Saturday, January 18, 2020

A New Hope

Hi all,

Finally managed to meet up with the local historical crowd, for an honest-to-goodness historical game.  I keep pinching myself to make sure it really happened ;)

The looping river is impassable, the offshoots just irritating.

Thanks to the generosity of the Beloved, who covered both the kids' rec and the pup for the day, I was able to get out for a Napoleonics game in the area, run by the redoubtable Armchair General.  A re-fight of Friedland, the game was the last in a campaign series the local gang have been playing through (beginning with Austerlitz!).  The AG not only provided a vast array of 15mm figures, but also arranged the terrain, and managed to both umpire / rules reference and play, which kept the game moving well.

Some of the AGs many forces at play.

The rules were Napoleon's Battles, an older ruleset.  My impression is that they date from an era when people were starting to try and write more abstract rules focused on command and control, but sell them to people accustomed to tables, charts, and granular die roll modifiers.  The net result was a pretty steep learning curve, and we only got to turn 4 (IIRC).  I suspect more familiarity with the rules would speed up play (I wasn't the only new guy, at least to the rules), but what we managed to get through was fun.

My command moving up in support of the cavalry.

I had a fairly small command, which made things a lot easier, running a couple units of infantry with attached guns - call it a division.  Friedland historically was a game where the Russians started out attacking the French, and ended up disastrously defending as French reinforcements poured onto the field.  In our game we did a little better, mostly punching through the initial French defence, but I suspect had we played the game out longer, they would have rallied, and at least stalled our attack.

The Russian right flank.  Out of picture were the dastardly French.

Terrain was a huge factor in the game.  A largely impassible river (with only a few bridges) cut the table more or less in two down the middle for a good chunk of its length, and a series of smaller tributaries broke up the rest of the table.  Our attack (as I was playing Russians, of course), had to cross several of these.  They were passable, but with the addition of other constraints on terrain and movement, meant that we were basically fighting through a succession of natural barriers on a narrow front.  It pretty quickly became clear how the Russians ran into trouble in the historical event.

The guard marching.

A bit of a thrill for me was actually getting my unit of painted Russian guard on the table (not a perfect fit with their basing, but the AG accommodated).  As it turns out, they ended up the game marching to the guns, but I figure it still counts.  Given I bought the damn things back in Toronto who knows how many years ago, any use in anger will do ;)

Close enough now to move into attack column

Trails of Russian reinforcements - had the game continued, they would have played a larger role.

I have to say, the game looked great on the table - really showed off what massed 15mm can do.  Me being me, I came home all a-twitter with thoughts of digging out the rest of my AB15s.  Dinner, and a period of reflection, have me easing back a bit, but I suspect they may see the light of day yet - as a painting project, if nothing else.

The main bridge at Friedland - became something of a logistical choke point.

I have to say, I had a great time.  The group was super-welcoming to a new guy, and very patient with my sundry rules questions.  I tentatively broached the prospect of organizing a 6mm game, and seemed to get some enthusiasm in response, so I suspect a bit of planning is in order.  I'll have to take a look at what I can pull together from my collection, and think about possible rules and scenarios.  There's likely to be some painting needed as well (at least for any kind of nominally historical match-up), so that bears looking into as well.  Definitely feeling up about the prospects of more historical gaming in future, however, and assuming they have me back, will be seeing this crew again.


Friday, January 10, 2020

Looking ahead

Hi all,

Things are proceeding slowly in Monkeyland, but they are proceeding.  The puppy is settling in, work and school have resumed, and while I don't have a ton of time for painting and playing (and haven't been able to get down to the shop to play), all is not lost.  I have been trying to carve out at least a little bit of time most days (even if it's 20 minutes) to pick away at some miniatures, and the Cub and I were able to get in a short game before he went back to his mom's post Christmas holiday.



I actually got my orks on the table for the first time in who knows how long (seems like at least a year).  I hit something of a wall with them a while back, both for painting and playing, but of late have been feeling the urge. Didn't regret it, either ;)



We played a pretty stripped-down scenario.  Three objectives, whoever controlled the most won the game.  I took it, but I think mainly due to the small table we play on.  It means the Cub, who has a mainly shooting army, doesn't have long before my guys (whether Khorne or Orks) get into close combat.  That gives me a decided advantage.  Unless I play sloppy, and he gets in a couple of chump shots, it gives me an edge.  Might have to look into rigging a full 6x4 table, though I suspect that's more of a summer project.


I've been reading a fair bit of New Year's posts from people, along with the usual resolutions to paint more, play more, and paint minis before buying minis.  I'd like to resolve that I will paint all my unpainted stuff before buying more, but who am I kidding?  I do think I'll likely buy less this year, as I have a heck of a backlog of stuff I would like to paint and get on the table.  I think it's reasonable to aim to paint more than I buy, and will at least try to use that as a guideline for the next while.

That said, I have a few MESBG figures close to finished (Eomer and some Galadhrim), as well as some historicals.  If I manage to keep picking away, I should have some painting posts for the next couple weeks.  By then, things might settle down enough that I even get out for a game.


Thursday, January 2, 2020

What I did on my Christmas holidays

Hi all,

Truth be told, I didn't do as much as I might have another year, for all the reasons noted in recent posts.  Did, however, manage to finally finish up some Napoleonic Cossacks who's been glaring at me accusingly the last month or so:

Don we now . . . 

 . . . our gay apparel?

They're intended as "Don-ish" cossacks.  While there were a few different cossack formations that formally had uniforms, it seems to have been pretty common for cossacks to wear more or less whatever they damn well pleased.  I painted some of these guys up in blue Don uniforms, some in brown, and a few in a mix.  The black shapkas tie them together well enough.  Played around with the formations too, looking for something less organized than my previous cavalry base.

In addition, the MESBG fiend I mentioned a post or two back was able to come over to the house for a few games.  We roped in the Cub, and had several Battle Companies games.  I think I only got pictures from the first, but a good time was had, and I was delighted to actually get a chance to play.

Mordor started on the hill, but opted for the better part of valor.

Rohan closing in.

Fights break out.

There can be only one.

I'm hoping to get out at some point in the next couple of weeks, as I owe a game to another buddy, and a BC campaign is getting going down at the shop, so fingers crossed on that score.  Not sure what I'll run.  The organizers are running it as a historical Arnor / Angmar fight.  I'm tempted to paint up some of the Lothlorian figs I picked up a while back, but to run them in BC I need wood elves, and I'm trying hard not to buy new stuff.  Maybe just use it as an excuse to paint up another batch of Rohan foot - with the new book, there's the potential for a non-mounted army that might be fun to try.

In the meantime, I've been prepping some more 6mm Austrians, and picking away at both some Lybian foot and Eomer, whenever I can steal a few moments.  Work starts up in a few days (I'm already deluged by emails), as does school for the kiddos, so some kind of routine will assert itself, no doubt.  Until then, enjoy whatever's left of your holiday!


Friday, December 27, 2019

The year I stop worrying and learn to love the hobby?

Hi all,

It's been an odd year in Monkeyland, at least as far as hobby goes.  Started off with a fairly long hiatus, at least in terms of the blog, and led into a period where I seem to have been bouncing around all over the place, between genres, periods, and scales. I started up at least two projects that are likely to have "legs" (my ogres for AoS, and 6mm Napoleonic Russians).  I picked up my first 28mm ancients, and will eventually get around to posting up some test figures.

Lots more where these came from

These guys are just . . . lots.

Most of my games were fantasy or sci-fi.  Some 40k with the Cub, lots of Middle Earth, and some AoS.  We moved house, and I finally have a dedicated hobby room, and space I can "occupy" for larger games if needed.  Mind you, my office spent the last several weeks as a storage depot for Christmas related stuff, so I'm looking forward to reclaiming my little den.

The boy's Space Marine fighter about to do terrible, terrible things.

One thing I've run up against this year is my tendency to "Magpie".  I have so many different projects on the go, I've gotten to the point where, whenever I work on one thing, it feels like I'm neglecting something else.  My hobby, at times, has begun to feel like work.  If there's any sort of coherent hobby goal I have for 2020, it'll be that I get over the tendency to feel "bad" about unfinished / in progress stuff.  My aim for the year will be to work on what I want, when I want (and can - there will be more demands on my time, with house and dog and work), and enjoy whatever it is I do.

I did play and paint a fair bit of MESBG.  Probably more in store.

There's some tantalizing new stuff on the horizon.  I heard just the other day that a new edition of Muskets and Tomahawks is due to come out early next year.  I have stuff painted up for the game, have more stuff to paint, and also have some half-finished terrain.  I can see the rules release being a spur to that project.  Although I ended up opting out of the Clash of Spears kickstarter (December has been a little tight between dog, Christmas, and some work on the car), I'm still interested in scaling up the Carthaginian project.  Might use Song of Blades and Heroes to start, and then see where things go.  Another maybe as an interim ruleset is DBA, for which I picked up the new rules in 2019.

Image result for dba 3.0
The big book of armies I've never heard of.

If I'm going to play Cassandra, I figure these are the projects that will see the most traction in 2020:

1. 6mm SYW / Napoleonics.  These are pretty reliable for painting, as I enjoy the process, and can generate units in a feasible amount of time, which gives me the happy little endorphin rush from getting things done.  With Nap Russians, and Russians, Austrians, Anglo-Hanoverian, and French options in SYW (plus HRE, I guess), there's plenty of variety to keep me engaged, and even the prospect of a solo game, or a real one if I can round up an opponent.

Maurice is even fun solo.

2. AoS Ogres, and assorted Chaos.  I've got a backlog to paint, enjoy painting them, and there's an active gaming scene to keep me engaged.  The new Slaves to Darkness book dropped, breathing life into some of my favorite, but underused, minis.  Plus, I got the ogre half of the "Feast of Bones" box for Christmas, so plenty of ogors to mess about with.

The Khorne horde continues to expand, with some generic Chaos and Beasts to support it.

3.  Middle Earth.  Rohan just got a new book, I've got stuff to paint, and one of my most regular gaming opponents is a middle earth fiend.  Good odds on this stuff.

All the Helm's Deep stuff in the new book might get me to paint more foot models.

3. 40k.  Cub likes 40k, I like spending time with my boy.  One thing leads to another.

Also, kitchen table 40k is fun.

4. 28mm Carthaginians.  Going to make time for these, I think.   No rush, this is my "big boy rest of life" project, but if I buy new stuff this year for historicals, it's likely to be this.  Might even spring for a hard copy of HC or something.  This is also my historial outlet for the more "toy soldier" side of the hobby, which I've been missing of late.

I'd also really like to try and get an honest to god game in with the local club.  There's a napoleonics game scheduled for January, and it's close, so I'm going to book the day and call in my marriage points to make it.  Been too long since I've played some historicals, and I'd like to actually get to know some of the local historical players.  Fingers crossed.

Stuff that might happen, but is less likely to:

1.  Games at the G-Dub.  At least for the next few months, the puppy is, well a puppy.  She needs lots of love, discipline, and attention, and the Beloved and I are alternating nights on the couch, as she needs to get up fairly often still.  It means taking a whole evening off a week to go downtown and game is harder to manage.  Add in the extra work I'll be doing around the house come spring, some emerging projects at "proper" work, and the added distance to travel post-move, and I suspect free time will be a little more constrained in general.  Doesn't mean no games, but likely less frequency.  I'm hoping, once things settle a little, to maybe get some people over to the house for games, but again, that likely won't be every week.

2.  15mm historicals.  I have some ancients, some medievals, some Napoleonic Russians, and some FIW figures a-calling me.  I wouldn't write any of these projects off, as I enjoy all of them, but they're not current priorities, and there's little stimulus to get painting done on these as a priority over other stuff.  The Muskets and Tomahawks reboot might alter that, but without a local opponent, who knows?

3. WWII.  I occasionally get the urge to paint some 15mm / FoW stuff, and I did up another batch of 6mm 3d printed tanks, but unless something really odd happens, I can't see this being a major thing this year.  Wouldn't rule out a little tinkering though.

Glory days.  For the Motherland.

4. In the definitely maybe category, there's 28mm Napoleonics, or even (*gasp*) 54mm napoleonics.  This would be driven purely by the eye candy that Victrix keep throwing across my FB feed.  It also plays back to what I mentioned about 28mm being my "toy soldier" outlet.  As much as I enjoy "historical wargaming", and actually prefer smaller scales, esp 6mm, for big battle stuff, there's a joy in physically manipulating recognizable, discrete "figures" on the table.  54mm would be strictly a lark, but I've found I really enjoy painting the GW ogres; there's something about the large, chunky figures that's satisfying to handle, and I can see that translating to larger scale historicals.

I mean, most of us get our start in the hobby via this route, and while I cherish the effect of element basing, sometimes I don't want to use pretty game tokens, I want to play a game of toy soldiers.  I can't say this is something I'm consciously planning to do, but given it's an idea I've toyed with (ha!) for years, I wouldn't rule out some tinkering here either.

Image may contain: 1 person
I mean, honestly.  How can I resist this? 
Whatever I end up doing, I think the goal this year will be to take my time, relax, and enjoy the hobby.  I have lots to paint, lots to play with, and, at least over the course of the year, lots of time in which to do both.

It's also worth pointing out that as of March of this last year, I've been running this blog for 10 years.  I started it at a time when much of my life was up in the air, and I really didn't know how things were going to work out.  The blog was a way to keep in touch with friends I'd left behind after a move.  Ten years later, I'm happily married, have two kids I adore, work that is stable and rewarding, and have a life that regularly fills me with satisfaction and joy.  Looking back through the blog, the friends I've made (both in real life and "virtually"), and the happiness I've shared through the hobby, I can't help but feel blessed.  For those of you out there who have followed, or still do follow, this diary / journal / record of my pastimes, I wish you the joy of the new year, all all the best fortune it might bring.


Sunday, December 22, 2019


Hi all,

What a crazy year.  We've lost loved ones, and dealt with sickness, injury, and surgery.  We moved into our first house.  We got our first dog.  We got our first real Christmas tree.

Which we guard with cardboard, because of said dog ;)
We've made it though.  This is the first Christmas I will spend in what will be, one hopes, my forever home.  The Cub is at his mother's for the day, but will arrive on Boxing Day, so we end up with two Christmases this year ;)  For all the bad and the good that we experienced this year, we're here, we're blessed, and we are, by and large, both wondrously fortunate, and happy.

From us here in Monkeyland, to all of you out there in the Blogosphere, I wish you a Merry Christmas, and the very best of the season.  May you be happy and healthy, and spend the holidays with those you love.


Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Whirlwind of fur. Also life.

Hi gang,

Blog posts have slowed to a crawl of late, partly a result of end of term / business / life, but also because of a new addition to the family.


This is our almost 10 week old Bull Mastiff / Valley Bull mix, who joined our happy band a few weeks back.  For those of you who've had puppies, you know the score, but for those of you who haven't, it's kind of like having a pre-verbal toddler you're trying to convince to pee outside.

In winter.

She is a sweet pup, but there is, and will continue to be, a ton of work involved with her.  The net result is I've not had a game in over a month, and have been able to snatch maybe 45 min of painting time in the same period, with similar trends ahead.  Things will settle down soon enough, but for the next few months, the blog is likely to remain fairly fallow.  I'll try to get in the traditional Christmas and "end of year reflection" posts, but given she needs to get up every 2-3 hrs to pee, please forgive me in advanced if they seem a little garbled; sleep deprivation does not make for eloquence.

In the meantime, I'm still avidly following a number of blogs, desperate for any vicarious hobby I can find, even if I don't post as often as I've done in the past.  Once she grows up a little more, time will loosen up again.


Friday, November 15, 2019

Hitting things. For Khorne.

Hi all,

Fear not, those of you who pay attention for the historical content, all is not lost.  I've still been puttering with the 6mm Russians, and have some updates in the queue.  If late, however, most of the gaming has been of the GW variety, including a couple of games of 40k with my mixed Khorne, one against the Cub and his Salamanders, and one against a local gaming buddy, Dustin, who ran a rather nice Genestealer cults army.

Cub and I played a fairly straightforward game: three objectives, whoever controlled the most at end of game won, if anyone controlled all three at end of the turn, they won.  Story of the game was the bloodletter "bomb" I set off fairly early in the game.  There's a stratagem in the Daemons codex that lets you "deepstrike" a unit onto the table.  I use it to drop a max unit of bloodletters (which are good in close combat) and a Khorne Daemon character (which lets them re-roll charges, and makes them better) on the table, with an item that lets them charge further than normal.  Basically, it lets me guarantee eliminating 1-2 units, and tie up several other for a turn or two, depending on how an opponent deploys.







In our game, it meant tearing a whole through the middle of his army, seizing the objective on Cub's side of the table, and putting him on his back foot in a big way.  Although he pushed back pretty hard (taking out my unit of berzerkers, which are arguably even better in combat than Bloodletters), the impact of "the bomb" meant I could get the rest of my army up the table and into the fight, and in close combat, Khorne has the advantage.  We called it after about turn 3 when it was clear the Marines weren't going to pull it out.

I also got in a larger game (about 1750 points, nearly double the usual with the Cub) down at the GW.  We played "The Scouring" scenario, with 6 objectives.  This one was interesting for me, in that Genestealer Cults essentially deploy their entire army either in ambush (you know something is there, but not what) or deepstrike, which meant that I was more or less reacting for the first couple turns - something I'm not used to doing given how my army works.





By the end of turn one, I was more or less surrounded, with my more isolated units facing an uphill battle, and the core of my army taking fire from multiple units, while a LARGE unit of genestealers (super-killy close combat unit) and a GS patriarch (even more killy, and a buffing unit) up in my grill.


Thankfully, Khorne is mighty; while he pretty much gutted my berzerkers  (seeing a pattern here?  they tend to be priority targets), Dustin managed to flub just enough rolls to keep my Daemon Prince in the game.  This was good, because my Daemon Prince kills things rather reliably, as do the other Khorne characters, all of which were in range to give each other synergistic buffs.  One dead patriarch, and several dead Genestealers later, and the initiative shifted over to me.



I then brought in my own reserve units, including the bloodletter bomb and some obliterators to tie up his backfield fire support.  The bloodletters proceeded to carve through the centre of the table, while out on the flank, a unit of chaos marines supported by a Lord of Khorne shot up, then chopped up his remaining threats, assisted by the Daemon Prince (who was hanging on by a thread).



This one we called top of turn 4, but it could have easily gone the other way.  If I hadn't have caught a couple of lucky breaks, or he had better rolls when he needed them, he probably would have taken it.  Even losing my Prince a turn earlier might have done it.  As it was, many skulls were reaped for the Brass Throne, and I suspect a grudge match is in order.

I'd forgotten how much fun "kitchen table" 40k is.  In both these games, we were looking to win, but none of the players brought armies designed to break the game.  Under those circumstances, 40k is still pretty fun ;)