Sunday, July 5, 2020

4th of July Gaming

With the weather finally turning better and with various COVID restrictions, I decided to plan for an outdoor game. I ordered a pop-up shelter and found a good spot on the front lawn to set it up. I put out the invite to a small group for July 4th. Several people already had plans (not surprising), but I had three takers for the game.
pop-up shelter and gaming tables ready to go
Since I was hosting, I wanted to get my recently acquired French 1/1250 ships into some action. After going over ship lists from the participants, I came up with a scenario. Basically, the American's are enforcing the Monroe Doctrine, while Europeans (in this situation, France and Germany) are looking out for their own interests in the Caribbean. This battle had scouting forces from a combined Franco-German squadron meeting up with the Americans off Haiti. We were using the Fire When Ready rules, with a couple modifications to the damage values to beef up the cruisers staying-power. With masks on and maintaining distance as best as possible, we were ready for some gaming.
French cruisers preparing for action
The French part of combined squadron was made up of the cruisers Dupuy de Lome and Amiral Charner. The Germans contributed the cruisers Kaiserine Augusta and Arcona.
German cruisers Kaiserine Augusta (right) and Arcona (left)
The American force consisted of the cruisers New York, Olympia, Detroit, and Tacoma.
American cruisers heading into action
The game started with both sides closing in. The French got in the first hits on the lead American cruisers. Then Franco-German force then split up to go around the island in the center of the board.
Germans split off to get into the action
The Americans concentrated fire on the French, doing some heavy damage to both cruisers and knocking out the helmsman on the Amiral Charner (the second cruiser in line). The French returned the favor, doing heavy damage to both New York and Olympia.

As the Germans cleared the island, they concentrated their fire on New York, while the French fired at Olympia and the trailing cruiser Tacoma.
Americans caught in the cross-fire
The Germans fire wrecked New York, causing the American to have to dodge the sinking ship.
New York wrecked and sinking as the Americans move around it
The French fire then wrecked Tacoma and jammed the rudder on Olympia. Olympia was able to clear the jam later, just before running into the land in the upper  left of the image below.
Tacoma wrecked
American return fire wrecked Arcona. But with heavy damage and out-numbered 3-2, the Americans decided to break off the action.
Arcona (lower center) also sinking
With the battle done, we did a little show & tell and talked over various rules and other things. We even raised a properly socially-distanced pint to our friends in the UK to celebrate the re-opening of pubs there (okay, not really, but we did enjoy some beer because naval wargaming is thirsty work).
As it says on the can "We like beer"
Overall the outdoor gaming worked fine. There wasn't much wind and the pop-up shelter kept us out of the sun. With the current restrictions on stores and large gatherings, I expect to plan a few more lawn games over the rest of the summer (weather permitting).

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Finishing my French Fleet

To round out my French pre-dreanought fleet (started in my last post), I ordered some cruisers from the War Times Journal store. As with the previous ships, these are 1/1250 scale DLP 3D printed ships.

I was looking to pick up some smaller ships to round out my fleet. So, this order included Dupuy de Lome armored cruiser, 2 Amiral Charner armored cruisers, and 2 Friant protected cruisers. My order arrived at the beginning of June and began cleaning up the ships for painting.
French cruisers out of the box
Like the previous ships, these only had a few mechanical supports left from the printing process to clean up. Although, due to the smaller size, they were a little harder for me to get right.

Next I added the masts and spars to finish the look. I also added some extra top platforms to the Amiral Charner ships, since most of the period photos I've seen showed the extra platforms. After that is was time to paint them up. I used the same buff and black paint scheme as my previous ships and here is the end results.
The new cruisers
Dupuy de Lome armored cruiser
Amiral Charner class armored cruisers
Friant class protected cruisers
I looked around for some other smaller size French ships in this scale, but there isn't really much available. I will be keeping my eye out for ships, but I think the fleet is mostly complete. I have a pretty good mix of large and medium size ships from the era and that should be enough for now.
The French fleet trying to not ram each other
The last thing I'll do is put the ships on the bases. I'll be using clear bases from Litko. I liked how they turned out for my last DANG project, especially with the game mats I'm using now.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

No Enfilade - But a New Naval Project

Normally in April and May my blog would have had posts about preparations and playtests of the games I would be running at the annual Enfilade convention. And this weekend I would have been going around the convention space taking photos of all the games. But Enfilade 2020 was cancelled in April, which stopped the scenario work and the various stay at home orders stopped any in-person gaming.

With the game-playing part of the hobby on hold, I should have focused on painting up the many unpainted figures I have. But that didn't really happen. Then my friend Kevin announced that he was using some of the money he would have spent on Enfilade to buy 1/1250 scale pre-Dreadnought era ships. Our little group started talking about ships, rules, and scenarios. Then all the sudden it seemed like this had kicked off a naval arms race. I decided to join in the fun (it really isn't a race unless there are a bunch of people involved) and focus my efforts on the French.

Instead of going with the pre-painted metal ships most others were buying, I decided to go with some 3D printed ships from the War Times Journal store. After looking through what was available in 1/1250 scale and checking my copy of Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1860-1905, I came up with a list of ships to buy and sent in my order. I chose to go with the DLP plastic ships based on the comparisons shown on the WTJ site. The DLP ships have mechanical supports at various places that have to be cut away, but I thought the ships looked better than the print model. 

My order included the battleships Charlemagne, Jena, Suffren, and the armored cruiser Dupleix. A few weeks after my order, the ships arrived in my mailbox. Here are some out of the box photos.
The armored cruiser (front) and battleships
Most of the ships we pretty clean, with few mechanical supports, but Jena really had a lot and needed some extra work to smooth out.
Jena (front) showing the supports and Charlemagne behind
The supports were fairly easy to remove with a sharp hobby knife. But there were a few (usually near gun barrels) that took a little more finesse to clean away. Once the clean-up was done, I added some masts and yards to complete the modelling work. I think the masts add a lot to the models (especially for Dupleix), but you could leave them off and still have good ship models. Then it was off to the shipyard for final painting. 
The fleet assembled for review
Battleship Charlemagne
Battleship Jena
Battleship Suffren
Armored cruiser Dupleix
As the naval arms race discussion continued, it turned out that most people were looking at smaller ships (protected cruisers, gunboats, etc.) as their main focus. Which makes my force is a little over-powered. So, I was back to the WTJ store to order some French cruisers. This time I picked up a Dupuy de Lome, 2 Amiral Charner cruisers, and 2 Friant cruisers. They are probably still a couple weeks away from arriving in my mailbox, but the first batch gives me confidence that this new batch will go together pretty quickly.

Hopefully this project will get me back to more miniatures work and lead to more posts on the blog.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Catching Up

March turned out to be a very strange month. We had just finished up with Drumbeat (my last post) and I was doing my preparations for Enfilade 2020. Then the COVID-19 stuff popped up and turned things upside down.
The world upside down image lifted from another website (hey, don't judge me)
My work started out by asking everyone to work from home, if they could, for a couple weeks. That shifted to a mandatory order the following week and we've been told to just keep working from home for the foreseeable future. The Washington state Governor has extended the Stay at Home order until May 4. I'm expecting that to get extended into June. So, it will be quite a while before I expect things to start to return to normal. Working from home isn't too bad, more of an inconvenience and something I have to adjust to. I do feel lucky that I am able to work from home and keep my job (and paycheck), when so many others have been furloughed or laid off.

What else have I been up to for the last month? It took me a little while to set up a home office, get into a working routine, and adjust to being home all the time. These changes also disrupted hobby time for me and, for whatever reason, it has taken me a while to get back to my projects.

So what am I working on? I started work on the 1/700 scale sailing ships from Warlord Games Black Seas starter set. The starter includes 3 frigates and 6 brigs. The plastic kits were easy to put together and the frigates have some variant pieces so they don't all have the same figurehead and stern. I expect I will get some more of these ships, so I decided to do 2 frigates as Royal Navy and other as French. For the brigs, I'm making 2 each of Royal Navy, American, and French.
In progress shipyard work
The Royal Navy is getting a yellow ochre strip, the Americans get white, and I went with a brick color for the French. I'm not sure I'm happy with the brick color, but the French used reds and yellows, and I wanted something a little different from the standard yellow and blue colors.

I'll give the rigging layout from the rule book a try, at least once, to see how that goes.

I'm also looking at another diversionary project. At the beginning of March I picked up some paint sets from a sale at Miniature Market and I also saw a box of Robotech Valkyries in the listings and decided to pick up a box for fun (they were only $5.50).
On sale goodies
I was only a semi-fan of the Robotech series, but I always liked the transforming Valkyries. The game these figures were associated with, Robotech Tactics, seems to have had a lot of issues. But since I wasn't getting them for that game, I wasn't too concerned about that. The one issue most people had with the kits was the number of small pieces needed to assemble each Valkyrie. I will say the reviews were right about that, the manufacturer made these much harder to put together than they should have.
Sprues with lots of pieces for 6 figures
Putting them together will occupy for a while, but if I get frustrated I can always just put it aside.

On the gaming side, I've been looking to online alternatives for playing. There are some good games out there. But, just like in-person gaming, the there are issues scheduling time to play. Right now I'm sticking more with play by email games using VASSAL. I have a game of Wing Leader going right now. 
American B-24s raiding Wewak airfield
I'm also getting pulled into a baseball game using Baseball Mogul. So far it is a slow go on this, since none of have run an online league before.
The league is mainly aimed at being the general manager for a team and making deals throughout the season. I normally prefer to play games as the field manager, but it is still fun and a good diversion since all the real games have been postponed.

Hopefully it won't be another month before I get up another post. Until then, I hope you're keeping busy with your own projects and staying sane. 

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Drumbeat 2020

Saturday was the annual NHMGS Drumbeat game day. The morning session had nine games and another five in the afternoon. Additionally, there was a small "Bring and Buy" session.

I played in a Pike and Shot game using The Pikeman's Lament rules in the morning and then a Rebels and Patriots game in the afternoon. Both periods were well attended and everyone seemed to have a good time.

Here are a few photos from the day.
Battle of Lake Erie using the Black Seas rules
Scottish Jacobites ambush an English relief column
Battle of Shiloh using the Alter of Freedom rules
Battle of the Pelennor Fields using the Heroes of Erehwon rules
100 Years War battle using Lion Rampant
The Last of the Mohicans - Retreat from Fort William Henry using Musket and Tomahawk rules
My command unit for Pikeman's Lament
The pike and shot game had the English holding a hill in the center of the table with the Irish attacking to take the hill. English relief forces had to cross a river to reach the hill.
The English defenders (left) with the Irish getting ready to move up hill
The Irish setup
My setup with the river crossing
Unfortunately, my die rolling was not up to snuff and I had trouble getting my troops across the river and into action. I did drive off a couple Irish units, but it was too late for the troops on the hill by then.
The Irish taking the hill
In the afternoon session I played in the Race to the Dan scenario using the Rebels and Patriots rules. The scenario represented a rear-guard action where the Americans needed to delay the British and get their troops across the Dan River. My command was the British regulars with a small cannon.
My regulars at the rear with the British light troops in the lead
Americans on a wooded hill with the river to their rear
The Americans occupied a wooded hill in the center of the play area with regular troops and skirmishers.

The British cavalry was deployed on the left. They planned to move around the American flank and try to cut off the retreat while the British foot troops occupied the Americans. Unfortunately, the cavalry ran into some American sharpshooters. Then the cavalry decided to shift their advance to the center of the map.
British cavalry passing in front of the regulars
My regulars kept up the pressure and did some damage to the Americans, as did the cavalry. The Americans were in a good position to win, with many units getting across the river. But the British light troops eked out the victory for the British by pushing American losses over the threshold.
British light troops pressing the Americans
There was another Black Seas game in the afternoon, a WWII Russian front game, and an ancients battle. There was also a Battletech game going on throughout the day, but none of my photos of that turned out.
Operation Bagration using the Battlegroup rules
Book-ending this blog post with another Black Seas photo

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Enfilade Project Updates and more

I haven't been keeping up the blog lately, but I have been working on a few things. Mostly getting together stuff for my Enfilade games.

Last weekend Kevin and I set up the Ploesti terrain and did a quick walk-through of the game. Since the last version of the game was done on a hex mat, we needed to see how the layout would work without one.
Refinery layout looking toward the American entry side
A view from the oblique
We think we came up with a good way to put out the refinery components. But we decided that having the building directly on the grass looked a little off. So I'm getting some gray felt as a concrete base for the buildings. I'll also see about making a few roads.

We were also trying to decide if we need anymore flak batteries. Right now we have 11 bases with a mix of heavy (88mm guns) and light flak (37mm and 20mm). Kevin was a little worried that there wasn't enough. But after laying it out on the table, it seemed like plenty.
The big battery of heavy flak
Kevin has some planes to finish up, while I finish the terrain and rules. Overall this seems very much on track.

For my Shores of Tripoli game, I need to repair a few ships and put together the paperwork (quick reference cards, ship cards, etc.) for the game. So this project is also on track.
Going through my box of sailors to make sure no one has jumped ship
Drumbeat, the NHMGS mid-winter game day, is next Saturday (February 22). I'll be there to get in some gaming and help out with running an event. You can see a list of the Drumbeat events at this link.

On Saturday, I took a trip over to the Museum of Flight to look at the Northwest Scale Modelers show. I always enjoy seeing what they are putting together. While there are a lot of aircraft in the show (it is at the Museum of Flight), there was still room for land and sea vehicles too. Here are some photos from the event.

While I really enjoy the modeling aspect of the miniatures gaming hobby, I also like to play with my models. I still do some non-gaming models from time to time, but I don't really have good places to display them. So my main focus is on stuff I can use in games.