Enfilade: The Battle of Hue and other stories

Setting up for the game. David Sullivan left. Yours truly right. Photo by Warren Bruhn.

My favorite part of Enfilade is hosting games, which I usually do with a close friend. This Enfilade was no different, and David Sullivan and I ran a couple of games together. The big project of the year, of course, was Hue and we scheduled ourselves to run it Friday night.

Hue is/was my most elaborate project ever, certainly more involved terrain pieces than I’ve ever done. I’m mostly a paint the figures kind of guy with simple terrain. Because Hue is an urban battle, I thought we’d play with a gray ground cloth. When Dave Schueler and David Sullivan came down in the weekend before the convention to walk through a final set-up we talked over cutting green felt to overlay the gray to signify the boundaries between the roads and green areas. We quickly realized this was a really terrible idea, and the gray ground cloth quickly became roads 8″ wide, equal to a turn’s movement in the game.

Because the board is pretty darn busy it took a lot of time to set up. I think the most stressed out I was at the beginning of the convention was trying to figure out how I was going to get the game ready while doing my director duties Friday afternoon. I pursuaded myself and our events coordinator that it was okay to move me to a vacant 8′ X 6′ table and get started early. David arrived mid afternoon, and well before game time we were ready to go.

David and I experimented with rules throughout the spring. We tried the ancient Giac My rules from the 70’s. They had a certain charm mixed in with verbosity and conditions we’d never encounter. Nice for nostalgia. Not so nice for a convention game. We really thought we’d use Ganesha Games’ Flying Lead rules. We really like the Ganesha game engine, but after walking through the rules a couple of times with the necessary sub-units we were concerned it might be difficult for conventioneers to figure out the nuances.

David suggested Arc of Fire, an aging set of skirmish rules by Chris Pringle and Scott Fisher. We tried them out and they seemed to work. It allowed us to give each player a squad, divided into three fire teams. The units are small and subject to quick catastrophe, but we learned that if moving from cover to cover, the Marines had a good chance of survival.

We were fortunate that we had a full house of early sign ups. Nobody dropped out as Covid cancellation casualties, a problem afflicting many games at the convention. Dean and Scott signed on as NVA defenders with a couple of squads backed up by a DsHK heavy machine gun. They were dispersed throughout the two blocks the Marines were trying to capture. Scott, Wil, Reid and James signed up to be the Marine attackers. The onus of the battle was on them. To win they had to drive the North Vietnamese from their defenses, capture the houses, and minimize their casualties. It was a tall order to fulfill.

The Marines arranged one flank squad, commanded by Scott on the far left. The two remaining squads plus the heavy weapons assigned to them directly facing the citadel at the far end of the table. Wil and Reid commanded the two rifle squads while James ran the two M-60 medium machine gun teams, plus an M48A3 tank and a Mule mounted 106mm recoilless rifle.

The game got underway with an explanation of the victory conditions, capture buildings-minimize casualties. Be smart, use cover. As if to put an exclamation point on things, Wil sent one of fire teams across the street only to have all four members slaughtered in a hail of gunfire. All that was left was a pool of blood. From that moment on, the Marines systematically approached each house, and confronted the defenders with gunfire and if need be cannon fire. No more chancing it on the road.

Despite support from his two additional fire teams, Wil’s first group never had a chance. They disappeared in a bloody mist.

on Wil’s right, Reid carefully moved to the blind ends of buildings without risking fire. He carefully picked around the right side, fought a melee in one house and threw out Dean’s defenders. He also moved against the large yellow building near the board edge.

James did his best to offer support. With his two M-60’s he was able to help shoot up some of Dean’s building defenders. However it was clear he didn’t know what to do with the tank. With the commander buttoned up, he simply couldn’t see enough to target his cannon or machine guns. Unbuttoning the commander would almost certainly invite his quick death. Moving too close would likely offer too much of a target to suspected RPG’s that couldn’t be seen, so the tank offered some cover for advancing infantry, which is pretty historical.

The Mule, however, brought down two houses with its cannon, spilling and killing defenders. It had some special concerns because the little utility vehicle is completely open to fire, and on the last turn of the game was damaged by an RPG with the crew wounded.

Scott worked around the wooded left flank, able to avoid the fire crashing down on Wil, Reid and James. He eventually moved against the defenders in the last house on his block. After persistent fire they were eliminated with slight loss. Things were looking up for the Marines, but unfortunately the game ended at 10:45 ish.

The Marines had unquestionably played well and made gains but took too many casualties to get the win. The NVA had their noses quite bloodied but still held too much of the town. A great game, well-played. Except for some rule confusion we did eventually get figured out, I really enjoyed it and would love to play again.

Our second game was the Retreat From Concord. It was a game we ran in 2019. It’s a game we were really excited about re-running because it was a success. It went reasonably well, but it was as a much a Covid casualty as the convention because we couldn’t make time to walk through and play test. So we struggled a bit with the rules, which was unfortunate. We hadn’t played Rebels and Patriots since February 2020. Sigh.

The game is simple. The British grenadiers must march about 52″ or so to within 12″ of the table edge. The American patriot militia bands do their best to work their way to firing positions to drive them stop them. It’s a tough game for the grenadier commander. However, on both flanks there are five units of British light infantry to drive off the nasty Americans.

The patriot forces are many, but brittle, but in this game the Brits just seemed to get out-shot. Lots of Americans were able to form little lines of death that the light infantry was unable to dislodge. As more militia crept closer to the stone walls lining the road, the grenadiers simply bogged down in a hail of fire. Tough day. Even so the game was pretty close with the Yanks defeating the Royal forces 7-5.

Photos of other games in the final blog entry.

Plans, Those Cursed Plans!

I am a planner by nature. I don’t know if it was 36 years of teaching, or I know that if I don’t plan for something I’ll do nothing, or what the deal is. I just know I like to have a plan.

Be honest, though, it’s a tough year to have a plan. I plan for games, especially convention games and let’s be clear–who knows when the next convention game will be and who will want to play in it? Not only that, but all my games for Enfilade 2020 are finished–just need to get ’em out on the table.

So what does 2021 look like? What I’m I gonna do? Games may be hard to come by, but I will always paint. So here are some thoughts.

In my last post, I mentioned acquiring some of the Vietnam range from Gringo40’s. There are piles of different figures-USMC, NVA, VC and others. I’m really interested in mostly small arms stuff–though I gotta say the idea of an ONTOS gets me thinking. In any case, this qualifies as something new, but I’m not in a hurry to acquire them. I’m looking at singly mounted skirmish rules that would require maybe 30 figures for a game. But honestly I’m just attracted to the figures. They are very nice. I have some on the way and will share them when they arrive.

An Ontos for a Vietnam project might be hard to resist.

Sticking with 28mm figures, I’m also going to work on some existing stuff. I’ve got 72 Old Glory Woodland Indians for America Rampant that will be mounted on a 3-2-1 system. I have a few Spanish cavalry for the project too. In addition, I’ve ordered some additional Spanish foot to fill out my existing units. Finishing America Rampant is number one on my hit parade.

Another 28mm project would be working on some of my American Revolution figures. I have quite a few figures, but I definitely want to finish my Prussian Regt. Von Bose and the 23rd Regt (Royal Welsh Fusiliers) for Regimental Fire and Fury. I have some Warlord plastic militia figures I wouldn’t mind completing as well.

There are and always will be ships in my life. I’ll continue working on my Spanish and American 1/1250th stuff, and I will probably add some Italians and Japanese. The Italians, well, because nobody has much. The Japanese because I want to give the Americans in the Philippines something else to shoot at.

My ship collection has gone from about a dozen ships to 105 plus about 15 unpainted unbuilt 1/1250 scale ships

Jon Freitag, a regular reader of this blog passed along some Spanish Houston’s ships models and I really look forward to working on those guys. I might also put the word out that I’m interested in any and all ships from this sadly discontinued range.

And there are my 1/600 ACW ships. I’d like to finish Richmond and Minnesota, my two remaining ships. Then there are more I’d like to add. Thoroughbred offerings continue to be my go-to, but there are some good looking iterations of the City-class ironclads by Brown Water Navy I’d like to give a try.

Finally, I will continue painting my stack of planes. I’m still plowing through my many Japanese aircraft. I probably have 40 or so left to go. I could see myself adding more Nells and Bettys because I think I only have four of each. However, my thinking is when they’re done they’re done. I have a lot of B-25’s and B-24J’s to paint for Rabaul, but project-wise I’m probably looking at a shift to Vietnam. I’ve had the planes to do it a long time, I need to get on with it.

So there, I’ve kind of laid out some parameters for the year. I think some numbers projections are in order.

I’m thinking minimum 400 28mm figures

1/1250 and 1/1000 scale ships–50

1/300is scale planes–150

The really good news is I really don’t need to do a lot of buying to meet these goals. Not that there won’t be some purchases made because–I am a historical miniature gamer.

That should keep me busy. Just to be clear, yesterday I completed two Japanese KI-46 Dinah reconnaissance planes, three KI-45 Nick heavy fighters, and a M6A Seiran float plane (I might snag a few more of these for a sub attack on the Panama Canal.) So I’m good for 6 of 150 planes.

Before closing I should report on my end of the year painting rush.

28mm figures–72/60 Wrapped the year up by painting all of my 28mm Wayne’s Legion figures

1/1250 ships–28/40 It took a long time to get my ships and then when I did I kind of crapped out. However, I have added a pile of really bad Spanish unprotected cruisers to my collection and I don’t think many others can say that.

1/300ish planes 37/50–Yeah, no good excuses here. I just kind of coasted the last week of the year.

Here’s to hoping 2021 is somehow better than 2020. Happy new year and best wishes to each and every one of you.

2020 Year In Review–You’ve Got To Be Kidding Me.

It’s hard to know what to say when this hobby desperately depends on the social interaction we are virtually forbidden by law and common sense from having. Let me simply posit that 2020 has been a shitty year in almost any quantifiable form.

I’ve probably been more fortunate, or dumber, than many of my gaming friends. I’ve been able to squeeze some games in. I’ve commented on Dave Schueler’s summer gaming series. I squoze a few games into George Kettler’s gaming bunker. I managed to host my first ever gaming hoo-hah in my garage.

No Enfilade. No Fix Bayonets. Enfilade 2021 has been moved to Labor Day Weekend. Drumbeat likely won’t happen. No Museum of Flight. Not much of anything on the calendar. Even gaming with my friends looks like a springtime activity if we can play outside.

The worst part is not being able to see my friends. Play a game, grab a beer, talk about wherever gaming nerds go after a game, I miss that most of all.

Still there were some memorable games. David Sullivan and I ran our Dan Crossing game at Drumbeat in February using the Rebels and Patriots rules. The Dave Schueler Outdoor series was a bunch of fun games, but my favorite was the Philippine Insurrection game from August. Had a blast with George and Michael playing Ironclads. Of course struggling through the chill of the Manila Bay game was fun, if a bit tingly. Unfortunately, I’m left with that empty “but when are we going to get to play again” feeling.

If we missed out on a lot of games, there were also some good things that came out of the pandemic year. Here are some of them.

John Gee. John is new to the Pacific Northwest. He and his wonderful wife Susan left the Bay Area for Bellingham, which is not terribly close to Puyallup, but much closer than Richmond, CA. John was always a memory from my gaming experience in California from the early 70’s. He’s a bit older than me, but as passionate about the hobby as anyone I’ve ever known. John has pushed the expansion of the Tiny Ships project and I so appreciate him. New friends are better than new stuff.

Ships. That’s all my 1/1250 stuff for now. I have more awaiting paint.

Which segues nicely to the Tiny Ships. When I began the year I had a dozen 1/1250 scale ships. They were really nothing. And what was I going to do with them? Today I have 105 ships. I have another fifteen models that need building. The majority of them are American ships. About a quarter of them are Spanish. They are largely of the Spanish American War era. I also have some Germans, some Chileans and a few Swedes. The project began as a no modeling, no painting project but a few things threw a monkey wrench into that plan. One is cost. The Hai, Navis and a couple of other makers models are really spendy. Another issue is because they are largely of German and Austrian manufacture, they are mostly unavailable. My suppliers can’t get the ships even if I could afford to buy them. I have become a ship model dude. But most importantly, I really enjoy building the ships. I’ve pretty much stuck to Wartimes Journal and Brown Water Navy miniatures. I’m happy to build masts, and painting is simply no big deal. The Spanish-American fleets are almost built out, but I’m sure I’ll continue to add other pre-dreadnought ships, because they’re sort of like Lay’s Potato Ships.

Projects. It’s been a good year for painting. Except for the ships and few planes early in the year, I really haven’t bought many figures. I also made it a practice to juggle a few things at once. Ships, planes, and 28mm figures kept me from getting bored with what I was doing. I did finish some important stuff in 2020:

The Philippine Insurrection project–It took three years to finish up the 400 figures plus for this, but now they’re done and I’m really pleased with how it all turned out. I just need a chance to use it a bit more.

1/600 ACW ships–When the pandemic began I had about eight unpainted, unbuilt ships. I’m down to two. That’s after ordering and building four plus what I had. It was a very useful activity for me. I enjoyed the painting, as always, but the rigging was something I never thought I’d be able to do. It was fun.

1/300 planes. I’ve focused on Japanese planes the last couple of months, but planes just make their way into my painting plans. There were A-6 Intruders, Australian P-40’s, Beauforts and Beaufighters, F-8’s, and A-4’s. I have lots that need paint that I’ve acquired over the years, but like most things I work on, I just enjoy doing them.

So what will 2021 look like?

There will be more ships and more planes. But as with each year there will be projects. I did make progress on painting leftover figures from America Rampant. Those units were originally sized at ten figures. But I really want to do Rebels and Patriots, which require 12 and 18 figure units. I’ve filled out my American units and added a few more. I have about 50 Woodland Indians to paint. I run into trouble with my Spanish figures. I’ve painted all I have and need more, so I’ve placed an order for the RSM figures I use to fill them out a bit.

I don’t usually let new and shiny figures suck me into a project, but the Gringo 40’s Vietnam range is just super. Lots of action, great detail. I’ve ordered a handful of figures from them–Marines and NVA for Hue. I’m thinking Flying Lead! by Ganesha Games. In many ways this is just a vanity project. The figures are nice, I like to paint. I want a shot at painting these really nice figures. David Sullivan may join me. There’s plenty of room in the pool.

I could name all the projects I have to work on, but that would be a bore. Just be assured there are plenty of things to paint and I’ll be posting them as I go along.

Most of all, I’m just pleased for 2020 to end. I’m hoping that eventually we’ll all see one another in person, worry less about elections and vaccines, and enjoy that post game beer together.

It’s not the Willow Run Ford line (but I’m trying)

Willow Run

The B-24 assembly line at Willow Run during WWII.

In 1943 the Ford production line in Willow Run, MI wasn’t making cars, it was producing B-24 bombers for the USAAF.  They went from producing autos with a couple of thousand parts to producing planes with about 1.5 million parts each. Workers could produce about 1.5 planes per hour. Not one Liberator completed from beginning to end in less than an hour, but once and a half planes rolling off the assembly line every hour.  Pretty amazing.

At this moment I am also producing 1/300 B-24D’s for my Enfilade game. I don’t have nearly as many parts per plane, but I’m a lot slower. These are for the Ploesti game Dave Schueler and I hope to be running May 23rd.  The game calls for 18 planes for six players, but I hope to have 24, so we can take a couple more just in case more players are interested.


One of Phil Bardsley’s most excellent B-24’s for the earlier iteration of Ploesti with Paul Hannah. No, mine won’t be nearly as nice.

Before I proceed on my how-to, I need to make it clear that Ploesti has been done before by two dear friends.  At least a fifteen years ago, Phil Bardsley and Paul Hannah worked with Dave to run Ploesti using the Mustangs rules.  They were both superb painters and their B-24’s are excellent. Their planes were painted in USAAF “Desert Pink.”  Not an official color, this was actually USAAF Desert Sand that oxidized in the North African condition to a lighter, pinkish color.  They mixed their own colors for their planes and did a fabulous job.  Phil passed away a few years ago and I bought his bombers.  They are little pieces of art.  My planes won’t be Desert Pink, they’ll be USAAF olive drab, and while they’ll be well-painted, I’m simply not as good as Phil.  There were plenty of both on the mission.

The Ploesti bombers flew B-24D’s with the big plexiglass greenhouse in the nose.  Later Liberators had the big nose turret.  Not many B-24’s available in 1/300 and Scotia makes the only B-24D. Thankfully, it’s a really nice miniature.  The dozen I ordered were are very nicely scribed, well-cast, and didn’t come with their very long wings tied into a pretzel. They were reasonably inexpensive at only four pounds (4.61 a whack at today’s ridiculously low exchange rate.)

What you notice looking at them is, again, the long thin wings, the chunkiness off the fuselage, and the size of those twin tails connected by the large horizontal stabilizer.  It will become a big deal for the modeler because they feel unbalanced, and holding them or maneuvering them around a paint brush is challenging.

When I started working on my planes the first thing I had to do was prep them for paint.  Wings had to be straightened.  It wasn’t severe but took some time and second looks. The twin tail and stabilizer likewise needed some time.  Just apply counter-pressure and there isn’t a problem with breakage.  There are some mold marks to deal with, especially down the fuselage. I scraped those off with a sharp X-Acto knife, but you could also use a needle file or sand paper.  The latter might give you the best result, but I’m impatient.  Paul always used to sand his planes, which eliminated pits in the castings.  Again, I probably should have done that, but I’m kind of a loser.

Before moving on and priming, I decided to drill out locations for the flexible machine guns that festooned the early Liberators.  I not-so-carefully identified the sites for these and drilled them out with a Dremel tool and a wee, tiny bit.  You could use a pin vise, but the pewter is kind of resistant to slow turning drills. After I was done and cleaned out the holes I glued in toothbrush bristles, cutting them to size with a pair of floss scissors. Used CA glue for the adhesive

Moving on to primer, I used the Army Painter white spray primer.  It’s a little spendy but it really covers well and a can lasts a long time. However, after the first four planes are completed I’ll be topping the white primer with Vallejo’s USA Olive Drab Primer.  It will make working with my preferred paint so much easier.  If it isn’t available at your local bricks and mortar store, you can order it from Amazon in a 200ml bottle for less than twenty bucks.

The paint scheme is pretty simple: olive drab over gray.  There are lots of different colors you can work around.  My preference is to use the Vallejo Air Colors series whenever possible, because they are matched most clearly with the historic colors. USAF Olive Drab is included with the American CBI Theater set.  You get six bottles in each of the many sets available for about twenty bucks. It also includes an USAF Light Grey, which is also a great color for the undersides of wings and fuselage.

B-24's 5

The first four B-24’s in base Olive Drab, awaiting dry brushing. The journey begins.

But I don’t you to go grab these and not know the risks in using them.  These colors are designed for use with an air brush.  The pigments are ground very fine and they simply don’t cover very well.  I believe there are four coats of USAF Olive Drab on each of the first four bombers.  I’m super happy with what I have, but it wasn’t easy, and I ordered two more bottle at almost eight dollars a whack to make sure I had enough to finish my project. I ended up not sticking with the USAF Light Grey and switched to Vallejo Sky Grey just because of the coverage issues.

I spent lots of time getting the base colors down, lots of coverage, lots of drying, then a the first of many shots of Dullcote.  Painting planes this large means handling planes, and I didn’t want to rub anything off. I decided early on the big planes needed some weathering, so I mixed 50-50 olive drab and Vallejo Light Grey to get a nice lightened, but not too bright color. Then I carefully dry-brushed the wings, engines, tails, stabilizer and fuselage. More Dullcote.

Next up the lining.  I used a charcoal rather than black over the olive.  I used Vallejo light gray on the underside.  Yes, it’s tricky but not impossible.  You can always paint over egregious mistakes.  Paint the motors and then it’s on to the black leading edges.  This was actually a bit trickier, and I had to paint over some mistakes.  The tail fin edges were particularly difficult because there is no scribing to give me a clue.  In the end, I think my lines are too thick, but I’m gonna live with it. Dullcote again.

How much more detail do you want to include?  From here it’s probably safe to paint the metal spinners on the propellers and proceed directly to decals. Because Phil’s planes include nose art, I decided to try my hand.  His planes have such legible, clear hand-lettering and there is no possibility I can pull that off, hard as I might. I did some research on B-24 nose art, and tried my hand at Flak Alley, Doc, Hard Hearted Hannah, and The Goon.  Are they great, no, but they’re good enough.  These are all painted on the left side of the nose in front of the cockpit.  On the right I painted the symbol for the Flying Eight-Balls, which are really hard to make out.  I left room for a two digit number on the right.

On to the decals.  Phil used the red-bordered star roundel with bars, which was a Pacific insignia.  Pictures show just a roundel, often in pretty mangled condition with the yellow “Torch” band. I bought the latter from Flight Deck Decals.  They are fast, reasonable and do some great work. Oddly, these American planes use an RAF tricolor tail flash.  I had zillions of these from I-94 Enterprises. I stopped there.

That left just  the numerals to paint and the tail letter for each plane.  I painted the numerals white and the letter in Vallejo Golden Yellow, per the photos I’ve seen.  That wrapped up the first four of twelve planes.

It was a terrific learning experience.  I started the four before I left for San Diego, and it’s really taken most of the rest of the week to finish them.  Hopefully I’ve learned some lessons along the way and I might be finished with the remaining eight by the end of the week.


Shiny Objects-My Dance with 1898 Miniaturas.

You’re miniature wargamers.  You know what I’m talking about.  A manufacturer comes out with something new–maybe it’s a period that’s always interested you, maybe it’s an interesting set of rules to go with interesting miniatures, maybe they’re simply the nicest miniatures you’ve ever seen from a period that holds a magnetic attraction on your passions.

I can say, honestly, that I’ve always been attracted by periods and passions and not to figures.  The Hundred Years War, American War of Independence, and a host of other periods have attracted my gaming dollars and the time it takes to paint up a project because I have a deep interest in the period.  Aside-most mainstream interest; War of Independence.  Least mainstream project: Tie between the Lewis and Clark Expedition and The Burr Conspiracy.

About three years ago, at age 61, I was looking around at a last new project.  Let’s just define our terms here, since that often breeds confusion.  By last project, I mean a last new, never begun before new project.  It would mean buying and painting both sides, and all the time that demanded. I was particularly interested in a colonial project.  Osprey had just released Daniel Mersey’s The Men Who Would Be Kings, and I loved Lion Rampant.  Lacking any armies from that period, I was intrigued.

Vols 1

Vols 2

A couple of photos of Old Glory’s volunteers.  State and U.S. Volunteers fought in the Philippine War.  The chief difference between the regulars and the volunteers is that the latter was armed with the 1873 pattern Sprinfield (trapdoor) rifle that fired a black powder cartridge.  Regulars carried the Krag with its distinctive side mount magazine and smokeless cartridges.

My first choice was Egypt and the Sudan.  I was in from Tel-el-Kebir all the way to Omdurman.  The Perrys had a nice range of figures, and I could fill in from other manufacturers, so I was kind of hot to go.  With a conflict lasting from 1882-1898, there would be plenty to keep me busy.

At about this time 1898 Miniaturas appeared on The Miniatures Page.  The photos showed the figures to be truly beautiful, and the announcement that the Spanish company would focus on the Spanish American War AND the Philippine American conflict got my attention.  I decided to follow the range and save my shekels for a future purchase.

At first I was interested in doing both conflicts, but in April of 2018 Lorri and I agreed I would retire after the 2019 school year. That would mean less hobby money along with my reduced income, and I focused instead on the Philippine War. Why?  Well, it seemed more colonial and provoked a real debate in the United States whether our country would join the ranks of other imperialist nations. It had the added benefit of including more state volunteers than U.S. regulars because most of the latter were packed off to Cuba. Those volunteers included an infantry battalion and a battery from Washington state.  I’m such a homer.

I invested some of my summer camp earnings toward the a down payment on the period, and by August of 2018, I had plenty of figures to work for the U.S. invaders and the Philippine defenders.  There were still some holes the 1898 Miniaturas range, but they were still adding some figures.  Last year, they supplemented their excellent collection of infantry with some very nice mounted leaders and an American Gatling gun.

Unfortunately, the death knell of all figure ranges happens when a manufacturer moves on to another range.  The 1898 folks have done exactly that by creating a range of Spanish miniatures for the early 17th century and Thirty Years War period. They’re nice, but not a range I have any intention of doing, and exactly nothing has happened with their colonial range in over a year.

Tiger 1

The Tiger mountain gun.  The gun is quite serviceable, and comes with a mule and two crew.  The crew members aren’t great, but the mule is awesome. The rules call for four crew so I added a couple of leftover volunteer officers from Old Glory.

What does that mean?  Well, there are definitely some bits that are missing.  No American volunteers, sailors or marines.  No mounted cavalry for the Americans.  There are still some weapons that would be nice to have-Colt machine guns, light artillery more maneuverable in the jungles and mountains of the Philippines.  Philippine soldiers in American service-the Philippine Scouts and Philippine Constabulary would be valuable units in many scenarios.

Tiger 2

This is the Colt machine gun by Tiger in being schlepped formation.  I had an extra Tiger officer to add to the three man crew. I liked these guys.  Big and a little goofy, but not bad at all.

Tiger 3

The ready for battle version of the Colt.  Another Tiger miniature.

To be clear, all the miniatures are available.  Old Glory makes all the extra American infantry and cavalry.  Tiger Miniatures has some of the extra weapons bits.  All the figures are very serviceable, but don’t quite match the quality of the Spanish company’s figures.

It’s got to be really hard to sustain a business in this hobby.  Gamers move from game system to game system, and are attracted by new interests and miniature ranges all the time.  A regular customer becomes a former customer easily and predictably. Balancing a company’s offerings with additional and alternatives to attract the maximum number of buyers only makes sense.  But I won’t hide my disappointment that 1898 Miniaturas has not finished what it began.  Yes, the major pieces are there, but there is still plenty to complete the range.

Just in case you’re interested here is what is available for the Spanish American War and Philippine War from 1898 Miniaturas, Old Glory and Tiger Miniatures


  • Regular Infantry-1898, Old Glory, Tiger
  • American Buffalo Soldiers, Infantry-1898, Old Glory
  • Dismounted Cavalry-1898, Old Glory, Tiger
  • Dismounted Cavalry Buffalo Soldiers-1898, Old Glory, Tiger
  • Dismounted Rough Riders–1898, Tiger
  • Volunteer infantry–
  • Mounted Cavalry–Old Glory, Tiger
  • 3.2″ gun and crew–1898, Tiger
  • Artillerists–Old Glory
  • Gatling guns and crew–1898, Old Glory, Tiger
  • Colt machine gun and crew–Old Glory, Tiger
  • Dynamite gun and crew–Old Glory, Tiger
  • Mountain gun and crew–Tiger
  • Marines–Old Glory, Tiger
  • Marine Artillery (one pounder)-Tiger
  • Marines w/Colt machine gun-Tiger
  • Sailors–Old Glory
  • Philippine Constabulary-Tiger
  • Philippine Scouts–Tiger
  • Mounted personalities–1898, Old Glory


  • Spanish Infantry–1898 (many variations), Old Glory (two variations), Tiger (two variations
  • Spanish Civil Guard-Tiger
  • Spanish sailors–Old Glory
  • Spanish Marines–Tiger
  • Spanish Cavalry–Tiger, Old Glory*
  • Spanish mounted infantry-Tiger
  • Spanish mounted personalities–1898
  • Spanish artillery–Old Glory, Tiger
  • Spanish mountain gun–1898, Tiger
  • Spanish Gatling Gun–Tiger
  • Cuban Rebel Infantry–Old Glory, Tiger

*Both Old Glory and Tiger use cavalry interchangeably for Spanish and Cuban rebels.

Philippine Troops

  • Philippine Republic/Native Tagalogs–1898, Tiger
  • Philippine militia w/mixed hand weapons-1898
  • Moros–Old Glory
  • Personalities–1898

A Productive January

It’s been a great painting month.  I spent lots of time focused on those Enfilade projects I’m working on.  I’m kind of a procrastinator about most things in my life, but not about getting convention games ready.  I’ll never forget watching some guys painting figures at their table for their weekend-long Battle of Gettysburg game.  That is not me.

I began the month working on figures for the Rebels and Patriots game David Sullivan and I are hosting.  It’s based kind of loosely on the retreat to North Carolina across the Dan River, leading to Guilford Courthouse.  Sort of like Weitzel’s Mill.

Two of the units I wanted to paint were light companies of the Grenadier and Coldstream Guards that are part of the British pursuit. The figures for both units are Front Rank, from their Light Infantry in slouch hat group.  It’s a pretty thin batch of figures, so there’s not a big mix to choose from.  As I’ve stated before, these figures are very fun to paint, very easy to paint because they’re large and kind of blocky.  They remind me of working with a coloring book, because the lines are so clear. No facing colors or lace to speak of.  I did give the officers Scarlet coats instead of the Vallejo Flat Red, so they could be in regulation dress and be better targets for the American riflemen.

Front Rank Light Infantry in southern dress.  These are painted as the light company for the Coldstream Guards.  Their device is painted on many of the figures’ backpacks in the photo upper left.

Though there’s not a lot to dress them up, I decided to paint their backpacks with crests for each of the different regiments.  The Coldstream Guards were pretty straightforward.  The Grenadier Guards not so much.  Every guardsman was not a recipient, but the majority of figures have their respective crests.

Grenadier Guards light company.  Their devices were more of a challenge to paint and I skipped trying to paint the royal script inside the garter.

I also painted Kirkwood’s Delaware light infantry.  These are Front Rank figures in 1779 regulation dress.  Again, fun to paint.  I didn’t quite get the figure mix right.  Was hoping to add some figures in hunting shirts but didn’t order correctly.  My bad. The biggest distinction for Kirkwood’s troops is the yellow hat lace, so at least I could see them coming.  As their white overalls wore out they resorted to bed ticking for trousers.  I was hoping to have a few more examples of this and remembered what a terrible pain in the ass it was and called two examples good enough.

Robert Kirkwood’s Delaware Regiment was really part of the old Continental Line that served throughout the southern campaign.  It’s the closest Nathaniel Green had to an elite unit, but though it had only 80 or so men.  Kirkwood was a soldier’s soldier, serving through the Revolution, only to die on the Wabash battlefield in 1790.

Back in December I went to the Perry Miniatures site and put together an order for the remaining figures I need for this project–British Legion figures for the loyalist South Carolina Dragoons, Lee’s Legion dragoons, and a handful of riflemen.  Four weeks later, having not received them, I went back and looked at my order, only to discover it tidily sitting in the site’s shopping cart.  Sent in my order the next day, and shipped immediately from the Perry site.  Still waiting, but am watching the mail daily.

While waiting for the Perry’s to arrive I decided to switch gears and begin work on planes for Ploesti.  I don’t have a ton to do but they are big ol’ Scotia B-24D’s.  The models are nice but large, which always poses a bit of a challenge.  The planes often come with their uber-long wings pretzeled and their large stabilizers and double tails needing careful straightening.  I set into this task one evening, only to realize the B-24’s I ordered back in August weren’t the early D version of the bomber that set upon the Romanian oil fields at all, but the later B-24J with the power nose turret.  Still a nice model I can make use of, but it took another order to the UK to retrieve the situation, so I am still awaiting the whims of the Post Office.


This Scotia B-24D is one of ten I acquired from the late Phil Barsdley.  They are spectacular in every regard, including the guns Phil added.  The paint, including “Flying Eightball” emblem and nose art I’ll never be able to equal.


Scotia B-24J in all its raw metal glory.  Note the nose turret. They’ll paint well.

With the R and P figs and the required planes unavailable, I’ve been working on some figures for my Philippine scenario. Because there is a coastal element to the game, I gotta have marines and sailors.  I think I’ve already shared my U.S. Marines.  Like those figures the sailors are offerings from Old Glory.  Not a tough job–because they are in white uniforms with white sailor caps.  Managed to knock out both units this month.  As figures go, they are pretty simple and straight-forward.  they seem a bit small.

Sailors 1

Well, no they aren’t a lot to look at, but if you’re gonna be afloat you gotta have sailors.  Two units of Old Glory Sailors from their Spanish American War range.

They are a pretty simple paint job.  I used Vallejo Grey-White as an undercoat and then painted highlights in straight white.  That’s really all you gotta know.  Simple but reasonably effective.

About the time I thought I could start another unit I got a raging four-day case of the flu.  When I could bring myself to actually go back in my den, I decided to paint some of the heavy weapons I’ll need for the Philippine scenario.  There is a mountain howitzer and crew and a Colt machine gun in both the firing and moving position. I’m about 50% finished with those figures


This bunch is from Tiger Miniatures and include crews for Colt Machine guns as well as a breach loading mountain gun from their Spanish American War range. Under construction.  Hope to be done with the lot by February 2nd.

If I’m able to finish those figures by Friday, I’ll have done 72 figures in the month of January, all 28mm, which is a whole lot for me.  And honestly, it was truly enjoyable.  It’s nice to have about three hours a day to paint.  I can get a lot done.

And the really good news–my Perry order arrived today.


My small, but anxiously awaited Perry order.



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.



Insurrectos with Bolos


The Great Puget Sound Snowpocalypse of 2019 played havoc with the school schedule, but it did contribute to progress on Smyth’s painting table.  I wrapped up the light infantry and militia for the Concord project.  I also began work on the grenadiers for the same battle.


My three painted Philippine units. I have plenty more to do, and probably a fair number more to buy. All Miniaturas 1898, all fun to paint, if a bit of a challenge

But I took some time out to work on a different unit for my Philippine-American War project.  I decided to do one of the Tagalog tribal units.  These unit were pretty ubiquitous, particularly on the islands other than Luzon where firearms could be a bit less plentiful.  In The Men Who Would Be Kings, these are 18-figure units.  No rayadillo to worry about.  Most of the figures would be wearing white.

Miniaturas 1898 has some very nice figures for Tagalog insurrectos, as opposed to the troops in the Republican army.  They have figures armed with just bolos, the long machete-like knives the tribal troops became infamous for.  There is also a pack of fighters armed with mixed melee and missile troops, including bamboo spears, bows and arrows and even a crossbow. I added these troops together with six rifle armed figures to give me the kind of mixed shooter and melee troops I was looking for. I gave them one of the “special” Antonio Bonifacio figures as a leader and standard bearer.

Hard to see the rayadillo in the photos, much easier to see with your eye.  It’s hard to paint, but very satisfying when finished.

The unit was pretty easy to paint.  Most have a first coat of Vallejo Grey-White.  Then I highlight with white and go back and paint the creases with a mix of Grey-White and Vallejo Light Grey.  It provides a decent contrast with the light base color without the starkness of just Light Grey alone.  I also used Vallejo Tan Earth, lightened for highlight, as well as Vallejo Flat Red.  The latter I highlighted with Scarlet, and then lightened for a second highlight.

All this highlighting and drybrushing is kind of new to me, so I’m learning a lot with this project.  But it’s fun and hasn’t turned out badly. I’ve also changed my rifle-painting for this project.  Instead of using metal, I’ve gone to Vallejo Neutral Gray for the barrels and gun furniture, It’s still a darkish color without the sheen of a metal color.  The Philippine troops would have used Remington Rifles with a few of the modern Mausers thrown in.  The Americans would have used Krag-Jorgensen rifles and carbines, with volunteer troops and the Philippine Scouts using old trapdoor Springfields.

I did make a purchase this month.  I picked up a pack of Old Glory U.S. Cavalry from their Spanish American War range.  There isn’t a rush to do them.  I’m sure I’ll stick to the Philippine figures until what I have is done or nearly so. I also picked up their bag of U.S. volunteers.

Originally the Volunteers were drawn from the states, and they served generally quite effectively in the campaign outside of Manila.  They are replaced by regulars and U.S. Volunteers as the battle shifts north and south away from capital.  The difference is the weapons the state volunteers begin the campaign with 1873 “trapdoor” Springfield.  They use it fairly effectively, but it is not a repeating rifle, just a breech-loader, and it fires black powder cartridges. There is a battalion of Washington State Volunteers on Luzon, together with a battery of artillery, and homer that I am, you can imagine what I’ll be painting.

Looking at the Old Glory range, they have a couple more desirable packs.  I’m sure that at some point I will also order a bag each of sailors and Marines.  These troops played a valuable role in the amphibious operations that were necessary in all parts of the archipelago.


With all the snow, we had to postpone our big Concord walk-through all the way to March 23rd.  I’ll have all the troops I need to paint completed by then.  I’m anxious to finish the 36 grenadiers I have left so I can paint–anything I bloody well please.  Got lots I’d like to mess around with.


The feast of St. Crispian and this wargamer’s life.


Alan and Michael Perry’s amazing diorama in the Royal Armoury to commemorate the 600th anniversary of Agincourt. 

October 25th is the anniversary of Agincourt, fought in 1415, 601 years ago.  Agincourt is one of the best remembered of all British battles, one that recalls good King Hal with his tattered band of yeomen drowning a vastly superior French army in a sea of mud, while raining down a storm of arrows that left the French broken, dispirited and leaderless. That’s all hokum of course, according to the new research about the Hundred Years War and this most English of battles.

But this post isn’t to revisit Agincourt and our changing perceptions of the battle, it’s really about me. I don’t claim to know everything about the battle.  In fact, I’m regularly confronted with the fact that I know little.  But learning about Agincourt set me on a road I remain happy to follow: a healthy obsession with the Hundred Years War I play out in reading and miniature wargaming.


My battered 1976 copy of the Face of Battle. It wlll be the last book I ever part with. 

No work influenced my connection to this period more than John Keegan’s 1976 book, the Face of Battle.  Intended to be a look inside battle, from the soldier’s perspective, Keegan devoted about 37 pages to breaking down the experience of archers, men-at arms, and horsemen at the battle.  Drawing from mostly secondary sources, Keegan’s observations were vivid.  Though measured against today’s writing, it may seem wholly incorrect, The Face of Battle drew me into the period and put Agincourt on my list of must do’s.

I read Keegan’s book in 1978, the summer I graduated from college.  It is about this time I also plunged fully into miniature wargaming. Surprisingly, or maybe not, I didn’t leap headlong into the HYW in miniatures.  My friends and I played Napoleonics in 15mm, WRG Ancients, again in 15mm. Later I did George Gush’s Renaissance rules, Lynn Bodin’s Imperialim, my first flirtation with 25mm figures. But no Agincourt.

In 1989 I saw Kenneth Branagh’s Henry V. And then I saw it again.  I bought it on VHS, I have it on DVD.  I can stream it on Netflix. It is not historically accurate, but the words mean so much to me. Whether it is Exeter reminding the Dauphin that young King Henry has matured and will “make your Paris Louvre” shake with gunstones, or the brilliance of the Crispian’s Day address, it still gives me chills. I’ve watched it at least a hundred times. Maybe I’ll watch it today, make it an even 101. If you’ve never watched Branagh at his finest, it’s here for you to view. If you don’t want to become one of his “band of brothers,” check to see if you have a heartbeat.

I began my Hundred Years War project at least 15 years ago.  I have more figures painted for it than any other, and far more unpainted miniatures than for any other period. I’ve hosted skirmish games and chevauchees.  I’ve run naval battles.  My goal is play Poitiers, rather than Agincourt, because the circumstances of the more famous battle are so difficult to recreate on the game table. While I have plenty of unpainted figures, I really want to take advantage of the new Perry plastics, which have the dual virtues of being beautiful AND cheap.

Though I’ve given up on Agincourt as a game, without my exposure to it, the passion that will always inspire me for the period would never have begun. What began with Keegan and Branaugh continues with Jonathan Sumption and Anne Curry, with the superb miniatures by the Perry brothers, and watching my friend Chris Craft roll his beautiful miniatures out on the table to play Verneuil, and of course, Agincourt itself.

Like most wargamers, I am easily distracted.  My interests change with the moment-new rules, new miniatures, what my friends are doing–but my desire to continue with the project, paint what I have and more, find new ways to game the Hundred Years War, will never die.

Cortes is ready

After taking time away to begin work on the Aztecs, I decided to polish off the rest of the Spanish I’ve purchased for Quetzacoatl Rampant. It’s been two weeks since our playtest of the game at Meeples and I spent last weekend working on my mounted Spaniards. This week, aided and abetted by our strange day off on Tuesday.  I finished painting on Wednesday, took care of all the washing and basing on Friday, and tried my hand at workable flags Saturday while listening to the Huskies devastate the hated Ducks in Quackland.

All my Spanish are done. There are nine units, each of six figures. In our rules they are nasty, but their small size makes them quite brittle.

I have one mounted unit. The Spanish had a handful of mounted men-not your basic Gendarme from the Italian battlefield, but the horses were fear inspiring, and the riders were motivated, very tough on the Aztecs whose largest domestic animals were small dogs raised for food.

I also have four units of missile troops, two each of arquebusiers and crossbowmen. Both weapons did terrible damage to the native Mexicans who were unarmored or wore cloth padded armor.  But these weapons also had limitations.  They were very slow firing, especially in comparison to the Aztec dart throwers, slingers and archers who could literally rain missiles down on the small Spanish forces. The gunpowder weapons, though fearsome and deadly, like all black powder weapons, were great on their first fire, but prone to misfires as their users reloaded with loose powder and shot.

Finally, the core of all conquering Spanish armies were the swordsmen. Armed with Toledo steel versus cloth armor, light wooden shields and wooden club-like Aztecs, the swordsmen were the most effective of Cortes’ troops. I have four units of Spanish swordsmen, and I my add two more.

All figures are from Eureka, ordered from Eureka USA in Massachusetts.  They are great figures and I very much enjoyed painting them.  They are nicely shaped, and detailed enough, without being difficult to paint.

I’ll be moving on to my last two units of Aztecs, in the hope that I’ll have both twelve figure units finished by Sunday, a week from today. That will leave only the 36 Tlaxcallan warriors to complete.  My goal is for everything to be completed before Thanksgiving so I can turn my attention to terrain for this project and move on to other things. That is about a 250 figure turnaround since I began working on this project in April.  I’m pretty happy with all of it.