Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 - Year in Review

If the readers will forgive the indulgence, I thought I would do a recap of the year.  Looking back through blog posts, the gaming highlights were as follows.

As the year started, I was still a solo gamer, the basement gaming space was on hold following 2011's basement dig out and I was looking for ideas.

  1. In March, I had a lot of fun with Bluebear Jeff's scenario challenge  leading to the (as yet unplayed) Barolo campaign.
  2. In late March and early April I held a poll to help me to pick a solo campaign to play out.  The people spoke and Wascanastan was the winner. Like most of my solo plans, this was shelved in the light of emerging events.  Unlke most of my solo plans, the emerging events involved face to face game with real live gamers!
  3. I managed to make the monthly games nights several months running in the spring, playing a lot of board games and especially 1812.
  4. In June I hooked up with Curt and his sidekicks Sylvain and Stacy- gamers I had encountered first on the internet but who lived within a short walk from home.
  5. I probably played more face to face miniatures games in 2012 than in the previous 10 years!  Periods played (indoors) include Weird WW1, Napoleonics (Food for Powder), WW2 Naval (GQ111), 6mm Nappys (FPGA), WW2 (Bolt Action), Napolenoic Naval (Trafalgar modified), Spanish Civil War (Squad Actione?), Micro Armour Space Invaders (Spearhead), El Cid (Hail Caesar), Colonials in Wascanastan (MacDuff), Spanish American War (YES!!!) (Fire When Ready).
  6. A late summer trip to visit family and friends in Nova Scotia allowed me to link up with old gaming buddies RossMac and Ron for a game of Battle Cry Colonials.
  7. I lost a hand to hand melee with a cabbage.
  8. Sylvain took us out of our comfort zone and we played a Fletcher Pratt style naval game in the park.  This was a big hit around the globe and apparently inspired Tim Gow to do the same in the UK when the weather warms up enough for him!  
  9. I continued to amaze the family by connecting with gamers across the globe and across the street!  My favourite comment came from my wife who noted that we had "done the impossible and out weirded the Brits" by playing with ships in the park!

Analogue Painting Challenge - HMS Eagle and Air Cover

Curt has some better photos of my latest entry on the Analogue Hobby blog - however, I think I did a little bit better than a photo-recon plane under heavy flak!

This is HMS Eagle circa 1941, a GHQ 1:2400 scale model, with air cover provided by 10 1:1200 models from Cap Aero (Fairey Fulmars and Swordfish).  The Eagle was started as a Chilean super-dreadnought Almirante Cochane (her sister ship served as HMS Canada at Jutland and then as the Almirante Latorre n the Chilean navy unitl the 50s).   Work stopped during WW1, but the incomplete hull was purchased by the Royal Navy and converted to a fleet carrier in the 1920s.  She served nobly in the Med and Indian Ocean during WW2 until sunk by a U-boat on the Pedestal convoy of 1942 that saved Malta during its darkest hours.

I've painted Eagle in a camouflage pattern based on pictures off the interweb.  These all showed her starboard side, so I had to wing it on the port side.  The Cap Aero models are mounted two to a base to represent a flight of aircraft with florist's wire supports.  When I get around to the float plane scouts I will mount those one to a base.  The Cap Aero models are beautiful but fiddly, especially the bi-planes which need their top wings glued on.   There are 3 bases of Swordfish and 2 of Fulmars for a total of 10.  

Fulmar fighters off Eagle's bow and stern with Stringbags to port and starboard, plus more on deck prior to take off.

The Swordfish or stringbag is one of the iconic naval planes of WW2.  Archaic looking and slow, it was rugged and popular with crews.  It also made the sinking of the Bismark possible, scored the coup at Taranto and participated in the air attacks that led to the victory at Matapan.   It was still serving at the end of the war, having out lasted the Albacore which had been intended as it's replacement.  It turned out that the slow speed and handling conditions of the stringbag were ideal for the escort carriers used on U-boat patrols.

The Fulmar was a carrier borne fighter that did good service but was outclassed by land based fighters.  it was heavy and less nimble, since the RN demanded a two seater aircraft.  However, it was tough and had a good range.  It was phased out and replaced by Sea Hurricanes, Seafires and Martlets.

Friday, December 28, 2012

A Mixed Grab Bag of Ships

At our last game (WW2 micro-armour), Sylvain kindly handed over a mixed grab bag of 1:2400 WW2 ships (sic as we'll see).  He had purchased (off Kijiji) a box of many, many model ships in various scales, periods and stages of completion.  When all the dust had settled, he had multiple models and so offered me the "doubles".   This morning I cleaned up and assembled the lot (photos will appear when painted - as part of the Painting Challenge).

From best to worst, here's what I got.

  1. A GHQ Rodney class battleship - beautiful model, correct in detail and cleanly cast.
  2. A CinC Graf Spee class Panzerschiffe - a very good model but lacking a few small details.  There is a catapult but no seaplane, and the pole masts are missing (but correct scale pole masts are tough in soft metal).
  3. A CinC Renown class battlecruiser - a gorgeous model, and probably the best CinC model in the bag.  But, while the detail is correct it is correct for 1917 and not 1940!  These ships were extensively reconstructed (more than once) between the wars and looked very different by 1939. I had to google the catalogue model to make sure of the provenance - but it is clearly a CinC model and clearly based on a WW1 plan although listed as a WW2 model.  CinC doesn't officially make WW1 models (but see below).  While GHQ does do WW1 they don't make a Renown class BC for that era, and their WW2 models are correct for both ships in their reconstructed forms.  I don't want to game WW1 in 1:2400 - since I have a ton of ships in 1:3000, but I'll paint it up anyway since it is such a fine model.
  4. A CinC  Rodney class battleship - a workmanlike model, easlity identifiable but lacking the detail found on the GHQ version.   Th most noticeable absence is the aft tripod mast.  I could try and add the mast but will likely paint it as is.
  5. Two CinC Royal Sovereign class battleships.  The worst of the bunch by a long shot, and predictably the one model I got more than one of!  The first obvious fault - no tripod masts, perhaps the single biggest identifying feature on a 1916 vintage battleship.  I could scratch build these, but it looks like a lot of fiddly work and I suspect the result wouldn't really be an improvement given my fine scale building skills.  The second flaw, is once again the model seems to be based on builder's plans and doesn't look right for WW2.  There are clean decks that should hold a number of AA mountings - really that look is so last war....I think I'll paint them up but look to upgrade to GHQ down the road.
So all in all, two fine hits (Rodney and Graf Spee), two near misses (Rodney and Renown) and two misfires (the two R class BBs).  But I am not going to turn down a free if I can only figure out how to get that gigantic wooden horse in the house....

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Analogue Painting Challenge - WW2 Convoy

I finished up a set of 11 WW2 merchantmen while watching the Dr. Who Christmas special this morning.  These are 1:2400 resin casts from Panzerschiffe - a large range of solid, workman like ships that covers many ships not available otherwise.  I find them too crude for warships but the 2 packs of merchantmen I picked up were tremendous value for money.

They come cast in battleship grey with a blackened funnel cap, and could be used straight up.  for a while, I considered drilling holes and adding masts and cranes (using wire and GHQ spares) but in the end I opted for a utilitarian approach and painted them as is.  And yes, I repainted the grey, then added layers of washes to simulate rust and grime.

The photos include 3 Hunt class DDEs which predate the painting challenge so shouldn't be counted.  As for the point value, I will leave that to our moderator and chief judge Curt.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas All

We've got a windchill warning in Regina:  -30 celcius with windchills at -41.  We'll be sampling the Christmas cheers to keep warm.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

France 1940

I had a game with Sylvain last night with his 1940 MicroArmour using the Spearhead rules.  It was a fast play affair of a French counter attack on Rommel's division, the French were toast fast enough that we played it through twice after swapping side.  Sorry no photos were taken.

In round one Sylvain had the french (Char B's, R-39s plus infantry) and I had Rommel (T38s, plus a company of infantry with more T38s off table).  Being a gentleman, he gave me a tactical nuke (sorry Flak88) which basically ate a Char B every turn while I traded panzers for R39s.  When the rivets stopping flying I had tanks left and he didn't, and he lacked the infantry to boot me from the village where I was ensconced.  

And yes Curt, Sylvain attacked with flair and elan.  From what I've seen Campbell's full of BS on this one.  I was led to believe that Sylvain made Kutusov look like Ney, and yet game after game I see bold (and possibly rash) attacks go in.

For round two, we changed sides and Sylvain replaced the Grim Reaper 88 with a battery of PAK37s (which were taken out early by the hull guns on my Char Bs). Sylvain cleverly used the gap in tank ranges (12" for Panzers, 9" for the French) to advantage, slowly retiring as I advanced.   He also got some tanks in a position to hit the soft underbelly (OK weaker side armour) on the Char Bs.  I tried to keep my armour and infantry in step and looked to have a promising attack lined up on the village.   However, I had rolled a Green division for this game and both tank battalions scampered after minimal losses.  Once again we had PBI looking at a village held by better quality troops with armour support and called it.

Micro Armour is like Marmite and you either love it or hate it.  Sylvain falls in the former category, and I tend to fall in the latter.  The vehicles look wonderful close up and he got some very effective paint jobs on them.  However, on the table they all look like blobs of slightly different colours.  I also link to make an attachment to my units, and find it very difficult when I have to squint at close range to identify them!

Rules wise I liked what I saw of Spearhead as a rule set.  And I like the idea of playing at a divisional or brigade level in theory.  However, on the table it always seems more like "Space Invaders" rather than military enactment - as the tanks line up and go bang until one side runs out of tanks and then you pack up and go home.  Oddly enough, it seems like the lower level games like the Bolt Action we played a few weeks back give one a better tactical challenge.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge

After some word class waffling on my part (I was in, I was out, no I'm back in again) I am officially listed as a participant in Curt's Analogue Hobbies painting challenge.

  • What is my personal painting "par"?  800 points
  • How did I get there?  The same way I do actuarial projections - with a dart board and a hand full of d6s.  Or in this case, I figured that I could do two 24 man battalions of 28mm in a month (120 points a pop), times 3 months plus an optimistic round up gets me 800 points.
  • Do I have any specific target units to paint (like those other clever bloggers who have planned out detailed project plans?  Excuse me while I pick myself up off the floor.  I can't plan next week let alone 3 months, but it's likely that I'll challenge Tim Gow for variety of periods and scales.
  • Now that the the contest has started, how are you faring compared to the early front runners?  My total to date is zippo, Nada, diddlysquat, doughnuts, SFA, exactly equal to the number of NHL games played this season
Seriously, I have a life which will likely get in the way until next week.  I'm a middle distance runner not a sprinter.  I am of course, only speaking metaphorically I blew my knees out slam dancing to the Sex Pistols in the 70s and then sealed the deal by falling down the stairs on a double decker bus full of Edinbouroghers (I'm sure I'll learn the correct term shortly) on market day.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Always A Busy Time of Year...

This blog has been quiet for a while now, due a very busy month.  I had 120 first year stats exams to mark this week.  That's been completed and the marks entered, and it's basically all over but for the crying.  Next week I have an ActSci course writing an exam, but there's only 16 students and their papers will be much easier to grade.  Oh yeah and Christmas is around the corner, with my mother in law due in the middle of next week.

Last week Curt put on a Napoleonic game using Fast Play Grande Armee and using 6mm troops, which I have to say I greatly enjoyed.  This was my first game with FPGA (or any of Sam Mustafa's games) and I will be playing a more.  I am still not  fan of 6mm troops (no comments on my decreasing vision), but the game was good.  Sylvain and I were the French a British force on the retreat to Corunna.  It was a close run thing but we beat Stacy's brits.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Espana 1084 with Hail Caesar Part Deux

More pictures from the battle for the river crossings.  

From the Moslem (Curt) viewpoint, spearmen and light cavalry advance on the bridge, while civilians cower in the village.  Off screen to the right, the mercenary Crossbows cower and refuse to enter the village (perhaps fearing the bishop's wrath for serving the Zaragozans).  In the distance, the two sides glower at each other near the ford.
Perhaps the key action of the engagement.  El Cid (Curt) sent a unit of Jinettes (light cavalry) across the river to attack Sylvain's archers who elected to stand and fight and were destroyed.  Curt rolled Vegas for his pursuit and was able to form up and swing into the flank of Sylvain's militia spearmen, who were also quickly over run.

Sylvain tries to charge across the river with his Hidalgos.  The slight advantage of ground gave the Zaragozans the edge.  Even better, they wounded Sylvain's general meaning that he added no attacks to the combat.  The ford is marked by the island, but the river could be crossed everywhere else with a penalty (treated as a linear obstacle under Hail Caesar).

This shot and the next show the cavalry action near the ford.  Curt put his archers in the marsh in the distance, who were chased out by Sylvain's light cavalry.  Both generals joined the heavy cavalry melee, and both died as a results.  The bards will have plenty to sing about!  

The denouement.  Sylvain's light cavalry in the marsh, while Curt's bowmen lurk in the top left corner having scampered off when charged.  In the centre Curt hit the Hidalgos from the front with his heavies and the flank with his lights.  The combination of the flank charge, and the early wound on Sylvain's general made the difference and the Hidalgos were routed.  

By this point, Curt had chased off the Aragonese left flank at the ford.  Meanwhile, a blunder roll on the Aragonese right resulted in a move away from the bridge, allowing Moslem jinettes and one unit of spears to cross the bridge.  The second unit of Curt's foot refused to cross the river, not wanting to get their fancy silk clothing damp!  Meanwhile, the crossbows still found reasons not to enter the village!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Hail Caesar Action in Espana c 1084 Part the First

It's been a busy period with 4 social engagements in 8 knights, plus it was last full week of classes and we were Christmas shopping - I have slower years than last week!  So after a cocktail party last week end, Thursday night at the theatre (Wizard of Oz), and Friday night at the Symphony (Tafelmusik, an excellent Canadian Baroque Orchestra) - I regressed and devolved back to my geeky/troglodyte roots and went wargaming with two goofballs (Curt and Sylvain).

We used my El Cid period Moors and Christians and the Hail Caesar rules.  The scenario was the first from the Warhammer "Age of Arthur" book - I know that WAB has its haters and I am no fun of the Evil Empire, but it gave me good games and the resource books were excellent.  There was a shallow  river across the board, crossable everywhere at a penalty but with a bridge and a ford representing victory points.  Each side had 3 cavalry, 2 infantry and 2 light infantry units, the Christians having heavier cavalry and the Moors being stronger in light cavalry and bought better foot troops.

Photos below courtesy (or Curt-esy) of Curt.

The table set up: wine, room, table top, Hotz mat and hills supplied by Curt.  Figures and terrain supplied by me - I was happy to find my orange grove and medieval keep in a basement clean up.  Aragonese to the fore and Zaragozans in the distance.

Moorish set up, self in background.

Ditto - but gives lies to the claims that I cannot take instructions (Curt asked me to smile).

Aragonese deployment

Close up of the Aragonese

The Christians advance in quite orderly fashion (so far).