Enfilade 2018: One of the Great Ones

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Made it home from Enfilade last night.  This will be the first of several posts about the weekend.  There are lots of pics here and many more to follow.  It was a super convention.  Congratulations to Alyssa Faden and Vic Cina for doing a great job as the convention again hit record highs in attendance and games hosted and raised real concerns about the future of the convention’s location as it continues to grow.  They went out on a limb and required online event registration, and it was a success.  Kudos to them.

There were a lot of super events. I cleverly scheduled myself into running games in five of the six event periods, and hence had little chance to play in or view an awful lot of them.  I did the best I could to take photos and will share them below, but know that there are many deserving games I simply never got close to.

Below are some one-off photos of some of the games. I’ve tried to provide a few words in the mosaic caption below.

From top left: “Incoming missiles!” Andy Doty’s intriguing Harpoon Commander game. Chris Ewick runs a table of DBA games. Scott Williams intriguing game based on his real life job as a marine archaeologist on the Oregon coast. A really big German bomber for Wings of War. Denny Hartung’s Check Your 6 game from the Spanish Civil War “Revolting Skies.”  A 15mm game of Pike and Shotte featuring Scots and English.

Ronald Oldham is new to the Puget Sound area, moving recently from North Carolina.  He’s a reformed game store owner, and he hosted two War of 1812 games using The British Are Coming Rules. Ron, if you read this, I think I still owe you a beer.

From bottom left: Ron hosted Chrysler’s Farm on Friday night.  The terrain boards were really nice and captured the ravined nature of the terrain.  The bottom three to the right were Ron’s boards for New Orleans.  The British got to the ditch, but not further.  Everything looked great.

Two hosts consistently put on magnificent looking games each convention.  Bruce Smith and Neil Marker are great guys and have a real talent for cluttering a game board with fantastic bits of interesting ephemera and hosting a fabulous games.  I’m committed to getting into one or both of their games in 2019.  Bruce won the prize for best theme game for the Friday evening period.

From top left: Bruce’s apocalyptic cityscape for “Hot Wheels, HMG’s and Human Gangs” offers the right mix of menace and destruction.  Loved it.  Gotta play it some time. Neil Marker’s “Who Runs Barter Beach” is A) beautiful and B) has the most interesting collection of cool stuff of any game of the weekend.  But Neil’s games always do

Ix Nichols ran a gorgeous hypothetical air game “Breakout from Mers El Kebir featuring some beautiful 1/200 planes.  Rules were Check Your 6!


From top left: Fulmar fighters provide cover for Swordfish torpedo bombers. We don’t usually think of the Hawk 75’s as a much of match for any WWII fighters, but against Fulmars and Stringbags, maybe so-Vichy fighters swarm to the attack. Players are trying to figure it all out.  A couple photos of the excellent Swordfish miniatures.  And Swordfish plunging into the Mediterranean.

A really big Battle of Mobile Bay in a really small space.  1/600 ships by Thoroughbred Figures.  Rules by Sail and Steam Navies.

From top left: Confederate gunboats and the Tennessee defend the line of pilings across the bay.  Union ships mass as they prepare to run the guns of Fort Morgan.  A great Fort Morgan miniature that alleviates a lot of scale problems for this challenging game.

David Sullivan brought out his 40mm bronze age miniatures by Monolith/Graven Images.  Everybody seemed to having a good time.  Rules were “Song of Blades and Heroes.”

From Left: The religious party in the circle of standing stones was the objective for the six players in this game.  Each entered the game separately and were tasked with befuddling their rivals as they tried to carry off their prize

Colin Wilson’s Team Yankee game was cool to see.  However I didn’t have a chance to catch the game in progress.

From top left: M-60’s boil out of the town to engage the Soviets.  Cobra gunships lead M-60’s to the attack.  American forces are supported by A-10 Warthogs.

And last, but certainly not least, is Bill Vanderpool’s Isandlwana game game, using 15mm figures and Lyn Bodin’s “Imperialism” rules.  Anybody who wants to know what it’s like to run a game at this convention just needs to check in with Bill.  He’s been doing it every period for every Enfilade for twenty year.  Just an old pro.

Every convention has some fun.  It’s always interesting to see what’s in the bring and buy, and determine who made the weirdest purchase.  While Bruce Harborne probably didn’t buy the strangest items, buddy Steve Knight is wisely ignoring him.

Bruce at the Bring and Buy

This post will be followed by several more over the next couple of days that share my games as well as the featured event at Enfilade.

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Closing the Gaming Calendar

I make my life needlessly complicated.  That’s my own problem, and I’m not bitching about it.  Not much.

I keep three important calendars.  The first of these is the school calendar, which extends across two actual calendar years, and contains all my newspaper and yearbook deadlines, grading deadlines, professional development days, school holidays and a host of other this and that. Then there’s the real world calendar, the one that normal people go by.  You know, January 1-December 31 that has my wife’s birthday and our anniversary on it.  22 more shopping days until Valentines Day.  Our vacation is scheduled for July 5th.  That calendar.

But my gaming calendar is built around Enfilade, that awesome miniature gaming convention held Memorial Day weekend in beautiful Olympia WA. I love Enfilade.  I also love planning for the games I’ll host at Enfilade. As we approach the convention, I tend to take stock of the year’s accomplishments and begin thinking about Enfilade ’19.

I think I’ve shared a lot of what I’ve done, and made myself little promises in the form of blog posts since last June. Most of them didn’t happen, but I honestly think those little promises help energize me and keep me painting all year ’round, even if it wasn’t quite what I said I’d do.

One of the tasks I took on was working with my Louisiana Project and transformed it into America Rampant.  That meant remounting some 450 28mm figures, which is always a challenge, at least for me.  I’ve known fellows who truly enjoyed the remounting process–for me, it’s a bit like enjoying mononucleosis.  Nevertheless all figures mounted.  I also cobbled together a set of rules based on the Men Who Would Be King by the Daniel Mersey School of Wargame Rules.

I ran a few games, enjoyed them, but things kind of came to halt when word came out that Mersey and his pals would be releasing their own TMWWBK variant for conflicts in America from the French and Indian War through the American Civil War.  I think we’ll all be on the same page, and I’ll pick things up again when the rules are released in 2019. Look for me to include some of my American Revolution figures and a lot of my unpainted ACW figures as David Sullivan and others commit to the rules.

David Manley publicly released his Thunderboats! variant, “Mad Wet Max” in the fall of 2018 and Dave Schueler and I were immediately intrigued.  Intrigued enough to get in on all the fun, and I’ve done that. I’ve bought some Matchbox boats, and have written about cobbling together eight combatants for the rules. We’ve run the game a couple of times and learned from each play-through.  I’ve recently added armed spectators which was also a whole lot of fun.  This project, while relatively small, is finished unless I feel compelled to add more boats.  We’ll see.  This game is featured at Enfilade Friday night and Sunday morning.

Last spring, as I was working on “13 Days Goes Hot,” the game Dave and I ran on the Cuban Missile Crisis for Enfilade ’17, I began picking away on planes for the Falklands.  It was the big project I worked on for the summer into our house remodel. By the end of the summer, however, the project was more or less done.  About 50 planes, with the majority of them Argentine.  It was fun to learn a little something about this modern air war and I never cease to wonder at how much the Argentines accomplished with an air contingent that was largely obsolete.  We ran our game at the Museum of Flight, and learned from that. We’ve got a full house for the Battle of San Carlos Sound mid-day Saturday at Enfilade.

Sometimes an idea for a game takes root and grows into something much more. At last year’s convention, Dave suggested the attack on the Illustrious, which was a series of air attacks on the task force built around the aircraft carrier that covered convoys bound for Malta and the eastern Mediterraneanin late 1940-early ’41. The more I learned about the campaign, the more I saw potential for something much larger, a Malta campaign.  Another set of David Manley rules, Airwar 1940, sadly unpublished, sealed the deal for me. My last blog post specified the planes involved and I’ve completed about half of them.

We’ve played through the Illustrious scenario a couple of times, and it will be shared with the convention crowd on Saturday night at Enfilade. We really like it. But more than that, we think the Malta campaign can draw in some semi-miniature playing friends and involve a wide variety of scenarios and aircraft.  It has my immediate attention and that of all my brushes and paints. Plan for lots more pixels on this one. Dave and I hope to host our first campaign game in July.

Another project I undertook for this year was to hopefully join the support for the wildly popular Dragon Rampant rules.  I ordered the needed figures from Eureka USA and I’ve been painting away.  I kind of thought they’d be done by now, but Malta has usurped their time.  Still a little left to do, painting these guys have also drawn my attention back to two more unpainted armies for these rules–Orcs and The Riders of Rohan. Something for next year. Look for a June post about the completed Hawkmoon project.

This hasn’t been a year of big figure purchases, except one.  I bought Dave Smith’s collection of 1/300 planes in August.  It’s a huge bunch of planes, well over 700 across a wide variety of periods and nationalities.  Dave’s planes found their way into my Falklands game and my Malta project.  Some I just suited up and pinned, others I’ve stripped and repainted to match my needs.  I’ve sent a few planes off to Dave Schueler.  Some I just look at and think about the someday that will get them done. Yes, I continue to buy planes, but Dave’s Bounty, as I’ve taken to calling it, has fueled many of my plane buying and painting decisions.  It was a great purchase, and I appreciate his willingness to part with them.

For the remaining couple of weeks, I’ll give some painting time to more planes.  I’m currently working on some Me 109F’s in North African colors.  When they are done I hope to work on some Me 110D’s which played a prominent role in the air war over Malta in 1941.

But more important than either of these is making flight stands.  This may seem like small potatoes, but no flight stands, no game. We had stands for Mustangs back in the old days, but Airwar 1940 has different requirements.  Mustangs required each plane to have stands for each altitude level 0-6.  Airwar 1940 requires only a low level and a “normal” altitude.  One of the reasons we can squeak more planes into a game is fewer altitude levels and stands. Anyway, I have to make 42 stands-21 at each level. So far I have 16.  The good news is they go pretty fast.

 

The Siege of Malta

Malta 1940-42

Usually when one thinks of the siege of Malta, it’s the 1565 defense of the little island by the Knights Hospitaller against the overwhelming forces of the Ottoman Empire. Cool stuff to be sure, but the siege that grabbed me is the aerial defense of Malta by the RAF and Fleet Air Arm against the air forces of Italy and Germany.

What makes it super interesting to me is the length of the siege, nearly two years, from April 1940-November 1942. From beginning to end the cast of characters stay the same, but the technology improves and the planes change, from Gloster Gladiators and Fiat Cr. 42’s to Hurricanes and Me 109E’s to Spitfire Mk. V’s and MC 202’s.  And lots of various interesting planes in between.

The air siege, launched from airfields on Sicily, was intended to deprive the British of naval support from the Valetta harbor, particularly a submarine base that took a toll of Axis shipping. Targets were broadened to include the airfields and aircraft that protected the harbor as well as the Grand Harbor’s formidable anti-aircraft defenses.

Dave Schueler and I see Malta an interesting campaign opportunity, and using the Airwar 1940 rules, the ease of play and numbers of planes even a novice can fairly safely run, I’m thinking big.

These are planes I’m building in 1/300

British–These take the British from 1940-1942, except for the early Gladiators.  I’ll leave those to Daveshoe. Surprisingly, the Spitfires don’t make their appearance until the last six months of the campaign. (60 planes total)

12 X Hurricane 1’s (all completed)

6 X Fairey Fulmars  (all completed)

12 X Hurricane IIc’s (4 completed)

6 X Kittyhawk II’s (0 completed)

6 X Beaufighters  (0 completed)

6 X Blenheim Mk. IV  (0 completed)

6 X Wellington II’s (0 completed)

6 X Spitfire Mk. V (0 completed)

Italians–The campaign begins with Italians in a more or less desultory bombing campaign.  They are replaced by the Germans in 1941 as they assume a larger role in the Mediterranean during the campaign in Greece, but depart to support the Barbarossa campaign.  The Italians again resume the half-hearted attacks on Malta until the Germans get serious about protecting their Afrika Korps supply lines. (72 total planes)

6 X Fiat Cr. 42s  (0 completed)

12 X Fiat G. 50’s (all completed)

12 X Macchi MC-200) (6 completed)

9 X SM 79  (all completed)

3 X Cant Z 1007bis  (all completed)

6 X Ju 87  (0 completed)

6 X Fiat Br. 20 Cigogna  (0 completed)

6 X Re. 2000  (0 completed)

12 x Macchi MC 202  (0 completed)

Germans–The Luftwaffe plane types remain pretty consistent during this time period with upgrades to the Me-109 in 1941. (54 planes)

12 X Ju. 87 Stukas  (10 completed)

12 X Ju. 88A’s (0 completed)

6 X Me110c’s (0 completed)

12 x Me 109E-7’s (0 completed)

12 X Me 109F’s  (0 completed)

Yes that’s a lot of planes.  I already own a lot of them, but they need to be pinned, and in some cases painted or re-painted.  Not a chore.  Painting planes gives me a lot of pleasure and they go pretty fast.  The worst part is sticking decals on them.

If you’d like more information on Malta I have a few handy suggestions:

Doug Hamm shared an excellent articled from Osprey Military Journal Vol. 2 Issue 4 titled Malta: The Fighter Pilot’s Paradise by Anthony Rogers. It covers the introduction of new fighters to the siege and defense of Malta from beginning to end with useful anecdotal attachments.

Dave Schueler sent me a copy of Malta Air Campaign by Chris Riches from Wargames Illustrated.  Unfortunately I don’t have any additional information about year, volume or number. Even so, it’s a super two page article that neatly divides the siege into seven periods and establishes the likely appearance of each significant plane type for each period, establishing a basis for random encounters.  If interested, I can send you a copy.

Last but not least, Osprey has begun offering a new series of air campaigns.  Among the first of these is Malta 1940-42.  It’s a great mini-history of the campaign and includes tons of useful information about the opposing forces and the anti-aircraft defenses of the island.  Reasonably priced, and highly recommended.

On the painting table

In addition to the Ju.88’s and Me 109’s I’m working on, I have a scattering of Hawkmoon figures to complete.  At the present time I have four units for the Hawkmoon project completed.  I’m currently working on two of the excellent Eureka personality figures–Oladahn of the Bulgar Mountains and Count Brass. I’m also working on the cute little steampunk mortar that will serves as the projector of magical missiles. When I finish this little collection, I’ll have one unit of mounted Kamarg warriors (six figures) left to paint.  I still need to acquire twelve figures to represent the magical Legion of the Dawn.  Almost finished with this project.

One of the things I still have to complete in the four or so weeks remaining before Enfilade is a new range of flight bases for Airwar 1940.  It’s much simpler than what we used to use for Mustangs with the its six different levels.  For the newer game I just need stands at “normal” level and low level.  But I need a lot, like fifty.  I jettisoned Paul Hannah’s old system that required a lot of bending of brass wire mounted on a base with brass tubing cut to size.  Instead I’m using 2″ square Litko bases with brass wire drilled and glued into the base, add a little epoxy just for extra support and then brass tubing, 2″  for low level, 4″ for normal.  I’m sticking a steel base on the bottom for extra weight. At this point the steel bases are on order, so I’m waiting to get ’em

New Stuff

It’s been a pretty quiet month for new orders.  I sent in a Litko order. Their new site is quite nice, but I did manage to order the wrong item. My mistake.  Kudos to Litko.  They’ve gotten really fast and my postage seemed a bit lighter, but that could be because of my mistake.

I also placed an order to MSD games.  Tried some different decals.  I really like the quality of those I get from I-94, but the mix of markings, particularly for the British isn’t a very economical activity.  So I tried some Dom’s Decals and some in-house British roundels.  I’ll let you know how they work out. Because it’s MSD I also ordered some planes-what else. I ordered some Me-110’s, which will fill out my six for Malta.  I also ordered some F-105’s.  A Vietnam Downtown campaign is very much on our want list, and you can’t do one without some decent Thunderchiefs.  I’ll have to run them by George Kettler, our official judge of what works to see what he thinks. I picked up a pair of F-105D’s and a F-105F Wild Weasel just as samples. Kinda spendy at six bucks a throw.

Attack on the Illustrious playtest

Dave Schueler and I have a list of air games we’d like to try.  For the past five or more years we’ve run games at Enfilade, and we’re always looking for the right convention game.

One issue we’ve struggled with is a good set of WWII air rules for a convention setting.  I know Check Your 6 is popular, I’ve played the game and I don’t hate it.  But I have two issues with it.  First it’s tied to a hex grid.  My chief goal in life is to free all miniatures games from hex grids or they are simply board games played with nice metal and resin pieces. Secondly, and probably most important, is I’m completely unwilling to make the investments I’d need to do to convert my hundreds of painted miniatures over to the system.  Sorry, no, not happening.

Which brings us to the Illustrious scenario. I’m on Facebook.  Please don’t think ill of me.  One of the advantages is being able to connect with folks who have common interests.  There is actually an Aerial Wargames group.  I lamented there wasn’t a game similar to David Manley’s excellent Air War C.21 game.  David Manley happens to be a member of the Aerial Wargames group, and let me/us know that he has a WWII air combat set of rules that is similar to Air War C21.  Daveshoe has a real relationship with David and when I told him about the game, sent Manley an e-mail.  He agreed to let us beta test his rules. We were happy campers.

Dave's Amazing Illustrious

Dave Schueler’s amazing Illustrious. Dave’s model ships get better with each scenario.

Yesterday Dave broke out his freshly built and painted HMS Illustrious plus Tribal class destroyer, and put some Italian and German bombers on them. Just a word, Dave is the model-builder in our partnership, and his work is really good.  The ships looked super and properly camouflaged for the January 1941 incident.

The game is based on the German/Italian effort to neutralize Illustrious and its task force which terrorized the Western Mediterranean and re-supplied Malta during 1940.  The Germans and Italians combined their forces to launch an attack on the carrier group, and our game tries to take their efforts into consideration.

The four Axis players divided six torpedo armed SM. 79 trimotors and six Ju. 87 Stukas.  The Italians came in at low level, lugging their fish.  The Stukas game in at high level at turn later.  Scott Abbott and I each ran a pair of Fairey Fulmars–sort of an eight gun fighter version of a Fairey Battle.  We’re sort of talking an under-powered bus with guns. It was our job to combine the ships’ flak with our air prowess to save our floating home.

Immelman Disaster

Scott’s efforts to pull an advanced maneuver, an Immelman Turn, in his underpowered Fulmars, fail on a die roll and leave him near stall speed. The SM. 79’s escape and race toward the Illustrious.

We showed our air prowess immediately when Scott tried an advanced maneuver-an Immelman?- failed and lost enough power to go into a dangerous stall.  The three Italian bombers facing him, immediately raced past the Fulmars and were off to the races.

My Fulmars tangle with David Sullivan’s SM. 79’s went better, but only because a quirk in the scenario rules.

I had more luck engaging the Italians facing me.  Though my maneuvers were hardly elegant, I inflicted minor damage on two of the bombers.  According to the scenario rules, if the Italians suffered any damage they would have to check morale.  A roll of three or less on a D10, minus one for each point of damage would cause the pilot to jettison their payload and head home. David Sullivan rolled a one and a two for each of his morale rolls  I finally lined up a good shot on his remaining plane and damaged the torpedo release, so all three of his planes were out of action.

Al Rivers’ Stukas (left) get ready for their dive bombing attack on Illustrious.  Dale Mickel’s Stuka is about to be blasted to atoms as my last attack detonates his bomb.  Not a good day for the Stukas.

The Stukas had little luck.  Flying at normal altitude, they came under fire from heavy flak. Scott’s planes finally got into action, were quickly damaged, in fact, they were so slowed that a Stuka shot down one of his lumbering two seaters.  But the survivor managed to shoot down one of Dale Mickel’s Germans.  I engaged another of Dale’s planes and got a critical hit, exploding his bomb. His third plane ran into flak and folded into a fireball.

Dave Demick’s SM. 79’s broke loose from Scott’s fighters and flew unhindered by Fulmars or flak and made their torpedo run at the carrier, scoring a hit.

Dave Demick’s Italians, unhindered by Scott’s fighters, pressed their attack on the carrier and loosed their their torpedoes. One hit the carrier and did significant damage.  As the three SM. 79’s crossed over the carrier, one plane was perforated by a two-pounder and plunged into the sea.  The carrier, shaken by the hit lost some of it’s flak.

I managed to line up a shot at Al Rivers’  Stuka, only to be shot out of the sky by flak.  The remaining German dive bombers pressed on and made their runs on the Illustrious.  One, damaged by earlier fire was unable to release its bomb.  The others missed. Game over.

The game’s victory conditions called for 50% damage to Illustrious for an Axis win.  The carrier had 50 hit points.  The torpedo did ten points of damage, based on a die roll of 2 D 10.  That was the only hit in the game.  Allied victory. The Italians lost one bomber. The Germans lost three Stukas.  One Fulmar was lost to enemy action.  One was destroyed by friendly flak. The other two suffered damage, but survived.

The debrief was challenging because I was a player in the game.  Everything was difficult for the Fulmars.  They’re slow, turn poorly and their armament may seem formidable, but light machine guns don’t cut it in this game. So when the Axis players said they had no chance it was hard to credit them. But morale rolls did cost them a quarter of their attacking force and the flak did seem nasty, so Dave and I are revisiting some of this for a future playtest.

Dorian Hawkmoon and his men

It’s been a while since I last posted about Hawkmoon.  I’ve finished three of the Eureka units and I’m enjoying the heck out of them.  The figures themselves are painted pretty plain and according to the details included in the Hawkmoon stories.  Plain black jerkin over brown leather or mail.  Not exciting and pretty easy.  I’ve tried to highlight the black with charcoal wherever possible.

The army Hawkmoon commands is from the region for France called Camargue.  It lies in the south of France on the near the Mediterranean, in the delta of the Rhone river.  The terrain is marshy and this swampy ground figures into Moorcock’s story.

For those not familiar with the Hawkmoon tales, the stories take place in various locations, but are chiefly centered in a post-apocalyptic Europe, taking place after the Tragic Millenium.  Moorcock changes the names of the locations, but they aren’t terribly difficult to figure out.  The bad guys come from Gran Bretan and its capital of Londra. Hawkmoon himself is the Duke of Koln. The last refuge of civility in Europe is the Kamarg, site of Castle Brass in the town of Aigues-Mortes.

I bought the Eureka Miniatures to build a Dragon Rampant army.  I’ve bought enough figures to build five units, plus an artillery piece, plus three heroes.  Though I’ve jotted some notes down, there is no way the figures I bought and am painting will come in anything close to the 30 points normally allowed for tournament play.  I mostly avoid tournaments like the plague, so maybe it doesn’t matter.

Bows

The archers were very easy to paint. I might have done better just to paint some of my many HYW longbowmen, but I painted up the official figures just so I could be regulation.  Not a lot happening with them.  I added an officer figure, but the miniature was nice.  Their big advantage is they’re cheap points-wise as light missiles.

Spears

The spearmen were more interesting.  Still your basic black, but lots of leather to add to them.  I especially like the poses for these guys, though I’m thinking thinking they should probably have shields.  The range has lots of very heavy standard bearers.  They are also quite tall, which makes finding a suitable box a bit of a challenge.  Unfortunately, Moorcock is quite explicit in his books about the standard.  A plain white flag with a red gauntlet. Lots of folds in the miniature, so even that simple device is a bit difficult to portray fully.

Gauntlet

I had a blast painting the mounted flame lancers.  These are the Guardians of Kamarg and are among the elite corps.  I don’t know if they will be mounted heavy missiles or something else. Still thinking on it. The horned horses of Kamarg come in two pieces, with the heads separate.  Each is unique, so it was important to get them properly lined up for correct fit. The horses have little saddle or tack foolery to fuss over, but the horses are anatomically coherent, remembering that horses could have evolved from our own time. (There’s one that seems built a lot my dog Rusty–long and short legged.) The armor on the horses is a little fiddly and a bit difficult to properly get at, but definitely nothing major to fuss about.

Flame Lancers 1

Mounted figures always present a conundrum for me.  Do I hold them in my hand and paint them, or do I stick ’em on the horse?  I’ve done it both ways and, well, I’m not sure I have the right answer. In this case I decided to prime ’em and hold ’em.  It worked fine.  There were only six, and I painted them in stages, and took the time to Dullcoat them as I went on so I could avoid re-painting. They were fairly uniform in appearance with variations on the black jerkin.  The flame lance, a kind of laser/cum flamethrower with its ruby tip made them interesting. And then the really big standard too.

I decided to mount them on 3-2-1 bases, except for the cavalry who are on 2-2-1-1 bases.

Hawkmoon

I decided not to use the Eureka Hawkmoon figure as my hero.  It seems generic and really doesn’t look like the Hawkmoon figure.  i opted for nostalgia instead, going with my very old Citadel Hawkmoon with the Dacian shield pattern.  No it isn’t a decal; I hand painted that 30+ years ago.

I still have a ways to go.  I have a unit of Kamarg light horse.  They’ll probably be next on my list.  Then it is the citizenry of the Kamarg with swords and axes.  They’ll add some color.  Then it is my sorcerous artillery and the remaining heroes, Count Brass and Oladahn of the Bulgar Mtns. They look great and are quite in character with  the books.

A Mad Wet Max update and other excitement.

IMG_0775

From farthest to nearest, Specter, Stag Beetle, and Water Mocassin, race around the course.  Specter would be the sole survivor of various collisions, minings, and a myriad of attacks.

Yesterday was Drumbeat.  It was late this year due to the passing of the Lake City Community Center to the Seattle Parks Department. It was difficult getting scheduled and the cost was given a stiff boost.  Not good for organizations like ours.  Unfortunately the get together got pushed into my ridiculously busy time of year.

Due to a family commitment I was only able to schedule for the morning session.  Dave and I agreed it was important to run one more session of Mad Wet Max before Enfilade. We had five fabulous volunteers and I’m really glad we had the opportunity for one more play-test.

The game was so much different than our earlier game at Meeples.  We had five players, all very nice guys.  Some I knew well, others not so much.  Some had experience racing boats in Thunderboats!, others did not. Rather than give a blow by blow, let me just offer main points

  1. This was a much bloodier game.  In our Meeples match-up with four players only one boat sank-mine.  In the Drumbeat run-off, only one boat survived.
  2. Lots of collisions-usually resulting in event cards or significant hull damage to the collider.
  3. Mines continue to be nasty.  One player dropped a mine on a buoy hex.  Seemed like a great idea, until he realized he had to go back to the buoy to win the race.
  4. Lots of shooting, much more than at Meeples.  Also lots of misses. Certainly the shooting was instrumental in the losses.
  5. The parascenders were pretty effective until one of the players drew a water in the intake card and had to go to idle throttle.

After the game, Dave and I made our way to the Elliot Bay Brewery to debrief.  I tried the Lake City Way IPA, which was tasty but strong. We agreed on a couple of changes and additions.

  • Each player needs access to a fire and damage table with to-hit values of weapons as they fire, and the damage they do. Dave agreed to make this table.
  • Because there are so many different dice in the game (currently Formula De dice, D10 and D6) we agreed to change the fire and damage tables entirely to D10.  It will be less confusing and eliminate the D6
  • Some players struggled out of the gate to make effective use of their build points.  We agreed to provide them with a Tips and Tricks sheet on the back of the new fire and damage table.  I am working on that.

Overall, however, the players seemed to enjoy the game, and despite our efforts to make it a little easier to get in to, Dave and I are happy with the way things turned out. The only thing we haven’t added are the various “spectators” who are armed and take potshots at the various drivers.  I’m thinking we’ll probably try some of Khurasan’s modern or Zombie ranges.  We don’t need many figures, certainly less than 20 15mm figures.

Announcements, announcements, announcements . . .

My wife and I have been in lengthy discussions as the current school year bends toward its inevitable end. We’ve agreed that I will, all things being equal, retire at the end of the 2018-19 school year.  So that’s about a year and a half out.  This is my first semi-official announcment.  I’ll be nearly 64 and have 36 years in the teaching biz. I want to let go before I’m that bitter and cranky old bastard who should have walked out earlier.

What am I working on?

Painted spearmen, left,  Unpainted Guardians armed with flame lances mounted on the horned horses of the Kamarg.  Both from Eureka’s Hawkmoon range.

I’m mixing a couple of different things right now.  I’m working on the Eureka Hawkmoon figs.  I’ve finished the archer figures and am currently mounting a dozen of the spearman figs.  I like the miniatures.  They are pretty expensive for the quality of the figures.  They aren’t bad, but they aren’t brilliant.  At #3.10 a throw for infantry and more than $6.50 for a mounted figure I’d hope they had a tish more detail, something made them more uniquely soldiers of the Kamarg. I suppose Eureka may be viewing them as a limited run and therefore worthy of the cost.

I’m trading off the Hawkmoon project with working on some HYW longbowmen.  I’ll complete 28 of them until I run out of bases. These figures will go toward my dream project of a big battle set of rules for the period that more accurately reflect the unique conditions of the Hundred Years War.  Messed around with something once upon a time, but with retirement in the offing I can afford to dream large.

When I run out of bases, I’ll move on to more aircraft for Malta.  I have plenty.

 

Giving Airwar 1940 a spin

Back in November I shared my plan to find a new set of air rules to replace the Mustangs rules we’ve played since the past century. I also suggested we’d gotten a leg up from David Manley, author of Airwar C.21. After reading my lament about wishing there was an equivalent version David sent a copy to Dave Schueler who passed them along to me. I read them over and was pretty happy.  They seemed very familiar with some significant differences for the period.  We promised to play them as soon as possible

Malta Grand Harbor

Looking down the throat of Valetta’s harbor. We used the 2D Topside Miniatures as targets for the bombers. Game mat is by Tiny Mats in the UK.

As soon as possible always signifies a nebulous future.  But yesterday was the big day.  We planned to schlep my Malta stuff up to Meeples and try an initial game. I hoped to accomplish a few things:

  1. Try out the rules in as painless a manner as possible.  So we agreed an unescorted stream of a dozen Italian bombers would attack targets in Valetta’s Grand Harbor. This would avoid all the complications that would go with dogfighting
  2. The harbor would be defended by some Hurricane I’s and Fulmars.  All eight gun fighters.  It would give us a chance to see how the relatively lightly-armed fighters would do against moderately okay bombers.
  3. I’d get to show off my Valetta mat from Tiny Mats in the UK, as well as some of the zillions of planes I’ve painted for the Malta project.

We got the bombers set up, entering the board from the closed land end of the board.  We grouped them in threes: nine SM-79’s and three Cant Z 1007’s. We mostly followed the auto-bomber suggestions in the rules.

Malta-Italian bombers 2

The bomber stream. Photo taken behind the Cant Z 1007’s. One Scotia bomber and a couple whose maker I can’t quite determine. These follow the three groups of SM-79’s

The game moved pretty quickly.  The bombers had a top speed of eight inches per turn, and the Hurricanes had a maximum closing speed of 11 inches. For the most part the ‘Canes could stay engaged throughout without making any special maneuvers.

The British fighters took plenty of shots at the bombers, but with their rifle bullet armament, they had difficulty inflicting a lot of damage before the bombers reached their target.  One SM-79 was shot down by a combination of fighter attacks and flak. Two more were crippled and dropped their bomb loads early.  A few of the fighters suffered nicks and scrapes, but all made it back to their airfields safely after running out of ammunition. Nine of the bombers made it to their targets, each dropping three bombs.  They needed a “0” to hit on a ten-sided die, and we had Henry, a fellow who joined out game roll the hits and damage.  Henry was oh-for 27.

Malta - Hurricane attacks 2

Hurricanes rip into the bomber formation. The Hurricanes are by Raiden Miniatures.

A couple of observations. First, this game was very easy to play and very familiar.  I really liked that.  However, the eight-gun fighters really struggled. All the players (including me, I ran the Fulmars) rolled even average or slightly below, and with the planes rolling so few dice, their chances of doing serious damage was unlikely.  The light/medium .303’s get one die per three guns rounded up.  Heavy machine guns (the Italian bombers) get one die per gun, 20mm cannon (Hurricane IIc’s) get two dice per gun. together with their limited ammunition supply the fighters were between a rock and a hard place.  They could improve their chances by firing extended bursts, but that expended their ammo even more quickly. Really, the Hurricanes could only make four passes before they were done.

Malta - Hurricane attacks

Another look as the bombers creep closer to their targets.

Malta - Bombs Away

The bombers let go of their bomb loads, roll astonishingly badly and come up empty.

We made the decision to change the flak rules a bit.  The 1940 rules were pretty similar to the jet age rules that target individual planes.  Because the WWII bomber flew in closer formations they would be more likely to suffer from the kind of area fire.  So when the bomber formations encountered flak, each plane would have to roll. Only one plane was actually hit, but the damage could be massive. We’re still messing with this a bit.

Overall, however, I really enjoyed the game and the rules. Admittedly, it was only two dimensional without escorting fighters.  But I thought it was a great first time out, and leaves me anxious for more.  Dave and I will be using Airwar 1940 for our attack on the Illustrious scenario we run at Enfilade.

Thanks to David Manley for trusting us with his rules and giving us the opportunity to try them out.