a D12 to better smooth the results curve
  • a Quick Reference Sheet with ALL pertinent rules that fits on ONE double sided page.
The rules have been playtested quite a bit over the winter and they seem to hold together quite well, though I'm still coming across areas where some adjustments are required. Nonetheless, from the guys' feedback I noted that they particularly liked:
  • the interleaved activations as it adds tension and requires both sides to be watchful to exploit or react to developing situations;
  • the reaction mechanism as it prevents units from moving into or through a 'beaten zone' with impunity;
  • the casualty system, along with how rallies are handled.
An Austrian advance column catching the French on the move. The cavalry has forced a French battalion into square while the infantry advanced up the center in successive lines.
Grenzers moving into position to screen the advance of the rest of the brigade.
The French are seen here trying desperately to better deploy and break out. Notice the two sections of 12pdrs moving past the village to support the infantry.
The final push for the Austrian infantry who are on the verge of forcing the French brigade to withdraw.
French medium artillery who have just 'convinced' a regiment of Austrian Hussars to withdraw.

This week I'm going to update the rules with some the recent additions and changes with the idea of giving them another 'crucible' of playtests over the coming month. I am hoping to have a digestible copy of the rules ready sometime this early summer for those who may be interested in checking them out for themselves.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

From the Lead Archive: 28mm Foundry Ancient Greek Hoplites

Still drumming my fingers waiting for 'Hail Caesar' to make its appearance.  Thought I'd ease my impatience by unpacking some more 'sword and sandal' stuff from our move. Here are a few test models I did of some ancient Greek hoplites. I remember I had just finished reading Steven Pressfield's superb 'Gates of Fire' and was completely stoked to paint hoplites.

These are from the excellent Foundry range of models that were sculpted by Steve Saleh. I really like the animation of Saleh's work, even though the shields seem somewhat small to me. Hmm, that reminds me, I need to get some transfers on those shields...

Now that I'm looking at them again I think I'll do up a few more along with some helots for a skirmish game scenario I have knocking around in my head. More on that later if anything comes of it.

'You Shall Not Pass!' 28mm 'Lord of the Rings' Balrog

I remember how nervous I was going to see Fellowship of the Ring on it's release night, thinking, "Cripes, I hope they don't screw this up." Then I saw Gandalf (Ian McKellan) in his ponycart riding into Hobbiton and I knew they had nailed it. It was beautiful. Absolutely magical. Then about 30 seconds after this revelation I began settling into my seat, anxiously anticipating Jackson's vision of the Balrog. Well, Peter J. did not disappoint and when the Balrog finally made its fiery, heat-shimmering appearance I was completely gobsmacked. I felt like I was 12 again.

Anyway, when Games Workshop came out with its 28mm scale model of the Balrog I had to have one.  So I gave it a go and here it is. I had fun trying to replicate the flame effects and the molten cracked skin. I have absolutely no use for the thing but I can see it is one of my most cherished models.

Someday I'll have to try GW's model of the Witch King on the Fell Beast...

Saturday, May 14, 2011

From the Lead Archive: Viking Beserkers 28mm Foundry

Here are some hirsute Scandinavian fellows who seem to have some axes to grind (literally).

These are older Foundry castings sculpted by Mark Sims. I've never been too crazy about the shields but I really like the animation of the figures - very characterful.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

1:2400 GQH WWII Ships

I've been feeling the urge to play some 'General Quarters III' so I brought out some of my naval stuff. Here are some 1:2400 scale models from GHQ that I collected to do 'The Battle of the River Plate', the action in which the Graf Spee was hunted down, engaged and scuttled in December 1939.

These are excellent castings, with crisp lines, superb detail and very little required in cleanup. 

Tim was kind enough to do up a bushel of MDF bases for me a few years ago which have served quite well. I've placed a small magnetic strip at the back so I can 'clip on' labels for ship names in case I want to bodge around with other scenarios.

I also have some Great War vessels which I'll have to put up a sampling sometime.

Graf Spee with the Leipzig (which was not at the River Plate action but I thought I'd slip in 'cause I like the seaplane)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

From the Lead Archive: The Harii - 28mm Ancient German Barbarians

I have to admit I'm getting a little keyed-up waiting for my copy of 'Hail Caesar' to arrive.  So , like a little kid, I decided to pull out and dust off some of what I have to start playing with (or needs to be built upon).

Here are some Germanic barbarians I painted up to represent Harii warriors. The Harii are a bit of a mysterious lot as they supposedly worshiped the night, or perhaps were a quasi death cult. There is also an interesting theory that based on their location, culture and genetics that they were precursors to the Vikings.

Tacitus writes in his work, 'Germania':

As for the Harii, quite apart from their strength, which exceeds that of the other tribes I have just listed, they pander to their innate savagery by skill and timing: with black shields and painted bodies, they choose dark nights to fight, and by means of terror and shadow of a ghostly army they cause panic, since no enemy can bear a sight so unexpected and hellish; in every battle the eyes are the first to be conquered.

Anyway, I liked how Kevin Dallimore originally painted them for Foundry and so I've shamelessly copied him here (I really liked how he did the Conan black-striped camo thing).

Um, gee, pretty much the same shot here - Ok, just imagine this is taken from a completely different angle which makes the figures look achingly beautiful. No? Well, just squint a bit then.
These are old 28mm Wargames Foundry models - Mark Copplestone sculpts I believe. I plan to do a Germanic barbarian army that will contain several tribes (Cimbri, Suebi, etc.) of which these will be the basis for one unit. I'll post up some other stuff over the next little while.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Stylin' and Profilin' (or Sumthin')

I believe Groucho Marx once said, "I refuse to join any club which would have me as a member," but then again he obviously wasn't nominated for the 'Stylish Blogger Award'.  ;)

Over the past few weeks I've noticed this 'Award' making its rounds amongst several of the sites I regularly visit. Well lo and behold,  Miles, Col Shofer and Ray have each kindly selected my blog as, hmm, what? A nominee? Part of a group of recipients?  I confess I really don't know where this thing originated, or what its actually for, but I do recognize and appreciate the sentiment behind it, so thanks very much guys!

I understand that  in being selected for the award means that I have to state 10 things about myself and nominate 10-15 other blogs for the same award. Ok, on to the first part:

1) I used to race bicycles and worked as a bicycle courier in my early 20s.
2) I enjoy collecting vinyl records and am a bit of a hi-fi junkie.
3) In the mid-80s (at around age 20) I owned and managed a game store with a good friend of mine (we were at ground zero for the introduction of Warhammer Fantasy and 40K - those were heady days!).
4) When I'm not slouching I'm taller than your average geek (6'2").
5) I lived in Europe for a year (Italy, Austria and the Netherlands)
6) I worked in the US for around 4 years (Biloxi, New Orleans and Detroit)
7) I now work as a preservation archivist.
8) My wife calls me a 'social misanthrope' (amongst other kind things) which is a nice way of saying that I like my friends but am generally not too fond of humanity.
9) I like to garden.
10) I love all hounds.

As this award has been in circulation for a while I'm going to keep my nominations rather sparse:
John de Terre Neuve's "Wargaming in 28mm"

Iannick's "Clash of Empires"

Dallas, Greg and "The Fawcett Avenue Conscripts" (my old gaming group from Winnipeg)


Each of these sites project an enthusiasm for the hobby that is unique, admirable and infectious and I think they are more than deserving of nomination.

So a big thanks again to those who've nominated my little area of nerdspace for this accolade!

Final Results: The Spring-Thaw Painting Challenge!

It was at the beginning of February when I issued a challenge to see who could paint the most Napoleonic figures over the following three months.  Over those ninety or so days I've had the pleasure to make several new friends, paint ALOT of toy soldiers and experience an infectious enthusiasm for our 'little' hobby - in short its been a hell of a lot of fun. Amongst the six who participated we painted the equivalent of 449 28mm figures in three months!

As I stated in the original rules my participation was purely as the 'pace car' for the other painters and so I would not take a stake in any of the prizes.  The prizes are unimaginatively simple, being gift vouchers valued at 30, 20 and 10 pounds sterling for First, Second and Third place respectively. I know, its not much but it'll take the edge off a future purchase.

So with all that being said and without further ado lets review the podium.

Coming in Third with 67 points is Paul from Scotland! Paul was a late-entrant to the Challenge but made both great inroads and a great impression to those who saw his work. Unlike the rest of us, Paul's focus is exclusively in 15mm and the quality of his output is just amazing. There was numerous instances where I thought I was looking at beautifully painted 28mm figures and it made me think twice (but only twice :) ) about whether I should have gone in for a smaller scale. 

Second place, at 111 points, was taken by my good friend Greg from Winnipeg who was using the Challenge to get his Austrian brigade completed - and a very beautiful collection it is! The majority of his points came from painting two regiments of 28mm cavalry which is no mean feat in of itself, especially when a good portion of them were the very colourful and intricate uniforms of the 10th Hussars. Great job Greg!

Last but certainly not least, in First place is JohnM, who with 134 points demonstrated to us all that it is possible to have both a high output combined with an excellent level of quality. Even with the very funny (well, to me) 'uniform malfunction' of the Green Cuirassiers he recovered with aplomb and steamed on to victory. Bravo John and congratulations!

I also want to take this opportunity to thank Sylvain and Tim who put in excellent showings with their Russians and Brits. Thanks a bunch guys! You can check out all of the entries at this gallery.

For the five in the DFL category I will only say, "Guys, not one bloody figure to even get out of the gate? Really? Really?"  Nuff said.

Finally, thanks to all you out there in the interweb who took the time to leave encouraging comments. I think I can speak for all of us to say that its so great to get positive feedback from others in the hobby - it really helps to keep up the enthusiasm during those late night painting sessions. So a big thanks to you all!

Postscript: Some have contacted me to ask if I'll run another Challenge. Absolutely! But I think we'll let everyone enjoy the summer season (well, for those above the equator) and then we'll see about a Challenge for the autumn! 

Monday, May 2, 2011

Napoleonic British Rifle Skirmishers

(Note: This post is from the first Painting Challenge, May 2011)
Well I dug deep and this is what I could manage to get done this weekend for the Napoleonic Painting Challenge finish line. The piece of terrain they are on is the Plowed Field from 'Architects of War'.

Here is a mix of 19 Foundry and Perry Riflemen that I've based up for skirmishing duty. I actually had 20 primed and ready to go but one forgot to decamp from the spray booth. He'll be written up for that...

Some of you may remember my moaning and whining about the ubiquitous 95th Rifles and so you'll be chuckling that this what I scraped up for my last entry. Below is my unit of formed-up Rifles which I've portrayed as doubling-out into line formation.

With this group of 19 places me at 124 points total. Nonetheless, after all that, John has still pipped me by 10 points! Congratulations John (you bugger)!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

From JohnM: The Last Reserve for 'The Challenge' - The Old Guard

Well, here we have JohnM committing his last reserve for the Spring-Thaw Painting Challenge: and none better than the 1/1er Regiment de Grenadiers a Pied de la Guarde - Yes, The Old Grumblers, The Old Guard.

This excellent unit is composed of Victrix plastics, that has been white-primed, inked with Liquitex, drybrushed up and then given a brush-over with Army Painter Dark Tone. The mounted officer is a Perry metal casting from their Waterloo range.

Also included is General Ponsonby, ready to lead his Union Brigade to their destruction. This model is a combination of the Perry Halket figure mounted on a Front Rank horse. The combination works out very well I think. 

This group will give John a tidy 28 points which will give him a grand total of 134 points. A very respectable sum for three months of painting! Bravo John!