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!

Monday, March 23, 2020

Gaming During a State of Emergency

Social Distancing has certainly put a crimp on gaming. I've seen refernces to "Hot Lead Hiatus," "Not Lead" and "Hot Lead Instead" as people search for other ways to get their hobby on during the pandemic.

Saturday morning over breakfast, Mrs. Rabbitman suggested that using the video chat feature on Facebook Messenger would be a good way to play with some one. She uses it to talk to Daughter No. 1 in Alberta weekly and finds it easier and more reliable than Skype. To demonstrate she quickly set up a 4 way call between our daughters and us (although my grandson, being 3, did most of the talking!).

I still had my Afghanistan stuff out and wanted another bash at Contact Front from God's Eye Games. Pete (who lives about an hour away anyway) was quick to respond. So with him on a tablet at his painting desk (he painted while giving me instructions on how to move his figures and rolling dice) and me on my phone in the basement, I walked him through mission, objective and support option selection. I gave him the Canadians being more straightforward and he rolled a 9. So he took the platoon LAVs, an Apache attack helicopter and with the 2 pts for doing an "Advance to Contact" he took a Fireteam of ANA. I rolled a whopping 2 and took "Dominate the Ground". I picked a sniper team and extra RPG team.

As my phone was busy showing Pete what was going on I didn't get a  turn by turn photo record. I snapped the following during a hiatus caused by his battery running down. But once comms were reestablished we were able to play to a finish.

A lucky RPG hit

LAV gets revenge

Sniper team attractst he attention of the Apache

The sniper had gotten a kill on the section moving up beside the burning LAV before he was turned into mist by the Apache.

Casualties behind the burning LAV. Yellow is stabilized. Red is not. 1 chit light wound, 2 serious. 3 critical. One crewman has already bled out despite the medic being there.


Pete pushed up on his right to capture and hold the grape hut, getting to it first with a full section. I did all of my fighting with the RPG and sniper teams, who all died after scoring some kills on the infidel. Having made my VPs by brewing up the LAV and killing some Coalition troops I decided it was the smart thing to withdraw into the pot field.

Plus my phone was on low battery.

We both secured our objectives, but the Canadian casualties resulted in a 5-3 victory for the Taliban.

Interesting experience. I'll do it again, but maybe with rules everyone is familiar with like Dragon/Lion Rampant. Although Pete found the extra fog of war provided by the interface of viewing the table through my phone camera interesting. More than four players might get a bit messy however as we all miss the usual social conversational queues and talk over top of each other. Pete and I had a few isssues with that.

Now that the Provincial government has ordered the closing of all non-essential businesses, I suspect I may have more time over the next few weeks. I wonder if saw blades are essential?

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Contact Front: first contact

I consoled myself after a stressful Friday and Saturday cancelling Hot Lead by having a solo game of Contact Front from God's Eye Games on Sunday. I've adopted from the Mad Padre the eminently sensible idea to solo play to learn new rules. It also means I get some gaming in. Especially at this time.

Force selection is interesting. You begin with a basic platoon or insurgent cell, then roll a d10 for support points. Choice of mission will give you some extra points too. A die roll determines who chooses their mission first, which limits the mission selection for the other player. The Taliban won the roll and took "Dominate the Ground" with +1 point. The Canadians then took "Advance to Contact" with +2 points. The Canadian die came up 10 and the Taliban die came up 6.

I'm using a mash-up of the free to download Danish and Australian army lists to get a start until I write one for the Canadians.  My 12 support points got me a platoons worth of LAV IIIs, an Apache attack helicopter, and some 81mm mortars on call at the FOB. The Taliban got an IED, a suicide bomber, a sniper team, a 2nd RPG team and a 2nd PKM LMG team. I find it odd that RPG teams are not a support option in the book, but I'm a rebel. I have loads of RPGs and the Canadians faced a lot of them. So I let them take one more.

The players then select their Victory Points. I had the Canadians searching for weapons caches, so three were spread across the table, 1 in each third. The Taliban wanted to slay the enemy and deployed their IED  in the middle third of the table.

Taliban begin infiltrating from their table edge 

CS21 deploys to sweep the village. 2 LAVs cover the flank and 2 provide over watch in the village 

First door. Took 2 attempts to kick it in!

But they found a cache!

Next door... again 2 attempts to force it. Note Taliban moving up in grape field.


Moving fireteams by bounds. Setting overwatches at each leg. 

Sniper team supported by RPG and LMG teams move up the flank 

Taliban getting in position at edge of grape field 

C6 team deploy to roof. LAV covers advance down road. Note Taliban by wall. Until they fire, the insurgents can't be engaged .

Local approaches LAV. Weapons team fail their toll to "Apprehend and Search."

BOOM! Suicide bomber detonates signalling the attack. RPG hits LAV immobilizing it. Fire from grape hut wounds one of the weapons team. 

Sniper! Man down. Team drags their dead comrade behind a wall. Their morale broken. 

C6 team and fire teams in houses engage insurgents in grape field, who find themselves in a crossfire. 

RPGs, 25mm shells and AK rounds fly across grape field. 

LAV races up to retrieve broken team. General fire fight across village. 

Taliban get a good command roll, so lots of activations combined with roll well on their shooting! No. 2 on the C6 hit by sniper. He's dragged down steps to waiting LAV. Casualties are piling up. Apache is inbound. One activation left for shooting is used to fire a LAV at the sniper wiping him out. 

BOOM! RPG gets a lucky hit on 21C. 2x crew KIA. 

Apache overhead fires on grape hut, blowing up insurgents and a weapons cache.  With all the casualties secure, remaining activation points spent having LAVs engage remaining Taliban. Taliban force left with2 command teams who fade out.

The Canadians got 10 VPs for 2x weapons caches eliminated. 4x KIA is -8 VP, but retrieving the bodies reduces it to -4. So net 6 VPs.Taliban got 10 for killing enemies.

The restricted Rules of Engagement really help. The insurgent can maneuver his teams into position and develop his plan and gets to choose when to start the battle, unless he miscalculates and gets too close, then the Western player can make a Search roll.

The generation of Activation Points helps with the friction too. The requirement to spend APs rallying pinned teams and securing casualties means the Western player can't do everything he wants to do either, keeping it from becoming a game of whack-a-mole.

So far I'm quite pleased with the rules and look forward to having Call Sign 21 out some more. The author is working on an Afghanistan supplement and rules for Special Forces. So both of those are on my radar now too.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Gaming in the Time of Plague

With Hot Lead approaching  and worries about COVID-19 rising, some have been voicing their worries. I have been fielding many emails and messages all week asking "what is Hot Lead going to do?" Some being helpful have pointed me to HMGS-E post about Cold Wars.

I've resisted issuing any kind of officious wafflegab, not wanting to ratchet up people's feelings of anxiety. I mean really, what can I say that the Ministry of Health hasn't already?  And do I really need to be telling people to stay home if they're sick and wash the hands? Apparently so.

It is a concern. Mrs. Rabbitman and I clearly remember a couple of years ago when some Plaguebearer spread their germs through the convention making a lot of us sick; staff, dealers, GMs all contacted me after the fact.

Friday the 13th my phone was exploding. Email, SMS messages,  Facebook posts, a text. Gamemasters cancelling, a couple of vendors too. The provincial Chief Medical Officer recommended cancelling any event with more than 250 people. Facebook exploded.

So with regret, and even some tears from Mrs. Rabbitman, we arrived at the difficult decision to cancel last night.

It's a shame. With 95 events scheduled it was going to be the biggest yet.

But all those Game Masters are already for next year. So I guess there's a silver lining.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Samurai B-Echelon

There's something about baggage elements that I think really help with the character of an army. Most of my armies feature some baggage. With the samurai even the pack ponies get flags to identify which general they belong to!

I got these Museum Miniatures samurai baggage sets about 5 years ago when I was hot and bothered about Ronin. Finally finished them. Using a sepia ink wash seems to get a similar finish to the Army Painter Dip that I was using then.

I imagine these figures walking in file down a path, so I kept the centres of the bases clear of flock and pushed the tufts to the edges to create the idea of a path.

Of course, to attack them I also finished up some Black Hat ronin that I got, started, and abandoned, around the same time.

17 more ronin/bandits are in the queue, which will give me a tidy little band to oppose my more regular troops.

Monday, March 9, 2020

That Didn't Go Very Well...

Scott was available to play on Saturday, a rare treat. We opted for WW2 to get the Russians I painted last summer on the table. I opted for mid-war to get my Marders out.

We played the Counterattack scenario from the back of the rule book. Scott had 2 rifle platoons holding the village and the wood to their left. His right was secured by the company HQ with their 2x Maxim guns and 2x 45mm AT guns hiding on a wooded hill. A platoon of T34s, another of SU76s and a third rifle platoon were coming on as reinforcements with the fifth turn of the 'special' card.

I was attacking with 3x platoons of infantry, the company HQ with 2x MG42s supported by 3x PzIVHs and 3x Marder IIIs.

The panzers and MMGs would shoot my infantry in while the Marders secured my left from whatever threat lurked on the wooded ridge.

2x platoons of infantry proceeded to get cut down in front if the village losing a Lieutennant in the first volley. The Russian AT guns hiding on the wooded ridge drew my Marders into a long range duel. The Marders getting the worst of it. One was a mobility kill and bailed out, the 2nd was damaged.

My 3rd rifle platoon did remember to go prone at the end of their advance saving them grief. The Panzer IVs started shelling the village, eventually setting half of it on fire. This was my high point.

More Russian fire killed the other platoon commander and the company commander who was trying to get my 2nd platoon moving. Both platoons were reduced to less than a section each now. The Special card had flipped 4 times now so Scott's reinforcements were close.

Time to accept defeat.

I should have shifted everything to my right so I could take those woods in isolation and then the village, eating him piecemeal. I also should have taken some mortars in my company HQ and replaced the 3rd platoon with a MMG platoon. I also shouldn't have committed a complete n00b error and used an action at the end of my move to get all my guys prone. Stupid of me, really.

But the flame markers Dan gave me last summer looked super cool.

So there's that.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020


My gaming mojo has been lacking this winter. The ONLY games I've gotten in were the games in Barrie with The Mad Padre. Not even anything solo. I haven't done much painting either.

Much of my hobby time has been taken up with Hot Lead, which has NINETY-TWO gaming events scheduled, which is a record.
I was worried that the Middle Earth SBG tournament not happening would leave a big hole, but GMs have stepped up and Saturday morning and afternoon are full! The evenings are pretty good too. I'd better not hear any moaning about nothing to play or I'll give them a stick and send them outside to do some LARPing.  As mentioned earlier I also spent three nights culling my leadpile.

Another couple of nights were spent assembling a model jet engine that had been sitting about the Squadron offices for a while before I took command. As Training Officer it seemed within my purview to finally get this useful training aid ready for the classroom.
Not a very well made kit. I eventually had to use my Dremel Tool to get a good connection so it would work.

I did get my Middle Empire Romans finished at last! The last 20 took a couple of sessions. These two senior officers needed a bit of free hand on their small shields.

48 infantry, 18 archers and 12 cavalry plus supernumaries. Now they just need to be played with.

While waiting for the glue and flock to dry on the Romans, I got out some Samurai that I had abandoned 5 years ago. Maybe inspired by Sarissa Precision's new samurai castle. Maybe not. Either way I'd like some kind of samurai games to be possible.

Now, I just need rules....

This is all part of my overall objective to restart abandoned armies and projects. To that end I purchased Contact Front from God's Eye Games for my Afghanistan games.

It is set at the platoon plus attachments level of game, which is where I want to be. Most modern rules have too much detail and can't handle more than a section.  Initial reading is promising, but I'll have to mash up stats from their free download Danish and Australian army lists to make a Canadian list. I'm starting to clear off my second table for some solo learning games.

I also splashed out and ordered a few things from Bad Squiddo. Mainly interested in her new scenic items, but I got some Dark Age women while I was there and a pack of bunnies too.

Because bunnies....
A few will end up in my vegetable gardens.

Overtime at work and Mrs. Rabbitman and I taking ballroom dancing lessons is also cutting into my time. We've been together for 36 years and I've never danced with her before. Lack of time and money, shift work, feeling awkward and self-conscious, or just parenting, have always gotten in the way, so it's quite good to finally dance with her. My swing dancing needs a lot of work but it's good to get off the couch on a Sunday afternoon. And her smile while we're dancing is just brilliant.