Saturday, 26 May 2018

My Goodness They're Big Ones! Mistakes Were Made.

I recently had the opportunity to visit Melbourne and spend a day gaming with my friend Mark N. We had long discussed us playing All The Kings Men, a set of rules from the US toy soldier company of the same name. As the name implies, it is a Toy Soldier company specialising in 54mm old style figures.
Mark's particular obsession is the War of 1812 so we had a game set loosely in that period, not a recreation of a real battle, just a bunch of toys on the table.
The field of battle
The toy soldiers are deployed in four types of unit; Infantry in 12 privates + Officer + Ensign, Skirmishers 6+O+E, Cavalry 6 + O +E and Artillery 4 gunners + O + E.
The rules are simple enough, with activation by random playing card draws, red for one side, black the other. Certain cards give you the ability to make special moves. Each play through of the (shortened) deck can allow your units of figures to make multiple moves in a full turn. However each move degrades their quality level from green to yellow to red. Green is good, yellow is ok, red is bad.
Get 'em lads, they is on red!
Battles are resolved with asimple roll of D6s, the number required for success grower higher with each drop down the colour scale.
As I said, rules were simple, toys were on the table and battle was rollicking. We played until the last toy standing and due to a good run of activation cards towards the end, and some lucky dice rolling, I emerged victorious.
This is not a game for anyone to take seriously but for a fun few hours or perhaps a light hearted club night game, this fits the bill.
What? These old things? Had 'em for ages.
In fact, given my constant moaning about not being able to see 15mm figures to paint them, and the simple style inherent with toy soldiers, mistakes were made.
I spent the evening with Mark and his wife eating, drinking and discussing the idea of doing the game in Napoleonics. And now this huge box of figures have turned up at my house. I wonder where they came from? Looks like it's time to start painting old school.

Thursday, 28 December 2017

Holiday time, let's roll some dice

Who doesn't love a holiday? We are having a 'staycation' this year over Christmas/New Year so I get a chance to play a few week day games.
Yesterday Paul (The Man Cave blog) and I decided to start the Chain of Command 29 Let's Go campaign. We have both played Chain of Command before but with an umpire helping us along. It's fair to say that we had only retained a basic understanding of the rules. The whole idea of starting this campaign is for us to work through the rules in our own time and get a better working understanding.
 I laid out the first map of the campaign (including the "slope rope"- which is what you get when you finish laying out terrain and notice the elevation change on the map). Paul was the Germans defending and delaying and I was the Americans probing forward. My objective was to get at least one unit off the left hand side of the table. Sounds easy in theory.
I managed to get two jump off points quite far across the table - about two thirds of the way to my goal. That may have been my problem. As I brought units onto the table they immediately came under fire from the entrenched German defenders. This lead me to having units bunched up in the centre of the table, under fire from three groups of defenders. Not good. I had a Sherman tank (played by a Chaffee in this episode) as Support, mis-read the deployment rules and brought it on the table too far forward. That's OK, Paul's off-board 88mms sent a high velocity hello screaming straight through my side armour and brewed it up. Bye bye Ronson.
My jump off point to the left, under fire from 3 defender units.
Overall, we had a rollicking good game and learnt a lot more about ChOC but still would not consider us experts. The book's layout is challenging and wording somewhat unclear but we will stick at it. In fact, since I lost we get to play this scenario again although this time I get more tanks for support. I must remember to bring them on at the back of the table. And away from those bloody 88s!
Today I was lucky enough to be invited by the father of Aled, one of my fellow Odinian gamers, to his place for a game of General d'Armee. This is another TFL production, this time grand battles in the Napoleonic era.
Dean (Aled's Dad) is a long time Napoleonic player and has a great collection of painted Peninsular figures. We have played General d'Armee together once previously and both enjoyed it. Today Dean and I played the French while Aled and our mate Phil were the stinky Spanish. We had two brigades of infantry and one of cavalry per side.
 Despite a slow start for both sides (just couldn't get the rolls needed to get the troops moving) we soon got into the action. My infantry brigades pushed forward, soon capturing the town in the centre of the table and putting pressure on the Spanish infantry's left flank. Dean then swept in from our right flank, crossed the river and smashed into the Spanish. Mayhem ensued with units dissolving before Aled and Phils' eyes. It looked like it was all over other than the cleaning up. We were mistaken. My absolutely atrocious rolling for any important result (anyone want a 1? I'm your man) combined with Aled's tenacious defence saw the battle swing back in the Spaniards favour. Phil led the Spanish cavalry, previously held in reserve, across the river and started smacking my right flank around. My left flank kept steadily advancing but my awful rolling frittered away a couple of chances. A re-roll wasn't enough to get my Infantry assault going. Fortunately my right flank managed to repulse the Spanish cav, despite the loss of a unit and the pushing back of our cavalry too.
The Spanish Cav pour over the bridge
It was all up to our infantry on the left. The drums beat, cries of Vive l'Empereur filled the air and the infantry columns crashed home into the Spaniards. The centre tussled but the sangria sippers held on. And then it happened, my leftmost unit routed a Spanish unit in melee and the Spanish right flank melted away. Victory to the French!
It was a great game, no one was assured victory until the very end. General d'Armee is a straightforwrd, quick playing set of rules with simple resolution of combat and clear results.
Dean's new wargames room got a big battle christening, we all had a laugh and it was a good day. Thanks Dean for hosting.
Well, so far, so good for my wargaming holiday. Still 4 days to go. who knows what war dolly madness I can get up to before going back to work.

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Friends, figures and fun times - can you have too many?

It has been a long time since I put finger to keyboard on this blog. A long time. Life takes twists and turns, the day to day gets in the way but always around are friends, family and the sheer joy of the hobby. I have been thinking a lot of what I have a lot of in my life and conversely what I want more of.
The first is easy; I have a lot of friends and a lot of figures (unpainted of course). What I want more of is time spent with those friends and family, and more of those figures to become painted. I want less figures overall, it's time to streamline the collection into achievable goals. No more buying figures just because they are cool. Are they cool and can be used in an army that is close to finishing? Yes, then come on board!
Alan and Stephen, two of my Odin's Night friends
One of the really positive things in my life over the last couple of years has been the Odin's Night Games Club. Initially invited by the two original members Alan and Paul I have made new friends, caught up more with old ones and had a LOT of laughs along the way.
Meeting on Wednesday nights, initially in Good Games Chatswood but for the past year at the fabulous Willoughby Hotel, we play just about anything that catches our attention. As much as I moan to them about "sticking to one system for a bloody while" I do enjoy exploring all the options that this fabulous hobby offers.
A firm club favourite is anything written by the talented and prolific Daniel Mersey. Lion/Dragon Rampant has probably been the most often played club game. We are now exploring The Men Who Would Be Kings and Pikeman's Lament - much fun to be had.
Dragon Rampant even has encouraged a couple of the Only Historicals Here Mate players to dabble into the madness of building fantasy armies. Welcome to the dork side Alan. I have brushed off a variety of my old Warhammer Fantasy miniatures, along with Chronopia figures and various other Ooh That's Cool purchases and put together several DR armies.
Kings of War is another set of rules that have made an appearance. Although I am currently unconvinced by them I stand ready to play more games and gain a deeper understanding before dismissing them. People I respect like them, there must be something in them I haven't touched on yet.
Dragon Rampant in action on my home table
This year has also seen a health scare that started my self examination of where I sit with my hobby. As much as I love it, the time has come to rationalize a bit. I am no longer succumbing as easily to the cool bargain impulse (although those 25+ 20mm vehicles for $50 I saw today were mighty tempting!) and have started collating and selling my excess. I literally had a moment in March when I thought "Who will deal with my Good Crap pile if I die?". Hopefully that's not a problem anyone will have to deal with soon but I am taking steps to clean up my act.
I'm still buying (particularly books) but focus is the keyword. Any figures are to complete a unit, as long as that completed unit is not an orphan. Playable armies is the goal.
I have been happily sorting and re-sorting my painted miniatures and making up lists of what I need to complete to field whole units. Exploration of the Pile of Unpainted is leading to much going to the Sell pile. I have sold a bit so far, much more to come.
Anyway, that's it for now. It feels good to put down some thoughts again.

Sunday, 8 May 2016

So many games, so little time to write

The last couple of weeks have been fantastically busy gaming wise. I have had the chance to play Lion Rampant, Saga, Bolt Action, Chain of Command and Iron Cross. As well as wrapping up the Analogue Painting Challenge and of course buying more figures for my ever growing armies.
My first game in this great block of dice rolling was a game of Bolt Action against my boss Ian. I have the great fortune of working in the games industry but this doesn't mean that I get to play games all day. Quite the opposite. However, Ian and I had an evening free a couple of weeks ago and decided that a game of Bolt action was in order.
Using Ian's terrain and miniatures I had a chance to play Germans as opposed to my usual Yanks, and Ian played the US. It was a rollicking game, with artillery initially favouring me and air strikes redressing the balance for Ian. In the end it was a narrow victory for Ian but we had a lot of fun and we got to push around some well painted toys on a table with great terrain. An evening well spent.
       The following week Ian ran me through Lion Rampant against his friend Ian 2 (there are three Ians in the gaming group. It does get confusing.) with us playing the Crusaders vs Ian2's Saracen army. this was a great game, it allowed me to get my head around the mechanics of LR and be confident enough to play moderator to a game with the lads at Odin's Night club the following week.
        I provided all the forces so they ended up being a mish mash of Empire, Brettonian, Norman and Saxon armies. This is one of the great things about Lion Rampant, you can build historical or non-historical forces and still have a great game. 
The victims of the murderous rampage.
As the Analogue Painting Challenge was still in full swing I even provided a unit of old Empire Halberdiers that Paul and Alan (the murdering b@st@rds) tooking great pleasure in hunting down and massacring. Poor little purple plumed fellas. All in all, a rollicking good evening. You know that you are having fun when your table's "Yay" of victory makes the eight tables of roleplayers stop talking and all turn in your direction. We even picked up a new member for the Odin's with this game, Aled. Welcome aboard the crazy express mate!


Since then there have been so many games that I have lost track of them all but they have included;
  • Bolt Action one Sunday morning, Yanks vs Vichy French and then a follow up game on the same table using essentially the same forces but this time using Chain of Command. Admittedly we are not as familiar with CoC but the gameplay and results were hugely different. It was interesting to contrast the two. Both great for different reasons.
  • A brilliant game of Lion Rampant between Alan (Dux) and myself using The Messenger scenario. I set a new record for the number of failed Activations in a row. It was still heaps of fun.
  • Dux  "Cassandra Mouskouri"
  •  A four player game of Dragon Rampant. We were starting to get confident with the LR rules so thought that it was time to try the fantasy version. I have a couple (ahem) of painted Warhammer Fantasy armies so made up 6 different 24 point retinues based on the examples in the back of the book. Each player then chose whichever one appealed to him most. Once again, a brilliant day's gaming. So much fun that at least one historical stalwart was muttering "Must get some Dwarves, on goats or boars...." Dux had the "honour" of sporting the "Cassandra Mouskouri" wig of shame for predicting his own failing Activation roll.
  • Paul and new chum Aled show David, Stephen and I how to play X Wing.
  • Last week Paul ran us through X-Wing (it WAS May 4th). This was my first time playing this and really enjoyed the simple mechanics of gameplay. I won't be buying any ships, my long time gaming buddy David has taken care of that for us!
  • I'm sure that there were more games, I certainly saw more played but I can't remember which was when!

Lastly, time to update my most important Painting and Finished tally

Type Painted Finished
28mm Dark Ages Infantry 161
28mm Empire/Lion Rampant Infantry 8 32
28mm Empire/Lion Rampant Mounted 1
28mm Dark Ages Mounted
2
28mm Slaughterloo Infantry 4
28mm Fantasy Infantry
4
20mm WWII 18

Monday, 4 April 2016

Challenge done but not completed - lessons learned

I have finally finished the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge. I loved it and it drove me crazy. When I initially considered the Challenge I thought that I could maybe get 250 points (based on 5 points per 28mm infantry, 4 per 20mm etc) because I am a very slow painter. However there was only the choice of 500 point intervals so I went for 500, lowest I could choose.
As it turns out I only made it to 216 points. There were many personal challenges along the way, not least of which was my eyesight. I ended up purchasing a flip down magnifying visor (as used by watchmakers) which helps a lot.
Me with my total output from the Challenge, wearing my new magnifying visor and traditional painting fez.
To be eligible for the Challenge a miniature could be cleaned up and undercoated before the start but no additional paint could be applied. It also must be completely finished, including basing, to be earn points. Herein lies the greatest lesson learned - I have way too many unfinished miniatures. Ranging from one or two colours applied, or nearly fully painted through to fully painted but no basing done. This is not acceptable.

So, from now on I am keeping a tally on the blog with two divisions;
Painted Miniatures - meaning painted this year from scratch through to finished as determined by the Challenge requirements.
Finished Miniatures - these are miniatures that I have started previously, or purchased part painted or similar that have done the extra work on to be totally finished. Including magnetizing the bases.
This will be a summary tally on the side of my blog and a more detailed running one at the end of each post. Maybe this will help my output. Or make my shame public.



Type Painted Finished
28mm Dark Ages Infantry 12
28mm Empire/Lion Rampant Infantry 8 11
28mm Empire/Lion Rampant Mounted 1
28mm Slaughterloo Infantry 4
20mm WWII 11

Sunday, 7 February 2016

A week of great buys and great friends

I just wanted to share this with you because if you read my blog, I know you will understand. Way back in the 1970s I received this kit for my 12th birthday and I loved it. It was probably the first non-Airfix kit I ever built and is part of the first real wargames army I ever collected. Sadly that original kit is long gone, the victim of air rifles, matches and the other stupid things we did as kids.

I was only talking about it at work this week and how excited I was to receive it so many years ago. I was at a swap meet today and they had one. Not the best or most accurate kit ever but an important nostalgic purchase. Of course I bought it. It will never be built but will be a reminder of how exciting it was to discover 1/72nd modelling and wargaming back in my childhood. Who would have thought that it would be how I made my living?

Another thing I found at the swap meet was a Meccano Spitfire kit. I collect everything named as a Spitfire aircraft and I have a particular fondness for only vaguely Spitfire-like objects called Spitfires. The brand vs substance of them really amuses me.The Meccano Spitfire is one of these. It "kind of" looks like a Spitfire, or at least parts of it do. I have wanted one ever since I saw it in a catalogue some years ago. Despite having worked in the toy business and having a good relationship with the Meccano distributor in Australia, I was never able to get one. Today I found one, still sealed (BNIB) and for about 50% of the original RRP. What a bargain. Straight into the games room with this one.
Spitfire?

It has been a successful weekend hobbywise. I managed to get four more figures finished for the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge, Albion Orcs for Slaughterloo.
The cartoony style is deliberate and they are done to match some second hand figures I picked up a couple of years ago. Love this game and these guys.

I also had a chance this week to catch up with my good friend Shayne from Campaign Books and Game Logistics. A retailer from Brisbane, he was down for the Rugby Sevens and took the time to visit us at the warehouse. We also had a lovely dinner with our families at an Italian restaurant in Haberfield. It's great that I can work in an industry where friendship is as important as business.

Saturday, 16 January 2016

An entry finished at last for the Painting Challenge

It's taken nearly four weeks but I finally got an entry in to the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge.
Building a US force in 20mm to be used mainly for Chain of Command and Iron Cross I have decided to do a squad and support team at a time. These are mostly AB Miniatures from that fine chap Nic at Eureka Miniatures with a couple of other brands from my lead pile thrown in for variety.
The first units completed are an Armoured Rifle Squad and a 60mm mortar team. As Chain of Command requires a 60mm mortar to have five crew I was was struggling with a way to make them look like a team. I decided to base them together but I wanted the versatility of casualty removal so I based them on a 40 x 45mm base
 however only one figure is permanently attached. I used putty to build up arond the small bases the figures come on to form "sabots". I then added the basing flock and static grass tufts to tie all the figures together visually. I then removed the figures leaving the sabot areas. Figures can be easily put on and taken off the base. 
I may add some small magnets to make them more secure if needed, depends on how they go in a game. Now, off to paint, there's plenty more in the queue.