Sunday, May 31, 2015

3mm Status Report

It's been a hectic week.

The first order of business was to find a home for a poor little waif that ended up on our doorstep. Unfortunately, our 2 cats HATED him so we had to move him out. Right now he is in the care of my mother-in-law.
Oliver, the poor little waif.
 I have found some time for painting. I am working on my 3mm project. I'm painting enough strips to field 2 One Hour Wargames armies using the organization I discussed earlier this week.

The strips lined up for painting
A closer look at the Bluderian infantry
I am just painting for effect and am ignoring most details. I just paint the uniform (in a single color), face, hat, and tips of the muskets. I think they'll look satisfactory once based and placed on the battle board.

So far, I really like these figures and am thinking of expanding my 3mm project. I may pick up some ancient Celts and paint them as Zamundan natives for my proposed Lumbago campaign. I'm also planning a campaign on mainland Francesia between Bluderia and Redgrave.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

They're Heeere!

3mm, that is.

I just received my order of 3mm Magister Militum horse & musket figures today. So far, I am very enthusiastic!

Unlike 2mm, they are more than tiny blobs; even my bad eyes can clearly make out the individual soldiers. However, a single strip provides a greater mass than 6mm. I also like that the Magister Militum's infantry are shoulder to shoulder instead of with gaps like the ones from PicoArmor. The cavalry are based in pairs, nose to tail, which is convenient. I'll be able to base them as is to the stands. The Lead Doesn't Bleed blog criticizes the artillery and the guns are truly weak castings. Nevertheless, I can't really tell from table distance so they should work fine. I do appreciate that guns and crew are cast together (another difference from PicoArmor)

My plan is create 2 armies suitable for the One Hour Wargames army lists. That means that I will need 4 infantry units, 2 skirmisher units, 2 cavalry units, and 2 artillery units per army if I want to cover all possible permutations. My plan is to base them on 20mm square stands as follows:

Infantry - 2 strips per stand. 2 stands per unit.

  • a single bag gives me more than enough for 2 armies.
  • Ultimately, I would like to expand to 4 stands per unit.
Skirmishers - 1 strip per stand. 2 stands per unit
  • Magister Militum currently does not have 3mm light infantry. I am going to improvise by putting fewer strips per stand.
  • I may ultimately pick up some skirmishers from the PicoArmor range. Lead Doesn't Bleed did a nice job of using Civil War troops as jaegers.
  • As with infantry, I would ultimately like to expand to 4 stands per unit.
Cavalry - 3 strips per stand (6 figures total). 2 or 3 stands per unit.
  • I ultimately want 3 stands per unit but I may start smaller.
  • Even at 3 stands per unit, I have enough strips for 3 armies!
Artillery - 1 strip per stand. 2 stands per unit.
  • As is, I have enough for 5 armies!
  • I wanted to use 2 strips per stand but the base was too crowded.
I'd love to show some pics but my camera battery died. When it recharges I'll post a couple.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Lily's Heroic Stand

Tonight we continued our quest against Vanestra in Mice and Mystics.

This time,our party's goal was to find some information in the Alchemist's lab. After some hard battles, we arrived at the lab. Unfortunately, the enemy was there first - Captain Vurst and 4 elite rats armed with bows.

As soon as we entered, the enemy unleashed their arrows. Maginos the mystic immediately fell. Filch the scamp and Collin the warrior rushed toward the rats. Lily the archer returned fire and took out one of the enemy. Alas, another warrior took its place.

Filch the scamp (e.g. thief) rushed the enemy but was riddled with arrows. Collin used a scroll to slow the warriors but as he rushed forward, Captain Vurst cut him down.

Lily was all by herself, but at least the enemy was temporarily slowed. She used the opportunity to take careful aim and took out Captain Vurst.

The remaining warriors tried to shoot Lily but she was able to find some cover. Their arrow fell harmless. Lily returned fire and two more warriors fell. The other two shot back but they missed. Then began a long, drawn-out exchange of fire. Time after time, Lily's shot appeared to be on mark but the enemy dodged. Fortunately, Lily was able to avoid their shots. Finally, her aim was true and another enemy fell.

Lily and the last remaining warrior then engaged in an epic showdown. It managed to wound Lily but she kept fighting. Back and forth arrows flew across the room but none found their mark. At last, Lily's shot found its mark. The last enemy was dead. Lily rushed to her wounded comrades and revive them.

We finished the 3rd scenario tonight. The final battle was epic, for my wife. I played Maginos and Filch so I got knocked out of the battle pretty early. My wife lost Collin but Lily kept up the fight. She managed to kill off all the enemies. The final two were particularly difficult. She kept hitting but the enemy kept defending. Ultimately, she was able to take them out.

Grayrock Revolution - Battle of Hemlock

After marching out of his camp at Lorhaven, General "Black Bart" Blackwell feinted southward toward Dardona, then abruptly turned eastward toward Grayrock City. He hoped to draw off the bulk of the Grayrock rebel army and then make a dash upon the capital.

Unfortunately, two things hampered Black Bart's plans:

  1. Shortly after striking camp, heavy rains began to fall. Although they would end before the next battle began, they soaked the ground, leaving it a muddy mess.
  2. The victories of the past several months resulted in a surge of recruitment for the rebel army. Because of this, Black Bart would run into far greater numbers than he anticipated.
Game Notes
  • This is sort of scenario # 1 - Pitched Battle 1 from One Hour Wargames but I deliberately made it difficult for the Bluderians. They have to win the battle to prolong the war, but they are outnumbered. This is to reflect the strategic superiority that the Grayrockians had achieved over the last few battles.
  • The Bluderians fielded 2 infantry units, 1 cavalry unit, and a unit of skirmishers (in light blue). They also had a general, which provided bonuses to combat dice. I did not play this game with rally rules.
  • The Grayrockians had 3 infantry (representing veterans), 1 artillery, and 2 militia (in red). Militia fought like skirmishers but only could take 3 hits (I goofed at the start and gave them 4 stands but I fixed that early on)
  • I used the Song of Blades and Heroes inspired activation rules. In this scenario, all regular units have a quality of 4 while the militia have a quality of 5.
Battle Report
As Blackwell approached the village of Hemlock, a scout rode up to him with a report that a large force of Grayrockian rebels lay astride their path. Blackwell ordered his army to deploy and prepare to advance. Some of his subordinates complained, claiming that it would be suicide, but Blackwell hushed them. Only he knew that a quick victory was imperative if they hoped to preserve Grayrock for the Bluderian crown.

The Bluderians (top) advance toward Hemlock (bottom).

Because of the muddy ground, it was some time before the two armies came into contact. The first volley by the Bluderian Lights nearly swept away a militia unit (left).

Game note: Both sides had really horrible activation rolls. As a result, it was turn 4 before the first shots were fired. I have explained the delays as a result of muddy ground.

The Bluderian cavalry managed to get unstuck and swept around the woods (right).Alas, they were met by Grayrockian veterans and militia. Meanwhile, Bluderian line infantry crested the hill and came into action.

Brief yet bloody musketry routed the Grayrockian militia on the left and the Bluderian horse on the right. The Bluderian line infantry suffered heavy casualties due to artillery fire.

With their right flank secure, the Grayrockian army converged toward the hill.

Game note: Notice that the village of Hemlock moved a little. This is because the board barely survived a cat-zilla attack. I would not discover it until after several turns.

Their deadly volleys routed a unit of Bluderian line infantry. Briefly, General Blackwell was exposed to a hail of shot.

But the rest of his line infantry moved onto the hill. The Bluderian Lights moved forward and raked the enemy with accurate fire.

A unit of Grayrockian veterans fled.

Followed by the artillery. What looked like a rout was now nearing defeat for the Grayrockians. The remaining units withdrew into better defensive positions.

Blackwell knew that he needed a decisive victory so he pushed his forces forward. Protected by the woods and village, the remaining Grayrockians poured shot into the Bluderian line. It fled in panic, and once again Blackwell was alone. But now darkness began to fall. Reluctantly, he and the Bluderian Lights withdrew.

A few days later, the Bluderian Lights straggled into Glumport. There, they learned that King Luther of Bluderia was seeking a truce and negotiations to end the war.

When the news arrived in Grayrock City, the celebrations began.

Grayrock and Zamunda and Three

The last battle of the Grayrock Revolution was a little anti-climatic so I've been wanting to do a final pitched battle to decide the fate of the nation. Last weekend I had a little time on my hands waiting for my wife to wake up so I decided to play it out. However, I was at Disney and did not have any minis with me. Instead, I found a site that had a virtual Portable Wargame board so I used that. Here is a screenshot:

Battle of Hemlock - initial set-up

Due to the campaign situation, I decided to handicap the Bluderians with only 4 units. They do have a general on their side. The Grayrockians (represented by the red army) have 6 units, but 2 are militia.

Unfortunately, there was just something lacking about the I did not do a write-up. Instead, I replayed it with my 2mm minis this morning. A battle report will be forthcoming this weekend.

My experiment with block armies is continuing. I have nearly completed enough units for the first battle of the Lumbago Expedition. Here are some pictures:

The Redgravian Expeditionary Force

From left to right: 2 (short-handed) units of skirmishers, infantry in line, an artillery piece, and 2 units of infantry in columns. I still need to make some cavalry.

Initially I was going to use several bits of thin craft sticks to represent individual skirmishers but it seemed too time consuming. Instead, I used small blocks representing clumps of troops.

The Zamundans
From left to right: 2 units of spears and 3 stands of skirmishers.

They are not the most artistic but to my eye they do the trick. From a distance they do look like blocks of troops.

However, my progress has slowed on my block armies because I am waiting for more figures. I mentioned earlier that I was interested in Magister Militum's 3mm horse & musket range. Well, I placed an order and am anxiously awaiting their arrival.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Black Bart's Decision

After his defeat at Kramer's Crossing, General "Black Bart" Blackwell withdrew to the village of Lorhaven. Expecting a counterattack, he fortified his position and sent a message back to Glumport calling for reinforcements.  Esquire Giovanni refused to play into Blackwell's hands. Realizing the turmoil his successes had caused in the Bluderian court, Giovanni decided to play it safe. He gathered his forces and began to surround Lorhaven.

Late one night a messenger galloped into the Bluderian camp. He was immediately directed to Blackwell's tent. Blackwell's aide-de-camp, Major Hodsper, led the messenger into the tent.

"General, a message for you."

Blackwell rose, strode over to the messenger and took the missive from his hand. A quick glance was all it took to tell him that is was bad news. The letter read "The King has decided to enter into peace negotiations with the rebels. You are to return to Glumport . . ."

Blackwell was momentarily stunned. All his efforts were turning to naught. He had to do something. Then his eyes flickered with ambition.

"Private, leave us for a moment. Stay by the tent, however, for I will need you."

Once the messenger left, Blackwell reached for his writing desk and began to pen a letter.

"Sir!" stammered Hodsper, "What is it?"

"The King has decided to surrender."

"What? That's insane! What are we going to do?"

"Fortunately, this message never reached me." Blackwell stated, giving a meaningful look to his aide as he thrust the King's command into the flame of a candle. As it smoldered and blackened, the general announced: "We are marching to battle in the morning. Make the necessary arrangements."

"Yes sir!" responded a smiling Hodpser as he saluted his commander.

"Oh, please give this to the courier," Blackwell commanded as he handed over the letter he wrote. "And please take care of him," the general concluded ominously.

The next morning, as the Bluderian army marched briskly from camp, a Grayrockian patrol came across a lone Bluderian soldier lying in a ditch. His throat had been cut. Probably bandits.On his person was a message to that miscreant "Black Bart" approving of his plan to march on Dardona. Excitedly, the patrol raced back to the rebels' main camp.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Blocks and Threes

My block armies are progressing. For Redgrave, I currently have 4 units of infantry, 1 of skirmishers, and 1 of artillery. I just need 1 more of skirmishers and artillery plus 2 units of cavalry. I have a method in mind. I just need to experiment with it. For Zamunda, I have 4 units of spearmen and 2 of skirmishers. I plan to add 2 more skirmishers (they won't have artillery of cavalry).

Alas, I am already being seduced by another possible project. I just came across this post about Magister Militum's 3mm range. I experimented with the Oddzial Ozmy 3mm Napoleonics but chose not to proceed. I found that having the figures sculpted separately slowed painting as I had to paint the sides of each figure. The MM figures (or at least the infantry) appear to be shoulder-to-shoulder, which mitigate against that problem and speed the painting process. Hmmm, it has me thinking.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Questing - with Mice

Over the last few weekends we have been playing Mice & Mystics. Here are a couple of pictures.

Entering the tunnels. Daylight beckons across the way but rats and a spider block our path

But we did not expect an even more ferocious beast - Catzilla!

This is definitely Elizabeth's favorite game. It took us a couple of weeks to complete the first scenario. We did the second scenario in one session last night. Looking forward to the future adventures of our furry friends.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Be Excellent to Each Other

Over at Steve’s Random Musings I came across his list of 5 things he hates about wargaming. He made a couple of comments that struck a nerve so I wanted to rant about it.

One of my biggest pet peeves is gamers who put down other gamers’ preferences. For example, Steve expressed his distaste for gridded wargames, saying “they aren't wargames, you're playing a board game.

First of all, I thought of this:

How is a gridded game not a wargame? After all, a wargame is simply a game that in some fashion represents war. War + game. That’s all it takes. Thus, a board game can also be a wargame.

In a broader sense, it irks me when some gamers put down other gamers based on their preferences. They are engaged in a hobby that society at large looks down upon, and they’re turning around and looking down on others in the same hobby but with different preferences! Hello irony.

I don’t mind if people extol the merits of their favorite game, miniatures manufacturer, or whatever. I also don’t mind if people explain why they don’t prefer other games, etc. But to denigrate another person’s preference is just spreading negativity.

Can’t we just follow the advice of these two sagacious gentlemen?

Saturday, May 2, 2015

The Block Experiment - Part 1

Yesterday I found some bass wood strips in the garage and so I decided to follow up on a post from earlier this week. I have started on two block armies - a colonial expedition from Redgrave and the defending native tribes of Zamunda.

Zamundan Spearmen
Pictured above are my initial, unfinished attempts. Each block is made from a 1/4 x 1/2 inch strip of basswood. I painted the entire strips then cut it into 1 inch pieces. I will have to go back and do the sides (plus do some touch up - as you can see some of the wood got chipped). Although not necessary, I plan to mount them on bases. This is primarily so they will be the same height as the Redgravians. I am going to make blocks that are 1/4 x 1/4 x 1 inch with 2 blocks per base.

I am doing a simple paint job designed to give the impression of a block of troops. For the Zamundan spearmen, brown represents their flesh, black their hair, and off-white their loincloths.

At a glance, they remind me of my 2mm blocks, which is my goal. So far so good. I'll be continuing my experiments (even though I am very tempted by these paper figures; too bad they don't have the eras I prefer).

A Mousy RPG

Well sort of.

A few weeks ago, we took advantage of Amazon's Tabletop Day sale to pick up Mice and Mystics.

Technically it's not a role-playing game; it's a dungeon crawl board game. Nevertheless, it is very RPG-like, which I enjoy. Now Elizabeth doesn't really like pen-and-paper RPGs (she'd rather play a video game) but she really loves this game. I think it's because the characters are cute little mice!

The cute mice miniatures for the game
The backstory for the game is that an evil witch named Vanestra has bewitched the king and taken over the castle. Prince Collin and his compatriots are planning to rectify the situation when Vanestra imprisons them. The mystic Maginos turns the characters into mice, who escape from the dungeon and embark on adventures in the castle while battling rats, roaches, spiders, centipedes, and the castle's cat.

What is cool is that the game features 11 scenarios that, when played in order, form a complete story. Each scenario features a different goal with different boards (rooms) and challenges. Along the way, the characters (which are pre-generated) may earn additional abilities. Like an RPG campaign, the characters can keep their new abilities and any gear they find throughout the remaining scenarios.

Game play is not terribly complicated. Each mouse has a movement value and can move the number of spaces equal to that value plus the number rolled on a special D6 that has little numbers in one corner. To fight, roll a number of the special dice equal to the mouse's combat value, looking for sword (for melee attacks) or bow (for ranged attacks) symbols. If hit, characters (and enemies) roll the dice looking for shield symbols to ward off the blow. There are some special and scenario-specific rules that complicate things a little. Nevertheless, we have been able to figure things out (even though we have had to refer to the rules a bit, slowing down the game).

The experience is very similar to an RPG. As the party progresses through the rooms of the castle, it picks cards to see what it encounters. Characters can also search for gear; if successful they can draw from another card deck. Each scenario has a specific objective that the party is trying to accomplish. And, as I mentioned before, the scenarios will form a cohesive narrative.

There are some other interesting, themed features I'd like to mention. First, the boards that represent the rooms of the castle are double-sided. The mice can scurry into little holes in the room and find themselves in mouse-sized tunnels beneath the floorboards. The game represents this by flipping the board. Also, the special dice have one side with a piece of cheese depicted. Roll this and you earn a piece of cheese. You can spend cheese to activate powers or to level up and gain a new ability. Beware though, cheese can be bad if the enemy rolls it. If the bad guys collect enough cheese then a surge occurs and a particularly difficult enemy (like the spider or the castle cat) will appear.

My wife declares that this is now here favorite game. I've been wanting to play a dungeon crawl with her but she has not been too interested until now. I guess I just needed mice to get her to play. We are still in the middle of the first scenario. We failed our first attempt so we went back and tried again. This time we made it about halfway through when we decided to stop for the night. I marked down the important stats so we'll be able to start up again without difficulty. We played for about 3 hours last night. Scenarios are supposed to take 1.5 to 2 hours but we've been moving slowly as we learn the rules. Nevertheless, we are enjoying it and I am glad that I bought it.

A Thorough Victory

Last weekend, Elizabeth and I played a game of Takenoko. Usually I dominate this game (such as this session around Christmas). She jumped off to her customary early lead then I completed 3 objectives in 2 turns to pull ahead. But then she went on a tear.

Here is the final tally. The small pile of cards on the left is my completed objectives while the Elizabeth's objectives are to the right.

As you can see, she smashed me by over 20 points. An excellent, and absolutely thorough victory.