Sunday, September 29, 2013

28mm Dark Ages mounted warriors finally finished!

So this unhappy few, this mounted half dozen, have been sitting partially-painted on my desk for a month, now. I was pretty far along with them when I made the decision to do my French & Indian War clifftops that you see in the previous post (Ohio Frontier Aflame at Advance the Colors 2013). The cliffs so consumed my time that these guys ended up just sitting on my desk.

However, with ATC 2013 and a successful series of games run there concluded, I was ready to finish them off. I picked up most of these figures from a flea market vendor selling 28mm Foundry incredibly cheap. They were meant to be able to be used as generic mounted warriors for my Dark Age Britain skirmishes. So, I wanted them to be equally usable for mounted Vikings, Britons, Picts, Saxons -- you name it. Two of the figures were not Foundry, and are Alternative Armies figures I've had sitting in my box for years. I knew one day I'd progress beyond just foot figures in my games to include mounted ones.

The real reason they made it to the forefront is I plan to run a skirmish campaign for my Sunday night gaming group. They have all chosen one of six factions -- Saxon, Briton, Pict, Dal Riatan Scot, Danish Viking and Norse Viking. Each faction has a "special ability," and the Briton one is to be able to substitute a percentage of their force as mounted. Thus, no games could be run until I have the mounted figures ready for it...!

Anyway, I'm pretty happy with how these guys turned out. Some I like better than others, of course. All of the shields and the one banner are hand painted (as you can probably tell..!). I particularly like how the horses turned out. I have a page I downloaded from the internet long ago which illustrates different breeds of horses. I decided that since these are in 28mm, I need to do more than paint a generic brown horse, gray one, etc. I think it makes the horses' coloring look much more realistic.

Next up are seven 28mm provincial troops for my French & Indian War games. I was inspired by how well my games went at ATC 2013 last weekend. My new format for running big scenarios worked like a dream. The only drawback was that meant I am using up pretty much all my miniatures in an 8 player game. If I have any dreams of increasing the number of players, that means I need more figures. I know, I know. What a horrible dilemma for a miniature wargamer...! So, I dug through my unpainted stuff and cleaned and primed a batch up. I expect I will also be putting in another order with Conquest Miniatures -- who makes the Indians I use. I love their figures to death. They are reasonably priced, gorgeously done, and have very active poses.

Also in the planning stages are buildings for my 28mm Pulp games. I want to set my scenarios in southeast Asia, with Indiana Jones wannabees digging through ruins like those at Bagan, Angkor, Borobudur, etc.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Ohio Frontier Aflame at Advance the Colors 2013

A number of years back, I decided it was time to upgrade my presentation of my miniatures games. Well-painted figures are only half the battle, so to speak. To give it the full visual appeal, you need nice terrain, too. I've felt pretty good about my progress from felt to flock to scratch-built terrain pieces. Over the last several years, I regular receive a "thumbs up" from players and bystanders for how my games look. I had never been a "showpiece" game, though. The flagship convention of our historical miniatures group, HMGS Great Lakes, recently provided me with that opportunity. Our convention is held each September at the Heritage Center of Clark County in Springfield, OH. The center is a museum that has a few ballrooms that give us enough space for our games. Each year, the events coordinator selects one game that will make good "eye candy" to place in the lobby, as visitors to the museum come in and out throughout our show. This year, when a' three-day recreation of the Battle of Gettysburg was scratched, I offered to create a sprawling French & Indian War game. A big part of that war was fought in or around our state of Ohio, saw we thought it would be an appropriate showcase for visitors to see our hobby.

The rules that I use are in the final stages of publication. They are a variant of the Ganesha Games "Song of Drums & Shakos" adapted for this period. One problem with the rules set, though, is that the more players a game has, the slower it can move. I typically could take only six players per game, and even with that few, sweated out the down time if players moved or deliberated on their actions slowly. After my last convention game (a Viking raid using a similar rules set from Ganesha), I pondered a way to incorporate more players and yet speed up the game. I finally hit upon an idea. Why not line up four or more linked 1-on-1 matchups to create one game tied together by scenario? In other words, there is one board broken up (in this case by rivers) into 4 quadrants. Players can send reinforcements to neighboring allies, if they desire. Additionally, each side of four players would allocate their troops to the quadrants as they saw fit. Finally, the scenario victory points each player earns from their skirmish are totaled up for the side to determine a winner. What would make this game go much faster than my 6-player scenarios would be that each quadrant would do their turns completely independently of the other. Once your opponent's turn is done, you take yours. Back and forth, with you being constantly involved via the opposed die rolls the system uses.

So, my idea was to recreate four typical types of skirmishes that occurred during the French & Indian War. The sides were divided into a "French allied" side, and a "British allied" one. They included a settler family rushing to an English fort as Indians are on the warpath in the woods around them, a French supply wagon being ambushed by Mohawk Indians, the aftermath of a raid by French courier de bois on a Seneca village, and a clifftop battle between Hurons escorting captives from the raided village being intercepted by Seneca warriors. The last skirmish was inspired by the climactic scene of the movie "The Last of the Mohicans." It also involved me scratch-building the cliffs, which took about 3 weeks of steady work. I was incredibly happy with how the cliffs turned out. They received compliments all convention long, as did my "showpiece" game itself. In fact, the game itself was a hit as well. It filled up all three runnings. All the players said they enjoyed the format and didn't feel the division by quadrant felt artificial or restricting. Those who had played my games previously felt it was a better game done this way. Of course, this means I can keep expanding, if I wish. I can just as easily make this even larger to accommodate 10, 12, or even more players. The one hitch is I had nearly every figure I own on the tabletop, and I'd have to paint (and perhaps even buy...?) more. Darn! A justification to expand my collection...oh horrors! The (not) worst thing a gamer ever hates to encounter...!!!

Here are some pictures and explanation of the game and scenario, "Ohio Frontier Aflame!"

The Interrupted Raid

An aerial view of the cliffs and Seneca village, along with the woods that covered most of the 12 foot long board
French Courier de Bois linger too long after raiding a Seneca village
In the woods outside the village, the Seneca hunting party shows up, alerted that their village has been raided and eager for revenge!


Clifftop Rescue

Huron Indians have raided and taken captives from a Seneca village. The captives will be valuable adoptees into the tribe. The Seneca have used secret paths to race to the rescue of their people. The two forces meet on a ridge and battle for the captives...

The Huron raiders take a short cut across the shale cliffs, leading their captives towards their villages to be adopted into the tribe

Behind the Huron, Seneca braves pursue the Huron kidnappers onto the cliffs...
Another party of Seneca take secret paths to cut off the Huron as they descend the cliffs...

"Merde! Ambush...!"

French regular and provincial soldiers are escorting a wagon load of supplies to one of their forts. A scout returns breathless, having spotted a Mohawk ambush ahead. Orders ring out in French and eyes nervously scan the trees. Meanwhile, dark forms move through the woods towards the wagon train...
An out-of-breath Canadian scout hurries to the French supply wagon, shouting news of a Mohawk ambush he'd spotted...

"Hurry! To the Fort...!"

Indians are on the warpath and a family of English settlers is desperately fleeing to the local fort with their belongings. They have to run a gauntlet of Fox Indians who have drawn a noose around the fort. The English can spare only so many men to rescue the family -- the walls must stay manned!

A party of English settlers hurry towards the safety of a fort, hearing the noise of Indians on the warpath in the woods around them...
The gates of the fort open and a file of English soldiers march out to meet and escort in the anxious family...

A special thanks to Steve Verdoliva, who provided me with two 6'x4' game mats to string together for my scenario. More than half of the trees I used were also borrowed from him, as well as the river sections that divided the table into quadrants. Keith Finn provided me with the English blockhouse, palisade walls, and log cabin. I intend on purchasing my own French & Indian War stockade soon. So, next time I will have one of my own to put onto the table. Without the help of these two friends from my regular Sunday night gaming group, there is no way I could have staged the game.
Convention Math: A 12' long table plus 8 gamers having fun = one happy GM!

The three runnings of the game all turned out differently. Friday night's game was an overwhelming French allied victory, while Saturday afternoon saw the British win huge. The rubber match on Saturday evening (which I actually got to play in due to someone who had signed up being a "no-show"), was much closer. Despite the British allies getting handily defeated in the "Interrupted Raid" and "Clifftop Rescue," the Mohawk player racked up so many points in the supply wagon ambush it was a close game. All of the players said they had fun. Many  were eager to purchase the rules, and urged me to let them know when they were available. The best thing of all was that the format was a success. Now I can apply it to other games using the Ganesha Games "Song of Blades" engine.

My first foray as a "showpiece" was a satisfying one. I look forward to building on this to stage ever bigger and grander games...!



Thursday, September 26, 2013

Starting Fresh!

So, I've valiantly resisted a blog and held onto designing my own website for more than a decade. However, like Alexander the Great in India, it is finally time to admit defeat. The Sea Monkey web composer I've been using on my Lead Legionaries website has gone wonky, and it becoming more and more work. I have posts disappearing, titles resizing themselves, and other pranks being played upon me by the internet gremlins. It is time to retire my trusty old Bukephalos and use a new, sleeker internet steed. Hopefully, this website will be that conveyance.

Welcome aboard, and if you get time, be sure to visit my old website at: