305: When Too Many Serbs is Not Too Many

I had plans for September. They involved painting my usual mix of Spanish-American War 28’s some ships and progress on my 1914 project. I finished August with my batch o’ Serbian cavalry and dutifully started work on my infantry–and then more Serbs arrived from Kallistra. I put my head down and decided to finish the lot. This morning I did just that. There were a lot of them. These are 12mm figures, so it’s not like I’m painting 28mm Napoleonics or Highlanders or something like that, but 305 is a whole lot of figures and I’ve never completed anything like that in a month or anything like it.

The Serbs are interesting because all troops aren’t the same. The army is divided into Class 1, 2 and 3. The Class or Call or Ban 1 troops form the bulk of the regular army and have the 1909 khaki uniforms. Okay, you can make the argument that they are a little greener than my figures, but I used the Vallejo khaki color which is more green than tan .

Reservists are in blue. I used Vallejo Prussian blue. I lightened this with Sky Grey and dry brushed a bit before washing with Army Painter Blue Wash. Don’t know how much of difference it made. The sajkaka or funky Serbian hat and the pants were Vallejo Light Grey.

Painting this many figures was kind of an effort of will, and required a lot of machine-like work. It was consistent painting–mostly in the evening watching Mariners games. It also required preparation for the next unit as well as basing. So one is getting ready to paint-glue dots and priming, actual painting, and basing. It was a process that works, but I can’t say that I loved it.

October will be about finishing the BEF and then 1914 will be complete and I can focus on playing the game. I thought about getting a bunch of Germans, but Great Escape Games is out of them, and right now I think that’s a good thing. I also have a little trip to San Diego planned for the middle of the month, so I’ll have less time.

I didn’t enter my figure count for August. I painted a bunch of 12mm British, those same guys I hope to finish in October, as well as some 28mm Spanish for the Spanish American War. My figure total was 129.

In September my numbers look something like this–all 12mm Kallistra figures.

36 mounted Serbian cavalry

45 dismounted Serbian cavalry–includes machine gun figures

16 Serbian guns and gunners

8 Serbian command figures

184 Serbian infantry figures

16 Great Escape Games highlanders plus machine gun

Total = 305

My total through July was 554.

August 129 + 554 = 683

September 305 + 683 = 989

I’m getting dangerously close to the promised land. Unfortunately I’ve also bought a pile of figures too, including all those little 12mm dude. Oh, well. Still, a big accomplishment.

Command Resources in Game Design

I’ve played a number of games recently that require managing command resources. Let me name names first.

One of these is SAGA. I think I’ve played five games of SAGA, and really enjoyed all of them. A player is allotted a certain number of dice to roll and based on the die roll one can move or attack or employ super-cool SAGA abilities based on one’s army. I like it, much fun. It’s a nuanced game that requires one to use the SAGA dice carefully. Just to add, the game requires six-sided dice and the annoyingly spendy and sometimes hard to find SAGA dice that go with your chosen army. I have a Norse-Gael army and they require DIFFERENT dice than my newly purchased, but unpainted Irish army. Of course.

I’ve played two games of 1914, the Great Escape Games rules for the opening days of WWI. Another set of rules I really like. In this game units generate command tokens to move, fire, and remove morale points. They may also use tokens to take multiple actions or react to the enemy’s move. Carefully managing tokens to ensure the bad guys don’t run rampant and lay waste to your army while can do nothing is critical to success. This has many characteristics of a traditional miniatures game, but the command resource management overlays another level to the game. It can slow it down considerably for new players who are kind of going . . . “what???!!!”

Last Sunday at our Veterans Museum gathering I played On the Altar of Freedom. This is an ACW game using 6mm figures. It also used a command allocation system that was somewhat different. Command points were distributed each turn, but could also be used to “manage the clock.” Each turn began with 12 “on the clock”. After each turn was taken, the clock was allocated and clever clock management would end the turn before all the bad guys got to move. I thought that was fascinating.

All of these games are pretty different from the I Go, You Go game systems most of us are comfortable with. They require another level of play from the game mechanics in whatever we’ve been playing. Often those mechanics are simpler. Facing and formations matter less. Planning for more than one turn becomes more important.

I’m intrigued enough that I’m interested in putting together a set of rules applying some sort of command resource management with 15mm fantasy figures. I’ve had a bunch for years and am thinking I can still paint 15’s, even if I don’t see well enough to do a great job. This is a project for 2023.

Lion Rampant: Second Edition-A quick review

I bought Lion Rampant when it was first released back in 2014. I was a quick convert. I had a real interest in the Hundred Years War and was thrashing about looking for an acceptable set of rules. Lion Rampant really seemed fun, an easy set of rules to teach and offered some fast game play that would kick the rules lawyers right in the nuts. It was perfect.

It was perfect except for the parts that weren’t perfect, of course. My chief complaints were twofold. Lion Rampant, like all Daniel Mersey games, are played by unit activation. Units roll 2D6 to activate a unit and if they miss their mark, unit doesn’t activate. In LR if a unit doesn’t activation, the turn passes to the bad guys. If you’re having a bad die rolling day you can sit there a long time staring at your units that aren’t moving or shooting. That was the first house rule I made, no more one and done. Each turn, every unit would get an activation role. And in fact this is a rule that appeared later in Daniel Mersey’s Rebels and Patriots rules.

Another rule that went the way of one and done was the requirement that there be a space of 3″ between friendly units in the game. I could never figure out a good reason for this and it really required more space on the tabletop, so gone. Smyth rules say 1″ between units.

I will confess that I haven’t played a Lion Rampant game in a while. My HYW masses sit quietly on the shelf hoping to get a nice walk around the block, or maybe even a game. David Sullivan and I did cobble together rules based on Lion Rampant for our Aztec armies but even they have been carefully squirreled away for the past five years or so. Such is the lot for someone with far more projects than I have time to play games. Sigh.

But when the word came out there was a date certain for a second edition of Lion Rampant about to be released, I did the unthinkable. I advance-ordered a copy from Amazon. I never do that. When it arrived a week ago I wasn’t disappointed.

Osprey games are great because they are relatively inexpensive, and though the new edition of LR is hardcover, its thirty-dollar price tag is still reasonable. Daniel Mersey’s fingerprints are all over the book, but it’s a deeper, revised dive into Lion Rampant.

Hey, it’s a rule book, so the rules are carefully explained as they were in the original rule set. No changes that I see, but the book does use its increased space more effectively, fewer words crammed into small spaces.

Then, it moves on to optional rules-the activation (one and done) quirk is addressed, as is proximity. Mersey addresses his motivation for the rules, and that’s why he has made them optional. Other options include playing multi-player games, shieldwalls, group moves, and including flanks in the game (boo, hiss.) There are also some optional troop types including handgunners and pikemen. Terrain and weather options are addressed. For those at a loss for how to do a great Lion Rampant game, the rules provide 15 well-written scenarios that should provide anyone with an idea for a game. Even me.

Lion Rampant 2d. ed, really adds to the possibilities to folks who have existing troops by broadening the scope of the rules from just the high middle ages to include the Dark Ages (including various Goths and Vandals,) to the Late Middle Ages including, Middle Eastern, Eastern European armies, Western European armies as late as the Swiss, Burgundians and Ottomans. The rules include a variety of suggestions for warbands (no longer referred to as retinues) for 64 different armies.

The books is profusely illustrated with lots of Osprey art. I love the way it’s laid out. Nothing seems crowded and hard to find. I would think Mersey should consider the final product a success.

I highly recommend this book. Even if you have the old book (I have two,) this isn’t a simple repackaging. I love the updated production values, but it isn’t just about that. The new optional rules and optional units are a nice add. But the broadening of the rules to include earlier and later armies really does open the doors for those who also play SAGA to use some armies that have had only one purpose. SAGA is really fun too, don’t get me wrong, but now it is either/or instead of one or the other.

I could blather endlessly about the value of the Mersey family of rules. Others may fuss and call them “beer and pretzel,” but I find them quite fun and demanding at least a little bit of forethought and knowing the units on the table. I see them as kind of an evolutionary set of rules, much as Eurogames are an evolution of the hex and token games I grew up with. They welcome younger and less period-obsessed gamers because they’re simply fun and there is something to be said for that.

July’s Count, 1914 and a 3D Printer

August 1st is here. July was a month. It was the month we held Casey’s memorial service. It was the month Lorri and I opened a small space in 3rd Street Antiques and all the preparation for that. It was a month we participated in two garage sales. Needless to say there was a lot going on. Hanging over all of it, however, was Casey. It was a month in which I played a two games of any kind, only one of them a miniatures game, an enjoyable SAGA game with David Sullivan.

Even so, things seems to be moving back to something more normal. I’ve never stopped painting, as you will see. I began working on Enfilade and NHMGS stuff again. I am gaming twice this week, thanks to the Weekend Warrior group that plays SAGA on Wednesdays. No I don’t understand the name either, but honestly, when you’re retired, everyday is the weekend so it works. I’ll finally make it to one of Dean Motoyama’s extravaganza’s on Friday–so Napoleon in Egypt using Rebels and Patriots. Love Rebels and Patriots so I’m excited. August looks to be somewhat better.

Every aspect of the hobby, the painting, the reading, the movies, but most especially the friends have been a terrific balm on what has been a pretty open wound. I appreciated all of it before June 4th. I appreciate it even more now.

So not a lot of gaming, but I did get a lot done. First, I was hoping to get a fair number of Spanish American War figures painted. And I definitely got some finished. Not as many as I’d like, but two units of Spanish sailors are done. Admiral Cervera stripped his cruiser of crew to defend Santiago during the battles of the heights-El Caney and San Juan Hill-which were pretty well fortified. The sailors received special uniforms including a cute hat and, gulp, rayadillo duds. Unfortunately the Old Glory sailors have them in blouses, bell bottoms and flat hats plus a Mauser. I was happy to paint ’em as is. I also am about 70% finished with some American Buffalo Soldiers (10th Cavalry) by 1898 Miniaturas. Hope to have them done this week.

I also got some ships painted. I tackled some of my recently acquired Superior ships. For the Americans I had a pair of Farragut class that would have fought at the Komandorski Island battles in the boring Measure 21 camouflage. I need to get a few more Japanese done to flesh out that navy for that battle.

In addition I painted the USS Juneau. This is an Atlanta class anti-aircraft cruiser that together with her sister participated in the First Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, November 13, 1942. Juneau was badly damaged in the battle and was later sunk by a Japanese submarine on her way to repairs, suffering incredible loss of life. The Juneau is painted in this love hybrid combination of Measure 12 and Measure 22 camo. It was quite fun to paint something so different.

The last ships painted were four older Japanese destroyers that mostly had a role as destroyer/transports in the Solomons campaigns. there are two Mutsuki class and two Wakatakes to add to the single examples I already had.

August will be a month to paint up the remaining destroyers I have for both sides before tackling the cruisers I have for the USN and IJN.

Last month I mentioned 1914, the Great Escape Games rules for the opening days of the Great War. Well, I’ve jumped in whole-heartedly. I’ve finished most of my British figures. My tub o’ dudes shows two mounted lancer regiments with their dismounted counterparts, two battalions of infantry, two 18pdrs and an eight inch howitzer. That’s about sixty percent of the figures I have in hand. However more are on the way.

It’s a period I’ve always wished I could do. A bunch of “the guys” are doing it too. It has a lot of nostalgic ties to my grandfather so I couldn’t say no.

They paint up really quickly so it’s not like it a 28mm project that requires tons of focus on just that one thing. I have a second British brigade coming. I’ve also ordered the Kallistra Serbs just so the Austrians have someone else to slap around. After that I’ll take stock, but I’m not opposed to ordering some Germans too.

Anxious to try the rules. David and I will try the rules on August 23rd, the anniversary of the Battle of Mons.

Finally, I’ve taken the plunge and purchased a 3D printer. I bought an Elegoo Saturn S resin printer. I’ve had it about two weeks and made two prints, neither 100% successfully. There is certainly a trick to figuring it out and everything is quite a process. I want to be sure I’m getting it cleaned properly and am waiting on a couple of things before making my next effort.

Mostly I see the printer for naval stuff. David Manley has a great range of 1/600 ACW naval stuff. I have run across some other STLs for WWII ships. There are lots of terrain pieces worth printing, so it could be a money saving venture. Or perhaps just a hobby unto itself. Definitely a bit of a learning curve for me.

Ah, and now the important stuff. This was a very productive July. Little bit of cheatin’ involved because painting the 12’s is so easy, but a figure is a figure is a figure according to my own rules.

20 X 28mm Gripping Beast SAGA figures

24 X 28mm Old Glory Spanish Sailors for SAW

7 X 1/1200 scale WWII Ships

80 X 12mm Old Contemptibles

Monthly total 131 figures

Total through June = 423

New total=554

Catching up With the Count and the coming of 1914

Smyth Shipyard’s painted Americans so far. Nine destroyers and three cruisers.

Way back in March I was doing a great job of keeping a monthly count of figures painted and figures purchased. Well, things have fallen by the wayside a bit, and I haven’t done as good a job, at least not here. Just to step back and do some recounting, at the end of March my painted figure count was 257. I was also lamenting the fact that I was buying a lot more than I was painting.

Unfortunately, this pattern has continued, sort of. There was the pile o’ships I got. Then I added to that pile. I think I’m +2 on the painted vs. adds now. I added 20 figures to my Norse Irish SAGA army, and I’m in the middle of painting those now.

Most importantly my monthly totals since March look something like this:

April–84 figures painted

May–26 figures painted (Enfilade really did me in.)

June–46 figures painted

2022 totals to date: 423

Lately, I’ve continued to work on my ships. Finished the two XP Forge printed ships I purchased. I’ve learned a lot about American paint schemes during WWII. A lot of my ships are in the Measure 21/22 camo that have basic blue gray horizontal and vertical surfaces. The Richmond in Measure 32 is different with the later war blocky camo.

Like I said, I’m also working on my SAGA guys. I’m hoping to have all the additional hearthguard and kern figures ready for a game on the 13th.

I’ve also headed down a rabbit hole with most of my friends. They are preparing armies for a set of rules called 1914 that is kind of a one on one Guns of August set of rules. I really tried to stay out of this–but couldn’t. My grandfather was an Old Contemptible so I ordered the rules and figures for the British. They have the virtue of being 12mm figures, so they should paint up quickly and I can get on to other stuff. We’ll see.

June Is Now My Least Favorite Month

Superior Destroyers-Gearing class, Walke (Sumner Class), Selfridge (Porter Class), Livermore Class

June began as a really crappy month. The weather here in the Northwest was unseasonably cool and wet. I’m not a gardening aficionado, but I do like working in my yard and the persistent rain and cool weather was making mess of things.

On June 4th, when we learned Casey passed away it put a hold on everything. Gardening, there was no time for it even if the weather was decent because my life was spent clearing out his apartment, getting to the funeral home and all the bits and tasks that go with preparing for the departure of a close loved one.

I did squeeze in a game in June. I’m glad I did. I met with David Sullivan and Dave Schueler at Daveshoe’s house for a Rebels and Patriots Mexican War game. I sure had a good time and it got me away from other things that were more important, but it helped me in my own head a lot.

The gaming community has been so kind to Lorri and I in their wishes. My close friends have tried hard to be supportive while knowing I have this other stuff going on too. It’s hard to know what the right things to do and say are. And they’ve been from everywhere too. Guys I know in Florida and California. The White Rock Gamers from British Columbia sent beautiful flowers. Everyone gets it and I am so grateful.

Casey’s memorial is scheduled for July 10th, and once that is over, I’ll be able to devote a lot more of my energy to healing myself and my family. It’s been really hard, but I feel like a couple of weeks from now we can take some first steps toward coming to grips with this.

I swear this is the last time I’ll post about this, but Casey’s loss has affected us from bow to stern and keel to topmast.

That doesn’t mean I haven’t done anything. In fact, I would suggest that being able to devote some time and energy to this wonderful hobby has spared me some of the down time that really leads to some depression. No, that doesn’t mean I’m dodging my feelings; I’m just coping with them in a way that helps me.

June was an interesting month for painting. I spent most of the first part of the month working on my 1/1200 ships. Chiefly Americans and mostly destroyers. I had a mix of DD’s of all different classes which allowed me to paint a variety of different schemes, from the mottled look of the Measure 12 Sims class, to the late war Sumner class in Measure 32. Mostly, however, I’m painting ships for 1942-43 and that means the unexciting Measure 21 and Measure 22 Camouflage, which is a mixture of dark blue gray over dark blue gray. Fairly unexciting.

USS Selfridge (Porter class) in Measure 21 scheme. Deck Blue horizontal surface, Sea Blue vertical surfaces.
USS Walke (Sumner Class) in Measure 32 scheme. This is a later war destroyer and later war paint scheme
Light Cruiser Richmond in Measure 22 camouflage.

I’m using the Life Color acrylics which are intended to resemble the official colors for the period. I have a Japanese set as well as an American set. I really like the colors, though they often seem to require a second coat. If I primed in gray it might be different. I’ve cruised through nearly all of a bottle of deck blue and have found a place where I can order single bottles, so I sent off for more.

I also painted some 28mm figures. I polished off the Foundry Contra-Guerrillas for Maximilian. But most of my time went to painting some Old Glory British Legion infantry figures I’ve had lying about for a while. I have some AWI figures for Rebels and Patriots, but could stand a few more and I may eek out a few more units before the end of the year.

July will be a little more productive. I hope. I’m working on a pair of printed US ships, an Omaha class and a Benson class. The prints are just okay, but I always paint whatever is in front of my face. The Benson will be in the gray on gray Measure 21. The Richmond (Omaha class) will be challenging in its Measure 32 camo as it appeared after its Bremerton rebuild in 1944.

I also have twenty 28mm SAGA figures I’m going to finish. They’ll complete my Norse Irish army and provide some options too. Playing on the 13th so I’m hoping they might be done.

Beyond that, I’m going to focus on my shipbuilding. The Smyth yards are definitely open. Lots of destroyers and cruisers–Americans and Japanese. In the 28mm department, I’m reading David Trask’s wonderful history of the Spanish American War, and I think I’ll be painting my significant wad of those guys. Rayadillo galore. Not quite sure how much I have anymore, but I guess I’m about to find out.

Casey And The Worst of Times

I long ago gave up any idea of leaving retirement to do something different. I’ve given myself the operational title of “full time wargamer.” It is a non-occupation I fully enjoy. It has given so much to me, and I, in turn, hope that I’ve given a little bit back.

I have three WordPress blogs, but this is the one that gets the most use, so I am writing this story here. It’s game-related only by circumstance and is deeply personal, so hopefully you will follow along with me.

In a typical year I would have posted about Enfilade, and what a great time I had (and I did) but the posting was delayed. I was in post-convention recovery mode, and tried to call my son Casey on Tuesday the 30th. I always share Enfilade stories with him and had lots of good ones to tell, but he didn’t pick up. We had a Saturday family gathering planned and when his mom couldn’t reach him Wednesday and I couldn’t contact him on Thursday we became concerned, but not overly so. By Saturday morning we decided that after making a stop in Tukwila, I would drive the three or four miles to his house and knock on his door to see if he was okay.

He wasn’t. After raising the police to get the key from his landlord, we learned that Casey, our beloved Casey was gone. He died in his sleep on his couch of cardiomyopathy, heart failure, at the age of 39.

There are lots of details of his death I can share with you, but I’m not going to. I am going to tell you that I am a grieving father, an experience I share with my wife and son Patrick and all our family. They loved him dearly for all the right reasons. Casey was incredibly bright and a hard worker. He worked for Expedia for over 16 years and he was near graduation at WGU in data analytics. He was fun and funny, with a ridiculously naughty sense of humor. He was also plagued by anxieties, and an unwarranted lack of self-confidence. He was dedicated to doing the right thing, was a tireless advocate for social justice, but more than anything believed in and practiced the simple every day kindnesses that we should all hope we experience every day. He was a wonderful son who was kind and helpful to his parents, loved his brother and his entire family. By all accounts, he was a dedicated, helpful and successful colleague.

Patrick, Rachel, Lorri, Kevin, Antoinette, Casey

Casey was my companion in all things Marvel. We’d catch and debrief the latest movie. We’d pick apart the MCU shows on Disney+. He knew all the backstories, while I only knew what was on the screen. Casey wasn’t a miniature gamer, though he did attend Enfilade a couple of times. Crowds triggered his anxieties, so he might stick his head in the door for a game period to support the convention, he played a single game at most and then was gone. However, in a smaller setting with friends, he was a terrific board gamer. We played all manner of Eurogames and he always figured them out faster than I did. He endeared himself to my older crowd of friends, and they never thought of him just as “Kevin’s kid,” his skill, the person he was, stood him on his own. He was Casey.

I don’t want this to go on and on as Casey’s resume. He was my son who is deeply and sorrowfully missed. I love both my sons and I hope they both know that. We have a great relationship. We never wait for special occasions to spend time together. Pat is my companion in all things musical and we’ve spent countless hours at concerts, baseball games and just hanging out to shoot the shit. Casey is my gamer dude, my movie guy though he did hate baseball and thought the Beatles were overrated (for shame, sir!) Hated onions too . . . ?

Lots of friends and relatives are unbelievably shocked and they’ve done what they can to reach out and support Lorri, Pat and me. They often say they don’t have the words; they can’t imagine how it feels. I guess my immediate response is, you don’t want to imagine how it feels.

Yesterday, instead of discussing the Doctor Strange movie with my son, I was buying a niche for him at the cemetery.

This week, instead of debriefing our latest adventure with our role-playing group, I was cleaning out his apartment, inquiring about his life insurance benefit, and picking up his death certificate at the funeral home.

On Thursday I was holding my dear wife, the two of us in tears, because our beloved cousin Cheryl Casey sent a gorgeous Irish wool afghan with the label of the Casey clan to remember our youngest.

Many times there is a feeling of normalcy and everything is proceeding as usual when suddenly I’m swallowed in a black well of grief. Staring out the window is all I can manage.

I know it will get better. I’m still pretty raw. Someday he’ll just be with me. But no don’t imagine what it feels like today, because it’s just too painful.

The Superior Manna From Heaven and the Foreseeable Fall Out

On April 23rd I attended a game gathering at the Chehalis Veteran’s Museum. A delightful day. The weather was good, which is saying something in these parts this spring. I love the Museum. Gene Anderson does a super job of hosting. Played one game, helped run another. Just a good day.

However, in between those games I had one of those moments in which I could choose to do something new at a very minor cost. Gene had a box of dozens of 1/1200 Superior WWII ships he was getting rid of on behalf of a neighbor. I really didn’t look inside the boxes much because I thought they’d be a lot more than I’d be able or willing to spend after all my spring purchases and Enfilade just around the corner. As I looked and headed out the door, Jim Denberger asked if I was going to make an offer. I made a bunch of excuses, and said I’d give Gene the five dollars I had in my pocket. All I heard was, “I’ll take it,” followed by David Sullivan’s voice saying behind me, “I’ll give you twenty.” Oh fer gawdsakes. I bought David’s lunch and claimed the ships for myself.

A mere handful of the ships I’ve got stashed in my garage. Clockwise from upper left-USS Alabama, pocket battleships Graf Spee, French battlecruiser Dunkerque, Japanese battlecruiser Kongo, USS West Virginia, a pocketful of U.S destroyers, with Sumner in the foreground

I managed to somehow get them in my carry bag and the crate I brought down for my Vietnam figures, and got ’em home. I’ve offered them to my friends, but not exactly any takers. The previous owner was a collector, and I really don’t want to say bad things about him, but I think he was in over his head. Superior ships are kits, some with parts. He seemed to love battleship, so there are buckets of those. Some are cliche: Yamato and Musashi, Iowa, Tirpitz and Arizona. Some are cool like the French battleship Richelieu and battlecruiser Dunkerque, lots of the old American battleships raised from the mud at Pearl Harbor, plus the ancient Arkansas that shot it out with the Germans at D-Day.

Clearly, unfortunately, he wasn’t a gamer. There was pretty much one of everything. Great if you’re showing off stuff, not great if one is trying to fight battles. You can see where this is going, right? Sadly, he wasn’t much of a painter either. Some, not many, weren’t painted at all. Others were painted wrong. Many more were painted badly. Some of the American ships are solid, the rest will need work. I have work to do.

I’ve been chatting this up with Daveshoe. We’ve been angling for a way to convert this mass of ships into a collection we can do some Pacific war battles with. Unfortunately that means buying more. Hah, I can hear you laughing. I’ve already made an order to Alnavco for some Superior ships. Surprisingly (or maybe not) there are some holes in their stock, but I did receive some nicely updated American and Japanese destroyers that will allow Dave and I to play the Battle of the Komandorski Islands somewhere at some future time.

I’m also taking a look at some 3D printed options. XP Forge which is an Etsy business has an extensive list of 1/1200 ships so I gave that a whirl. They arrived within a few days. The ships are okay with some serious and obvious problems. They generally have decent detail. Not as nice as the Superior ships, and much less nice than Navis/Neptun, but they are cheap. A destroyer was five bucks, and the Omaha class light cruiser was 11 dollars. The problem is with long thin things, such as masts. They are telephone poles. A bit less noticeable on the Omaha’s tripod mast, but with the destroyer’s mast/telephone pole, this is huge problem. It does make the gamer proof which is a bonus. Doing the obvious thing, which is to replace the log masts with brass rod, is easier said than done. The damn thing is cast into the bridge of the model, so removal might lead to collateral damage. It was only a five dollar investment, so it might be worth the risk, but it is at best annoying.

XP Forge Omaha, left, and Benson. Cheap, but quality is an issue.

Tiny Thingamajigs is a Shapeways 3D design store that also offer some 1/1200 scale printed ships. They look a bit more promising. The detail seems finer. The ships are more expensive in the higher grade plastic. They have a lot of ships available in scales smaller than 1/1200 and I’ve sent a note to designer Matthew Atkinson about the possibility of printing more vessels in the larger scale, so it will be interesting to see his response. I’ll probably give him a whirl and order an Atlanta class CL which seems pretty nice.

I have started working of stuff. I painted the Japanese heavy cruiser Aoba. Along the way, I made some repairs-it was missing a seaplane catapult- added a little detail-a crane for the seaplane, and I lengthened the masts and added a radar array. I learned a bunch about paint schemes for the US and Japan in WWII. Plus I invested heavily in paint for the period. Unsurprisingly it cost much more than the ships themselves. I’m using the Life Colour paints for the US Navy and the Imperial Japanese Navy. It’s very nice stuff. I have six Japanese destroyers, none of them the new ones, primed and ready to paint. I’m hoping I might finish them before the convention.

My first re-imagined ships from the great pile-Japanese heavy cruiser Aoba. Missing a rear catapult, I constructed one, added a crane and lengthened masts before priming over the electric blue spray paint. Painted Aoba Kure Gray and Linoleum deck brown.

Ah, another rabbit hole to follow . . . I confess I’ve always loved this scale and this period, and it more or less fell into my lap. The expense has been minimal. It’s something Dave and I can do together and I think it has a lot of reward potential . . . if I don’t go off the deep end. Yeah . . . right.

Yesterday I finished six Japanese destroyers. From left they are Wakatake, Mutsuki, Hatsuharu, Fubuki, and two Kagero class. Waiting for acrylic bases from Litko before mounting them.

A Few Words about SAGA and the Norse Gaels

I walked away from ancients years ago. I didn’t like the competitive matchups the rules fostered. I’m a scenario person, dislike tournaments and there really wasn’t a lot of agreement on a set of ancient rules. I did go whole hog, well really the whole pigpen on the Hundred Years War, but they’ve been idle since before the pandemic.

A couple of months ago I reached out to some old game buddies to see what they were up to. They were playing SAGA: Age of Vikings. I knew of SAGA, that it was supported by Gripping Beast miniatures, but not a lot. more. I drove over to Scott’s house to watch ’em play a game. It looked fun, different. The dice, the battle boards offered nuance and complexity and it gave me an excuse to try something new–which I really need like a hole in the head–but I was in.

Got the rules, a Norse-Gaels set by Gripping Beast as well as a box of their plastic Irish. Norse-Gaels are those Norwegian Vikings who occupied the western isles off the coast of Scotland and many areas of Ireland. They established the Kingdom of Dublin. So the army is a mix of Vikings, Scots and Irish so who can’t like that?

SAGA armies are allowed points. Each unit is worth one point. The quality of the unit determines its size. The good troops, or Heartguards, are usually four figures. They are the hard bitten Viking raiders. They wear chainmail and are bad-ass.

The next unit type is Warriors. They are the bulk of my army and are composed of Irish bonnachts. The bonnachts, like the Hearthguards are either javelin armed or axe-armed and have eight figures. Axe- armed troops are considered heavy weapons, but have reduced armor value because they can’t fight with a shield. Javelin-armed troops are considered missile-armed. Not quite as cool as bow or sling armed, but there are stories of the troops punctured by javelins.

The final type is the peasant type, considered by the Norse Gaels as “slaves,” but I like to think of them as good old Irish kerns.

I’ve played a couple of games with them. They are interesting. A mix of shooters and hackers for sure. I’ve also learned a bit more of their Battle Board from a SAGA Thorsday YouTube video


I’ve had some success, but hope to try out what I’ve learned soon.

A March to remember, but perhaps not repeat

Yes, it; time for my end of month round-up. Yes, it’s late. But when you’re retired you lose track of time. Plus, my wife just had knee replacement surgery and is off work, When we’re both off an at home we can’t even remember the day of the week, so if I am a bit late, well, excuuuusssseeee me!

There was a lot going on in March. Lorri and I took an amazing vacation to Temecula, California where we did a lot of relaxing and took in a lot of the wine country of that city, tucked away in northeaster San Diego county. Yes, we drank a lot of wine, bought a lot of wine, tasted a lot of wine. It was a wine thing. We were gone a week, but preparations and recovery seemed to suck up a couple more days.

Five days after getting home, Lorri had her knee surgery. Let’s just cut to the chase, she’s doing great. Her ortho doc said it was one of the ugliest looking knees he’s seen and thinks she’ll get some immediate relief. It’s been ten days since the surgery, and even though there’s pain and struggle at times, a blind man could see she’s doing better.

I share all this stuff to make excuses for my puny paint totals for March. I say that, but I did paint, and I did get stuff done. I also really like what I got done too.

First, I finished all my Gringo 40’s Republican cavalry for Maximilian. The irregular horse can be used for the Mexican War too. They are miniaturas gigantes. Really big. But I love ’em. They will appear with the attacking Republican forces in my Enfilade game “The Matehuala Two-Step” and should literally scare the crap out of the Imperial forces they’ll be facing.

The last week or so of the month (which is all I had left) allowed me to shift gears and begin working on an army for SAGA. I have a couple of Tacoma friends who play SAGA, Age of Vikings, so I thought I needed to get in on the ground floor. I bought a Gripping Beast Norse-Gael army. I’ll do a review later. I’ve managed to get some of these figures done. There simply aren’t that many needed, something on the order of 45 figures for a typical six-point army. I’ve finished the first sixteen, plus a hero and a warlord figure. More are well down the road to completion.

Gripping Beast Irish kerns for SAGA
Gripping Beast hearthguard for the Norse-Gaels

This was also a month of many new purchases, sadly. Let’s settle up and see where we are

1 X 6 28mm Republican dragoons by Gringo 40’s

3 X 6 28mm Republican irregular horse by Gringo 40’s

1 X 4 28mm Norse-Gael hearthguard by Gripping Beast

2 X1 28mm Norse-Gael Warlord and Hero by Gripping Beast

1 X 12 28mm Irish Kerns by Gripping Beast

March total = 42 figures

2022 total = 257

Purchases (ugh)

Gringo 40’s Maximillian figures 30 figures

Foundry Maximilian figures 36 figures

Front Rank Limbers and Oxen 6 figures

Gripping Beast Norse-Gael figures (from Badger Games) 13 figures

Foundry Mexican figures (from Badger Games) 7 figures

Total figures purchased in March = 92

We’re going the wrong direction here

April plans are to wrap up the SAGA figures. I’ve actually already completed 12 for April. I have another 16 to complete. Eight of those will be plastic, but they all need to be completed before April 12th when I’ll get together with friends to play my first game of SAGA.

After that it’s back to cracking the whip for my Enfilade Maximilian game. I still have artillery and limbers I want to finish for both sides. There are also some Republican Rurales cavalry I’d like to get done. I have piles more figures to paint for this project, but those are the must-do’s for my game on May 27th.

Last, but certainly not least, I need to finish remounting all my Maximilian figures. I’ve been able to remount all the Mexicans. That is some seven units of irregular infantry, four units of regular infantry, and three units of cavalry. Only the French are left and I’ll start on those guys this week. It’s a big job. I’ve kept Kenneth Litko very happy.