Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Backing into a new major terrain project...?

Can you see the two different color mats? I could...and it annoyed me...!
 One thing I haven't been overly happy with about my terrain setup for conventions is my ground cloth. I've had a 6'x4' Hotz gaming mat for about a year. I have another semi-flocked mat I picked up a couple years back. I also bought an odd size flocked paper mat on clearance from Hobby Lobby last summer. The problem is the three look nothing like each other. So, when I run my 12' of table for my "Ohio Frontier Aflame" scenario, it looks kind of hodge-podge. I know, I know, I am being picky. When convention goers come up to you at a con and praise your layout, it can be all that bad. So, for the past year or so I've been content.

With the playtest of the Beaver Wars going on, I foresee a need for more than one 3'x3' gaming area to slap down quickly. My first thought was to just simply buy some felt and cut it to that size. Idly, I wondered how easy or difficult it would be to flock the felt. I'd love to start with an earth red color and then put Woodland Scenics flocking on top of it (like my figure bases. I start reading various forums and blogs until I hit upon a suggestion on The Miniatures Page. One gamer recommended flocking the mat first and then sealing it down by spraying a 50/50 mix of Acrylic Matte Medium and water. I thought, "Hmmm..." What's more, my Song of Drums and Tomahawks games use a 3' deep board. The Ohio Frontier Aflame scenario divides the table into 3'x3' sections. With matching flocked felt sections, I wouldn't need to use rivers or rows of trees or stuff to divide one scenario from the other. Players would be able to clearly see where one mat left off and the other started.

I should have known I would be hooked when I stopped by JoAnn Fabrics and found a perfect medium brown felt with just the slightest reddish tint to it. It was 72" wide (actually, it turned out to be quite a bit wider), so I would need only about 3 yards of it. With my internet coupon, I walked out down only $10. I cut out one 3'x3' area and then looked around for a way to flock it without having to go out to the freezing cold garage. With a couple old table cloths, some unused MDF board, and my 6' wide coffee table, I created an indoor space to try out my experiment. The article recommend using a sifter of some sort for the flocking so you can control how thick you want to put it down. My problem is the only sifter I owned had too wide of holes, so the flocking poured through there quicker than I'd hoped. I wanted to be more gradual and sprinkle it here and there more like an airbrush does on a canvas. Still, from above, the irregular, mottled nature of the green on brown looks good and realistic.
The first test 3'x3' ground cloth spread out on some chairs after it dried. It looks less like desert terrain in person, and much more like Woodland terrain it will hopefully do a good job of representing!
I mixed up a batch of Acrylic Matte Medium I had left over into an old spray bottle I had. My spray bottle was on its last leg, so squirting the matte medium on there was a bit of a pain. I did it in about 18" square patches, as the article recommended. Honestly, I think you could do the whole thing all at one go if you have a big enough area. It was looking good, but it did not feel like the flocking was sticking all that well. I let it dry overnight, and was much more pleased with how it was sticking. I also picked up a brand new spray bottle on the way home from work to spray the second coat. MUCH better and smoother. Oh, and I also picked up another jar of the matte medium. This set me back another $20. Another container of Woodland Scenics blended turn set me back another $10. I was up to $40, but this should produce six 3'x3' gaming mats. Hopefully, my big jar of matte medium will last through all six, along with the fresh jar of flocking. We shall see.

I'm pretty happy with how it looks, and I'm sure I'll be happier once my terrain is set down atop it. Not only will I be able to plop them down easily for Song of Drums and Tomahawks games, they will look even better all lined up together for my Ohio Frontier Aflame game.

So, looks like I have another five mats to flock and spray seal...

Monday, January 26, 2015

The Beaver Wars, Turn 2 Report

The second turn of our Beaver Wars campaign once again saw angry weather strike Columbus, causing the Seneca player to wisely choose not to drive in from Springfield, 45 minutes away. Another player was unable to make it, but both who could not attend sent in their card plays and tribe's actions by email.

The Seneca player went last in Turn 1, so played the first card. He chose to play a 6 of Spades, thinking to go late in the turn order. The Ojibwa player played a 3 of Diamonds. Both players had sets of one card of each suit, and were planning visits to the trading post. They did not want to declare early in the turn, and thus invite an ambush (as happened to the Miami player last turn). The Potawatomi player chose a 3 of Diamonds, and the low-balling continued! The Ottawa player was thinking on a different tack, and wanted to go early, so he played a Queen of Diamonds. The Wyandot player wanted to declare late, as well (as he also had a set). He played a 4 of Hearts. The Miami closed it out with a 7 of Spades. This established the following order for declaring actions:
  1. Ottawa - Held a Pow-wow (which unfortunately for him, no other player attended)
  2. Miami - Invaded the non-player Illinois territory, seeking to take control of a town)
  3. Seneca - Visit Trading post
  4. Wyandot - Visit Trading post
  5. Potawatomi - Trap & Hunt
  6. Ojibwa - Visit Trading post
Turn 2's campaign map
 There was a brisk business at Fort Miami and Fort Detroit this turn, as three tribes turned in bundles of beaver pelts. This improves their Firearms ratio from 3:1 to 2:1, making their forces more effective. No one chose to ambush them this turn, although that was an option to several players. With each tribe starting with 3 cards, and then receiving 2 cards on turn one, then 2 more on turn two, chances are most tribes will have a set of one of each suit by this point. However, after this point, trading post visits should be more spread out. Players must also play one of their cards each turn to establish turn order.

The Ottawa were hoping more players were in the same boat as him, needing one more suit to finish their set. However, that was not the case. The rules allow a player holding a Pow-wow that no other players attend to draw the top card in the deck and trade for it, if they desire. This reflects minor tribes attending the pow-wow. The Ottawa player was one of those who could not attend that evening, so I looked at the card and made the decision for him that he did want that card. Although it wasn't exactly what he was looking for, it would give him greater flexibility on having high and low cards for the turn order.

In a similar situation, the Potawatomi chose to Trap & Hunt, after returning home from last turn's Pow-wow empty-handed. They drew the top two cards in the deck and chose to trade for one of them, returning the unwanted two cards to the discard pile.
A Miami force invades Illinois territory, seeking to take control of one of its towns
The final action -- the Miami invasion of Illinois territory -- resulted in this turn's tabletop battle. Allen (Wyandot player) volunteered to play the role of the non-player Illinois defender. The Miami player rolled a "3" on the Invasion chart to generate the scenario. This reflects the defenders receiving a last-minute warning of the threat. They decide to scrape together a force and fight the invaders inside the town itself. I set up the battlefield while the players created their troop lists. In this battle, the palisaded Indian town takes up half of the board. The defenders start inside the town within a Long move of the board edge, while the invaders start anywhere outside the town, not within 6" of the walls. This keeps it from being an assault on a defended palisade, which is not the type of action these rule try to represent. The sharp skirmish that would develop around the entrance to the town is exactly the engagement that Song of Drums and Tomahawks is meant for!

It was interesting that both players created identical troop lists with their 20 army points. Both chose a Leader (4 points) 6 Warriors (2 points each), 4 Youths (1 point each). Because the Miami had visited the trading post last turn and improved to a 2:1 Firearm ratio, they received 3 muskets to distribute amongst their 11 warriors (bow, bow, musket, bow, bow, musket, etc.) Meanwhile, the Illinois still had a 3:1 Musket ratio, which means that they received a total of only 2 muskets. Surprisingly, the Miami did not give their leader a musket, arming him with a bow. Humorously, he said that leader from last turn's defeat been demoted to a warrior, and that he was driven to redeem the name of Slow Turtle!
The Illinois defenders split into two groups. The far force of four warriors would have a difficult time getting into the battle
My other players declined my offer of a board game to entertain them while Allen and Keith fought the battle. Instead, we all gathered around the table to watch them fight it out. The rules give 3 sizes of forces for battles. I intend to recommend that in situations like these, players utilize a "Medium" force and split each army into two commands. That will allow 4 players to get a game in instead of just two. However, everyone else was happy to watch, this evening...and of course offer their sage opinions on what each should do...!

As defender in this scenario, the Illinois deployed first. Allen placed four warriors, one with a musket, on one side of the town, and the remaining seven figures in the opposite -- closest to the entrance. This force had the leader, two warriors, and four youths. He had learned from the Ottawa mistake last turn, who deployed his youths outside of his leader's command range. The Illinois youths were all next to the leader, but the other force of four warriors was outside of his range. This would handicap his ability to move his forces to defend the town.
The Miami surge forward on their first turn of movement, with two warriors making it to the entrance passage
The Miami deployed in a long line opposite the entrance. His youths were on the far right of the line, near his leader. They won the roll to move first, and quickly sprang forward. The youths began to straggle behind the warriors, though, and eventually the leader had to abandon them to catch up with the rest of this forces. The Miami split into three groups. One rushed towards the village entrance, while flanking forces set up alongside the palisade to support them with bow and musket fire. The Miami gained the entrance to the town before the Illinois defenders could block it. Indian towns often had widely spaced wooden palisades as defensive walls. The gap was narrow enough that an adult could not squeeze through them, but wider than what we think of when we imagine a French & Indian War fort. I ruled that if your figure is right up against the palisade, it receives hard cover. So, the Miami were seeking to shoot defenders as they ran through the village, while they themselves were protected by the wooden posts. An interesting feature of Indian towns with palisades of this era was that they usually did not have gates, as we think of them. Instead, there was a narrow, winding passage that was vulnerable to fire from the palisades. The Miami rushed to get through that passage before the Illinois could defend it.
The Illinois rush to defend the town entrance
The Miami drew first blood when one of its first warriors to clear the passage took a shot at a Illinois youth who was rushing up to defend it. The youth fell to the ground, dead. War whoops from both sides split the air and more Indians on both sides rushed into what would become the killing ground just inside the entrance. The Illinois leader fired his musket and the first Miami attacker fell. This game was interesting in that very few Indians failed their scalp checks. Equally, there was no time to reload, for the most part, and both sides quickly closed into hand to hand combat.
First blood! A Miami warrior shots and kills an Illinois youth who was rushing to defend his town
 The Miami steadily fed more warriors into the melee, while the Illinois began to run out of troops. The force of four warriors on the opposite of the village were struggling to circle the longhouses and join the melee. Only one musket-armed warrior got close enough, and he picked off one of the attackers. There was one golden opportunity for one of the Illinois youths. He had knocked a Miami warrior to the ground the previous turn. One of the Illinois warriors moved up to support him. As he swung his tomahawk towards the fallen Miami, the warrior twisted and avoided it. Eventually, more Miami moved up, the fallen one regained his feet, and the youth was killed.
The struggle for the entrance to the town quickly devolves into a hand-to-hand melee
 As more and more Illinois fell, their forces dropped below half and they had to check morale. The force from the other side of the town, which was just closing towards contact, began to falter and fall back. That sealed the Illinois doom. The remaining defenders were pushed back and overwhelmed. The last to fall was the village chieftain, surrounded on three sides. Even in this extremity he killed one Miami attacker before being knocked to the ground and killed. All across the village, Miami warriors held aloft bloody scalps and sang songs of victory.
The Illinois force of four warriors is still trying to join the melee, while Miami at the palisades take pot shots at them
A golden opportunity for an Illinois youth to win fame is lost when he is unable to finish off a Miami warrior at this feet!
With their reinforcements faltering and withdrawing due to morale checks, the Illinois chieftain is soon the last defender. He strikes down one of his attackers, before falling, outnumbered. His scalp will be displayed in honor at Miami victory dances...

Monday, January 19, 2015

Road trip to Siege of Augusta to promote our rules

Our game company, First Command Wargames, has a fairly aggressive convention schedule to promote our first two releases. I ran my "Ohio Frontier Aflame" game for 8 players, promoting Song of Drums and Tomahawks. Meanwhile, Keith ran a For Queen and Planet scenario in the evening session to promote Tom's rules.

The trip was a success -- both games went very well. I had all slots filled, along with 4 people who scribbled their names in as alternates. I was gratified that I received a lot of praise for how nice the table looked. The players all seemed to have fun -- which is the most important part. We sold 5 copies of the rules to attendees and another five to vendors. We also sold 4 copies of Queen & Planet.

Here are some photos from the convention...
The calm before the storm -- the 12' long table all set up and awaiting players!

"Rules for sale! Get your copies of Song of Drums and Tomahawks here..."
And the action begins...players move towards their objectives!
A Huron hunting party seeks to exact bloody revenge on the Rogers Rangers who they've caught raiding their village
A climactic struggle on the cliffs as Stockbridge Indians seek to maintain control of the Huron captives they've taken
War whoops are sounded, dice are rolled, and scalps are taken...!
An English settler family scurries down the road towards what they pray is the protection of a blockhouse...
Indians use the trickery of a fake Lacrosse game to gain entry to an English fort. A bloody struggle ensues...!
Players have their troops fire on charge in desperation...
And spectators take in the action...including friends from the Lead Adventure Forum like "Valerik" here...!

Next Stop on the Convention Schedule: Cold Wars in Lancaster, PA, March 6-8!

Come join us there...!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Beaver Wars, Turn 1 Report

This blog is intended to give you a look at how to play a campaign of The Beaver Wars in Ohio. So, I'll be providing turn by turn reports, along with battle accounts, analysis of strategy (and tactics), and more. Some nasty winter ice coming in on our regular Sunday gaming session meant that only four of my six players were able to attend that night. The others sent in their orders, for the most part, so we were able to get Turn 1 under way.

I began the evening going through the rules and explaining them. They are written to be simple and easy to understand (what we hope will be a hallmark of First Command Wargames products). One player had printed off a draft of the rules that I'd emailed everyone, and a second had read it online. The other two present were "winging it." They had no significant questions once I'd gone over the rules, though. The Beaver Wars in Ohio is actually 3 campaigns in one, covering the warfare in the Ohio Valley from 1650-1750. I chose to run this first playtest using the middle campaign, 1690-1720. It features the following seven Indian tribes: Illinois, Miami, Ojibwa, Ottawa, Potawatomi, Seneca, and Wyandot. None of my players chose the Illinois tribe, so all their towns become "non-player" ones that the others may attack or ignore, as they choose.

The turn begins with the GM dealing out the cards which represent income and logistics in the campaign. This is a normal deck of 52 cards -- though, I have to admit I bought a special deck off of Amazon with a painting of a different Native American on each one. All tribes begin the campaign with a hand of 3 cards. Each turn, they receive cards according to the number of towns they control. I was playing the "Fair" version of the middle campaign, with all tribes starting out in control of 3 towns. So, each received 2 cards representing the income from their tribe's farming, hunting, trapping, and trading, thus beginning the game with a hand of 5 cards.
 Next, players must establish the Turn Order. Each player chooses one of his cards in a bid for turn order. The higher the card, the sooner in the order their tribe chooses its action. This can become important because of the limitations on Invading or Raiding enemy tribes that have already been attacked. The Wyandot played the highest card, a Queen of Spades. He was followed by the Miami with a 9 of Spades, the Ottawa 6 of Hearts, Potawatomi 5 of Diamonds, Ojibwa 3 of Spades, and Seneca 2 of Hearts. There is a definite strategy to this phase of the campaign. Sometimes you want to declare your action earlier in the order, sometimes later in the order -- as the Miami were about to find out! These were the actions chosen:

  • Wyandot initiated a Pow-wow (this allows players who attend the Pow-wow to trade cards)
  • Miami chose to Visit the Trading Post (Keith got a lucky deal and already had a set of one of each suit, which would allow his tribe to turn in a bundle of Beaver Pelts and raise their Firearms Ratio)
  • Ottawa chose to Ambush the Miami on their way to the trading post (if the ambushers catch the traders before they get there, and win the tabletop battle, they steal a card -- and Keith's set!)
  • Potawatomi chose to join the Pow-wow
  • Ojibwa chose to Trap & Hunt
  • Seneca also chose to attend the Pow-wow

At the Pow-wow, players are free to trade whatever cards they have in their hands with other players who attend. This is an excellent way to create a set of one of each suit. The Wyandot and Seneca quickly struck a deal, trading one suit they had doubles of for one they were missing. Unfortunately for the Potawatomi, nobody wanted his Spades. This meant they went home empty-handed from the Pow-wow. In the future, I will probably give them the same option I give players who initiate a Pow-wow and have no one show up. They may look at the top card in the deck and trade it for one in their hand, if they choose. Think of this as minor, unrepresented tribes showing up to the Pow-wow. This is why play testing is important -- these type of things come to the front when your rules meet players (who tend to have minds of their own!).
Woo-hoo! The Miami player is dealt a set of one of each suit. He chooses the 'Visit Trading Post' action to cash in his bundles of Beaver pelts that sets represent.
The Ojibwa player was one who could not attend that evening. So, I played his hand for his Trap & Hunt action. I turned up the top two cards of the deck and bingo! There was a suit that player needed. I made the swap and discarded the unwanted 2 cards.
 That left this turn's battle to fight out. As the Attacker, the Ottawa rolled on the "Ambush vs. Visit to Trading Post" chart. The roll on the chart dictates which of the 6 possible scenarios would be used. Tom rolled a "5" -- which meant that the ambushing warparty arrived at the trading post after the Miami. So, he set up his ambush just outside to catch them on their return. Tom set up the terrain according to the campaign rules for that scenario. Next, both players sat down and create troop lists.

One aspect of the Beaver Wars in Ohio is the honed-down army list players choose from. Essentially, they choose from 3 types of troops: chieftains (4 points), warriors (2 points), or youths (1 point). We were using the Small battle size, which awards each player 20 points to select their list from. An interesting feature of these rules is the "Firearms Ratio." This controls how common or rare muskets are among the tribe. Since we were playing the "Fair" version of the campaign, all tribes start out at 3:1. This means that a player must arm 3 figures with a Bow before giving one a Musket. Then, they must arm 3 more with Bow before receiving a second with a Musket. And so on. The Miami, on the other hand, had been fortunate. They began the game with a set, and were able to reach the trading post before the Ottawa ambush. This meant that the Miami armed his force using a 2:1 ratio, instead. Tom, who was playing the Ottawa, decided to offset the Miami advantage by choosing large numbers of Youths in his ambushing force. Larger numbers of Bow, mean correspondingly larger numbers of Muskets. Keith chose a smaller, more experienced force for his Miami trading party.
Keith (Miami) on left and Tom (Ottawa) deploy their troops for the battle, while Joel (Potawatomi) Pow-wows...
 Ottawa Ambushing Force
1 Leader @ 4 points (Musket)
4 Warriors @8 points (2 with Musket, 2 with Bow)
8 Youths @8 points (All with Bow)
-- as you can see, the wily Ottawa beefed up their numbers with Youths, allowing them to arm 3 of their figures with the much more deadly Muskets!

Miami Trading Party
1 Leader @4 points (Musket)
8 Warriors@16 points (2 with Musket, 6 with Bow)
-- The Miami were very efficient with their numbers, too. Since one of every 3 figures can be musket armed at the 2:1 ratio, building a force total of 9 figures maximized the amount of Musket-armed troops, while not sacrificing in quality.
Finished with their trading, the unsuspecting Miami trading party sets out on the trail
The scenario called for the Miami to place their wagon containing their trade goods in the center of the 3'x3' table. The rest of the figures must be within 6" of that center point. He deployed in a couple of rows on either side of the wagon. The Ottawa chose to have a tree blocking the trail (which the scenario allows) and deployed a blocking force of one warrior and several youths across the trail. The rest of his force was deployed parallel to the trail. Both players nodded at Tom's use of the "Classic L-shaped Ambush," with Keith seeming particularly worried about the outcome for his Miami.
The Ottawa warparty included a large number of bow-armed Youths
However, Tom quickly realized when the movement began that he should have placed his chieftain in a more central position. In Song of Drums and Tomahawks rules, each figure has a Quality score. To activate the figure, you must equal or exceed its quality on 1d6 (with a +1 bonus if the Leader is within range). Youths have a Quality of only 5 -- as opposed to Warrior's 4 and Leader's 3. Most of the Ottawa Youths were outside of the command range of his chieftain, which would make moving them problematic.

On the other hand, Keith was looking at the ambush from an entirely different point of view. He saw the large numbers of Youths and was worried about his outnumbered warriors being swarmed. Much to my surprise, he began to abandon the wagon and exit off the nearest board edge. No Ottawa blocked their route, so their eventual escape was inevitable. The Ottawa tried to close, but had a hard time moving forward with the leader too far away to effectively urge all of his warparty on. One Ottawa killed a Miami who was guarding the front of the wagon with long range musket fire. As will be seen countless times this campaign (I'm sure), the jubilant warrior bolted forward towards his enemies to claim the scalp. The "Scalper" Trait in Song of Drums and Tomahawks required figures who have killed an enemy to make a Quality check to see if they "go out of control" and use all available movement to reach the spot of the slain enemy and spend an action scalping him. Miami muskets banged away at him and slightly wounded him, but he shrugged off the grazing hit.
The Ottawa blocking force, mostly bow-armed youths as well, did its job and discouraged the Miami from advancing upon them along the trail
Anti-climatically, that was about it for the game. On the next turn, the Miami began to move off-board. Keith reasoned that his Firearms Ratio had been improved already, there was no need to die for the wagon's contents. I pointed out that they were valuable to the tribe -- tomahawks, copper kettles, European wares, etc. It also meant that none of his warriors gained any XP in this fight. Conversely, it meant that ALL of Tom's did. A figure receives 1 XP simply by staying alive and ontable by the end of the battle. They receive bonuses for scalps and for taking out enemy leaders.

I learned a valuable lesson in this first battle of the campaign: Players do not always see things like you do. Unless the rules actively discourage both sides from voluntarily runing away, and make significant penalties for those who do, players will take that as an option. I will rewrite the Ambush vs. Trading Post scenarios to reflect that Indians will not abandon their loaded wagon (or pack horses, as Keith suggested I change it to for more historical accuracy). The first turn excited the interest of the players, and provoked a lively email discussion. I expect the action to get even more heated on next turn.
Ottawa warriors advance upon the Miami traders, who quickly withdraw away from them and escape off-table. The wagon and many of its supplies that the warriors could not carry are abandoned to the ambushers.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Beaver Wars in Ohio -- A Campaign for Song of Drums and Tomahawks

The first supplement to the Fall 2014 release of my French & Indian War rules set, Song of Drums and Tomahawks, will be a set of campaign rules called "The Beaver Wars in Ohio." This is a set of campaign rules set in the late 17th century to early 18th century Ohio area.  Players control an Indian tribe battling for control of the area’s lucrative fur trade -- particularly beaver pelts, which are in much demand by European traders.  The campaign will last for 12 turns, at the end of which it will be determined which tribe has established hegemony over the others in Ohio.

These pages of my blog will cover our group's playtest of the rules, which began in January, 2015. I will post a new entry for each turn of the campaign and discuss what each player's tribe did, and perhaps explain their strategy. The rules actually present three separate campaigns, covering the early phase of the Beaver Wars (1650-1690), later phase (1690-1710), and what I call "The Vacuum" (1720-1750) -- when many other tribes were drawn to the area after its depopulation once the decades of conflict subsided. For this playtest, we chose the later phase, or middle period. This covers the period after the overwhelming Iroquois onslaught into Ohio, and actually represents when the other tribes were pushing back against them. Not counting myself who is running the campaign, it will have six players. They will represent the Miami, Ojibwa, Ottawa, Potawatomi, Seneca, and Wyandot tribes. 

Here is the campaign map.
 In the Beaver Wars, the tribes are competing for hegemony over this area. In game terms, this will be represented by a struggle to be the best in four areas:
  •  Number of towns controlled
  •  Number of bundles of beaver pelts traded to Europeans
  •  Number of victories won in battle
  •  Experience gained by surviving members of player forces
 Each tribe will be ranked 1st-6th in each area. This will translate to a certain number of points (first place will be 6 points, 2nd 5 points, and so on). The points are totaled up each turn to determine who is leading in the campaign. So, a tribe can't simply go for a war of aggression, taking over rival towns. They must also pay attention to the economic aspect, represented by the beaver pelts.

The logistics and economics of The Beaver Wars are controlled by a deck of 52 playing cards. Player earn cards as income, and trade in sets of them to represent beaver pelts. Trading with the Europeans provides them with more firearms, which makes their forces more effective. No one strategy can be relied upon, and the warfare between the various tribes will effect the choices a player must make.

The whole point of the campaign, of course, is to generate tabletop miniatures battles. My players will use Song of Drums and Tomahawks to fight out the battles, but the rules can be easily adapted to fit any man-to-man skirmish rules for the period. There are four different types of battles that can be generated, each with 6 possible scenarios springing from it. So, the rules essentially provide two dozen scenarios for players to game, which should give plenty of variety. Players are given a wide leeway in drawing up their troop lists, so this should generate even more variety of games.

Stay tuned to these pages for regular updates to The Beaver Wars campaign. If you are interested in purchasing Song of Drums and Tomahawks rules, they are available in both print and PDF versions on the Ganesha Games and Wargames Vault websites, linked below.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Indian Youths from 2 Different Manufacturers

As I get closer to beginning playtest of my campaign rules covering the 17th-18th century Beaver Wars here in Ohio, I realized I needed more figures armed with bows. And specifically, figures that could pass as Indian "youths." One of the aspects of the campaign is players will create their army list for tabletop battles immediately prior to the game. An option they have is to choose Indian youths -- weaker, less effective figures -- to bulk out their numbers, if they desire. Seeing as how I have few to no figures that fit that category, I decided it was time to get some painted up!
Footsore Miniatures "Skraelings" painted up as Indian youths
At Historicon 2014, I'd purchased one pack of four "Skraelings" from Footsore Miniatures. When I'd seen them in the dealer area, I was immediately struck by their clean, simple lines. I figure that Indian youths will have less equipment than others because they have not had a chance to accumulate any. The fact they were armed with bows was perfect, too. Youths probably would not be entrusted with a firearm until they became much more common that was typical during the Beaver Wars. I was almost scared away by the fact that the hand with the bow is detached and you have to glue it in. I am NOT a fan of "assemble your own" figures. Those boxes of plastic figures from Wargames Factory are my own private vision of the inner rings of Hell!

I persevered, though, and purchased one pack of four. Somehow, in showing the figures to my friends, a hand/bow piece was lost. Luckily, I was able to find a suitable replacement in my 28mm Dark Ages miscellaneous bags. The hands have a pin end which fit into a hole on the wrist stump fairly well. Still, I would rather not have to glue anything together on my 28mm miniatures -- which is probably another reason I love Conquest Miniatures Indians so much. There's plenty of variety there -- no need for kit-bashed variety created by mixing and matching weapons and body parts.

The figures were incredibly simple to paint, and I will likely order some more soon. There are two main poses - one running and one standing and firing. Each type has a slight big of variety, i.e., the two running poses are marginally different. I like the long, flowing, "Conan the Barbarian" type hair that they are sculpted with. It looks very much like what I picture an Indian youth.
25mm RAFM Indian Archers
The last two figures I painted in this batch of six are Indian archers from RAFM. Theses are smaller (and thinner) than today's 28mm figures. So, they fit the bill for Indian youths, as well. The detail is noticeably worse than either the Footsore Miniatures or the normal Conquest Miniatures that I paint up. However, I had them in my unpainted lead drawer, so onto the desktop they went.

Next up on my desk are three 28mm Pulp figures. With the conclusion of Dakota Smith's Oriental Adventures first story arc, my friend Tom has volunteered to run the next adventure. That means that *I* get to play. Which means I need my own league. It was fun to dig through my Pulp drawer and pick out three figures and create a back story for them. That's for next update, though...