All About Nothing: Friday Grab Bag #4

September 29, 2017

I’m a wargame butterfly.  Recently I got up a nice head of steam and painted up a bunch of Afrika Korps infantry.  Then I found Nazgul well suited for my LotR 1/72 scale project so  just HAD to stop and paint then.  I am trying to get refocused on WW2 but Lord of the Rings (maybe it is the call of the Witch-King) is holding me back.  The sad part is, somehow I am feeling the draw of the Horse and Musket era too.

Someone inquired about the 2 AB41 scout cars on my paint table.  It at least prompted me to maybe give them the paint job they deserve.  They are nice models after all.  Well, at breakfast, I thought I’d clean up the tiny bulges you sometimes get with resin models.  I found out the hard way that the wheels were not molded on but glued on.  Pop went he wheel.  Stab went the knife into my thumb.  To make matters worse, I could not find the wheel anywhere on the floor.  My daughter is home sick so I told her she could find the wheel if she was up to it.  She pointed down on the floor, “You mean that wheel?”  Crisis averted.

There are fan made rules for playing Frostgrave same side which suits my son fine.  He can’t seem to do well when he fights me.  I am using good old tactics.  I hit/neutralize targets that are imminent threats and then focus firepower on other targets or destroy the ones that have been neutralized.  It’s not really different from modern infantry tactics.  Anyway, I told him about playing same side games.  He also has an interest in LotR as we just finished up the trilogy of movies recently.  So Frostgrave already has behavior rules for monsters and the rules for solo play require that you spawn monsters randomly around the board 2 at a time.  It should make for some challenging “chase” style scenarios.  We can pick up loot along the way.

I’ve been a good boy except for adding the odd figures that are needed to round out a project.  The lead pile never seems to shrink.  I’ve been stricken with the fever that most miniatures gamers get, buying the the latest shiny objects or starting a new project because it looks “cool.”  I have not started a new project in years.  I have several stalled projects though.  Well maybe not stalled.  Just temporarily halted while I vacillate between them all.  Slow and steady I suppose.

Well, That Didn’t Take Long

September 28, 2017

In just two days, maybe 4 hours of work, the Nazgul are done.  I painted them in shifts, the foot first, the mounted second and the fell beast with rider third.  All were primed black followed by a coat of black paint and a light dry brushing of shadow gray.  Te metal parts are iron silver and the bones are bleached bone.


Nazgul mounted give chase. The front figure is a Witch King figure.

Frankie the Frank is going to have a tough time with this guy.

A scene from Weathertop? Nazgul attack the Hobbits near an old ruin.

It was an excellent find for me really and I am quite pleased with the figures.  $30 or so is not “cheap” but these figures fill a necessary niche for LotR battles.

To Mordor I will Take You

September 25, 2017

While browsing the “interwebs” for…well…anything, I stumbled upon a post about Black Raven Foundry wraiths and the lament that they were closer to 1/72 scale than 15mm.  What’s this you say?  The third picture in his post tells the whole story.  The Germanic warrior is, according to PSR, is 24mm tall.  So, last Thursday, I took a chance and made a purchase.  One bag of wraiths and another bag with the fell beast and Witch-King was ordered.  I figured the mounted and the witch king would size up too small.  Boy how wrong I was.

A selection posed with a MiniArt Mounted germanic Warrior, a HaT Frankish warrior and a Caesar Miniatures adventurer knight.

Not exactly perfect but here is a look at the figures for scale.

I am quite happy with the footmen and their size.  They are perhaps 23mm tall and seem to fit well with other figures.  I am pleasantly surprised with the mounted and how good they look against the mounted warrior.  Understand that MiniArt Germanic Warriors were a bit robust and slightly larger than the other 1/72 ranges.  So, though the “nightmares” are slightly smaller, in all likelihood, they will match with many other ranges.   I’d been looking for suitable wraith figures for my LotR collection.  Those interested can find them here and here.  A bag of each will run you about $30 with postage.  Expected delivery in the US is probably about a week or less.

Rolls Royce: The Finished Product

September 23, 2017

It’s funny how these models sometimes fight you all the way to completion.  This was one of those models.  I built one body only to find out how many mistakes I made and started over.  I must have made 7 turrets before I found a design I was happy with.  The paint is close but not exact.  In real life, this model looks pretty good.  Up close, it looks still a little rough.  I am happy with the $3 investment for as many of these vehicles as I can build.  I will be building two more for the 11th Hussars.  No Caunter scheme.  Just desert yellow.

Looking a little rough up close. One thing I will do is line wheels with a dark gray pen from now on.

Looks better from the rear but the black on the wheels really shows, errors and all

Overhead view showing off the Bren MG and Boys ATR.

Rolls Royce – Not Exactly Luxury

September 23, 2017

Here are a couple of pictures of my first Rolls Royce Armored Car.  the model is by Der Kampfflieger.  The model came with the original turret.  I had to design my own WW2 style turret.  The ATR was scratch built.  I used a Junior General ATR for the receiver and added a round Plastruct rod for the barrel.  I used a thin strip of paper for the muzzle break.  I will do the same for the Bren.  I do have a few bren guns from Raventhorpe but compared to the ATR, the Bren gun barrels look massive.

Lots of edging still to be done. Won’t take long though.

Yep…filling some where the running board meets the fender. Pretty minor though.

I did have a tough time with the fender assembly.  The way I thought they would be, the boards tapered out…which was wrong.  They should be straight.  I ended up cutting my first attempt away and did it again.  The results were much better.

“Is this thing on?” Friday Grab Bag #3

September 22, 2017

With the recent arrival or “Developing the Portable Wargame” I’ve been pondering exactly how to approach the rules.  The game is fairly scale agnostic.  I have all of these wonderful Rapid Fire! campaign books and not enough forces/terrain/table space to run any of them.  Then it occurred to me that I could convert them to the PW.  Each PW unit would equal 1 company in the RF organization.  I thik I will have to add some more terrain boards.  A battalion will be something like 5-6 stands which, on my small board, will just work.  Multiple battalion battlegroups?  Not so much.

My son and I have started our 3rd full Frostgrave game.  I said “full” because our first couple of goes were really rules lite affairs.  We started with just an infantry action from Don Featherstone’s “Skirmish Wargames” book.  This was just to get used to the flow of the game.  Then we added 1 wizard and a few companions to see how the magic went.  Finally we went full on gaming with all the rules and campaign elements.  It’s been a good time so far.  However, my little opponent is sometimes not so focused, especially in the later evening when we have time to play a turn or two.  I guess I should cut him some slack.  He is only 9 after all.

I’ve been shopping on occasion at wargame vault for various terrain bits.  I’ve picked up a few ruins from Microtactix, a paper terrain company that started back around 2000.  Their models still hold up well to the more advanced competition such as Fat Dragon Games, another favorite of mine.  Recently, I’ve been perusing some models from Wargame Print.  I bought a few of their models back when their selection was quite limited.  I am amazed now at how extensive their offerings have become.  I have the Greek Fort, which is sized quite nicely for a DBA BUA in 15mm.  I’ve also picked up the Waterloo style buildings in 6mm.  These are modular buildings so you can add and take away from one structure to make different looking complexes.   This is also a multi-layered PDF so it is possible to change the skins with three different options of walls and another three different options of windows/doors.

Greek Fort (Fromt Wargame Vault Website)

Some example terrain from my Portable Wargame including a building from the 6mm Waterloo Style buildings

This weekend, besides taking the kids to a birthday party and a soccer game, there will be some more Frostgrave.  I also hope to have the other two Rolls Royce Armored Cars done…or at least close.




Simplicity in Practice Revisited

September 21, 2017

In issue #22 of the now defunct Battlegames Magazine, Neil Thomas wrote his gaming manifesto, or why simple gaming rules can get the job done.  In issue #23, the author returns with a simple set of wargame rules that illustrates how one could create such a game with a simple set of rules for 18th Century warfare.  I posted my thoughts about the game many moons ago here.  After giving some more consideration to these rules, I think I’d like to give a whack at my own set along the same vein.  Much of the methodology would remain the same.  Shooting would use a single die with a required number to cause 1 hit.  There would be a 4+ save for any unit in substantial cover.  Melee combat would be handled by a contested die roll.  Each advantage would grant a +1 on the die.  The loser takes 2 hits and retreats a move.  4 Hits would remove a unit from play.  That is the game in a nutshell.

The game is  strictly IGO-UGO.  I will probably change this to IGO-UGO within the movement phase.  Shooting would be simultaneous with non-moving units shooting first followed by moving units.  I would allow some units to make double moves and even triple moves along a road so long as they stay out of engagement range of the enemy during their move.  Melee would also be simultaneous.  The unit actually charging in would be deemed the attacker.  The defender would get any modifiers specific to the defender.  I think a single general in such a game is useful for rallying a unit or inspiring them in close combat.  If a unit was out of engagement range and the general is attached, that unit could rally 1 point back on a 4+.  They can never rally back to full.  So a unit that took its first hit cannot rally it back.  Finally, I’d allow the general to charge into combat with a unit affording that unit a +1.  However, the general can be killed during the combat.  On a die roll of 6, the general falls in combat.

This really requires some more thought.  I don’t want to destroy the “vibe” of the game and make it something it was never supposed to be.  I’ve been building Rolls Royce armored car card models.  There will be plenty of time to ponder while I build.

Friday Grab Bag #2 – The Quickening

September 15, 2017

My second installment, also known as a sequel, and I am still finding my way.  So here we go!

It’s been several months now since I’ve started frequenting the Wargames Website.  I quite like the atmosphere so far.  It is a fairly finite space and easy to navigate.  The people are quite friendly and helpful.  That said, I am still somewhat confounded as to the most comfortable way to browse the site.  I generally check the front page for news and then the side bar for what’s new/hot that day.  I have to click the forum link, though if I want to see old threads.  It’s easy enough to do and the forum setup is a familiar Pro Boards style forum.  Yet, somehow I feel it is a bit more uncomfortable to browse than with TMP.  I do hope the readership expands.  I think it is a good place to one’s wargame cap.

I quite like board games that simulate battles in a simple way.  Hold the Line and Command and Colors both come to mind as successful approaches to this end.  Some board games, like the old SPI folio games, depict a battle and perhaps have one or two variant scenarios but all said, you are stuck fighting the ONE battle.  With games like HtL or CandC, you can make your own scenarios and even change the battlefield with the modular tile overlays.  There is at least one other game that is out there that works the same way.  Horse and Musket by Hollandspiele purports to so the same dealing with the Wars of Spanish Succession.  However, where the former have counters, blocks or miniatures that provide graphical appeal, HandM has crossed sabers, rifles and cannon balls on the counters.  To me, this was a bad miss.  While I am no stickler for pretty pictures, I do think that counters should be graphically representative.

Osprey is coming out with a sequel to Frostgrave entitled Frostgrave: Ghost Archipelago, which will deal with adventures in a tropical atmosphere.  Instead of a focus on a wizard, the main character will be a warrior with some powers that had been passed down from generations ago.  The character, nearest i can tell, will have the powers something like a Jedi.  The theme is sort of a Medieval or Renaissance vibe.  I guess you can put your inner Gandalf aside and  release your inner Francis Drake.

Why are game mechanics these days so fiddly?  The games I like to play are pretty straight forward.  You roll a die.  Maybe your opponent gets a save.  That sort of thing.  There are a lot of games out there that have some wonderful game mechanics when it comes to movement, shooting and melee.  But, command and control seems to be the hotness these days.  Too many times I’ll turn my nose up at game X or game Y because the command rules are either way too fiddly or they are so abstract that they don’t even feel like command rules but rather more like a friction generator.  A good command rule would feel something like you are giving orders.  PIPs in DBA for instance.  You only have so many messengers per turn to order your troops about.  In “For King or Empress” and by extension “Napoleons Battles” it matters where your commanders are and a failed initiative will make them plod along.  While you may not feel like you are giving orders, you do have to maintain command communications, limited by distance and, of course, make that all important initiative roll.  The system is brilliant in that even the worst general can have a good day.  Not likely, but possible.

A parting shot.  I do need to get the camera out.  I have a good many miniatures to play “Show and Tell” with.  I even managed to put flags on my ACW cavalry command stands.  Until next time!

For King or Empress: A Quick Overview

September 13, 2017

I’d been eyeing up For King or Empress by First Command Wargames for some time now.  There is a relative dearth of information on this game.  I finally got the bug and decided to take a chance on the PDF version of the game.  FKoE is a relatively short rule book, at least by today’s standards, weighing in at just 44 pages.  About half the rule book is devoted to all aspects of the game.  FKoE uses a card activation system.  When a General’s card is pulled, the owning player makes a move with all units under that General’s command.

before units are moved, a die is rolled.  If it is greater than the command number for that general, all units under his command may move freely up to their movement rate.  If they fail the command roll (usually by rolling a 1 or a 2) the units under his command move at half speed.

Units move at double speed when they are outside of 8″ from any enemy unit.  Within 8″, units move at normal speed.  This is a simple way to have units fight deployed without having to fiddle with actual formation changes.  There are simple rules for wheeling.

If hits are sustained, morale checks are made.  The more hits you take, the worse the penalty for failing a morale check.  No unit can take more than 4 hits before automatically routing.  A failed check on 3 hits, for example will cause the unit to take another hit and route.  I noted that morale also goes down by 1 for each hit.  So you are double penalized for taking hits on units.  I am not really sure how I feel about this.  After a couple of plays, I will have a better feeling.

Shooting and melee are handled in the same manner.  Each unit (a single element representing a battalion) gets 1 die.  If you roll the units combat rating or less, you score 1 hit on the enemy.  If your chance to hit is 6 or more, you automatically score a hit.  For numbers greater than 6, there is a chance you can score a second hit.  Also, combat hits in melee are modified based on the situation.  Horse, for instance, takes an extra hit when meleeing infantry from the front.

There are rules for setting up the battlefield and a few quick suggestions for campaigns.  Most of the rest of the book is concerned with army lists.  There are set piece lists for small armies which are assumed to be for battles against the advanced guards and more extensive lists for full armies and big battles.

There are some minor errors in the book but no show stoppers.  The game lists the equipment needed at the beginning of the book.  Among the dice needed are D12s and D6s.  However, when we get to the morale section, the call is for a D20.  The call is repeated in the QRS which tells me that D12s were once used for morale but have fallen out of favor for D20s.  Not such a big deal since everything related to morale seems to be geared for D20s throughout book.

So, yes.  The rules junky fell off the wagon and got another wargame.  This one is on my list of games to play in the near future.  The upshot: I have two Baccus 6mm starter armies.  I’ve been vacillating back and forth how I should base them.  I think I have my answer now.  The rule book calls for 4cm frontage and 3cm depth for infantry.  So 3 ranks fills that out nicely.  Ill probably leave a 1cm space to the rear of the base for placing hit markers…which I also have.

Odds and Ends to Keep Me Writing

September 8, 2017

I’m starting a new category called “Friday Grab Bag” which will be some random wargaming thoughts and what I’ve been working on.  I’ll try to make an entry, no matter how big or small, every Friday.  Very low impact posts which may or may not include some pictures.  So here we go.

My son and I have played a bit of Frostgrave over the summer up until about when school started.  We are both enjoying it a lot.  It is sort of a table top lite role playing system.  My only quibble with the game is how “swingy” combat can be.  You can be well defended, behind a stone wall and be killed in 1 shot.  While this makes some sense, since your head is exposed, it makes less sense when the figure is standing in the open.  Combat damage is the difference between the opponents armor and the final attack roll.  So if you rolled a 24 and your opponent rolled a 23, just missing the block, you would then compare it to the opponents armor and the difference between the two is the damage taken.  Most characters can take 10 points.  Armor is usually 10-14.

A game of Frostgrave in progress. There really does need to be lots of terrain to make the game fun.

I’ve been looking a bit at 2WW by One Small Step.  It is a game of the war in Europe in the 1940s, not unlike Third Reich by Avalon Hill.  The depth seems about the same but as Third Reich but the scale is a little smaller and the rules mechanics are a bit more simple.  However, the game still seems to cover all of the same aspect.  You can find ut more on the BGG page.  I plan on picking up the PnP version from Wargame Vault.

I have started back to my Desert War project.  I am currently painting a German mortor infantry regiment for the 5th light division.  I’ve done plenty of research on the colors and even found the correct colors in stock at the local hobby shop.  Oh happy days!  It is not really the laser focus you might be expecting.  I am actually just clearing the paint table.  I finished up my ACW cavalry…that one bag I missed out on when I painted them up the first time.  I am happy to report that the Union and Confederate forces have their full compliments now.  There are also about 24 Orcs that need  paint.   I am painting each set with different skin colors.  I have Dark Brown, Ochre and Medium Gray.  While I am not to happy with the Gray skins (the gray blends with the metal armor too much) they do still look good enough.