Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Squirrel Army - Splintered Light Miniatures

My Splintered Light Miniatures Squirrel Army
I got a visit from a squirrel outside my office window, today. He had a complaint. He was wondering why I had not post pictures of my Splintered Light Miniatures Squirrel Army, yet, but HAD post them of my Raccoons. His flicking of his tail conveyed his agitation as he pointed out that the Squirrel army had been painted before the Raccoon one. So, to avoid being swarmed by angry squirrels next time I go outside, here it is.

Squirrel Archers

Here are pictures of my stands of Squirrel archers. Note that all units are based up for my own fantasy miniatures battles rules  (still in the writing stage -- hopefully playtesting soon). All units are on hexagonal bases.

Squirrel Spear & Sword 

Squirrel Highlanders

I have to admit that these are my favorite figures in the army! I mean really...squirrel highlanders? What a cool concept. The sculpting has so much personality. If they gave you enough variety of the highland squirrels in the bags, I'd have done the entire army this way!

Squirrel Ally

It seems only appropriate that Squirrels would ally with Ents. I mean they do spend most of their lives in trees, right? So, the two would have common ground when it came to fighting enemies. Here are two Black Raven Foundry Ents, with a Squirrel "tree herder" marshaling them.

Squirrel Heroes

Each army under my rules will have a number of generals, heroes, wizards, etc. These are based individually, and on smaller bases. Here are this Squirrel heroes!

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Board Games at My Place

 With two of our regulars out, and a few others not replying to the email, it looked to be a small crowd for our regular Sunday evening gaming session. There are a lot of 4-player board games, but it is a rare thing when we have only four. So, I asked Allen to bring along Amazonas, which we had not played in a number of years.

Players take on the role of researchers in the Amazon, collecting specimens of five different types of flora and fauna. The board depicts a number of villages connected by jungle pathways and waterways. Each player has a secret objective to visit four of the villages and build a research hut there. Failure to do this results in negative victory points. Otherwise, players start receiving victory points when they collect three of any one of the five specimen types. Players receive additional victory bonuses for being the first to collect one of each of the five types, the first player getting 5 points, second 4 points, and so on.
The board, showing the jungle and water pathways between villages
I ended up winning the first game, barely building into my final, far-flung village on the last turn. I had at least 3 specimens in 4 categories -- foregoing the bonus for collecting all 5. It went quick enough, we set it up and played again. This time Joel won. It is a good game -- what other players do affects you, and the random order of special event cards also has a big effect.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Splintered Light Miniatures Raccoon Army

Some bases and a leader from my Splintered Light Miniatures Raccoon army that appeared in the Lead Painters League way back in 2013
With my Wars of Insurgency and Beaver Wars published, my time has finally been freed up some to work on my next rules project: a fantasy miniatures rules set for use with the woodland animals of Splintered Light Miniatures. I am finishing up my third army specifically based for this system. Once my fourth one is complete, I will begin playtesting. Or perhaps I will put other figures I have on sabot bases and start earlier.
Closeup of a stand of Raccoon Axe troops
The hexagonal basing system is a key component of the rules. Each unit is on a roughly 45mm (1.75") base. This will be a key feature of the movement rules designed to eliminate arguing over the milimetrics and angle-measuring of some rules sets. It will also fit in with the First Command Wargames philosophy of easy-to-teach and simple rules. I will save for later posts detailed discussion of the rules mechanics.
Another stand with axes -- I love the fish standard!
Instead, I wanted to feature pics of one of my painted armies. This one is my Raccoon army. A couple of the photos were entries into the Lead Painters League back in 2013. Others are front and back detail shots of stands. Most armies will be composed of around 10 bases of units with three individually-based leaders.
Another group photo from the 2013 Lead Painters League -- not the individually based hero
Also painted up are my Squirrel army, and the almost-completed one is my Mice army. Sitting on the painting desk, waiting patiently for its chance to strike, is my Fox army.
These are pre-painted plastic figures that are repainted and based up for the army
Spear-armed Raccoon troops

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

pardon the advertising

So, I'm having trouble getting this banner signature uploaded to Photobucket. I'm uploading it here so that I can link it on my Lead Adventure Forum posts. Photobucket has gone insane and is trying to charge hundreds of dollars to host pictures which you link to on forum posts. I predict they will go out of business soon -- unless they change their mind.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Wars of Insurgency (and other games) at Advance the Colors

One of my favorite shots of my "That's My USAid! - Congo Chaos" game from Advance the Colors
If there is any convention that I consider "home," it is Advance the Colors. I am on the Board for HMGS Great Lakes, which as been running the show in Central Ohio for almost three decades. Our home for the last decade or so has been a museum -- the Heritage Center of Clark County. There's something satisfying about holding a historical miniatures convention amidst displays honoring our state's contributions to history!
The players look over the situation for their faction and plot how to end up in control of the crates of food and medicine
I ran my "That's My USAid! - Congo Chaos" game three times over the course of the show. All three times were full, and everytime I had attendees tell me they were sad they tried to get in it, but couldn't. I take it as a compliment when my games run full. It means that people find the scenario interesting, the setup drew them in, or people simply enjoy my games. Who knows? Maybe it is all three (he says, head swelling...ha, ha)!
The situation at the start of the scenario: UN in control of the freighter and aid,  facing off against the Belgian-trained Congolese paratroopers
I make minor tweaks each time I run it, and this one involved setting the freighter up even a bit further away from the entry point of the Boma Bandits -- a force that comes onto the table in four, motorized Congo river canoes. The Leopoldville Leopards, essentially the local militia force where the battle takes place, also had their setup moved closer to the center part of the town. The two militia factions tend to win slightly more than their share of runnings of the games, but I have had all five of the player positions win at least once. However, this will likely be the last time I run it for the convention season. I hope to dream up a new scenario for next year's conventions.
Where the shooting typically started -- the UN sandbagged position guarding the pier (and offloaded aid)
I sold quite a few copies of the rules, my own Wars of Insurgency - which came out little over a month ago. I love how players learn the rules very quickly, and by Turn 2 all that I am called upon to do is to record the Initiative Order and make rulings on lines of sight or cover bonuses. The players seem to have a great time with it and they leave the table after the game's over thinking about what period or conflict they can use them for (another great sign!).
The local area militia, the Leopoldville Leopards, advance through the scratch-built shantytown towards the center
Surprisingly, I was even able to pick up some unpainted 20mm figures to paint up for future scenarios. Buck-a-fig, run by Brian Beal out of Heart of America HMGS, brought along a box of various 20mm Modern figures with me expressly in mind. Thanks, Brian! Several of the packs are of "Western-style" police or SWAT figures. My mind is already spinning with ideas for conflicts or scenarios to use them for! That's another thing I like about Wars of Insurgency. Although I may own mostly 20th century Africa figures, the rules will fit for any infantry firefight that keeps armor and support weapons (like air or artillery) to a bare minimum. They were designed for guerrilla wars, which have had a tendency to spring up on most continents in the last century, it seems...
Some of the Boma Bandits - militia rivermen arriving in motorized canoes - disembark along the sea wall and eye the local Leopoldville Leopards warily
The table looked good, I felt. I added in my MDF Water Tower from Impudent Mortals. Not sure why I hadn't put it out on the table before, but it added a nice touch. I will be looking for more 20mm scale modern buildings to give me more variety on the tabletop. Or perhaps I will scratch-build some more. Scratch-building's advantage is that it allows me to ensure all the roofs (or floors in multilevel buildings) come off to place figures inside. Its disadvantage, of course, is that it takes more time!
More Bandits disembark onto the pier after the UN have been driven from it by gunfire from multiple factions
Part of my duties as a board member for Great Lakes at Advance the Colors is being Dealer Coordinator, and also promoting the convention on Facebook. I was gratified to see that my pushing the convention on social media seemed to increase both the number of games that our GMs submitted, and also brought a solid rise in attendance. It was also cool to walk around and see all of the games I'd been promoting on Facebook in person. I was so busy Friday, though, that I missed many of those.
How to do it without getting shot up? Another group of players ponder the Congo's tactical puzzle
The Rules: Wars of Insurgency, available from First Command Wargames
Below are some of my favorite pictures of other games from Advance the Colors. Thanks to all of the GMs who ran games, and the attendees who showed up to play in them!
Kevin McCarthy's "Harlem Heights" game from the American Revolution using Sons of Liberty rules
Jim Wonacott's "Somewhere in Africa Around 2000 or so..." using Black Ops rules
Derek Johns and one of his players in his Boer War game, Battle of Elandslaagte
Imperial Disfavor, a Victorian Science Fiction game using First Command's For Queen and Planet rules
The New World is so Lovely in the Fall, Mike Stelzer's Song of Drums and Tomahawks French & Indian War game
The stunning terrain of Adrian John's "The Battle of Point Pleasant"
Greg Crane's World of Tanks-style Death Match cycled in more than two dozen players on Friday
Jim Morrison's games are immensely popular, and his Survival in Zombie America was no exception!

Monday, September 25, 2017

Rerun, but with Hail Caesar rules

Allen then Mike S on the left, opposed by the Moorish commanders, Joel, Brett, Andy, and GM Steve V
 After Steve V read my blog entry about not being particularly thrilled with Art de la Guerre, he suggested we run the same scenario using Hail Caesar. Once again, I was a Spanish flank command taking the battle to the Moors (or "Moops," if you're a Seinfeld fan...). My opponent was Andy, who also had a mostly mounted command like me. In the center, or two infantry blocks were faced off against one another (Allen commanding for our side). On the opposite flank, Mike S commanded our left against Joel, while Brett was the Moorish center commander.
It seemed like a good idea at the time -- Allen commits his Spanish infantry into a clash with Brett's Moors
The command and control for Hail Caesar is highly variable -- much like the morale rules, which tend to make games go very quickly. Depending on what your roll vs. your commander's rating, you could end up not moving at all, moving one movement distance, all the way up to 3x distance. Andy and I galloped into battle with one another quickly. He had an unfortunate command failure, which allowed me to choose the matchups. This was counter-balanced by Andy's good rolling for armor saves against my abysmal ones.
Allen's center begins to splinter - why all my pics are of the infantry fight and not my command I don't know!
However, all was not lost. Andy's rolling began to spiral downward. More command failures meant he could not reinforce his units in battle while I was able to keep up the pressure. I started rolling better for saves vs. the hits his units scored against me, and I begin to win the melees, instead. In Hail Caesar, you roll lots of dice for melee. One after another of his light cavalry units began to flee the battlefield, as Andy proved just as bad at rolling morale checks as he was with command rolls. I've found in Hail Caesar, this is a make or break aspect of the game. If one wing folds under a series of poor morale checks, it will not be long for the battlefield.
Joel maneuvers to hold off Mike S (with ubiquitous McDonalds cup), managing to avert defeat, buying time for the Moorish center to steamroll
This was the case with Andy, but he did inflict casualties and disrupt my command. Following up into their infantry's flank was going to take a couple turns of reorganization and rallying off some hits. Or so I thought! Steve V decided to create his own Impetuous rule which stated that any unit which fails a command roll will go the full 3x distance and hurl themselves onto the nearest enemy. One of my knight units went bonkers, screamed 1/4 of the way across the table, and slammed into the front of a Moorish foot unit that had turned to face us against this eventual possibility. They must have been as surprised as we were, because the knights actually won the combat, forcing them to give ground. I had wildly outrolled Brett. My guess is that it would not happen again. My exhausted knights declined to follow up.
The bitter end as Allen's troops are forced back. You can see my impetuous (but exhausted) knights in the upper right
At this point, we took stock of the game. After two hours, Andy's command was completely wiped out. Joel had suffered one or two losses, but it would take several turns before Mike S felt he could turn that flank, too. However, our center had completely collapsed. Last game in Art de la Guerre, the Spanish foot bested the Moors. In this game, they got their solid revenge and sent one after another of Allen's units reeling from the field. Although honors were about even, we decided that the Spanish would withdraw the field with its center broken.

Hail Caesar is a game that is best for one-off scenario games with a group of players. It is not intended to be a tournament game at all (which endears it to me, though puts off tourney players like Andy). There are wild swings in melee and especially morale, so if you don't like a dash of randomness to your Ancient games (provided by the dice), then you may be disappointed with these rules. For me, though, they're my favorite Ancients set, now. My friends all shake their head every time we play and my dice begin to fail me. They give me that knowing, "You asked for it!" look, as I have a reputation as being a subpar roller of dice. Not this evening, though! I would say Andy wore my mantle, allowing my Spanish right flank to score our side's biggest successes. A fun, quick game -- exactly what the rules were designed for!

Monday, September 11, 2017

Another Try of Art De La "DBA"

The Spanish army after deployment, facing off against their Andalusian foes as the Reconquista rages
 Years ago, I was about as avid of a player of 15mm Ancients using De Bellis Antiquitatis rules as you could find. I ran and played in tournaments a good half dozen times a year. I was constantly painting new armies. I did my best to promote the game and teach new players.
Two of our three opponents -- Andy (enthusiast of the rules) and easy-going Allen, who will play anything
And then, after more than two decades of enthusiasm, it abruptly died in me. I simply lost all enthusiasm for the game. What before seemed elegant and simple seemed vanilla and stale. The idea of rolling for movement pips and then out-rolling my opponent in combat was just tired to me. DBA had a good run with me. I pretty much played it from the beginning. But all good things must come to an end, they say, right?
Things are getting a little iffy on my flank, as Keith's light horse maneuver all around me with their speed
Ever since then, Ancients has kind of languished in our Sunday night gaming group. There was a brief period of reinterest when Steve V ran games of Hail Caesar for us. Several of us went out and bought the rules. I made it a point to say I enjoyed them -- even though they were possibly even more die-rolling intensive than DBA was (by the way, rolling dice is not a particular strength of mine...ha, ha!). But Steve lost interest, and veered to Might of Arms, which excited zero interest in me. He later tried a game of "To the Strongest" (or something like that), but that was one of the worst Ancients systems I'd ever played.
With poor Joel crushed on our right, and Keith making me nervous on the left, Mike S and I order in the spearwall
Lately, a few of the people in our area started buying, playing, and talking about a French set of rules, Art De La Guerre. Andy was a fan of it, in particular. We heard others liked it -- Mike S bought the rules at Historicon last year, and Steve V once again had a new Ancient rules set he wanted to try! One night, they did a small playtest, but we had a late family dinner and I showed up only to kibbitz at the end. As they talked their way through combat, it sounded a LOT like DBA. On another evening, I was there for the playtest. I was not impressed. WAY too vanilla, in my book. And way too much like DBA. That was when I coined my own name for it: Art De La DBA.
But surprise, surprise! I manage to run off some of Keith's lights, and then hammer with my knights
Steve and Andy were enthused, though, and Mike S was intrigued. So, we tried it again -- this time with Steve V's El Cid era medieval troops. The figures are gorgeous, but it was a little confusing differentiating the "Light Horse" from the "Heavy Cavalry," as they all had the same number of figures on the base. This caused a blunder on my part as I gave my right wing commander a force of mostly Light Horse, thinking he didn't have a strong enemy opposite him. He was outclassed and quickly crushed.
The right wing was looking very shaky when the Spanish managed to pull out victory over the Andalusians
It ended up being a close-fought game, with the Spanish winning by one point. So, what do I think after a third exposure, second time playing? Honestly, I feel it is simply a DBA variant. It has troops based by elements, like DBA. You roll dice for your movement pips, like DBA. Each troop type has a combat factor to which you add a roll of 1d6, like DBA. When you are beaten badly in combat, your element is destroyed -- like in DBA. The "variant" part comes in with each type of troop being able to take a limited number of "fatigue" or "hit markers" (or whatever they call them) before their element is destroyed. You receive those when you are beaten by an enemy in combat (or shooting), but not badly enough to be destroyed. And, like DBA, the game is over when you lose a certain number of elements, with some small variation on counting "disordered" units for half-points, as well.
The rules...popular with some in our group and not-so-much with Keith and I!
For all intents in purposes, I see Art De La Guerre as simply a variant of DBA. I would much rather play Saga or Hail Caesar. Maybe it is me -- maybe my jaded-ness from DBA prevents me from seeing this as a new and interesting set of rules like some of my friends do. However, I can't help the way I feel, and am not particularly looking forward to more games of Art De La DBA.