Monday, April 30, 2018

Little Wars 2018 - War-torn Village in Angola

The climax of one of the games at Little Wars 2018, as South African armor and troops burst into the Cuban-held village
 From the first weekend of March through the last weekend in April, I attended three conventions and ran my Wars of Insurgency game seven times. Getting all the troops ready for the big show in Chicago has consumed most of my painting and modeling time. I swore to myself that I would have my resin Ratel-20s for my South African Defense Force squads ready by Little Wars. And just to prove how much I enjoy deadline pressure (haha...!), I vowed to get another 16 20mm Cuban figures ready, too.
The calm before the storm -- the village supply depot that the South Africans and UNITA will be assaulting
Well, I made it...barely! I finished packing my freshly Dullcoated Cubans at 1 am on Thursday morning, about 8 hours before I'd be leaving for the show. What is it about running games for conventions that bring out the drive to get stuff ready? Maybe it's the P.T. Barnum in me wanting to put on the best show that I can. Or maybe it's just masochism! Either way, this seems to happen more than once with me, where I put a deadline on myself for a project that ends up being to have it ready in time for a convention. And guess what? My next show is Drums at the Rapids in three weeks -- and I just pulled out six more SADF figures that I want painted up in time for that convention!
The Cuban defenders guard the perimeter in depth, awaiting the assault on their supply depot
Anyway, the venue for Little Wars was amazing. The Westin Hotel in Lombard, IL, is swanky and four star. The ballroom that held all the events was spacious, incredibly well lit, and had nice carpet which made standing most of the day less uncomfortable. There was quite a few empty tables except at peak times (Friday evening, Saturday morning/afternoon), which meant noise was much more bearable than you often encounter at gaming conventions.
A FAPLA force (Cuban-trained Angolans) is redirected by the Cubans to guard the village's left flank
Every single spot was full all four games, which made me really happy. Plus, many seemed to be friends of people who'd played previously, so Smokin' Some Cubans must have been getting good word of mouth. My players were a great group, and most seemed to clearly have fun. I didn't have any pissy or whiny players that you sometimes encounter at conventions or club meetings. They were polite and showed good sportsmanship, deferring to their opponents. In my opinion, nothing can ruin a game than the one jerk who's criticizing everything that happens, seeming to announce to the world why his troops are not having the success they obviously should be. Instead, my players were great, and their fun became my fun, as well.
Enthusiastic Cuban defenders deploy forward, eager to finally engage the hated South Africans!
Inspired by their Marxist brethren, the FAPLA force advances to meet the South Africans on the left
The games all fought to a conclusion, with no draws where we ran out of time and the outcome was a tossup. The South Africans won big in two of the games, the Angolans in another, and the final game seemed to lean towards a SADF victory, as well. More troops and armored cars entered inside the village than I'd had in any previous running of the game.
The South African force, supported by two Ratel-20 armored vehicles, advances through the brush towards the village
I hope you enjoy the photos. I took more photos early in the convention, and seemed to encounter photojournalist fatigue later. My new iPhone takes nice pictures, I feel, and these are definitely some of my favorites I have of the scenario.
A contingent of UNITA Angolan guerrillas moves towards the village center, supported by a SADF Ratel-20
After Drums, where I will run it twice on Saturday, I will put Smokin' Some Cubans away until October. Who knows? Maybe I'll even design a totally new scenario for our HMGS Great Lakes flagship convention! It all depends on how much free time I have this summer, and how motivated I am, of course!
Jonas Savimbi's UNITA troops close in on the village, using the armor and village fields as cover
A squad of Cubans flees back towards the village as the fire from the SADF/UNITA assault becomes intense
One of the South African players points out a target inside the village in my Saturday evening game
The South Africans, with two squads of UNITA guerrillas following, overwhelm the Cuban defenders

Monday, April 16, 2018

Ghost Archipelago monsters & creatures

Iron Wind Metals 25mm Prehistoric Bird, which will wander the Ghost Archipelago as a random encounter
 I don't want to look to see how long it has been since I updated Lead Legionaries last. Some real life problems intruded in a major way, and I have spent much of the last three months helping my parents out, and staying at their place. Life is slowly returning to normal, and with that, painting and getting things ready for my Frostgrave: Ghost Archipelago campaign.
15mm Drakes, which will replace Giant Wasps as a danger in my Ghost Archipelago campaign
I have been working on my stock of monsters and creatures to be ready when they are called upon with the system's random encounters. I am taking a bit of a shortcut, though, and heavily revising the chart. Part of my changes are to align it more with my Fur-grave theme. Snakemen, for example, are replaced by my already painted up Frogmen. Similarly, the Dricheans will become Splintered Light Miniatures Wildcats, and Tribals are my Pygmy Cannibals from my Pulp games.
These 25mm Iron Wind Metals Lions are a natural stand-in for Tigers on my islands
Other changes are simply to use my current collection of miniatures and substitute something similar. For example, the Screamer Monkeys become Baboons, Tigers are morphed into Lions, and the Mountain Goat will become Stags.
Don't tell them, but Baboons have a nasty enough disposition to take the place of Screamer Monkeys in my games
Finally, there are simply some things I don't want on my tabletop and I would rather have more fantasy creatures for them to fight. Giant Ticks? Nah! Giant Wasps? How about a bunch of colorful Drakes, instead? Yes, I know I can go out and buy those Toobz plastic figures at the craft store (and did for my giant lizards, which DO make sense for this island and fit my aesthetic sense). However, it simply makes sense to use the figures I have collected over the years for random monsters, rather than those that were in the creators collection. I mean, if they're going to GIVE them to me...ha, ha!
Some things on the encounter chart don't change...gorillas will always be gorillas!
So, look for more monsters on this page in the future -- and certainly more promptly than this last update!
These 15mm Gargoyles will take the place of Giant Bats in my campaign

This figure will be what I use if my players encounter a Spirit Warrior or similar Undead
And Balrogs are demons, and demons are Soul Stealers...right?