Category Archives: Miniatures

The Largest Game I’ve ever seen– Borodino 92 NOW with pictures


NOTE: I was recently contacted by Mr. Gary Jones, who just happened to be at the Battle of Borodino 1992 for THIRTY MINUTES, and he took a plethora of pictures which he has made available to me.  My thanks to Gary for this invaluable visual record!  The following narrative relates events to the best of my recollection.  Where I have erred or omitted, I apologize in advance.

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.

Pictures:

Pictures provided by Gary Jones.

This is looking North along the battlefield of Borodino.  The French are on the left.  I can’t make out myself in this gaggle of people but I’m there in the center. 

Pictures provided by Gary Jones.

Looking South down the battlefield.  The participants are in the bleacher end of the battle, which indicates this is probably the second day.  You can barely make out famed historian David Chandler in the first row, just to the right of the fellow raising his arm and speaking.  This was the reading of the referee’s results, which took a while with all the cheering going on.

Pictures provided by Gary Jones

Pictures provided by Gary Jones.  French to the left.  The swampy clearing to the right of the Fleches where I spent most of Saturday is in the foreground.

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.

More Pictures:

Pictures provided by Gary Jones.  Fierce infantry fighting in the village of Borodino.

Pictures provided by Gary Jones

A staggered line of French Chasseurs. They might have even been mine! Pictures provided by Gary Jones

Massive Infantry Assault. On the French left, I think. Pictures provided by Gary Jones

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.

Here’s a few from that moment:

Massive Cavalry Assault. Pictures provided by Gary Jones.  This also makes me think Mr. Jones visited the game during the second day.

More cavalry scouting. Pictures by Gary Jones

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.

Fortunately, I have found a new source for images.  Read below.

A note on the new photos: I despaired of ever seeing visual references to this game again, until I was contacted by Mr. Gary Jones, who by the grace of God was just passing through that day and managed to snap a few pictures.   22 years later, he contacted me through this blog and the battlefield pictures you see included are almost all taken by him.  Many thanks, sir!

Miniatures from Borodino 92:

Mr. Jones also picked up a few painted figures from a vendor present, probably it was GAJO.

Not sure of the Scale, but the units appear to be from Waterloo. Credit: Gary Jones

More figure purchases by Mr. Jones

More figures by Gary Jones

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.

New Project: Victorian Science Fiction — The Great War against the Cthonians


So after purchasing a few new PicoArmor Mark I packs at Cold Wars 2013, I was taking a look at all this stuff and a bunch of things I had laying around the house– old Monsterpocalypse bits and Dystopian Wars and Leviathans.. all of which is essentially unused.  I can either flea market it or make it into something.  I’ve already mentioned this in this post: The Great War Against the Cthonians, so this isn’t a new idea.  This is a game about leftovers and using as much stuff as I already have as possible without buying new things.  So, what the heck, in for a penny, I started painting up the armor and support sections of what I’m starting to envision is the multi-national force that will encounter the Cthonian army when it emerges from the deeps to lay waste to mankind. 

This is mostly Dystopian Wars, almost all of which I found on sale at a Game Store in Fredericksburg.  There’s Pico Armor MK V tanks among the large (British) Light Tank Battallion.

What’s in Work:

Front to back German Medium tank platoons, German Heavy tanks, French Corps L’Aeronautique, British Light Tank Company

Side view, French Corps L’Aeronautique, British Light Tank force, Support Artillery, French Air Launchers, French Superheavies

Medium and Large class German SteamPanzers, French Aeroplanes, the start of the British Light Steam Tanks

Lastly, some Infantry plus support weapons and Cavalry, mostly from Oddzial’s Army, WWI era. There are some interesting possibilities here. I’m thinking of making them American, but of the “blue shirt and khaki pants” era, just for fun. If it is too hard to do I’ll just make the whole mess of them khaki. I picture these as being Companies with supporting weapon stands. There’s also an Artillery Section, bottom right.

Aesthetics: I got some painting done over Thanksgiving– add the French Superheavies (you can see them in the back of the first and second picture above) and the French Corps L’Aeronautique into the painted category. I’m not going crazy with the detail.. just a lot of dull metallic (flat, not brassy) with some color highlights and some gold and silver here and there. I don’t really agree with the constant “Brown and Brass” color aesthetic that fanboys and girls tend to associate with the Victorian/Edwardian era. Brass isn’t a good structural element, and I reckon the national factions would PAINT their tanks a certain color (or range of colors). Right now it’s Olive Drab/Khaki for the Brits, Red Baron style or blue/gray for the Germans, and Metallic with a highlight of bright blue for the French. I’m not sure how I’ll paint Americans in this one.

And.. AHEM, this is a Victorian Science Fiction game, not a “Steampunk” thing. I never liked that term.

What’s left for the Human Ground Forces: Since I’m envisioning this game to be a sort of micro-armor VSF NATO style arrangement fighting monsters on the outskirts of a European medium sized city, I’m going to add a few more armor units to really spread the game out a bit. I’ll likely buy more Infantry, both as a supplement to what I already have for the Humans and ALSO as Fishmen and Cultist Infantry for the Cthonians. Now THAT will be a painting challenge!

I’m going to Flea Market or Ebay my Leviathans sets, except for one expansion fleet which I will donate to this game, suitably kitbashed and painted. I don’t want the aerial element to overwhelm the game, so one small set of ships is all that is needed. I would add more but they really need something to fight and it’s a real challenge to add something Cthonian (which means underground dweller) to the aerial dimension of this design.

Monsters: I’m purchasing small amounts of various Monsterpocalypse forces, as my meager supply won’t be enough. This will be addressed in the next Status report on the Great Cthonian War.

Rules: No idea where this will go yet. I’m looking at adapting the Olympica design to this, but we’ll see.

I’ll post on this again in January or so. Ciao.

Legions of Steel, back from the Past.


I’m familiar with LEGIONS OF STEEL by the Global Games Company. It was published in the early 90s and had a dedicated, almost fanatical following, mostly in Europe, but it was played a lot here in the States, too. My good friend Steve Gibson, routinely runs gigantic Legions of Steel games at the GENCON gaming convention, usually with 20 or more people playing. HERE he is running “Bug Hunt” back in 2009. He considers a flea market trip well spent if he can get his hands on somebody’s old LoS collection. Heck, I even have a copy of the basic blue box set, myself, but never did anything with it.

The “Blue Box”. I have one downstairs in the basement.

The premise of the game is very much similar to SPACE HULK or SPACE CRUSADE. The humans are a squad of super soldiers from “UNE“, a peacekeeping force invading a robotic complex housing the Machines. The Machines have a horde of man-sized robot soldiers to throw at the invading UNE unit called “Fiends”. Like Space Hulk and other tile map games, the humans have imperfect intelligence and don’t really know where the threat is coming from until it shows up. Mechanics were very simple, as I recall, and a lot easier and faster to resolve than the other two Build your Own Space Crawl games. I liked it, but when you have a friend who has a set all painted up and who has spent so much time and energy working on it, one has no resolve to paint his own LoS miniatures. :-D

With that said, I usually don’t do a lot of Kickstart testimonials on this blog. Why not? Because I get a ton of requests and it’s hard to be fair to everyone, even the guy who wanted me to endorse his new poker game on Kickstarter (Hah! Good luck to you, sir!). Stilllll, every now and then I can unbend a little. I got this in the mail from an outfit called “Studio Nyx” recently:

My name is Romain Soulie, I am a video game producer. I just wanted to inform you about the crowdfunding campaign our team will launch tonight. We want to produce the digital adaptation of an old board game licence, and I thought the combination of wargame, miniatures and Kickstarter may catch your interest.

We are adapting Legions of Steel on Android, IOS and PC platforms. This is a miniatures wargame released at the beginning of the 90s, and we believe it would be a great fit on smartphones and tablets. Our version will be a faithful adaptation with an asynchronous multiplayer mode, in a bird-view fashion.

Do not hesitate to contact me if you are interested in knowing more about our project. I also invite you to visit our website and social network pages.

(I cut out the flattery bits, I know when I’m being played)

So I visited the Kickstarter page, and I actually like where they are going with this thing. They appear to be making a cross platform release of an arcade game that plays like a Legions of Steel game. With Android and IoS releases. Not bad at all. Honestly, the dungeon crawl style experience rapidly bores me on an Ipad– dunno what it is, but haven’t felt compelled to play Warhammer Quest all the way through to the end, and I”m not sure this game will grab me or not.. but I will probably try it nonetheless.  I like what they are doing with the interface.

Here’s the Kickstarter video:

And the Kickstarter Page itself is here: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/nyxsquad/legions-of-steel-the-video-game

If it’s not incredibly exorbitant, I just might give this a try.

Other links:

Legions of Steel Forum

The Great War Against the Cthonians


Okay, it’s just a notion, but I’ve been wrapping my head around what to do with my (expensive) Leviathans sets ever since trying to play the rules they published. In addition to that I have some odd bits laying around the basement, purchased here and there over time, like some monsterpocalypse pieces, and some Pico Armor, and some old unpainted Dystopian Wars armor sets… and it hit that all this stuff could coalesce nicely as they are roughly in scale with each other. What really convinced me was this event at HISTORICON 2013:

A nice repurposing of Leviathans

Note the 3mm scale armor, use of Dystopian Legions sparingly, and Trench like terrain. It’s a steampunk WWI!

The infantry supported by a deployed artillery unit

Honestly, I forget what this was called. I did like the reuse of several different gaming bits, like Leviathans, Risk Pieces, and Dystopian Legions units. I LOVE the WWI “trench” feel to the terrain. Perfect.

So, I got to thinking.. I don’t want to remake that game exactly, but a game where brave humanity fights a threat from below?  What if the general rising of Cthulhu actually happened– as is often threatened in the works of Messrs Lovecraft, Derleth et al but never actually comes to pass?  The books refer to the event as the end of mankind, but surely we’d make a better fight of it than that?

So here’s the plan..

Cthonian Side: The word CTHONIAN means “of or pertaining to the deities, spirits, and other beings dwelling under the earth.”  I want a good catchall phrase for “An army of creepy tentacly squamous monsters in roughly 1:600 scale”.  For that, my main players are going to be the lower end units, which I’m mostly recruiting from Monsterpocalypse.  I picture them as being somewhat ill disciplined, with higher level monsters called Overseers keeping them in line.  There will be some much larger Cthonian units as onesie and twosie figures.

Sources:

CTHONIANS:

Mounted on flying stands and overlaid with a shade of nauseating green? Voila, Cthonian airial units– anachronism be damned!

I have to have something to face the Levianthans with after all.

An actual Shuggoth from CP Models UK:

Small Shuggoth, from the same source

More Flyers from CP Models

The Shambler, same source

Depending on how big these are, they’d make great Overseers. Same source, CP Models

Of course, there are several candidates from Monsterpocalypse:

Yasheth: from the RISE set

Cthugrosh, roughly the same size

The Humble Spitter Grunt. He’s a grunt in MY army, too.

The Tanglix can make a great Overseer unit.

Ultra Ancient Osheroth. Love what you’ve done with your tentacles!

Task Master. Another great Overseer unit.

Ulgoth from I chomp NY set.

There are many more Monsterpocalypse units, you get the idea.

Khurasan’s Magellenic Nomad looks like a possibility, as well.

HUMANS:

It’s a shorter list.

Selected Dystopian Legions Armor units.   I have some of these already, and might pick up a few of their mechanical walking men as well.

Pico Armor Mark V tanks:

I have five packs already.

Infantry Stands from Tumbling Dice/Odzial Osmy’s “Universal Items” list.

So, putting some of that together, and I’m fairly pleased with what I’m looking at here.

Infantry Brigade with organic Artillery Support (center) and two armored Companies on Flanks tackling a Single and a Quadruple unit of Tanglers, flanked by a double unit of Shivering Horrors.  Behind them is an Overseer, flailing his tentacles to good effect.

Infantry Brigade with organic Artillery Support (center) and two armored Companies on Flanks tackling a Single and a Quadruple unit of Tanglers, flanked by a double unit of Shivering Horrors. Behind them is an Overseer, flailing his tentacles to good effect.

Great Cthonian War

Another shot of this confrontation. Queens own Hussar’s company attacks a Double Unit of Shivering Horrors. Cthonians round bases, Humans square bases.

I’m not sure when this will finish up, or what rules I will use. Something home grown for sure. It wont’ get done quickly since I’m going to have to troll the flea markets to get some decent figures. Possibly in 2014 some time….

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.

Links:

Pirated 18mm Eureka SYW figures on eBay


misternizz:

The miniatures hobby is already a niche business, full of small businessmen that feel the effects of piracy in no uncertain terms. It be hooves all of us lead-pushing geeks to get the word out about pirates. Cheers to Fighting15s in the U.K. For spotting this.

[follows: reblog post from Oozlum Games blog]

Originally posted on oozlumgames.com:

IF

A Hong Kong based eBay user is selling painted, pirated versions of Eureka’s 18mm Seven Years War range. Fighting 15s has been following this user’s activities for some time, and at last has obtained examples of the figures and been able to compare them directly with genuine Eureka figures. Examples of pirated and genuine work appear in the pictures accompanying this news item.

Ebay user imfadcom (painting service CHYT) has been selling painted pirated version of Eureka’s SYW range since at least 2011. Fighting 15s became aware of this after attending Central London Wargames Club, where examples were fielded by one of the players in a large game. Thanks to that player we now have copies of the eBay emails relating to those items, identifying and confirming imfadcom as the seller, and have been able to make a more detailed comparison of the figures and take photographs.

As the photographs…

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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.

54mm Troll Shaman painted up for the Magi


54mm Wizard figures are few and far between, and usually cost a lot. A happy exception is the Iron Wind Metal’s Spellcaster line, which has about ten good figures in a useful scale for my game of THE MAGI. I’ve collected most of the entire run of SPELLCASTER line of 54mm Wizard figures over the years, from a variety of sources.  I’ve found extras of a couple of them– the Barbary Mage and the Human Mage are both figures I’ve found as extras in “buckets of stuff” in flea markets.  The only one I don’t have is the Elf Mage that comes with the Spellcaster game, and that probably isn’t worth buying a thirty dollar game (still! and it didn’t sell!) to get one figure and a repeat of a figure I already have (Moon Witch) to get.

In any event I was recently lucky enough to pick up two that I had not had any luck with in a long time, the LizardMan Shaman and the Troll Shaman.  It’s my intention to paint up at least these two– of what I have left in my “big Wizards” queue, I have the Lizard Man, the Lich, the extra Human Wizard, and a Tom Meier 54mm Wizard guy.

I got the Troll Shaman done over the weekend.  Here we go:

Ain’t he a handsome feller?

Top View

Full on

I painted him basic Greenskin with some green ink shadowing. Brown Skins with a tattered dark red cloak. All over wash in a brown tint to get the shadows and warts, with some highlighting and sprayed with Dull-Coate.

I like him. There’s a lot of detail here and he even has an interesting expression on his face. He’ll fit right in!

Friday: the End, and Zombietown USA


Friday dawned and with it the last day of Game Camp. Friday’s traditional game is ZOMBIE TOWN USA, which is a game designed by the kids at the camp in 2008, and embellished a little by me. For the audience, time and scale, it’s a great little game– no muss and no fuss, and I like to run it. Here’s a free copy, if you are interested at all. The not so subtle benefit of Zombie Town on Friday is that it is a game that fits in a smallish box plus a few terrain pieces and a ground cloth. The sum total of extra bits are a box of tokens, Heroscape dice and some sticks for measuring, plus some playing cards for initiative. Since ZT plays fairly quickly, I ran DO YOU WORSHIP CTHULHU? Which is basically a Werewolf knockoff by the Toy Vault with nice cards. That went over well.

While I was setting up ZT USA, the kids seized GET BIT and played yet another game of it. GET BIT was played many times during the course of the week. I showed them the Wil Wheaton Tabletop episode on GET BIT and some of them want to order copies for themselves now.

ZT USA started around 10 AM and played until 2 PM, with a break for lunch. This was a fun game. Players assume the role of SWAT team survivors from various police precincts, about two years into a Zombie holocaust. Most of humanity is gone and what little authority that still exists rests in small enclaves and armed camps. The players played a small group of police led by the cowardly LT Brannigan. The group had orders to investigate rumored large scale Zed migrations that had recently been detected in the desert. Accordingly the group has set up a CP in a crumbling deserted tourist town. On a patrol they were ambushed by a huge mob of zeds that have chased them two days and killed two of them. The game begins as they arrive at the edge of the town, on the run from an advancing horde. The object of the game is to cross to the Helicopter Pad at the edge of town without attracting too many rogue zombies.

The trick is to SNEAK, and not attract too many zeds. Of course, there’s always THAT GUY who freaks out and runs, and then the trouble starts.

Just to add a little contention, I played LT Brannigan, who was unnerved to the point where he had to run for it. He made the helicopter pad in 2 turns, but had to avoid zombies while he frantically called for the extraction chopper. Of course, he summoned all kinds of zombies during his noisy run to the pad.

As happens in this game, the more noise you make, the more zombies that show up. The more zombies that show up, the more noise you make killing them. Which summons more zombies. You can’t win!

I added a few random bits like Mutant Zombies, Butcher Zombies, Ventriloquist Zombies, and various things like random encounters. The horde showed up and that hastened the game to the gory end.

The Perimeter at the Helipad shrinking as the Zombies pile on.

For more Zombie fun, check out this slideshow:

misternizz's Story

We ended up at 1400, and packed it up to have an ice cream party. I asked the campers what their favorites were this week. Unquestionably, BIG DANGED BOATS led the approval rating from everyone, followed by THE MAGI, OLYMPICA, Fantasy Gladiators and Zombietown. They suggested I trim down from 5 games to 4, so they can finish one they started. Good point!

Another Camp done! Back again next year!

Quick and Easy Star Maps for X-Wing Miniatures


We’re running the Game Camp for Kids this week. On Tuesday, we’re running a multiplayer game of X-Wing Miniatures and we will need a larger space to play than usual. Now, I could send off to a special map making company like CorSec engineering, etc. or I could make something quick and cheap by myself. I opted for the latter, being on a budget this year.

Materials:

3 Yards black felt 11.00
1 can white primer (rustoleum) for 3.50
Pale Blue, White, Yellow and Red acrylic paint (already had it)

Place your felt on the ground and spread out flat. Using the white primer, Gently spray the black felt with white primer paint, but not up close. Hold the can at an angle from about 2-3 feet off the ground so the paint turns into a fine mist. The effect you’ll get will be a sort of cloudy white background, much like a starry galaxy background. Don’t overdo it or you’ll just get “Grey”. Let this dry. Felt absorbs paint very quickly, so it shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes.

Clouds on, just starting to spatter on pale blue stars

Then, in this order, mix separate batches of a watery paint from pale blue, then yellow, then white, then red. Consistency should be opaque, with lots of paint dissolved in the water. Using a flat brush, dip your brush in enough to get it wet with the watered paint. In a circular flipping motion, spatter the cloth with first pale blue, then yellow, then white, then a LITTLE bit of red. Go very liberal with the white and pale blue.

misternizz's StarMapMaking album on Photobucket

SLIDESHOW on photobucket

The end result isn’t QUITE as good as a professionally made star map, but it definitely looks exactly like what I want it to look like, is big enough for a table full of kids, and best of all, cost me lest than 15 bucks. Not bad, eh?

The Magi: Waving Hands for Miniatures, debuts


Here’s a game I’ve been wanting to make happen for a long time– bringing some version of WAVING HANDS into the spatial reality of miniatures.  I’ve had the miniatures painted and in a box for a year or more.  I’ve had the spell component cards done.  I just have to put it all together, which I finally have done.  The Magi will debut at the Summer Gaming camp for Kids I will be throwing in two weeks, and preliminary run through results have me very, very positive.  I like this game, but then again, I should since it’s been around forever and was pretty close to perfect as designed.  Waving Hands started in 1977 as a game submission that ended up being a magazine article in a defunct PBM magazine called Sauce of the Nile.    A long time ago I asked Richard Bartle, the original author, if I could make a miniatures variant.  It turned out he had always wanted to have the spatial moving and attacks element of this game but was constrained by publishing space in the magazine he published it in.  So the Waving Hands that I have played via email and admired all these years was originally visualized in a manner not too different from the version I am attempting.  My version, called “The Magi” because the good names are all taken, will move wizards either a short or long distance as a phase outside of spellcaster, then the wizard has a choice of actions, most of which involve spellcasting or fighting.  In my game, the spells are built by cards which are played in spell sequence face down by the caster, along with the actual somatic gesture which is public open knowledge (unless you are blinded).    Thus your wizardly opponents only know what they can see (and remember, and guess at).

As a PBM game, it’s frankly excellent.  With miniatures, I hope it will be the same.  The game mechanics are simple enough, Move, Move Short and Perform an Action, Cleanup.

This colorful cast of characters below are my Wizards.  I have 14 spellcasters from various origins.. including cave shaman and a magical Cyclops.

photo 4

photo 2

photo 3

photo 5

Many of these are the old Ral Partha/Iron Wind Metals Spellbinder Line, but not all of them.  Some I have no idea of the provenance of.  Aren’t they a colorful bunch?

The concept behind Waving Hands for miniatures is that this is a wizards duel.  Each wizard character has 15 hit points.  They cast spells by making gestures.  Gestures (in this game) are printed on cards.  Cards build your spell (hidden from everyone but you) but when put the gesture down you MUST make the actual gesture in public for all to see.  Thus the players have imperfect knowledge but if they concentrate they can take a guess at  what you are planning to cast and take steps to avoid  or counter it.    I’m looking forward to running this game.  AT LONG LAST.

Click here to listen to a longish ramble on everything you need to know to play:

2013 has become the year of bringing long procrastinated projects to fruition for me.  First Big Danged Boats and now the Magi.  What next?

Big Danged Boats Recap, first Convention game


So, as I posted on here, HISTORICON 2013 was the first play of BIG DANGED BOATS (BDB) for more than4 players as a Convention Game. I think it went pretty well. I ran BDB on Thursday night and actually regretted not running it again.

BDB at HISTORICON 2013

So, on to my impressions. First of all, BDB did meet my expectations of the kind of game I wanted to make. I was looking for something slightly ridiculous and over the top, set in a “fantasy universe” of sorts, but not the classic elves and dwarves and fairies, even if they will be included for the sake of familiarity. Secondly I wanted to end up with a fantasy naval game that isn’t a retread of UNCHARTED SEAS in a larger scale. The emphasis would be on gunfire and boarding actions, but wouldn’t be nearly as abstracted as in that game– I wanted to see the figures going over the side and fighting hand to hand with crews on other ships– recreating the old pirate movie scenes where hordes of men swing across on ropes and heroically slash at each other with cutlasses, sneering and having camera op moments. To achieve that, the universe can’t be very gun heavy, or the game becomes a naval gunfire game. To get there, I limited gunfire (well, attempted to) by limiting ammunition. That didn’t work as well as it might. I gave each ship 1 or 2 red kegs of “Boom Powder”. Each keg carries five shots. The wealthier and more technological societies have more boom powder, the more primitive cultures have less. In practice, 10 shots (2 kegs of boom powder) turned out to be a LOT of shots for this game. People spent more time maneuvering to get a shot than actually shooting. Solution: make it 3 shots per keg rather than 5.

BDB has many home made markers, templates, measuring devices, figures, tokens and etc. From the little rock bluff (clockwise): Shining Moment Coins, Action Cards (blue card box) Oar Gauges (red, behind bluff), Yardarm to yardarm template, and the wind arrow in the background.

Logistical Tail: I made a TON of homemade game aids for this game– Action Cards, tokens, markers, measuring sticks, turning angles, wind markers and one yardarm to yardarm template. Even so, I could see that the game needed this– there’s just too much going on every turn. Players have to be sure of the Wind on all sides of the table, that’s why there’s a giant wind arrow. They have to see the weather change, that’s why the weather gauge is so large. The turning templates could have been a little cleaner, but they do what they are supposed to. The red and blue distance sticks worked like a charm. No tape measures. The only thing that didnt’ really work for me were the boarding markers (not big enough) and targeting markers. I may have to (dang it) go to Litko for this, though their stuff is rather small for this scale.

Ships: I wanted to use a preponderance of commercially made ships with some kit-bashing here and there. So a lot of the ships you see in this game started life as Old Glory Shipyards or earlier hulls (in some cases, much, much earlier). I have been collecting 15mm boats of various flavors for a long time now, and I only have some of them painted up for this game. Since I wanted ships that were highly visual, thematic, and somewhat ridiculous looking, I had to improvise a few of them from found materials, like a dog’s squeaky toy in the shape of a foot, or a kid’s boxing glove candy holder toy. All of which were heavily kit bashed to make the ridiculous visual fit the game.

The Holy Frenzy: an Old Glory 15mm Historical cog, with homemade Celtic Sail (she is the ship of the Brothers of Saint Brendan), detachable coracles from Museum Miniatures, and a kitbashed fighting platform up top. Painted umber with sienna highlights and red accent coloring.

The Primus, the partially armored steam powered cheese of the Rats of Ingoldsby. Made from an artificial display cheese for kitchen remodeling displays. Not much done to the cheese– added a wooden fighting platform up top, steam pipes, and a fighting platform below, plus scaled naval fittings (wheel and vents) added in haphazard style. Oh, and painted PRIMUS across the back (points if you get the reference). Ratmen figures from Magister Militum.

The Flagship Junk of the Seng, the inhabitants of the Celestial Empire that sell Boom Powder here in the Middle Sea. They are up-gunned compared to the rest of the players, but not overwhelmingly so. The Junk is a toy from the third Pirates of the Caribbean movie which is happily in scale. Didn’t do much to it, just painted the sails and trim to accentuate the red and dark grey color scheme for the Seng Fleet. Figures are Boxer Rebellion era Chinese, since they had muskets.

The Scarlet Castle, the Fighting Platform the Seng tow behind their flagship. Limited mobility by Sweep Oars when moving independently, designed to be towed into a battle and cut loose, bringing firepower to bear on enemies. Has rockets (up front) and some Jingal Teams, plus lots of handguns. Old Glory “Junk Wars” Junk, painted dark grey and dark red to match the Seng Junk color scheme.

Bone Brigade Flagship

Bone Brigade Flagship “Deadnought”, with giant skeleton arm lobber. This is an old, old flea market find– I think it was an illegal copy of an old My Galley Sally hull, but I have no way of knowing where it comes from. It was so pitted and rotten looking, all I did was give it an all over brown gray rotting wood color with some glowing green fungus highlights. The arm and superstructure are kit-bashed from craft sticks, brass and a piece of halloween decoration. Troops are Old Glory’s old fantasy line, Black Foundry.. I painted them with brass weapons to give them that “aged” look

Black GalleyThe Bone Brigade Black Galley, which is imagined to be a sort of ramming and missile fire consort to the Flagship– all archers from Alternative Army. Another ancient find, this was purchased at roughly the same time and probably from the same source. Just as bad of a casting, but painted black so it’s not as noticeable.

Killing three birds with one stone: left to right The Hoplite, from the Spartan CosPlay and Athletic Society, the Gnomish Siege Machine, and The Red Menace of the Iron Dwarves. The Hoplite was an Ebay Purchase that came already painted to my satisfaction and I didn’t do much except put an artillery platform up front for a medium gun. Spartans are all old Museum Miniatures. The Siege Machine ship is 100% kit bashed out of various craft bits, plastic card and a kid’s boxing glove candy holder. I wanted a HUGE, slow menacing ship as a funny juxtaposition with the rather tiny and peaceable looking gnomes. Gnome figures are a combination of Splintered Light and Peter Pig 15mms. The Red Menace is the CSS Manassas from Old Glory’s ACW 15mm line, with a flying dwarf launcher in the back and a wacky red and gold color scheme. Dwarf crew as a mix of Old Glory’s Black Raven and Alternative Armies (for “High” Dwarves) and some old 15mm Battlesystem (for “Gully” Dwarf Crossbowmen)

Killing more birds with one stone: L to R The Stinkwater, pirate ship of the Dredd Rott Pyrates, the Red Ragnarok (Ragnar Brothers dragon ship), The Sylvan Terror of the Wood Elf faction (top, the green galley) and the Freya (right), also a Ragnar Bros dragon ship). The Zombie Pirate ship was a very fortuitous Ebay find, relatively recently. Unfortunately I ran out of time to make it look as rotted and scabrous as it clearly needs to be for a Zombie Crew, but it at least looks the part in broad outline. Pirate figures are from Rebel Minis. The two dragon ships are Old Glory historicals from their “Dragon Wars” line– one painted medium brown with red trim, the other with green trim. Figures are an old 15mm Mighty Armies “Barbarians” pack, less the reindeer chariots– I wanted barbarians but not TOO Viking like. The galley that made up the Sylvan Terror is another mystery find from the past.. it’s more than a decade old and my memory fails me. Painted green/light green with a sculpy ram (the one that came with was missing) and a decoration in the back added by me.

Not Pictured, since it didn’t get run by a player: The Sea Eagle, the galley of the High Elves. This was essentially THIS HULL by Old Glory Shipyards in their Galley Wars line. Painted in blue/light blue/light yellow color scheme, with Alternative Army High Elf Archers (I think.. maybe they are older than that) in a matching color scheme. They also have a Sea Eagle figure (Dungeons and Dragons miniature) that they can launch as a limited aerial attack, and a light gun facing forward.

Group shot with Plunger and Von Ripper.

Not the best picture for display purposes, but you can’t have everything, where would you put it? The Plunger (far left) and the Von Ripper (starboard of the Red Menace) round off the Dwarven Stealth Fleet. Plunger is a historical CSS Hunley model from Old Glory Shipyard 15mm Historicals. Von Ripper is a CSS David model from the same source. The Plunger is pretty much a straight historical paint job– all rusty gun metal. The Von Ripper is also rusty metal with artillery platforms added fore and aft with Alternative Army dwarven artillery crews and Battlesystem “Gulley Dwarf” archers. The design philosophy behind the dwarves was that there is only a tiny minority of them that wish to go to sea, so they have trouble crewing large vessels. They favor ships that stand off and punch from a distance.

Foot of the Dead God

A big disappointment (for me) was that nobody selected The Foot of the Dead God, “ship” of the crazed Cultists at Historicon. I found a dog’s squeaky toy in the shape of a human foot, painted it like rotten flesh, and built up a platform up top. The crew is basically Hyena Men from Splintered Light along with Evil High Priests from the same source, and an Essex mercenary Artillery Crew.

Mechanics: I’m going to have make things a lot simpler. I tend to design for everything and the kitchen sink, and that complicates things. Things that worked: the way the ships move-- different ships (Steam, Wind, Magic, and Rowed) move in different ways, and they all worked together pretty well. One thing that surprised me was how competitive oared ships were with Steam Ships and Sailing Ships. At the Historicon game, Bill Alderman, playing the Spartans in a small galley, managed to catch up with the slow moving Steam powered Gnomish Siege Machine and board it, and commence to kick Gnomish butt. Jeff Simpson, running the Stealth Fleet, pushed the steam powered Von Ripper to the limit, and failed his Boom Check roll when he changed gears. Fortunately he had an Engineer card to play and they fixed it immediately. The Holy Frenzy, a sailing ship, was at the wrong angle to the wind until it changed, and then he swooped in with the wind behind him taking advantage of the extra wind. We actually changed weather twice, and the wind speed got up to “Squall”, which gave the sailing ships lots of speed. Unfortunately Brett Abbott had the Oil on Troubled Waters card, and that stopped the windy weather.
I also liked, in general, The Cards and Shining Moment Coins. The cards are a major “something” a player can do one time, to help himself or hurt someone else. The Shining Moment coins are rerolls of critical dice, and count as victory points at the end of the game. That worked.

The Mighty Siege Machine Chugs out to battle arming it’s steam powered Bopper.alas, Captain Chris Johnson did not pilot her to glory that night.

Things that I liked less: Initiative. Confusingly written. I’m probably going to go with playing cards or chips next time. Ramming Procedure: The Sequence should be Move, Check to see if Ram is possible, Ram, throw grapples, then if that works, place a marker to board or attempt to back out. This got all jacked up from turn to turn. I’m going to look at this more closely. Boarding Procedure: Too slow. I built a very cool yardarm to yardarm template, but I didn’t build enough of them and setting up a boarding combat was too slow and had too many steps. I’ll streamline this. Gunnery in General: The basic model is relatively easy– so many dice for a heavy gun, so many dice for a medium, so many dice for a light. But I wasn’t sinking any ships with gunfire. That mostly killed crews. And gunfire checked damage off of a grid in hull points and other things.. crew, gun, etc. Also, the whole volley fire thing from crew weapons (muskets, archers, crossbows) caused too much confusion, as I had three flavors of gunnery– we’ll make it ONE form of gunfire (unaimed volley) and we’ll work with the dice rolls to add things like “hit a leader” or “hit a critical dude”.

Gun Fire Scarlet Castle versus Bone Brigade

Gunfire didn’t sink a lot of ships. Musket fire (and bows, and crossbow bolts) did. In the picture above, the Scarlet Castle pours hand cannon fire into the Deadnought (Bone Brigade) which dropped the crew down quick a bit. The Bone Brigade was nonplussed. Life (or non-life) is cheap to them.

Sequencing was a little confusing, with too many exceptions. I’ll tighten that up. Damage was not lethal enough. An easy thing to fix.

In this situation we have the Ragnar Brothers in Two Dragon Ships, boarding the Stinkwater, and being boarded in turn by the Wood Elves, then assaulted by the coracles of the HOly Frenzy. Who goes first here?

Things I had but didnt’ use: Cards were fairly limited. I had cards designed for some factions, giving them special abilities. Reinforcements in the Hold: I also had a ton of reinforcements for most factions who had a ship big enough to have a hold, just not a great way to commit them to the game. Objectives-- the basic game is a pig pile. It might be fun to add objective markers for some games.

SO that’s my critique of my own system, BDB v. 1.2 Things I’m going to add: A decent magic system– probably card driven. I have three or four more factions imminent– the Trader Guild, which seeks to manufacture Boom Powder themselves and wishes to cut the Seng out of the equation; the Little People’s alliance (Fawns, Leprachauns and Gully Dwarves), Lizard Men and Orc boats.

What happened in the game?

It was a lot of fun. We had almost every ship in the game except for the Foot of the Dead God and the Sea Eagle. The Holy Frenzy was hampered by contrary winds early in the game and then swooped into a four way boarding action later deploying his special coracles to try to capture a ship. The Ragnar Brothers were quite aggressive, taking on the Wood Elves in a boarding action and the Stinkwater (Zombie Pirates) simultaneously, then being rammed in turn by the coracle assault after their numbers diminished. The Wood elves used their wood-ripping ram quite effectively against the Stinkwater, then got rammed and boarded by the Ragnars. The Primus steamed into battle and took advantage of their special power to turn on a dime to bring their cannon to bear almost every turn. The Seng got stuck into it with the Bone Brigade and had their tow rope ripped apart by them. The Spartans were incredibly aggressive and boarded and slaughtered the Gnomes at a terrible cost. I eventually called the game as ships got crews depleted to the point of no return. By points and by acclamation, the “Victor” was Aaron Bostian (who provided these pictures). Well done, sir.

Your Intrepid GM

In general, I’m happy with BDB but need to wrench on it a little longer. Big Danged Boats is large, grandiose, goofy and ridiculous, just as I had imagined it to be, and it certainly maintains its own internal logic. So I’m fairly pleased. Thanks to those players who showed up and played.

As mentioned above, Aaron Bostian (Fellow gaming blogger on the Fancy Wars Blog, check it out) was present running the Bone Brigade and he took MANY pictures. Here is a nice slide show if you’d like a look. SImply click on the image below:

Click to see slideshow. Thanks to Aaron Bostian for all these fantastic pictures. You are a gent sir.

BDB Ship Charts 2.0


Image

BDB Ship “Red Ragnarok”

If you have even a passing interest in BDB (running this Thursday night at HISTORICON 2013), have a look at your options for ships below.  These are the craft that will be creating mayhem on the Middle Sea.

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.

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BDB Cover


BDB Cover