Category Archives: wargame

The Union Forever! The Battle of Mobile Bay


Leo Walsh ran a 1:1200 scale game of the Battle of Mobile Bay on Saturday night at HISTORICON.  The rules were AGE OF IRON.    I jumped in and ran a small line of 90 day gunboats and double-ender style ships.

The UNION FOREVER!!

Most people know the Battle of Mobile Bay as the “one where Admiral Farragut said Damn the Torpedoes, full speed ahead“.. and (perhaps) that’s true.  There was a lot more to Mobile Bay than a few jingoistic slogans, of course.  Mobile Bay was one of the last great sheltered ports of the Confederacy, and as long as it was not thoroughly blockaded, the South could run blockade runners in and out with impunity.  So a Union victory at Mobile Bay would have strategic consequences for both sides.

Admiral Farragut’s plan was to attack Mobile Bay in two lines, with the ironclads closest to the local fort (Fort Morgan) where their armored sides would withstand the heavy siege gun fire, and the Wooden ships lashed together with the weakest ones outside the range of fire. The Confederates also set up a line of aquatic mines (torpedoes) that had the effect of forcing the ships to pass in front of the fort’s guns.  We considered that idea, then went for the idea of FOUR lines.

The miniature terrain, such as it was, followed the historical layout reasonably closely, although the OOB was greatly expanded from the original. In addition there was the CSS Tennessee, one other (ahistorical) casemate that started farther out in the bay and was pretty slow to engage. There were four other medium to small gunboats with sizable ordinance on the other side of the barrier.

Union Forces closer up

Originally our attack plan was going to be three lines, with the ironclads protecting the more valuable screw frigates, like the Hartford and the Richmond. Leo told us that would not keep the frigates from getting hull hits, so we spread the line out over four lines– the ironclads closest to the fort, the screw frigates in two lines, and the lighter 90 day gunboats and double-enders in line farthest from the fort. I offered to take that line over the line of mines (torpedoes) that was funneling ships towards the guns of the fort. My idea was that the lighter ships going over the torpedo line would offer a huge distraction to the Confederate gunboats on the other side of the barrier.

I’m in charge of the rickety ships on the right hand side.

If it worked for Farragut, it might work for me. I managed to slip my first two ships over the barrier with no difficulty. We engaged with 3 gunboats of varying sizes on the far side of the torpedo barrier. We were using Age of Iron, which is a pretty good rule set, providing a mix of history and playability. I’ve played with them before, though not in a long time. The rules certainly address differences in armor, ship sizes and and ship aspect. I had a surprisingly lethal exchange with two Confederate gunboats, one of which was pretty tiny and hard to hit, but as I got more and more ships over the barrier, it became obvious to the Confederate that the was stuck, cut off between a line of pilings that will rip out their hull and my line of gunboats.

Sometimes the “stupid strategy” is stunningly successful

One interesting thing about those supposedly weak 90 day gunboats and double enders: put enough of them in a line, and they throw out a tremendous weight of iron at a single target. When the second Confederate ironclad showed up, my line of gunboats laid into him, ship after ship, and in one turn he suffered from 4 armor hits and 6 hull hits, and was on fire. That’s pretty good for some wooden boats! Contrast that to the line of Screw Frigates that shot past the fort and engaged the Tennessee. We lost two of them, the Brooklyn and the Richmond, due to gunfire exchanges with the Fort and the Tennessee. I lost two ships from my line, the Metacomet (lost to gunfire) and the last ship in my line, the Port Royal, finally hit a mine and sank.

Victory!

Leo’s victory conditions were basically “Sink all Confederate ships”.. and by 1100 PM it looked like we were on the way to doing that. The Tennessee was pretty shot up, and couldn’t turn very quickly, so wouldn’t be able to engage again during the time span of the game. The other (ahistorical) ironclad very likely wouldn’t have survived another turn at the rate it was receiving punishment.

So, a Union naval victory, Huzzah~! Perhaps not as complete as the historical one, but we had more ships engaged, and were facing more Confederates, too. I had a lot of fun with this game and hope to play Age of Iron again very soon.

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WARLORD Soldiers and Strategy


WARLORD Soldiers and Strategy

You knew it had to happen sooner or later.

Added to Digital Rules: Warriors of Mars (TSR) in Epub


Quick announcement:

Visit the DIGITAL RULES page (tab up top) to get a copy

I’ve added TSR’s old WARRIORS OF MARS rpg/skirmish game/sourcebook for Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Barsoom stories.  Warriors of Barsoom was written by Gary Gygax and Brian Blume in 1974. I found the PDF for this game, quite by accident, on Archive.org, so I’m assuming the original owners have no concerns about free distribution, but will gladly take it down if TSR/Wizards/Hasbro squawks about it.   Somehow I don’t think they’ll get all that upset about it.  There’s an EPUB version on Archive as well, but it’s pretty bad– clearly someone ran a conversion script and didn’t clean up the file afterward.  I pretty much had to recreate it from scratch, which was a chore!  Visit the digital rules page if you are interested.

A simple method to use hidden information in Miniature games


Well, simple if you have a tablet with a camera and a photo editor app, that is.
Say you are running a miniature wargame with lots of hidden information in it, like the location of snipers, minefields, ambushes, “hot zones” etc.  This can be problematic in the normal “God’s eye view” of a miniature battlefield.  I’ve seen various ways of hiding hidden movement in plain sight, or tracking it off the battlefield, with various degrees of success.   I’ve tried this recently, and it works perfectly.

Say you have a battlefield laid out, or you are about to.. just one little detail.  You ask the defending player– “where are the hidden units?”

Then take a picture of the battlefield using your tablet camera, like so:

Map 1: the battlefield. The defender needs to set up a minefield, a sniper and an ambush.

Quick like a bunny, switch to a photo editor of some kind that allows fast edits and saves, and where you can use your finger for a stylus.

I use “AVERY” but there are a lot of photo editors out there.

Then, bring it up in an editor, hand it to the defending player, and have him mark the actual photograph with edits showing where this stuff is on the map. He knows where it will be, but the assaulting player will not.. until he encounters it.

Map 2: Marked up with hidden points. Mine field on left, sniper, bottom left. Ambush point, top center.

SAVE out and use it as a reference when the action starts.

Sure, that’s absurdly easy. Easy and fast is good when you have people waiting to start playing! Total time elapsed, less than five minutes.

EDIT: LordAshram from the Miniatures Page suggests, and I concur, that you make a picture for each hidden map feature, so you can only depict a single hidden map feature at a time. In the example above, there would be a minefield map, a sniper map, and an ambush map. Easy enough to do– and you wouldn’t have the pain in the neck of showing ONE thing on the photograph and trying to hide the other things with your hand or a piece of paper.

the Wargaming Rules EPUB Project, a small collection


NOTE, read first: this post is going to get very unwieldy if I keep adding file links and cover images to it, and also a lot harder to find as I continue to post here and it gets buried.  Therefore, I’m adding this content to a PAGE called Digital Rules.  See the tab up at top there?  Go there for Epub wargame rules.  Got it?  Otherwise, there’s the direct link.  Thanks!

First of all, I must tender apologies for not posting in a while.  I haven’t had the mojo and have been more concerned about my workaday world job than my hobby.  So it goes.

Secondly, I’ve been playing with SIGIL lately, the Epub editor that Google recently acquired and are distributing on one of their Google Code pages.  I’m finally satisfied that I’ve found a decent editor that can clean up sloppy Epub conversions.  Sigil does an excellent job and has tons of features.

Looking around the various resources on the internet, there have been plenty of free, good rule sets available over the years.  Mostly these get distributed as PDFs, webpages (HTML) and sometimes text files.  EPUB and MOBI formats are becoming the gradual standard in digital publishing for mobile platforms, and is even showing up as a format for distributing rule sets, as I reported in March of last year.  I think this is a great trend– I’ve been running games using only an Ipad lately– which works if the game isn’t TOO complicated.

That had me thinking.. there’s a ton of older, established easy rule sets that have been hanging out in various corners of the web here and there for decades, almost.  As a learning experience, I’ve downloaded a few and converted them in various ways– text to epub, html to epub, pdf to epub, etc.  Then I’ve gone back in in Sigil to tidy up the resulting mess.  It’s time consuming (especially for games with lots of tables), but anyone with a little XHTML experience can do it.   So I’m going to start making a few of these projects available as I create them, figuring that somebody somewhere with a table or other device might find them useful for gaming.

The first two are A HOTTER FIRE, a simple ACW Ironclad game by Alan Saunders and available on the Staines Wargame Group website.  The other is RENCOUTER, a simple skirmish game by Ed Allen that’s been on Web-Grognards.com for almost fifteen years.   The last is THE FOUR EYED DOG IS DEAD, another great Staines wargame club game, this time on the Taiping Rebellion.  I didn’t request permissions to do this, but I figure my efforts to be just another version of an established web presence for these files, and in keeping with the designer’s desires to distribute his work freely.  So I hope the authors don’t get to waspish about it.  If you are the creator of anything I post and have the slightest issue with an epub conversion, contact me and I’ll take it off the website immediately.  On the gripping hand, if you want me to convert something of yours, contact me and I’ll see if it is a good candidate.

If you want to get a copy, click on the cover pictures to access the raw epub files.

Click on A HOTTER FIRE cover to download the rules epub

Click on RENCOUNTER cover to download the rules epub

Click to download the EPUB to The FOUR EYED DOG IS DEAD. Taiping Rebellion Rules by the Staines Wargaming Group

Note: Four Eyed Dog has a Quick Reference Sheet HERE as a separate file and a set of Order Counters on the source page.  Since these are “print once and done” files designed to be printed out, I didn’t jam them into an Epub, where they would be somewhat useless.

2/7/2014 Update:
I may end up moving these to a page on this blog, rather than just this post.  In any event, here’s MUNERA SINE MISSIONE, one of my favorite simple gladiator sets by Mr. Alan Saunders of Stronghold & Staines Wargame Group fame.  I like his work.

Click to download Munera rules in Epub format.

09 Feb Update:

I’ve moved the content to the DIGITAL RULES page.  See the tab above.

Enjoy! Let me know how these work out for you. I plan on converting more. I’m likely to create epub files for my own THE MAGI and BIG DANGED BOATS.

Possible future projects will be VIKING LOOTERS, my new man to man Nappy game, and maybe some decent civil war land battle rules. Suggestions welcomed– the criteria being they shouldn’t be too complex, have too many tables and pages and are light on the illustrations.

Have fun and enjoy the game.

Sample page

An example from A HOTTER FIRE, being read in IBooks, on an IPad Air tablet. Pagination isn’t 100% perfect! The file is readable and if care is taken with the table of contents, fairly easy to navigate.

DISCLAIMER. I did the best I could with what I had, but some of the times, a table will carry over to the next page or the pagination isn’t 100% clean. I’m not responsible for the consequences of loading epubs on your tablet. Use at your own risk.

DRIVE ON MOSCOW by Shenandoah Studios, Preview


“After three months of preparations, we finally have the possibility to crush our enemy before the winter comes. All possible preparations were done…; today starts the last battle of the year..” — Adolph Hitler on Operation Typhoon, Völkischer Beobachter, 10 October 1941.

I had opportunity to get a preview of DRIVE ON MOSCOW lately and have already taken it out for a couple of test drives. Drive on Moscow is volume 2 in the “Crisis in Command” series of two player war games that started with Battle of the Bulge. It will cost 9.99 and the release date is 21 November, 2013. Players can play asynchronously, via hotseat, or against the AI.

Drive on Moscow, in case you’ve been secluding yourself under a rock, is the follow on to the wildly successful Battle of the Bulge, by Shenandoah Studios. Shenandoah Studios is helmed by ex-SPI and VG Staffers Eric Lee Smith and Nick Karp. Their company is doing their best to bring real wargames to the Ipad format, and last year’s Bulge has set an industry standard.

Main Menu, Drive on Moscow

Drive on Moscow is based upon a Ted Racier design. The game plays out the very tip of the spearhead of Operation Barbarossa in 1941, when German forces were halted within sight of the city of Moscow. Barbarossa was Germany’s first and best chance at winning the war in the East; they came within a hair’s breadth of success. After 1941, the German forces would suffer attrition at an alarming rate and never again enjoy the numbers they had attacking Moscow in 1941. The Soviets, by contrast, start out somewhat weak and disorganized strategically and only gain in strength as the days and weeks pass and Soviet Russia’s phenomenal manpower and industrial resources come into play. Drive on Moscow features area movement and an identical game engine to the Bulge game. There are many similarities, but many differences. For one thing, the scale is much larger. Players now attack with Panzer Corps and defend with Soviet Shock armies. In Bulge, the player plays the role of a harassed area commander, either trying to stave off disaster by funneling reinforcements to weak points, or a very understrength attacker, trying for an breakthrough before the faltering supply chain gets compromised. In Moscow, the player steps into the shoes (or jackboots?) of Army commanders the like of Guderian, Von Beck and Zhukov. Units are larger and have greater staying power.

The situation at start. Piece of cake, right?

Above is the basic scenario. There are victory objectives on the map, as there were in Bulge, but very clearly labelled. Of course, the plum is Moscow (top left).

The German player, will enjoy early success, as he has several panzer corps to use as his spearhead. A reasonably proficient player should be able to break through the Soviet line, especially on the left. That can be where the problems start, however.

Clearing space in the road to Moscow

The Soviets will have more and more infantry to throw into the equation and any spearhead at the gates of Moscow will soon find itself isolated by lots of annoying infantry armies and some very good tank armies rapidly popping in out of nowhere. So German attacks must be supported if they have any chance to make it to the big city. The unit mix is roughly the same, adding in railway (strategic) movement, cavalry and airborne troops which are very handy inded for the defender.

Victory is decisive and easy to understand– it’s not all about capturing Moscow.  There are multiple strong points all over the map that the Soviets will fanatically defend.  If the Axis player captures one, victory points are given for the initial capture of a strong point and more for each turn it is held; the initial bonus is lost if the Soviets recapture it. So it’s safe to say that the Germans should attack the named VP areas as long as possible and not lose a lot of time worrying about the open countryside where they won’t gain anything and lose both units and time in costly battles.

Setup Screen

Although the engine and general look and feel are very similar to Bulge, the scale and situation are very different. For one thing, Drive on Moscow just seems more colorful and bright! It must be the muted color palette that the graphic artists at Shenandoah Studios used for Battle of the Bulge, but that game always makes me think I’m playing at night– I much prefer Moscow’s big, bright maps, with clearly marked objectives, railroad movement, and wide open areas. Though I’d play either game, any day.

The New Game’s map and units

I’m only 3 games into Drive on Moscow, so consider this a preview. I’ve only played the AI opponent so far; it seems fairly competent but will cluster around the strong point VP areas after you break through the first defensive line, or at least has in the last 3 games. That’s roughly historical, I suppose. The game has elements of the Bulge experience; one side disorganized and nearly paralyzed at first (see: Stalin’s Command Paralysis, which is part of the game), the other ruthless and efficient, but at the end of a very long supply chain, and with no slack in the timetable of conquest. However, the differences become evident after the first play– railroad movement, and the terrain the map is representing, has very different consequences and outcomes. Drive on Moscow is in every way a fantastic sequel to Battle of the Bulge and will provide wargamers of varying levels of experience and competence endless hours of fun.

I strongly recommend DRIVE ON MOSCOW, which will be in the Itunes App store this week.

X-Wing Customizable Magnetic / Pivoting Flight Stand


misternizz:

A very cool post on Pen and Lead about Customizable Magnetic/Pivoting Flight stands. Being able to demonstrate an angled curved turn really adds a certain visual something to X-WIng Miniatures games.

Originally posted on Pen and Lead:

So, like so many other people, I purchased Fantasy Flight’s new X-Wing miniatures game and purchased all of the expansions thus far.  I am of course, waiting on the new expansions coming out soon.

When playing the game, I wanted a little bit more dynamic “pose” to the ships, and being familiar with flight stands that allow you to rotate and change the pitch and yaw of the mini, I thought I could make my own.   I posted a short video at the end of this post of the finished product.

I made a trip to our local Wal-Mart and purchased some BBs in the air gun section as well as some pellets.  You have to find the right type that are attracted to magnets.  The BBs you see in the image are steel while the pellets I bought aren’t attracted to magnets, so they are useless.

So, what…

View original 298 more words

Getting a few 1:600 ironclads off of the back burner


Work in progress; Painting up some Union Ironclads and scenery bits I picked up at a Christmas Sale from Brookhurst Hobbies last year… The Tuscumbia (r) and Benton (l). I’m redoing the decks, I’m not satisfied how they turned out. 1:600 scale, Peter Pig Range 7 line. These are decent resin models, not the best manufacturer on this subject and scale, but I like the Range 7 stuff– they make very affordable resin cast dockyards and forts.

I don’t have a lot of historical sources for how either ship looked, exactly. It’s clear that the paddlebox on the Tuscumbia was painted from the photographs I’ve seen, so I made her a cheerful bright blue (then grimed it up with a wash). Ditto for the Benton. An 1880ish colored drawing shows her with a blue paddlebox, so I gave her a nice bright blue one just to liven her up a bit. Otherwise the casemate is gun metal with a heavy armor wash (to give it that grimey look). The wooden decks are a Desert Armor camoflauge color that I stained with a light brown ink. It ran a little and looks dirty in spots, so I’ll either repaint it or give it a lighter highlight to look weathered. Finishing touches: considering adding rigging wire to both ships and boats on davits on the Benton. We’ll see.

Benton and Tuscumbia

Benton (left) Tuscumbia (right). Both models from Peter Pig.

Next step: painting up some remote detonating water mine markers (called “Torpedoes” back in the day), some markers for damage, submarines and gunboats, and a largish pier for riverine civil war scenarios.

2013 Game Camp Day 2: Magi Round 2 and X-Wing Miniatures


Tuesday was a good day.  Due to popular request, I ran The Magi again for a second day.  This was a much faster game than the first one as there was less stuff for the players to figure out.  It was, however, the day that everyone got enamored with casting the Summon Elemental spell, which will require an edit, I think.  It’s much too powerful as written.

the Magi and Elementals in play

Fink the Wrathful casts his second Ice Elemental; in the background Weenus Bitterkins casts a Fire Elemental to destroy both of them.

BATTLE OF THE MAGI

The Wizards Fink the Wrathful, Jenna Greywind and Weenus Bitterkins were the standouts in this contest.  Sadly, my character, Fizban the Fabulist, got a face full of two ice storms in a row and died rather quickly once the Ice Elemental was cast.  It was  a great game that saw Jenna Greywind as the last Wizard standing.

Millenium Falcon cruises by

Who invited HIM?? (Click to see Slideshow)

After a quick gobbled lunch we set up X-Wing Miniatures, using the aforementioned new star map I made on Sunday. X-Wing isn’t a game to give a lot of people mental shakes but it is a tad more complex than what the campers had encountered so far; however, everyone liked it.. even if one or two complained that it was harder to understand. I think the game is elegant as written; the mechanics enhance the great theme and the ships interact together very nicely. The subtle differences between ships were far more acute in this multiplayer game than the one on one contests I have enjoyed up to now. I think the investment in the game paid off at this camp– I had more than enough ships for everyone and the game was stunning and visual.

X Wing Game Tuesday afternoon

The game was more or less a tie, but with an edge to the Imperium, running one Tie Advanced (piloted by Vader) and 5 regular Tie Fighters. The Rebels ran two A-Wings, 2 Y-Wings and 1 X-Wing (Skywalker). The special powers of Vader and some of the Tie pilots were decisive in a game where one extra dice roll can be life or death.

Second day in a row of running two games back to back. Tomorrow Gar will run Cosmic Encounters while I set up a big game of BIG DANGED BOATS.

and as always, a BIG THANKS to Wargames Factory LLC, who donated figures for us to paint!

Here’s a more direct thank you from the kids themselves!

Guidebook for HISTORICON 2013 available for download


The HISTORICON 2013 Guidebook app is NOW available for download as of 6:30 this evening. 7/11/13.  Follow instructions below.

The HISTORICON 2013 LANDING PAGE is here:
http://guidebook.com/g/3vcidah7

There’s directions on how to load it on your phone there.

The Historical Miniatures Gaming Society (HMGS) is holding our annual Summer convention, HISTORICON, on 18-21 July 2013.  You can get in a big chunk of miniatures/SF/Historical tabletop gaming at this convention, and the Guidebook can help.

Just like before every con I make one of these for, this post is a short introduction to Guidebook, how to get it and how to use it for YOUR convention.

The screens are a little different on my Ipad, but the basic functions are the same no matter what platform you are using.  Don’t mind all the Cold Wars 2013 pictures and references, the information is essentially the same– I’m too lazy to take a bunch of pictures again for no good reason.

Front Page of the Ipad layout. The Menu is up the left side.  This is the “General Info” page, with the director’s blurb, address, etc.

First of, what is GUIDEBOOK?  This is an application, or “App” in modern parlance, that resides on a multitude of mobile devices (Ipad, Ipod, Iphone, Android smartphones, Android Tablets, and there’s even a version for browser enabled phones that can access the web).  GUIDEBOOK maintains a master schedule of every thing going on at a convention, Maps where everything is, general information about the convention,  plus maintaining a custom version of your own schedule that keeps a list of all the things you want to do when you go to a convention.. and reminds you when you when it’s time to do it.  Think of it as your, extremely personalized version of the paper program guide that can store on a handy device, beeps you when it’s time to go to the next item on your schedule and keeps a to-do list for you.

This is the Main Schedule page. Note the little color bars on the left hand side of the events? They’re color coded– RED for GAMES, BLUE for Tournaments, GREEN for Seminars, PURPLE for Hobby University, and Black/No Color for Operations

Guidebook is an application for supporting conventions, trade shows and other events by hosting a version of their event schedules, layouts, maps, and special data lists on a variety of portable platforms– notably the Apple IoS products Iphone, Ipod TouchIpad, any Android phone, and any internet enabled phone that can web-browse.  In essence, Guidebook takes the important stuff out of the paper program book you all know and love and puts it on a device you may carry around with you on a regular basis.

INDIVIDUAL BANNERS:
Each event on the schedule has a banner associated with it.  This will display on the top of the item you are looking at and everyone can see it.  These individual banners fall in the general groupings of GAMES (run by GMs), TOURNAMENTS, HOBBY UNIVERSITY, SEMINARS (programs) and OPERATIONS (general situational awareness stuff about hours of operations).  Individual look like this:


Any tournament game, including DBA, FoW, FoG, etc.

Press Conferences, Podcast events and Seminars

Nuts and bolts of the Convention.. when areas like the flea market open and close

Hobby University events

Regularly scheduled games

(A selection of event banners)

Directions on how to get and use GUIDEBOOK

The various links associated with these instructions are located on Guidebook’s GET THE APP webpage

Maps Page. Scroll right and left in the blue bar. Every room at the venue we are using is here, laid out for the convention.

Here’s some screenshots of individual event listings in each category

A GAME event
Selecting an event to put on your personal schedule, and the length of the alarm notification

If you have an Ipod Touch, Iphone, or Ipad 1 or 2, visit the Itunes App Store, for the Guidebook app.  Download it. Install it.  It’s free.  Then “Search for events” and located HISTORICON 2013.  Download that guide.   There you go, that’s all you need to do.  Start browsing and bookmarking events you want to go to.

If you have an ANDROID phone, go to the Google Play store or some other outlet for Android OS apps.  Look up GUIDEBOOK. Download the app.  It’s free. Then “Search for events” and located HISTORICON 2013.  Download that guide, and browse away.

Vendor list in the new layout
This is our vendor listing. It’s pretty simple.

If you have an INTERNET CAPABLE, but not Android or IoS phone, you can point your phone’s browser to this web link: http://m.guidebook.com  You will see a less graphical interface but it will contain the same amount of information as the other two platforms (IoS and Android).  Even nicer, when you use a web browser phone, it doesn’t count against our download limit.

I just sent the guidebook in to Guidebook.com, and it is currently being proofread by the Guidebook technical folks for final release and download.

ONCE YOU HAVE THE APP INSTALLED (Somewhere)

  1. Open it.  Do a “Search for Guidebooks”
  2. Find: HISTORICON 2013.  (they list them chronologically)
  3. Select HISTORICON 2013 for download.  This should take about 5 minutes.
  4. Then open it up.  And enjoy Guidebook Goodness.

Anyway, that should contain everything you want to know for HISTORICON 2013– Gaming Events with maps and table numbers, show hours, location, Exhibitors with table numbers, Tournaments, the works.

IF THE INFORMATION CHANGES, up to and DURING the convention, that will be communicated to me by Bill Rutherford, or some other events person, and I will make the changes on the server, which will be communicated to the users as an update to the Guidebook ready for download.  You don’t have to do anything but hit “yes”.

Have fun, and I hope this is useful for you.  I’ll see you at HISTORICON 2013!

Disclaimers:

I did not program the actual app GUIDEBOOK software, just prepared the HISTORICON 2013 data module for free use.  I’m not an employee of Guidebook.com and don’t get paid to endorse them.  Use at your own risk.

An appreciation: “Col. G. Hairy Haggis, at your service”– aka William Landrum


56000aFacebook catches a lot of slings and arrows from critics these days, mostly about invasion of privacy. The flip side of that coin is that Facebook creates the opportunity to keep in touch with people you haven’t seen in next to never. So it was today, when I noticed this face popping up in my Recent Friends bar in Facebook.  I had forgotten who owned that face.  It was William Landrum, also known as “Colonel Hairy Haggis” on the many hobby bulletin boards he used to frequent, especially the Colonial Wars Yahoogroup.  So I finally said to myself, “why would he be a recent friend on FB?  He never posts anything!”  I’m not sure if Facebook was trying to tell me something, but when I went to his profile page, It turns out Bill passed away, over a year ago, and I had never heard the news from anybody in the multiple hobby communities online.

Colonel Hairy Haggis, as he liked to style himself, was always a consummate gentleman online and very pleasant in person.  He was also an inveterate tinkerer.  Bill had his own dental supply lab that did a lot of custom work for the dentist community were he lived.   He had access to an amazing amount of tools and was fond of casting his own custom toy soldiers or converting existing ones into outlandish creations.

Hairy Haggis in his shop

Hairy Haggis in his shop
More stuff

More stuff

56513c

Back in the late 90s, when I was running a game of my own devising called LE GRAND CIRQUE at conventions, Colonel Haggis was an occasional player and enthusiastic commentator on the game. At one point I created a conveyance called The Dowdmobile, with Elwood P. Dowd of HARVEY fame as the pilot. I didn’t have a giant rabbit to accompany Elwood in his conveyance, so I used the old cop out of “Well, Harvey is invisible, you see…” as my excuse. Colonel Haggis would have none of that. Using a conversion method, he created a giant armed rabbit out of an old Alternative Armies figure. It was fantastic, whiskers and all.  He did that because it “fit”, and he was right.  Bill also participated in my Le Grande Cirque du Wabash game waaay back in Historicon 2000, I think. Those were good times.

Bill Landrum was a wonderful guy; even tempered, creative, funny and a gentleman.  He loved Victorian affectations in speech and manner, and adored Victorian Science Fiction before it became “Steampunk”.   A born storyteller and always up for a joke or ready with a kind word. I wish there were more people in the hobby like Colonel Hairy Haggis. I’ll miss him.

Ebook versions of wargaming rules, new-ish from Osprey


Dux Bellorum on Amazon’s Kindle Store

Osprey Publishing has been a major player in wargame publishing since 2008, when they published Field of Glory, an ancients miniatures rule set from Slitherine.  During that time, I’ve seen more than one reference to PDF versions of their rules online, and they might be legal, but I’m kind of doubting it as they all seem to be listed on torrent download sites.  Heck, I may be wrong, but it just seems not on the up and up– Amazon doesn’t sell a commercial PDF of Field of Glory, for instance.   Since 2008, Osprey has overseen a small explosion of wargaming titles, publishing several high quality hardcover color illustrated rulebooks and expansions– including Ambush Alley, Bolt Action, Tomorrow’s War and several flavors of Field of Glory, including the latest Napoleonic version.  Some of these, depending on Osprey’s relationship with the original company, may be available as PDFs (Tomorrow’s War, for instance, is available as a PDF version).  On another front, there is an even newer line of small, “quirky subject” wargames that appear to be one-offs, and these are starting to hit Amazon as 9.99 Kindle books.  The latest being Dux Bellorum, wargaming in Arthurian England, and The World Aflame, an Interwar Period rules set.  That’s great news.  Why?  Well, mostly a personal preference kind of thing.  PDFs are great for retaining layout and color photographs and the original intent of the author.. but they are bulky beasts when it comes to storage.  I much prefer EPUB when I can get it, as .epub appears to be a platform independent standard these days.  It’s also a very lean standard of publishing.  Most epubs on my Ipad 2 are 1 meg or less.  Most PDFs on my Ipad (the ones with lots of pictures, anyway) are 12 megs or more.  Do the math.  Aha! you say.. Kindle IS a standard.  It uses MOBI files!  Well, yes, certainly.  But anybody with Calibre and Kindle for the PC on their computer can get around that in about five minutes, and load the file as an EPUB, most of the time.
Now, why would we want an electronic version of a rule set on a tablet or E-reader instead of good old dependable paper?  Clearly, the answer depends on the rules.  For something large, hardbound with lots and lots of charts and more importantly, lots and lots of rules exceptions, I probably wouldn’t go paperless for a rule set like that.  For a short, relatively non-complex rules set like the new paperback trade versions being published by Osprey, I embrace the change wholeheartedly.  I ran two games of my own design at Gaming Camp last summer with just the Ipad and some paper roster tables.. I had everything I needed to make the game happen at hand, easy to find and hyperlinked for lookup.  I’d much rather have an Ipad handy for a straightforward, simple game (maybe printing out some cheat sheets for everyone concerned in advance) then toting the rule book around everywhere.  Besides, it makes for some fun reading in the off hours.

A World Aflame at Amazon’s Kindle Store

Osprey, by the by, double tapped me.  I bought both of Dux Bellorum and The World Aflame from them, directly, as paper books first and now just purchased the Kindle/eventually Epub version– and I’ve pre-ordered In Her Majesty’s Name in paper, which will probably have a Kindle version as well.  Great trend, Osprey!  I applaud this.

A little bit of a follow-up: As luck would have it, my PRINTED copy of Dux Bellorum arrived in the mail last night.  A couple of points: Much as I would like to convert my legally purchased copy of the Kindle version of DB to Epub for use on my Ipad, I can’t.   Wargames published by Osprey appear to be DRM protected.  And, no, I have no intention of doing anything illegal, so it looks like I’ll be reading these rules on the Kindle app on my Ipad henceforth.  Secondly, there are some limitations to the Kindle version of the rules.  As any wargamer can attest to, a wargame has plenty of tables.  The conversion has to do tables right to be useful as a resource for GMs.  My reaction is.  yeahhhhhh sorta.  The alignment was a bit messed up and the tables in the DB rules overran the margin a few times.  Still, it was readable and I didn’t lose any information, per se, I just had to swipe left and right to see the stuff outside the margins.   The DB rules are primarily black and white (printed) with some color plates and minis photos.  The printed layout was not replicated like it could be in a PDF, but it was still readable and useful.  So overall I’m not unhappy about purchasing rules via Kindle.

SAGA: More than one way to skin a cat, if that’s your idea of a good time.


You know, sometimes a solution to a problem will stare you right in the face, and you can’t see it. When I mentioned my DIY attempts to make dice for SAGA to a fellow SAGA fan, he pointed out I was taking too direct an approach to the problem. “Oh? What do YOU do?”, I asked. I won’t go to far into the details, lest I anger the good people at Tomahawk studios, but I will let a picture tell a thousand words or something to that effect.

No, I won’t go into how and I’m not going to distribute this. I own SAGA outright and these modifications are my own for my personal use only. Just throwing out an idea here…

Hmmmm… glad I didn’t go overboard in making my own custom dice too much, eh?

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The Temperance Union vs. the Drinkin’est Town in the West: A Wild West Miniatures Scenario


Woman's Christian Temperance Union, 1900

Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, 1900 (Photo credit: State Library of South Australia)

I bumped into a friend of mine, Brian Whitaker, in the Vendor Hall at the recent Fall-IN! ’12.  I asked him for a copy of Viking Looters, which I now have Vikings for, and he reminded me about a very old Wild West game I ran back in the late 90s, when I was running Wild West games quite a bit.  Brian is famous for running “Women only” games, and remembered a game I had run way back in the day as a natural candidate.  This was the Temperance Union game, which was not your usual Wild West Shoot’em Up.  It was a goal-oriented game with essentially two sides, Temperance Crusaders and Drunks.  I was inspired by an old game we ran called “Prussia Needs Women” which we ran using GASLIGHT rules, which were all the rage back then.  The basic game involves scoring points by capturing drunks or destroying liquor.  I didn’t have anything written up that had survived 13 years and several computers, but I did have a decent recollection of this game, which I thought I’d pass on to you now if you’re interested.

The Ladies Temperance Union versus the Drinken’est Town in the West Scenario

If you already do Wild West, you have the buildings and terrain already.  This scenario is really aimed at someone who already likes Wild West Skirmish games.  If you have a few old ERTL Cow Town sets or some MBA adobe buildings, that should work for a town.  This is a town based scenario and the town should at least feature 2 saloons and a brothel or 3 saloons, a church, a sheriff’s office and the standard livery stables, stores, etc.

You’ll need some civilian figures, a town Sheriff, a few deputies and a big gang of drunks and a big gang of Temperance union ladies.   Suggestions for figure lines
For the Temperance League game are at the end of this post.  For mechanics, I basically took the core mechanics of turn sequence, timing, movement, firing, reaction etc from whatever I was using at the time, which was probably THE RULES WITH NO NAME, but it also should work with GASLIGHT which I was also monkeying around with back then.

League Women: First of all, find a whole ton of Western Females (See below).  You probably have them in your collection already.  They must be of the right sort– not saloon floozies but the proper respectable sort.   See if you can convert of some of them to carry axes.  Every female human player should run at least one if not two of these.  You can also add some dowdy and respectable male characters, like a reverend, or clerk.  A small marching band would also add a lot of color.

Barman with Whiskey

Drunks: In turn, look for a good set of drunks.  This may be harder than you think.  Most Western figures are firing pistols or rifles.. this game isn’t about gunfire (primarily). There’s still a few here and there (like guys dancing, drinking etc.from saloon sets that you can find here and there or even convert.  See the list at the end.

Lastly, make a bunch of whiskey barrels from little craft bits, and put them all over the town in strategic locations.  Of course there’s going to be a bunch at the saloon, but remember this is the Drinkin’est town in the West and everyone, including the pastor, has a stash.

Craft Barrels come in many sizes. Stain them Brown Wood colored and Ink in XXX on the side.

The Temperance Union is a giant gang of characters– you could make all the (female) players play them and play the drunks as the referee, or have a few (male players) run the drunks.   Considerations: if you have humans (preferably men) playing the opposition, they are prone to the chaos factor that makes the game more exciting.  As the referee, you kind of know the “right” way to play and will make decisions that way– it gets a little “stagey”.

OBJECTIVE: The League marches through town, seizing caches of that demon whiskey and destroying it on sight.  You can have them burn it (with impressive fireballs) or take an axe to it.  For each barrel destroyed the player got a reward token (I used pennies).  For each drunk captured (see rules exceptions below) to be dragged home by the ear, two pennies.

Rules exceptions  (above and beyond the rules you are using for game mechanics)

The Temperance Union Players

The women aren’t armed, except a few with axes for the barrels.  Instead, they use the power of SCOLDING versus a specific target 3″ away.  For each turn spent Scolding, the drunk will try to get away.  If he fails his Nerve test, he shuffles about looking uncomfortable and hangdog.  If he passes, he’ll move ten inches away from her and she will have to chase him.  Once “captured” the character will follow the League woman around docilely, his will broken and he just wants to go home and sleep it off.

I used a 3D6 method for starters, and modified it for other factors– level of drunkeness, whether the drunk was married to the Scolding woman, etc.  Looking for 5s and 6s to score a win.

The drunker the drunk (see below), the greater the bonus for Scolding.  Drunks might actually be married to some of the League characters (you have to set this up in advance, as GM) in which case they will seek to avoid being captured and run a greater distance of 15″ when they see their wives coming.  Wives get an additional scold dice when scolding husbands.  When five or more League women are in a group they can start a LOUD HYMN SINGING to anyone within 10 inch range (you might wish to get some of your female players to loudly sing “What a friend we have in Jesus” out loud at this point).  This gives an additional bonus for subsequent SCOLDING attempts– the men are willing to do anything if they just stop that caterwauling.   Women in the West didn’t usually get involved in gunfights (usually!).  So the Temperance Union will not do so either.  They are respectable women, after all.  Their last and best characteristic is WOMANLY VIRTUE.  Nobody who is playing their role correctly is going to shoot them.  The Code of the West states you can’t shoot a woman.  So even the drunkest drunk isn’t going to do that.. be he might grapple with them or Cuss them out but no gunfire.  Of course, younger (teenaged) Drunk players have a problem with that, being naturally bloodthirsty.  You’ll have to ride herd on that.

Drunks

Drunks can CUSS right back when they get scolded.  CUSSING doesn’t capture anyone but it repels women who must check nerve or back up out of SCOLD range.  In addition, drunks can get involved in a tussle with women actively involved in destroying alcohol stores.  This is GRAPPLING, resolved by the rules you’re using for melee and such.  Grappling is not hitting, it’s physically stopping a woman from taking an axe to a keg.  Code of the West and all that.

The drunks are always at the disadvantage in this game, I’ve found– and that’s the way it should be.  So I toss in a Sheriff and some deputies to balance things.  They will act in the interest of the business owner (e.g. saloon) and attempt to arrest the women.  If a woman character hits a deputy or sheriff, they can use physical force (of a non-deadly nature) to detain them and drag them off to jail.

VICTORY:

Add up the number of barrels at start and the number of drunks (x 2).  This number is the victory threshold
Each Temperance Union woman counts up pennies at the end of the game.  If the number of pennies captured is less than a quarter of the Victory Threshold, crusade was a failure, and the ladies will have to regroup and try again another day.  If the total is between a quarter and a half of the threshold, it was only a minor victory in the ceaseless battle against Demon Whiskey, and they will have to try again another day.   If they score more than half of the Victory Threshold, it was a Victory in the battle against Whiskey!!!  Of course, reading the results in reverse for the Drunks..

There were a few other things, but I’m not remembering them all that well.  That’s the core idea of this scenario, in any event.

Figure Sources (2012)

Wargames Foundry Miniatures

Temperance League:
Range Victoriana, VC002 pack: The Working Class (with minor mods), VC004 Ladies (no mods), VC006 Gentlemen Escorting Ladies,

Range Old West, OW11/3 Townspeople (School Marm) (Layabout makes a good drunk, Shopkeeper a good saloon owner)

Drunks:
Range Old West, OW115, Just Passing Through (all) OW118, Farmers and Cowhands, OW 114, Victorian Gents, OW112 Out on the Town

Brigade Miniatures

Temperance League:
Doesn’t have a lot of Western Civilian women, but Western Characters (5) could make excellent Temperance League MEN.

Dixon Miniatures

Range: Old West Line

Temperance League, single figs
WG10 Woman Walking, WG27 Lady standing looking stern, WG92 Mad Preacher (bible and shotgun), WG 37-40 (Pioneer women) all work very well converting rifles to axes for the barrels. Ditto for WGP 5  WG24 Young Lady with parasol, WG26 lady stepping up (with conversion)

Drunks
WG12 Gamble/Sutler, standing smoking cigar, WG93 Barman with whiskey bottle, WG95 Town gent waving hat, WG96 Town Chav, WGV 2 (violin player and man dancing jig) WGV 3 poker set, WGV 6 piano player and singer,

Old Glory Miniatures

WP-17 Wagon Train settlers has many women figures in it.  just the right sort.  The men can be decent Drunks, too.
WP-31 Country Doc with buggy
WBS-74 Civilians (Civil War Range) has tons of women and men that would be useful.

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Olympica Test at FALL IN! 2012


I have been working on an OLYMPICA game since the Summer, off and on, mostly off because of FALL IN! Prep work. See the previous Fall IN! post about the game I ran on Friday night at the convention. I had a team of about 6 players run through the basic Nix Olympica scenario, which entails hidden Web units (and Web Generator), customizable defense and a strong mechanized U.N. attack.

Your intrepid GM has a (Diet) Coke and a smile.

The rules, for reference, are here. I designed this on the fly for a gaming camp last Summer so it’s not a profound work of genius, but it does have some interesting notions that I like, such as dice pools, which allow an attacker and a defender to choose different dice that do different things to resolve an attack. In essence, red=attack, blue=defense, green=leadership, white=maneuver, yellow=”special”, e.g. Psychic Attack. Each player selects FIVE dice in the basic mechanic, and they can add in any combination of red,blue,white,green,yellow. They both roll at once and then you see what happens. I have made a chart (seen here, but this version has been modified, I just haven’t posted it yet).

Screen “Story” on Photobucket (Fall IN 2012 Playtest):
Olympica Playtest, FALL IN! 2012

Other elements that I like:

The webbies have hidden tunnel movement. Before the game begins, I give them a small white board and they draw the tunnel complex, then put tunnel mouths on the board (numbered) in a layout that matches the whiteboard. The BOAR drill can collapse a single tunnel in the complex, killing everyone inside it. That part worked.

Web Players building Tunnel Complex, Fall IN! 2012

The U.N. has air drop rules and in an attempt to emulate the original OLYMPICA rules, can crash if they fly too close to the Web Generator during a drop. Great idea, though nobody has managed to try it yet.

U.N. Lifters lining up an air drop, Summer Camp Playtest, 2012

The U.N. can fire by platoon, illustrating their superior equipment and training. That means they get the basic five dice and 2 more from each extra squad, making 9 dice total. The Webbies fire by squad, which puts them at a disadvantage in a fire fight. The Web players did not like that.

1 Webbie SQUAD vs. 1 Light Infantry PLATOON, Summer Playtest, 2012

The Webbies have STRONG POINTS (bunkers) that have various forms of SF-y style artillery– rail guns that fire in a long ranged arc, but require an observer, Gauss Guns, which fire in a flat arc, AAMs, which are designed only to take out Landers, Tac Missiles, which can hit air and ground units, and Direct Firing artillery. In the game I ran, I had three DF artillery up close in the Strong points, a Rail gun and a TAC missile. This provided overlapping defense all over the battlefield. The actual firepower wasn’t as deadly as I would have liked.

Combined Arms attack on Webbie Strongpoint with supporting Webbie Infantry Squads. Fall In 2012 game

The Webbies have hidden placement (using orange “?” markers). Everything except their strong points is hidden at first. Worked very well for the Webbies but the U.N. didn’t like it much.

here’s the sequence of events:

Pre-Game: Webbies make tunnel map, put down tunnel mouths to match map, put ? markers on terrain to hide troops. SOME of those are dummies. U.N. allocates troops to drop ships, and prepares ground forces for advance to the Nix Olympica crater, where the Web Generator is reported to be.

I had the players roll for activation each turn, but I blew that off.. I just roll once and that’s the number for the rest of the game.

PRE-GAME DROP: the players may attempt to start the game with a drop on the map, and the Lifter above the unit.

1. ACTION SEGMENTS — in Activation sequence, players conduct actions — Move, Move 1/2 and Fire, or just FIRE with a bonus. Combat happens. Once a unit has activated, I put a marker on it and it can’t activate again (unless defending in combat) until all markers are pulled off.

Where fire hits (on the ground), a dust cloud happens. You can’t see or fire through one of these.

2. MORALE EFFECTS — if the UN unit has taken a hit, one rolls versus MOR rating to retreat. If it fails, they move back 10″ and keep checking every turn. If the unit is a Gold Stripe (leader unit) or is in a platoon with a Gold Stripe, it roles against LEADERSHIP (green dice).

3. WEB PULSE — The Web Generator fires a web pulse withing 15″ of its’ location. If there is a Lander in the radius of the pulse, it is likely to crash. U.N. infantry are subject to conversion for three turns.

4. REMOVE SMOKE CLOUDS –

REPEAT, until all units have “I’ve moved” markers on them. Then pull markers and start all over again.

BIG pileup in the center, mid-game. The U.N. got stalled here, and it cost them the game.

OLYMPICA at FALL IN 2012:

This was a great chance to get feedback from players that are a bit more critical than then the kids at game camp. The results of (more or less) the rules you see above, slightly modified to make the U.N. more speedy and lethal, ended in a game that was a massive stalemate in the center of the board, and the Webbies easily achieved their victory conditions of keeping the U.N. from reaching Nix Olympica (and securing or destroying the web generator).

I’ve noticed this in all games run so far. The U.N. player is not NEARLY lethal enough. The Webbie player loses people, a lot of them, but usually wins– that is not how the boardgame played! I’ve increased the stats on the U.N. recently and that is what we played with at FALL IN. What happened was the U.N. got bogged down in the center, held back by guns that could only face forward, when they should have advanced into the crater. There’s also a big problem with sequencing, I think. SEVERAL U.N. units can pile on to a webbie infantry unit and he can continue to roll a fresh defense every time he is fire upon, and can, under the current rules, fire back. I had players complain about this giving the Webbie almost continuous fire, and they have a point. I may have to come up with something to address that.

Also, the Webbies didn’t like not being able to fire by platoon, like the UN can. My observation is that this leads to a very powerful Webbie tactical firepower.. which isn’t in the spirit of their attack and defense. I might allow it with some thematic mechanic, like they can fire by platoon if there’s a special web pulse that allows the generator to be visual. Or something. I’m working on it.

In any event, I’m still dissatisfied, it’s not quite right yet. Any suggestions are welcome. Can’t guarantee I’ll act on them, but I’ll read them, that’s for sure.