When word went out I was planning a Cuban airwar game, there was some interest. I received a quick Facebook message from my friend George reminding me that he had tons of stuff I could use for the game.
George’s gifts from left-A stack of F-8 Crusaders with some Fight’s On missiles; a wad of cool C in C surface to air missiles, and anti-aircraft guns; planes of all kinds including A-4 Skyhawks, B-57 Canberra bombers, and Spitfires.
George is a great guy. He is one of the most talented, creative people I’ve ever known in this hobby. He is the modeler we all wish we could be. When I say modeler, I mean wargame modeler, as he designs superb miniatures that have been cast into saleable minis. George produced production masters for both Bay Area Yards and Raiden/I-94 miniatures, including the gorgeous Vought F-8 Crusader I love so much. He’s also a meticulous scratch builder. Take a look at these Vietnamese hooches. They are about an inch long.
In any case, George gifted me an amazing quantity of bits-scratch built buildings, C in C trucks, surface to air missiles, anti-aircraft artillery, and many planes including the A-4 Skyhawks, Crusaders and other jets I’ll use in my current and future projects. I do really appreciate it, and I WILL paint them, some sooner than later.
Thanks George. I truly do appreciate it.
Last weekend we continued with our effort to put a doable scenario out for Craving Corn in Xochimilco, the new title we adopted for our foraging scenario. This time four of us tried to walk through the game at The Game Matrix in Tacoma. Dale Mickel and Scott Murphy obligingly volunteered to help out and ran the Spaniards while David Sullivan and I ran the Aztecs.
It was more balanced, much as we hoped. We did a few things to move the game along a bit. First, we allowed each command a “mulligan” marker. The marker could be exchanged for one failed activation role. When the retinue failed a second die roll, their turn was over. The marker was returned after the conclusion of each turn. We also included a leader figure for each command and gave them a 12″ command radius. This is a departure from the leader rules in Lion Rampant. I confess guilt. I don’t like the leader rules in LR much. They’re cute, but don’t do much for the game-in my view. More about this later.
We made some changes to the scenario, chiefly for the Spanish. There were three Spanish units in each retinue-two melee units plus a shooter or the dog unit. We also complicated their command system a bit. One retinue had a Spanish commander who could offer his advantages to Spanish and Tlaxcalans alike. Two retinues had native commanders who could not offer bonuses to the Spanish.
The battle itself was a bloodbath. The Spanish were able to gather some grain, but they also suffered significant casualties. However they took their pound of flesh. David lost one unit. I lost five. The way we totaled the points, however allowed a perfect tie 24 points each.
However we did come to some conclusions about special QR rules. The first is regarding the mulligan markers. Let’s start with what we call them. Mulligans work great in golf and drinking shots, but we’re going to change their names to Appeals to God. Each side will get ten markers at the beginning of the game. They’ll be distributed to each retinue, and they can be used for any roll-activation or courage test-but when they are gone, they’re gone. They can’t be shared between retinues. I put something together this week.
We made a similar decision for command figures. Again, the command radius is 12 inches, and these are the powers and limitations we gave to commanders.
- Each retinue has a designated command figure. We talked about an overall commander as well and decided no.
- Commanders give a +1 for any activation rolls
- Commanders give a +1 for any courage tests, including for battered unit.
- Commanders, mounted singly, can be attacked and killed.
So, we feel like we’re ready to go for this scenario. We’re starting to block out our second Quetzacoatl Rampant game, “I left my heart in Xochimilco.” That poor town is a busy place.
What’s on my painting table?
Sadly, it’s the usual. Aztecs, Tlaxcalans and Spaniards. My plan for the week is to finish all six of my Aztec command figures (I’m cheating, already finished painting four.) But I also want to wrap up the last Tlaxcalan unit. That’s twelve figures with the quetzal bird back banner. I’ve got a good start, and they will be quite cool when they are done. Hope to be finished by the end of the weekend, which will leave me only the twelve Spanish swordsmen to finish.
After that it’s back to Cuba, with lots bits to finish. I can’t let the George gift slide.
Music to paint by
I was gonna share the first Big Brother and the Holding Company album from 1967, but honestly it’s spendy and not an easy get. So let’s try something a lot more accessible. Perhaps you, like me, grew up in a time when every new American band was trying to be the one that unseated the Beatles as the next big thing. Perhaps you remember this record:
Or perhaps you’ve purged it from your memory. I’ve acquired a few Monkees records mostly in big haul record deals. Haven’t listened to them much. But the first Monkees record has seemed a little more difficult get. Saw a mono copy in a great sleeve, thought it might be a little noisy, but wasn’t. Ten bucks and worth every penny. No the not-so-fab four didn’t play all the instruments, but there are some great songs on this record. “Last Train to Clarksville,” “Saturday’s Child,” and “Take a Giant Step” are all great Mickey Dolenz songs. Michael Nesmith chips in with “Papa Jean’s Blues” and a sort of psychedelia meets country “Sweet Young Thing.” Great songs all.
If the Monkees didn’t play their own instruments, there were certainly some good session players sitting in-Hal Blaine guests on drums. Glen Campbell plays guitar in the days before his own fame. Rock and Roll Hall of Famer James Burton also guests on guitar. The songs are written by greats. Gerry Goffin and Carole King penned “Take a Giant Step.” Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart wrote many songs including “Clarksville” and the Monkees theme.
If there is a disappointment on the album it’s the Davy Jones songs. Davy was cute and English, but really not much of a singer, at least not on the sickeningly sweet ballads on this record. His voice is earnest, but not strong, and there just isn’t a lot happening on “I Wanna Be Free,” or “I’ll Be True to You” to draw this listener in. Of course, I’m not a 12 year old girl in 1966 either.
This album probably won’t change your view the Monkees were lightweight pop. They are. But nothing can change the fact that these songs are very well crafted lightweight pop. In some respects they are a more accessible version of what Jon Bon Jovi would become in the ’80’s–good pop/rock, fun to listen to music you could sing along to. Fun stuff. Isn’t that what it should be?