Thursday, December 30, 2010

One Last DANG post for the year

I always like to read about how others saw the DANG game. I always seem to hear something I missed or some general thoughts that people have now that they have had a chance to reflect on the game.

So, here are the links to a couple blog posts and photos from the game.

Kevin's DANG blog post - with pictures and video from his new camera.

David's DANG blog post - with some really nice pictures (David has the best camera in the group).

Dale's Photos - Dale took a bunch of photos this year and provided a link to his photos from DANG 2009.

Now on to planning project for 2011!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

DANG 2010: The Lepanto Campaign

With the fleets done, the rules printed, and everything in place; I was ready for DANG day to arrive.

Everyone began arriving at my place around 9:30 AM and we spent the next hour saying hi, catching up on things, talking about the projects we are all working on and planning, along with various movie and book reviews (which also continued throughout the day).

After a short review of all the rules (we used David Manley's Christian Fire and Turkish Fury rules for the tactical game and my own home brew operational rules), we split up sides for the game, with Scott, Dale, Mark and George playing the Holy League and Paul, David S., Kevin, and Dave C. playing the Ottomans. Each side then took some time to review the positions of their squadrons and select the Fleet Leaders for their side. I had provided each side with a list of leaders from which they had to select 3 Fleet Leaders. The overall commander for each side was already set with the historical figure, Don Juan de Austria for the Holy League and Ali Pasha for the Ottomans. Each leader had a Leadership Rating, used to determine what the leadership would be for the tactical battle, and a short description meant to give the players an idea if there would be any special rules associated with the leader (some leaders had restrictions on what squadrons they could attach to, or special combat bonuses).
Campaign Game Operational Map with Fleet Markers
We were now ready to start the operational moves. I created a short set of rules for operational movement to provide some variety before getting to the main fleet battle and to provide each side with a chance to earn some extra victory points for raiding the enemy coast. Each side's squadrons were a bit spread out at the start and no one knew exactly where the opposing squadrons were.

The Holy League making an operational move.
My expectation was that both sides would try to consolidate their forces as quickly as possible and then run a few raids before attacking the main enemy fleet, and that was pretty much what happened. 
The Ottoman Fleet moving into place.
The Holy League pulled all but one squadron of their fleet together and conducted a successful raid near Lepanto. Buoyed by their success, they decided to try another raid in the same area, while the Ottomans attempted the same thing on the Venetian colonies on Crete. This time Holy League raid was beaten back, with minimal loses, while the Ottoman raid was repulsed and the boarding ratings for their ships were reduced. Not wanting to fight with reduced boarding, the Ottomans retired back toward Greece to embark fresh troops. The results of these raids caused each side to be a little more wary about conducting raids and instead they decided to move their fleets into a naval action.

In our version, rather than meeting at Lepanto, the fleets ended up finding each other off the southern end of Greece, in what I will call the Battle of Cape Matapan (I know that is the WWII battle, but based on the location on the operational map, it seems like a good name for this action). I laid out some islands to set the battlefield (I created a bit of a choke point, which sort of channeled the battle and may not have been the best choice) and each side set up. The Holy League lost the initiative roll and had to deploy first.

The Holy League decides how to deploy their forces.
A random roll at the start of the battle forced one Holy League wing to be set up in Line Astern formation, but this didn't really hurt them in the end. Rather than dividing up their Galleasses, the League put them all with the center, essentially forming a waterborne grand battery. 
Holy League initial deployment with the Left Wing (bottom), Center (with the Galleasses), and Right Wing (top)
The Ottomans put their biggest squadrons in the center, with the Galliots and a galley squadron on the left (they chose to set up in Line Astern formation). The Fustas were placed with the Barbary squadron (the Ottomans only Elite squadron) in the rearguard. 
Ottoman initial deployment, Left Wing in line astern, Center, Rearguard, and Right Wing
The initial positions viewed from the Holy League side. Note the islands on the left that restricted maneuvering.
With both sides set up, we were ready to begin moving.
The Ottoman Fleet on the move (we made Dave C. point at the ships for the photo).
Initial movement on both sides was hampered by some poor leadership rolls, so there was slow progress to get to contact.  
The Fleets close with each other.
The Holy League on the move.
But the Ottoman left, commanded by Hassan, son of Barbarossa pressed ahead of the other Ottomans (the special rule associated with Hassan said that he had to always move at maximum speed toward the nearest Christian squadron). 
The Ottoman Left Wing closes with the Christians.
This led to the first exchange of cannon fire.
Initial long-range cannon volley against the charging Ottomans.
Followed by the first melee combat.
Working out the first melee combat rolls.
With the melee raging on his right, the Holy League Center moved up to support the Right wing. 
Holy League Center moves up.
While the Ottoman Center also moved to attack.
Ottoman Center moves into position.
The initial fire from the Galleasses sank several Ottoman ships and disordered the 2 squadrons, bringing them to a stop. One squadron was able to reform and attack the Christian line while the Rearguard moved to bypass the stalled squadron and get into action. 
Ottoman Rearguard moves to join the fray.
The Ottomans had engaged in melee on their Left and Center, while the right still lagged behind. One of the Center squadrons remained stalled and continued to be whittled down by long-range cannon fire from the Galleasses.
The Battle Joined
However, the dice turned against the Ottomans as the Left wing collapsed with the loss of all ships and the engaged Center squadron was also wiped out. On the bright side for the Ottomans, the Barbary squadron in the Rearguard destroyed a Holy League squadron and the Right wing was doing well against the Holy League Left wing.
The Holy League Right Wing advances destroying the Ottoman Left Wing.
The Rearguard continued to press forward, destroying another Holy League squadron and a disordered Galleasses. The Right Wing seemed to slowly be winning the battle of attrition, but the outcome was still in question. 
Ottoman Rearguard and Right Wing push ahead.
As the Holy League Right wing and remaining squadrons from the Center turned to engage the Ottoman Rearguard, the Ottoman Right wing finished off the Holy league Left wing in what can only be described as a Pyrrhic Victory.

At this point, with essentially half the players knocked out of the battle, we decided to call the game. Each side had lost one wing (Ottoman Left and Holy League Right). The Holy League Right wing was basically intact, while the Center still had one good squadron and two Galleasses. On the Ottoman side, the Rearguard was intact, there was one severely depleted (and disordered) squadron from the Center and a severely depleted squadron from the Right wing.
Final positions of the battle: On the left the Holy League Right Wing and Center are turning toward the remaining Ottomans. On the right, the remaining Ottomans plan their escape.
We decided to call it a victory for the Holy League, but not as decisive as the historical battle. We expected that events in the Mediterranean would continue along their historical course, while the Barbary squadron from the Rearguard would return home and continue to plague Western shipping for the next couple hundred years.

Overall, I think everyone had a good time and enjoyed the game. We all thought that the Christian Fire and Turkish Fury rules did a good job of portraying squadron level action for the era (the only minor quibble being that people thought the melee combat table would work better rolling 2D6 instead of a D10). We all agreed that we should try to find a copy of the “Greek Fire and Roman Fury” rules that these rules were based on to be able to try out some pre-gunfire galley warfare.

I was pretty pleased with how things turned out for DANG 2010. It is always a lot of work to put together and I often end up with extra food and beer (although that really isn't a problem) after the event, but the games usually turn out to be a whole lot of fun, making it worth all the work.

There were a lot of other photos taken during the game and I'll post links to the other blogs and photo sites when the other participants get them up.

Thanks to everyone for showing up for the game.
2010 DANG participants: Mark, Dave C., David S. Kevin, Scott, Dale, George, me, and Paul.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Old Turks

The Ottoman Fleet is completed and mounted. As I mentioned in my previous post, I decided to use a darker brown for the Ottoman hulls. But because of the size of the ships and the limitations of my camera, the Ottoman ships look a lot like the Holy League ships.

As with the Holy League ships, the main place for adding color is the awning at the aft end of the ships and the flags. Most of the pictures I saw during my research showed the Ottoman ships with green and red awnings and flags, with crescent moons and stars on them. I tried to do this with my ships, but at 1/2400 scale, most of the moons and stars turned out to be blobs or lines. That said, I think it gives the right impression for the scale.
Ottoman Galleys and flagships
After getting everything painted, I mounted all the ships on 3mm thick wooden bases from Litko. The bases are 20mm by 40mm and I gave them a blue coat of paint so they wouldn't stand out too much on the playing surface. Overall, I think they turned out looking nice and will provide a good place to grab to ships.
Ottoman Flagship, Fusta, Galliot, and Galley
One issue I have with some of the ships was how to distinguish between the Ottoman galleys and galliots. The galliot bases are only slightly smaller than the standard galley bases and the ship models basically look the same. I finally decided to just add a marker to the galliot bases, even though that sort of ruins the overall look of the bases. 
Size Comparison - Galliot, Galley, and Fusta
Now that both sides are completed, all that is left is to start the battle.
The Ottoman Fleet, ready to meet the infidels.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Renaissance Man

I've been working on getting the fleets ready for the DANG Lepanto project. I had ordered the 1/2400 scale Figurehead ships back at the end of October, but it took until the beginning of December for all the ships to actually arrive. I don't really blame the place I ordered the ships from, since I asked for five fleet packs plus some other packs to round out the mix(it works out to 81 ships) and I didn't really expect them to have all those ships on hand.

While I was waiting for the ships, I did some research to figure out how I wanted to paint the ships. I came up with some ideas, but I ended up throwing most of those out since the 1/2400 scale galleys are pretty small.
Figurehead Galleass (left) and Galley Flagship (right) with standard Galleys and pennies in the back
As you can see from the picture, even the larger Galleasses and Flagships are pretty small. So the size really limited what I could do with my limited painting skills. In general the ship bases are about 1/2 inch by 1 inch (approx 1.5 cm by 2.5 cm).

Note: I've included several photos of the 1/2400 galleys in this post, but I think focusing in on the smaller ships with the lighting I have is beyond the capability of my camera. Hopefully they are clear enough to give you an idea of what I've done.

Assembly: Putting the ships together was pretty easy. Like most of the Figurehead miniatures ships liken, most of the Renaissance line I got ships came with separate bases and masts. Only the smaller Fustas (FR13) were molded with the base. Most of the ships only had one mast (the Galleasses had three) and they were easy to add to the ships, although some of the Galleys (FR2) seemed to have a second hole for a mast at the aft end of the ship. I just ended up filling in the holes as best I could. Overall the ships and bases were flash-free (there were a couple here and there that had some extra flash, but it was easily remove) and fit together without any problems.

Painting the ships just took a lot of time (right now I've finished the Holy League fleet, while the Ottoman fleet is still in progress), but I am a relatively slow painter.

Holy League Squadron in Profile

Holy League Squadron from a different angle
I used a light brown for the hulls and masts of the Holy League (the Ottomans get a slightly darker color), but a few Holy League ships got red masts to fit with the historical colors. The only real color for the ships is the awning at the aft end of the ships and the flags. I added some color to the sides of the ships to represent the protective mantlets the Holy League mounted on their galleys.

The toughest part to paint turned out to be the oars. I was using the same blue for the water bases that I use with my other Figurehead ships, but it is just a little too dark to make the oars stand out well. I was planning on dry-brushing the oars with the same light brown and red I used for the hull/mast, but you just couldn't see it against the blue. So, I ended up using a light tan to get the oars to stand out (I also used a yellow color for some ships). On the base, I really tried to highlight the point where the oars meet the base to get them to stand out a bit more, but I'm not really happy with how they turned out.

Holy League Galleasses (left with 3 masts) and Galley Flagships (right)
Holy League Galleys

The Galleys from the oblique
I was originally going to just use the bases that came with the ships, but I wanted to give a better grip for players. So I decided to order some wooden 20mm by 40mm bases from Litko. I was thinking about going for the 40mm by 40mm bases (which is what the rules call for), but those are awfully big for the ships. I'm hoping that everyone will be happy with that choice. I will post more when the Ottoman Fleet is done.

The Fleet is ready to face the Turk!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Recalling the DANG Past

In my post Catching Up I mentioned that I was preparing for my yearly naval game, referred to as DANG (Dave's Annual Naval Game). Since I'm catching up on a few other things, I thought I would post a little information about previous DANG games.

DANG is a day-long (well really about 6 or 7 hours) naval oriented game and is typically a mini-campaign with several battles representing several days or months of a campaign. I get the ideas for the games from various sources, some printed and some just made up by me. One of my favorite sources was the old Naval Wargaming Review done by Nathan Forney. Naval Wargaming Review was a little gem of a publication from the mid-1990s covering naval wargaming in all forms (board games, miniatures, and even computer games) with scenarios, mini-campaigns, after-action reports and product reviews. It didn't have a very long run (I'm not sure if it lasted 3 years), but there was a lot of fun information for naval gamers. I've always hoped the Nathan would bring it back sometime (if anyone reading this knows Nathan, you should tell him to give it another go).

Here is the list of games we have played over the years, with a little information about each game. I don't have pictures for all of the games, but have included a few snapshots for those I do have.

2002: South Atlantic War 1982 This game used a modified version of the Lombardo’s Trident scenario from the Harpoon4 suplement The South Atlantic War. We used the Shipwreck modern naval rules and Figurehead 1/6000 scale ships to play out the battles. This game ended with UK victory, since most of the Argentinean fleet was destroyed (including Belgrano and 25 de Mayo).

2003: WWI Adriatic This campaign was from the Naval Wargaming Review game and covered the opening moves of WWI in the Adriatic with Austro-Hungarian fleet going up against the Italians, with a little British support. We used the General Quarters 2 rules with Figurehead 1/6000 scale ships. The Austro-Hungarians won this game with an early attack on an Italian port and later a night ambush of Italian battleship force, after which the Italians conceded victory. Nothing went right for the Italians in this game.

2004: Remember the Maine; the Spanish-American War in the Caribbean We used a modified version of the Strategy & Tactics game Remember the Maine for operational movement and David Manley's Fire when Ready rules and Panzerschiffe 1/2400 scale ships for tactical actions. In the game, both sides won some minor battles, but there had not been a decisive battle and things could have gone either way when we had to wrap up the game. This game was probably a little too ambitious and not enough people showed up to really run both sides effectively. 
Spanish Cruisers (and a destroyer) sailing out to meet the Americans
2005: The Relief of Wake Island This game covered the attempt by US carrier and transport task forces to resupply the Marines holding out on Wake Island, while the Japanese divert forces from the Pearl Harbor strike force for a second invasion attempt. We used the General Quarters 1 & 2 rules with Figurehead 1/6000 scale ships. While it was touch-and-go early on, this battle ended in a clear US victory as the relief force made it to Wake and with one Japanese carrier sunk and the other damaged during the battle.
My model of Wake Island
2006:Guadalcanal Nights This game covered the surface actions around Guadalcanal. This was another campaign from a Naval Wargaming Review issue and I believe it was the basis for The Solomons Campaign book from Old Dominion Gameworks. We used the General Quarters III rules (this was the first time many of the players had tried them) with Figurehead 1/6000 scale ships. This campaign was really too long for a one day event, but we still got through several battles. When we quit the Japanese had a small lead in points, but the game still could have gone either way.

Japanese (top) and American (bottom) battlelines approach each other off Guadalcanal
2007: 1973 Arab – Israeli War at Sea This was a campaign game of my own design, with the tactical battles being fought with David Manley's Bulldogs Away rules and 1/700 scale modern ships. The game results turned out pretty historical, with the Arab navies being basically destroyed by the end of the game, although the Israelis suffered higher losses than they did historically. 
Osa missile boats preparing to meet their fate
2008: Disputed Territory This was a scenario from the 1997 Harpoon Naval Review covering a territorial dispute between Australia and Indonesia with neutral shipping roaming through the area. We used the Harpoon4 rules with Figurehead 1/6000 scale ships (and some nice scratchbuilt oil platforms). In the end the Australians won a hard fought battle. They completed their objectives and didn’t lose as many ships or aircraft as the Indonesians, but they still had heavy losses. The victory was closer than it would have appeared.
Oil rig tender on fire next to a rig. 
2009: Action off Tunisia This game covered the fights between German/Italian light forces and British/American coastal forces off the North African coast. This was another campaign of my own design. We used the Action Stations rules with 1/600 scale ships to fight the tactical battles. This was a very tight game, but the Axis players pulled out a slight victory in the end since they were able to get some vital convoys through the Allied gauntlet.
A pair of Dog Boats (Fairmile D) heading for a German S-boat
That gets you up to date on the DANG games. I'll being posting more about this year's game soon.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Museum of Flight Recap

We had the NHMGS game day at the Museum of Flight in Seattle on November 6. I'm a little late in getting my report in, since none of my pictures turned out and I got a little busy during the week. Luckily Dale Mickel took a bunch of pictures and I've "borrowed" some for this post. You can see all of Dale's pictures here.

The 6th was a rainy day (so surprising for Seattle) so we were expecting a good number of visitors at the museum. We had a good turnout of NHMGS members (around 25 people), the information table was set up, and all the games were ready to go when the museum opened up.
NHMGS game tables under the Museum's Blackbird
During the morning session we had an air racing game (using my home brew rules), a 28mm World War II game, a 15mm World War II game, a World War I air game (using Wing of War), and DBA games going on. All the games drew viewers and questions from museum visitors. The Wings of War and DBA games even had a few visitors sit down and play some games.

Air Racing nose-to-nose
In the afternoon, the DBA and 15mm World War II games continued, while a 20mm Spanish Civil War and 10mm World War II Tobruk game were added to the mix.
DBA under the Blackbird
I spent most of the day at the information table, talking with the museum goers and generally making a nusance of myself.

Side view of the information table
Overall, it was a good day for NHMGS at the museum. We had a chance to show off the hobby to the general public, play a few games, and everyone seemed to have a good time. We expect to be back next year (mark your calendars now).

A couple other NHMGS members (Kevin and Dean) posted their own impressions of the Museum of Flight game day and you can read them here: Kevin and Dean.

I should be returning to some naval gaming topics with my next blog post.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Sad News

My favorite baseball announcer, Dave Niehaus, passed away yesterday. Dave was the primary radio play-by-play announcer for the Seattle Mariners from their first game in 1977 through the end of the 2010 season.
I'm not a native to the area and didn't grow up following the Mariners, but when I moved to this area and started listening to the ball games, Dave was the voice I associated with the Mariners. He was the one constant with the team.

For me Dave Niehaus became more than just a local baseball announcer, he was like a favorite uncle who would invite me over and then tell some great stories. During the summertime his voice would go everywhere with me, whether I was working in the yard or gaming with friends.

Dave did more than just describe what was happening on the field, he described everything that was happening at the game. He provided descriptions of not just the sights and sounds of the ballpark, but what it felt like to be there. He had this wonderful ability to draw you into the whole game experience making you feel like you were sitting next to him. He was truly one of the great storytellers and made you feel like you were part of his small select group of friends.

Dave always made it fun to listen to the game, even when the Mariners weren't very good, which was more often than not. He rarely complained about how the team played in the same way a normal fan would. But when a player (or the team) wasn't putting out their best effort he would say something, which was pretty rare for a team employed announcer.

For me his passing is really like losing a member of the family. Summer will not be the same without Dave Niehaus. Good-bye Dave, we will miss you.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Catching Up

After starting up this blog I told myself that I wanted to try and get a new post up at least every couple of weeks. I thought that would be a good (and easy) goal to shoot for, but after not getting a post up for more than a month, it seems like I was wrong. Well, hopefully I will be able to change that and get back on a reasonable schedule for updating the blog.

Over the past several weeks I haven't been working on much hobby stuff, but here are a couple things that are going on that I want to pass along.

First off, NHMGS (the Northwest Historical Miniatures Gaming Society) is putting on a Game Day at the Museum of Flight in Seattle on Saturday, November 6.

NHMGS has been running a game day at the museum on and off for the last ten years. There will be five game tables and two gaming periods. The games will cover a lot of different topics; not just air related games, although there will be several of those. Right now the games include: air racing, World War II air and land action, World War I air action, and ancient battles (using DBA). Additionally we will have an information table with reference books, rules, and miniatures on display.

It is always a good time and we are expecting around 25 NHMGS members to be there to show the flag. If you are in the Seattle area on Saturday, you might want to stop by the museum and have a look or even stop and play. You can find out more about getting to the museum at their website.

Second, I am preparing for DANG (Dave's Annual Naval Game) 2010. Every year since 2002 I've run a naval mini-campaign for my friends between Christmas and New Year’s Day. We've had some interesting games in the past, ranging from the Spanish-American War, to World War I in the Adriatic, to World War II and modern actions.

After the first couple of years I started to let people vote on the game they wanted to play. I would come up with a list of around ten potential games and let everyone vote on what they wanted to play. This year's voting was done at the start of October and was done in two rounds. The first round had ten games and the second round had the top four games from the first round.

This year's winner was the 1571 Lepanto campaign.

The game will cover the last large-scale galley battle in history. In the mini-campaign I'm planning on trying to cover the approach to the battle and the main battle itself, with some options for both sides. Although if players make different enough choices from their historical counterparts, the battle may not happen at Lepanto but somewhere else. I'm planning on using the "Christen Fire and Turkish Fury" rules (this is a naval variant of the Fire and Fury rules by David Manley) and the Figurehead 1/2400 scale galleys. I've got my order for the figures in at Strange Cargo Games and I'm just waiting for them to show up at my door.

Finally, following up on my Age of Sail stuff. I'm still working on the ships and the gunboat and cutter are about half-painted, but other, non-hobby, stuff has kept me away from finishing them. I'm hoping to get a little more work done on them before I get heavily into painting for the Lepanto Project and will post pictures when they are done.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

A couple more Thoroughbred ships and some updates

In a previous post I gave a review of a couple Thoroughbred kits I had gotten through e-bay. This time I'll cover a couple ships I ordered directly from Thoroughbred.

First up is the One Gun Schooner kit (EN03). I really liked the look of this ship on the Thoroughbred website and it fits in with the smaller battles that I'm planning.
Out of the box, I was a little surprised at how small the kit really was (the box is even small). The ship size isn't really an issue for play, I was just wondering how many figures I would be able to fit safely on the deck.
Thoroughbred One-Gun Schooner kit
This kit is a two-masted schooner and comes with all the fittings for the masts and a central pivot gun. The gun can be a 24 pound long gun or a 32 pound carronade. There aren't too many parts for this one, so assembly should be easy. I was sort of hoping that I would be able to swap the guns so that I could have a little flexibility when playing with the ship, but I don't think the guns/slide mount will be stable enough for that.

Overall, I like the kit, although the schooner will be dwarfed by most of my other ships.

The other kit I bought was the Mediterranean Felucca (EN12). The Felucca is a medium sized ship (although it is one of the larger ones in my little fleet), but similar to types used all over the Mediterranean. This is another ship that I really like the look of. The raised stern really provides a distinctive look and I think this ship will be great for some one-on-one battles with the Americans or supporting some gunboats at Tripoli.

Thoroughbred Felucca
The kit comes with eight long guns and four swivel guns. There aren't a lot of parts, but assembling the masts looks like it may be a little more work than the other kits. Again, it is another nice kit from Thoroughbred.

Finally, I'll finish this post with an update on the Thoroughbred kits I previously reviewed. I finally assembled the cutter and gunboat and I took a couple pictures of them to post here before I primed them for final painting.

The cutter assembly went pretty well. I added all the fittings without too much trouble, but I decided to leave the gun ports off the finished kit. Mainly because they just seem like they would be too easy to knock off during game play. I may try to put them on later, but I think the completed version will look just fine without them.
Cutter stern view
I haven't added the carronades yet (I want to get the deck painted first) and masts will come after mounting the guns. I did test fit the mast and found that I needed to drill out the mast mounting hole a bit so that the mast would slide in properly.
Assembled Cutter
After looking at the assembled hull, I thought that I may have put the catheads a little to far back on the hull. But no one will probably notice during a game.

Here are a couple shots of the assembled gunboat. It was really easy to put together, with only the rudder, guns and grates to add to the hull.
Assembled Galley Gunboat
I was originally going to not glue the guns on the slide, just to leave them free to slide back and forth, but they really weren't stable and needed to be glued down to stay on the slide. I did leave the slide pivots free though, so the guns can be aimed all around.
Gunboat profile
After taking these pictures I primed both ships and they are now ready for painting.

I'm going to be playing a test game with both the Away, Boarders! and Prevailing Winds rules soon. I will post my impressions after playing in my next blog post.