Thursday, November 27, 2014

Painting again!

It seems like such a long, long time since I was painting any miniatures. But today I put the first base coat on a group of 10 28mm Asian civilians. These will be bystanders and such for my Pulp games. Eight of the figures are from the Yangtze River line from Pulp Figures by Bob Murch. Two were figs I'd picked up at a flea market awhile back. As I was priming them I noticed an odd similarity between those two miniatures and one of the Pulp Figures poses. My heart sank when I realized they only looked different because they were a poorly executed pirating of the original Bob Murch casting. This made me sad to think that some of the vendors at flea markets might well be doing this as garage business to offer figures at such a low price. I've always looked at flea markets as places where we sell our items that we don't want any longer, or periods or scales we've moved on from. The idea that there may be dishonest people out there actively producing pirated figures to sell at flea markets seems is disheartening. It is hard enough for figure manufacturers to make money, I'm sure. The last thing they need is competition from someone taking their work and producing cheap knock-offs of it. Shame on such vendors, I say!

Anyway, these Asian civilians are needed for the grand finale of the Dakota Smith adventures I've been running using Pulp Alley rules. Once I have them finished, I should be ready to run the last game. I may do one final project beforehand -- some scratchbuilt sampans. This scenario takes place down on the docks as the European adventurers are taking ship for their homelands. The Indochinese locals (and French party) will make one last attempt to recover the religious and archeological treasures that the others are wanting to abscond with. Who knows? Maybe even Dakota Smith's archrival, Von Jaeger, will reappear. He's been MIA for the last handful of adventures.

28mm Chinese civilians, most from Pulp Figures by Bob Murch
Nearly all of the 10 figures have been modified in one way or another. Instead of spears, they clutch pitchforks, barrels, clay vessels, or baskets. I'd picked up Pulp Figures one pack of Chinese civilians, but wanted more of a variety of poses. Thus, the conversions from armed Yangtze gangs into civilians. I actually did the conversions a month or so ago, and even primed them. However, they've sat untouched for a month or so until this last week. I've painted the flesh and now the first base coat of their shirts (or pants, for those shirtless figs).

Hopefully, this will inspire me to take up the brush again and begin painting. I had been so involved in getting terrain ready for the Song of Drums and Tomahawks game at Advance the Colors from the end of summer up through mid-September. After that, I put in the push to get the rules ready for publication, setting up our company's website, and so on. So, my Pulp stuff has sat neglected for several months, now.  Which means I may have something more to write about on my blog...!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Mars Attacks in Aid of Boxer Rebellion: For Queen and Planet AAR

 
View from the bridge as the Allies withdraw across it, fighting their delaying action

The battle report re-posted from Sept. 30, 2009

Sunday evening we met to try the new rules for Queen and Planet VSF. These included, the joker card inserted into the action deck to represent all uncontrolled movement in the game (warband charges, damaged machines, positional instability of water and air craft, also movement of CinC between units). Also, the modified morale rules to limit units that will require a morale check from taking offensive action without making the check.

A Chinese and Cephalopod force on the march
There was a black smoke projector on board, which required wind rules, but it never was able to fire on the enemy because the Chinese and Allies troops were so intermixed (I'm not sure the Cephalopods would have been as careful of Chinese casualties as Joel played them, but that was good for us). I liked the joker card very much, it made the warband charge that much more uncertain for both sides. The ability of the warband to charge as many as three times in a turn gives them the leg up they need against the firing superiority of the colonial troops, so that is still working well. The positional uncertainty of the flyers was also interesting as I found them much more reasonable in their (in)ability to just hover around and shoot things. Now they are more 'straffing-like'.

Russian machine gun company and rifles momentarily check the Chinese/Cephalopod advance
The set up for the game was that the Sino-Cephalopod alliance is in pursuit of a column of retreating civilians and the Colonial allies are tasked with securing the route of escape and holding against the onslaught. The idea comes from the scene in the most recent War of the Worlds where the American armored brigade hopelessly engages the Martians in an attempt to allow the civilians to escape. This battle was quite a bit more balanced!

The Chinese forces close in on the west village
An 'impassable' river bisects the board with only a single bridge crossing it. Two villages are along the road that runs from West to East toward the safety of a port and the evacuation ships. Ceplapods, Imperial Chinese, and Boxers are pursuing from the west and the Colonial Allies are deployed hidden to try to defend the line of retreat (represented by a supply wagon marking tail end charlie of the refugees).


The gallant Russian guard battaltion makes a stand in the center of the west village
Each Command (3 Sino-Cephalopod and 3 Allied) had a special ability of some sort (The imperials knew of a ford across the river, the Italians had minefields, etc). Joel had the Cephalopods, Keith the Imperials, I had the Boxer command, Allen had British and half of the Russians and Mike had Italians and half of the Russians. So, of course the Russian command were sacrificed at the point of the spear. However, they aquited themselves very well and absorbed an enormous amount of Chinese punishment before being forced to withdraw across the bridge. Mike's 'death trap' was never completely sprung, but it held up my Boxer command as I probed for a solution. We played six of the expected 12 turns necessary to complete the scenario. It is hard to tell what the result would have been. The Boxers overran the West Village, but it looked near impossible to have secured the bridge by the turn 8 deadline. Each side had one unit destroyed, one unit crippled at game end, and one unit about half dead. It definitely could have gone either way.

The allies are slowly shoved out of the west village by the Boxer assault
 The above report was written by the rules author and GM Tom Graves. Our long-time gaming companion, Joel Sams, always has a humorous look on any battle. Here's his take on the affair:
And Joel's always humorous take on the action:

The European Powers relief force had collected the threatened civilians and were working on a slow, methodical  evacuation. The Allies dug in to provide full cover for their citizens return to safety.  The Boxers were on the massed on the right flank of the Imperial Chinese, the Cephalopods on the left and back slightly.  The battle opened with a Russian machine gun raking an advancing Imperial Chinese unit, then the Boxers took a slower, caution advance on the village.  The Cephalopods seemed fascinated at the hilariously primitive Sikorsky flier.   After two turn their side bets were much more important than the battle in the village & wheat fields.  The Italians had  hoped on a crossfire to stop the Boxers, but the Russians, to their right were pressed and wavered.  Then the sound of gongs, firecrackers and bugles signaled the Imperial Chinese & Boxers to charge on village.  The Cephalopods were still betting that the Sikorsky flier would/wouldn't crash any minute now.   The Italians pulled back in order, then the Russians ran passed and the Cephalopods were disappointed the Sikorsky flier, wobbled & dipped but survived the entire battle.  Once the British finished their tea & biscuits they were ready for any fight.


Monday, November 10, 2014

Flashback Post: A Queen & Planet AAR, "The Battle of Ginnis, Sudan 1885"

 Hi...in honor of the release of our second title -- Queen & Planet -- from our game company,  First Command Wargames, I'm reposting a battle report from my old miniatures gaming page. This game was played in my friend's Keith's basement in February of 2011. Lots of great Colonial/VSF fun...!

Battle of Ginnis - Colonials at Keith's Clubhouse

Rules: Queen and Planet
Scenario: The Battle of Ginnis – Sudan 1885

Battle of Ginnis - 15mm Colonials using Tom's rules. For some months, the Ansar had been filtering into the area around the Nile River villages of Ginnis and Kosha. The Ansar were building up forces to repel an Egyptian or British invasion and the British responding to the buildup had been increasing their own presence in the area.
The Ansar move up to support their Beja allies, who are heavily engaged with the British
Skirmishes and artillery shelling had been increasing for several weeks, when the British decided they needed to do something about what might be an Ansar buildup of forces to invade Egypt. Two brigades of seasoned troops hurried to the area and Colonels Sams and Graves wasted little time in formulating an attack plan. Attack at dawn when the heathens were still asleep in their beds and put them to flight.  Simple. Effective. If the Ansar had been abed when the British attacked, it would have worked well. Unfortunately, they were not only awake, but deployed into forward attack positions. In the first glimmers of dawn, Col Sams brigade approached the small village of Kosha with the Egyptian Camel Corp holding his right flank along the Nile, his batteries of cannon and Gatlings holding the center of the line and the Cameron Highlanders holding his left flank near a steep escarpment. The Sudanese IX battalion, at half strength, was in reserve.
Joel moves his Cameron Highlanders, the heroes of the battle, who held off attack after attack, while Tom hums a bagpipe tune
A sharp-eyed artillerist spotted the first Ansar among the walls and building of Kosha and opened up from extreme range. A skilled or lucky shot forced the Ansar Jehadia to withdraw into the village interior and it was later learned they had completely lost nerve at the unexpected casualties in their ranks and had fallen back south of Ginnis and as such were effectively out of the battle. C in C Graves urged his battalions forward with the caution that the British attack had already been discovered by the Ansar. There would be no surprise and no easy victory. As if in response, 1000 yards to his front along the edge of the escarpment, a captured Krupp artillery battery manned by subject Egyptian crews opened up on the Cameron Highlanders, doing some casualties and forcing them back to regroup. Colonel Graves held the edge of the escarpment as his right flank with the 1st Berkshires Battalion to his left was a battery of mountain guns and further left was West Kent Regiment. The 23rd Royal Engineers were far to the left trying to sweep around a rocky tor. The Durham Light infantry were in reserve.

Unfortunately, the next moment it became clear that the tor was swarming with Beja warbands and they were preparing to charge the Engineers. The Engineers were able to turn to meet the charge of the Beja, but could not get off a shot before they swept down from the tor and charged into their ranks. The Engineers were pushed back, but held firm. Colonel Graves ordered the Light Infantry to assist and moved forward to engage the Ansar artillery. As he did so, another Beja Rifle rub appeared out of the grey dawn and opened up on the 1st Berkshires at very close range. Casualties were taken and the infantry fell back to regroup.
It was touch and go, but the British battle line narrowly held off the Ansar attack
On the Nile flood plain, Colonel Sams was faced by more and more Ansar and Beja pouring out of the Palm orchards between the two villages. Heavily outnumbered, Colonel Sams forces gave better than they got. The Egyptian Camel Corp withstood a furious charge of Ansar warbands near the village of Kosha, driving them back and then watching them fade into the dust their charge had kicked up as their morale failed as quickly as their charge had failed.  Just as quickly, the Egyptians were shaken, after the charge, by the long range, but effective fire of a Krupp gun sheltering in a Zariba far to the Ansar rear. However, the two different threats shook the Egyptians and they fell back on the British fort to our rear, leaving only the Gatlings and field guns to hold the left flank of Colonel Sams’ attack.  On the left flank of Colonel Graves, the Beja had put the Engineers to flight and had turned on the Durham Light Infantry, who having seen the Engineers dispatched had fallen back and received the support of the West Kents. They now stood together, 600 line infantry versus 750 Beja warriors.

Colonel Sams was having both good fortune and bad. The Cameron Highlanders had been engaged with a Beja warband rub for almost an hour. They struggled back and forth and were wearing each other down when the Camerons held their fire to the last moment before another short charge carried the Beja home. This time, they were put to flight, disappearing into the Palm grove. Unfortunately, the Beja appeared to be limitless as another rifle rub moved out to replace them. Unfortunately, the fire was in the belly of the highlanders and they took it to the Beja, inflicting terrible casualties, wounding the Sheik that lead the army and driving them off as well.
The last Ansar and Beja waves prepare prepare to hurl themselves on the British line, once again
On the escarpment, Colonel Graves forces had managed to obliterate both the Beja warband and rifles and only the artillery remained to be cleaned up. The CinC, seeing and hearing the Camerons put flight to two Beja rubs rode down to join them and ensure that the British would be victorious.  The Ansar lost heart at the furious Camerons, the loss of their Sheik and retired sullenly, but mostly intact, into the desert. The British sighed with relief as their own forces were heavily shaken by the aggressive attack of the Madhist forces.  -- Tom Graves, Read About The Games People Play At Columbus Face Games Blog, http://columbusfacegames.wordpress.com/

Queen & Planet rules are now available on the First Command Wargames website: http://www.firstcommandwargames.com/

Flashback Post: A Queen & Planet AAR, "The Battle of Ginnis, Sudan 1885"

 Hi...in honor of the release of our second title -- Queen & Planet -- from our game company,  First Command Wargames, I'm reposting a battle report from my old miniatures gaming page. This game was played in my friend's Keith's basement in February of 2011. Lots of great Colonial/VSF fun...!

Battle of Ginnis - Colonials at Keith's Clubhouse

Rules: Queen and Planet
Scenario: The Battle of Ginnis – Sudan 1885

Battle of Ginnis - 15mm Colonials using Tom's rules. For some months, the Ansar had been filtering into the area around the Nile River villages of Ginnis and Kosha. The Ansar were building up forces to repel an Egyptian or British invasion and the British responding to the buildup had been increasing their own presence in the area.
The Ansar move up to support their Beja allies, who are heavily engaged with the British
Skirmishes and artillery shelling had been increasing for several weeks, when the British decided they needed to do something about what might be an Ansar buildup of forces to invade Egypt. Two brigades of seasoned troops hurried to the area and Colonels Sams and Graves wasted little time in formulating an attack plan. Attack at dawn when the heathens were still asleep in their beds and put them to flight.  Simple. Effective. If the Ansar had been abed when the British attacked, it would have worked well. Unfortunately, they were not only awake, but deployed into forward attack positions. In the first glimmers of dawn, Col Sams brigade approached the small village of Kosha with the Egyptian Camel Corp holding his right flank along the Nile, his batteries of cannon and Gatlings holding the center of the line and the Cameron Highlanders holding his left flank near a steep escarpment. The Sudanese IX battalion, at half strength, was in reserve.
Joel moves his Cameron Highlanders, the heroes of the battle, who held off attack after attack, while Tom hums a bagpipe tune
A sharp-eyed artillerist spotted the first Ansar among the walls and building of Kosha and opened up from extreme range. A skilled or lucky shot forced the Ansar Jehadia to withdraw into the village interior and it was later learned they had completely lost nerve at the unexpected casualties in their ranks and had fallen back south of Ginnis and as such were effectively out of the battle. C in C Graves urged his battalions forward with the caution that the British attack had already been discovered by the Ansar. There would be no surprise and no easy victory. As if in response, 1000 yards to his front along the edge of the escarpment, a captured Krupp artillery battery manned by subject Egyptian crews opened up on the Cameron Highlanders, doing some casualties and forcing them back to regroup. Colonel Graves held the edge of the escarpment as his right flank with the 1st Berkshires Battalion to his left was a battery of mountain guns and further left was West Kent Regiment. The 23rd Royal Engineers were far to the left trying to sweep around a rocky tor. The Durham Light infantry were in reserve.

Unfortunately, the next moment it became clear that the tor was swarming with Beja warbands and they were preparing to charge the Engineers. The Engineers were able to turn to meet the charge of the Beja, but could not get off a shot before they swept down from the tor and charged into their ranks. The Engineers were pushed back, but held firm. Colonel Graves ordered the Light Infantry to assist and moved forward to engage the Ansar artillery. As he did so, another Beja Rifle rub appeared out of the grey dawn and opened up on the 1st Berkshires at very close range. Casualties were taken and the infantry fell back to regroup.
It was touch and go, but the British battle line narrowly held off the Ansar attack
On the Nile flood plain, Colonel Sams was faced by more and more Ansar and Beja pouring out of the Palm orchards between the two villages. Heavily outnumbered, Colonel Sams forces gave better than they got. The Egyptian Camel Corp withstood a furious charge of Ansar warbands near the village of Kosha, driving them back and then watching them fade into the dust their charge had kicked up as their morale failed as quickly as their charge had failed.  Just as quickly, the Egyptians were shaken, after the charge, by the long range, but effective fire of a Krupp gun sheltering in a Zariba far to the Ansar rear. However, the two different threats shook the Egyptians and they fell back on the British fort to our rear, leaving only the Gatlings and field guns to hold the left flank of Colonel Sams’ attack.  On the left flank of Colonel Graves, the Beja had put the Engineers to flight and had turned on the Durham Light Infantry, who having seen the Engineers dispatched had fallen back and received the support of the West Kents. They now stood together, 600 line infantry versus 750 Beja warriors.

Colonel Sams was having both good fortune and bad. The Cameron Highlanders had been engaged with a Beja warband rub for almost an hour. They struggled back and forth and were wearing each other down when the Camerons held their fire to the last moment before another short charge carried the Beja home. This time, they were put to flight, disappearing into the Palm grove. Unfortunately, the Beja appeared to be limitless as another rifle rub moved out to replace them. Unfortunately, the fire was in the belly of the highlanders and they took it to the Beja, inflicting terrible casualties, wounding the Sheik that lead the army and driving them off as well.
The last Ansar and Beja waves prepare prepare to hurl themselves on the British line, once again
On the escarpment, Colonel Graves forces had managed to obliterate both the Beja warband and rifles and only the artillery remained to be cleaned up. The CinC, seeing and hearing the Camerons put flight to two Beja rubs rode down to join them and ensure that the British would be victorious.  The Ansar lost heart at the furious Camerons, the loss of their Sheik and retired sullenly, but mostly intact, into the desert. The British sighed with relief as their own forces were heavily shaken by the aggressive attack of the Madhist forces.  -- Tom Graves, Read About The Games People Play At Columbus Face Games Blog, http://columbusfacegames.wordpress.com/

Queen & Planet rules are now available on the First Command Wargames website: http://www.firstcommandwargames.com/

Monday, November 3, 2014

"Will Magua Kill 'Gray Hair'?"


Hurons lurk in the woods, ready to spring an ambush on the British marching by...  

To celebrate the release last week of our French & Indian War skirmish rules, Song of Drums and Tomahawks, I ran a quick scenario at a local convention this past weekend. It is particularly cool to run your event less than a football field away from the palisades of a reconstructed War of 1812 fort. World at War game day (http://www.hmgsgl.org/conventions/world-at-war/) is held in the visitor's center of Fort Meigs -- the same venue we use for our Spring convention, Drums at the Rapids (http://www.hmgsgl.org/conventions/drums/).
The British line of march, with loyal Mohawks leading the advance, followed by regulars, and then frontier militia
The scenario was based off of the ambush scene after the siege of Fort William Henry in the movie, The Last of the Mohicans. I called it, "Will Magua Kill 'Gray Hair'?" and set it up for six players. A dirt road wound between two large, forested hills. In fact, everything except the road counted as forested. There were 3 British players: a force of loyal Mohawk Indians, frontier militia, and a force of British regulars. All 3 "French" players were Indians, with one commander being designated as Magua just for a dash of color. A thrill ran through the players when Magua scalped a fallen opponent on the road, just as Col. Munro ("Gray Hair") rounded the bend in sight of him. The clash did not occur, but there was plenty of bloodshed and a number of scalps taken!

Musket shots ring out as the British column wound between the wooded hills
The British set up on the road, with the Mohawks in the lead, the regulars in the center and the frontier militia as rear guard. The Indians set up not far from the board edges on the wooded hill slopes. The militia quickly veered off the road to guard the right flank of the British from Magua's warband, which was advancing and had fired on the Mohawks. The loyal Indians dashed forward and exchanged musket fire with a force of Huron in the woods off to the left. The remaining Indian warband advanced cautiously, and soon began sniping at the regulars. Col. Munro proved he was no coward and waved his men off the road and into the woods to fire back at the elusive Indians.

Allied Mohawk tribesmen open fire on the Hurons who have ambushed them
The British players were suffering more hits, and were being whittled down in size. The Mohawks, in particular, suffered grueling losses being shot at from both sides. They were rescued from the fire of Magua's band when the frontier militia rushed onto the flank of the Indian firing line and blazed away at them. Magua's Hurons let loose a war whoop and charged the militia. A stubborn, bloody fight ensued, with both sides taking losses.

The frontier militia veers off the road to protect the flanks of the regulars
Things began to look bleak for the British as all of their forces were below half strength. They proved stalwart on their morale checks, though -- particularly Munro's regulars. The Mohawks were down to 3 warriors, but inflicted enough losses on their Huron foes to drop them below half strength and force morale checks, as well. Even Magua's band was suffering under the frontiersmen's blows, though the militia were the first to break off and run. 

Everywhere the British look, Hurons are in the woods, firing at them
When the game was called, it was certain the Indians had inflicted severe losses on the British. The British gave much better than they did historically (or in the movie, for that matter!). It was a Huron victory, but not the massacre that it looked like it would be early on.

The melee beneath the trees between Magua's warband and the frontier militia proved deadly to many a brave soul
We had two new players who tested out the rules, along with four veterans. Everyone had a good time, and I passed out a number of "calling cards" for downloading the rules. We plan on running quite a few games of SDT at Cold Wars next Spring, as well as other cons in the area.

Col. Munro, aka "Gray Hair," and his regulars proved stalwart under fire -- never flinching in the face of mounting casualties

 
 The rules are available for download on the Ganesha Games site, here: http://www.ganeshagames.net/product_info.php?cPath=1_51&products_id=267&osCsid=v1rt4t6dmmo109prds0bkak551

 

Song of Drums and Tomahawks officially released!

The cover of our rules set -- artwork by Andrea Sfiligoi
 Well, here it is! Our French & Indian War rules -- Song of Drums and Tomahawks -- were officially released last week as a joint venture by Ganesha Games and our own company, First Command Wargames. Right now, they are available for PDF download on the Ganesha Games website, here: Song of Drums and Tomahawks

The print-on-demand booklets will be available soon. It will also be available soon on WargameVault.com, I believe...

Check them out...at $8 they are quite the bargain (if I must say so myself...!)!!! The rules include a substantial historical background piece, a timeline of the wars in our period, army lists, and all the rules necessary to play. This is a stand-alone rule book -- not a supplement. At 62 pages, there is a lot there!