Tuesday, November 29, 2011

When Work and Play Collide - Bringing the D&D Dice to Work

Not many people get to play with dice at work, but I do!  This week we're looking at stochastic simulation models in my 4th year class.  Having been trained as an elementary school teacher (some time in the dark ages), I love to use concrete materials in class when ever possible.  So today I gave each of my students a D10 and had them rolling away to generate four digit random variables between 0 and 1.  The we used the inversion method to generate claim times, loss amounts and lag times to adjudicate claims (this being longer for more expensive and thus more complex claims).  On in wargamers terms were rolled a handful of dice and checked our Combat Results Tables!

The really funny thing is every time I do this exercise the class instantly separates into two groups - those who played D&D as kids (most of the Canadian kids, easily inditified by the grins that light up their faces) and those who haven't (mostly the foreign kids identified by looks of complete befuddlement).

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Reading List for Napoleonics

Following David Crook's comment on my last post, I put together a small list.  A few personal favourites and in no particular order

.  Before the inundation while I like Bernard Cornwall, I would much rather read  the real thing over fiction.  So Sharp's not on my list (the TV show is great to paint to however).

This was a gift from my English Grandmother in the late 70s.  Gran lived in the same small Cotswald village as Michael Glover, so she knocked on his door and got me a signed copy.

Well, we have to give the other side of the hill it's due don't we?   IMHO the best one chapter get-you-hooked-for-life introduction is the chapter on Davout's Corps at Auerstadt.  It's an amazing view of an army (and generals) at their absolute peak.  If only wargames rules let us be as flexible as Davout - here M. Engineer- lead these infantry companies in a bayonet charge, hey sappers go take that battery over there!

Brilliant history, a great read, and great scenario ideas.   Many volumes love the Allies as dunderheads model but Duffy makes the allied command very human and realistic.  You'll really feel sorry for Kutusov after this one.  And for a general and an army cursed for slowness check out the march rate required to get them into Bavaria to link up with Mack's Austrians and then back to Moravia when the unfortunate reality was revealed!

My current read (ok one of several books on the go).  I'm on my second go round and it's both information and highly entertaining.  Covers more than Napoleonics but a lot of period stuff.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Meanwhile Back in Spain

A status report on my Peninsula project shows 

  • one battalion of 24 French line infantry painted and based and just need the bases painted and flocked; 
  • a small unit of rifle men (5th btn 60th foot) less than half way painted; and
  • lots of ambitious ideas for the future.
Actually not a bad start for the month given the distractions of planning the SSYO trip to Banff, being on the SSYO trip to Banff and then recovering from the SSYO trip to Banff!

I've been thinking about what and when I should be gaming.  Game-wise my druthers would be 1810-11 as this period sees a see-saw back and forth between French and British armies over the same terrain.  Add in sieges and subsidiary ops and there is a huge range of options for tabletop teaser type games.  Also, there's still he opportunity to model some of the foreigners in Napoleon's armies.  

However, figure-wise the intelligent move would be to look at 1813 with the short tailed and closed lapelled French jackets as this allows me to use the Perry plastics range (and metals too if the pocket book allows) straight up.  I would never doom anyone to play Joseph Bonaparte but  Marshall Soult put up excellent opposition after Vitoria.  !813-4 would still offer some teaser type games focusing on river crossings and mountains.  However, by this time the bloom was definitely fading on the Grande Armee and the flow of campaign was far more one way out of Spain and into France. 

So having discarded the intelligent option, can I still use the Perry plastics for 1810-11?  Here's some ideas.

  1. French Infantry box - can be used as legere regiments in short light infantry jackets (painting in waistcosts), Poles, Hessians and the Young Garde.  Victrix boxes of course supply the "regular" regiments du ligne.
  2.  French Hussars box - looks like it has all the head combinations to model any regiment from 1793 onwards with no modifications.
  3. Cuirassier box - I beleive there were uniform changes in 1812 but these are largley hidden by the cuirass and horse furniture.  Therefore these can be painted straight up.
  4. Dragoon box - the biggest problem as these have the short jacket with closed lapels while for pre-1813 I need the long tailed jacket with open lapels and wistcoats.  I'll need to see them in the flesh but the best option is likely to trim off the lapels and paint them in the short tailed surtout which was often worn on campiagn.  The other option is to paint the waistcosts in and ignore the lenght of the tails.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I've Been to Banff for The Youth Orchestra Symposium

Banff Centre for the Arts and Banff township from an early morning hike on Tunnel Mountain.  No military events of any type (unless you consider Man vs. Nature, Cougar vs. Elk or Snowboarder's face vs Snowbank), and the closest thing to military architecture is Castle Mountain.  

My wife and I organized a 4 day trip for mys daughter's youth orchestra and I was head chaperon.  Two SSYO has 62 members aged 11-23 with 8 parents plus conductor and assistant music director.   We left 7:15am on Thursday and returned at 4:30am on Monday.  Great trip with great kids and a great final concert.  And heck 4 days in Banff will do anybody a world of good.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Progress on Projects

In typically style, my painting is proceeding at a Kutusov like snail's pace while I rush into project ideas like Blucher.  Someday maybe I'll find a Wellingtonian middle ground where plans and results move somewhat in step.

Based on recent blogs, listing projects on the go seems to be all the rage in the UK and east coast so here goes.

  1. Span-Am project:  Plenty of ideas for scenarios and good choices for rules.  I have about 1/3 of the forces in 1:1200 home builds.  Further construction put on hold without basement renos.  I am  also consider War Times Journal 1:3000 models instead of scratch builds.
  2. World War II Mediterranean Naval in 1:2400.  Has outpaced SpanAm project since I went with GHQ models.  Have usable forces set to go, but need to get space in house to play (i.e. sort out the basement) or get my ducks together and run a game at the monthly games night.
  3. Napoleonic Naval:  My British and Franco=Hispanic fleets emerged from mothballs during renos, but sadly in need of re-rigging.  I am also considering  scrapping the current Navwar/Skytrex lot and going with Langtons.
  4. Napoleonic Peninsula War:  Has been making slow if recent progress with French infantry regiment about 2/3 painted.  The plan is to go with Perry and Victrix plastics as far as possible, based for Black Powder but with final rules choice up in the air.   
  5. French and Indian War.  Again these refugees appeared in basement renos,  The plan is to replace current single bases with Black Powder style stands and game using BP or MacDuff (depending on what MacDuff's flavour of the month is)

Monday, November 7, 2011

General Winter

General Winter made his first assault on the prairies this weekend, with 5-10cms of snow.  Here's hoping the Berezina crossing is clear for the march home this aft.

 I spent a good part of Sunday locating hats, mitts, shovels, ice scrapers and the like.  Luckily I had put the snow tires on the Nissan (aka the summer car), and well, um, never actually took them off the Subaru (aka the winter car).    So Sunday's excursions to Orchestra practice and the mall were safer for us than for many except for dodging the rest of the driving world.  Nothing like the first day of winter driving!  In a week or two most people will have figured it out, but there were two cars in the ditch off the Ring Road.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Blogs Of Span-Am Interest

I'll give another shout out to Navalwarfare, which this month features USS/USGC Hudson and a story of an interesting small ship action in the Spanish-American War.  The Spanish were sometimes able to give the Yanquis a bloody nose!