Saturday, October 23, 2021

Za Rodina


Hi all,

As I mentioned in my "summer vacation" post, our annual summer trip across the peninsula to the "fossil beach" is often accompanied by a stop in at that side's FLGS.  The latter traditionally produces some kind of sudden, yet not-unexpected new project, usually centred on a heavily discounted big box.  Last year it ended up being chaos marines (which, along with those from the Shadowspear box, now comprise my pretty much painted World Eaters force).

About to become a hero of the Soviet Union

This year, the new project has turned out to be Bolt Action.  I've played this before, as it was pretty popular for a while in TO, and it was something the Cub showed interest in a while back.  Those games, however, were 1st edition, and I used 15mm figures; collecting Soviets for Flames of War on and off for years, I pretty much always have some kicking around, and it was easy enough to base them individually.  I quite liked BA at the time.  It plays well, gives a decent amount of flavour, and like most of the Warlord-backed games, is relatively easy entry - in the sense that you don't need to do a lot of pre-work to jump in, and can pick up the history etc. as you go.  

Assembled riflemen.  The infantry sprue gives a range of weapons options, but I started with the most basic.
Lots of customization options in terms of heads, gear, etc.

I'm finding lately, however, that 15mm is getting harder for me.  My eyes and my hands aren't what they used to be, and it's getting harder and harder to paint 15mm to a standard I like.  28mm, on the other hand, I can still manage, along with 6mm, oddly enough (my style there is almost impressionist anyways), and I find I've been gravitating towards more projects of that scale / size.

Bolt action Soviets get a free squad of basic infantry.  This one, in fact.

Plus, every force requires a fearless-ish leader.

Then I discovered that some of the local (mostly) GW crew are dipping in a toe, along with a regular gaming buddy who's doing Finns, and even before I dropped in at the FLGS, I'd been pondering jumping up to 28mm.  Stumbling across a Soviet starter box at 30% off simply sealed the deal.

They also need to take the usual minimum compliment of 2 infantry squads.  It's an infantry game, really.

The Soviet box is crammed full of goodies - enough for 60-something infantry in a range of configurations, along with command, a medium mortar, and a T-34/85.  According to the inter-tubes, these are relatively old sculpts in the range, and get a bad rap compared to some of the newer BA kits, but I was fairly impressed.  There's plenty of options, the kits are flexible, and a modicum of patience and low-grade kit-bashing allows for a fair bit of character in posing, etc.  

Although SMGs seem to have been toned down a little, even a small squad of veterans armed with them are murderous at close range.

I put together a 500 point list, and powered through block-painting and washing them in time for a first game against the afore-mentioned buddy.  He took the win, primarily through sound forethought in where he brought in his reserves (although I maintain having my veteran SMG squad FUBAR two turns in a row played a factor!), but it was a ripper of a game, and I've been going back through the Soviets to pick out highlights etc.  While the figures are reasonably details - belt buckles and pockets all accounted for, they are relatively simple, and it's been a pleasure to knock them out.

From the test game

I'm hoping the game gets some traction beyond the initial buy-in.  While f2f gaming for me is probably coming to a close for a bit, there's some hope in the prospect of the local delta wave burning out as our vax rates climb.  In the meantime, I can start to think about expanding the force.  The T-34 is an obvious option, but the /85 is limited to the latter stages of the war, and tanks in BA are pretty expensive - it's going to make up about a quarter of a thousand point force.  There's also some specialized units, like artillery observers, that I'm keen to add, and Christmas might provide the opportunity for a matching German force - at which point, dragooning the Cub into a game should be pretty easy.

AT Rifle.  Not great at killing tanks, but can pin most, and is great for half-tracks, guns, etc.

In other news, I continue to pick away at my ECW pile, expanding some of the existing units to Pike and Shotte sizes.  6mm seems to be on a break for me, right now.  I've had a unit of cuirassier primed and ready for months, but haven't felt the urge, and I've finally learned not to "push" hobby stuff.  I might turn to some of the Vikings after that, or maybe some of the Bloody Miniatures ECW figs I pick up a little while back. They're not a great fit for the Scots, but I can maybe either convert them, or find a role for them in the Royalist force.


Thursday, October 7, 2021

Last of the sun?

Hi all, 

September has been a busy month, with work ramping up again, the kids back to school, and much scurrying about getting the house ready for the 8 months of inclement weather we enjoy here in sunny Nova Scotia.  That said, I have been puttering away at the Bolt Action soviets when I can scratch together a few moments, and am getting close to 500 points of painted figures.  Once they're done, I'll throw up a post showing them off, along with a starter game I managed to cram in.

More recently, I was able to take advantage of a rare day of decent weather to get in a backyard game against Jura, once again taking the Covenanters and Royalists out for a spin with Pikeman's Lament.  Covenanters had two shot, and a unit apiece of trotters, dragoons, pike, and a regimental gun.  Royalists had two shot and a pike, and elite or veteran gallopers and dragoons.

Pictures courtesy of Jura, so from his side of the table.  Covenanters to the top, Royalists at the bottom.

This was one of those games where the activation mechanic of PL was visible.  For those of you unfamiliar with the system, units activate on a two-dice roll, different actions have different degrees of difficulty, and failure on a roll ends one's turn.  

Early in the game, Jura couldn't get his boys moving for love nor money (in point of fact, his gallopers opened things up with a blunder that sent them running away from the battle for a turn), but this evened out later in the game, when I had the same problem - I couldn't get my guys to attack on a couple of turns where it was critical for them to do so.

Festivities opened up on the right, with a clash of horse.  The Royalist elite gallopers had an advantage over the Covenanter trotters, who were sent packing on a bad morale roll.

As it happens, I quite like both PL and the "Rampant" series of sister games, in part because of this command friction mechanic.  That said, it can be mind-bogglingly frustrating at times, when your opponent presents you with a perfect opportunity, and your units Just. Won't. Act.  ;)

I imaging this kind of hair-pulling frustration isn't entirely unknown to actual field commanders.  What I like about the PL system is it's much more about managing a force, rather than controlling it.  You are constantly reacting to events and frictions in game, while still actively trying to implement a plan; there's an adaptive process throughout that keeps one thoroughly engaged.

Infantry begins to close.  Royalists have already sent packing one of the Covenanter shot wings.

We've been playing infrequently enough that we're still sticking to pretty basic scenarios, and haven't really brought in the more campaign-focused mechanics (like commander traits and experience).  I'd love to do that at some point, but as it goes right now, we often struggle to remember the point of the scenario.  The one we played, Patrol, was supposed to have us trying to get across the table, with a time limit.  We pretty much forgot about the latter element, and aside from Jura's dragoons, generally abandoned the "moving across" bit in favour of a slugfest.

Covenanters have some success in the middle, as they push back and rout the Royalist pike, but they're now flanked by a unit of Shotte.

By the end of the game, we were down to a couple of damaged units apiece, with everything else either routed or otherwise off the board.  Not to worry, however.  It was great to actually get minis on the table, including a couple of units that hadn't seen action yet (the dragoons on both sides, for eg.). 

End game.  For a scenario that was supposed to be a running battle, it turned out to be a meatgrinder.

I'm more or less satisfied with the Royalist opposition force for now, so I think my ECW efforts will refocus on the Covenanters, with an eye to grow them to something closer to small Pike and Shotte scale games.  With the Bolt Action Soviets close to playable, ECW will likely return to the painting queue, along with the victrix vikings I picked up a while back.  There's a few folks in town with vikings, and the Cub has inherited both my old Wargames Factory stuff, and added to them some fantasy elements for use in Dragon Rampant.  Vikings and Scots will likely see me busy through Christmas, at which point, no doubt, Santa will be the Magpie enabler he so often is.  Normans in Italy is something I've thought about for a while (and those new Victrix normans are looking AWFULLY nice), and there's always the prospect of some other craziness.  Victrix adding Persians to it's range is making it harder to resist the idea of an Antigonid force, for example . . . .

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Dragon Rampant

 Hi all,

D&D dragon, I think copper(?), that Cub picked up a while back, along with some Reaper Bones kobolds

So, as occasional readers may have noted, I seem to have fallen down the Mersey-hole of late.  In addition to Pikeman's Lament, I've also come by copies of his "Rampant" games, both Lion and Dragon.  For the former, I've begun putting together some vikings (and am eagerly anticipating the soon-to-be-released viking supplement), but it's the latter that seems to have gained real traction in Monkeyland, mainly via the offspring.

Puddin' moves these around the table by, I kid you not, picking them up in a handfull.  Kobolds get no respect.

Dragon Rampant uses similar core mechanics to Lion Rampant; IgoUgo, but with command friction, a broad set of generic troop types, standardized unit sizes, and a range of special rules that can be applied to distinguish units within the same troop type.  With DR, there's a much larger range of the latter (to accommodate the usual fantasy tropes), along with the option to take reduced or single model units.  As an example of the latter, when I used my GW ogre models, I ran them as heavy infantry, but with four, three-wound models per unit, rather than the usual 12 single-wound option.

Dad's ogres line up for a thumping.

The cub, using my FEC ghouls as a stand-in undead horde.

The Cub and played a game of it early in the summer, and he was quite taken.  The rules are simple enough to pick up quickly, but allow for massive customization of one's army.  Add in that they are figure-agnostic, and you can put together pretty much any force you can think of.  Some long-time readers might recall that I bought into the original Reaper Bones kickstarter.  Between that box of minis (which the Cub has been steadily painting over the years, especially this summer), my collection of GW AoS stuff, odds and ends of historicals (when I bought a bag of the Victrix vikings, I gifted the Cub my unpainted wargames factory vikings - he put skulls on them, and runs them as Draugir), and the minis he's started collecting on his own, and we are spoiled for choice.

I think this was the first game Cub and I played - my Brets hit the table for the first time in years.

It was great to get a game with them.

Where things really took off was when Cub dragooned the Puddin' into playing as well.  The latter has shown occasional interest in minis, mostly painting, but never much in play.  By her own admission, she played the first game with him to humor him ;)  It seems, however, that a game where she can simultaneously play both a fire-breathing dragon, and use both her My Little Pony figures, AND her LEGO unicorns, is right up her alley.  They played multiple games over the summer, including one where the two of them ganged up on the old man in a three-way brawl (which Puddin' won, straight up ;) ).



I am, needless to say, delighted by all of this.  While I don't know that Puddin' is about to make a deep dive into tabletop miniature gaming, finding a game she likes to play has been fantastic.  Finding a fantasy game that Cub likes is equally delightful; while he's always down for some 40k, and has shown a tentative interest in some historical play, his fantasy interests have been mostly limited to D&D.  As I write this, however, he's working on putting together a mixed undead force, made up of the aforementioned Draugir, some Wargames atlantic zombies he picked up, a D&D lich, and odds and ends from the Reaper box.  I'm generally cautious about "pushing" the kids into gaming; much as it's nice to share hobbies, I've always been leery of being one of "those" dads.  I have to say, though, seeing my kids enjoy something I love, getting to play a game with the two of them, has been a highlight of the summer.  Can't wait for more.


Monday, August 30, 2021

More fighters from a divided land

Hi all,

As I mentioned in the last post, I've been doing a bit of painting for my ECW stuff.  First up were some command stands for my completed shot wings.  When I did these initially, I just had them as troops, with flags and command elements in the pike core.  I like flags, however and am always looking for an excuse to get them on the table, so decided to add some to the shot as well.


In the process, I also discovered that along with the large core of Old Glory figs, I also have some Perrys in the mix.  The latter are a scootch bigger, but not enough to interfere with mixing, even on the same base.


I also did up a unit of Dragoons for the covenanters.  I went back and forth on the possible basing options for these.  In Pikeman's Lament, there's no rules distinction between dragoons on foot or mounted.  Effectively, they're assumed to be mounted when moving, and afoot when shooting.  Pike and Shotte, on the other hand, does distinguish between the two "modes".  As I'm effectively building "towards" a P&S force, I thought about doing both mounted and dismounted versions, but I quite liked how the mixed basing looks, and in the end, opted for that (with the use of a marker if/when I get to a larger force.


I also did up a unit for the Royalists.  Both are made from the Warlord dragoon box, with hat swaps to distinguish them.  I rather enjoyed these figs; they're nice sculpts, and the abundance of gubbins on the saddle packs reminded me quite a bit of the old Bretonnian questing knights.




A while back, I also finished up some Royalist horse.  They were completed in time for my backyard game earlier in the summer, but as they'd not had a close-up yet, it seemed overdue.




I've now got a "complete" force of covenanters for P&S, and am a base of shot away from the same for the Royalists.  Once the latter are done, I think I'll treat myself to a heavy gun, before moving on with more troops for the covenanters.  


Friday, August 27, 2021

(Hobby) Things I did on my summer vacation . . .


Well, that was busy.

The absence of posting here on the blog has not been a reflection of lack of activity, but rather quite a lot of it.  Summer is always busy for us; we have the Cub in residence, and tend to try to cram in as much as possible, whether hobby related or not, while we have him.  That's meant a series of day trips, an actual, for-real trip out to see family before while case counts were low, and a mess of both figures painted and games played.  The one thing I didn't make time for was the blog, so there's some catching up to do.

(Hobby) Things I did on my summer vacation:

1) Introduced the  Cub to Dragon Rampant, who promptly introduced the Puddin' to same.  The two of them have now played more games of it than I have, facilitated by a hard copy of the rules from my esteemed sister.  They have free reign of my AoS stuff (providing they take care of it), and Cub has spent a good chunk of the summer painting up stuff from the big Reaper kickstarter box.  I'm pretty sure some LEGO unicorns hit the table at some point.

Puddin' unpacks her secret weapons.

2) Painting more ECW.  I decided "the hell with it", I like flags, and have been painting up some command bases for my shott wings.  Also painted dragoons for both Royalists and ECW, and the Pikeman's Lament forces are closing in on "playable completed", without having to fuss with unit upgrades to make up the points.  Starting to think in terms of making the jump to larger scale games, and what would be involved.

This needs more flags.

3) Painting (a bit) and playing (a lot of) 40k.  With Cub in residence, 40k has been the major game of the summer, and I've both been picking away at stuff (mostly Khorne Marines), and playing several games.  Cub's started up a small eldar force, and we've played some small games with those, along with the first two stages of the Glazier's Creek scenario (third might have to wait until the Fall).  We've a big game planned before he heads back to his mom's / school, but as we'll still see him weekends, this is likely to continue.

With berzerkers in charge range, the eldar are about to have a bad time.

4) Played some backyard games.  Not as many as I'd have liked, to be honest.  We've had an extremely wet summer, and backyard play kind of relies on having a dry environment.  Sunny days have been at a premium, and tend to end up being family outing days.  Add in some scheduling difficulties (lining up a free day for me, a free day with a potential opponent, and good weather), and it's been tricky.  Despite that, there was the PL game from my last post, and an AoS game with one of my before-times regular gaming buddies.

Love how this is starting to look.

5) Jumping into 28mm WW2/Bolt Action.  This was unplanned, but not totally unexpected.  I've played BA before, enjoyed it, and have always been tempted by doing it in 28mm.  The other day, we took a trip over to the "other side" of the province (as NS is a peninsula, this is about an hour by car) to check out the fossil beach, one of our usual summer trips.  Said trip usually includes a stop at the FLGS on that side, which more often than not has a discounted box of something that catches my eye.  Last time it was a big box of 40k chaos marines (which are now pretty much painted, thank you).  This time, it was a Bolt Action Soviet starter box at 30% off.  I've spent the last several days happily gluing my fingers together, watching campy films in Russian (with subtitles), and planning the downfall of the facist invader.  Add in that some of the local crowd are sticking a toe in - including a buddy doing Finns - and this has some potential.

The Fall, with all that it brings (kids back to school, work heating up, Covid resurgence) is looming rather threateningly as I write this.  Work meetings have started back up, and once Cub's back at his mom's I'll have a rather busy week rushing about getting ready for Fall term.  It's kind of hard to predict what gaming opportunities will be like this fall, what with the potential of a Delta surge, but I've continued to play Command and Colours on a regular basis via Vassal (which has been rather fun), and there's always painting and playing games with the kids.  Blog-wise, the plan is to do a more detailed post on each of the topics above.  In terms of hobby, I suspect the current usual suspects (ECW, Soviets, GW) will feature largely in the immediate future, but since I've got the attention span of a magpie, who knows?


Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Action at Sackville Creek

 Hi all,

Stop the presses, hold the ketchup, and pass the parcel, because an honest to gum, real-life, against a human with miniatures, HISTORICAL game just went down in Monkeyland.

Early stages.  Royalists attempt to seize the bridge.

Jura (with whom I've been playing C&C online, among other things) came over and we played a 20-point game of Pikeman's Lament.  It was particularly fitting, in that the bulk of the ECW stuff I have (all the Scots, and about half the Royalists) came from him in The Big Trade last fall (?  I'm losing track of time . . . ).  Having spent the winter beavering away, and finally finding a day that was both conducive and sunny, we set to in the back yard.  He took the perfidious Royalists, whilst I took the staunch defenders of Kirk and Covenant, i.e., the Scots.

Another angle of the early stages.  That one unit dragging behind just would not move.

While the Cavaliers are facing a fair whack of angry Scots.

We played the river crossing scenario, which I tweaked a little by adding a second crossing to our river (more of a creek, really), so we ended up with both a bridge and a ford.  Hills and forests made up the rest of the terrain, and I appropriated the Cub's house for the look of the thing.

Their first time on the table painted, however, so you can't blame them for being eager.

A certain amount of back and forthing left both units of horse somewhat battered.

We deployed in opposing corners, and set to.  The objective was to get as many units across the river as possible, whilst preventing the opponent from doing the same.  Forces were more or less mirrors, except that the Scots traded a shot unit for a small unit of commanded shot and a frame gun.  Game ended when one side got all of their surviving units across.

The Scottish right pushes on to seize the ford.

On the other side, the Royalist foot pushes to the creek.

There's a fair amount of "command friction" in PL, in that each unit must dice to activate, and any failure end one's turn.  This leads to a certain amount of predictable, if amusing (for the opponent) frustration, as that one key unit you need to do one key thing won't.  Persistently.  Case in point, one of Jura's Shot units simply would not advance for the first several turns of the game.  We eventually decided they were drunk.

The mid game had the two of us ranged across the creek from each other.  Basically, whoever pushed into the creek was going to sacrifice a couple of turns of offensive action for movement, and leave themselves open to shots or attack - the latter at a disadvantage while crossing.  Much maneuvering took place, along with some shots fired, as we jostled about looking for an advantage.

Scots horse got bogged down in the creek, and ended up being cut to pieces.

Eventually, I forced the ford, and Jura got his boys across the bridge and creek.  We each more or less lost a flank, and though I ended up getting some reserves (lucky result on a very good activation roll), they were too late to affect the outcome.  We had each gotten three units across, but Jura's Royalists had the edge on points, and that, plus a few extra his officer had picked up along the way (again, a lucky roll, but we attributed it to his rather fancy hat), the Royalists won the day.

It was great to get the minis on the table and get in a game of Pikeman's Lament.  It's the first time I've been able to play against another person (as all games to date have been solo), and it's super fun.  Jura and I had a chat about how the different units performed, and we'll likely try another game soon-ish.  I the meantime, I'm feeling quite charged up to paint, and with a few points remaining for a "normal" sized game, I've got some Royalist Dragoons in the queue.  We'll see how they turn out.


Sunday, July 4, 2021

Review, long past review

 Hi gang,

Finished up a couple more units of Russians for Blucher, a second unit of grenadiers, and the last of the line.  With these two finished, I've now got eight units / brigades done up - the planned infantry core for my initial 200 points of Russians, so I figured it was worth getting them all out for a review.


This leaves me with another unit of heavy cavalry, one of cossacks, and two batteries of guns to finish up, which is relatively easy striking distance.  I've been slightly sidetracked by some GW stuff (as I noted last post, there's a new edition of Age of Sigmar in the pipeline, and the Cub is here for the summer, so 40k is once again a thing), but I should get to these in the foreseeable future (the Cuirassiers are staring at me intently from the painting queue as I write this).  


In semi-related news, I spent a rather enjoyable morning loitering about the Virtual Joy of Six.  This is the UK based wargames show focused on 6mm that I drool over each year, but don't get to attend (what with the inconvenient ocean in the way).  This year, they did an on-line version, due to Covid.  While I missed some of the morning sessions (time zones are a thing), I did manage to catch the main panel, some painting and trader discussions, and lurk in the background of some great-looking games.  Saw a number of "faces" that are familiar from the 6mm scene and the blogosphere, and generally had myself a delightful time.  Many thanks to those who organized the event!


We've had some odd weather here lately (stonking hot, then a week of rain) which has put a bit of a damper (HA!) on outdoor gaming, but it looks like we've got a break next week.  If I can clear the decks of some work stuff, I should be able to get in a Pikemans' Lament game against a real-live opponent.  


The Cub and I have also played the first of our traditional summer 40k bonanza, and I'll get up some pics of that in a bit.