Sunday, November 9, 2014

Grand Duchy of Waldo first unit

I have become a fan of 40mm figures.  I bought Prince August Molds, and am making armies for Charge! I also was interested in the period around the end of the 1800s and beginning of the 1900s.  I bought a bunch of figures from Spencer Smith's Shiny Toy Soldier line.
They require some assembly.  You have to attach their right arm and the head.  The variety of uniforms gives you a lot of choices.
I bought figures for two sides.

This is the first unit.  Its painted in Toy Soldier style, with a shiny finish.  

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Old School Wargaming

I got back into gaming a couple of years ago.  I had much different aims than when I used to game.  When I was younger, I thought that I was simulating warfare.  I am closing in on retirement, and realized that the reason I game now is mostly social.

I have been working on armies I want for retirement.  I have been painting 40mm homecast figures for Not Quite the Seven Years War.  I have made good progress and should have an army on each side by spring.

I also have gotten interested in the early 20th century, something that utterly bored me in my 30s and 40s.  I also wanted larger figures.

So, last spring I bought a bunch of figures from Spencer Smith figures, their Shiny Toy Soldier line.  As with most projects this one has been on the back burner since I bought the figures.  Last night I assembled a unit of infantry.

I say assembled, because  you order a basic body type, a separate head and right arm.  I got the arms  all in the marching pose.  The figures are sort of Prussian.  The other army will be sort of Austrian.  This is Imaginations in the 20th century.

It was necessary to pin the head and arm to get them to stay.  I bought samples, and I had problems getting them to stay assembled without pinning them.  I must admit, I kind of enjoyed it.  I used to just paint figures as quickly as I could.  Now the process is more enjoyable.

So, next spring I will move from Kansas City to Longmont, Colorado.  I will miss all my friends here, but I know a lot of gamers in Colorado.

I am enjoying this hobby more than I have in years, and look forward to many more years in retirement.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

When Empires Clash! - First Look

Bob Cordery, of the Wargaming Miscellany blog, has published a set of rules via Hulu.  They are for fighting colonial battles and campaigns during the Victorian and Edwardian era, using a gridded table.

I got them a few days ago.  I have read them several times, and the first thing I need to say is that if he doesn't want to publish rules, Bob ought to give seminars in how to clearly write rules.  He provides diagrams and explanations that are very clear and to the point.  In addition, with both a table of contents and an index, the rules are very easy to digest.

The are differences in the capability of the different types of troops.  Combat has modifiers, but they are easy to remember.  They have to do with troop value, supporting troops, presence of command, and a die roll that is 2D6 for regulars and 1D12 for native troops.  This gives the regulars more consistency, but the natives can get the occasional high roll that can be devastating.

A stand is 40mm wide, and for infantry 20mm deep.  With 3 figures on this stand, it represents a company of infantry.  The cavalry stand represents a squadron, and the artillery a battery.  The board is intended to be gridded in 50mm squares, at least 12 x 12 squares.

This allows you to play reasonably sized engagements with fairly small numbers of figures.

The movement and combat rules are very clear.  Bob includes 29 army lists in the back of the book.    From my read, looking up rules won't be necessary after a few turns.  The game looks like it will play quickly and intuitively.  The price here in the US is $8.31 plus postage.  A very good value for the money.

I have been in something of a painting slump at the moment, and have been looking for a project that won't take forever to accomplish.  With armies consisting of 13 to 18 stands each, this looks like what I need.

And for my wife, who is the diehard sports fan in the house, Go Royals!  First game of the World Series, and they haven't been here since 1985.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

New Paint Rack

I have been looking for some way to organize my paints for a long time.  I know there are purpose built paint racks from some of the gaming companies, but I thought they were a bit expensive and I didn't like the look of the laser cut mdf racks.

I saw a mention of fingernail polish racks somewhere, and looked them up.  Through the magic of Amazon Prime, which my wife has, I got this.

It comes in three pieces, with 6 bolts that you use to attach the sides.

This is right after I put it together.  Now for the painting table:

I mostly use the craft store paints.  My paint jobs are meant to be looked on the tabletop, not close up.  Each row holds 12 of the bottles, and there are 6 rows.  I have smaller bottles on the bottom row that fit more loosely.  This was all for $22.30.

I am very pleased with it.  It has solved a long standing problem on my table.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Steamer Wars

There are no pictures.  We didn't have miniatures for this, so Jaye made counters and we used those.  Not much to take pictures of.

The rules are by David Manley.  They are available on the Wargame Vault website as a download.

They are $8.40.

The booklet is 38 pages long.  The rules are covered in about 10 pages.  There is a complete campaign game for the Lake Tanganyika campaign in WWI.  They are advertised as being for the period 1910 to 1920, but there are paddlewheel steamers, gunboats, and steamboats.  I intend to use these for battles between paddlewheel steamers in colonial games.

The game also comes with a page of 5 turn gauges that you print and cut out.  I printed it on light cardstock, which seemed to work well.  There is no QRS, but the shooting rules are on two pages and are all you really need to refer to.

We tried this with our Thursday night crew at Jaye's house.  As usual, we went too big.  Each person had a large, medium and small gunboat.  Six players, 18 ships.  I doubt he intended for fleet battles, but it worked well.  I was "running" the game.  I needn't have bothered.  Everyone had figured out how it worked in about 2 turns, and it played easily.

You start out by rolling initiative, which can be modified if you have a personality in charge of your side, depending on their ability.  If you win, you get to either move first or have your opponent move first.  Larger boats move before small ones.  This brought up a question.  Large boats move on one side then the other, then repeat with smaller boats?  Or does the side moving move their large boats, then their small boats, and the other side does all theirs in the same order?

There are three range bands.  They are close, effective and long.  We were using all light and medium guns.  You are rolling to beat a number.  There are 11 possible modifiers, having to do with target size, crew quality, speed, etc.  

If you hit, you roll to see if you damage.  You can get no effect, suppression, light and heavy damage.  Suppression affects your gunnery next turn and also a morale roll at the end of the current turn.  For light damage you roll once again on the Damage Table.  You can take hull hits, gun crew hits, gun hits, and then if you manage to roll a 10 it is a critical hit with various bad things happening.  

We found that for the most part, the boats didn't sink.  We were using light and medium guns, and the medium guns are listed as being 57mm.  So, you aren't making huge holes in the hull.   Instead you damaging the guns, engines, wheelhouse, etc.   A lot of the ships lost their guns, which made the owner generally lose their morale and they turned around and left.  Remember, we had a lot of guns firing because we were using 18 ships.  

If you are suppressed or damaged in a turn you take a morale roll.  You are looking for a 3 or better on a 10 sided die, but there are some modifiers depending on damage you have taken, etc.  If you have a 1 or 2, you retire but can roll again on the next turn.  If you get to 0 or below, you flee and can't roll again.

There is a 10 page article in the rules about the Lake Tanganyika campaign.  

So, how was it?  It fit us pretty well.  Its fun, easy to play, and goes quickly.  There is some chrome, but not so much that the game bogs down. With 6 players and 18 ships we finished in about 2 hours.  

Thumbs up from me.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014


I wanted to try a small scatter terrain project, making pallets. I have some barrels and am going to be casting boxes soon from Hirst Arts molds with Rob.   I am planning on putting some of them on pallets.
One of the things I have that make these projects easier is The Chopper from Northwest Short Line.

This makes cutting wood evenly and quickly much less of a chore.

I considered making a little jig to make these, but finally settled for two parallel lines 1 3/8s inch apart.  That was the size of my pallets.  I had some small basswood lying around, and I just used what I had.  First I set two wider pieces so they were touching the outsides of the parallel lines.

Then I glued three more pieces of wood across that, using small dots of viscous superglue.
 I seem to have missed the final picture.  I glued 5 smaller pieces of wood across the 3, making the pallet.  This is the finished product beside a 25mm figure.  The pallet is a bit too big, but doesn't look too bad.

I did about 10 of them in 20 minutes, and then ran out of wood.  Here is what I have done so far.  I plan to get more wood.  They make up fast, I can do it between other projects.

When I get them finished with the loads on them, I will post more pictures.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Too Much Painting, Not Enough Blogging

I have been working on a new project for the last month.  I have been getting things finished, but neglecting to blog about it.

The Thursday night gaming group at Jaye's has played Mayhem a couple of times.  We like it.  We use 28mm figures, and each unit is one stand 60mm by 60mm.

They are by Brent Spivey, and can be purchased in download form for $9.99 at:

It is a mass battle game, but you can customize your units in many different ways.  So I have been working on both orcs and humans.  I finished some orcs and allies first.

I have been doing this as cheaply as possible.  I have some orc figures I bought a long time ago, and I painted those up.  I also found some Kings of War orcs on sale at my local hobby store.  The troll I had for a long time.  I didn't have another one, so I did a little diorama with him coming out of some rocks.  Not sure how it turned out, but it works for me.  Large critters like ogres and trolls are called behemoths, and have special rules.

I have several more stands of orcs and about 8 stands of humans in various stages of being finished.  The painting is pretty average.  My painting skills have declined as I get older, and my ability to paint for long periods of time is over.  What I do to compensate is that I try to paint something every day, even if its just one color.  This works well for me.

This project has an endpoint, which is unusual for me.  I plan to do about 12 units per side.  Jaye has a lot of figures painted, and that will make a good sized force for the Thursday night gaming.

A week from Saturday Rob and I have a casting session planned for the NQSYW figures.  I got some lower melting point metal from Rotometals that I hope will make casting the cavalry easier.

I also plan on starting on my 40mm Shiny Toy Soldiers soon that I bought around the end of the year.  My intent is to do them for a set of rules called Edwardian Splendour which can be downloaded here:

As I finish more Mayhem units, I will try to blog more.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Hearts of Tin

It has been too long since my last post.  I have not been gaming too much.  This changed Saturday, when Rob Baldwin and Rob Keefe came over.  This was the subject of some interest to my wife, because my regular gaming group has two guys named Jaye and two guys named Scott.  She was wondering if there were only certain names allowed for wargamers.

Rob Baldwin and I have been working on 1/72nd ACW plastic figures.  We got them cheap at a Hobby Lobby, but they appear to be closing them out.  I bought the last two packs at the local store last week.  In fact, because we used Litko bases, the bases were more expensive than the figures.

We were using Hearts of Tin, by Ross McFarlane.  His blog is Battle Game of the Month, a blog I always read when a new post arrives.

Actually, Ross had changed the rules a couple of times since we first started on this, as we not the speediest painters around.  This resulted in changing the unit size from 5 stands to 4 on the day of the battle,

It was a meeting engagement, mostly because I didn't know enough about the rules to balance any other kind of scenario.  Control of the crossroads was the point of the battle.  The roads are just yellow felt.  I ran out of time for making the terrain, just barely finishing the fences.

We each had 2 brigades, one of three units and one of four.  They each had an artillery battery attached.  In Ross's rules you roll a die for the commander (in our case each brigade had a command figure) and that is the number of orders you get that turn.  It generally was not enough.  Each infantry unit got 3 actions it could perform. These included moving 4 inches, firing, etc.

I put the larger brigade on the right flank, which turned out to be a mistake.  There was insufficient space for them to manuever, and they were fairly ineffective till too late in the battle.

You fire by regiment.  Each one, at least for long range fire, gets one die no matter how many stands they have.  So even units that are worn down get the same fire as a fresh unit.  A 4-6 causes a hit.  The target unit rolls a die and saves on a 4-6.  An artillery unit fires the same as a regiment, although with longer range.  We did not get close enough to do close range firing/attack, where the unit throws as many dice as it has stands.  That is where the numbers will start to tell.

In the end, my left flank crumbled.  If you cause enough stand casualties that one side is to half their number of stands, then that side loses.  Rob got me to half and won the game.  All in all, a fun time.  We discussed how you could modify the long range fire so that smaller units would be less effective.  A -1 modifier per stand loss would do it, and a single stand unit could not effectively fire at long range.  There also seemed to be no special rules for counter battery fire.  Both of my batteries were destroyed by hits they couldn't save.  We weren't sure that it should be the same as for infantry fire, so we just played it like it was.

We then played another game, this time using a set of rules Rob Keefe has  been working on.  By this time I forgot to take pictures.  Rob Keefe's rules used a similar method of activating units, but there was also an overall commander who could give points to his subordinates.  It also cost a pip to move a leader.

The combat was bloodier.  You threw a die per stand, and killed on a 5 or 6, no saving throws.  The battle was very bloody, and I eked out a win at the last.

It was a good time.  Rob and Rob, who had not met prior to this game, discovered that they lived about 2 blocks apart in Lawrence, about 45 minutes from my house.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Got Sails of Glory Kickstarter

I got in on the Kickstarter for Sails of Glory.  I got it late, 2 days after it was released on the street.  They had some major problems getting all the product out to the people who invested.  I think I will not be doing Kickstarters any more.  I will just wait for the product.

As to the game itself, I have not had the time to play it.  I got it the day before we went to Puerto Rico.  While there I got sick, and have not been up to much at all since I got back.  A trip to the ER yesterday because of shortness of breath indicated that I had what is probably a virus in my lungs.  So I am on prednisone and inhalers.  Its helping.

Anyway, the components look very good.  I have read through the rules, it seems pretty straightforward.  For the Kickstarter I got the 4 ships that came with the game, and 4 more.  I have since bought 4 more so our group can play it.  We will do that Thursday, weather permitting.

The game uses a LOT of counters.  I spent one whole evening bagging up the components.  A suggestion has been made several places to simply scan the ship mats and either use a fresh one each time or laminate them on some cardboard and use grease pens.  I will probably do it.  It should be much easier than keeping track of tons of counters.

I also have not painted much.  The basement has been cold, and I have not been feeling well.  Not a good combination.

I am sure that in a couple of months I will be complaining about the heat here.  :)  Life in Missouri.