Category Archives: Miniatures

Taranto Progress… Planes almost done


Surprisingly, I’m making a fair amount of progress quickly.


23 Pico Armor Fairey Swordfish models are assembled, painted (rudimentary style) and 21 are even mounted on bases precariously on wires.  I will bump the final count up to 24 so I can have 8 teams of 3 in the final game.  21 flew the historical mission in two waves.  I will have the real pilots names on all the bases (and 3 fictional pilots).  I have 8 Fulmar aircraft, only 1 of which is shown above.  Records indicated Fulmars flew as combat escorts, I’m not sure how I will include them.  It might be fun to have a range of hypotheticals included on the Italian side, including possible support from the Regio Aeronautica.  I’ve ordered some period Italian planes to cause havoc in the future.  i need to touch up the paint jobs, add some detailing and decals, and they are finished.

I’ve got barrage balloons in various stages of completion, these proved to be easy, but I’ll need another order of them.  I have 10 AA tokens painted up, and I just got ten more on EBay.  I’m going with an zone style approach to anti-aircraft fire.  The Italian response was vigorous but inaccurate historically.  The ships all had various AA factors and it seems to be clear that they participated in defensive fire as well as gun emplacements.  I might nominate an AA gun range and give each ship a choice of which plane to target per turn, and that plane gets another AA roll against it.

The fleet is done– painted, based and labeled with names.

Next step is to figure out terrain.

Swordfishes, Fulmars and Barrage Balloons, a laugh a minute


Checking in with the Taranto 1940 project, I’ve finished assembling the Fairey Swordfish aircraft from Pico Armor, which were an ungodly pain in the butt to do.  The top wing doesn’t fit snugly with the rest of the aircraft, see, so you have to glue it, then hold it until it dries.  It’s no a quick process and results in gap filler glue all over your fingers after a while.

Two Swordfish and one Fairey Fullmar

Of course, the mounting on flight stand drill isn’t very straightforward, either. I had to drill the holes out a little using a tiny drillbit. Then I’m mounting them on art wire mounted on a series of MDC squares about 30mm wide. I know, they aren’t painted in this picture. I wanted to test the setup. I’m going to paint the rest of them BEFORE mounting them, but I wanted to see if it works or not before going to a lot of trouble.

I like the Pico Armor planes but the Fairey Swordfish is not my favorite– it’s not made very well, the drilling, mounting, drying and fiddling about element is very high.. so this process is going to take a while, lots of hands on piece work involved and I have about 30 planes to mount. The Fullmars by contrast, come together very quickly and seem to balance on the end of the wire better than the Swordfish do. There has to be a better way…

The Barrage Balloons from Shapeways

One pleasant surprise were the barrage balloons I picked up from Shapeways, the 3D printer miniatures company. These are in scale with the Italian fleet (and there were about 20 in the air, so this works in terms of scaling). My idea is to mount two per small 20mm MDC round base, and place there here and there around the fleet, adding to the difficulty of making the torpedo runs. The models themselves come mounted 20 per small sprue and pop right off. You knock the stem off and drill right into the base of where the stem was straight up, and it mounts snugly and easily onto the art wire. Finally, something easy!

I still want to find an easier way to mound the Swordfish, this part of the job is pretty tedious. However, I am making lots of progress towards getting this game done. It won’t be ready for Fall IN! but it will be for Cold Wars.

On other fronts, I picked up tokens for Anti aircraft batteries (Axis and Allies AA Guns painted up) and torpedo markers from Litko. I’m slightly disappointed with the torpedo markers.. the ink is very faded and the torpedo is kind of hard to discern, I’ll have to end up touching them up with paint.

New vehicles for White Line Fever


IMG_0164

I resolved to not make any more WLF vehicles.  After all, I have more than 60 of them.  No need for any more than that.  Then a couple of things happened.  Lon Weiss from Brigade models started marketing a series of add-on accessories for Matchbox and Hot Wheels post-apocalyptic vehicles, I discovered the tank commander figure in 20mm which I bought a few of from various sources, and finally I discovered the Tank Commander and Stowage Sprues from Toy Soldier Company, all of it in 20mm.  This last bit is a cornucopia of useful in scale bits to add detailing to you post-apocalyptic masterpieces.  Tarps, cables, gas cans, pieces of track (why not?), and infantry weapons slung here and there.  I like the concept of adding more detail, so I decided, eh, what the heck.  A few more won’t hurt, and what I really want to do is retrofit a few of the existing vehicles, particularly with open cockpits, with either tank commander torsos or new weapons.  Or both.  Both Matchbox and Hot Wheels don’t design their vehicles to accommodate an in scale 20mm driver– they cheat and make the floorboard very narrow on most models.  so most actually sitting down figures won’t do the job.  Tank commander figures are a pretty good compromise.. nobody is going to notice they are legless.

Herewith are the new and retrofitted vehicles so far:

The General Lee. Just because. I filthed it up with some post-apocalyptic grime but otherwise I left it as is.

Sand Brother buggy. This is a RETROFIT. Added: a gunner poking out from the center window, and a tank commander leaning out to the left to see better.

Small RETROFIT for the Sand King buggy. Added: Tank Commander driver (with red helmet). Now somebody’s driving this thing!

Found a hovercraft Matchbox car! Not much to say here. I cut off the wheels and puttied up the wheel wells, painted the air cushion black, the vehicle dirty brown, and canopy opaqued. I’ve only added one weapon: the oil sprayer (not on yet in this photo), which is mounted under the fans in back– there really aren’t any mount points on this thing except there. I envision this vehicle as being able to go over Scum Pits without sinking or dissolving, so they are better off road than most vehicles. The oil spray will be a nasty surprise for anyone following it!

Small REFIT for a Ford Falcon XB GT coupe, which I was going to make a Pursuit special from the Mad Max movie, then changed my mind. I added a tarp for covering the vehicle from the desert winds, and a mine dropper. I am re-christening this one BIG SURPRISE.

One of two– the Sisters of Battle. These are two meter maid vehicles I couldn’t pass up. I mounted a Sonic Scrambler on top. This is one of the Brigade Games new accessory weapons. I picture this as being a weapon that can target drivers and gunners only.

Doc and Marty’s ride. The DeLorean from Back to the Future is a new find I HAD to add to the mix. I added a military laser cannon on the roof (from Brigade Games) and just filthed it up, apocalypse style.

Old Number 21, an ancient demolition derby car with attitude. I found this on a thrift store table for a nickel. Added: tank track armor on the front grill (equivalent to a ram plate), A HMG on the hood from Brigade Games, an Armor Slab on the back from Brigade Games, and wheel plates fashioned from tank wheel plates on the hubs. Seriously badass.

Some kind of Galvanic/Rocket car from hot wheels. I picked it up for the flaming zap in the front, which I need to repaint. I just filthed it up, added some trim in gold and a tank commander driver.

The Gypsy Kings. A new faction, similar to Scrappers. These guys favor the Harpoon Gun (from Brigade Guns), and their cars are a mix of stowage items from brigade games and the tank commander stowage sprues. See why I like Convertibles in this game? They come out looking great!

An impressive looking Sand Buggy with a new Ram Plate/beak, a flamethrower, some stowage items, and a tank commander driver.
I like this one, very dramatic looking.

Deadex, because I had to pick up a rival for the Disgruntled Postal Worker truck I already have. I added a gatling gun from Brigade Games, a ram plate (spikey) from the same source, and a gunner figure up top with a shotgun. I also put a trap door up top.

Safari Vehicle. Light Recoilless Rocket gun, Added: Crew, driver and gunner (Driver a Tank CDR) , Gunner from Stan Johansen. Also added some scrap metal in the bed and stowage behind the gunner to keep him upright.

REFIT to a tracked vehicle I was having trouble using. Added: Laser cannon, some bits from Toy Soldier tank cdr and stowage sprue that look like heavy duty batteries for the laser.

Another refit of a hard to use vehicle.. Added: two heavy rockets from Brigade Games’ Vehicle Accesories, a small autocannon from Stan Johansen, improvised blast shields using Styrene plastic and a driver from Stan Johansen.

REFIT of Sand Brother buggy. Added: Crew and Machine Pistol, ammo crate, gas can and rolled tarp all from Toy Soldier Tank CDR sprue,

The OTHER Sister of Battle, this time with a Gunner from Stan Johansen and a dart gun from Brigade Games. The rest of it is improvised.

How mines will work. Drop a token behind the car. roll a tiny dice and place on the marker. The number you roll against to check to see if there’s an explosion. Roll twice on the boom table if it goes up.

Well, there you go. I am liking the new accessories in the Brigade Games line, even if they are pretty big!

Let’s talk about that Taranto Project


Taaaarrrraaaannnttoooo!

“Taranto, and the night of November 11–12, 1940, should be remembered for ever as having shown once and for all that in the Fleet Air Arm the Navy has its most devastating weapon.” — Admiral Andrew Cunningham, British Commander at Taranto

So what’s this all about?

During the first year of World War II, the Italians were a not insubstantial threat to Allied war aims in the Mediterranean Sea.  From their position at the tip of the Italian “boot”, the Italian Regia Marina possessed a geographical superiority over the English and French: from land bases, they could reach out and affect just about all of the Western Mediterranean ocean– including having the ability to strike nearby Malta and interdict naval convoys to the North African theater, and resupply Axis forces there.  Without building expensive aircraft carriers, which suited the Italians right down to the ground.  The ships of Regia Marina were a significant strategic threat that the Royal Navy had anticipated as early as 1936, when the seeds for an air raid plan had first been drawn up.   After war had begun in earnest, Admiral Sir Andrew Cunningham dusted off the old 1936 plan and created OPERATION JUDGEMENT, a plan for an air raid on Taranto Harbor, located at the “instep” of the boot of Italy.   The goals of the air raid would be to damage or destroy as much of the Italian fleet as possible, by bombing and torpedo attacks.

Compared to later operations, the RN did not have a lot to work with.  The principle British Naval attack plane was the Fairy Swordfish, this was a biplane that was by general consensus considered antiquated before the first shot was fired.   The swordfish was slow, it had a low ceiling, it was covered with fabric(!).  However, it was extremely stable and had an excellent ability to loiter over targets.  Swordfish pilots were genuinely affectionate about their aircraft, dubbing them the “Stringbag” for reasons unknown. [editorial note: “Stringbag” comes from the fabric construction and multiple guidewires to keep the wings intact, see the note in comments below. ]

Here’s a little footage of the Stringbag in the air with a torpedo load.  (Video no longer embedded– the owner doesn’t want to share it.  Go here instead)

Accordingly Admiral Cunningham had 21 Fairy Swordfish modified drastically for the long haul to Taranto from the Southwest.  [editorial note: apparently not that drastic, the extra fuel tank conversion (removing the observer seat) wasn’t unheard of, see note in comment below]  The middle seat was converted to a giant extended fuel tank.  The attack was divided into three waves, with bombs and flares being dropped to distract the Italian fleet response while the torpedo planes made their runs.  The resulting attack went astonishingly well for the British.  The Italian fleet was devastated– losing half its operational fleet in an evening:

  • Conte di Cavour had a large hole in the hull, and permission to ground her was withheld until it was too late, so her keel touched the bottom at a deeper depth than intended. 27 of the ship’s crew were killed and over 100 more wounded. In the end, only her superstructure and main armament remained above water. She was subsequently raised and was still undergoing repairs when Italy switched sides in the war, so she never returned to service
  • Caio Duilio had only a slightly smaller hole  and was saved by running her aground.
  • Littorio had considerable flooding caused by three torpedo hits. Despite underwater protection (the ‘Pugliese’ system, standard in all Italian battleships), the damage was extensive, although actual damage to the ship’s structures was relatively limited (the machinery was intact). Casualties were 32 crewmen killed and many wounded. She was holed in three places. She too was saved by running her aground. Despite this, in the morning, the ship’s bows were totally submerged.

Map of the ship dispositions in Taranto harbor that evening. With the barrage balloons up and AA emplacements situated, this was not a cakewalk for the Fleet Air Arm pilots.

Overnight, the balance of power in the Mediterranean had changed drastically.  The operational Italian fleet vessels were immediately transferred North to Naples.   This put them out of easy striking range of Malta.  Although they would play a role in the Med during the ensuing 3 years (until the fall of Mussolini), they would never be the strategic threat they were in 1940 again.

So, why am I interested in this battle?  You mean, beyond the high drama of a desperate gamble on the part of the Royal Navy?  Lots of reasons.  Taranto is the first coordinated attack by a fleet air arm on a major fleet to occur in history.  It served as the blueprint for the Pearl Harbor raid a year later.  Most of all, it just seems such an improbable victory.. only 21 slow, obsolete airplanes against the entire Italian fleet.   A while back, when I first picked up Victory at Sea and wanted to run a few naval games, I picked up enough ships to do Denmark Strait and the Pursuit of the Bismarck (1941).  That led me to the Fairy Swordfish and eventually, to pondering a Taranto miniature wargame.

I bought the Axis and Allies War at Sea models for the Sink the Bismarck game when they were still easily found and affordable on a secondary market, although the game itself is out of print. For the Bismarck game, that worked pretty well, even if the scale, at 1/1800 (roughly), is a little larger than I had in mind. No problems with the miniatures– they come pre-painted and look (roughly) what they are supposed to look like. So, what the heck, I started collecting an Italian fleet from War at Sea models. It turned out to be easy, but painstaking when you are trolling secondary markets– there aren’t as many available as there were a few years ago.

The Littorio and Vio Venetto, left rear. the Caio Diolo, center, some destroyers in the foreground, and various cruisers on the right.

Where to get the ships?  Well, I’ve been a fan of reusing Axis and Allies War at Sea ship models already– when

Italian Cruisers and one pre-Dreadnought era ship, possibly the Andrea Doria.

I’ll probably give them another coating of wash, and touch up the factory job here and there, but pretty much these weren’t hard to collect and maintain. Obviously Hasbro didn’t produce EVERY ship in the Italian Fleet for their collectible miniatures game; to fill out the fleet I made several double buys where one ship of a CLASS of ships had a miniature made for it; that actually is a much easier problem to overcome with the smaller cruiser and destroyer classes where multiples of a single ship model work just fine. Even so, there were a few ships that were either priced right out of the secondary market or were never produced by Hasbro. In this instance, 3D printing came to the rescue. Shapeways.com has quietly been providing gap filler models for various games for the last few years; naturally, they came to the rescue for four ships I couldn’t locate at all. Accordingly,I bought three cruisers and a pre-dreadnought from Shapeways to round out my fleet.

It’s an easy paint job. Base primer grey, a gray wash and then a darker ink wash, then the snazzy striped red and white deck stripes to indicate it was an Italians ship from the air.

The material for the 3D printer is a little grainy compared to the injected rubbery plastic the original series from WaS uses, but from the magical 3 foot mark, it looks great to me. The price is nice, as well.

So, I have the Italian fleet, more or less.. and I’m not worried about the big scale size. They are nice and chunky, the way I like it, and it’s not like they are going to maneuver around in this scenario and go off the table– most of these ships are just Anti Aircraft platforms in this projected game.  I was projecting maybe there being an Italian player who might want to game that side, maybe make a victory condition escaping the harbor under power or something, but I can’t see it.. it wouldn’t be a lot of fun for any Italian player. So the ships will pretty much be stationary objects in this scenario.

Airplane models. I needed 21 Swordfish, I bought 26 from Pico Armor. Plus some Fairy Fulmars.

If I wanted to be true to scale, the aircraft would be pinhead sized. Aside from the fact that there probably aren’t any plane models in that scale, they would just lack any visual impact. So I compromised and went with PicoArmor, who have a great WW2 aviation section. PicoArmor look great and are reasonably sharp in detail (although that’s from a distance). Good choice, even if construction of the plane models is hellishly irritating. Nothing fits together perfectly; I have to cut off flash, rough the edges of the join between upper and lower wing before glueing. THEN I have to hold the model while the glue sets, often gluing my thumbs to the model! At least I have decals. I won’t have to paint the rondels.

As for rules, I was leaning towards Victory at Sea at the start of this project, because I had used it before and it’s relatively “light” and fun to play. However, I’m not as satisfied with the aerial torpedo element of VaS. It’s far too simplistic for what I had in mind and really doesn’t provide some of the elements of the narrative that need to be there, such as the poor state of alert of the Italians, the poor training, the element of surprise. I have come to the conclusion that this isn’t going to be a game where the players play the Italian fleet at all; that would be almost cruel. Yet I want the Italians to have a fighting chance even as targets. So I’m monkeying around with various levels of alertness, and skill and whatnot. I may take a look at General Quarters 3 for the rules, as I like the level of granularity, although I may have to crunch some numbers on the ground scale.

So that’s where I am more or less. There’s other stuff, such as the map terrain.. building the harbor of Taranto, setting up the Anti-Aircraft on the Italian side (which was fierce.. the British lost two aircraft). I’ll probably write a follow up posting on those items when I get to them.

Thanks to Wg Cdr Luddite below for some comments clarifying the Swordfish.

Small Wars: New Car Customization Parts from Brigade Games, a review


Awesome new ROAD WARRIOR STYLE FUN

I have to hand it to Lon at Brigade Games, he has an eye for trends.  The release of the MAD MAX: FURY ROAD movie at the start of the Summer was bound to create at least a mini-wavelet of interest in Road Warrior style car chase games in the hobby, and companies like Stan Johansen Miniatures and Aberrant Games definitely took advantage of the trend with their own line of existing car customization parts and vehicles for post-apocalypse car combat miniature games in 20mm scale (which more or less matches up with Hot Wheels and Matchbox).   Lon maintains his own line of miniatures through Brigade Games and usually produces them in support of some game system he is selling.   It was not a huge surprise, therefore, to see that Brigade Games is making their own line of car conversion parts, competing with Stan Johansen and other manufacturers.

First Sprue: yokes for weapons in the foreground, with a ram plate and some rockets in the rear. Might require some vehicle customization and a Dremel to make them fit. Still, a great idea in the first package.

My first impression, about selection, is very positive.  Lon is carrying a wide range of add on parts.  I bought about four sprues at 3.50 for weapons and armor and 1.50 for the yokes (pictured above).

Here is the range so far, with the bold test representing my first purchase.

  • Complete Set (1 of each option) [+$40.00]
  • 3 Machine-guns – .50cal style w/ammo boxes [+$3.50]
  • 3 Vulcan machine-guns – mini-gun style w/ammo drums [+$3.50]
  • 4 Rockets and 1 oil sprayer [+$3.50]
  • 1 Large turret and 2 small turrets [+$3.50]
  • 2 Flamethrowers and 1 arrow-gun (or micro-missile launcher) [+$3.50]
  • 1 Harpoon gun, 1 sonic gun, 1 mine dropper, and 1 laser gun [+$4.00]
  • supercharged car sprue -stowage, supercharger, front end, exhausts [+$3.50]
  • 6 yokes – these fit any weapon. [+$1.50]
  • 2 rear armor plates and 2 light ram plates [+$3.50]
  • 2 heavy ram plates [+$3.50]
  • Armor sprue – 2 windscreens, pair of side windows, 2 side plates [+$3.50]
  • Armor sprue – 4 large side plates [+$3.50]
  • 2 Stowage [+$2.00]
  • 2 pairs of exhausts and supercharger [+$3.50]
  • Armor sprue – 4 wheel armor plates and 1 hood/roof armor plate [+$3.50]

Harpoon Gun (placed but not mounted) Stowage pack in the back, minigun next to car.

How are we doing with scale?  Well, the weapons definitely fit with vehicles in the HO/Matchbox/Hot Wheels scale range.  They are rather LARGE compared to similar Stan Johansen items so you may need to use your judgement in how you deploy a mix of both.  The miniguns and machine guns seemed large to me, but still workable.  The other more esoteric weapons.. well, who cares what size they are as long as they look good?  It’s the apocalypse, a lot of this stuff is made in an ad-hoc fashion, right?  So in general, with maybe one or two size hogs, I’d use anything in this line on my own White Line Fever games.  And I plan to.  If you look at picture 2 above, you’ll see how large the minigun and harpoon gun seem to be, but if you think about it, what are the standards for a harpoon gun?  Who knows how large it’s “supposed to be?”

Dart gun (yay!) two flame throwers, a laser, a sonic weapon, and a mine dropper in frame with a sample post apocalyptic car (Back to the Future DeLorean)

What about selection?  This is the great strength of this range of parts.  There are some new weapons here (the dart gun and sonic weapon, for instance) and ones that I have imagined but didn’t have a model for (like the laser and mine dropper).  I’m very impressed with the choices.  Now I wish I had ordered more.

Detail (on laser, left, sonic weapon, center, and mine dropper, right)

What about quality of cast?  No problems here.  See the close up on the picture above of the Laser, sonic weapon and mine dropper.  The casting is sharp and though it had a few “tin whiskers” there was nothing really to complain about.  A very good job on detailing, when you consider this is mostly fictional gear we’re describing.

Summary: I really have to commend Brigade Games for this new offering.  These parts work for the games I’m running right now, will be relatively easy to add on to the car models I’m using, and could probably ALSO work for 15mm and even 28mm with some work.  They would be huge for 15mm and smallish for 28mm, but much of that can be tricked with some effort.  It’s not all a bed of roses..the ram plates will require drilling with the Dremel and some heavy epoxy to fit on the (mostly metal) Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars I use, so that will be some effort.  In general, however, I love this new series of customization parts and I encourage BG to add to the line.

Lon? You know what this universe needs?  Driver figures that will fit in open top convertible type vehicles, as well as weapon operators.  Scaled to 20mm. Just a suggestion.

Lepanto big and chunky and in 1:300 scale.. just the way I like it


Recent developments in pre-cut, laser etched designs have created a new niche market in wargaming.  I recently built a Viking ship in 28mm scale from just such a kit, and was impressed with how quickly it came together and how well it represented the historical ship.  There are other vendors popping up here and there on a small scale, vending historical products– such as 4Ground Ltd‘s building and terrain bits.  Another niche company is a small outfit called Skull and Crown.  They are mostly specialized in doing spectacular flats of soldiers from various periods called “Wooden Wars”, but they recently branched out to create a product called Galleys, Guns and Glory!, a set of rules for fighting in the Renaissance era, with an emphasis on Galley combat, a la Lepanto.

More importantly, Skull and Crown has also produced a line of wooden punch out and build kits for several types of Mediterranean galleys of the period. You can see the Venetian Galley above (and at 25 USD, it’s a little higher than average price for a single ship).

I can’t attest to it yet but construction appears easy from a blogpost I read.  The player takes the template, which is precut, and punches the pieces out and build them from the ground up. I built the Viking ship in exactly the same way.

I have no idea what the build time on this might be, but I’d have to include paint time in there as well, and probably pre-build painting and sanding too. So maybe a little under an hour per ship. Maybe more to paint some fiddly little details.

The end result is quite colorful and spectacular.

Credit: Jay’s Wargaming Madness. Read the exciting AAR of his first big battle of GGG! by clicking this picture.

As for the rules? Well, I don’t know squat about them. They appear to be simple and elegant, and that’s what I want out of a naval system. Jay (of the blog mentioned above) seems to have a high opinion of them. I’d be inclined to go with the published rules instead of making my own or using something I have in my collection, as they clearly have a long “tail” of support from Skull and Crown.. lots of neat odd little markers and bits that seem tailor made for the game. I can’t help myself, I love the little fiddly bits.

Will I invest in this? Probably not until after I get done with the Taranto game (what’s that?? you ask? Stay tuned for another post this week on that subject). I at least want to get one galley to put together and see if I like the results.

Realistically, at an average of about 15 dollars a ship, and most fleets looking like this:

A thumbnail guess, that’s probably just a little under 300 bucks there for a fleet.. multiply by two to get an order of magnitude..
Credit: Skull and Crown GGG Blog

Note, I’m not begrudging Skull and Crown their prices, they aren’t that shockingly high for a ship model.  I’m just bemoaning the cost of jumping into a very narrow niche period where I know there won’t be any cheaper options in this scale. I won’t have any other models that I can swap in to save money, so it’s these models or not at all.  So I’m rubbing my chin and saying “Hmmmm” for now.

Stay tuned!

Future Tank Draft 1.08 released


CLICK ON ME TO GET THE EPUB

I did a major rewrite on Future Tank, to get rid of some of the language problems that arose out of using Tank Duel as the core. It is now a very different text (and substantially different as a game).

Changed:

Double Blind is now “Double Blindish” .. the curtain represents a haze of uncertainty due to environmental conditions. The closer the tanks come to each other the bigger the chance the curtain will be removed. The Tank Commanders already know of the layout of the battlefield area in advance due to satellite imagery and drone passes, they just don’t know what it looks like right now.

Added a “Grunt” as an infantry specialist. He is basically an autonomous weapon unit that can deploy out of the tank airlock and go reap havoc on other INF units, exposed sensors and etc.

Clarified the language on the Tank crew tasks and how they react and feed back to the Commander role. Created a matrix of orders and responses for this, in the appendix.

Clarified Scanning (using the tiny whiteboard/blip method) and some of the networked computing tasks that SPARKY performs.

Added: ORBATS and RGEs (Orbital Batteries and Robotic Gun Emplacements) to battle space installations.

Generally cleaned up the language to make it sound consistent and use the same terms throughout.

I don’t have this one on the DIGITAL RULES page (yet) as I consider still in draft stage. You can get an epub copy right here.

Enjoy. Please feedback what you think and any new suggestions.

Game Camp 2015 Day 4 (Thursday): “Ride that Fury Road Part 2”


Gaming Camp 2015, Thursday.

Because of the large pile up being generated right in front of the Trading Post on the end of Wednesday, the consensus was to run Ride that Fury Road for another day and take the X-Wing Miniatures Tournament off the agenda. The game continued at the break point Wednesday night, and we left it set up.

Skool Zout trying to smash through the pile up ahead; two CaptureGangers are directly ahead, and then a big snarl up of several different vehicles.

This happens a lot at Game Camp; in fact, I encourage the kids to set the schedule after a certain point.

White Line Fever was a system the kids picked up on easily and enjoyed quite a bit. Let’s face it; there’s not a lot of heavy calculations going on in a game like this. Decisions boil down to “do I go off road and risk spinning out into a toxic goo pit on terrible terrain or stay ON the road and deal with this terrible pile up in front of me?”

Quite a cha-cha-cha with cars going on. Capture Gangers in foreground, then Blinded with Science, then Git Some, Big Red the Capture Ganger, Hellcab (on fire), the Sensimilia Express, the Merc, and Herbie the Hate Bug farther out.

As kids do in all the games I run, there was the rush to “be cool” (ally with each other while it was expedient) to get to the perceived goal (the donut shop).

Bad luck for the Hell Cab.

As also happens a lot in my games, there was a drive to build a narrative within the game universe created. I’m happy to do that and I helped the process along by building factions in the vehicle set (capture gangers, sand-brothers, Scooter Jocks, Militia Men, Street Punks). This added to the fun but did cause incessant delay around the Trading post as every player felt obliged to see what he could trade there instead of smashing cars. When one kid set up a road block and started charging for passage, things got a little ridiculous. Of course, this was the same kid who traded Daphne for a Recoiless Rifle the day before, so go figure!

Once past the Trading Posts, the Scooter Jocks attacked the truck and supporting vehicles in wave after wave. They were surprisingly easy to kill– TINY doesn’t live long versus MEGA in a ramming attempt, so I just had the truck run over bikes like they were speed bumps. Bikers did manage to board with one Scooter Jock who fought it out on top of the Tanker with the soul remaining Truck Support crew.

Like Gnats annoying a grizzly…

The roadblock caught the attention of the Road Militia.. who consider themselves to be the protector of the highway and charged with keeping it clear. They charged up the road, smashing through annoying scooter jocks and waving nervously at the brothers of the Circle (the Donut Shop) who are creepy enough to creep them out.

Lots of stuff happened in succession– the Sushi Truck who had been collecting “meat” for sushi from the many bodies on the road got shot at, then raised a white flag to the militia. The Hate Bug lost its driver but continued as a semi-sentinent vehicle with the corpse of its driver behind the wheel. They Mystery Machine came under heavy fire and thus we encounter the death of Velma Dinkley.

Ruh ROH! Fallen to a “Driver deader than Fried Chicken” result

Some lucky? players got to the Brothers of the Circle Compound (the Donut shoppe), but managed to create quite a lot of ill will…

Uh oh, the Lone Wanderer best beat feet!

We didn’t get much past this point and it was time to call it. A great Game was had by all.

For more pictures click here

Game Camp 2015 Day 3 (Wednesday): “Ride that Fury Road”


Wednesday, I put on a repeat of the scenario I created for HISTORICON 2015, “Ride That Fury Road”, which is a post-apocalyptic romp down a highway in pursuit of a giant fuel truck that may or may not be the answer to everyone’s dreams. We added in the factions in this game– Scrappers, Capture Gang, Lawmen. plus a lot of independents. The game, which isn’t over yet (more later) featured MORE metal carnage than previously witnessed, zero team work and zero mercy. Almost every player has cycled through at least two cars by now and some have had as many as three. To discourage the kids from getting pouty when their car dies, I encouraged them to all run more then one car or keep a replacement car handy for when the first car dies.

The Truck breezes by the Trading Post

I didn’t get the cafeteria that I wanted but did get the Arts and Crafts room. We ran four tables down the length of the room. Not quite what I wanted, but it would have to do. It looked great!

The Chase Cars initially. This lineup changed fast as they did the Road Warrior classic and fought each other in brutal fashion.

The carnage piled up fast. This is not very forgiving game, and I told everyone that they would have to get over it quick if they lost their vehicle.. because everyone was going to lose one and many would lose many.

Game Camp 2015

Game Camp 2015

Game Camp 2015

Early on, the Mystery Machine jumped into its new role as the “Evil Scooby Gang”. Reid released Scooby XXII (raised as a bomb dog) to run back and take out the Turtle, coming up fast behind it. BOOMM! the ensuing explosion fragged Turtle and damage the cars around it seriously.

Poor Scooby!!

But that wasn’t the bottom of the Evil Scooby’s depravity. They hit a new low!

Evil Fred actually trading Daphne for a rocket launcher. Wow.

At least he hit on one of the things traders want in the post-apocalypse. I wonder if Velma could have got more ammo for the Recoilless?

“But Fred! What? I’m to do WHAT???”
“See ya Daphne! You’re a sweetheart!”
“Freeeeeeeeeed!”

Game Camp 2015

“Yessir, that Daphne’s a swell gal.. what a great deal!”

Game Camp 2015

It’s a hard life in the Apocalypse. We played right up to 2:50 when I had to call it for time. Many kids requested we play this again tomorrow so I have left it set up in situ.

For an interesting slideshow of all the pictures from today, click on the picture below:

Click the picture to see more pictures on FLICKR

Anarchy supreme by the end of the day… CLICK HERE to see more pictures!!

It was a great day, a great game and all the kids loved it.

Game Camp 2015 Day 1: The Magi and the Opening festivities


Day one of Game Camp 2015

As I do this time of year, I run a gaming camp for kids at St. Stephen’s and St. Ambrose schools, Alexandria VA. This is primarily a miniatures-centric gaming camp with some boardgaming and miniatures painting tossed in to break it up a little. As has been my practice in the past I set up a painting table and set out my dwindling supply of plastic figures to paint, which is always a big hit.

I like to run a very simple game to start and I have run THE MAGI or FANTASY GLADIATORS for the last few years. I went for THE MAGI this year, as it is self-contained, runs in a single box and is easy to play and easy to teach. I’ve posted on the Magi before, and if you want to read up on it or download a copy yourselves, go to Digital rules for an EPUB version of the rules. MAGI is based on a very old British game called Waving Hands that was published back in the 1980s as (more or less) a parlor or party game. I have designed a card component and a miniatures element to the game, and run the game in lovely, easy to see 54mm scale.

Close to final Cover of The Magi

The game takes place in a big subterranean cavern represented by a hex grid and some Dungeon Dressing bits. I’ve added lots of stuff to break up line of sight and create a little old-fashioned havoc in the game, like the Crystalline Pyramids that each have a magic power (Paralysis, Amnesia, Disease, Healing), as well as emitting a light source. The Powerful old Lich, Gordon the Enchanter, resides over the Magi Games by standing on top of a structure I basically lifted as is from a Playmobil Coliseum set, just painted.

Action Mid game. A Fire Elemental has been summoned in the foreground, and an Ice Elemental in the rear. The two will cancel each other out if they get close enough (3 hexes). You can see the cavern floor hex grid and set dressing items (crystals, rock formations) here.

The game takes a while to play but is well received by most players. We had a couple of players get very pouty and antsy when something didn’t go their way and refuse to play any more. It happens sometimes, although I usually associate it with younger players, not teenagers. They cheered up and got into painting figures, and we soldiered on.
Game Camp 2015

Game Camp 2015

Game Camp 2015

v=https://flic.kr/p/vYdSog

Garrett also ran GET BIT during down times, lunch time and etc.

GET BIT!

For a slide show of all Game Camp Day 1 images, see this link here:

CLICK ME FOR MORE MAGI PICTURES

In summary, a pretty good day! I felt bad that I could have done more about the pouty players, not sure how though.

The Magi SpellCasting game V. 2 rewrite


Click on the cover to get the EPUB file!

As some of you might know, I converted Richard Bartle’s charming hand-gesture game WAVING HANDS into a miniatures game back in 2012, and ran it at conventions and at the Game Camp I run with generally positive reviews. As I am running it again next week for the Game Camp, I decided to tidy up the language (which still maintains some of Mr. Bartle’s references to what I consider a somewhat complex model of two-handed spellcasting) and no references to the random somatic card gesture mechanics I added in later. I think this is probably a simpler game than Mr. B. imagined, but it plays fast and works well with children. Full credit and respect to Richard Bartle for coming up with Waving Hands, the foundation upon which the Magi is built!

You can also get a PDF of this character sheet and spell reference (combined) by clicking this picture.

I’ve run the magi the last two years; it’s a great game for gatherings and small cons.

Last Changes/Updates to the HISTORICON 2015 guidebook app


Various Guidebook Formats

Various Guidebook Formats

HISTORICON 2015 convention goers.. I’m making the last changes to the GUIDEBOOK app for HISTORICON 2015. So here are a few notes for you.

Dudley Garidel got the final vendor count and maps to me, they are now included. I’ve added one more event since PEL.  There’s one BIG map image to show how the tables fit together, then I broke the big map into 3 smaller ones, front, middle and back.

I enabled three new features for HISTORICON 2015. Twitter feed, Notepad and TMP News feed. What the heck, why not, they are free!

1) A News feed uses a RSS feed to transmit news items to the Guidebook. Since HMGS doesn’t keep up a RSS feed, I used the miniatures page, which is as close as we come. It’s not very relevant to a specific show, but what the heck, it might provide interesting reading.

2) Notepad is just that– a place for the user to keep notes.. like ” I need to vist PicoArmor and buy Hind D helicopters”.. etc. etc.

3) Twitter feed. Again, there ISN’T a Twitter account for Historicon (that I could find), so I’ll do some tweeting about it during the show using my account (@TheLastBrunch) and the hashtag HISTORICON2015. I encourage EVERYONE who uses twitter to use #historicon2015 during the show!!

If you need a reminder about how to get the GUIDEBOOK app and the specific HISTORICON 2015 guide, visit the landing page.

HERE is the guide on the web

White Line Fever used in an actual game


One of the new covers. I like this one..

The Brooklyn Wargaming club recently ran a game of Road Warrior/White Line Fever and it appears as if they had a ripsnorting success.  Apparently they used a a version of the Road Warrior Rules (v. 2.65) in Digital Rules (above).  This blog received minimal notice but that’s okay, it’s the internet.

Shane Metzger, who created the car/vehicle sheets for RW/WLF, ran the game ran this game for the Brooklyn Wargaming club.  I was very impressed with the little touches he added to the game.  For instance, Dust trails for when you are offroad.  And little heaps of track junk.   And explosions.

BATTLE PICTURES

CAR CONVERSIONS

Here are some more pictures of his game and his great car conversions.

I’ll be adding some material Shane came up with to the main rulebook in the next release!

The Weekend: Gaming on the Mellow Side


I’ve been meaning to catch Otto Schmidt’s THE WEEKEND for a long time now. It’s been tough, as June is a busy month usually with high school age kids.  Now that one is in college and the other is in his last year, I thought I’d spread my wings a little and manage a day trip.  Background: the Weekend is held late June, and appears to be a 3 day affair, so it is about as much of a commitment as any small convention in terms of time.  As I recall, this was started by Otto Schmidt as an alternative for HISTORICON when the latter was slated to go to a much more expensive venue in Baltimore, MD (this did not transpire, for many reasons).  Otto wanted the Weekend to be a gathering of old friends who wanted to blab, gossip, game and hang out.  It is held at the Continental Inn off of Route 30 pretty much right across the street from the Lancaster Host, site of Fall-IN! and Cold Wars.

The Inn is an old building, family owned and operated.  It has seen some hard usage but is not what I would call “a dump” by any means.  The hotel has a major meeting space downstairs and other, smaller rooms here and there in the upper and lower lobby floors.  Frankly, I would have killed for a space like this back in the TriadCon days.  If we’d only known.   It’s not perfect– the handicapped facilities are about as non-existent as they are at the Host if not worse (no elevators in critical areas; no handicapped bathroom stalls) but you can always drive around back to the lower level to unload things, which is a plus.

There is a MST3K (Military Science Theater 3000) set up for this con but I wasn’t there for that.  No vendors that I could see, and a desultory bring-n-buy style flea market.  That was about the normal convention “stuff” present.


An exquisite Age of Reason battle in 15mm, created by Bill Grey, the Author of Age of Eagles. Click the picture to see more.

I got there a little after noon (due to traffic and helping get my son ready for camp).  Literally, I spent much of my time there BSing and catching up with friends, so I’d say Otto’s goals for this convention are certainly being met.  It was great seeing many people I haven’t seen in a month of Sundays, including Dennis Largess, Rich Low, Andy Turlington, Bill Grey, Bob Leibl, Cleo Hanlon, and Pete Frechtling.  And Otto of course, but I talk to him on the phone frequently.

Mr. Tracy Johnson ran AFTER THE HOLOCAUST, the old rare SPI game on a giant splodey map with army men. It had a great look to it. For other pictures, click on the picture above

When I got there there was an ACW game going on in the corner, and two being set up, an AFTER THE HOLOCAUST (SPI) game being rendered in miniature form by Tracy Johnson, a two player game set in 1714 being run by Bill Gray,  and an I Leonardo game run by Pete Frechtling.

I definitely wanted to play the I Leonardo game, by temperament and experience.  I’ve played in Pete Frechtling’s skewed version of the Italian Wars (with Leonardo Da Vinci tanks, helicopters, gliders and etc.).  So with your kind forbearance, I will sketch things out as best I can, providing something of an “After the Battle” report of sorts.

The basic set up was the Imperials holding a bastion with supplies on one side of a canal that opened up into a river.  There was only one established bridge over the river (made of stone) and it was being defended by a force of two commands of Imperials, with two Leonardo style tanks each (not the conical tanks, the flat ones).  The Imperials also had a ship loaded with mixed troops and cannon to defend the water entrance with.   On the far side of the canal were the Allies– British (red striped tank), Swiss (green striped tank) and French (blue striped tank).  Each Ally had one “castle” style Leonardo tank, painted as I have noted, plus a wild mixture of artillery, infantry and a little cavalry.  I took the French (blue striped) command on the far right of the line.  I had the tank as mentioned, a grenadier, Leonardo himself, some engineers, some cavalry units, some foot knights, and a bridging unit (important!).   The Swiss to my left were in the center.  They had more artillery than I and some ruins to hide in.  They kept a hot fire going against the forces that would venture clear enough to be shot at in the center of the line opposite us.  At the far left was the British and the Allies’ two ships.  The ships also (important!) had a bridging unit.   The idea being they would sail into the canal, beach, and construct the bridge from their ship to the opposing side.

I didn’t spend a lot of time tracking the naval conflict, but it was protracted and savage.

The English engaged such targets of opportunity as were available across the canal.  With the canal there to impede movement the battle became kind of a long ranged slugging match over the canal as both sides attempted to bombard each other.  The big guns on the Imperial side were their two flat rectangular tanks, and a flame thrower style vehicle that was somewhat hindered by being in the midst of a pack of infantry.

We were in a stalemate for the first few turns.. The French being the closest to the existing bridge (played by your humble correspondent) we were going to have to swarm over it somehow and take the bridge.. Unfortunately the Imperials had placed one of their two precious tanks to cover that very narrow defile, and they were aggressively defending with everything at their disposal, including a land rocket that misfired and went fizzing off in a random direction (panicking my troops but causing no damage).   My plan was to make a big demonstration and hoo-hah at the center bridge and focus the defenders there, while building my bridge train on the far right of the battlefield.

 
Now that’s a satisfying reaction! More smoke clouds please.

The Swiss did their best to support me, and were game to swarm over the center bridge as well, but we had to move the vehicles out of the way to accomplish this.  They had the advantage of some ruins to disperse into and set up artillery and other fun Leonardo style weapons (including a machine gun) to plaster the Imperial bridge defenders with.  I had a single artillery piece on my front which did some service fighting the opposing tank unit.  About midway through the game I steamed over the bridge and tried for a ram on the opposing tank.  Yes, I know this sounds decidedly risky but sometimes  you have to push things to win things.  The ram did not accomplish much, nor did the follow on fire into his sides at point blank range.  It wasn’t a bad idea, really, I just rolled pretty badly throughout the game.  I followed it up with a fusilade of infantry attacks which DID cause problems… the French grenadier tossed a grenade into the mix and it actually exploded more or less correctly, starting a fire and killing several of the crew.

Here we come, you knaves! Take that, and that, and that…

Meanwhile the bridge building gang on the right had succeeded at their task and the first independent bridgehead over the canal had happened.  The opposing player realized this and moved half-armored knights into the gap to engage with me.   On the left, the Imperials attempted to move all their infantry down the road, lost their general to gunfire, and moved their secret weapons out to engage the Allied Ships, which had bested the Imperial and were heading up the channel.  The flaming water borne holocaust the Imperial player was loudly fantasizing over (repeatedly) did not transpire, and thus the left flank was able to create a bridgehead over the canal as well.

Victory is nigh!!!

Although we were slated to play until 10PM, I was being frantically called from the home front, over a matter of shoes for my son’s camp.  Timing came together wonderfully, as Peter declared the game a victory for the Allies at the end of the turn where the second bridgehead had taken place.  This makes sense.  Although the center bridge was very much in dispute, I could still push men over the the entangled two tanks and even though the defenders had a larger group of infantry there, it was so narrow between the buildings he would never have the chance to use them effectively.  I actually welcomed such a push of the pike.    The much referenced “secret weapon” (flamethrower) amounted to almost nothing and the two Imperial tanks were heavily damaged.  The French tank (mine) had suffered damage but was still firing and reloading.  I was expecting casualties on the right flank as our crossing attempts had triggered some ambuscades from hidden troops.  Still, I could see the tide of battle was changing rapidly in our favor, and who was I to contest the GM’s view of things, anyway?  My thoughts on the I, Leonardo game system was that it seems remarkably bloodless.  Most of the Imperial arsenal was taking a heavy pound throughout the game and we really didn’t kill much of anything– we disabled a lot, and killed some crews.. but that’s about it.  I would like to redo the charts to this one some day.. just pondering.  I like the system itself just fine, but it’s really for a history geek audience who pretty much know the subject already.

For an amusing SLIDESHOW of the I LEONARDO BATTLE, click here.

As mentioned, I had to depart earlier than planned to solve a problem at home but I was glad I had an opportunity (at long last) to visit THE WEEKEND.

Major Guidebook Update for HISTORICON 2015


Hey HMGS Convention Attendees, we have a MAJOR Guidebook Update for you.

Hey Historicon! There’s an app for that!

First of all, I tried floating events early without room numbers.  That was a bad idea, as updating them (later) WITH the numbers nuked most of what I had done before, causing me to reenter data for tournaments and seminars!  Woo hoo! I love entering data twice.

So I’m making a business decision– we don’t post events (that is, regular games) until the events guy irons out what the table numbers are and where they are at.. it’s too painful to bounce back if the earlier input crashes on you.  If that means we post Guidebook a little closer to the event, so be it.

So, what do we have?

  • TOURNAMENTS (again)
  • SEMINARS (again)
  • HOBBY UNIVERSITY (first time)
  • GAMES (again)
  • Maps!

What am I missing?  The map of the Exhibitor Hall and Exhibitor List.

And then we will be done, unless we get new games between now and the convention itself.

How to get it

Go to the Guidebook Landing Page which is HERE and follow directions.

To Preview the Guide

Go to the Preview Page which is here

Historicals versus Non-Historical Count

New feature: I thought I’d do an actual count by period.  The reality of Non-Historical versus Historical by counting the actual numbers, not by hand waving*:


Source: Events Spreadsheet extracted on 6/18/2015, Historicon 2015

So the reality is 20% non-historical games at Historicon.  And I’m grouping in anything that could remotely be considered fantasy and SF together.  There are the numbers.

Events by Rules mentioned in PEL


You may have to click to see original size. There were a lot of rule sets.

This was all over the map.. there were a lot of rule sets being used.  Where it was possible I combined version and flavors and variants into the parent.

In any event, there’s the true facts, and a big, big, big guidebook update.  See you at HISTORICON 2015.

* Note on the period count above– it excludes all tournaments, which probably should be entered under fantasy in some respects.  Did I say that out loud?  I’m trying not to snark…