Friday, December 31, 2021

2021 Review and 2022 Preview

With the start of 2022, I'll take an obligatory look back at 2021 and look forward to 2022. 


From the hobby standpoint, 2021 was a much better year than 2020. I finished more projects and had more chance to game. 


Starting out with the gaming side, in February, we wrapped up a Play by Email Spanish-American War naval campaign I ran using David Manley's Splendid Little War game and the Fire When Ready naval rules. I didn't do a write-up for this, but you can see Kevin's blog for the whole story.


In early June, we had our first lawn game. It was an Ironclads game and was a good kick-off to lawn-gaming season.

Collisions and calamity - Ironclad style

This  year's lawn games included: What a Tanker - Western Desert, Narrow Seas (World War II coastal forces), and pre-dreadnought action.

What a Tanker game
Narrow Seas
Fire When Ready


I also played in a few games over at Kevin's garage, but I don't have many photos of those. I also played my summer solo campaign and a few other miscellaneous games here and there. Overall, it was a good year for gaming.


On the painting side, I started the year by finishing up my 1/6000 scale Italian fleet.

Littorio class battleships
The whole Italian fleet

I joined in a semi-group project to do some Vietnam War figures. Others in the group got their figures from Gringo 40's, while I thought I would go with the figures from Crucible Crush's Black Sun line. Unfortunately for me, the Gringo 40 figures are just a little too big for my troops to fit in with. See the image below, the M-60 gunner in the center is from Gringo 40's, while the (substantially) smaller figures on either side are my Crucible Crush figures.

You can see the Gringo 40's figure is much bigger

The project left me with some good skirmish figures I can use, but not anything for the group gaming. 


I did a lot of work on 1/300 scale coastal forces. Almost all are from Warlord Games Cruel Seas line. Overall, I like the miniatures and the addition of crew figures really helps bring the little ships to life. I'm not always happy with choice of ships the company decides to make, but I'm hopeful they will add some more useful ships in the future. 

I also joined in on the full group project on the Mexican-American War. I picked up an Old Glory Army membership and ordered my troops. Once again, I was the oddball of the group since everyone else purchased figures from 1st Corps miniatures. Luckily, Old Glory and 1st Corps infantry (but not the mounted troops) are pretty close in size. So, everything should look fine on the table. I expect we'll get the first games in early in 2022.

That pretty much wraps up 2021. So, how did what I accomplished compare to my plans? Here is the list of things I wrote I wanted to do at the start of the year:


- Finish the 1/6000 scale Italian World War 2 fleet pack from Figurehead. DONE


- Work on Warlord Games Black Seas sailing ships. NOT DONE


- Work on Work on Warlord Games 1/300 coastal forces. MOSTLY DONE


- Put together some 15mm tanks for North Africa and play some What a Tanker games. DONE


- Work on the many unpainted aircraft I have. NOT DONE


Overall, a good year for plans vs. completed projects. 


Looking to 2022

So, what's on the list for 2022? In January I'll be running a couple of postponed DANG games. It has been a while since I've had more than a couple people over for an inside game, so this will be a step back to normalcy.


As far as projects go, right now I've got one new project that I committed to do. Painting up half the Italian ships from the Battle of Lissa for an Enfilade 2022 project. I was pulled into this project and ended up (semi) volunteering to do half the Italian ironclads. The ships are 1/600 scale from the old Bay Area Yards line. 


After and I will work on the following other projects, in no particular order.


- Mexican - American War stuff. I want to finish up all my Americans and still have some Dragoons left. I recently ordered a bunch of Mexicans to work on down the road.


- Airplanes! I really enjoy air games and I have a lot of unpainted planes. I also have a lot of painted stuff and should work on some scenario ideas to get som eplanes on the table.


- Black Seas sailing ships. I have several frigates and brigs that are mostly painted, but still need the final mast assembly and rigging. I also have some unassembled 74s.


- Finish up 1/300 coastal forces. I still have some Russians and Germans to finish up. These should be smallish projects, something to pick up between other projects or when I want to do a ship or two.


As always, I will remain flexible with my plans and expect there will be some new, bright/shiny game or object that will catch my attention. I always have lots of ideas floating around in my head.


I'm hoping to have a few more small indoor games over the next few months. Once the weather turns nice I expect we'll start some lawn gaming. So discussions about what games to play will probably help determine what projects I work on.


It looks like Enfilade 2022 will be back on Memorial Day weekend (at the end of May) and I'm hoping to be able to attend this year.


Personal Note

Thanks to all of you for reading my blog. I appreciate all the support I get from the gaming community. 

2021 was a tough year for me. In January I was diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer (my cancer had spread from my prostate to my lungs and bones). I went through intravenous chemo treatment during the summer. The support from my gaming friends, the gaming community and being able to focus on painting projects really helped get me through the treatment. I'm not cancer-free yet (I'm still undergoing chemo treatment, this time in pill form), but I'm doing much better. Now that my immune system has recovered and I'm vaccinated/boosted, I'm looking forward to getting back out for some public gaming in 2022.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

December Wrapup

I had been planning to save my final 2021 post for the planned DANG games, but the winter weather intervened and I had to postpone the games. 

My front yard after the snow

We had a snow storm on Sunday, with more scattered snow showers over the past few days. But what really killed my planned games was the temperatures. Since Sunday our high temperature was 28 degrees F (that's around -3 C for those outside the US). The low temperature prevented the snow from melting and made the roads a mess, so I decided to postpone the games. I'm looking to reschedule for sometime in January, when the temperatures get back to Seattle normal. So, more on the games in January.

With no game photos to share, I thought I'd show off a couple books I recently received. First up is British Submarines in the Cold War Era by Norman Friedman.

This book came out earlier this year and and covers Royal Navy submarine programs from just after World War II up to today. The book also talks about sensors, weapons, and budgetary concerns. I was never able to see much of the interior of Royal Navy subs while I was in the U.S. Navy (I had a tour set up once, but shifting schedules caused it to be cancelled). So far, I've found the book pretty interesting. It even came in handy during the week as my wife and I watched the BBC series Vigil (we both enjoy a good mystery/thriller and the submarine background is a bonus). My wife thought the submarine looked strange and I was able to pull out the book and show some photos of the Vanguard class. The series was good, but had some weak moments. But it is good to know the BBC has the same issues with the interior of submarines as Hollywood (although maybe the BCC thought the sub was like the Tardis).

Next I picked up a copy of The U.S. Cavalry 1865-1890 by José Antonio Mayoralas.

The book is similar to an Osprey Publishing book and was recommended for its descriptions of uniforms and equipment. The books certainly meets those goals. The publisher, Andrea Press is from Spain and there are a few translation issues, but nothing major. The local group has been discussing a Plains War project and this book will come in handy for that.

That's all for now. In my next post I will do my look back at 2021 and look ahead to 2022.

Saturday, December 11, 2021

Early December Update

As we roll into early December, I wanted to post a quick update and talk about the return of DANG.

First up, my recent project. After one of our late summer games David Sullivan (of the I Live with Cats blog) brought up the idea of a group project for the Texas Revolution of 1835-36 or the Mexican - American War of 1846-47. He was really wanting to do the Texas Revolution, but the group headed off in the direction of the Mexican - American War and I jumped in too. I expected this to be a slow progress, Winter project. But in a flurry of action, everyone else started making orders to 1st Corps for figures. I had decided to go in a slightly different direction by getting figures from Old Glory (although I did order some American Volunteers from 1st Corps, because Old Glory doesn’t really make them). I decided to get figures for both the Americans and Mexicans, so that I could play games in the future without having to worry about an opponent showing up with an army. We are going to use the Rebels & Patriots rules for the games, so the number of figures needed to field an army isn’t too huge.

A U.S. Sgt leads some troops

Compared to the others in the group, I am a slow painter (you can see many painted figures for the project on David’s blog and Kevin’s American and Mexican blog posts). Being more used to painting ships and planes, I often find people figures more challenging to paint. After man discussions about uniform colors, the purchase of a book with lots of pretty pictures, and such I finally got to work on my Americans (the Mexicans will come later). Here are a few photos of my first couple of infantry units. I’ll be posting more photos as I finish more troops.

A group photo

And from a more overhead angle

Overall, the Old Glory figures work well for the period. The 1st Corps figures are nicer and have more variety of poses. The Old Glory figures are either marching or advancing but have there are different heads, so they don’t all look the same. I do like the sergeants that are included in the Command pack. I think they have good poses and add some character to the units.

Marching poses

Sergeant figures
Flag/Command figures

The figures are turning out okay. I expect the later ones will turn out better as I get the painting down a little more.

The Return of DANG!

For those of you that aren’t familiar with DANG (Dave’s Annual Naval Game), the paragraph at the end of this post has links to older games.

With all the restrictions and uncertainty of COVID I had cancelled last year’s DANG. But with things looked somewhat better this year, I decided to bring it back. However, instead of the large, full-day mini-campaign, this year I will have two smaller (single scenario) games. That allows me to keep the gathering smaller (per recommendations from local Health Departments) and the games a little more manageable.

I did give the players a choice of scenarios (as I normally do with the mini-campaign) and the winning ones are a World War 2 coastal force action in the Black Sea and a hypothetical pre-dreadnought Franco – American battle off Haiti. The games are planned for the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. I’ll post some updates and the game recaps later.

DANG started in 2002. Since I’m doing two games this year, I’m going to say I am getting to DANG XIX (nineteen) and DANG XX (twenty). Here are links to recaps of DANG from before 2010, the 2010 Lepanto game, the 2011 American Civil War river game, the 2012 War of 1812 Lake Ontario game, the 2013 Operation Landcrab game, the 2014 Cogs of War game, 2015 The Shores of Tripoli game, 2016 The Big Stick game, 2017 Seastrike game, 2018 Siege of Charleston game, and 2019 WWI The King's Ships were at Sea game. It is a little surprising that I’ve been able to keep things going for 20 years.

Sunday, November 14, 2021

Maxing Out

With the lawn gaming season in the Pacific Northwest over, we've been looking at other venues for games. Eventually we'll figure out some indoor venues or stores to play at, but this time we found a place in Kevin's garage. 


Today’s game was part of the Second French Intervention in Mexico to establish Maximilian von Habsburg as the Emperor of Mexico. The Imperial forces were pursuing Republican forces and had taken control of a small town. The Imperial commander decided to dig in and wait for reinforcements before pursuing the Mexican Republican forces. Meanwhile, the Republican troops had fallen back, and the leaders called out the local militia to help remove the Imperialist from the town. We used the Rebels and Patriots rules for the game. 

Imperialist forces occupying the town

I controlled two Republican light cavalry units – one mounted rifles (good shooters in the rules) and the other armed with lances. Bill had three Republican regular units and a medium artillery piece, while Michael ran four militia units. Facing off against us was David (with three Imperial infantry groups, a light cavalry unit and a medium gun) and Eric (with a couple French infantry units, an Austrian light cavalry unit, and a medium gun). One of David’s infantry units had to start in the redoubt, while the others could set up within 6 inches. Eric’s forces were entering from the town edge. The Republican forces got to set up 12 inches from our side of the table. 


There were big victory points for the side that controlled the town, but that seemed like it may be too tough for our forces. So, we decided to focus on taking the redoubt and eliminating the Imperial forces. We planned to use the regulars to pin down and attack the redoubt, while the cavalry and militia swept around the edges to block any escape or reinforcements. 

Imperialist redoubt and supporting troops

Luckily, we (the Republic) rolled for initiative to start the game and used the first couple turns the decimate David’s units, including his gun, that were in the open on the right side of the hill. On the other side of the hill, his other infantry and cavalry fell back as the militias tried to move up, leaving the one infantry unit in the redoubt. 

Militia advances on the left and the Imperialist fall back

Republican regulars advance on the right

The Imperial reinforcements moved down the road as fast as they could, but they were still far away from being able to help. 

Imperialist reinforcements

I positioned my cavalry to slow the advance of the reinforcements and the Republican infantry closed with the redoubt. The Republican militia kept pressing forward (as best they could) and even forced the Imperial light cavalry to retreat off the battlefield due to a failed morale check. 

My cavalry deploys to delay the Imperialist

Bill's regulars closing in on the redoubt

The Imperial reinforcements began deploying to advance on the redoubt and hold off the militia, while the Republican regulars assaulted the redoubt. 

Imperialist troops deploying

Republican regulars assaulting the redoubt

The assault was repulsed, but the attack left only a couple defenders in the redoubt. 

The last holdouts in the redoubt

As the Imperial reinforcements prepared to advance, I took a chance and charged with my lancers. We don’t usually have a lot of melees in Rebel and Patriots, so it took a little while to go through the results and we still missed some things. After sorting things out, the lancers prevailed in the attack and pushed the French back. Unfortunately, the lancers were rated as aggressive and followed up the success with another charge that did not go so well. 

Charge of the lancers

The final two redoubt defenders were taken out by Bill’s regulars (with some good shooting die rolls), leaving the redoubt open for the regulars to march in. 

A mere matter of marching to take the redoubt

With the redoubt taken and most of the Republican forces in decent shape (my cavalry was spent or had retreated by this time), the Imperialist decided to just hold the town. At this point we ended the game and added up the victory points with the Republican forces coming out on top. Viva Mexico! Viva Juarez! 


It was a fun game and there were some good stories to tell from the game too (my lancers wounded the leader of the Imperial reinforcements during their fatal charge). It is a period I don’t know a lot about, but that has some colorful and unusual units (the Imperial reinforcement cavalry was Austrian hussars). Kevin has promised to do run some more games from the period, since he and others have lots of figures for the era.

Saturday, October 9, 2021

Black Sea Soviets

The next additions for my ongoing Black Sea/Baltic Sea project are some Soviet ships from the Warlord Games Soviet Navy Fleet box set. The box has one Fugas (Project 3, 53, 53-U, and 58) class minesweeper, a pair of Project 1124 Bronekater river gunboats, a pair of MO-4 patrol boats, and eight motor torpedoes boats. I started off with the larger vessels and will finish the MTBs later. 

Soviet Coastal Flotilla

Starting with the big ship in the group - the Fugas class minesweeper. The Fugas class served in the Baltic Sea, Black Sea, and Pacific. There were 15 in the Black Sea, 20 in the Baltic, and 8 in the Pacific. They were used as minesweepers, minelayers, escorts, and to support amphibious operations. So this will be a useful ship for my Black Sea/Baltic Sea games.

Fugas class, starboard side view

The Warlord model comes armed with 100mm gun forward, a 45mm gun aft, and a pair of heavy machine guns on the open bridge wings. This seems to be an early war fit, since more anti-aircraft guns were added later as the threat from enemy aircraft increased. The Warlord kit comes with a resin hull, along with separate metals parts for the bridge are, funnel, life boats, masts, and weapons. The hull was a little bent, but I was able to heat it in warm water and flatten it out. The rest of the pieces went together fairly easily, although it was hard to maintain the shape of the lifeboat davits. For painting I went with a darker gray for the hull and a brick color deck. I wanted the ship to look like it had seen a lot of work with little up-keep. So I did a lot of heavy weathering, but I may have gone a bit 'overboard.'

Fugas class, port side view

Next up the river gunboats, also know as armored gunboats. Warlord refers to these as Pr1125, but I think the gunboats with two turrets are really Project 1124 class. So I'm going with that. The river gunboats mostly provided gunfire support from the larger rivers, but they were also did those tasks in support of amphibious landings in the Black Sea and Baltic Sea.  

Project 1124, port side view

The Project 1124 gunboat was armed with two T-34 turrets (with 76mm guns) and a twin heavy machine gun turret. Warlord also makes a variation of this class with a Katyusha rocket launcher. The models are metal, with the hull and three turrets coming as separate pieces. There is also a mast, but I found it to be pretty flimsy, so I left it off. I don't think it detracts from the overall appearance.

Project 1124, starboard side

Finally, the MO-4 patrol boats. There were around 250 of these boats built during World War II and they served on all fronts. They were designed as submarine chasers, but were used as a jack of all trades. The class lacked armor, making it vulnerable to even small arms fire. In 1943 the class was modified to add armor to protect the engines and bridge, giving it the designation BMO class.

MO-4 patrol boat, starboard side view

The class was armed with two 45mm guns and two heavy machine guns. Later in the war one of the 45mm guns was replaced with a 37mm gun for better anti-aircraft protection. Additionally, there lots of local modifications to the weapons fits, such as adding rocket launchers to support ground attacks. The Warlord model has a resin hull, with the gun mounts and mast as separate pieces. The model goes together well. The only issue I had was fitting the three aft guns into the small space (you can see from the photos that I angled the HMGs instead of having them point out perpendicular from the hull). 

MO-4 from the port side

One thing I've noticed is that the more work on the 1/300 scale ships, the more I find that I like the crew figures. They really do make the ships seem more alive. I only wish the Warlord figures were a little better and had more options. I'm planning to look around at some Heroics and Ros and GHQ 1/300 figures to fill out the ships some in the future.

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Naval Battle off Tangier

On Saturday the lawn gaming group got together for a little pre-dreadnought action using the Fire When Ready rules (with some modifications to make the crusiers last a little longer). The scenario was Battle of Tangier (Perdicaris Alive or Raisuli Dead) from the Admiralty Trilogy Monroe's Legacy scenario book, with some slight alterations for available ships. The scenario is a hypothetical action where the Perdicaris Affair turns into a battle. It pits the Spanish (with the battleship Pelayo, a couple armored cruisers, and some other cruisers) and French (3 battleships and an armored cruiser) against 3 American squadrons (2 groups of armored/protect cruisers, one with some gunboats, and the last with 3 battleships and an armored cruiser). The initial set up placed the Spanish facing off against one American squadron near Tangier, while the remaining ships were entering from the board edges. The forces were pretty even. The victory conditions were basically to do more damage to the enemy than your forces took. Although the Spanish had a bonus victory condition where they wanted to sink the American cruiser Olympia as revenge for the Battle of Manila Bay. There was also a special rule that the Americans could not fire on the French until the French had fired on an American ship. With the ships in place and a quick review of the rules, we were ready to start.

The Americans (near force) face off against the Spanish near Tangier

The game started with the Americans and Spanish blasting away at each other (including starting a raging fire on Spanish cruiser), while the other squadrons moved onto the board. 

Spanish under fire

French entering the area

American battleships entering

The French  took advantage of the scenario special rule to fire on the American battleships without taking return fire. The initial shots were on target and started fires on battleship Kearsarge and armored cruiser Washington.

American battleship force under fire
The Americans did get to return fire later, hitting the battleships Jena and Charlemagne - starting a fire on Charlemagne. There were a lot of fire special hits rolled during the game, so you will see lots of flames on the table.
French battleships taking damage

The smaller Spanish cruisers and American gunboats were soon taken out of action. The Spanish also attacked the third American cruiser group, composed of the cruisers Olympia, Baltimore, and Cleveland. The Spanish focused gunfire on Olympia, doing some damage and starting a fire.

Olympia on fire
The French continued moving toward the center of the table and became the focus of fire from most of the American ships. But the damage was not one-sided. French gunfire added more damage to the American battleships and combined French and Spanish fire disabled Olympia, Baltimore, and Cleveland.
French ship moving into the middle of the action

American battleships keeping their distance, but still taking hits

The above photo shows the American armored cruiser Washington falling out of line and on fire. Washington was hit by the first French fire; the crew couldn't put out the fire or repair a steam line rupture special hit, so the ship couldn't keep up. 

The American armored cruiser Brooklyn tried to make a run for the board edge, but was caught in the middle of the French and Spanish forces and sunk.

Brooklyn (right front) trying to get away

At this point we decided to end the game. The Spanish had lost 4 out of 7 ships and the battleship Pelayo was heavily damaged. 2 French battleships were moderately damaged (and on fire) while the other battleship and armored cruiser had light damage. The Americans lost their gunboats and cruisers, but the battleships were still in good shape. Looking at all the damage, we called the scenario a draw, although the Spanish got a morale victory since the cruiser Olympia was sunk.

With fall here in the Pacific Northwest, this may be the last lawn game of the year. If this is our last 2021 outdoor game, it was a good one.