Sunday, July 27, 2014

From the depths of packing, I post at thee.


Ye gods.  The moving truck comes on Wednesday morning, and we are at that finely balanced moment  where one regularly goes to find something, only to discover it is packed up, while at the same time still having a horrifying amount of stuff to pack up.  Yesterday I invoked the awesome power of Paterfamilius, and the whole bunch of us got out of the house and went down to Kensington market.  A good long walk, some excellent Pho, and a supper of fresh bread, good cheese, and assorted farm veggies later, sanity has been restored.

Good soup is a mighty thing.

Geek progress (I think understandably) has been limited, but I have managed to pick up  bunch of stuff for the Acadian project.  I had an order come in from Skip at Legends in Time, and am now well-supplied with Brits, provincials, and a variety of militia and civilians.  I also picked up some 4Ground buildings (log cabins and New England settler homes), and a tidy little cordouroy bridge.  I'll need some (i.e., lots) of trees), but I've got plenty of stuff to keep me busy.

Terrorist, or freedom fighter? You decide.

I also took the Cub down to the game store, and we splurged on a few X-Wing ships.  He had a little cash, and bought himself a blister each of the HWK-290 and Z-95 Headhunter.  The latter has a bit of a history with us, as he's also got the LEGO set ;)  With the Rebels expanding their fleet, it was obviously necessary for the Imperials to match them, and I picked up a Firespray, because Boba Fett.  Sadly, these will get packed up until we get out to Halifax, but I'm looking forward to getting them on the table.

Yes, Lando, he's cooler than you.

Probably going to be at least a week or so before my next post.  Our stuff, as I mentioned, moves out Wednesday, and we'll probably take a few days to drive out; with kids and cats in the car, power-driving seems like a poor idea.  Next post will be from Hali.  Wish us luck!


Monday, July 14, 2014

Hold the Line

Yesterday saw the Cub and I out to the TMHG's first run at an annual convention, Hold the Line.  It was a fantastic day, and I had enough fun that I pretty much forgot to take pictures ;)  Turn out was good - maybe 80-90, which for a first-time convention was pretty good, I think, and everyone I saw seemed to be having a good time.

We got there around 11, about half-way through the morning sessions, but managed to budge in on a new-style Battletech game being enjoyed by Foxlington and his boy (about the same age as Cub), and G-man was kind enough to let the Cub and I play with his Deathstar Trench Run set-up once the morning game had concluded.  That was pretty impressive, as he had not only constructed an actual trench for the fighters to fly around in (and over!), but had also put together a pretty impressive sound board for audio SFX throughout the game (the Cub's been making Millenium Falcon "pew pew" noises most of the day).


There were some definite show-stoppers.  marke's Adwalton Moor game looked to be a success - based on the trial we played a few weeks back, but tweaked, and with updated terrain.  There was also a huge Impetus game, about 800 points a side, Late Romans against (I think?) Sassanians, and with 28mm figures.  Looked terrific.


We also got ridiculously lucky on the charity raffle (raising money for the Wounded Warrior fund).  We won not only a Corvus Belli DBA Celtiberian box, but also a box of Wargames Factory 15mm Americans (Cub got the latter - the former will act as faux Galatians in an Antigonid morph).

What made the day for me, personally, was seeing the Cub enjoying himself. He really got into both the X-Wing and Battletech game, on his own account.  While in the past, he's shown interest in what I've been doing, at the convention, it was his own fun and interest that were motivating him.  Gives me real hope that the two of us will be able to do more of this in the future.

Apparently, the raffle raised about a grand for the Wounded Warriors fund, and the three club guys who did the heavy lifting (Watts, AlexM, and Vonplutz) are actually talking about doing it again.  Don't know if we'll make it back next summer in time, but I'll be doing my best to spread the word, as I'd very much like to see the convention become an annual success.


Tuesday, July 8, 2014


Big news in Monkeyland.

We're moving to Halifax (in Nova Scotia, for you olde worlde types).  In less than a month.  Having rather quickly gone from having no job prospects in the Fall to having several, we've opted to move East, primarily as this puts us much closer to the Cub through his school year.  Close enough to see him most weekends, rather than once every several months.  This also, of course, has some implications for my hobby, chief among them that I'll no longer be able to game with the THMG.  This is the thing I'll miss most about Toronto, as I've had the privilege of gaming a wide variety of genres and periods with some absolutely spectacular people.  If any of you ever find yourself in Toronto, look up the THMG, they're good people.  Also, go to their convention, Hold the Line.  This weekend.  In Toronto.

In point of fact, gaming in general will likely be severely curtailed.  Work will be, I suspect, of an intensity I've not yet experienced.  On the one hand this means a degree of personal growth (and hopefully an opportunity for longer-term employment).  On the other, it means much more limited time available for my hobby.  My suspicion is that I'll have few chances for gaming itself, but should be able to still do at least a little painting.  While I'm aware of both Privateer Press and GW communities in the Halifax area, historical gaming seems a little limited (the one group I know of seems dedicated primarily to naval), and evenings and weekends will likely be devoted to family.

This, of course, has me doing a fair bit of hobby rumination and navel gazing.  One option is simply to putter along as I have, picking away at the lead pile at whatever happens to grab my interest at the time.  Another is to pick one (or two, or let's be realistic, three) projects to focus on.  If I opt for the latter, I'll want to do something where the process of painting itself gives me a degree of pleasure.

The Acadian project I mentioned in my last post is a strong contender for the "concentration" approach, not least because of where I'll be living.  On the other hand, the removal of the need to get things done to get them on the table also means I can turn my hand to any number of projects that have been languishing for want of "urgency".  The Magpie is dead, long live the Magpie.

I hope to maintain the blog despite the reductions in available time.  I've "met" dozens of people via this thing, and lived vicariously through any number of projects.  I hope, however, those of you following this will have some patience with me in the next few months, as between the arrival of Cub, the move, and the hustle of starting a new job, I suspect updates will be erratic.  Wish me the best.


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Lords of the Backcountry


Finished up another unit of Compagnie Franche de la Marine today, along with some officers.


I'm not as happy with these guys as the first batch.  Not sure if it's just a darker blue, or if I rushed them a little.  They're serviceable, but they don't tickle me the way the first batch did.


With these finished, I'm within spitting distance of 400 points.  Another unit of natives, and some talents for the officers, and I'm good to go.



With that in mind, I've been poking around looking for ideas to build around.  I came across some discussion of the fighting in Acadie (modern-day Nova Scotia and New Brunswick).  This includes both the conflicts preceding the SYW (like Father Le Loutre's War), the guerrilla fighting surrounding the Acadian Expulsion, and formal campaigns like that of the Bay of Fundy.

There's plenty of unit types on both sides, lots of gaming potential, but it's a little different than the traditional "Hudson corridor" story of the conflict.  I'm going to pick up some 4ground buildings, and some more BM figs, and see what I can work up.


Sunday, June 29, 2014

With my mind on my minis . . .

 . . . and my minis on my mind.

I've been thinking of late about a project for one of the Black Book series of rules from Warlord (Black Powder, Hail Caesar, etc.).  I quite enjoy them, as last week's game reminded me, and own Black Powder and the Age of Reason supplement, Last Argument of Kings.  I've also been itching to work on some sort of big, long term project in the Black Powder period in 15mm.  While there's real appeal to doing something for the SYW (either in Europe or the colonies), the War of the Spanish Succession (have you SEEN the new Khurasan minis?), or the Great Northern War, I have a passion for the AB range, already have some AB Russian guard, and the Napoleonic period offers a greater variety of painting options than any others.  So, down the rabbit hole I go.

After some consultation (and an excellent suggestion from JJM, the THMG's English ambassador), I've decided to build some preliminary forces around the fighting on the first day of the Battle of Kulm, also known as the Battle of Priesten.  It's actually an interesting engagement, in which a rearguard composed of the Russian guard corps, supported by line troops and cavalry, hold off steadily increasing pressure from the French.   It reminds me a little of the first day of Gettysburg, where a small holding action gradually escalates into a massive dog pile.

With the Nafziger lists now available online, I was able to track down OOBs for both the Russians / Allies and the French.  To keep things manageable, I'm going to work on the approximate scale where 1 brigade of 4-6 battalions (or squadrons) is a BP unit, and a BP brigade roughly translates into a division.  While this isn't perfect (I need to fudge some of the historical formations into BP terms), it does give a reasonable organisational framework for planning out units / purchases and painting.  Loosely speaking, the Russian and Allied forces break down like this:

Russian / Allied General:  Generallieutenant Osterman-Tolstoy

BP Brigade 1 (Left Wing, Centre, of 1st line, General Bistrom I and Colonel Schelwinski)

Unit 1
Russian Guard Jager Regiment (3)
Murmon Infantry Regiment (2)

Unit 2
Guard Hussar Regiment (6)

Unit 3
Revel Infantry Regiment (2)
4th Jager Regiment (2)

BP Brigade 2 (Right wing of 1st line, Generalmajor Knorring)

Unit 1
Empress Curiassier Regiment (4)

Unit 2
Tartar Uhlan Regiment (6)

Unit 3
Illowaiski #12 Cossack Pulk

Unit 4
Loubny Hussar Regiment (2)
Serpuchov Uhlan Regiment (3)

                        Unit 5
Guard Horse Battery #1 (Bistram) (12 guns)

                       Unit 6 
                                    Erzherzog Johann Dragoon Regiment (4) (Austrian)

BP Brigade 3 (2nd line, V Guard Corps: Generallieutenant Yermolov
Unit 1:  1st Guard Infantry Division: Generalmajor Baron Rosen

Brigade: Generalmajor Potemkin
Preobragenski Guard Infantry (3)
Semenovski Guard Infantry (3)

Unit 2: (small?)

Brigade: Generalmajor Krapovitzsky
Ismailov Guard Infantry (3)

Unit 3:
            Guard Light Battery #1

Unit 4:
Guard Heavy Battery #2

Unit 5 Generalmajor Ljalin's Brigade, part of 14th Division: Generalmajor Helfreich
Tenguinsk Infantry Regiment (2)
Estonia Infantry Regiment (2)
Grand Duchess Catherine Battalion

            Unit 6:
                        (?) ½ Light Battery #6 (6 guns - not sure how to handle this?)

BP Brigade 4: 3rd Division: Generalmajor Schachafskoy (part of 2nd Russian Corps: Generallieutenant Duke Eugen von Württemberg)

Unit 1 Brigade: Colonel Wolff
Tchernigov Infantry Regiment (2)
Selenguinsk Infantry Regiment (2)

            Unit 2 4th Division: Brigade: Colonel Treffurt (small?)
Tobolsk Infantry Regiment (2)
Minsk Infantry Regiment (1)

             Unit 3 Corps Artillery:
                         Light Battery #27 (Baikov) (12 guns)

             Unit 4 
                         Heavy Battery # 14 (Cerenissomov) (12 guns) 

There's also two units of cavalry, part of the guard corps, that arrived later.  I'll have to figure out how to accommodate command for them:

Guard Uhlan Regiment (6)

Guard Dragoon Regiment (6)

You can see what I mean about fudging.  The historical OOB doesn't fit neatly into Black Powder terms, and even approximating it leaves me with some "light" brigades and units.  I can tinker with it as I go, of course, and in the mean time, it gives me something to build with.  One thing I find appealing is the ability to have multiple historical units comprise a BP unit.  It means more flags, more command, and more pretty on the table.  As all normal sized BP units are 6 stands, I'm going to have to fudge here a little as well.  The unit comprised of 3 battalions of two different guard regiments is straightforward; the one comprised of three different line units is less so.  Another way to do it would be to simply total up the available batallions of each type, and arbitrarily assign them to units / brigades, but that seems a little hinky.

Anyone with experience adapting historical OOBs to game terms, I'd much appreciate any advice you can give on the process.


Friday, June 27, 2014

Adwalton Moor

Wednesday saw me down to the Dueling Grounds to help test a run-through of marke's Pike and Shotte participation game at Hold the Line, the club-sponsored convention running this upcoming July 12th in Toronto.  Register now!

Adwalton is evidently the lesser-known of the Yorkshire battles in the ECW (three guesses where marke's from?).  The background was a Royalist attack on the town of Bradford.  Deciding the town was indefensible, the Parliamentary defenders advanced to a strong defensive position outside of town.  The King's men are looking to break through the defenders and take the town; the defenders are hoping to drive off the attackers.

The Royalist opposition.

Opting for Repulsive and Right, rather than Womantic and Wong, I assumed control of the Parliamentary right wing, and deployed my troops.  I had three units of commanded shot, two of caracole cavalry, and the Brdford Militia.  The parliamentary position was defined by three large enclosures, along with a broad ditch on our left.  I deployed my shot along the hedge-line, placed the cavalry in support, and the militia in reserve.

marke plans to make some in-scale hedges for the convention game.  Bocage substitutes for now.

To my left, Nick the Lemming took command of our centre (mixed pike and shot) and left (roughly the same mix as mine) enclosures.  Across the table, he faced a broad line of mixed pike and shot, while the Royalist cavalry had concentrated across from me.

In the distance you can see the royalist centre.  The totally immovable Royalist centre.

Our plan was fairly straightforward.  I would fend off the Royalists on my flank until Nick could break them on the left (with the strong advantage of the ditch, we figured he'd have the best shot).  He could then swing across to take the embroiled Royalists in the flank.  In the early stages of the battle, the Royalists were kind enough to accommodate the plan, with their cavalry "weckwesswy" surging ahead to close on my position.

The Woyalist cavalwy wecklessly wushes ahead.

Their centre doesn't ;)

Unfortunately for the Royalists, coordination was an issue all game.  Their centre steadfastly refused to advance for quite some time, which meant the bulk of the action took place on the flanks.  First contact was made by the Royalist cavalry, which managed to charge in against my commanded shot defending the front of the enclosure.

Royalist charge.

My lads poured enough volleys into them, however, to first disrupt, and then bounce their charge.  We messed up the rules a bit at first, but the essential simplicity of the Warlord system meant that within a turn or two, we more or less understood what we were doing.

The Lord is with us.  You can tell by our hats.

On the right, things rather quickly turned into a scrum.  I brought up my horse in support, and eventually turned the Bradford Militia to guard the enclosure flank, while the Royalists struggled in the close terrain.  Hampered by the enclosure, the density of their units, and some abysmal command rolls, the cavalry struggled to bring their numbers to bear.  While they had some early success (destroying one of the commanded shot units), their attack bogged down, while my units continued to pour fire into them.

The scrum develops.

A chancy moment.  The infantry are hard pressed, and the cavalry moves to support.

Infantry breaks in the centre, but the Royalists struggle to exploit the gap.

Parliamentary cavalry plugs the gap.

On the left, things were going well.  The Royalist infantry, commanded by ernieR, were getting bogged down by the ditch, and Nick was able to thin out their pike before it could close to combat.  With the advantage of defending the enclosure, this would mean he was likely to repulse the Royalist shot should it get close enough to engage.  In the meanwhile, the Royalist centre was apparently reconsidering this whole "monarchy" thing, as it adamantly refused to advance, failing pretty much every command roll made for it.

The Royalist attack bogs down.  Not enough room to interpenetrate, and his front line units are shaken.

One of the things I like about the Warlord games is how well they lend themselves to multi-player.  As part of a "team", I had a general sense of how things were going elsewhere (mostly from the shouts of glee issuing from Nick), but no sense of detail, and my world increasingly shrank down to the struggle immediately in front of me.  Things there were heating up.  While I was holding off the cavalry, my units were slowly degrading, and should the Royalists coordinate another good charge, it was entirely possible they'd break through into the enclosure, and sweep my position.

Forward, the Bradford Militia.  Note the one fellow who's changed his mind, and is "advancing to the rear".

At about this point in the game, the esteemed DaveB arrived, and assumed command of the Parliamentary centre.  Not that it did him much good, as the Royalist centre continued to refuse to move ;)  Things on the right had stabilized, as the Royalist cavalry tangled themselves up, their fresh units stalled behind the exhausted ones in front.  On our right, Nick was well on his way to breaking the assaulting Royalist infantry.  Things were looking up.

Turmoil on the right, glacial progress in the centre.

Then things shifted.  In front of me, the Royalists finally managed to clear a path (helped along by my matchlock fire eliminating some units, and recoiling others).  They managed to get a unit around my flank, with only the (highly suspect) militia to hold them off.  Worse, their centre finally managed to shuffle forward, and it looked as if we were in for a hot time.

Finally!  A path is cleared for a second charge.

Will Parliament hold?

Fight, boys, the Lord is with us!

The moment of truth.

But the Lord was on our side.  Nick broke the Royalist assault, DaveB poured fire into the advancing infantry, and the Bradford militia, bless them, not only disrupted the assaulting cavalry, but forced them to recoil!  Not bad for a bunch of farmers with pitchforks.


The Royalists were now in a bad spot.  Their right was broken, their centre was operating more or less independently, and they'd have to gamble the last of their horse could break through on the right.  After a bit of wavering (their centre infantry advanced, fired, then retreated!), they opted to charge home against the remnants of my line.

The militia collapse, but the cavarly break in the effort.

It cost them the game.  The Bradford militia decided they'd had enough for one day, and fled the field, but so did a unit of Royalist horse, which took their wing down below half, and broke it.  With both wings shattered, and an increasingly isolated centre wondering what had happened, the Royalist army retreated.  Bradford was saved!

As it turns out, much of the battle followed the historical precedent, with one notable exception.  Historically, after the Royalist right broke, their Parliamentary opponents advanced out of the enclosure, to fall on the flank of the royalist centre (which, if you recall, is what Nick and I had planned to do).  The Royalists, in response, redeployed part of their cavalry, which caught the advancing Parliamentarian shot in the open, without pike support, and routed them.  Nick had to leave not long after he broke the Royalist attack.  DaveB and I had our hands full with the final Royalist assault, and never bothered to advance Nick's wing.  As a consequence, the Royalists opted for another assault on the enclosures, and it cost them.

Parliamentary commendations to the Royalist command dice.

This was a fun game, although one that ran counter to instincts.  The hardest position for me to play, in terms of temperament, is static defense; my instinct is always to attack.  This actually came up towards the end of the game, where I was sorely tempted to send out my cavalry, and try to break a unit of the Royalist horse, but I managed to do the sensible thing, and hold my position.

We caught a break in the game, as the atrocious command rolls the Royalists produced in the first half of the game meant they never really managed a coordinated attack, and their assault on my position bogged down enough that I could rally off the worse of the damage to my units.  From my end, it felt quite close, but I can imagine how frustrating it must have been for the Royalist players.  Serves them right for taking the side of a despot.

This is the third set of "Black Book" rules I've played from Warlord (the other two being Black Powder and Hail Caesar), and I have to say, I quite like them all.  They're wonderful for multi-player, can resolve a game in an evening, and are marvelously flexible.  As they rely both on scenario design and on players not being complete rectums, they're not well suited to tournament play, but as the odds of me every playing in a historical tournament are basically zero, that's not an issue.  I may have to break down and take on a project for either BP or P&S at some point in the future.


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Waaaght's up?

So, pursuant to the nostalgia post from a ways back, I actually broke out a few half-painted 40k orks, and finished them up.


The inter-tubes have been abuzz of late with various rumours and leaks.  One thing that caught my attention is a force organization chart that's apparently in the new Codex, one that's geared towards the classic green tide.  While it's awkward for organized or time-limited play, a wall of orks is pretty much the classic image for the faction, so the prospect of game mechanics that reward (or otherwise make viable) that kind of list is appealing.


I've got with a bit of a patchwork colour scheme, but with a few elements tying it together, notably the blue, and the warm orange-y browns.


I like a lot of dakka with my orks, so I figured I'd start with some shoota boys.  For any number of reasons (starting with I'd need to paint about a hundred more), I doubt they'll see table soon, but they're still fun to paint.  Puddin' has also taken a shine to them (along with my Brettonian "horsies"), so they'll serve as a break from historicals from time to time.


I've been travelling quite a bit for work of late, so gaming / painting's at a bit of a premium.  Things at casa di monkey are still in flux, and the Cub arrives in less than a week, so posting may get even more irregular than usual.  I am hoping to get down to DG tonight, so hopefully will have at least one more decent post.