Monday, February 28, 2022

Stay Calm and Carry On

Its been a busy week here but I've managed a turn or two, now and again, and tuned up a much quicker,  'brigades as units', game. 

That's done now and hopefully, I'll get a full report on the battle and rules up tomorrow. Then I can focus on a new, very portable, emergency evacuation game in a box. Good for a quick game on a long vacation trip, sitting in the shade at a park, or on my lawn.

Saturday, February 26, 2022

Not All Wars Are Games

The news of Russia's invasion of the Ukraine this week has  rather distracted me from playing with toy soldiers as real wars often do. Partly it has been the time spent listening to reporters and analysts, partly thinking of the tragedy for those involved, partly concern about the future, and partly the usual angst about making a game out of violence and human and animal suffering. 

However, there are also memories of being a young kid in the early 60's, during the height of the Cold War. I remember crouching under my desk at school during air raid drills (I'm not sure just how much protection cowering under a little wooden desk is against a nuclear explosion, I suppose it depends on how far you are from the epicentre.), as well as a bad stretch when I was a kid when  the sound of a passenger jet flying overhead was enough to have me heading for the basement or at least holding my breath and staring at the sky in case it was a Russian bomber. (Yes bombers, those were the days when ICBM's were in their infancy.

By the time I was 17 and in uniform, the Soviets were still "the enemy",  and the anonymous 'Orange' enemy always seemed to use their equipment, but the Canada vs USSR hockey tournament was on  and even the wet behind the ears 'Prep's were allowed in to watch the last, knuckle biting, game with its triumphant squeak of victory for us. Nine years later, when my initial term of service was up, with war forever banished and the dawning realization that in real life, the military  and I were not really  a good match,  I declined to extend my service. Of course, I had barely opened my short lived game shop when Argentina occupied the Falklands. Apparently not all wars were banished after all.    

Oh. well, I have talked with friends who have served in combat since those days and I've learned a lot about my strengths and weaknesses since I was in my 20's. On the whole, I'm even more convinced that I wouldn't have ever been much good at it in real life. Its a good thing for my mental health that I have found a number of things that I  am good at, and that many a veteran who has seen real combat still plays historical wargames, including that intrepid grouch of French Resistance fighters in Paris during the Nazi occupation  who played wargames with 30mm flats when not making raids.    

We now return you to your regularly scheduled service:

WOW! What a roll!

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

One More Before We Go

No, not a cup of tea, this is my new dice box! (Part of our Christmas package from my bro-in-law,  just had the last of the tea this morning.

Should be just thing for taking to Huzzah! or 'Fall In'! 

I've reviewed the three or four attempts to switch my ACW games to Brigade units since 2019, gave it some thought and have hopefully come up with a better way to suit my needs and wants. Essentially, I want to get most if not all of my 1/72 ACW troops on my 4'x6' table and play a fast paced game within four hours whether they are a  generic scenario/tabletop teaser, or a refight of one of the smaller battles, Iuka, Cedar Run or similar without losing the flavour of my Plastic Army of the Potomac rules.  The first 1.5 sides of a page reference sheet has been written (see here if curious), the armies reorganized from 4 brigades each of 4 regiments of 3 stands each into  6 brigades of 8 stands each. 

So that's the same number of figures but 6 infantry units a side to handle vs the 16 units per side in last Saturday's game.  So, using a photo of the deployment on Saturday, I've matched it as well as I could with the different organization. 

Waiting for the first card to be drawn.

If all goes well, there'll be a battle report tomorrow.

Sunday, February 20, 2022

How went the day?

Well, on the whole it was an excellent day. I don't think I had realized how much I've missed spending time in person with old friends, (not that I'm calling any of us "old" but its been 45 years since I met them...). 

On the game front, well, there was a lot more talking about many things than playing (about a 2:1 ratio at least) but none of the ACW game issues that I've been struggling with have been overcome by the latest fiddling, so at the end of the day, we were only 1/2 way through the scenario that was optimistically intended to only take 3-4 hours to play. 

At the start of the game. Les has decided to deploy his centre in Brigade mass with supported lines on either flank. The Yankee 1st Brigade is deployed with 2nd Brigade just entering. My Division is huddled in a corner of the table, dicing each turn to arrive.

I'm pretty much convinced now that there are just too many units on the table to reach a conclusion in four hours without taking too much of the flavour out for my tastes. So, for the fourth time in 2 years, I'm going to have another go at the sensible approach and treat brigades as the basic unit. (We had some great games of Fire & Fury last century but there were many a Friday night when I was heading for home after midnight.

Realistically, my current standard twelve stand brigades are too big for my table so I'm going to trim them down giving me more brigades to work with for bigger games. 

Where we halted (somewhere around turn 8 of 15). 

If nothing else it'll be easier to mark the bases for recognition and easier to vary the unit strength for scenarios. But not today.

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

All Aboard!

The troops and terrain are loaded and I have a scenario ready in my head.

Now comes the waiting for the weekend. Ah well, one can always use more split rail fencing. 

Just a bit of dry brushing to do and a 2nd go at gluing two awkward sections.

Sunday, February 13, 2022

Preparing For Battle

Preparations for next Saturday's game are creeping along, somewhat slowed by having to spend in excess of 4 hours a day for the last 4 days, cracking blocks of 3" thick ice on our driveway so they can be removed along with widening the drive after last week's storm. I'm sure the vigorous exercise of moving in excess of 100 cubic metres of ice and wets now, using pick, chopper and two different shovels, has been good exercise but I'm glad the drive is back to something sufficiently approaching normal to appease the boss and I can get back to the important stuff. 

Union 1st Division. The Brigadiers have a patch of the brigade colour on the back of their bases. The division commander has 2 figures on the base and  both colours. (Other brigades may be assigned to him when needed on a temporary basis.) The army commander has 3 figures on his base and no colour patch.

One of the things I've been tackling on my rest breaks is redoing the marking on the bases of my regiments and brigades. The basic idea was good but the execution was flawed. Basically, I have painted the back of the bases of each Union regiment's with a Brigade colour: red for 1st Brigade, blue for 2nd etc. I then marked each unit as 1st, 2nd etc. The last time I tried this I used one bar for the 1st regiment, 2 bars for the 2nd and so on. They looked perfectly clear to me while on the painting desk but during play on a crowded table with my current sharpness of vision, I found that the regiments were getting mixed up in the heat of battle as three bar stands would creep unnoticed into a 2 bar or 4 bar regiment. So I'm going back to my original version of having one only bar on each stand but with different position as can be seen in the photos.  
A closer look at the bases of the 1st and 2nd regiments of the 2nd Brigade. 

The Rebs are even worse since I painted little state flags or symbols on the back of the 1/4" thick bases only to find that I wasn't up to painting fine detail on the rough edges of the balsa wood or whatever it was that the bases were made of by who ever made them originally. So, when sorting them out, I would find myself peering at a stand of ragged Rebs wondering if that was a white palm tree or a white star on that blue field or is this other one with a blue quadrant with a white stripe on a red field or was the field a 1/2 white, 1/2 red field with a chip in the wood? 

Haven't settled on a good solution yet. Its unfortunate that the Rebs don't seem pleased at a suggestion to copy the Yankee system so maybe I can just touch up the dodgy stands. 
Up close, in a good light, the regiment on the left is from Texas, while the on the right is from South Carolina. In poor light when I'm tired......

One other thing I want to do is to name all my Brigadiers and Generals and mark the stands underneath so I can remember  them when writing up games. This isn't a new thing, I've been forgetting peoples' names since before I could talk, I think its syndrome called "not clued in" or something like that.

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Action Front!

 A bit rushed but they're ready for action.


I also took the liberty of swapping in a few figures from the stores chest to give these two guns a bit of extra personality, easily recognized on the table.  The mounted officers are actually going to be Brigadiers,something else I am little short on at the moment.

All in all, I am rather pleased with them at arms length!

Thanks David!

Monday, February 7, 2022

Bring Up The Guns!

The reason that I suddenly put a push on to bring 3 of my 1790's units up to the new strength was that they were being called upon to serve at our group's 2nd face to face, age of Covid game, scheduled in the near future. A minor change in arrangements has led to a smaller battlefield, possible for the 40's but not ideal, so instead of the 40's,  I'm preparing a 1/72nd ACW game which has already proved its ability to provide a game on a slightly smaller table. 

During my recent game, I was dismayed to find that several of the ancient airfix guns had broken.  They are now scheduled to become wrecked battery markers but I was already short on artillery. This gives me a reason to paint up the two gun teams I received from the Ragged Soldier Blog

Of course it also gives me an excuse to buy some new metal guns to add to the horde of Airfix Ordnance Rifles that make up the majority of my guns.

Friday, February 4, 2022

Ready for action

Here's a quick look at the French so far:

1 General

1 squadron of Hussars

1 field gun

2x8 skirmishers

3x16 infantry (1 unit waiting for their flag to be sewn and presented.)

Not much of an army for me to command yet but there is room to grow and stocks of moulds and metal.

Thursday, February 3, 2022

Between Storms

Almost done. The regulars  just need final touch ups and gloss varnish. The National Guards in the background still need a few more details painted.

Since I've been used to shading my Prince August figures, I've struggled a bit sometimes to resist doing more with these, but I wanted them to be more toy soldier-ish and I like how they look on the table at arm's length. 

If we roll boxcars and a night and day of freezing rain doesn't put our power out for a day or three,  I should have a picture of both armies on parade sometime this weekend.