It’s December!! Just five months until Enfilade!!

In fact it’s been two weeks since I began this post, so Enfilade is even closer than it was. Yes, still more than five months away, but time is marching on.

I’ve written before that Enfilade usually guides my projects and 2020 will be no different.  In fact, as the convention becomes more popular, with more people attending and more folks hosting games, Enfilade is no longer left begging for games at that last minute.  When the website opens on January 1st there is a stampede of hosts rushing for the best times and best tables. He who has no plan is lost.

I refuse to be lost.  I have a plan

Enfilade has six game periods and I’ll be running games in five of them. Some are finished, play tested and ready to go.  Others still need a lot of work and I’ll offer more about them later.

Here in the order of game periods is my plan:

Friday afternoonMad Wet Max.  This is the armed version of Thunderboats!  It’s kinda cute.  Lots of fun between missile launches, mine laying and the occasional shore-bound audience participation. Good way to start the convention.  No, I have nothing left to prepare beyond a review of the rules.


Friday eveningThe Buffalo Hunt. Another just kinda rollicking good time. I’ve run two of these games now, and I’ve picked up some very good suggestions both times.  Players pick it up okay, so I shouldn’t have any residual headaches. All figures are painted, so aside from one more playtest, I shouldn’t have a lot left to do.

herd 2

Saturday morning:  Nothin’.  I’m taking the morning off. It’s a good time for me to be lazy, look at games, yak with friends, maybe do some shopping or run down to Rainy Day Records . . . or not.

Saturday Afternoon: The Race to the Dan/ Rebels and Patriots. David Sullivan and I were interested in running another R and P game after the success of last year’s Retreat From Concord game. We both have a love of the Southern Campaign so I suggested a scenario that might fit with Green’s retreat to the Dan River and preparation for the Guilford Courthouse Campaign. It should be good, with about ten units per side.  Some are painted, many are not.  David is wisely hoping for several playtests so I’ve already begun painting and am making progress. But I do have minis on order from the UK, and it is Christmas time, so I’m hoping I don’t stall out.

R and P 1

Lee’s Legion foot (in purple) and three small units of Tarleton’s British Legion dragoons are four of the ten our so units I’ll be providing to the Race to the Dan game.

Saturday Evening: Ploesti/Airwar 1940.  This will be a six-player cooperative game as U.S. commanders try to brave the flak, and each other, as they bomb the oil refineries in Romania.  It will be modeled on the scenario that Phil and Paul created for Mustangs! many years ago.  Again, playtests are in order.  I have 11 B-24D’s to paint, so some work to do, but not a lot. A great way to end a day of gaming.


Osprey released its book on the Ploesti attack at the end of November. I think I was first in line to buy.

Sunday:  My Philippine-American War figures will make their official debut.  I have an idea for a six player game that will involve about ten units per side.  There is still a fair amount of painting to do.  Five units for the Americans, two for the Philippines and some miscellaneous weapons.  More daunting is the terrain that will need to be built.  While I have the bamboo forests and rice paddies finished, there is still some miscellaneous jungle terrain I’ll need to do.  Not my long suit.  Like Rebels and Patriots and Ploesti, this will require some playtesting

Philippine 2

Hunting Buffalo at the Veterans Museum

Today was the day I unveiled The Buffalo Hunt.  It was an NHMGS Game Day at the Veterans Museum in Chehalis.  What a great venue. Just south of town, and not far off the highway, it is a terrific museum.  It’s full of small arms and uniforms from American services of the twentieth century.  Most of the exhibits did a great job of tying display pieces to local stories.  Worth your time for sure.

I drove down with David Sullivan and Dave Schueler.  They popped in to Chez Smyth at 9:00.  They endured three barking Australian Shepherds and after downing a cup of coffee we headed south.  We made it to the museum before 10:30.  The Dave’s slipped into a game of What A Tanker while I hung out and kibbitzed.  It was great to see everyone, as always.  We dashed out to lunch, and returned around 1:00 and quickly set up the game.

I always have trepidation running games by myself, but especially a game that’s really never been run before.  While the game owes a lot of inspiration to Matthew Hartley’s Tusk, there is a whole lot of me in this game.  While Tusk has a few mammoths in the game, my game had six obstinacies of seven buffalo each. Each player had four to seven figures in clans, each somewhat different from each other, so the scale of the game is simply larger, and a little more complex.

Buffalo Hunt 1

Neil’s hunting party killed plenty of buffalo, but suffered some figure losses as well.

Al Rivers, Neil Marker, Michael Koznarsky, Dave Schueler, David Sullivan and Dale Mickel all took part in the maiden voyage.  The game, overall, went pretty smoothly.  But we ran into an early snag as I ran out of figure types right away.  In the future, players will simply choose and arm the figures as they wish, and simply pay the appropriate point cost.

Buffalo Hunt 2

The buffalo were spread across the table.  The players rolled for their entry, and set out to kill their buffalo.  Unfortunately the buffalo had other ideas.  In the first turn, as we had two dead buffalo and two dead hunters; it was clear the players weren’t going to have a walk in the park.  Arrows were missing, hunter die rolls were failing, and there were twice as many hunters dead as buffalo.

Buffalo Hunt 3

This group of buffalo is fleeing to the board edge, pursued by Al’s group of foot bowmen as well as a pack of wolves.

By the end of the game, nearly all the players had multiple losses.  Only Al’s party came through unscathed.  While the victory conditions called for killing buffalo, players were also punished for losing party members, and there were plenty of those.

Buffalo Hunt 4

Michael’s party is in pursuit of the white buffalo. Unfortunately, the white buffalo is having none of it.

I think we got in about 13 turns in two and half hours.  We never ran into a major snag in the rules, though I did file away some ideas for the future. In a quick debrief, everybody seemed to have a good time. There were also some great ideas that came out of the discussion.  I can honestly say I’ve never had so much fun running a game.

Huntin’ Buffalo

Clan markings for each of the Comanche hunting parties.  They’ll each have different characteristics for the game.

On Saturday I’ll head down to the first annual Veterans Memorial Museum Day in Chehalis a couple of hours from home.  I’ll be running my first game of The Buffalo Hunt.

I wrote about this project in July.  I thought it would be a simple project with a few buffalo, use my existing Comanches, play a fast and loose set of rules.  Easy cheesy.

Nothing is ever easy cheesy.

I ended up painting six little groupings of buffalo totaling 42 miniatures in all. I also painted some 14 predators, including eight wolves and six bears.

Six obstinacies of Buffalo as they will appear in Saturday’s game.  No, not quite like they’ll appear.  They’ll be spread around the table and there will be terrain.  But you get the idea.

I lost my patience with Wargames Foundry in Great Britain as I waited impatiently eight weeks for my order. E-mails and TMP posts a-go-go.

I re-wrote a fun and easy set of rules and made them a little less easy.  I’m hoping they’re still fun.

Incredible, if ridiculously late bears by Foundry.  Wolves are mixture of figures from Foundry and Alternative Armies.

I painted another twelve Comanche figures, certain I didn’t have enough.  I remounted another 14 or so from bases that seemed like nothing could be removed from them.

Despite the lack of easy cheesy, I’m quite pleased that a scant two months after ordering the first batch of figures, the project is pretty much done. There will be no more Indians, predators or buffalo. Just tweaking of the rules.

Now I can get back to the Philippines, a few AWI figures, and start working on planes for Vietnam.

I’ll letcha know how Saturday went.

Shufflin’ off to Buffalo, er Wazzu

Herd 1

A chunk of my growing buffalo herd. Monday Knight Production buffalo in the foreground, being trailed by a more diminutive Dixon bison.

Taking a week away to attend my final student journalism camp.  It’s been five or so years in Bellingham at Western Washington Universtiy, about two and half hours away from home.  This year, due to construction in Bellingham, and the sweet deal offered by the Murrow School, camp has moved to Pullman in the opposite corner of the state, about five hours from home.  Today is mostly a travel day, tomorrow a work and preparation day, and then journo kids from Wednesday until about noon Saturday when things wrap up and I return home.

I’ve enjoyed my 13 summer camps, but this is last unless there is some awfully strong persuasion to convince me otherwise. Time for me to move on.

One of the projects I won’t be able to work on is my Buffalo Hunt game. I’ve been pretty steadily painting figures for this project.  Chiefly, i”m working on buffalo.

Now, I know what you’re thinking, “Smyth, a buffalo, is a buffalo, is a buffalo, get on with it already.”

And, of course, you’re right, sorta.  But they really aren’t and I’d like to offer my observations and recommendations. I’ve ordered the beasts in 28mm from five different manufactures, and here you go.


These are perfectly usable miniatures.  They come five to a pack for $15, which is a perfectly reasonable price compared to other manufacturers.  Available as part of Old Glory’s Cowboy range, they are cheaper if you have an Old Glory Army membership.  They are well-cast, with some, but not an unreasonable amount of flash.  There is a variety of types, including what looks to be a calf.  I found them quite easy to paint.  Highly recommended.


I gave two British manufactures a try.  Dixon was very easy to work with.  They have two varieties of buffalo.  I ordered four of each.  With the exchange, they were about four bucks each, plus shipping.  They are clean, well-cast, and easy to paint.  I found them to be a little small, but not ridiculously so.  Might work best with true 25mm figures or as part of herd, or just with other Dixons.  Not bad figures at all, but not my favorite.

Monday Knight Productions

These figures are old school, and part of the true 25mm Desperado range.  They are clean, and I like their size.  They come two to a pack for eight bucks, and I bought four packs.  They lack the detail of other figures, and aren’t super animated.  But I really like ’em.  They were easy to paint, and I like their proportions, though they do seem a tish flat. A little past their prime.  They come with their own large base, which makes them unique.  But I like ’em.

Acheson Creations

These large resin miniatures are from Acheson’s Primaeval Designs of Prehistoric Mammals.  They are called Steppe Bison and at seven bucks a throw, they are the most expensive of my buffalo miniatures. I need 36 buffalo for my project, and I certainly wouldn’t use 36 of these babies. But they are terrific castings–well cast with loads of detail and animation.  I use them as the leaders of each obstinacy (yes that’s what a group of buffalo is called) of six buffalo.  They do require some care.  They do have a little bit of flash, and require some soaking in soap and water to get that release agent off.  If you don’t do the latter, your figures will shed paint. After that, they are much fun to paint.  The absolute best of the lot, if you can afford them.

Foundry Figures

I should just leave this space blank because I don’t have them.  Ordered figures on June 17th, confirmed by e-mail on June 18th.  They are clearly coming by container ship through the Malacca Straits, Hong Kong, and Guam. This service is unacceptably slow by any important manufacturer, but especially one of such importance as Foundry.  Patooey.

This project still has some work to finish.  I thought I had enough Comanche figures, but decided to add another dozen foot figures from Warlord Games.  I still have almost all the Achesons to paint and one more pack of WestWind’s, but I find them fun and easy to do, so no biggie.  The Comanches are another story as they are special orders.  So we’ll see.

Plans and more plans

I can’t tell you how many folks ask the question, “What will you do when you retire?”  I feel foolish with the response, “I have no idea at all.”  I feel like I should have long lists, or maybe I’m supposed to fire up my resume and think of a new career.  But I dunno.  I rarely lack for things to do.

One thing I will spend time is gaming projects.  It’s what I am really all about, and I have a list as long as your arm. These are the goodies that will have my attention in no particular order.

The Philippine American War.

My attention to this project was diverted by the Concord game.  I’m not complaining because it was a super scenario, but I do want to leap back in full time, and prepare a scenario for Enfilade.  I went through my collection of toys last weekend.  Here’s where I am:

Philippine Army: I have painted one unit of Spanish, four units of Philippine republican troops, with one more on the painting table and one unit of milita bolo-men.  It’s a good start. I have four more units of republican troops and three more units of bolo-men to go, plus a home-made latanka cannon.  The unit on the table is the last of the headache-inducing rayadillo uniforms and the rest will be a mix of white, browns, a little red and a little blue. Love these guys.  I have enough for now, but there may be more in the future. I’m thinking when the whole show is done I’d like to have 16 units and three cannon.

American forces:  I have a lot of American figures, not because I want to field a large American force, but because I want a variety of figures. The only figures I have currently painted are two units of volunteer infantry by Old Glory, and a unit of Philippine Constabulary by Tiger Miniatures.  But I have quite a few unpainted figures including regular infantry and dismounted cavalry by 1898 Miniaturas, some sailors, marines and cavalry by Old Glory, and some guns by a variety of manufacturers.  13 units in all

The real challenge with this conflict is to produce some attractive, but practical terrain for the Philippines which varies from jungle, mountainous, village, and trenches with blockhouses. Not my long-suit, but definitely on my radar.


The Buffalo Hunt

On Sunday at Enfilade a familiar face grabbed me and asked if I had any plains Indians. Herbie Fairbanks, a longtime Tacoma gamer was excited about a mammoth-hunting game he’d seen at the convention, and was interested in taking the Tusk rules and modifying them for a buffalo hunting game. I was intrigued because I have some forty or so Conquest Comanches that would be perfect for just such a game.

I’ve downloaded the Tusk rules from Wargame Vault (a mere $3.50 for the .pdf version) and have begun converting them over from the stone age to a mixed version of 17th century Plains technology including mounted and dismounted natives.  It should be fun.  I’ll provide updates as they become available. I’ve also ordered almost 40 buffalo from five different manufactures, including Westwind (Old Glory,) Dixon, Acheson, Monday Knight Productions and Wargames Foundry.

I’ve begun working on the Westwind figures-because they arrived first, but I see myself supplementing my regularly scheduled painting with buffalo, and replacing some of the arms on my Comanches with traditional weapons.  Looking forward to a run-through of the rules and and Enfilade game in May.


Kinda murky, poorly lit photo of Westwind buffalo in progress. I’m sure I’ll use a variety of different painting strategies, but these start with a base of Vallejo burnt sienna and some highlights and washes, followed by desert yellow drybrushing over the furry bits. They were fast.

Planes and Ships

Painting planes and ships are just a part of who I am.  They give me a ton of pleasure.  Just grabbing some planes from my box of buckets of planes is something I just find fun.  That said, I have something specific things I need to accomplish for the coming year.  In May I bought Phil Bardsley’s beautiful painted B-24D’s for the Ploesti strike he did some years ago.  Dave Schueler and I are committed to hosting  Ploesti for our early spring event at Drumbeat.   It will mean painting another six or so planes, and then we’ll be good to go. Dave and I will also be working with George Kettler to put together a Downtown/Linebacker bunch of planes for the Vietnam War.  Can never paint enough planes.

I’m also planning to paint more merchant ships as well as a couple of destroyers as escorts.   We’re looking at doing some linked scenarios with another gamer at Enfilade in 2020, some of which could include convoy air attacks, so we gotta get those targets done.


Dragged kicking and screaming from my box of planes, these Barracudas and Fireflies have been drafted into the Fleet Air Arm fighting in the South East Asia. They get special markings and everything.

Rebels and Patriots

Enfilade featured our Concord game, which I honestly find one of the best group projects and games I’ve ever been involved in.  Like all Daniel Mersey game systems, I find Rebels and Patriots to be fun, easy to play, and open to customize according to the scenario’s needs. I have a lot of figures for this period including the Ohio Indian Wars (remember America Rampant,) the American Revolution, American Civil War and Maxmillian in Mexico. I have lots of figures to rebase and lots to paint.  I’ll focus on AWI because that’s what my friends are doing right now, but lots to keep me busy.

In any case, I will lack for nothing in the way of things to paint and do as I enter that phase of my life in which I’m searching for things to occupy my time.  I have this vision of what a painting routine could look like in retirement.  We’ll see how that plays out in July.