Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Impromtu Canada Day Parade

1 July 1867 - 1 July 2020

(or Dominion Day as it was when I was young.)

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Rainy Days and Sundays

Perfect day for playing a game once I had to put away my brushes.

Didn't take long to get a simple meeting engagement underway.

But, by the time I had played three turns, it was time to go make supper.  

...... to be continued

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Unfinished Business

Back in the early 90's Ron and I got into Fire & Fury in 15mm. Armies were quickly painted up and the games began. For the next two years, our little, informal, Friday night group mostly played 15mm ACW Grant Teasers. Then, suddenly, things changed. Some players got posted out, others joined us, periods changed, scales changed, games of some sort went on for a while longer but by the end of the century, regular Friday night games were a thing of the past and the Civil War was over. 

Our Fire & Fury era was pre-digital, pre-smartphone and I don't have so much as a single photo of any of those games. However, in Jun 2011, a handful of our ACW 15's came out to try an early draft of the Portable Wargame: 

About 8 years ago, as part of my downsizing, (desperately needing space) I decided that I didn't really need ACW armies in 15mm, 20mm and 54mm.  Since I had both sides in 20mm, and they were being used, I decided to keep them and let the others go.  The plastic 54's I donated, the 1,000 odd 15's were sold off in batches.

The clean up and reorganization of my room continues though I am getting close enough to start being able to imagine it (relatively) organized and tidy and once again suitable to host a friend or two for a game. However, yesterday I stumbled on a little bag of unpainted 15mm acw. Some left over Old Glory Zouaves and some Freikorps infantry that someone donated. 

One day's work. They're smaller and fuzzier than they used to be and they won't stand still while being painted, but they'll do. 

I've always felt a little bad that I left Ron's Yankees stranded, so I have decided to paint up what I can so that once the "Light's Come On Again"  I can gift them to Ron so that his Yankees can least play some small Portable ACW games.

Three stands will nicely fit in a hex and at that unit size, I have enough figures for 5 infantry, 2 Zouave (Tigers and....??), 2 gun crews and 1 cavalry unit. There will have to be more scrounging and borrowing I think. 

Monday, June 22, 2020

Gaming in the Great Outdoors Pt2

The first couple of turns were a bit hesitant as I strove to understand, then fix, the rules and get a feel for interpreting the terrain. Once I got down and close to the figures and the ground, and cleared away various tufts of grass clippings that had escaped the rake, suddenly various paths, hillocks and gullies became clear as the troops encountered them. I started checking lines of sight from ground level. Excitement increased.  

<<NOTE: Click on the photos to go to full size to see many of the figures in cover.
The Highlanders and Grenadiers deployed quickly and pressed forward under a heavy fire while B Battery opened up as soon as they had a line of fire to the enemy's powder smoke.

I had wondered if rolling dice was going to be an issue and so had initially reduced the use of dice as much as possible but between the tray I brought out for rolling, and a few level patches of sun hardened clay, it was a none issue so I reinstated my usual variable length moves. 
Bullets were soon whizzing around the gunners ears, but their accurate fire drove the enemy back. The infantry rose and advanced into the gully only to be hit by a storm of bullets from both flanks. Hurriedly they took cover and returned fire as best they could. It was time for the guns to move up to the crest of the gully and silence this enemy fire as well. 

I also tried, then removed, saving throws for cover etc, going back to a simple "to hit" die modifier, and reinstated an old fashioned, simple, morale roll for losses. Just right.

As the Dominion forces pressed forward they could see the enemy camp in the distance (see Red arrow). If they could get the guns across the gully and over the high ground, they'd be able to drop shells right into the camp. Moving forward was a problem though, a hail of bullets from hidden sharpshooters, drove the infantry to cover and the gunners back into dead ground. 

The subtleties of the terrain and the effect on them on the game rather surprised me in a pleasing fashion. Over the last decade I have been moving farther and farther towards abstract terrain. No doubt its partly a result of mostly playing small, quick games, often on a grid, using at least four different sizes of figures in multiple periods, and of being lazy. I'll have to give some more thought to the matter though. 

If you can't go through, go around!

I don't feel any desire to upsize and fight a multi-day battle on a huge battlefield (Especially not with a deer path running across it, even though its only used occasionally!)  or a desire to recreate the Wilderness with my little Airfix ACW guys but its possible that Prince Valiant might take a turn in between the occasional 54 mm game. 
On the left, the Royals and Highlanders drove back the Kree, yard by yard despite the cost. On the right, the Rifles used the dead ground to flank the enemy, routing a Kree band and driving the Hunters from their riflepits with cold steel.

The enemy had suffered heavy losses and been driven back but not routed. Dominion losses had also been heavy, and the sun was seeking low. Colonel Ross decided that a lesson had been taught and further bloodshed would be pointless. He ordered a return to camp.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Battle of Cherry Tree Hill or Gaming in the Great Outdoors Pt 1

This little action was worthy of an article in the Newport Noodle, and their reporter was present but, he was too fatigued by the hot sun and exercise to file a report. Instead I will make a series of short posts with a few captioned photos and a few comments and notes about the game. 

Rebel sharphooters, "The Hunters", man their rifle pits overlooking where the road dips down into a large gully.
(directly under a branch of the cherry tree...)

The area I prepared is a rather gentle but uneven slope, bounded to the north by some berry bushes and a gully with a stream in the bottom, to the east by our veggie garden, to the south by a bit of largely unused yard leading up to our house and to the West by a Cherry tree. I had mowed and raked an area ranging from 6-8 feet across and about 16 feet long and then started to get delusions of grandeur (sic) and picturing going LIttle Wars or at least doubling or tripling ranges, making the rules more Old School and so on but it didn't take long to realize  that a playing area that big with double ranges was going to call for at least double the figures and be a lot of work playing solo. So I cut it down to a 6 foot by 10 foot (or so) area, the size of my old table in the late 90's. 
North West Mounted Rifles scout ahead of the column. So far so good, but who's that lurking in the tall grass?

After a couple of turns experimenting with a simple set of rules more "in the spirit", I gave up and just played the latest version of my rules for this collection and they were just what I wanted. (Who knew?

The column presses forward in the hot sun. Suddenly, as the Mounted Rifles reach the edge of a gully, rifles crack. Ambush!  

The game was set during the NorthWest Rebellion in my fictional land of Atlantica. Colonel Ross is leading a column to try to suppress Yellow Bonnet's Kree by attacking their village. The village was represented by a tepee at the far edge of the cleared area, about 12 feet from where I initially deployed the troops.
The Redcoats are moving along a winding, grass free, path with 1 Troop of mounted rifles, 1 gun and 4 companies of infantry totalling 24 infantry, 4 cavalry and 1 gun.

The Kree and a few Hunters are deployed across the road with a mission of delaying the Redcoats long enough to evacuate the village. They have 5 companies of irregulars including 1 of sharpshooters, totalling 20 irregulars.

The lead companies have deployed and engaged the enemy who appear to be present in force. The guns are ordered forward in support. 
To be continued!

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Cherry Tree Hill: Teaser

What a splendid day for a game outside and what an enjoyable way to spend a day! 

It was, maybe, a little too hot after lunch, and the persistent attacks by a man eating deer tick led to a horrific struggle. Luckily, my foe was crushed before he could inflict bodily injury on me and the temperature moderated for the late afternoon session. 

Some lessons were learned. I should either have started earlier, before the overhanging Cherry tree, and the Pines along the stream to the northeast, threw patchy shadows over the field of battle, or waited until the sun sank below the tops of trees in the woods to the west of us. As it was, the high contrast between patchy shadows and bright sunshine made life extremely difficult for my cellphone camera.   

I also learned that despite the battle field being some seven times the size of my wargames table, I didn't need to use a different set of rules as showed by the late afternoon portion of the game, but more on that aspect later. 

More outdoor games are highly likely, but first, there is a Battle report to write. 

Friday, June 19, 2020

Choosing Sides

"Right, well Yellow Bonnet? You won the toss. My men have finished preparing the battlefield. Do you want to deploy on the hill or at the bottom?"

"C'mon now, which will it be?"  "Downhill eh?" "Well, alright, we start on the hill then"
"See you about 10 ish?"

 Sotto voce: "Hmm, what's the old fox up to? Could'a sworn he was going to make us attack up the slope. Hmmm"

"Thank you Major, you and your Sappers have done a good day's work." "Good job men, extra tot of rum and a day off tomorrow."
"Don't worry about the road Major , it would have been a miracle if you'd had time to clear the brush and build a road. We'll be coming over the hill and down towards the creek anyway."

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Its a Jungle Out There....

..and this unseasonable Spring heatwave is starting to give me ideas.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Belmont s'en va-t-en guerre

Despite some rather amazing  die rolls by the redcoated  company of English infantry, in the end, the Earl of Belmont was forced to retire to Calais. Boulogne is safe for now.

There is a bit of a heat wave forecast for the next few days so there may not be much activity in my little oven of a room.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Daily Update

The first stands have been lost. Things are getting serious!

Monday, June 15, 2020

Picking up the Pace

I think I managed 3 turns today!

When I get all caught up, I'll need a proper game. 

Sunday, June 14, 2020

One At A Time Please

Managed another turn today.

This could take a while...

Saturday, June 13, 2020


No time for playing today but I played one turn anyway.

On Sunday, the game will begin in earnest.

Friday, June 12, 2020

One Down and

A battle to go!

Even though I was keeping things simple, this gentleman was a bit more intricate than most of the figures I've done recently so I focused on getting him finished leaving the final touches on his buddy for later.

However, the desire to finish the stand before playing a game that would include them proved to be less strong than the urge to just play a game.

So the table  is set for a small clash between advance guards. Maybe Saturday, maybe Sunday if Saturday is too busy.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Seek and Ye Shall Find

After searching through my bits&spares supply this morning, I was momentarily at a loss. Nothing that I found was what I would consider suitable for a lance. What to do?

I expanded the search of course!

Downstairs, in my casting/home repair area in the back porch, at the back of a rarely peeked at, but crammed, 'junk' drawer,  I found 1.5 lengths of rigid florist wire left over from..5?....10?..years ago? Enough for 5 or 6 lances.

Painting has resumed but the figures are complex enough to paint that I am going to do each stand/unit (2 mounted figures) one at a time.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

A Little's Not Alot But

Its not nothing either.

I was surprised that many 16thC horse armours had coloured cloth overcoats.

Another couple of busy days in the yard but I found time to reread more on the 1540's while resting tired muscles and managed to assemble a couple of kits and get a start on painting.

I also forced myself to try again to torture the lances into submission by dipping them into boiling water and then into cold but these devients were determined.  (Actually I've never been able to get that to work very well which suggests that my technique sucks.)  Hopefully I can find a source of resupply for appropriate wire or at least find a few old metal pikes to repurpose.

I've also decided to impose discipline and cut back to eight active collections with the rest going into reserve. I just don't have the time and energy to work on and play with twelve different collections. I would prefer just six active collections but there are too many table ready old friends that I don't want to do that to yet.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

I Had One Job To Do

One job, add at least two stands of gensdarmes, four mounted figures, to my 16thC French army over the course of the weekend.

How'd I do?

Well, during the initial review, I noticed that my English General had a three figure stand which made him easy to identify but the French and Imperial generals only had ordinary two figure stands. (The poor Scots general is stuck in the middle of a pike block as is traditional.) 

Now the Imperial army also has a three figure General's stand as does the French, except their's isn't painted yet. I'm afraid the poor Duke de St. Lambert is about to be demoted to cavalry commander after some 60 years in my service!  He does have a tendancy towards rash charges ala Gaston of Foix, and I rather need him as a gensdarme but the real issue was that I don't have a compatible foot figure to add to his stand but do have a new Doug Miller commander who is looking for employment and has influence at court.

On top of all that, I've had a good think about , and  review of, these armies and what I am planning to ask of them as well as the history behind them and their place in my collection. After all, this is my desert island or "if you could only keep one set of wargaming figures" collection and they have been sadly neglected of late. I've also spent some most enjoyable hours with head buried in the 16thC portion of my library and...OK.OK...I'm stalling. Here we are:
Yeah, doesn't look like much and I think a few plastic bits have gone missing over the weekend, but at least I now have a plan and the metal horses have been attached to their stands, ready for painting.

If this keeps up, I'm gonna need a bigger house or something else has to go, but not today.

Friday, June 5, 2020

There's a Hole in the Bucket Dear Henry

Its just been one of those weeks. 

I struggled to find first, time, and then, energy, for hobby stuff. On the occasions that I did find time, I ran into one of those situations where everything I went to do required me to do something else first.   

However, by this afternoon I was finally  able to sit down and pick the figures for four new  bases of Gensd'armes and got a start on preparing the figures for assembly.

I also got a start on adding a standard bearer to the Rhinegrave's stand to promote him to Army Commander status. 

There's nothing like a start for making progress! I'm hoping for rain on Saturday........