In which I blog about my miniature wargaming and whatever else takes my interest!

In which I blog about my miniature wargaming and whatever else takes my interest!

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Ghost Fleets

Last November Ravenstar Studios had a massive 40% off sale. So that made a few decisions for me and I put in a pretty big order. More than I was initially thinking at any rate, because you know more ships equals more scenario options, right? RIGHT?

Order away.

Now for the waiting. They'll show up in time for Mrs. Rabbitman to give them to me at Christmas and I can paint them up on my holiday.

I got my old copy of Full Thrust out to review and wait some more while pondering vector movement, rail guns and missiles to fit with The Expanse.

And wait.

After 8 weeks I contact him. Having grown up in the 70s with "please allow 6-8 weeks for delivery" and figuring with a 40% off sale he had been slammed with orders and was busy casting up tiny ships I was trying to be patient. But he figures it should've arrived early December and has gone astray in hyperspace.

He re-sends the order.

2 weeks later. Nothing.

A third box with some other ships sent out as a peace offering also goes missing in hyperspace.

So finally after 6 months I ask him for a refund. He sends me the refund and unbeknownst to me, a fourth box, which popped into my mail box within 5 days of shipping. Irony, being the most common element in the Universe, both arrived on the same day.

So I now have a pretty big task force of the very interesting Daisho Confederation ships and a smaller group of the sleek Mauridian ships plus a few transports and a honking big 15mm VTOL and a pair of cute little hover cars for my colony.

Now I've got to figure out how to base them and get painting!

And a big piece of black cloth. I need a big piece of black cloth now...

Monday, May 14, 2018

Gaming Heaven and Hell

I've been amusing myself recently contemplating an ideal gaming event, and naturally it's dystopian opposite. It's a humanist trend to think of heaven and hell in human terms (think of Supernatural or the super hilarious The Good Place ). My Uncle the priest thought that in heaven we'd be able to do whatever made us happiest. And next to being fed pie by Mrs. Rabbitman, gaming with my friends makes me happiest.

Gamer Hell 
You're in a damp cold basement with weak fluorescent lights and a cement floor.

There is only one table covered in that bright green rolled grass paper. Buildings are craft paper and tape. Trees are green sponge on popsicle sticks.  Other terrain are random pieces from Warhammer and 40k box sets. All thrown down without logic or a sense of story. Rivers are blue felt.

The armies are old, sloppily painted Minifigs and Hinchcliff figures. Many are broken and riders are missing from saddles or lean clumsily. They are based upon irregularly shaped unpainted pieces of cereal box card that flex when you pick them up, causing figures to pop off.

The rules are from Empire Press. Lots of enormous charts that make an actuarial accountant swoon. Layers of detail that in fact obscure any realism . It's a multi-corps big battle and you have to track how many rounds are in each skirmishers cartridge box. Which edition you're playing changes every turn.

Your fellow players all have bad hygiene and poor social skills. They argue over everything.

The snacks are hickory sticks, ketchup flavoured chips, unsalted nuts and weak American beer.

Win or lose, it's because of a random dice throw and a rules argument. Losing is a bitter cheat and victory tastes like ashes.

Gamer Heaven  
The room is large, seemingly endless. There are big sunny windows, and a thick carpet and plush curtains absorb the echoes. The wood panelled walls are adorned with artifacts and paintings of famous battles.

There are many tables for each of your favourite periods, and even some periods you always wanted to play but never got the chance. The ruins of Stalingrad on one and rolling Bohemian countryside on another. The forests and mountains of Middle Earth compete for attention with the North West Frontier. All full of detail; farms and fields have livestock, villages have villagers. There are flowers along lanes and in meadows.

The armies all would win awards. Each one has amusing rear echelon vignettes and baggage elements. Every troop stand is a mini diorama. You can play each period in different scales and operational levels. Roman cohorts battle in dark forests. Medieval knights clash among hamlets and hedges. Lines of tricorned musketeers engage in elegant maneuvers across rolling countryside. Dusty gurkhas relieve embattled forts just in the nick of time.

The rules are known from memory by everyone and there are no arguments. Play flows seamlessly and every dice roll gives a plausible result. If you win it's because of superior strategy. If you lose its because your opponent was better and defeat is accepted with good natured grace. The room is naturally filled with your best mates and those good folks that you've met on blogs and Facebook with whom you've always wanted to play, if you only lived closer together. Naturally they have good hygiene, excellent manners and dress like the Mad Padre.

Refreshments come from a fully staffed bar and kitchen with the cooking done by Nigella Lawson. There are side tables so that drinks and food are not on the table. Attractive servers glide among the leather chairs and they are quite happy to move that unit that is just out  of reach.

The tea is always strong and hot and the pastries are fresh. No one ever gets cheezie dust on the figures.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

In Which the CO Hears an A Cappella Version of "Bohemian Rhapsody"

Pushed a few limits with the Air Cadets this weekend and did a few things that the previous management never let them do.

First, under my DCOs direction, the Senior Cadets planned and directed an entire FTX weekend. The main objective, weather permitting, was for all of the cadets (not just the seniors) to make and sleep in improvised shelters. They haven't done that before. Then, again weather permitting, they were going to launch some rockets they had worked on earlier in the year. Again, the risk adverse previous management never allowed that either. Or camp fires. Or fun... I also let my Level 3 cadets and up carry knives (as long as the blades aren't more than 10-12 cm).

Our chosen weekend conflicted with a major Regional activity that we weren't attending, so drawing equipment from stores wasn't going to happen. With some last minute negotiation we got the rations and transportation authorized though. Then a severe wind storm tore across the province on Friday, knocking down trees, uprooting light poles and generally causing power blackouts all over.

Fortunately the wind abated before I was trying to marshall cadets outside to get them on a bus and off we went. No power at the camp site, but we had new butane stoves and running water so it was worth a try. It was, after all, a survival exercise.

Saturday was gorgeous and the cadets did a brilliant job making some improvised shelters using fallen limbs and tarps while cooking their own MREs (Meals Ready to Eat, or Meals Rejected by Everyone). The senior cadets made things happen with limited direction. My DCO and mine's objective of sitting by the fire in our camp chairs (while monitoring safety naturally) was also achieved.

The power was still out by night fall so a campfire was the only entertainment. Plus the DCOs iPhone and Blutooth speaker. So they roasted hot dogs, marshmallows and sang along to her musical selections. I was surprised (and pleased) at how much 80s and 90s pop they requested. But the charge on the speaker died at bedtime so off they went. Camp fire Karaoke will be a recurring evening activity.

They were all safely tucked up in their lean-tos and bivvies, when some rain swept through. Just enough to test their handiwork, but not enough to test them to destruction. So everyone was dry in the morning. During breakfast I got to hear an enthusiastic but fairly off key rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody.

Since we barely used the cabins and meal hall, clean up and packing was a breeze and we could spend an hour Sunday morning launching rockets. The Senior Cadets had a brilliant idea to order in pizza at lunch, which I gladly agreed to. Usually lunch on the last day of an FTX is a pain. Everyone is sick of MREs, plus you've been trying to clean up and pack away the gear, yet you have to leave the cooking gear until last and MREs make an amazing amount of garbage. So you've got THAT to clean up from just before the bus arrives. Pizza comes in handy burnable boxes and can be served on napkins. So it's just clean up the fire pit before you go. Brilliant.

Shelters made and slept in. Camp fire enjoyed. Rockets launched. Cadets had fun and wanted more exercises like this. So it was a shiny weekend all around.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Rebasing Prussians

I haven't liked the way my SYW Prussian cavalry have been based for a while, but haven't done anything about it.

Originally they were all based 2 to a stand as set out in Warfare in the Age of Reason. But once I started building Austrian cavalry I decided I liked the look of 3 cavalry boot to boot on a 40mm wide base better.

Prussian old style (L) New style Austrians (R)
So I decided it was time and rebased all seven 12 figure Prussian cavalry regiments. I also rebased 7 generals on round stands.

Note that the bases are different sizes!
All 7 regiments ready for flocking. Also working on gangster buildings. 
I used some sheet metal 40x30 bases from Renaissance Ink that are left over from painting Romans for Don many years ago. The uhlan regiment are on 40x40 bases to make them look more irregular.

An added benefit is they will.occupy a smaller space in the storage drawers, which are quite full now.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Blooding the Soviets

Had a couple of games of I Ain't Been Shot Mum lately, because 1. Scott is available (being temporarily free from mandatory overtime) and he likes WW2 and 2. I want to play with my new Soviet tanks.

Two weeks ago it was a Sept 1941 game; a German light panzer company (Pz IIs and Pz IIIs) with some panzer grenadiers and attached panzer jaeger 1s is rolling towards Moscow or Leningrad or something. In their way is a scratch force of infantry, 45mm AT guns and a KV2. A platoon of T34s and a mixed platoon of BT7s and the T26 are coming on to reinforce.

Mike and Dick were waaaay too cautious to be running the Germans. They sent one armour platoon to their left against a wooded hill to uncover a section of 45mm AT guns. A platoon of panzer grenadiers got bogged down in a fight for the village (featuring the spiffy Eastern European church Mike found for me at Fall-In last year). Dick went to the more open ground on the right and put a panzer zug in overwatch on the hill while his panzer grenadiers rolled forward under blind. The supporting Stuka missed anything of importance. Scott rolled his KV2 out to demolish Mike's lead panzer zug, causing the following one to hide behind some trees. The panzer jeager Is could've hurt it, but they were no where to be seen (Mike doesn't get the idea of overwatch or fire and maneuver or that maybe a wooded hill isn't the best objective for some tanks). When we called time, Scott was all set to unveil his second position behind the village, where the rest of the 45mm AT guns and the Maxim guns were ready to shred Dick's advancing grenadier zug.

The Soviet tanks were still coming up the road. I'd hoped for a nice armoured duel in the open ground on the German right. But no.

So pictures:

Fascist invaders

Defenders of the Motherland

View from German end. Mike went left and Dick went to the right. Scott had infantry in the village, infantry and AT guns in the wooded hill on the left and AT guns and Maxims in the woods behind the village covering the open flank where Dick was maneuvering.

New Soviet AT guns look great while drawing first blood

Panzer grenadiers looking very photogenic doing what panzer grenadiers do

KV2 unleashes 152mm worth of whoop ass and then breaks down in a nice position to shell the panzer grenadiers
Onto the second game. I was thinking mid-war and putting the recently repainted PzIVs and my neglected Marders on table, but Scott suggested late war and using the King Tigers. Well the King Tigers haven't been out of the box either so, sure, why not? So surprisingly similar layout, except the bigger town was more thoroughly smashed. Desperate German rearguard holding back a Soviet advance somewhere in Eastern Europe in the fall of 1944. The Soviets have a company of 9x T34s (to Scott's chagrin the T34/85s aren't painted yet), a platoon of T70s and two companies of infantry, each of two weak platoons. One is rifle troops and the second is SMG armed assault troops. The company commander can call in support from a battery of 120mm mortars.

German view. Two infantry platoons hold the ruins. Coy HQ with the MG42s, FOO and two Pak 40s are dug in on the hill to the right. King Tigers behind on blind. Third Pak40 covering the left of the town from the wooded hill.

Wall of Soviet blinds. Infantry on the right. Tanks on the left.

Scott's main attack is revealed

This causes me to unleash my Pak40s (shot from late in the game when they've been taking hits from Soviet mortars and HE from the T34s)

And the King Tigers roll out from behind the hill to look menacing and then spend the rest of the game waiting for their card to turn over

Meanwhile the Soviet infantry get cut down in the open advancing on the ruins

SMG troops close assault and get a foot hold

Soviet armour advances using the tank platoon orders (indicated by the green dice). A T70 (foreground) has fallen victim to a panzerschrek in the town.

After spending a lot of time shelling the Pak40s Scott turns on the King Tigers. 6 hits, only one is effective. The Soviets claim a moral victory. The King Tiger card doesn't come up all game....

T34s getting bashed up but only two kills from the Pak40s.
When we decided to call it we flipped quickly through the card deck to see that the German Paks and the until now idle King Tiger cards would come up before the T34s got to move or fire again. Some quick die rolling had all but two T34s now burning. So this Soviet advance was blunted.

Very similar games in retrospect except the Germans and Soviets traded places of terms of mission and quantity vs. quality. Although I suppose the second game was the more classic match up. I find the early lighter German armour a lot of fun and makes you think. It also shocks the heck out of players more used to 1943 or later German forces. I've noticed that many gamers, even when playing 1940-41 games still leave out the ubiquitous Panzer II.

But good to play with some, until now, unplayed with toys.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Tanks, Old and New

Knocked off a couple of things this icy weekend.

First a platoon of Battlefront PzIVGs that I've had painted plain dunkelgelb for years, erroneously thinking mid-war a lot didn't have the green brown camo added.

Sponging the camo on my Brumbars last year inspired me so I took advantage of a clear workspace to camo these up, ready for Italy or the Kursk salient.

I also finished up that second hand T62 I bought last month, turning it into a derelict reminder of the Soviet invasion and following civil war that still littered the countryside even during Operation Medusa.

I broke open the hatches and reglued them into place. Removed the IR light and machine gun.  Broke some tracks. Broke the barrel and reset it at a depressed angle. Scrounged the fuel tanks from some spares and glued them on at an angle to look damaged.
 Dry brushed on some black scorch marks around the engine and turret. Then gave it a good ink wash for rust. Lastly a bit of dry brushed dust over all.
 The tufts are Woodland Scenics "Harvest Gold" field grass glued down with gel superglue.

So some older tanks, painted up new and a new tank, painted up old.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Sorting out my gangsters

Looking back in my blog, I realize that I haven't touched my gangsters and cops in 10 years! With The Chicago Way I hope to change that, and come up with a boisterous game for 6 or so friends who can happily back stab, shoot and trash talk each other for an evening.

So this past weekend I started digging into boxes and sorting bits to keep and bits to reject. There's a lot to get rid of, but I'm pleased to find a lot that will do quite nicely with only a minimal effort.

I also renovated the bases on the figures. The grey caulking didn't really do it for me. On some figures it worked great and others it went on rather lumpy. Not feeling up to carving paving stones I opted for sand.
Original grey caulk bases

Junk yard gang showing new basing. I also did a Google image search and discovered from old photographs that some gas pumps really were that tall!

I did a test layout and determined that I need more buildings, sidewalks, and roads that aren't lumpy. But I do have lots of fire hydrants and trash cans.

Here is a 4x4 mat with intersecting streets (note the big empty quarter):

The green structure on the roof of the right most building is going to be removed.
Retrieving the HO scale corner cafe from the reject box is a start, but not by much:

I think I'll base up the Ertl toy pony barn, add some junk leaning against the walls (for light cover) and have the roof removable. 
The pony barn also got a back door added with a Dremel tool and some scrap MDF 

Need more boxes

The gals spot trouble coming!

Goons try to hijack a hootch shipment

G-Men raid Canoli Construction

I'm tempted to make dedicated boards with set streets, sidewalks and alleys, and flat spots for the buildings. Then I could maybe add a ditch, or a section of river with a bridge. I could certainly have some grass and weeds in addition to the gravel at any rate.