Wednesday, September 21, 2016

African Huts in about 20mm for a couple bucks each!

$4.99 (half off for $2.50) at Michaels craft store -- an inexpensive way to create an African village! Posed with my 20mm Liberation Miniatures modern Africans.

I always enjoy wandering the aisles of my local craft stores -- Michaels and Hobby Lobby. Just about every time I can find something I can use for one of my projects. I keep their online coupons saved on my iPhone's web browser, so I can pull them up quickly and get something I see for 40% or 50% off. It was when that day's Michaels coupon was for half off of a regularly priced item that I stumbled upon these round huts made out of some type of resin-like material.

I picked them up, eyeballed them, and thought they looked surprisingly close to 20mm scale. I know I should probably keep a 20mm and 28mm figure in my car to be sure, but I usually think to do that only when I'm at the flea market of a larger convention. The more I looked at them, the more sure I was they would be perfect African huts for my 20mm Modern Africa games. They were priced at $4.99 each -- not bad, but a steal at $2.50 (less with the 15% Teachers' discount they let me pile on top). I picked up two as I had a friend tagging along when wasn't buying anything (another valuable asset to keep handy...ha, ha!).

The round hut and its Chinese factory paint job

Although they came already painted, I figured I could do a better job than the random Chinese factory worker. I spray painted them black, then went over that with a 50/50 mixture of black paint and water. Essentially, I gave the huts the same treatment that I give my Acheson terrain pieces I talked about in the previous post. I painted the mud plaster walls a base coat of a spice tan, then dry brushed them my usual khaki color. The thatch was done in a butternut color, with a light gray dry brush on top. The interior of the hut was painted black for uniformity, as were the recessed window openings. Finally, I mixed up black paint and water for a black wash to give it that shaded effect and soften the transitions on the drybrushing.

I was unhappy with the flocking I did in the doorway, though. So, I decided to go back and correct it by putting something to grab the eye in the doorway. For one, it was a paper towel rug painted with white glue and various colors. For the other, it was a tiny plastic bowl from the craft store painted as an African basket. Some flocking and clump foliage, and my African huts looked decent for the tabletop. I have purchased three more of the huts so that I can represent a village on the board, and will likely keep my eye out and buy more when I get another 50% off sale.

I posed them next to some of my more recent 20mm Africa figures, so you can see they do a good job of looking the part of an African village!

Acheson Creations stumps and rocks and stuff

A few of my 28mm Pulp miniatures amidst the newly-painted Acheson Creations resin terrain pieces
I will be buying some more stuff from Acheson Creations in about a week and a half at Advance the Colors gaming convention in Springfield, OH. I love their various resin terrain pieces -- they are easy-to-paint, look great on the tabletop, and very affordable! So, since I will likely come home with a bag bulging with new terrain for the tabletop, I figured it made sense to paint up what I still had on hand from previous purchases.

Most of the unpainted pieces I had on hand were tree stumps and rocks. No problem -- I could doubtless use them to create a blasted forest, or to add color to an ordinary section of woods. When I say Acheson Creations pieces paint up easy, I mean really easy! Here is all I do to get great looking terrain for my games:
  • Run the pieces through a short cycle in the dishwasher on low (or no) heat
  • Spray paint the pieces black with acrylic
  • Go over the black with a 50/50 mix of black paint and water to ensure it seeps into all the ample crevices and folds of the piece
  • Dry brush a medium brown for the wood pieces (I use Howard Hues Camo Brown), or Dark Gray for rocks
  • Dry brush the pieces khaki for the wood (Howard Hues Colonial Khaki), or Light Gray for rocks (Howard Hues Rebel Gray)
  • Very lightly dry brush wood pieces a light gray -- don't cover up all of your brown, but enough to give it a weathered look
  • Wash with a black wash of your choice
  • Flock

The deep folds and crevices of Acheson products make them to dry brush

Bingo! You're done. Goes very quickly. I highly recommend Acheson Creations products. They are my single favorite wargaming terrain manufacturer.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Beaver Wars in Ohio playtest, Turn 9

Four games were running as the campaign comes down to the wire to see which tribe will be victorious

Our next-to-last turn of the final playtest of the Beaver Wars campaign rules took place last weekend at the local pizzeria. All players were in attendance, so as GM I sat out with my Erie tribe. An interesting dynamic had developed in the strategic card play phase of the game over the last two turns. Early on, most tribes played Hunt cards, to obtain more beaver pelts. Now, there was a preponderance of War cards as tribes competed to be near the top of the order for launching attacks. Both 2nd and 3rd place tribes (Neutral and Mohawk) chose high value War cards and both chose to attack tribes far beneath them in the standings. Each player claimed that they did that because they had not fought that particular opponent in the campaign yet, but I’m not so sure they weren’t targeting a tribe that would field a potentially less powerful force (as far as firearms and trait upgrades go).

The Honniasont quickly cut off the pathway, forcing the Neutral Scouts to fight

The first battle saw the Honniasont turning the tables on the Neutrals in the Ambush the Scouts scenario. The Honniasont are our last-place tribe — mainly because Bruce joined the campaign several turns into it and has been unable to close the gap on points. His strategy of fielding a force of all Youths with one Chieftain has been challenging to everyone he has faced. Keith’s Neutrals were the first opponent to take a Youth-heavy force to oppose the Honniasont. The Honniasont moved to block the Neutrals path, and sabotaged Keith’s idea of racing around the enemy to exit the table (as the victory conditions required).

The Honniasont spring their ambush and charge in to catch the Neutrals unaware

Bruce’s rolls were good and soon he had slain several Neutrals. Bruce was living up to his reputation of giving everyone he faced a challenging struggle. Keith’s favorite tactic in this campaign, though, has been to try to kill his opponent’s chieftain. Anytime an enemy leader enters the fray (or gets within his movement range), Keith will try his best to swarm him and force his opponent to take the required morale test if he successfully kills him. Plus, a force without a chieftain is more vulnerable to activation turnovers than one that is well-led. This tactic has served Keith well in the campaign, as the Neutrals’ position in the standings will attest.

Keith points out how he plans to kill the Honniasont leader to Bruce

Keith’s bid to kill the Honniasont chieftain was successful, and Bruce’s forces were scattered by morale failures. With that, his good fortune at activation rolls seemed to disappear. The game quickly went from a hard-fought struggle, with the Honniasont having the edge, to a mopping up operation by the victorious Neutrals. It was a Major Victory for the Neutrals, with the score 18-3 in victory points.

The Mohawk advance through the Susquehannock town, driving the defenders before them

The Slaughter Amidst the Lodges scenario that pitted the Mohawk attack on a Susquehannock town catches the battle in the middle of all its fury. The entire board is an Indian town, with the players using the birchbark longhouses and various skin-stretching frames, sweat lodges, and fish-drying racks as cover. The Mohawks had used their upgrades to make many of their warriors Strong (+1 in melee). So, they were quick to close with the enemy. Although they lost a couple warriors, the Mohawks quickly began tomahawking their enemy. Soon, Steve’s forces fell below half and were scattered by the mandatory morale check.

Steve moves his Susquehannock warriors to try to stave off the Mohawk attackers

The chieftain and three others remained on the table, and bravely continued the fray. The Susquehannock leader even rushed to attack a Mohawk warrior, but was soon outnumbered and cut down. His remaining warriors fled the village with his loss, leaving the Mohawk in possession of the town. This battle was actually our biggest margin of victory, with the Mohawks triumphing 19-2 over the Susquehannock.

As the Miami spring their ambush, the Seneca hunters drop their bundles at the portage

The third battle was another ambush — this time of a Miami raiding party catching Seneca hunters at Ambush at the Portage. The Miami concealed themselves and waited until the Seneca were very close to spring the battle. Apparently, there was confusion among the Miami, as the warriors did not recognize the signal to attack and remained frozen in place. The Seneca took advantage of the Miami activation failure and dropped their bundles and quickly closed with their ambushers. Seneca matchlock fire was deadly and soon Miami warriors were dropping as the momentum quickly swung in favor of the defenders.

Jenny looks on in despair as the Seneca aggressively charge her Miami and begin to cut them down

As more and more of their warriors fell, the Miami knew their attack was doomed to failure. The Seneca showed little mercy — scalping their opponents and continuing to close on the reeling and disorganized enemy. The Miami did account for three of their attackers, but lost eight of their own, including their leader. It was our third Major Victory of the turn, as the Seneca rolled 18-3.

The Kickapoo traders stalk forward, certain that some of their goods have been stolen by the Shawnee also visiting the fort

The final battle took place between two trading missions that encountered each other within the walls of a European fort. Both had arrived within a day of each other and had just concluded trading their pelts for firearms, powder, and European goods. Unfortunately, the white man’s curse, whisky and rum, was also sold to the Indians. Combined with past wrongs, that sewed the seeds of conflict between the Kickapoo and Shawnee parties.

Andy's Kickapoo -- I really enjoy how so many of the players have painted up their forces as the campaign progresses

The entire battlefield of the Who’s a Thief? scenario is contained inside the fort, with cabins and warehouses as cover. A special scenario rule has a hostile soldier appear anytime an Indian tries to enter a cabin or climb atop the palisade. Neither side risked angering the soldiers, though. The warriors instead massed towards a passageway between the walls and a warehouse. The Shawnee quickly gained the upper hand in the fighting. As a warrior fell, more entered the dusty lane. Soon, the Kickapoo began to retreat and fled back towards their encampment. Once again, the Shawnee held the upper hand in a battle. Their 14-4 victory maintained their position as the most dominant tribe in the Ohio Valley by 1 single point! I'm sure that both they and the Neutrals will be examining the categories to determine how they can move up in the categories they are competing in.

Victory Points
25.5 points
24.5 points
22.5 points
18.5 points
14 points
12 points
11 points
8 points
3 points

Prestige Points (PPs)
Neutrals (Keith Finn)
22 (7 MajV, 1 MinD)
Shawnee (Joe Merz)
22 (5 MajV, 3 MinV, 1 MinD)
Mohawk (Dave Welch)
15 (4 MajV, 1 MinV, 1 MinD)
Seneca (Mike Stelzer)
15 (3 MajV, 3 MinV)
Miami (Jenny Torbett)
11 (2 MajV, 2 MinV, 1 MinD)
Kickapoo (Andy Swingle)
10 (3 MajV, 1 MinD)
Erie (Mike Demana)
8 (2 MajV, 2 MinD)
Susquehannock (Steve Phallen)
5 (1 MajV, 2 MinD)
Honniasont (Bruce Adamczak)
3 (1 MinV, 1 MinD)

Scenario Victory Points (SVPs)
Neutrals (Keith Finn)
Shawnee (Joe Merz)
Mohawk (Dave Welch)
Seneca (Mike Stelzer)
Miami (Jenny Torbett)
Kickapoo (Andy Swingle)
Erie (Mike Demana)
Susquehannock (Steve Phallen)
Honniasont (Bruce Adamczak)

Beaver Pelts
Shawnee (Joe Merz)
Mohawk (Dave Welch)
Neutrals (Keith Finn)
Kickapoo (Andy Swingle)
Erie (Mike Demana)
Susquehannock (Steve Phallen)
Seneca (Mike Stelzer)
Miami (Jenny Torbett)
Honniasont (Bruce Adamczak)