Thursday, June 28, 2012

28mm Modern Afghanistan

I got into 28mm Modern Afghanistan by accident.  A friend named John Gonzales had some 28mm Taliban insurgents from The Assault Group he wanted to get rid of.  I bought them at a Die Con convention several years ago.  I went ahead and painted up the Taliban and bought two squads of US Marine infantry.  I then proceeded to get Chain Reaction 2.0 for a set of rules.  They worked.  It was hard trying to figure out the reaction rolls to the reactions of other figures. 

Steve Hood and Joe Collins then discovered Ambush Alley.  I downloaded the basic rules - Ambush Alley "Contracting Trouble."  I use them for 28mm Modern Afghanistan.  I've also played Face of Modern Battle about eight years ago with Devil Dog Design figures.  The rules weren't to my taste. 

Ambush Alley is based on quality dice and reaction rolls.  The better the unit, the larger the quality dice.  You dice off squads against each other and that determines casualties.  You then roll for the results of casualties at the end of a turn.  Reenforcements and entry points for insurgents are random.  The game is scenario driven.  I have a Humvee and a downed Black Hawk helocopter and crew from Britannia Minaitures (out of their old Somalia line).  I've run all sorts of scenarios for the American players from Black Hawk down to a person of interest scenario.  I've also had a scenario to remove a rocket launcher from a Taliban strong hold.  The American player in charge failed his rolls to call in Apache air support to take out the rocket launcher.  All the US Marine fire teams wound up being KIA or WIA because of Taliban reenforcements.  No two Ambush Alley - Contracting Trouble games are ever the same.  My 28mm Middle Eastern buildings for the Sudan/Egypt also double for Afghanistan.

Everyone else I know in St. Louis, MO who has moderns uses 20mm figures.  That makes sense for the vehicles and figures available in that range.  My figures are all 28mm.  My terrain is in 28mm.  It makes sense for me too keep my 28mm Modern Afghanistan.  I'm also a British colonial gamer.  Many of the modern scenarios play like a 19th century colonial game.  I would like to get some more 28mm Taliban insurgents and maybe some more US Seal teams.  But I haven't run a 28mm Modern Afghanistan scenario recently.

I do sometimes have regrets for gaming this conflict.  I have known many acquaintances who have served in that theater of operations.  It's rather weird when I'm running a 28mm Modern Afghanistan scenario and one of them comes up to me and tells me about their time in country.  I don't have this problem with the Cold War or Vietnam games I've played.  Then again, I actually like gaming Vietnam.  Go figure...    

Gaming the War of 1870

I've gamed the War of 1870 both with 15mm and 28mm figures using two different rule systems.  The first thing you should ask yourself is what do I want to accomplish when I game this period.  Are you happier painting up and gaming with 28mm figures at a more tactical level?  Or do you want to save money and just stick with 15mm figures? 

The cheaper way is to do this period in 15mm.  You still have options with rules.  There are some Fire and Fury variants for the Franco-Prussian War using some old Wargames Illustrated issue from the 1990's.  I think they might be available online as part of a Yahoo Users Group.  But I am not sure.  The first set of rules I played about 12 years ago was They Died For Glory by Dave Waxtel and Bob Burke.  Unit are organized by battalion, battery, and cavalry regiment.  This rule system is designed with a mininium of a French infantry division and a divison and a half of German infantry.  I had an entire 15mm 1870 French infantry division, 1 15mm 1870 French cavalry brigade, 1 15mm 1870 Prussian infantry brigade, 1 15mm 1870 Bavarian infantry brigade, 1 15mm 1870 Wurttemburger infantry brigade, and 1 15mm 1870 Prussian cavalry brigade.  That worked out to a corps of 1870 German infantry.  Figure scale is 1:50. 

They Died For Glory is a good, solid rule system.  It works with a French and German movement phase.  While one side is moving the other side can respond with movement or firing.  Morale is rather simple using a 1D6 system.  The French infantry fire is particularly deadly.  So is the German artillery fire.  The battles aren't elegant affairs.  It is usually a matter of bringing a line of skirmishers and then launching your Prussian infantry columns headlong into the French infantry lines once they have been softened by artillery fire.  Most of the terrain is meant to be on the French side of the board.  And the French are outnumbered to the Prussians at least 1:1.5.  Cavalry can be used to launch suicidal changes to slow up advancing infantry columns, the only use they have is for attacking limbered artillery.  The thing I don't like about They Died For Glory is the combat system. 

You have to figure out how many dice you get in combat depending on the nationality and unit type of troops.  Prussian dice to figure ratios are much higher than the French.  And the Prussians normally roll over them in close combat.  The problem with They Died For Glory is that the pick-up games are rather predictable.  It usually a matter of stopping German infantry advances and hiding behind fortified positions.

That is the same lesson for Chassepot and Needlegun.  This system is by Larry V. Brom.  It is designed for 28mm figures.  It can accomodate anything from 25mm down to 6mm scale.  This is a more tactical set of rules.  There is random unit activation and movement.  This rule system is designed in the same vein as The Sword and The Flame.  There is a movement, artillery, small arms, close combat, and morale phase.  The largest unit is designed for an infantry division.  French infantry units are smaller than German infantry units.  Moral is determined randomly for each basic unit when it first needs to test it.  That is something different than most TS&TF variants.  Chassepot and Needlegun is a very friendly convention style wargame that's easy to play.  They Died For Glory isn't.  They Died For Glory requires a good GM.  Chassepot and Needlegun doesn't.  If left to my own devices, I'd play Chassepot and Needlegun.  Though it requires more figures, I don't mind it.  You get a game done faster with Chassepot and Needlegun than with They Died For GloryChassepot and Needlegun also have variants for Crimean and Seven Weeks War of 1866. 

There is also Black Powder.  I don't have a copy of the rules.  It's designed for this period.  You can use whatever scale of figures you want.  No doubt it would work well for 1870.  And there is also 1870 (The Rule System), too.  Again, I haven't played it.  So I can offer no opinion upon it other than what I've read about.  If you are going to game 15mm FPW, my figure recommendations are Rank and File and Essex Miniatures.  If you want to do this period in 28mm, you have to use different manufacturers.  My recommendations are Wargames Foundry, Battle Honors, Askari Miniatures, Old Glory Miniatures, Castaway Arts, and North Star Miniatures.  Unfortunately, there is no one who is doing 28mm plastics right now.  I'd definitely buy more figures if Perry Miniatures decided to expand into this period, too.

1870, The Terrible Year

While other people are interested in WWII, my imagination is captured by the "Guns of August, 1914".  Most gamers show a distinct disinterest in this time period.  I've game it.  If you want to capture the tactical feel, it's mass slaughter with 80% losses.  The carnage is overwhelming for a wargame.  Only a fanatical would want to play this.  So in desperation, I dropped back to the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71.  Most of the English speaking world tends to ignore this conflict other than a precoursor for the First World War.  It was very real to the French and Germans who fought it.  The French called it, "1870, the Terrible year..."

There were two phases of the War.  The Imperial phase that lasted six weeks and the Republican phase that lasted the rest of the conflict until January 1871.  Most of the interesting fighting happened during the Imperial phase of the conflict.  Basically, the French would entrench in a position and the Germans would attack headlong into it.  Until the Germans brought up their breachloading Krupp guns and shelled the French infantry out of their positions.  Both sides used breachloading rifles.  And battlefield cavalry was useless during this period.  The major battles that were fought were the battles of Weissenburg, Spricheren, Froeschwiller, Colombey, Mars La Tour, Gravelotte, and Sedan.  Weissenburg, Spricheren, and Froeschwiller were frontier battles where the Imperial French had a chance to stop the German advance and failed.  Mars La Tour and Gravolette were set piece battles where both sides planned to fight instead of reacting to each other. 

And Sedan was the crowning disaster of French arms with the capture of Louis Napoleon III and one hundred thousand soldiers on the Belgian border by two German armies on September 1, 1870.  The Germans thought the War was over by then.  But the Republicans in Paris went on fighting.  The War ended with the Siege of Paris and the different provincial French armies being trampled upon by the superior German forces.  However, even the Germans got sick of the conflict and longed for peace by the Christmas of 1870.  The Siege of Paris ended in the Commune uprising and its bloody suppression by Marshal Patrice MacMahon. 

Part of the problem with the French war effort was the fossilized deadwood that inhabited the French high command.  The French infantry were good soldiers.  They were just poorly led.  The French war effort and mobilization was such a disaster, the French should have never declared war against the Prussians.  They neither had the manpower or the logistics to win against the Germans.  That is hard to replicate in a tactical wargame.  It is something better carried out in a campaign.  So the initiative lay with the Germans.  But the Germans were handicapped by their firearms, which were inferior to the French Chassepot rifle.  German artillery made up for this by raining artillery shells down on French positions during a battle.  The Germans would then send their infantry columns to attack the beleagured French once they were forced out their positions.  That microcosism is the essessence of the Franco-Prussian War of 1870.     

There were also primative machine guns on the French side in addition to their muzzle loading artillery.  But the French were again handicapped by attaching their mitraileuse batteries to artillery officers, instead of using them as close support infantry weapons.  I hope this information has captured some of the flavor of the period.  My next article will focus on different rule systems that can be used to game this conflict.  

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Why Do I Do This To Myself?

Why do I do this to myself?  Why do I keep playing GW games when the company doesn't care about me? 

I'm definitely outside GW's demographic market.  I started playing WH40K when the old Rogue Trader rules came out in 1990.  By 1995, I'd stopped playing WH40K's second edition.  That had all sorts of magic and special rules cluttering up the game mechanics.  I got back into 40K in 2006 with 4th edition.  And I've stayed with the rules and expanded my armies with 5th edition 40K. 

Now, 6th edition is coming out.  And it's a throw back to 2nd edition 40K.  I'm not looking forward to this new rule system.  I doubt I'll even buy the new rules.  With the latest 40K price increase, I can't afford to buy 40K retail anymore.  There are places on the web and locally where you can get at least 20% off retail.  That is the only way to buy new 40K models. 

Last year, a Space Marine Land Raider was $66.00.  Now, it's $74.99.  To do the "Mathhammer", I have Dark Angel Deathwing Terminator army.  There are three Space Marine Land Raider, 33 Space Marine Terminators, 5 Space Marine Scouts, and 1 Space Marine Dreadnought in that army for regular 40K.  I also have 1 Imperial Bane Bade model for small Apocalpse games.  If you take the 3,300 points in DA Deathwing Terminators, the Space Marine Terminators are $10.00 per model, the Land Raiders are $75.00 each, a Dreadnought was $46.25, Space Marine Scouts were $25.00, and a Bane Blade Kit was about $120.00.  That comes out to $746.25! 

I also spent money on the past 12 months to thee new WH40K armies.  My first army of Blood Angels I bought at 25% off retail.  That still cost me $550.00.  The second army was a Chaos Space Marine Thousand Son force I bought for $200.00.  Even though it was used, I got $400.00 worth of product for about $200.00.  I also bought a 40K Traitor Guard army from my younger sibling for about $300.00.  There are at least $600.00 in kit bashing and builds for his former Traitor Guard army. 

If I had any advise for someone who was looking into getting into 40K, I'd say find an army from someone who is looking to get out of WH40K.  It is the most effective move you can make costwise.  Or look around at the local boards or Ebay for used armies.  Usually, you can get 50% off retail from someone looking to move their unwanted minis.  For an entery-level hobby, 40K is horribly expensive.  GW believes their target audience will pay whatever price they can charge for their models.  By and large, this has been true.  They figure that 12-18 year old teenages get into their game and then eventually get out of it.  Their parents will pay for their figures.  So long as GW is recruiting new players, they don't care about geezer players like me. 

If the marketing gods would get off their asses, they could make more money with old players who have greater disposable income than their target market.  But as I said in the beginning of this article, I don't matter to Games Workshop.  I'm finally waking up to that fact.  And I don't like way they're shafting the game.  I'll probably just play 5th edition with my friends until this new version of 40K dies and the marketing zombies realize few people are playing latest version of 40K...  

Die Con 12 AAR's

Here are some photos of the games I ran at Die Con 12 in Collinsville, IL this past weekend, June 22-23, 2012.  The first photos are from a WH40K 5th edition scenario that never got off the ground, "Cleansing of Thaler 145":

                                          Deathwing Land Raiders

                                         Traitor Guard Entrenchments

                                         Full Traitor Guard Gunline

The next game was a "Meeting Engagement of Former Allies" with a 15mm SYW Austrian army taking on British, Hanoverians, and Hessian forces.  Don Cox played the 15mm SYW Austrians and I pushed the Allies.  I lost both my cavalry units.  But I formed square with my remaining infantry brigades to keep his cavalry at bay.  But Don wasn't agressive enough with his artillery and he finally got in range by Turn 12 to wipe a battery or two of my artillery.  I rolled a "6" and lost army morale.  So I withdrew from the field and the Austrian army won the day.

                                         15mm Austrian Army

                                         Austrian and Hungarian Infantry Brigades

                                         15mm SYW Austrian Cuirassier Brigade

The afternoon results of the 28mm ECW game were a draw.  The Royalists did more casualties to the Parliamentarian forces.  But Parliament routed more of the Royalist regiments off the board.  As with most ECW games, this centered on morale or poor morale rolls.  By end of Turn 6, we called it a draw.  Just like the first battle of Edgehill.  But this is my second time using the Warhammer ECW rules, though.

                                          Royalist and Parliamentarian Battle Lines

                                         28mm ECW Queen's Regiment

Adam Jones also ran three or four different games this weekend.  One was a Luftwaffe 1946 game.  I know the game involved US bombers and secret Nazi planes.  That is about it.  But I did get some photos.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Running Games at Die Con

I've spent a good amount of time prepping several games for Die Con 12, a local gaming convention here in St. Louis, MO June 22-24, 2012 at the Gateway Convention Center in Collinsville, IL.  I've put on games for the past five years since I came back to St. Louis, MO.  I mainly have run 28mm British Colonial Games. 

This year has me running thing three different games.  One is a WH40K game.  Another is a 15mm SYW game.  And the third game is 28mm English Civil War.

The first game is a simple 40K game featuring two of my 40K armies.  I invented a scenario for it using Dark Angel Deathwing Terminators vs. a detachment of Traitor Guard.  I've got enough stuff to haul to Die Con.  So I made sure it was a small game.  As far as I know, I'm the only one running a demo WH40K game this weekend.  There is a 40K Tournament.  But I'm normally running games on Saturday, so I don't get a chance to play in the Die Con Grand Tournament.  This is no exception.

The second game is a Friday evening game between a 15mm SYW Austrian army of observation and an allied army of British, Hessians, and Hanoverian forces.  They never fought during the Seven Years War.  But it makes for a good scenario.  It is a meeting engagement between the two armies.

The third game is Saturday afternoon.  It is a 28mm English Civil War Battle of Edgehill using Warhammer ECW.  I've got armies for both sides.

So the only slots I have to game are Saturday morning and Saturday evening.  I'm going to be spending Sunday cooking ribs for my family.  I've looked through the gaming schedule.  And I'm undecided.  I could get in an airwar game or maybe Battle Tech.  I'd like to play Battle Tech.  But I've never played a game.  I don't know how convention friendly the system is.  There is also a Command Decision game I could get into if I decide to stay the evening and play.  I'll be a zombie by Saturday evening.  But I'd like to play in a WWII microarmor game.  I'll see how I feel Saturday and make a decision about what I want to do then.  Though I promise to take some photos and upload them maybe Sunday evening or Monday afternoon when I get a chance to check my email this weekend...

Sunday, June 17, 2012


Here are photos I took of a Warhammer Fantasy Battles game between my Warriors of Chaos Army and a friend named Andrew's Dark Elves. To make a long story short, I lost the game. But I don't play WHFB that often. I have High Elves and Warriors of Chaos to run demo games at conventions and local game days...

I don't like the magic aspect of Warhammer Fantasy Battles.  I'll play another game called Warlord with another friend when I want to play a fantasy game.  The rules are simple to play and fast to learn.  And there is little magic in Warlord.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

28mm Franco-Prussian War

Five years ago, I started a project with a group of friends to do several different projects with them. 

One of them was 15mm Seven Years War.  That project is about done.  The second project is now underway.  That is 28mm Franco-Prussian War.  I'm using Chassepot and Needlegun as the rule system for it.  I'm also building up 2 brigades of French infantry, 1 brigade of Bavarian infantry, and 1 brigade of Prussian infantry for a full scale game.  I figure the time it will take paint all these figures is probably one year.  It took about 14 months to paint up a 15mm French infantry division and 1 corps of German troops when I gamed this period in 15mm using They Died for Glory.  I'm looking at starting a French Colonial infantry brigade using 28mm French Foreign Legion troops.  I also have a regiment of French Cuirassier and Prussian cuirassier to paint up, too.  I also have buildings to buy and more French and German troops to purchase in the coming months. 

I had a choice between the FPW and WWI.  I would have preferred Western Front 1914.  The Franco-Prussian War is close enough to August 1914.  And these troops are in 28mm.  The larger size means less figures can fit on a table.  The most I'd get on a wargaming table is a division of infantry and some cavalry.  I'm not looking to do anything larger.  The problem with the FPW is that the majority of the fighting last only a month.  And it ended in a lopsided victory for the Germans.  That was due to horrible French leadership and outdated logistics.  The French troops were excellent.  They were just horribly led by fossilized deadwood.  I'm planning on doing the early Imperial phase of the War (when the the Frcnch still had a chance of winning).  I just want to do generic 28mm FPW engagement for a small town or village.  At first, I thought I about getting this project ready for X-mas.  Now, I realize it won't be ready until next summer.  There are too many figures to paint.  And that is just a fact of life...

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Finishing up 15mm SYW Austrians

I dedicated last night to finishing my 15mm SYW Austrians.  I painted up a whole bunch of guns and artillery crew.  All that is need is to spray and seal the figures this morning.  I have mixed feelings about this project.  Thankfully, it's done.  And I'll be able to game with my new 15mm SYW Austrian army.  But the effort to achieve this results has frayed my nerves.  I didn't like painting 15mm figures that were already based.  That is how I painted my 15mm armies in the past.  By basing and then priming them.  I did that 15mm Napoleonic Bavarians, 15mm Samurai, and 15mm Franco-Prussian armies.  I have found myself on the losing end of the 15mm scale.  What I gained in economies of scale was lost on all effort to paint 15mm SYW armies.  The amount of detail is rather demanding.  I don't know if I'm just getting more set my ways on painting and make sure everything is as realistic as possible. 

There's a fine line between historical accuracy and obsession.  Most people really don't care what the figures actually had for a particular uniform.  Many of my references have come such places as the SYW Project, the Leuthen Journal, and Osprey MAA series.  I have only myself to blame for collecting and painting SYW armies in 15mm.  I could have done them in 28mm.  I think it would have been much more enjoyable.  I enjoy painting that scale and most of my figures are 28mm. 

I debated whether to take and break and lay off painting for a while.  I thought I'd finish up some Thousand Son Terminators.  I also primed some Thousand Son Chaos Space Marines and Chaos Space Marine Assault troops. With 40K, there are officially approved color schemes.  But there is also leeway in what you might want to paint.  Thousand Son are normally blue and gold.  But you could use any shade of blue with any metallic color.  So long as a nominal paint scheme is abided by, you can pretty do anything you like.  That is one of the advantages of GW's games.  I don't love the 40K fluff.  I just like the models, paint schemes, and the game.  I do know the "fluff" but I don't see advantage in being mesmorized by it. 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

More Photos of the Battle of Minden

                                          Battle of Minden, Allies in Disarray.

                                          The French advance on the Allies, Battle of Minden.

                                          Opening engagment, Battle of Minden.

These photos are of a 15mm SYW Battle of Minden game I ran at the SYW Convention in South Bend, IN in March 2011 using Koenigs Krieg 2nd edition.  I wanted to make the 2012 SYW Convention this year, but finances didn't permit me to go.  Anyway, I didn't have my 15mm SYW Austrians ready for a new hypethical scenario I wanted to run this year between an Austrian army of observation and an Allied force of British, Hanoverians, and Hessians.  That had to wait for Die Con 12 this June 22, 2012.

15mm SYW - Battle of Minden

Here are some photos of a 15mm SYW Battle of Minden game I ran back in April 2012 at Game Nite for the Big Muddy HGA Games Day. 


                                          15mm SYW French Infantry Brigade

                                          15mm SYW Hanoverian Horse Brigade

                                          15mm French and British Dragoon meleeing

I'm currently working on finishing a 15mm SYW Austrian army for a local convention.  I'm burnt out painting 15mm figures.  It feels like too much work.  Painting is supposed to be a stress reliever.  These 15mm SYW Austrians have been otherwise. 

To show you the bizarre luck I have, I finished spraying an entire division of 15mm SYW Austrian infantry.  I let the figures dry overnight on the deck at the house where I live in Oakville, MO.  I came back the next evening and a command stand of 15mm Austrian infantry was missing.  The outline of where I sprayed it was still staining the cardboard box that held the figures.  But the bloody infantry command stand was gone!  I guess a bird or some critter decided to add some shiny toy soldiers to their nest. 

That is par for the course as far as my luck goes.  I'd been meaning to add more to the blog, but my push to get the last of my 18mm Eureka SYW Austrian artillery done got to me over the last several days.  I finished a bunch of artillery stands tonight.  And I'm halfway through all the light and heavy 15mm SYW Austrian field pieces.  I had a hard time finding the right color of Wolfsbraun for the SYW Austrian artillery uniforms.  But I settled on Vajello Yellow Orcher for the gun carriage colors.  I'm also using GW Chaos Black and Dwarf Bronze for the rest of the colors.  I'll see how things turn out later this week when I finally seal everything. 

But next problem presenting me is the fact I won't be able to playtest my latest 15mm SYW army and scenario in time for a local gaming convention called Die Con 12.  I'll just have to show up at the event and wing it...

Friday, June 8, 2012

28mm Ancients

I have a list of future projects I'd like to focus on.  One of them is 25mm Trojan War.  I'd use the WAB Chariot Wars booklet along with Warhammer Ancient Battles to craft 1500 point armies for both Trojan and Greek armies.  Don Cox has agreed to paint up Trojans armies and scratch build Greek ships.  The most economical army deal would be Old Glory Miniatures.  I went in on an Old Glory Army membership.  You get a 40% discount on any figure you order with the Old Glory Army membership. 

I used to have 30mm Trojans and Greeks from Redoubt Enterprises.  I also had a Trojan city wall, gate, and buildings.  I sold all that off when I moved to Hays, KS.  I should have kept my stuff.  But I had no one to game with.  And I decided to get rid of my ancients and colonial figures.  Those are two decisions I regret.  I also had a 25mm New Kingdom Egyptian army from Wargames Foundry, too. 

That got sold, too.  But that was about ten years ago.  I have a bad habit of selling off things and then getting back into them.  I've done that with WH40K, 28mm samurai, 28mm British Colonials, and 28mm ancients.  I do have some the Foundry Classical Greek heros to go with Trojan War armies. 

But that is about six months worth of painting.  I'd do both sides of the conflict, again.  That way I can run another demo game at a local convention or gaming store.  That is the logic that has gone into my samurai, 15mm SYW, and Warhammer Fantasy Battles armies.  It takes longer to put together forces and it is twice as expensive as just buying one army.  Then again, I can run a game by myself and not have to worry about getting hold of other people to bring their armies. 

I'd also like to put together Macedonian and Greek Successor armies for Hail Caesar!  It is a period of history that interests me.  But then again it might wind up being one of those things I might game three times a year.  I don't know what is to be gained by that.  I've already started on the 25mm Trojan War project.  The Macedonians and Seleucid Greeks are still in the planning stages.  I could go with Warlord Games and use their figures for those armies.  Steve Hood wants to play Hail Caesar! later on.  If I kept the Old Glory Army membership active, I could use their figures for Macedonians and Seleucid Greeks, too.  Warlord Games will have more releases for the Macedonian and eventual Greek Successor ranges.  They just have Romans and Classical Greek armies right now. 

Ancients is one of those period gamers are either interested in or not.  I do like 28mm ancients.  It's finding the time and resource to dedicate to paint said armies that matter.       

Why I'd Rather Game Elsewhere Beside St. Louis

I wrote earlier that I felt historical wargaming was a dying hobby in its "golden age".  I should have confined those comments to St. Louis gamers.  No prophet is honored in their hometown.  There are about 100 historical gamers in the St. Louis metro area.  The medium age of them is 55.  The people I play WH40K with is about my age or younger (medium age of 40).  I've lived in other places and seen gaming clubs include historical and other miniature venues on a weekly basis (this is true of the Iowa State Gamers Guild in Ames, IA).

There are younger gamers in St. Louis who play Flames of War on a regular basis.  But many of them also play 40K or Warmachine.  Most of the FoW players haven't crossed over into other historical wargaming besides FoW.  There is crossover for games like Firestorm Armada and Uncharted Seas. 

Part of the problem is any gaming is done on an ad hoc basis.  I vary what I game on a weekly basis with my friends.  I also do organized gaming on a monthly basis at another shop in the metro-east.  Outside of a couple of conventions, my local gaming club doesn't do much to help support different games.  It's not for a lack of trying.  People have tried to do organized gaming on a yearly basis.  But St. Louis gamers by and large have resisted that.  I don't expect Big Muddy Historical Gaming Alliance to do much other than sponsor some gaming conventions.  My attempts to get people to my games have also failed.  And I have sent out a yearly schedule of games for 2012!

The only gaming I do is my own projects with my friends, mainly.  Other people are more than welcome to play.  But I don't see the point in getting upset over the lack of historical gamers for my gaming scenarios when I do run something.  I use Yahoo User Groups, emails, Facebook, and Game St. Louis to get the message out about my games.  In the past, I've gotten few people to show up for my events.  I've lamented this fact with friends.

Other parts of the United States aren't like St. Louis.  People will actively seek out new gamers and run mixed venues.  I feel new rule systems like Hail Caesar! and Black Powder have the potential ot bring new gamers to historical wargaming.  I think plastic miniatures are the wave of the future.  They combined with enjoyable rule systems will make the early 21st century a gaming mecca for historical wargaming. 

My experience with a big box system like GW is mixed.  I could be called a GW crack baby.  That addiction is coming to a swift end.  I've been gaming 40K since the Rogue Trader days.  The company has gone back to its old motto of treating its customer like crap.  There has been little to mark the 25th anniversary of 40K.  This latest price increase is surreal.  I can't afford to buy any of their product for full retail anymore.  $75.00 for a Space Marine Land Raider?  $82.00 for a Stormraven Gunship that cost $66.00 last year?  This combined with getting rid of Warhammer Historicals has hurt.  I made a purchase of a Thousand Son from a guy who was getting out 40K for $200.00.  I got about $400.00 worth of figures and vehicles.  I need to spend another $200.00 on new product to get the army completed.  I would have liked to have gotten a Nurgle Plague Marine army, instead.  I can't afford 4 boxes of Finecast Plague Marines for $45.00 each. 

GW has stopped advertising what their new releases are supposed to be.  I don't even think the store reps know what will be released until the week of the release.  What brainiac thought that marketing strategy up?  I wonder if this company is being run by zombie executives and model makers who believe their game is a prestiege product.  And the sky is the limit as far as prices go.          

But back to the local gaming scene.  I don't expect much to change.  Gamers will stay provincial and keep to their basements.  I'm just wasting my time and breath with all the postings and emails I write.  It was so much easier gaming in Ames, IA when I could email my friends and come up for a monthly 28mm SYW game using Age of Reason.  Or show up for a 1/2400 WWII naval game using General Quarters...

Imjin War Game from April 2012

Here are photos from a 28mm Imjin War Game using my Sengoku house rules between samurai and the Royal Korean Army:

                                          Red Devils preparing to engage on the left flank.

                                          Don Cox as Korean commander.

                                          Japanese right flank, Imjin War battle.

                                          Samurai and Koreans closing.

                                          Samurai Katana facing Korean swords.

                                          Red Devils Samurai with katanas.

                                          Japanese Warrior Monks facing Korean musket                                  

                                          Japanese Sohei - Buddhist Warrior Monks.

I ran a 28mm Japanese samurai game against Don Cox's Koreans.  And I got hammered by musket fire.  In fact, Korean firepower and missile weapons made the difference in this game.  My troops got whittled down so much, they had no sustaining power when they got into melee with the Koreans.  So I chalked it up to another Korean victory as I continue tinkering with these house rules.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

A Dying Hobby in Its Golden Age

Wargamers aren't getting any younger.  Especially historical wargamers.  We are fractured as ever here in St. Louis, MO.  My goal has been just to game and get more people involved in gaming.  I chose to game at shops in the hopes of getting more people out of their basements.  It's worked to a degree.  I'll go to Wargamers' Cave about once a month to put on games.  I game once a week at Game Nite doing some sort of historical game or scenario.  In desperation, I got back into WH40K as a means of gaming regularly.  There are younger wargamers with WH40K and Warmachine.  But not so much with historical wargaming.  I prefer historical wargaming to sci-fi.  But I'll game whatever people are playing.  If I didn't want to deal with people, I'd game on a computer.  But I prefer the interactions of people in a social setting.  It's awful to deal with gamers who have little people skills playing to win at all costs.  That's a no win situation.

But even as historical wargaming is dying in America, we are in the midst of a golden age globally. 

Never before has there been the availablity of figures ranges to do various conflicts throughout history.  And never has their been a plethoria of rule systems for gaming said conflicts.  If you are creative, you can find free rule systems online or in a PDF format.  There are various commercial systems available, too.  One of things I've found as I've gotten older is my desire for simple, playable gaming systems.  I don't have time for really complicated all day wargames.  Most of my rule systerms are primarily convention style systems.  If I had a place in my house for a wargaming table, I wouldn't mind doing more complicated systems that might require the space of a day to play. 

Unfortunately, I don't have that luxury.  So most available rule systems are rather simplified for playability.  Four hours is about the time limit I have for most games.  Again, that is unfortunate. 

There are some really good systems that might take six to eight hours to play to a decisive resolution. 

But to each their own.  I've gotten to the point where I've bastardized and modified existing rule systems for my own games.  I've done this with The Sword and The Flame variants for Samurai and Mongol warfare.  It's not that hard to do.  If you've gamed enough systems.  Then again, The Sword and The Flame is one of the simplest gaming systems ever designed.  WH40K is the exact opposite.  I have been playing 40K for nearly 23 years.  I am familiar with the system.  And I know it inside and out.  The advantage of 40K is I can get a game wherever I go in the world.  I can't do that with most historical gaming. 

There are historical gaming systems that report to do that.  Flames of War is one.  But not many. 

However, FOW is based on WH40K.  You could call FOW fantasy WWII.  So the main complaint of historical gamers is finding rules systems you can agree on to play.  I don't have that issue with the GW gaming systems.  Since Warhammer Historicals have been put out of business, Warlord Games seems to be promoting their Black Powder, Pike and Shotte, and Hail Caesar! rules as a means of replacing the old WAB based systems.  At least that is what I've read online happening in places like the UK and parts of America. 

I want game 25mm Trojan War.  I have the older Warhammer Ancient Battles rules and army booklet.  I've wondered about Hail Caesar!  Part of the problem I have is that I have to provide both sides for a said conflict if I want to game it.  Friends have suggested I get game twice year putting on games for other people when I do this.  Most recently, I had this happen with 28mm English Civil War.  I also have 28mm Samurai armies and 28mm Franco-Prussian armies where I'll be providing both sides.  I don't have this problem when I play WH40K.  I only have to provide one army and I'm in business.  In the end, you should game what you enjoy.  I have friends I can game with.  If I waited for other people to hold up their end when I agreed to undertake a project with them, I'd still be waiting...       

28mm ECW Game, 06JUN12

Here are some photos of the play testing we did at Game Nite on 06JUN12 for the Battle of Edgehill using Warhammer ECW rules.  It had been about nine years since I'd played these rules, so I was rather rusty on the mechanics. 

                                         Battle of Edgehill, October 1642

                                          Duke of York's Foote take on the Earl of Essex's Foot

                                         Parliamentarian Battle Lines, Battle of Edgehill

                                          London Trained Band - White Regiment.

                                          Parliamentarian Battle Line, Edgehill.

                                          Royalists take on the Parliamentarian advance, Battle of Edgehill.

Both sides ran out of gun powder after four turns of shooting.  And the game ended after five turns of play.  I'll be running this scenario again at Die Con 12 on Saturday afternoon, June 23rd at the Gateway Convention Center in Collinsville, IL.

Why I Broke Down to Blog

I game at least once a week here in St. Louis, MO.  My interests are in miniature wargaming.  They range from the Victorian era to modern Afghanistan.  I also have a large collection of Japanese Samurai and Choson Korean figures, too. 

My latest project has been 15mm Seven Years War Austrians.  I hate painting 15mm figures.  I don't like it.  I got talked into doing 15mm SYW armies back in 2009 with some gamers who played Koenigs Krieg.  I built up 15mm Saxon, French, Hesse, Hanoverian, and British forces for the Battle of Minden.  My friends stopped gaming with me.  And I was left holding the bag.  Now I run my own scenarios and games with the figures I currently own.  It got to the point where I ran a Battle of Minden game at the Seven Years War Convention in South Bend, IN back in late March 2011. 

The problem I have with 15mm figures is that I base all the figures I'm going to work on and then prime them.  Afterward, I paint all the base coats and then go back to do the detail work to correct the mistakes I made putting on the base coats.  Right now, I am waiting on some paint to dry on my 15mm SYW Austrian gunners.  I've always painted my 15mm figures this way.  I've bemoaned the fact I've sold off most of the 15mm armies I've owned when I still had good vision.  Now that I'm 41, my vision has gotten to the point I need bifocals.  I've done my eyes a disservice in not investing in a magnifier or a good jeweler's lens.  I can still see to paint.  It's just the 15mm figures are more demanding to paint than the 28mm figures I enjoy doing.  Part of miniature gaming is painting.  If you want to wargame, then you either need to paint, pay someone else to paint your miniatures, or buy already painted figures.  Given my means, I can't afford to pay someone else to paint my minis, so I labor away painting 15mm SYW Austrians. 

There are some solutions to my plight.  If I'd based the figures on golf tees and painted them individually, that would have solved some of the problems trying to correct all the mistakes associated with working around the figures aready based on a stand.  I did purchase some more 15mm Flames of War Vietnam figures several months ago.  It is another project down the round for 2013.  Friends of mine want to play Too Fat Lardies' Charlie Don't Surf.  I like the FOW Vietnam figures.  Charlie Don't Surf is designed for company level games.  I could afford to do that.  I purchased a company of US Airmobile infantry, 2 Huey Hogs, and 4 Slicks to face a comany of NVA infantry.  But the modern uniforms are much easier to paint than 15mm 18th Century "Lace War."  These 15mm FOW Vietnam figures will be individually mounted on golf tees to make my life easier.

But 15mm FOW Vietnam doesn't even cover some of my other projects.  Currently, I have too many. 

I also play Warhammer 40K on a weekly basis.  I have four different armies for that game.  Blood Angels, Dark Angels, Traitor Guard, and Chaos Space Marines.  If I break the Chaos Space Marines down, I have Khorne World Eaters and Thousand Sons.  I just purchased a Thousand Sons army last weekend.  Half of that is painted.  Most of my Blood Angels and Dark Angels are painted.  I now have about 1,450 points of DA Ravenwing bikes and two BA Stormraven gunships to assemble and paint.  I also have several Chaos Space Marine Land Raiders and Rhinos to assemble, prime, and paint also.  And this doesn't include my 28mm Franco-Prussian War project (something that has been five years in the making).  I could go on and on.  But at some point, I must stop.

In summary, I have the following projects in various stages of completion:

1)  28mm British Colonials:  1882 British; 1890's British; 1882 Egyptians; Boer infantry; 1879 Zulus.  All painted.  Rules used:  The Sword and The Flame

2)  28mm Darkest Africa:  Belgian Force Publique; Congo Arabs; Native Congolese; German East African Schultze truppe and askaris.  All painted.  Rules used:  The Sword and The Flame.

3)  28mm Modern Afghanistan:  US Marines; Taliban insurgents.  All Painted.  Rules Used:  Ambush Alley Contracting Trouble.

4)  28mm Samurai/Imjin War:  Red Devils Clan (samurai); Western Army (samurai); Choson Korean Royal Army.  All painted.  Rules used:  Sengoku - House Rules by Blake Walker.

5)  25mm Mongols:  Mongol light cavalry, Mongol heavy cavalry, and Mongol dismounted bow.  All painted.  Rules used:  Storm in the East - House Rules by Blake Walker.

6)  28mm English Civil War:  Royalist Army; Parliamentarian army.  All painted.  Rules used:  Warhammer ECW.

7)  15mm SYW:  French; Saxon; British; Hessian; Hanoverian (All painted).  Austrian (in the process of being painted).  Rules used:  Koenigs Krieg - 2nd edition.

8)  Warhammer Fantasy Battles:  Warriors of Chaos; High Elves.  All painted.  Rules used:  WHFB 8th edition.

9)  Warhammer 40K:  Blood Angels (mostly painted); Dark Angel Deathwing (painted); Khorne World Eaters (mostly painted); Thousand Sons (in the process of being painted); Traitor Guard (painted).  Rules used:  WH40K 5th edition.

10)  28mm Korean/Japanese Naval:  Korean Turtle Ship (NIB).  Rules used:  Straights of Noryang - House Rules by Blake Walker.

11)  28mm Franco-Prussian War:  1870 French; 1870 Bavarians; 1870 Prussians.  Figures are based.  Rules used:  Chassepot & Needlgun.

12)  15mm Vietnam:  US Airmobile infantry; NVA infantry.  Both NIB.  Rules used:  Charlie Don't Surf.

As you can see, my gaming interests are too spread apart for my own good.  But I have other hobbies besides wargaming.  Classical music is one.  I used to be a French horn player.  That is something I want to get back to.  I'm also a writer.  Mondays evenings are usually filled with a local writing group I've belonged to for 15 years.  My most successful work has been poetry.  At least that is what has been published.  I now have a third draft of a hard science fiction novel done along with a novella.  I've also been rewriting a second novel that is mainly military science fiction.  But wargaming will be the primary focus of this blog...