Category Archives: wargaming

Emphasizing the story aspect of wargames

Conflict goes hand in hand with drama; and military conflict generates dramatic moments by the bushel load.  Very rarely are games presented as stories; as players, we tend to get caught up with either the history as it really was or the tactics of the situation we are in, or the mechanics of the game simulating the event.  There are all kinds of players out there.  One kind that I admire is the kind that can recognize the story aspect of a game and does what he or she can to try to communicate that to you in some fashion.  Like “Stuka Joe”, for instance.  Whomever that is.  Check out his video of a recent B-17: Queen of the Skies game.  Joe invested in a component upgrade and took pains to give the game a multilayered three dimensional look– and shot the event as a dramatic narrative instead of a series of dice roles (which is mostly what B-17 is– looking things up on a table and rolling a number of D6s).  Dice rolls aren’t even mentioned, just the results.  The result is a fun, dramatic narrative as “Diamond Lucy” makes her second trip over the skies of Occupied Europe.

I particularly liked the idea of inserting the faces of people the author knows as crew members on the “Diamond Lucy”, instead of just a nameless Ball Gunner, Tail Gunner, Flight Engineer, etc. Nice touch!

The Largest Game I’ve ever seen– Borodino 92

Those were the days…   I zoned on this in 2012, but I had an anniversary of sorts.  22 years ago, roughly, I attended what ended up being a formative event in my participating with miniature wargaming.  The year was 1992, I was working for Booz, Allen and Hamilton.  One of my work colleagues was Patrick Berkebile.  Pat was interested in miniatures, just like I was, but we were both kind of still on the outside looking in.  Patrick approached me about participating in a project he had heard about– recreating the Battle of Borodino (1812) in grand tactical scale .  This was the project of Mr. Tony Figlia and the late Wally Simon.  They wanted to create a gigantic gaming experience that would simulate the Battle from the “thousand foot up” vantage point.  This was a project most hobby players couldn’t hope to emulate on their own;  the amount of figures and terrain required spiraled way out of control.   So Simon and Figlia quickly built French and Russian teams, built around the order of battle as we knew it, working from public sources, especially David Chandlers’ Campaigns of Napoleon and Dictionary of the Napoleonic Wars.   Patrick, his brother (whose name I have forgotten, alas) and myself signed up and were assigned to the French team.  In the order of Battle, we were assigned IV Corps, Commander-in-Chief: Prince Eugene de Beauharnais, Viceroy of Italy (Napoleon’s stepson, who ended up commanding the entire Grande Armee on the retreat to France).   I recall that the Corps were divided into Divisions, and I ended up with the supporting cavalry corps (which was divisional sized):

My Unit: Corps Cavalry : Général de division Ornano

12th Light Cavalry Brigade: Général de brigade Guyon – 6 squadrons (~800 men)
– 9th Chasseurs a Cheval: Colonel de Bruneteau de Sainte-Suzanne (3 Squadrons)
– 19th Chasseurs a Cheval: Colonel Vincent (3 Squadrons)

13th Light Cavalry Brigade: Général de brigade Villata – 8 squadrons (949 men) — 2nd Italian Chasseurs a Cheval: Colonel Banko (4 Squadrons)
– 3rd Italian Chasseurs a Cheval: Colonel Rambourgt (4 Squadrons)

Bavarian Cavalry Division: Major Général von Preysing-Moos

21st Light Cavalry Brigade: Major Général von Seydewitz
– 3rd Bavarian Chevau-Légers Kron-prinz: Colonel Elbracht (4 squadrons)
– 6th Bavarian Chevau-Légers Bubenhofen: Colonel von Dietz (4 squadrons)

22nd Light Cavalry Brigade: Major Général von Preysing-Moos
– 4th Bavarian Chevau-Légers: Colonel Seyssel (4 squadrons)
– 5th Bavarian Chevau-Légers: Colonel Gaddum (4 squadrons)

I’m not sure what my “Cavalry Corps” represented in terms of actual men per figure, but I do recall that I purchased one large bag of 15mm Old Glory Chaseurs A Cheval to represent all of them– all the Italians and all the Bavarians.   AND I had lots of figures left over!   This is what they looked like:

Old Glory Chasseur figures, from the OG 15s website. Pretty much the same paint scheme I used.  My uniform painting resource was Osprey’s NAPOLEON’S LIGHT CAVALRY.

I gave away those figures years ago since I have never really collected 15mm Nappys.  Even for such an early effort, and my dubious painting skills, they really didn’t look too bad.  Of course 15mm usually does from 3 feet away.  I took my time and tried to paint scientifically but fell behind, so the night before, my girlfriend (and later bride) jumped in to mass paint horses for me, grumbling good-naturedly.

Day of Battle

The Battle of Borodino 1992 game took place in a giant field house located on Fort Meade, Maryland.  The initial battlefield looked like this:

Borodino Battlefield.  The Blue line of tables is the French set up area, the Green line of tables is the Russian.  Troops would enter the center battlefield (brown) from these locations.  The Red spot was my approximately location in the center.

Borodino Battlefield. The Blue line of tables is the French set up area, the Green line of tables is the Russian. Troops would enter the center battlefield (brown) from these locations. The Red spot was my approximately location in the center.

There were tons of gamers present– almost 100% men in those days.  I didn’t know it, then,  but I was encountering a lot of people I would come to know in the years to come as my participation in the Historical Miniatures Gaming Society (East) grew.    My troops came on the blue table and my general position for the next two days of the game was generally in the area of the red spot in the picture above.

Randy Meyers and Wally Simon played Napoleon and Kutuzov (respectively) and assumed positions on elevated chairs some distance away from the setup tables.  During the course of the battle, their only communication to the 0battlefield was by written order via paper, carried to the corps commander the supreme commander wished to influence.   I remember that Randy was using binoculars to determine what was happening on the field (as his historical counterpart would have used a spyglass).

We were using a set of rules called EMPIRE 2 by Scott Bowden. The only Napoleonic miniatures game I was familiar with (then) was Napoleon’s Battles by Avalon Hill, and Empire was very, very different.

I certainly wasn’t a seasoned veteran or anything, but I got the sense (then and now) that Empire 2 was a compromise candidate for a rule system. It was dense, chart heavy and there were some rules that made little or no sense to me. There were also rules, as we will see, that contributed to a memorable event in wargaming for me.

I roleplayed the Corsican General Phillipe Ornano to some extent, and was essentially attached to Eugene de Beauharnais’ IV Corps on paper and at the outset of the battle.  That meant I was theoretically under Patrick Berkebile’s orders, but he was involved in heavy infantry fighting the first and second days so there really was nothing for the cavalry corps to do.  IV corps was left of the Fleches (the center of the battlefield in our setup)– very hilly terrain and not ideal for cavalry fighting.  I was new to all this, but I didnt’ need an expert to tell me that.   So by mutual agreement, I detached from IV Corps and was stationed to the right of Davout’s I Corps slightly to the right of the Great Redoubt.   The player running Davout’s role was also very distracted by the largely infantry and artillery fight around the Redoubt on the first day, but he did take the time to assign me to something to do– and it turned out to be pretty valuable, as things fell out.  To the right (South) of the Redoubt from the French perspective was a largely flat area with few terrain breaks, just some marsh in areas.  As I and IV corps were concentrating on the attack, they didn’t have sufficient frontage to extend far down before connecting to the Corps on our right, which was Poniatowski’s V corps if memory serves.    Into that flat, somewhat marshy gap he placed me.  That is, Ornano’s Cavalry “Corps”, which really was a smallish Division.  I had another unit of “Lithuanian Cossacks” attached to me as skirmishers and scouts.  Not much of anything happened during the early half of the first day from my perspective.  My Lithuanians skirmished with some proper Russian Cossacks from the Hetman Platov, run by none other than Pete Panzeri, future HMGS President.   The Russians had the better of my Lithuanians, to my chagrin, and they were pretty badly cut up– at least I think so, I had to have an Empire 2 translator (referee) talk me through the complicated charge/countercharge process using their rules.

Later in the day, I noticed that the good Hetman was emboldened by his earlier skirmishes and was massing a very large cavalry attack; first a line of Cossacks, then a line of Hussars, then another line of Lancers of some kind.   The big advantage to being outnumbered in this situation is that it gives you plenty of time to get ready while the other guy is getting his big, dramatic charge ready.  So I put my tiny division in a line to receive and poked Davout in the shoulder, nodding towards the disturbing development with cavalry.  He was concerned, but also had most of his assets committed to the ongoing battle around the Redoubt.  His comment was the kind of supervision junior commanders the world over revel in: “Yikes!  Improvise and do the best you can to hold those guys off– if they get in on my right flank, I’m in deep trouble here!”
The Russian cavalry flanking move began late in the first day, and as the three lines moved forward, I noticed something.  They were on the edge of a marsh that edged firm ground from the rise where my small line was located.  If I acted promptly, I could have the advantage on them.  So once again with the assitance of a very patient referee, General Ornano sounded the charge and the Cavalry Corps tore across the field to hit first edge of Cossacks as they were just coming out of the swamp.  And here is where the confusion of Empire 2 parted, and I could see, for an instant, how brilliant those rules were.  I charged HOME on the first line and due to a fortuitious roll, totally ROUTED them.  But this was only light cavalry.  The fun really started when they retreated away from me at high speed.  They collided with and dashed through the line of Hussars behind them.  Due to some obscure rule about broken units passing through formations, the line BEHIND them broke, and ran for the rear.  Now the last line did not break, but seeing the bulk of the attack heading for the horizon, Platov turned his Lancers around and adopted a covering position, and thus the threat of the first day was over.  Davout, looking on from my left, was astonished.  “You’ll remember that“, he said.  “That was a once in a lifetime thing that just happened“… and he was right.

Randy Meyers and the Napoleonic Command team (if memory serves, Neil Brennan was Berthier) implemented a nice touch for French commanders.  If they did something pretty spectacular, they would dispatch a staff runner with a piece of paper, which represented the award of the “Legion D’Honor” on the battlefield.  In some cases (Bob Giglio, for one, playing Latour-Marbourg) battlefiled promotions ensued.  It was only a little piece of playacting, but I remember feeling kind of proud of myself for getting a “Legion D’Honor” award for my defense of Davout’s right flank at Borodino, and having these crusty wargaming veterans clap for the newbie.

I had taken some losses, which has an impact on your formation.  There may or may not have been some house rule about reorganzing units with losses in effect, but in any event I didn’t do much else for the rest of the day, just moved my guys back to a covering spot and reorganized.

picture from the actual game, back in 1992. Credit: Small Wars website, see below.

The second day dawned with us present and ready to fight but the Russians were in even less shape to go on the offensive than they had been on the first day.   I patroled my area of the field, but Platov had moved off during the night and was now plaguing another sector of the field.  The Austrian Duke Schwarzenburg’s corps was to our right, to the right of Poniatowski.  On the second day, the Austrians got stuck into it with the Russians as the Russians attempted to flank to the left of the line.  The entire Austrian corps refused the right and didn’t allow it.   This created a comical situation where the Austrians were running out of room to maneuver as the Russian attack bent around them.   To compensate, they kept relocating tables  to extend the action to the Southwest, creating a kind of sharp bend in our lines.

About midday the Corps Commanders in the Center had been fighting a largely infantry action  for almost two days and the casualties were piling up.  Napoleon decided to go for plan B.  Murat moved his cavalry corps in besides Davout, to my left.  Looking for something to do, I asked the player running Murat if I could tag along.  He didn’t mind.  So the gigantic charge around the back of the Fleches and Redbouts began.  It achieved great results, getting in behind the line in the center and causing a regular smash up.   My guys just went along for the show and because I was getting bored just watching everyone else.

The impact on the larger battlefield appeared to be to draw the entire event to a close.  That suited me fine; I had been playing for a day, almost two, and for much of that time I did nothing but watch over a field.

David Chandler himself was present, dressed as a French Marshall.  He was much impressed with the effort and consulted on the victory conditions at the end of the second day.  It was agreed, by gentleman’s agreement, that the French had indeed won this thing, mostly through NOT emulating the historical French disposition and tactics.   Three cheers were heard for both sides, then the French side launched into Le Marseilles.   The Russians counted with “Winter is coming! Winter is coming!  Winter is coming!!!!

David Chandler, noted Napoleonic Era historian, was present. A delightful guest and a thorough gentleman.

And so we headed home.  That was my first really big wargame event.  I had been to Historicon before this, and had played miniatures games before, but nothing on this scale before that, and only very rarely since.

This epic miniatures battle has become something of a legend for many who were there or wish they were.  Yet, it took place at the dawn of the Internet age.  There are surprisingly few references to the 1992 Borodino game anywhere on the Internet except a small snippet in the Baltimore Sun HERE.   I recall the old extinct Courier wargaming magazine published a small piece on the game with one blurry halftone photograph.  I remember taking pictures.. lots of guys took pictures.  But this was in the days just before the advent of cheap digital photography, and if I have the film pictures of this event in a shoebox somewhere, I lost track of them years ago.  I have only found a few blurry scanned pictures on a website called Small Wars, which recounts the 1992, 2002 and 2012 Borodino games– the organizers of the 1992 game have continued the tradition every ten years since then.

As a player, this game did have a big impact on me.. as a player and a designer.  I knew I liked historical wargaming and still do.  I also knew I didn’t have any love for those Empire 2 rules, or really games at this level.  I admired the huge aspect of the game simply from the logistical end of things, but had no wish to emulate a game at that scale again.  Without a doubt, I had a great time and that countercharge against Mr. Panzeri’s Cossacks is one of those golden moments that keep you in wargaming forever.   My largest miniatures game became the game that really got me involved in the hobby, at the end of the day.

Gaming Kamikaze style

The announcement of PICKET DUTY from Legion Games on Consimworld found me bemused. First of all, a little description.. from the Legion website:

By the time of the invasion of Okinawa in April 1945, the US Navy devised a plan to help ward off the expected kamikaze attacks during the battle for the island. In order to provide an early warning system for impending kamikaze attacks, the US Navy established 16 radar picket stations around the island Picket Duty is a solitaire game where you – as the captain of a Fletcher Class destroyer – fend off kamikaze attacks while performing picket duty off Okinawa. The game covers the time period from late March 1945 to late June 1945. Your goal is simple – survive.

The game comes with a basic game, advanced game, six historical scenarios, two hypothetical scenarios, a mini-campaign and a full campaign. Optional rules are also included. Each game turn is divided into three phases, each depicting an eight hour period. Key crew members are depicted with certain functions, as well damage control teams. 27 types of Japanese planes are represented. Some planes have special attack capabilities.

Game features include: blah blah blah blah…

Reactions.. It’s a game about fighting off kamikaze attacks. And it looks well produced. I’ve not seen a lot of Legion’s stuff, but they seem like a professional outfit:

PICKET map. Solitaire, you place the attacking airplane counters around the ship randomly (I think), and conduct attacks on the picket ship depicted in the center. You play a role similar to the B-17 pilot in B-17 QUEEN OF THE SKIES, running hither and yon, shooting at attacking planes, keeping your boat afloat.

Counters. Still don’t know much about this from the mechanics, but I’m guessing it’s not unlike the B-17, B-29 game situation.. moving specialized crewmen from place to place to fight fires, do damage control, etc. I like the looks of that.

(Click to embiggen those)

As you can see in the captions.. I don’t know a heck of a lot about this game yet.  I’m sure they’ll do the normal thing and put the rules up on BGG and all that, so I’ll have a chance to read it.  What it LOOKS like from a glance is a situation similar to the games B-17 Queen of the Skies and B-29 Superfortress.   That kind of makes sense as I think Legion Games is related to the old Khyber Pass Games publisher, which is where I got my copy of B-29 from.    Long and short of it is I like the mechanic of the game focusing on one ship/plane as the center focus and all the action sort of streams around it, like in Luftschiff.  It’s a great gaming narrative.  Picket Duty appears to be about par for the course in terms of price at 65 bucks, so I won’t be getting it any time soon (sad trombone music).   Still, one can scan ebay and hope.

The greater question is: Why aren’t there MORE games on this little historical niche?  By that, I mean, the Kamikaze attacks in the last year of the Pacific War?  Are we a trifle gun shy because of the notion that we are simulating the death of a pilot as he purposely flies his explosive-laden death ride into the deck of a ship in service to the Emperor?  Probably not about the notion of death alone.  All wargames simulate death at some level or other.  A military conflict simulation doesn’t exactly have “conflict” without it.   Sure, we kind of grimace or blink when  a cardboard counter disappears from a gameboard, because we’ve been inconvenienced.  We might lose the game, you know.  But we don’t really think about the human lives that are being lost when that tank, or ship, or infantry silhouette, or squad symbol, gets removed as a result of rolling dice on a CRT.  There’s been a longstanding subtext and argument about the morality of wargaming going on since wargames were created, and I’m certainly not going to weigh in on that one.   It’s just that.. that.. kamikaze attacks are so personal.  It’s a human being purposefully trying to kill himself JUST AS HARD AS HE CAN, so he can KILL YOU.   I can see why this hasn’t been first choice for game designers, especially subsequent to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, all of which were suicidal in nature.

That doesn’t mean the topic has been entirely avoided heretofore.  FIRE AND MOVEMENT magazine’s only issue game ever, Number 31, was on the subject of Kamikazes. Designer: Dana Lombardy.

One of my housemates had this issue, but it was unpunched, so I never played it. I don’t remember much about it, but if memory serves me you cut out some ship cards and placed them in a convoy formation. Then the HORDE of kamikaze attacks would start at all angles of the compass, trying to plow into your little task force. You got to launch fighters too, and had destroyers and frigates with tons of AA to take out the attacking waves and protect the Carrier (I think). From some of the imagery on the game description on BGG, it appears that my memories of this one are pretty accurate. It would make a great miniatures game, but I’d have no idea where to begin getting ships and planes to scale. Axis and Allies miniatures, maybe, but even that isn’t as cheap as it used to be.

Artwork: good by 80s standards, nothing to write home about.

Artwork: good by 80s standards, nothing to write home about.

One feature that that I liked was the notion of no map being necessary. Since the action is really about the plane and the ship (and you on the most featureless terrain imaginable, water), they just cut the ships into chart/cards and put them in formation, miniatures style. Very elegant for its day.

Not a bad effort, either one. I suspect we won’t be deluged by Kamikaze games as the next big thing, but these both look like interesting games to me and I wouldn’t be too holier than thou to pick one up. Though it’s going to be the one that isn’t 65 clams!

Donald Featherstone: an Appreciation

Cover of a a very ancient WARGAMES NEWLSETTER, dating back to the early 60s.

Cover of a a very ancient WARGAMES NEWLSETTER, dating back to the early 60s.

The word is being passed slowly from across the Atlantic that Donald Featherstone passed away yesterday. For all my non Geek friends, Don was a pioneer in the area of tabletop miniature game design (mostly of the historical flavor), or “wargames”. Don wrote dozens of books and articles on the subject– dating back to before I was born.  He published a very influential newsletter called, simply, WARGAMER’S NEWSLETTER which had its heyday back in the early 1960s.  I’ve owned and read many of Don’s books, but not all of them– there were so many on all sorts of historical subjects.  My personal favorites were his books on  Solitaire Wargaming, Naval Wargaming and Skirmish Games.   I’ve designed a lot of one-off miniatures games in the course of my adult life; virtually everything, including the silly stuff, has a soupçon of Featherstone’s influence in it somewhere.   The man to man Napoleonic game I’m working on right now, for instance, has equal dashes of Bruce Quarrie’s Napoleonic Wargaming for Fun and Don’s Skirmish Wargaming in it.  When you’re going to steal, steal from the best.

Don in an article from the early 90s.

I only met Don one time, during the mid 2000s at a HMGS convention– Cold Wars, I think. He was very frail but his mind was sharp and gleeful. I had drinks with Don and Bob Leibl and Cleo Hanlon. He was amused that people were always assuming he had already passed and used the phrase “rumors of my demise are greatly exaggerated” at least once.  We didn’t really discuss wargaming or “the hobby” all that much.  As I recall, he was more interested in discussing football (not the American version) and some American television programs.  It was an odd tete a tete.

A reissue cover of a Featherstone title

If you haven’t read a Featherstone book, you really should.  They are mostly in the process of being republished in perfect bound trade copies by John Curry’s History of Wargaming Project.  Pricey but worth it– these are almost impossible to find unless you are a really dedicated deep diver at flea markets, boot sales and used book stores.  I couldn’t have picked up Skirmish Wargaming and Naval Wargaming without the History of Wargaming Project.  Thanks, John Curry.  It’s amazing and amusing about how much of our modern miniatures hobby can be traced back to Don Featherstone in England and Jack Scruby in America.  Everything.. including your latest hipster big-shoulderpad SF games, Fantasy games, D&D, etc.. everything… owes more than   a little to these men and the hobby they created with their tireless work and creativity.    Don Featherstone, for such a diminutive, soft-spoken fellow, wielded tremendous influence over the hobby back in its founding and  growth years.

A charming man, a great hobbyist and writer… I’ll miss Donald Featherstone.  In his honor, the OFM (on the Miniatures Page) is suggesting we run games that “don’t take themselves too seriously”.  What can I say?  I’m all in on this one.


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.

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.


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.

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:  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, and it is currently being proofread by the Guidebook technical folks for final release and download.


  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!


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 and don’t get paid to endorse them.  Use at your own risk.

Mongoose Publishing, you are SO cheeky!

There’s some vague hints of an Ipad app coming soon from no less than Mongoose Publishing, the folks who did Starship Troopers and Judge Dredd Miniatures games. I like them for a robust set of naval rules they publish called Victory at Sea. VaS is a very straightforward set of naval rules that models WWII naval combat in all theaters (with a separately published WWI variant).

Well, it had to happen.. they just released a statement about an impending Kickstarter for Victory at Sea for the Ipad. The developer is going to be a company I haven’t heard of called iEvilGames. iEvilGames is a UK company whose output so far appears to be cutesy Anime style games, a resume that should fill a hardcore naval gamer with dread. Still, one must hope. There’s not much written anywhere about what the app will look like or is supposed to do. Will it play an arcade version of WWII Naval combat? Will it be a helper app for the Miniatures game. Will it be some bastardized arcade version of Naval Combat that entered into a pact with the folks at Mongoose to use their miniature game’s name? It’s hard to say at this point in the process. We’ll see more once the Kickstarter Kicks Off.

The iEvilGames website isn’t revealing much:

What is Victory at Sea?

VICTORY AT SEA is a naval combat game for iOS and Android where players take command of fleets in a desperate attempt to win the overall victory in World War 2.

Navigate your fleets around the Atlantic, Pacific and the Mediterranean theatres of war and engage in real time epic naval combat. Victory at Sea combines a simple touch control system with a large and detailed campaign that contains vast numbers of historically accurate ship variants, the likes of which have never been seen before on a mobile device. Victory at Sea will be easy to play but difficult to master and will be one of the largest and most engaging war combat games ever.

Our team here at Evil Twin Artworks have been developing games for mobile devices since the beginning of the app store. We are gamers with a penchant for strategic games and are disappointed with the current lack of in depth games in this genre on mobile devices. We want Victory at Sea to become the massive, immersive combat game all mobile devices deserve, taking full advantage of it’s intuitive touch control system.

Victory at Sea is a highly successful table top game made by Mongoose Publishing, the company behind the Judge Dredd Miniatures Game, A Call to Arms: Star Fleet and Babylon 5: A Call to Arms games. The mobile game will encapsulate the vast amounts of information behind the table top game which will create a massive video game. The iOS / Android versions will also inherit the fast flowing rules that allows novices and veteran gamers alike to enjoy recreating the epic struggles between the mighty fleets of the era.

Couple things jump out here. Real Time. Massive and Immersive. That hints at real time play on a massive scale. Hard to say. If I can see more about what their intentions are, I’ll know if I want to fund it or not. It could be the second miniatures game helper app to get published (after Ironclads). That’s an exciting idea.

So far, the graphics are not wowing me.

I am intrigued enough to check back. Victory at Sea is my favorite game from Mongoose.

Why I’m all in on an Ironclads Helper App

As long term readers will agree with an eye-rolling and a faint “no-duh” faintly escaping their lips, I like miniature wargames. I also like Civil War and later naval games, particularly featuring Ironclads– as in the new class of armored, steam powered ships that changed naval warfare forever during the American Civil War. 1861-1865 was a period of naval change that was no less than revolutionary. In less than a year, the Navy went from a polyglot, all wooden service that still used sail as the primary motive power for vessels to a multi-faceted technologically innovative force, capable of engaging in very modern combined force operations all over the Confederate coastline. As the role of the Navy expanded exponentially, it had to expand its technologies to meet a host of challenges– blockading the sprawling Confederate coastline, intercepting blockade runners. Patrolling rivers in the Western Theater. Bombarding shore positions. Landing Troops. Most importantly, meeting the nascent Confederate Navy on the water wherever it could be found. It was an exciting time in naval history, and I love it.

Naval combat in this age was a risky endeavor. The steam engines of the era were relatively new and almost always underpowered for the iron beasts they were propelling across the water. The ships of the day faced all sorts of perils from all quarters– Wind and rain and sickness and occasionally an enemy ship. The occasions when ships of the two fleets engaged in a shooting contest were relatively rare after 1863, sadly, but always a moment of high drama for both sides. Ironclads, and warships in general, were an expensive, labor and resource intensive item for this time period. Would they smash the enemy? Or would the engine blow up and the bow stave in? Even for the technologically advanced Union Navy, success was not always certain. Things… critical things.. could go wrong or be overlooked, often with disastrous outcomes.

Gaming the naval Civil War can be a ticklish proposition, depending on who your audience is. Do you go for a quick set of rules that emphasize maneuver and contact, like Beer and Pretzels Ironclads? Or something more abstract, like Hammerin’ Iron? Or do you try to get the best historical experience available. For my money, the game that simulated real, actual naval combat better than most others was the original IRONCLADS, by Yaquinto games, published way back in the 80s. This was a game that accounted for all those crazy factors in an ironclad fight– Armor slope and thickness and the position of the ships and the weather and the crew levels… etc., etc. A lot of people agree with me.. IRONCLADS was (and is) maybe the best historical treatment of ship to ship combat during the Civil War, even if it did start life as a boardgame. Converting it to miniatures never was a huge problem– I’ve played many games of Ironclads without hex grids.

The big problem I’ve always had with Ironclads, however, was the multi-stepped combat and the large number of chart lookups just to achieve some positive result. Ironclads can be a slow game– and it’s not a set of game rules I would currently use for a convention game. Why not? Mostly a combat resolution that takes several steps to resolve something simple, like “What happens when I fire my Parrot gun at that Casemate over there?” Most games I’ve played at cons have gone pretty slow as a result of the level of granularity. That’s the price you pay for playing a game with a fair degree of historical accuracy. You young whippersnappers don’t appreciate this at all, I know, but that’s what wargame design was like in the early 80s. Wargames were like fine sippin’ whiskey… you took your time and you savored the experience.

The Ironclad boardgame was in a limbo for a while. It got acquired by Excalibre, a reprint house, and they did an okay job on the components, but not stellar. The rulebook, which was pretty dense in the original, was now twice as dense as it was shrunk down to about 80% of the original size and the fonts were hard to make out (can you tell this is the version I own?). Somewhere along the way, Toby Barrett of Thoroughbred Miniatures picked up the rights to the system from the original designer. If you know anything about 1:600 Ironclad miniatures, you know there’s three main vendors, and Thoroughbred is the best of them, based on detail, casting quality and the depth of the line. (Though to be fair I think Bay Area Yards would be a serious contender if they expanded their selection a bit). Toby appreciates the complexity of the original Ironclads game; a game helper application has been lurking on the back burner for years. With the advent of Ipads, it appears he found the right platform. I agree. That’s why I think I’ll be taking advantage of the Kickstarter going on to make IRONCLADS into a game helper app. I’m not sure where they’re going with the helper app concept..will it play the game from start to finish? Hard to say, but it appears that they are creating something like SHIPBASE III for Ironclads, and that could be very useful for an Ironclads geek like me.

So I’m all in, even though I’ve got a lot of Ironclad minis already. I’ve been running Hammerin’ Iron 2 and BAPS Ironclads at conventions, for the speed, not the depth of the rules. I think it would be really neat to run a game of Ironclads to the finish with just an Ipad and some dice.

Here’s the link to the Kickstarter, Enjoy:

15mm SF update: Earth Force painting, Scenics acquired

So, my latest addiction is 15mm SF, as you can see by prior postings. My intention is to build a small mixed tech/medium tech village inhabited by farmers and miners, with a central administration building and a few outlying higher tech structures, then a hodgepodge collection of structures built out of whatever material is close to hand. My vision is that shipping containers would get a lot of reuse as structures, as well as a few mud huts (with high tech add ons like satellite dishes). As there is a distinct rebellious and religious element in the populace of the campaign I’m developing, I’m adding MBA’s 15mm mosque and maybe a few Mediterranean 15mm buildings. I’ve also added Blue Moon’s higher tech buildings (two of them) as the central complex. The rest of the structures are going to be kitbashed out of electrical utility boxes (about a dollar each), pencil boxes, and Papier-mâché style craft boxes from arts and craft stores. Since the colony does skirmish with native fauna on occassion there are some defense pillboxes on the perimeter near the agriculture fields to keep larger predators away. Other than that what troops there are are ad hoc levy types. I haven’t bought and painted them yet but I’m contemplating the Sahad by Rebel Miniatures. They match the arid landscape I’m creating. This week I painted most of the Earth Force group I’m using as the attacking force (well, base coat, anyway… pictures when they are done and I’m not too embarassed to show them). Overall color scheme is dark olive uniform with light grey highlights, black leather boots and gloves, green helmet and black googles. Support weapons get a blue helmet and armored troops metallic gunmetal shoulder and helmet pieces. Command/squad leader types will get some form of insignia.

Two great low cost finds this week:

A relatively modern looking Elevated Water tank for the settlement from Rix Products:

Rix Modern Elevated Tank

Water collection and storage would be one of those important tasks for my fictional settlement, and I can see this as being a victory objective for the attacking force. I could have gone with a HO scaled water tank with the classical cone top, but this strikes me as looking more science-fictional. Pretty cheap, too, I got it for about 8 bucks on Ebay.

Alternative energy sources:

The settlement would be challenged in its early years to create power cheaply and efficiently. There probably would be a range of technologies in evidence that seem positively 20th century for a SF setting, but if you think on it, they probably would be the easiest and most cost effective choices available for a struggling colony. Using that assumption as a baseline, I went with a lot of wind turbines and solar panels to generate basic electricity, supplemented with methane collecting and burning, water wheels, etc. I don’t want to go TOO deep in the weeds here so I’m representing the basic concept of homegrown power by adding a forest of wind turbines and solar panels. My go-to set is from Woodland Scenics Scene-a-Rama Alternative Energy Scene Setters (item WLS-4348). These are about 10 bucks from Woodland Scenics and you get two solar panels (for rooftops) and two wind turbines with each kit. I ordered 3, for 7 each, from Ebay.

Woodland Scenics Scen-a-rama Alternative Energy set

These scale very well against 15mm scale buildings.

I also picked up 3 OKI Wind Power Turbines. They are constructed for 6mm SF sets but scale very nicely to 15mm:

All this extra detail (alternative energy, water storage, soon– agrictulral plots) may seem extraneous but I think it’s the little details that make a game setting more memorable and tell a story.

Old Stuff Day: Singlehanded Admiral Repost

Apparently Bleaseworld has declared “Old Stuff Day” to be March 2nd. Old Stuff Day is a day for bloggers to bring out their old posts of note and republish them for the blogosphere at large. Had I but known! I’ve been blogging for almost a decade, I have plenty to trundle out.

One especially GOOD Old Stuff Day post was from the Singlehanded Admiral, a blog on Naval Gaming I follow. He and some of his mates decided to break out a game of Fletcher Pratt‘s naval rules at some point in the past. If you know anything at all about Fletcher Pratt’s naval game, it doesn’t play well in a confined space, to put it mildly. Pratt’s wargames were played in gymnasiums with 1:1200 scale ships. Lacking a gymnasium, these chaps decided to play the game outside, in a field, in the dead of Winter.

Quote from the post itself:
I had two USN battleships (USS Colorado and Arizona, based on neither ship being at Pearl Harbour on the 7th) while Curt fielded the Kongo and Ise for the IJN, with Sylvain acting as GM. After about 35 minutes of game time (about an hour and a bit of real time) we traded some hits with my eyesight proving superior to Curt’s. He decided to cut and run, which was quite alright with me. I did my running sprinting across King’s Road park chasing down ship logs and turning circles blown away by the gale force winds.

One of the pictures illustrating the blogpost. Visibility must have been a bear in that dead grass.

I’ll let the post finish it up, see the link below– I just got a big kick out of this “blast from the past” and the dedication of these fellows towards good old Fletcher. Well done, lads!

Original Post: Old Stuff Day.

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?

Enhanced by Zemanta

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.


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.


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.

Fall-In! 2012 AAR and apologies

First of all, I apologize for the decline in blogging output from August to now. I haven’t had a lot of free time in the evenings. My daughter went off to college with all the attendant angst that represents, and I have been FALL IN! 2012 events coordinator for this past convention. For better or worse, it’s a time sink, and I haven’t had a lot of energy or creativity to blog much. More on this later. In any event, that’s trend that’s going to change starting right now. I actually have a draft battle report in the hopper that dates back to August. I’m going to have to get on the stick and move out.

(Here’s the obligatory SLIDE SHOW, on Photobucket.. I shy away from adding tons of pictures to these things because I’m not a great photographer and almost never take pictures of what people want to see anyway. If Flash isn’t working on this browser, click on the picture of the Aether Battleship to move on to Photobucket)

FALL IN! 2012


CLICK THE AETHER SHIP TO SEE SLIDESHOW if the link above isn’t displaying correctly

So, right, on to one of my favorite kinds of posts, the semi-obligatory convention recap I’ve been writing since… hmmm.. 1996? So here we go– FALL IN. The Autumnal convention for HMGS. The red-haired stepchild made good. The cash cow, nowadays. The least worrisome convention in the HMGS pantheon. This was held the first weekend in November, 2012, at the current venue of choice the Lancaster Host. The Host has its detractors and its proponents; it is a bit worn down, it’s not particularly handicapped friendly and it is laid out in a manner that is somewhat confusing to new people. For me, a convention at the Lancaster Host is like an old Roman soldier putting his feet into his army sandals; not the most plush footwear but he’s familiar with every inch of it and it can continue to provide service for many many more miles. Dan Murawski was convention director for FALL IN!– and I have to say that he did a great job. Being a CD can be very challenging, not just with the job on the face of it, which requires many, many hours of work, but also the back-channel considerations that come with handling the delicate diplomacy of HMGS. I’m sure it was an eye-opener for Dan! Poor sap! Har har har har! Seriously, he done good and we owe him a big “attaboy”, a couple of Michelob tall boys, and thank you for his efforts. I worked very closely with Dan during that time and can attest that he was engaged with everything from start to finish, and he was outstanding in helping me resolve problems with the Event Management system.

And speaking of events: I wish I could say I am satisfied with the job I did, but I really can’t. Communication stunk, and it was often my fault. I would miss an email embedded in GMAIL’s “message tree” format, or just not have a lot of time to be on email or TMP or the loathsome Yahoo groups. For that, I can only apologize if you experienced a problem with game scheduling. I had some real life events in my life, mostly work related, which would have me getting home at 7 or 8 at night, most nights, in September. Not a good time to be sitting down to do FALL IN EVENTS at night, starting, say, at 10 or 11 PM. Mistakes creep in when you get to sleep around 2 AM, night after night. This is all fixable. I have told Dan that I would recommend someone else for next year.
For all that being said, we had a ton of events scheduled. Lead got on tables, games got played, and people were happy. That part I am proud of. It was a great show!

The typical stream of consciousness that I usually write in to do an AAR will be a little curtailed in this post, although it will follow my usual time narrative– Thursday I was concerned with sorting out the Addendum pages for the Program Booklet and marking tables with special purpose neon green duct tape. The experience put events in sharper focus for me. People claimed that one of the tables in my Distelfink layout had vanished and that was a mystery to me. The layout matched table for table on Thursday, but was all a hooey by Saturday. The missing table had been consumed by someone making some layout changes on their own without consulting the GM desk. Again, this is fixable but it might require a lot more proactive monitoring by the events people. Like, for instance, if an events shift hits a slow moment, it wouldn’t hurt to audit the Distelfink’s current table setup against what is published in the program book. Just thinking out loud here.

Events desk

“Yeah, sure, like, we don’t have much going on here, why not add another job to what we do already…”

So I had a beer or two Thursday night and some good conversation with friends in the bar, and finished table marking in the wee hours. The next day was Friday, which I spent doing the Flea Market, kibbitzing and Shopping… I found some minis I needed for my 7PM Olympica game in the Flea, which helped a lot. I also broke down and invested hard currency on a game I have been tracking since HISTORICON 2012– FANTACIDE by Alien Dungeon. Fanticide was definitely part of “the hotness” at this convention. The Alien Dungeon people were demoing it regularly and had all the battle packs packaged up for sale.

Fantacide on the Shelf at last

Now, I’m probably going to review it in depth in a later, non-AAR post, but I like the looks of Fanticide. It’s reasonably generic in terms of mechanics and isn’t going to give anyone wrinkles. Basically it’s a small unit fantasy skirmish game in a very unusual setting (a flat earth with a wormhole of sorts in the center). I dropped about 100 bones on the starter box Friday, which features the Fae (little woodland critters) versus the Libari (American Indian style centaurs). Not my two first choices (I like the Creeps and Flying Monkeys more) but that’s what they had in a starter box.

You can see a a little unboxing video here. Since WordPress doesn’t like the OBJECT or EMBED tags, just go to Photobucket to view it. Sorry!

What I like in this game is that it is goofy, fast playing and very customizable. You don’t HAVE to buy the miniatures they make– you can make a war band based on almost anything, as long as you have the basic elements (stickers, shooters, legends, masters, etc.). Personally, I would be hard put to NOT get “the Creeps” (eventually) and Flying Monkeys. Just because. Oh well, I guess that means I’ll be getting everything then.

The Creeps attack!

There was some empty space at the back of the dealer hall, so it’s clear we didn’t get a full house, but the standard vendors were there.

The Dealer Room, left to right (on Sunday, click to embiggen):

1 of 32 of 33 of 3

Other big games in Evidence were Fireball Forward (many new product demos), Command Decision (being played), Carnage and Glory 2 (being played), and Combat Action Command.   The dealer room had some new product, but for the most part, FALL IN isn’t the big con for product releases, and first tier vendors aren’t there in force.  So we saw more resellers than manufacturers present.

Friday night, I ran Olympica, which is a miniatures version of a very old paper microgame from 1978.  I have run this before but mostly for a kid crowd.  So the rules are far from perfect.   The game design includes customizable dice pools that do different things– attacking, defending, maneuvering, leadership, and a mixture of all or any of the above depending on the color dice you choose.  It’s an interesting place to start from, but my audience on Friday, being gaming geeks and tinkerers like me, soon had a bunch of suggestions for improvements, all of which I’m going to playtest.  In general, my feeling is that the game isn’t nearly as bloody as it needs to be to achieve the flavor of the original paper game, and I need to either shorten the map or increase the ground speed and lethality of the units involved.  Most games played so far involve bloody stalemates in the center as the heavily  armored UN heavy force punches its way through the Webbie line.

I’m going to save the OLYMPICA replay and design notes for a follow on post.  In the meantime, here’s a few pictures:

Olympica 1Olympica 2Olympica 3

Olympica 4Olympica 5Olympica 6

I’ll be rewriting the rules again, not drastically, but I’ll post on here what I come up with.

Moving on! Friday night! I packed up the game easily enough and put it away, then sat down on the edge of the bed in my room “just for a second”.. and ended up waking up at five in the morning. Exhaustian had set in. So, Saturday morning dawned. I actually had a big breakfast, which even though I had paid for it in cash, was mysteriously charged to my room. How they knew it was me, I don’t know. I wanted to play at least two games on Saturday, as I had been doing a lot of socializing, but not a lot of playing. Which is okay, by the by, some cons are like that. I signed up for JUTLAND 1914 at 11AM and Martian game run by Bob Charette in the evening.


If you’ve read this blog for a while you already know I was going to probably get into at least one Naval game. Jutland 14 was a hypothetical scenario that hypothesizes what would happen if the German High Seas fleet sailed out in 14 instead of 16. The rules were “Victory at Sea” which was published in a very old issue of Strategy and Tactics. We were fighting the middle part of a much larger hypothetical event, with the Super-Dreadnoughts of 1914 being engaged North of us, and the creaky, older pre-dreads being just South of us in the battle space. So we were fielding Ships of the 1906-to-1910 variety in my neck of the woods. Indeed, Dreadnought herself was in my division.

The British Line was comprised of these ships:

Vanguard, St. Vincent, Collingwood and Superb (division A)
Neptune, Colossus, Hercules (division B)
Dreadnought, Bellerophon, and Temeraire (division C, which I commanded, though Dreadnought was at the end of divison B)

At start of battle, the three British divisions are approaching the German line in 3 perpendicular lines, A to the North, B in the center and C at the bottom. The German line is heading North and the British lines to the East, with the intention of wheeling North and forming a line to engage with the Germans.

The Germans had these ships which were handled in two divisions. Oldenburg, Helgoland, Thoringian, Rheinland, Westphalian, Posen and Nassau.

The two fleets at start of the engagement.

Ships moving

Ships moving at start

Almost immediately, the lead ship of the division A (Vanguard) ran into some trouble, and a control room hit affected his steering grievously. So we were trying to turn into line just dodging the now very slowly moving Vanguard

Vanguard in trouble

The Admiralty is NOT amused by your shenanigans, Captain.

From the vantage point of division C, this battle was a mix.. my lead ship was the Dreadnought, attached to division B, and that was a ship that was targetted routinely but suffered very little damage until we were all in a line. The Bellerophon suffered many more hits but not enough damage to really degrade performance. The Temeraire.. well, we’ll discuss that one shortly.

Dodging the navigational screwup

From the untrammeled view of division C, this was easy to avoid.

Things looked bad for the Vanguard, things looked WORSE for the Neptune, which went up with a critical hit and died a nasty and quick death… before we were in range to fire a shot in anger!
When we got into a line abreast, sort of, the battle changed rapidly.

a line of sorts

Eventually we straggled into something resembling a line a’breast. We were badly spaced out but finally in a position to support each other with gunfire.

My division C was now at the tail end of a long line of gunnery that was firing at each of the ships in the German line in turn. As the Huns had a bit of a lead on us for most of the game only the Dreadnought (tailing division B) and Bellerophon (heading division C) could fire back. The combat system penalized ships with battle damage so it would move slower and not fire as quick. Gradually, the tailing German ships started slowing down, and that was when they were under the guns of the Temeraire. At that point, the tailing Germans (Posen and Nassau) were getting struck by 5 or 6 British ships in one turn. The result of this punishment should be obvious.. German ships were going to start going down. Temeraire, now that she was hitting, put both the Posen and the Nassau under the waves.


Farewell, HMS Neptune!

The Germans made a run for it out of the battle zone, as they couldn’t match that kind of firepower, and it was clear our tactic would be to roll the line up from the bottom. As each German ship was overtaken by the end of the line it would be under the fire of 4 to 6 ships. They were already battered.

German fleet.. LEAVING

Gott im Himmel, let’s vamoose!

At this point we had about an hour or less left, but the Ref called it a draw, as the Germans were clearly on the run, two ships down. We had lost one ship (Neptune) and were shot up here and there, but not as bad as the Germans. The Ref said due to the nature of the British losses, and where we were in the larger, hypothetical battle he had in his mind, he would say the RN wouldn’t have been dancing with glee over the results of this one, but not unhappy either.

German High Admiral

The German High Admiral gets his chust rewards, ja!

The German High Admiral was adjudicated the “best player” and awarded the prize, a fat binder of technical data on the German High Seas Fleet. Great game!

Rest of Saturday…

I had a few hours before the evening game, so I schmoozed the Flea market a bit, and bumped into John Montrie and chatted a bit. He does the odd painting job for me when I want to trade time and quality for $$. He had completed a job for a game that I have been working on, a 54mm Napoleonic Skirmish game of my own design. I NOW have enough decently painted 54mm British Riflemen and Lights and French Voltigeurs to run this game, woo hoo!

Victrix 54mm Light Infantry. Nice job, Chort!

I was pleased, I sense you are picking up on that.

On the down side of things, I was shooting the breeze a bit with my friends Art and Derek from my gaming group in Northern Virginia during the day.   Derek and Art had been playing the new FFG X-Wing game (which is great, btw, I need to do a review of this).  Derek, having disposable income, had jumped in with both feet and bought a ton of it– two starter sets and several onesie and twosie ships.  He and Art had run a pick up game of X-Wing in the open gaming area and when they set to packing it up, noticed that someone had walked off with two of Derek’s ships!    Theft happens, even theft at cons (in the dealer room, I suppose) but it’s a rare event someone steals directly from someone running a game.  What a villainous scumbag.

The What Would Patton Do Podcast chaps were setting up in the main lobby. Their task was to inflict a live broadcast starting right after dinner. I’ve never listened to their podcast but I hear it’s fairly FLAMES OF WAR-centric.

WHAT WOULD PATTON DO? Drink beer and pontificate!

I’m not a huge Flames of War fan, it just doesn’t interest me much at all. However, it’s very popular (obviously) and the kids love it. So I would recommend it. The WWPD guys seemed like nice fellows, albeit loud! I didn’t stick around too long as the live ‘cast seemed to be geared towards giving away a lot of door prizes, which is always a good thing if you like FLAMES OF WAR. I did conduct a hard hitting interview with a WWPD observer which can be viewed HERE as WordPress doesn’t like the Embed or Object tag.

I wonder if there’s enough interest in a general, no specific-game miniatures podcast? WWPD seems popular and I know there’s a couple more, like parts of D6 Generation and such, but nothing that I would call a “generalist miniature gaming” podcast. Bookmark that.


WWPD Hijinks.. setting up

After watching the WWPD gang for a bit I got an urgent request from Dan to take his ticket for dinner. Free food? How’s a man supposed to turn that down? I had a nice meal, idly gossiping with Scott Landis and watching Eric Turner hoover down prime rib and mashed potatoes so quickly that I was a little nervous putting my hands anywhere near his plate. It was a jolly repast, for all of that! Sadly, that did put me over the deadline for my 7 PM game, but that’s life. It went on without my humble contributions:

Bob Charrette

Sigh.. I hate missing out on a great Steampunk game.. and Bob Charrette puts on a great Steampunk game.

So I slouched over to the Distelfink to schmooze a bit and noticed if I had whined a little I could have gotten into Eric Turner (he of the speedy appetite)’s THEME game about the Battle of Queenstown Heights. It looked great!

Eric Turner

Shucks, that’s purdy.. and historically, thematically accurate! It deserves an award!

Hey, whaddya know. It DID get an award.. The award for best HISTORICAL THEME GAME of FALL IN!
Way to go, Eric!

He does seem quite taken with it, doesn’t he?

yo ho ho

Pssssst… word is that he sleeps with it…

Well done to MAJ Turner, but what we aren’t seeing is the OTHER side of the story… One of his players, Scott Landis, had to run the game for half an hour as Eric had been called away to do National Guard stuff that mercifully had been called off as he was halfway up 222.

Needless to say, Scott felt like he was left… holding the bag.


It’s funny, because he’s actually holding a bag.

Nearby, Bob and Cleo Leibel had received the Soup Plate of Honor for their gigantic Colonial themed game!


Proving once again that “it’s not the silly hat, it’s the game BEHIND the silly hat that matters”

The Awards program was managed and executed by Ms. Christin Sciulli who put in a lot of effort to make it happen. Given that the Hurricane had happened that week, it’s a nine days wonder that most things happened, let alone the Awards event. WTG Christin

Saturday evening devolved into the normal beery, boozy yammering and socializing that one expects at these things. I was kind of disappointed I didn’t get in a pickup game or two, but I had a good time anyway. And thus, off to the land of Nod, and blissful sleep.

Sunday morning dawned, and I did my last trips around the Flea Market (disappointing) and the Vendor area (to by more Fantacide figures). And thence, headed homeward. It was a great FALL IN!, somewhat hampered in attendance from Hurricane Sandy earlier in the week– lots of cancellations to contend with. Attendance was lower than we would like but everyone seemed to have a good time. I’m glad I went! Cheers to Dan M. and his intrepid staff for putting on FALL IN! 2012 and doing a splendid job of it.

I’ll See you all at COLD WARS!

HISTORICON 2012: Thursday into Friday, Saturday, and Snippet of Sunday

Continuing from my first post HISTORICON 2012 recapped…  So much goes on at these things that it’s hard to put it all in one post.  So this is the second half of my Convention AAR of HISTORICON 2012, in Fredericksburg VA last weekend.

The rest of Thursday went well, we played some games, I got off shift around 12 and ended up napping a little bit.  I woke up at a knock at the door, and it was the concierge with a large fruit basket.  “We’re sorry, Mr. Osbourne, really” and handed me a fruit basket.  Now, this is interesting on a couple of levels.  For one thing, I am not Mr. Osborne (I presume, Mitch Osborne), and he wasn’t sharing a room with me.  A little later, I walked down and tried to give it back, saying “I’m not Mitch Osborne, this is mistake.”  “No, it’s quite alright, keep the basket. Really.  KEEP THE BASKET. ”  Well, okay then.  A little fruit never hurt anyone.  Thanks, Mitch!

I returned to the Convention Center and tried to get into something, anything, for the evening. Here’s where I had a problem with some of the decisions leading into HISTORICON 2012. It was the decision of leadership to allow anyone to pre-reg TWO games vice the usual ONE game. As a result there wasn’t squat left for the walkups or people getting off staff duty who just wanted to grab a ticket to something interesting that evening– and pretty much all that was left was Battletech and a few Science Fiction games. I was a little disappointed.. then I noticed Chuck Stocky was running a FIRESTORM ARMADA game in the main hall and beelined for it. I have some experience with UNCHARTED SEAS (which Firestorm is based upon) and kind of knew how to play it already, even if it was my official first time playing. I had a good time, I played the Terran Alliance versus the Sorilyian Collective… At best I’d consider this a draw. I had an unscathed battleship, but some shot up Cruisers (lost one) and 2 corvettes left. The Soryllians had a shot up battleship, some damaged cruisers and NO corvettes left. I think I could have taken him in the end, but it would have gone to the wire. He had to leave early.

FIRESTORM ARMADA GAME, HUMANS VERSUS SORYLIANS, Click on picture to go to Slideshow on ImageShack(TM)

Friday was okay, worked like a fanatic until noon, then things slowed down a lot. I finally got some shopping in. I bought SAGA (rules only) and a box of Saxon Thegns and Viking Bondi (plastic). I didn’t get into anything special, just hung out and shot the breeze with some folks. I noticed that Miniatures Building Authority had once again set up a series of terrain tables as set pieces for GMs to play on and that Jim Stanton was there running his Gnome Wars thing. Lon Weiss from Brigade Games and I talked for a bit and he mentioned that Jim is active in something called WARTV.TV, which broadcasts live streaming broadcasts of wargaming topics (sadly, mostly 40K) on the internet. Jim apparently has been streaming his Gnome games live as they happen at cons and he also was wandering around the convention interviewing people for WarTV.TV. I love this idea. This hobby could use that sort of exposure and wider audience, especially as it broadcasts on

Check out: A Walk around HISTORICON and WARTV.TV Historicon Footage on Ustream Archive

I might be inclined to try this in the future.

After dinner, I headed for one of the breakout rooms. I was fortunate to have obtained a ticket to the remake of Frank Chadwick‘s Space 1889rewrite

Space: 1889

Space: 1889 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

demo game, what appears to be the reconstruction of the Soldier’s Companion rules (which were pretty danged good to begin with, in my opinion).  I have a long history with S: 1889 and wouldn’t miss this for the world.  This was a gigantic, sprawling scenario where the forces of JUSTICE (UK, GERMANY, RUSSIA, etc.) were fighting the forces of FREEDOM (U.S., Japan?, Fenians, Martians..) for control of an artifact rich area.  It was  a hoot.  It was, also, a bit of a slaughter.  For me, anyway.  I was stuck on a boat at the start and that just screamed TARGET to the despicable Russians, the treacherous Prussians with their Aerial Corvette, and Traitorous, Waffle Eating Belgians.  I was shot to pieces, but I had fun doing it.

SPACE 1889 / MARS NEEDS STEAM slideshow

The Noble Freedom Loving Americans (run by your humble narrator) come under fire from the treacherous Justice loving Belgians, Russians and Prussians. We were doomed out on that river, I tell you!!! (Click to see a slideshow of 30 pictures, some blurry).

I’m not sure what the new rules are going to be called, really, but I can report they play very fast and the salient information I needed to play was on one piece of paper, front and back. Not bad!  Thanks to Frank Chadwick, Christian Sciulli and Thomas Harris for a visual feast.

Various Other Impressions:

There was a lot of Old Become New at this convention. This is an amateur remake of an old TSR Dungeon Crawl game with a big facelift.

Tiny Pearl Harbor… a great looking game on Saturday

I wanted to be good Friday night and get to bed earlier than 3 AM as I had the past two nights but of course, that didn’t happen. I ended up oversleeping and dashing off to make the morning shift just in time. Saturday morning was once again, and in a very puzzling fashion, a busy day. Walkins were very brisk for the day, and continued until 4 that afternoon. No, I’m not overstating it.

I stopped by Jeff Wasilewski’s table on an errand and he commented that he was starting at 12 and would be happy to include me in GOODBYE TO GUNS OR ALL’S QUIET ON THE RURITANIAN FRONT, 1918. I think Jeff’s a grand GM with a brilliant imagination and a knack for making toys out of junk and found objects. Check out the giant bomber and Tsar Tank he made for this game. My brave Ruritanian troops attack with the Allies and even did very well for themselves. The Tsar Tank got to the first German trench and had a malfunction directly over the trench. I dropped a naval brigade right down on top of the Germans and they broke and ran for it. We still had a bitter fight ahead but resistance crumbled. Of course, the military element of the game was kind of meaningless in the face of storyline: “Amidst the chaos of the Great War in the Balkans, a brash young American ambulance driver (Ernest Hummingberg) attempts to rescue his true love, a downed Ruritanian aviatrix. But standing in his way is not only the might of the Central Powers but also numerous rivals for this popular lady’s affections. It’s a love story.. with poison gas”. And so it proved to be.. as the doting elderly king, the game ended for me when Ludmila was carried off the board. So it goes. Still, it was fun and funny and I’d play it again!

Jeff’s game in Slideshow:

More Saturday going into Sunday pictures:

Antietam: the Cornfield– Confederate Side

Yay! Bob and Cleo win an HMGS award thingie for their big three table Sudan game!

Brian DeWitt’s great 54mm Chariot race. I haven’t played this in maybe a decade. I know my daughter was in grade school at the time, because she rolled the dice for me.

Bob Charette’s Sky Runners Race Game.

That night, Saturday Evening, Garrett managed to drop in to hang out with me for an evening (that’s my son, for those of you who don’t know me well). Gar and I sleezed our way into Howard Whitehouse’s annual Saturday night pulp extravaganza, where we played members of the Osiris society, whose chief concern was keeping the sarcophagus of a long-dead Pharaoh in the Cairo Museum. It was the typical fun crowd, Full of hams. I had to play a beautiful assassin, just like in real life. My son Garrett played an Egyptian labor gang, also spies for the Osiris society and he led a successful labor strike that became a full fledged riot!! I’m so proud! And our faction won! This game mightily impressed Garrett, who thought it was simply hilarious.

CHAOS IN CAIRO! by Howard Whitehouse and 30 of his closest friends!

Corrupt Egyptian police shake down some foreigners.

A particularly hairy moment towards the denouement of… CHAOS IN CAIRO!!!

Garrett inherits the old Irish penchant for labor relations.

Lots of other things were going on that night, including a live broadcast of the podcast WHAT WOULD PATTON DO?


The crowd gathers in the lobby

Sunday, we got breakies and I had to do some minimal duty in the morning. Then it was off to shop a bit while Garrett played in Nancy Ott’s marvelous miniature version of the old Avalon Hill game MYSTIC WOOD. Another great board game converted into miniatures–

Mystic Wood set up

Garrett Playing Mystic Wood

Garrett in the middle of Mystic Wood, all blase about victory and stuff…

I saw a few boardgame conversions.. including one of my favorite microgames, OLYMPICA, run by Steve Johnson, and OGRE, redone as BORG..

So with that done (Garrett won! woo hoo!) off we went home, and I have to say I loved HISTORICON. It was fun to hang out and be at a convention with friends, not worrying about the imminent demise of HMGS, just enjoying a great convention and having fun. I saw a lot of cool new stuff– maybe the standouts for me were SAGA, FIREBALL FORWARD, the new SPACE: 1889, and FANTICIDE. I am glad I went, glad it worked out and I hope we had a decent attendance. It looked a little light, but that is hardly surprising at a new place and with all the people determined to not come because it wasn’t in a state they approved of. I do know, because I saw it with my own eyes, there were TONS of walkins, and they went very late every day. Congratulations and thanks for another fine convention, HMGS.
Okay, all that gaming, wacky anecdotes, and logistics stuff is over.


There’s been some negative jabber from various folks who delight in being overly critical here and there and some terms have been thrown out like “the convention was held in the middle of nowhere” and “it was in a shopping mall” or “the hotels are separate from the conference center, that sucks!”

Let’s talk a few facts. I was there. This is what I saw.

Fredericksburg, VA (really, the outlying suburbs of) is not exactly the middle of nowhere. It is midway between Washington DC and Richmond, the capital of Virginia. It’s not exactly a bustling burg, but it isn’t any smaller than Lancaster PA, and probably larger. What’s more, the convention center was less than a mile as the crow flies from I-95, the busiest traffic corridor on the East Coast. Fredericksburg is a LOT easier to get to than Lancaster PA, which probably deserves the appellation “middle of nowhere” more if you look at it objectively (don’t like that statement? Where’s the nearest Interstate to Lancaster? Look at a map). I will caveat my statements with the admission that this location was absurdly easy to get to; but I live in Northern Virginia, so I absolutely admit I’m not sharing the pain of my New Jersey brethren (and also from parts farther North). Sorry. That’s the way the chips fell this time. Think of it like this; the many, many Virginian wargamers have been perfectly happy to go North to a convention when they had to, and they will be happy to do it when the next one moves. Then we’ll be the ones complaining. Except that we won’t be. Cuz we’re like that.

Front of Fredericksburg Convention Center. “Big Fred”

Also, this wasn’t a “Convention Center inside a shopping mall”, as has been stated. It’s a Convention Center located about 1 mile off of a main road (Route 3) that passes through a light commercial area, which is festooned with (primarily) restaurants of all kinds. If you think that’s a detriment, go get your head examined. There were three primary hotels located a very short distance from the main building. Don’t take my word for it, here’s a picture:

Homewood Suites, adjacent to parking lot

The much talked about Wegmans is right next door. Their marketplace cafe is worth a visit.

I’ve been accused of cheer-leading before, so I’ll start off with some brutal objectivity. Were there problems with this site and this convention? There sure are and sure were.   My observations follow.

Let’s start with the one people will no doubt mention first. Noise abatement in the large ballroom. My WORD, this was loud. I’m 40% deaf in one ear, a result of a misadventure in my youth. I could barely hear. Something has to be done.

See the large, uncovered concrete walls? Imagine the echo when the space fills up with people. It’s intense!

One hopes there is something we can (or the center can) do to alleviate this.

Next, and most acute, I counted three men’s rooms working on the entire site. And of these, two were two-holers and one was a three-holer. After the, ahem, usual appetites of this crowd of hungry gamers went to work and the inevitable happened, you can just imagine the wretchedness by Saturday. And in one bathroom, the toilet seat broke after some generously proportioned gentleman used it. As I had hit upon that dark moment when a man has to make a decision… back to the hotel room or tough it out right here? on Saturday, the calls of nature forced the decision upon me and the only one available was the one with the broken seat. I had to assume a posture worthy of a yogi to conduct the proper response, all the while praying that gravity wouldn’t take over… “Sweet Jesu, hold…HOLD!….”

That’s a problem; and the impetus is upon the convention center to fix it.

Show specific things that bugged me were the choice of the registration location (small, hot and stuffy, very cramped)

The Registration system was the sure-fire winner it always has been, but I know I have to be fatalistic about it; it’s the one we have and the one that isn’t going to be replaced any time soon.

The dealer’s area seemed smaller and certainly had fewer vendors– not sure if there was some desire to stay away on purpose or not but many vendors were missed, so the ones that were there (and had the scratch) could spread out a bit. My favorites were there; Architects of War, The War Store, Brigade Games, etc. So I didn’t mind unduly.

Pre-registration allowed TWO games a day for people who pre-registered; this was a bald faced grab at attendance.. That works both ways. Sure, people were eager to snap up two events a day but that didn’t leave a lot for the rest of us at the convention. And that sucked!

People were kvetching (at a distance, mind you) about the air conditioning. It seemed perfectly adequate the entire time to me.

So, that’s about all I can think about to address various gripes and happy to glads. No, it’s not perfect. And attendance was not where it could be. But it was still a great time and for once, it was fun to be happy and not cynical and gloomy, just hanging out with friends and playing games. Why not?

Video streaming by Ustream

Dudley can have the final word here.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Review — British Napoleonic Peninsular War Flank Company [VX5401]

See previous review of Victrix Napoleonic Voltigeurs 1805-1812

This is a follow up purchase to the Victrix Voltigeurs I picked up last month.  I have been acquiring and painting up 54mm Skirmisher figures for an ancient game I idea I had about man to man skirmishing in the Napoleonic era.   For the game to see fruition I’m going to need a relatively small group of figures from each side (8-10 maximum).  I want to ultimately pit Riflemen versus Voltigeurs from the late war era.  I own and have painted up about 10 of the Italieri 95th Rifles but they are a little largish compared to the Victrix Voltigeurs.  So I picked the British Peninsular Infantry Flank Company box as well.  This makes sense.  The flank company is sculpted and detailed to be a set of light infantry troops, which are sufficiently animated that they would make great skirmish troops.  I would have liked at least a couple of crouching/firing poses but these are probably sculpted to be deployed in formations, not as skirmishers.   No matter.  There’s enough variation in the basic body types that they look pretty animated to me.

Box Cover from Victrix Site

Box Cover

As before there are five or so sprues of various body parts and bodies to create customization with. From what I’m seeing here you can create a maximum of 16 figures from the sprues included. There are two officer figures and a drummer boy as well as several infantry in action or marching.


Group of 5 sample figs: Drummer, Officer, and 3 Infantrymen

Closer: Drummer, Officer, Infantryman

3 infantry poses

I’m going to use the basic redcoat/grey trousers/black shako paint scheme for these guys, as generic late war period infantry British infantry types. Here’s a picture of the Victrix site’s suggested paint scheme:

Suggested paint scheme

Suggested Paint Scheme

The figures out of the box are made of a durable hard style plastic that assembles very quickly with styrene glue (Testors, in this case), which bonds quickly and holds well. Out of the box they are slightly oily, which is probably mold release spray residue. Recommend an overnight soak before painting. Flashing is minimal. There were some mold lines on the sides of the shakos that needed trimming but I found nothing else that required a lot of work– some poses require a little attention while the plastic cement welds are curing.

Though they aren’t exactly cheap (say, compared to Italieri’s molded plastic figures, at about 15 dollars more on average, US retail prices), they are wondrously flexible in their approach to customization. I really like these releases and I certainly plan on buying and building more. I won’t be fielding large armies of these, ever, but they are great value for the money and I enjoy the detail, sculpting and utility of Victrix 54mm scale figures. If this is a scale and period you are interested in, I can’t recommend it highly enough.