Lots on My Plate

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My friends frequently pay me compliments because I always seem to have new projects completed.  I have very few virtues, but one of them is that I am able to stay focused on projects until they are finished.  That usually means I focus on one thing and stay on it until it’s done. No lures of the new shiny figures, or the new rules set.  I did all the Falklands and Illustrious planes, and the Mad Wet Max boats for Enfilade in the year following Enfilade 2017.  I also finished my Hawkmoon project-well almost, more of this later.

Well, I’ve kind of stepped in a hole. I’ve managed to hoist too many balls in the air and I’m paying for it.  All by choice, mind you, and it will work its way out.

So here’s what I’m trying to do:

Malta-I’ve written about this many times.  I continue to make progress, just not as neatly and as tidily as I’d like.  I’ve completed all the German bombers-12 Stukas, and 12 Ju-88’s.  All that’s left to do for the Germans are a dozen more Me-109E’s and 109F’s and the Germans will be done. But Dave is anxious to start our Malta campaign games before the end of July.  That means I MUST finish my six Italian Cr. 42 biplane fighters as soon as I get home from vacation. I’m running a little behind.

Hurons 2

Flint and Feather-I finally got my figures from Crucible Crush.  They are really nice miniatures. CC was a little slow (three weeks) in getting them to me, but they are definitely worth the wait.  I have the first five figures painting, but they won’t be done before I leave for Canada tomorrow. Very fun figures to paint.  Lots of interesting, very paintable detail.  I’m enjoying them a great deal.  David Sullivan plans to run a game using Song of Tomahawks and Drums at Fix Bayonets in September, so I have to get my figures painted by the middle of August.  We’re not talking a lot of guys, less than 25.  But I need to get it in gear.

Longbows

The Hundred Years War: Longbowmen–I’ve lamented my piles of unpainted Hundred Years War figures before, so I’ve decided to do something about it–paint them. I’m starting with my English longbowmen.  They’re all Old Glory figures, and I’ve been picking away at them throughout the spring and in to summer.  I think I’ve painted 48; I do them in batches of 12.  This is for my big battle HYW armies.  It will be a post-retirement project, mostly.  There are rules to re-write and many more figures to paint.  My goal is simply to finish all the longbowmen left to paint, which is 36.  Ideally before school starts in August. When finished my longbows will number 144 figures.  I like that.

Hawkmoon–This project is really done.  Sort of.  Well almost.  In one of the options I have for Hawkmoon, he can use The Sword of the Dawn to call on the Legion of the Dawn.  It’s a single unit of twelve figures.  These are sort of primitive rose colored warriors that he calls on his enemy.  When they are killed they are magically replaced by another.  They aren’t super nasty, there just seems to be an infinite number of them. I ordered some Aztec novice warriors by Outpost Miniatures and I need to paint the dozen of these to finish my Hawkmoon project.  They’ll go fast, but they just need to be painted.  Before I go back to school.  Or sooner.

Philippine War 1898-1902-So I’ve been slowly acquiring a few figures here and there. I’ve got enough Philippine figures for about three units and a gun.  I’ve also purchased one American unit and an artillery piece.  I’m anxious both in a good way, and an anxiety way to get started.  But I won’t let myself begin until I wrap up the CR 42’s, the Flint and Feather figures and the Legion of the Dawn.  So things are on hold for a while.  I’m hoping to get started before Labor Day, but if I don’t, at least I’ll have something to look forward to.  My J-camp wages will also contribute to a large order of these bad boys, and that happens in early August.

Lots going on, as you can see.  Probably too much, but I do love painting, so I’ll have a good time while I’m wading through it all.  And this all leaves aside the publication of Rebels and Patriots–the new Rampantish rules that will cover the wars of America from the French and Indian War and the American Civil War.  I’ve got a few figures I want to paint for that as well.  Ooooh.  So bright. So shiny.  Don’t look into the light.

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1898 Miniaturas: A Down Payment

When I got home from Enfilade I did a bad thing.  I ordered some figures without consulting my wife.  I sneaked. I snuck.  I was bad.  We have a solid understanding about figure purchases.  I have an allowance I can use to fuel my record/miniature figures/drinking with the boys habit.  If I must go over my budget, I just have to consult with the boss. She’s usually pretty good about say okay, but with our eye on my retirement in a year, we’re both trying to be careful.

So it was a great deal of guilt that I put an order to 1898 Miniaturas on my credit card without consulting the missus.  I eventually told her before the little men arrived, and though she slightly admonished me, she fessed up to her own wayward purchase.

1898 Miniaturas, in case you haven’t followed their announcements on the Miniatures Page, produces an extensive range of figures for the Spanish American War, the Philippine War (no longer known as the Philippine Insurrection,) and rebellions Spain faced in Cuba and the Philippines leading up to the conflict with America.  The range continues to expand.  It includes Tagalog insurgents and artillery, and my fervent hope is that it will continue to grow.

I rarely am sucked in by the next shiny new thing. But I’ve fallen hard for these figures.  I was originally going to do the whole ball of wax-Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Philippines, but I’ve decided to scale back to just the Philippines with my impending exit from the work force. I won’t be poor, but I will be scaling back my income. Lorri has encouraged me to use my summer earnings to buy what I need, so I will.

1898 Miniaturas is a Spanish company.  Their website reflects the deep passion of the owners, artists and creators who run their company.  The website houses the company’s online shop, but also includes a wealth of historical information and painting suggestions depending on what you’re doing. Most importantly it offers suggestions for painting the ridiculous Spanish Rayadillo uniforms, which are a base blue-gray striped uniform.  I don’t quite want to say I can’t wait to try this, but I can’t wait to try this.  I bought all the recommended Vallejo colors today. (If only I could buy the improved eyesight and patience too.)

I’ll be painting Philippines regulars and militia types to fight against the Americans on Luzon from 1898-1901. There is lots more that happens on other islands, and maybe I’ll go there too, but I’ll just have to see. The Luzon battles offers an interesting mix of Filipino troops.  The Americans will have regulars and state volunteers. Washington state has a unit of volunteers that serves for a year in this campaign. The website offers suggestions for troops for The Men Who Would Be King rules, and I’ll be playing with these.

I really hemmed and hawed about ordering these figures.  Should I order directly from Spain?  Should I order from Empress Miniatures that stock these in Great Britain, or the U.S. stockist, Age of Glory, in the U.S.?  After fiddling with numbers and compiling phantom orders, I decided to take my chances on the Spanish store.

It was perfect.  I ordered the Tagalog Premium package.  Including shipping, it was about $71 for 36 figures.  All of them was be usable and will provide me with two 12-man units, plus a few leftovers. That’s less than two dollars per figure, and all things considered, that’s less than Perry metal figures. The company was super easy to work with.  They did a super job of notifying me electronically.  I had them withing ten days of order.

Here are some pics of the raw figures.

Just to be clear, these are Filipino infantry.  They aren’t Spanish regulars, though after the fall of Manila to the Americans, the Filiipino Republicans looted many Spanish stores, including guns and and uniforms.  So some of them will appear in the rayadillo and jipijapa straw sun hat.

I’m not ready to immediately plunge into these figures, but I hope to begin working on them some time in June.  Until that time, I have some planes to paint for Malta, and promised myself I would paint the last of of my longbowmen for the Hundred Years War.

 

Enfilade 2018: Sink the Illustrious!

I’ve already written about the playtests for this game. But the convention was the place where the rubber hit the road.  Just a quick recap for those new to the topic.  The game is based on the Italo-German air campaign to sink the British carrier group raising hell in the Mediterranean in early 1941.  Presented as a problem to solve for the Italian and Germans, the five players had to decide on their force composition and where they would enter the board. The British defenders, three players each with two Fairey Fulmars had to choose where they would defend and manage their nasty assortment of flak.

Dave Schueler and I ran the Illustrious game on Saturday night, our fourth game of the convention.  We were hoping for a relatively trouble-free game, because we were kind of all in after the Falklands.

Positions

Relative positions of Illustrious and Zulu on the board. The ships don’t move during the game. The heavy flak markers could be placed up to 24″ from the destroyer (one marker) and the aircraft carrier (two markers.)

Doug H., Gil F., Andrew M., Shawn M., and Tom B., formed the Axis air commanders.  They decided on a force of nine SM 79 torpedo bombers, three Ju. 87 dive bombers and two MC 200 fighters as escorts. Each also had the opportunity to improve their pilots or take two re-rolls in the game.  It was an interesting mix.

Chuck H., Michael K, and Charlie B., took the Fulmars.  After the Axis declared their intentions and placed their planes, the British placed their Fulmars in a position to immediately challenge the bombers.  The Axis bombers had a lot of ground to cover to get to the carrier and the field was wide open for the British players to make their lives miserable.

But things got tough for the British players early.  Though one of the Macchi fighters went down to flak early, the anti-aircraft fire from the Illustrious and the HMS Zulu escort was pretty ineffective. Chuck H’s Fulmars ran into a hail of defensive fire from Doug H’s group of bombers.  One was shot down and the other lost its forward fire control, rendering it useless. Charlie’s Fulmars flew through the German bombers, and by the time he could get things turned around was pretty much out of the fight.

Fulmars deployed

The British players deployed in triangle to intercept the bombers and protect their “6”

Only Michael’s Fulmars became a constant menace as he harried Gil’s SM 79’s.  Gil was the far arm of the anvil attack planned by the Italian pilots.  Michael was able to trail him most of the route to the target, shooting off all the ammunition in his under-armed planes, inflicting damage, but not quite enough to injure them fatally or force them to abort their mission.

Michael chases Gil

Michael’s Fulmars trailed Gil’s bombers most of the way across the board, shooting with some effect, but unable to inflict catastrophic damage. Michael was, in turn, trailed by Shawn M’s MC 200.

Eventually Tom and Doug were able to combine their torpedo bombers with Andrew’s Stukas to make an attack from the north while Gil, with Michael’s Fulmars trailing dutifully behind approached from the south.

Gil struck first, but not before flak and Michael’s Fulmars did enough damage to force two of his Sparvieros to jettison their torpedoes.  However the final plane was able to launch and do 17 points of damage to the Illustrous.  It was a moment to celebrate.  Only eight more points were needed to win the game.

With nine planes still approaching from the north against virtually no opposition, it seemed like a done deal.  Unfortunately it was not to be. Tom peeled off one of his bombers to attack the Zulu.  Torpedo away-a miss. As the bombers neared the carrier and the light flak kicked in, it seemed as if it couldn’t miss.  Tom’s remaining bombers were shredded by two pounders.  Flak took down one of Doug’s SM 79’s and one of Andrew’s Stukas flopped into the sea.

The remaining four planes all delivered their ordinance.  Doug’s two torpedoes hit on a nine or ten.  Both missed, despite a couple of re-rolls.  Andrew hit with one of his Stukas, but it wasn’t a clean hit.  A roll of four on the damage table brought total damage points inflicted to 20.  A 25 was needed for the win.

But it felt like everyone had a good time.  Both sides had a chance to win, and the Brits pulled it out at the last minute.  But if the Axis had just a little more luck.

The planes are all 1/300 from a variety of manufactures, mostly Raiden with some Heroics and Ross and Scotia thrown into the mix.  The ships were all 1/700, built by Dave.  Rules by David Manley, his unpublished Airwar 1940 rules.  Everybody enjoyed  this rule set, felt that it had sufficient period feel to go with ease and speed of play.  The game was over within two and a half hours.  We’d like to, again, thank David for letting us playtest his rules. Thanks too, to the players who seemed to have a good time.

Final Thoughts on Enfilade

 

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This is more a personal post and you won’t see it anywhere but here.

This was a great convention.  About 415 attendees, which is twice as many as we had in 2002 when the convention moved to Olympia.  Unfortunately that success has bred some challenges too.  We’ve pretty much maxed out our space, and insuring there are enough games for all attendees including those who are late walk-ins is tough.  With new management bravely abandoning the game registration line and allowing more on-line registration, finding ways to plug everyone into a game is a challenge with no easy answers.  More, shorter game periods?  Staggered game periods?  Dunno, but they will have lots to talk about.

I saw lots of great games.  I usually go to the convention just to host.  Honestly, I think that’s a personal failing.  I’ve always felt a responsibility to host games.  But I also think I’m more comfortable as a host.  More control.  Less need to cooperate with others.  I’ve made an agreement with myself I’ll only run four games next year, and play in at least one. Al Rivers agreed to run a Thunderboats! game for me.  I’m already planning stuff with Doug Hamm and David Sullivan. Dave Schueler and I will do something. Like baseball, for me, Enfilade is a year ’round sport.

I managed to dodge the Bring and Buy.  I was in there a lot and it was fun, but I didn’t buy anything. I was on the lookout for 1/300 scale planes and there was a nice box of Raiden Bettys, but I have enough Bettys and not much else interested me. When David Sullivan bought some of Bob Murch’s Flint and Feather figures I was very intrigued and went back and forth all weekend about whether I should buy them or not.  It would be a handful of figures on a very small scale, What’s to lose?  Of course I hemmed and hawed too long and when I finally made up my mind they were gone.

No it was a weekend of crossover buying.  I made a trip to Rainy Day Records in downtown Olympia on Saturday morning and bought five albums.  A French import of Them with Van Morrison, The Roches first album, Out of Our Heads by The Rolling Stones, Shine on Brightly by Procul Harum, and Fever Tree’s eponymous second album.  Great stuff, but kind of on a different track from a convention weekend.

When I got home, however, I shared my lack of purchases with my supportive and long-suffering wife.  She sent me to the computer to order some of the Flint and Feather figs, so I’m looking forward to seeing them and I’ll get started shortly after they arrive.

I also decided the time had come to see what the 1898 Miniaturas Philippine figures look like.  I placed an order for a Tagalog Premium Collection which seemed to be the cheapest way to go.  There will be reports.

As much fun as the gaming and shopping is, the best part of Enfilade is spending time with friends.  My Canadian friends, my Portland friends, people I care about and see once a year, it was great to spend some time with them.  Doug Hamm and I are planning our Philippine Insurrection project.  Bruce Harborne shared some great information about 3D printing files for aircraft. Steve Knight and Chuck Hamack confirmed the wonders of retirement.  Rand Miles shared what he was working on, and some old tales of games gone by.

I spent lots of the weekend with Dave Schueler and David Sullivan, knowing we didn’t have to run off anywhere else.  Lunches, evening beers, long talks about games and gaming.  It was simply the best, our once a year getaway.

Finally, of the five game periods I hosted, four were games using David Manley’s rules.  The Mad Wet Max rules are derived from Thunderboats, Air War C.21 is published and available at Wargame vault, but Airwar 1940 is not.  David simply has a feel for what is fun and doable, and I thank him for keeping in touch with us, and allowing us to use his work.  It’s very much a long distance association as David is in the U.K. But it is much appreciated.

Enfilade 2018: On San Carlos Water-The Falklands

Dave Schueler and I plotted for a Falklands scenario for some time.  We ran a game using David Manley’s Air War C.21 game at the Museum of Flight in November. The basis for our Enfilade game was laid there, though the results were not auspicious.

The British player has two ships in San Carlos Bay, the assault ship Fearless and the Type 21 class frigate, Antelope. The Argentines chose their aircraft mix–Navy or Air Force A-4 Skyhawks, Canberras, Mirage Daggers, or the turbo-prop Pucaras.  Then they had to decide how to enter the board.  Each entry point offered some challenges. In the November game, the Argies had nothing but bad luck as some planes were intercepted off-board, missed refueling rendezvous and were shot down by SAM’s.  They were also sucked in by the victory points offered by the Fearless.  They mostly died at the hands of the Harrier CAP, hitting the Fearless only with a dud. Sigh.

We never had a chance to re-run our playtest, so we were trusting to luck when our Saturday afternoon game time appeared and we set up.  One thing operating in our favor was the many friends signed up for the game. Gil F, Al R., Denny H, and Scott A. enthusiastically took on the Argentines.  Chris S., Chris F, and Andrew M were the Brits.

In all our scenarios there are player choices to make.  The Argentines had to plan their strike package and their arrival zones.  The British had plan their patrolling areas.

In the first turn, phase one Al R arrived on the table with two Air Force A-4L’s.  One of his planes missed his refueling rendezvous.  His approach from the west caught the Harrier CAP somewhat out of position.  With the Skyhawks streaking toward the HMS Antelope, Chris S. tried to pull his Harriers around to intercept them, but too late.  The Air Force Skyhawks, penalized for their poor bombing abilities and high percentage of duds, scored a direct hit on the frigate, inflicting heavy damage.  The burning vessel was left in their wake as the Skyhawks survived the defensive fire and flew on.

In phase two of the game, farther to the south, Gil F. entered the game board with his Mirage Daggers.  Though it would take a while to reach the HMS Fearless, it was a bigger prize, and the loss of the assault ship could endanger the entire landing campaign. But attention was still focused on the west board edge as Scott A. followed Al with his three Navy A-4Q’s.  The British were a little better prepared as Scott delivered his payload.  Another bomb struck Antelope, but not with nearly as much impact.  But one Skyhawk was brought down with defensive fire, and second fell to Harrier cannon fire.

The action shifted to the other end of the board as Gil’s Daggers began their approach to the Fearless, and Denny’s plodding Canberras made their way toward the assault ship.  Chris S would continue to play tag with the Skyhawks, while Andrew M and Chris F turned to face the new Argentine threat with their Harriers.

Gil pressed his attack with the Daggers, lined up a shot, dodging AAA,  Seacats and British planes, struck the ship with one bomb load. Alas it was a dud.  But he did draw the attention of the defense away from the creeping Canberras, each loaded with eight 500 lb. bombs.

While Gil took his surviving Daggers off to strafe a hapless LCM caught out in San Carlos Bay, Denny approached with his Canberras.  As he lined up the Fearless for his final bombing run, Chris F’s Harriers fired their last Sidewinders and Seacats streaked up from the big assault vessel.  Both bombers were brought down just short of their targets.

The Antelope was ruled to be in a sinking condition.  Though the Argentines sank a British warship, no mean accomplishment, they missed out on the Fearless a much bigger prize.  They were given a minor victory, not enough of a win to alter the strategic scope. They also lost five of eleven attacking planes, so there was a severe cost to the raid.

Most importantly, everybody had a great time. They were a very fun group to run.  Thanks to each of them,  Dave Schuler did most of the game running stuff while became official photographer.

Enfilade 2018: Thunderboats! and Mad Wet Max.

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For more than 10 years I have dutifully hosted at least one game of Thunderboats! at Enfilade.  It has a regular following and usually sucks in a few new players too. It’s fun and a very easy game to run.  Each year I send copies of the game off to others who think it would be fun to run at home.

This year I ran Thunderboats! Friday afternoon.  The Red Lion ballroom was rockin’, and there was no shortage of games or players. By the time the game began at 2:00, I’d lost two players and picked up one more.  We started with seven racers,  three with experience.

Often Thunderboats! games can be a snooze for the game master.  Lots of inexperienced players start very conservatively, playing very slowly, taking few chances.  Not this group. Playing on a five foot wide table, made for a narrow race course, with lots of congestion.  These players weren’t afraid to push engines, push corners, fly through rooster tails and chance collision checks.

We lost a few boats, but the racing was great.  Al Rivers in Miss Exide, led a lot of the way, but almost everybody took a nitrous bottle in their builds, which meant there were some opportunities to make up ground. He was pursued closely by Denny Hartung in Miss Smirnoff.  But both suffered the old water in the carburetor card in the final turn.  Just as it seemed Al might crawl across the finish line to win, Michael Hiemstra, a new player, in Miss Hawaii Kai crossed the finish line in a tie requiring a quick run-off.  Al won as Michael took enough damage to break down. It was a super race.

Mad Wet Max is related to Thunderboats! in a chaotic, angry way.  While Thunderboats can be wild and exciting, it’s still a race around an oval course with everybody trying to finish three laps first, MWM has all the players running their own race, following their own path and god help you if you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I ran two helpings of MWM this weekend. It was my featured Friday night game, and then again on Sunday morning when I was nearly ready to fall over. Both games were pretty fun, but distinctly different.

We had a full house for the Friday night game. It included lots of veteran Thunderboats! racers, including Dale Mickel, Shawn McEvoy and Chris Rivers.  Chris had his heart set on the Stag Beetle, but when he rolled for boat choice, he was last and got stuck with Red Scorpion and its rear firing cannon.

This group did a great job of trying to run a race.  However it was kind of a chaos race, with boats running hither and yon trying to grab up the buoy tokens, while sewing mines in the channels between islands and on buoys.  Even so, as things began to wind toward a conclusion, it was clear Chris and the Red Scorpion was in a position to win it all.  With a shot to exit with one big die roll, Chris tiptoed past two mines, survived a collision check and passed the checkered flag. Winner.

The Spectators made their first appearance in a Mad Wet Max game.  The Peshmerga showed up with RPG’s just to keep things interesting. They missed. Sigh

The Sunday game was wild and woolly compared to the Friday night game.  Unfortunately, I decided to pack my camera for a quick Sunday getaway, so there is no means of documenting the carnage.  Lots of friends in the Sunday game as David Sullivan, Brian Shein, daughter Nicole and her husband Raul, Scott Murphy, Doug Hamm and Neil Marker all took part.

It was wild from the beginning as everyone was lining up to take their best shot. Neil was the first to go, but others dropped out quickly as Raul was polished off by his spouse, and then took Doug’s boat when he had to leave, and was sunk by David Sullivan.

However, unobserved by others, Grace, whose last name escapes me, was racking up tokens in the Stag Beetle, shooting when necessary.

The course was set up with the islands in the middle of the board, so it was possible to circumnavigate the course fairly easily.  Players were willing to dodge around the mines and take chances in adjacent hexes, mostly succeeding in avoiding explosions.  Not always, but usually.  Spectators appeared-first the Peshmerga with their RPG’s, then their Stinger missile crew for knocking down parascenders. Eventually the Armed Rural Americans would make their appearance with decisive results.

Brian Shein was mined, and eventually Scott Murphy lost his zillion hull points. It came down to Grace and David.  As Grace snagged her last token and sped toward the finish line, David passed the Armed Rural Americans toward his final token.  A shotgun blast killed his gunner, and he coudn’t prevent Grace from getting off the table.  Winner.

Both games were fun, and everybody enjoyed them. They went fast, but because of the initiative system, more folks had to wait a bit longer as we rolled off ties and the like.  It might be that eight players are too many and we should consider six.  I’ve also thought about including a mine sweeper option during the builds that would cost some points, and wouldn’t be 100% effective.

Enfilade 2018: Teutoberger Wald

Sometimes big conventions have really big games, sometimes they don’t.  Enfilade has had its share, from Ramillies and Blenheim, to Waterloo and Gettybsburg, to Little Big Horn.

This year, new convention director Alyssa Faden decided to host Teutoberger Wald.  Not a little representative massacre in German forests, but sixteen feet worth of slaughter.

I wish I could offer some spell binding narrative to tell you the outcome of the game that was offered in three different game periods.  But just know that over twelve hours of convention time a passel of gamers happily took the roles of Germans hell bent on slaughtering Romans or Roman leaders intent on escaping.  All I spoke to had a great time.

What follows are photos, lots of photos of the game.  It was big.  There were bunches of figures, super terrain.  It was wargaming spectacle.

Running a game of this size poses all kinds of problems.  Balancing the excitement of the games size are logistical issues of transport, set-up and take down time, organization and expectations.  Often games like Teutoberger are a disappointment because the sheer size of the game overwhelms the ability of the gamemaster to control things and keep the game moving along.  Alyssa and her army of volunteers had no such problem.  it was a terrific triumph.

With a game like Teutoberger in her back pocket I can’t help but wonder what Alyssa is planning for next year.