Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Some 25mm ACW testing of "Longstreet!"

Hi all!

While there are a few downsides to living in New Jersey, one upside is having Sam Mustafa of wargaming rules fame living not too far away!

I've had the pleasure of meeting Sam and the rest of the northern NJ wargaming crew on a number of occasions, and they've been kind enough to include me in a few games that they've played.  Well, I got another chance tonight, as I took command of a Confederate brigade in a playtest of Sam's upcoming ACW rules, "Longstreet!"

Anyway... I can't say much about the rules except they were fun... following on the heels of Lasalle and, more recently, Maurice, you can see the bloodlines of both systems in Longstreet.  I also can't help but love the idea of a commander, and wargames force, that changes over time and reflects the actual trends of the ACW... I feel like it makes our regular games look like the "battlegames" they are, whereas this is truly a "wargame".

But enough yapping... it was also an excuse to take photos of toy soldiers, which I love... so here are some photos!:)

Here we are, before the start of hostilities (and the opening of wine!)  My Reb brigade of three regiments and some artillery was on the near flank.  The center was held by Joe Sr., and the left side (and the farm, which was an objective) by Sean.  He was faced by Joe Jr.  The center of the Union line was commanded by Phil, and opposite me was General Rob.  The Union were the aggressors (isn't that the way it always is?!)

My brigade, on the near flank of the first shot.  Three units of infantry, including one elite regiment on the far left, and a battery of Napoleons.

A huge group of new Union recruits across the way.

My troops aggressively push forward in an attempt to stymy the Union attack on the near flank.  In the center you can see the farm that was our objective to hold.

Go get'um, boys!  The best defense is a strong offense!

Meanwhile in the center huge masses of boys in blue plunge through the woods and prepare to cross the river into the face of Reb muskets!

My boys immediately get over the hill and, with a great rebel yell, plunge downwards!  I had overwhelming superiority in this combat due to a number of circumstances... but holy cow, an ABYSMAL set of rolls saw my men beaten back, rather than sweeping through the Union flank as hoped!

My boys settle into a prolonged firefight with the Federals opposite them.  Whoever could take this flank might be able to turn the enemy!

Here you can see the Federal attack in the center nearing the fields, as my men try desperately to turn the near Union flank, much to the chagrin of a nearby Union commander.  This was the MOST useable photo, btw, of several that were taken at this time.

A mess at the center, as the commanders focus their attention on an important melee!

Meanwhile, my boys reach the crest of the hill and begin to punish the Federals in front of them, some of which were eager to fight but simply not that well trained.  Finally the smaller unit of boys in blue evaporated under my boys fire, leaving a single newly recruited Federal unit facing three units of Reb veterans on a hill... not a good thing for them!

At roughty the same time the Union attack in the center began to falter...

And the main attack in the center finally crumbled.  While the Federals had more troops capable of moving in, the Rebs in the center and on the far flank were unblooded, and my own troops on the near flank looked ready to turn the Union line, and so the Union commanders conceded rather than spend more of their boys lives.

Overall, a great time, and thanks to Sam and John and Rob and Phil and the Joes and Sean for a wonderful pre-Thanksgiving eve!

"Generation Kill" - great modern 'background' TV show!

Hey all!

So... everyone knows that HBO shows are just the best on TV.  "Band of Brothers," "The Wire," "Game of Thrones," "Rome," "Deadwood," "The Sopranos"... it just doesn't get much better than HBO

So I thought I would pass on a little-known HBO show for those people interested in some inspiration for modern wargaming!

The show is called "Generation Kill."  It has a FANTASTIC pedigree... it was done by David Simon and Ed Burns, the guys who did "The Wire" (which is the second best piece of media ever created, behind BoB) and based on a book by a Marine who was in Iraq during the Second Gulf War.  It follows a Marine Recon unit through the invasion, combat with insurgencies, and of course some winning of hearts and minds and rear echelon sort of stuff, as well as giving us a good glimpse into the decision making process that goes on behind the scenes.

The show has a lot of strengths.  Most importantly for this blog post, the production value is first-rate... humvees and LAVs and Abrams and A-10s abound, and the show is FULL of third-worldy cities and farms.  Visually it is like watching a documentary filmed in Iraq, which is pretty impressive.  The whole show was filmed in parts of Africa, so the look is just spot on... and is some GREAT inspiration for scenery making!  There are some fantastic rural AND urban spots that are just DYING to be made in 15 or 25mm.

I get the feeling the show is particularly authentic when it comes to representing both the horror of combat and the actual young men in our armed forces.  There is a LOT of civilian and accidental death in the show, as much as many of the Marines try to avoid it, and it is not pretty.  And frankly there are a number of young men in the show who I wouldn't trust to mow my lawn, much less get in a firefight alongside me.  As much as we idolize our military, I do get the feeling that there are these types scattered among the precise professionals who you find in the ranks of our military, as some slip through who might not meet very high standards.  Unfortunately, this show makes them very visible.  Thankfully, there are plenty of competent soldiers to keep the damage the idiots cause to a minimum.

One place where I do get a little doubtful with the show (although being that it is based on a book maybe it is accurate?) is the general ineptitude of the officers.  Now, I know any grunt will always complain about the officers above them, but one or two of them are portrayed as SO inept that I cannot believe they would be allowed to lead men.  Maybe in the rigid hierarchy of the military these guys get into positions that it is hard to get them out of, and certainly the stories are filled with men like this (for example, Lt. Dike in Band of Brothers) but I did find it a touch annoying that almost every officer seems like an idiot.

Overall though, "Generation Kill" is a great show for those modern wargamers out there who want a little visual inspiration, or some background for when you are gaming.  It only lasted one short season (seven or eight episodes I believe) but it is available on HBO-GO.  So go give it a look!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Some modern painting and scenery work photos

Hi all!

Well, a buddy of mine came by tonight, and we knocked some more paint onto my 15mm Moderns... namely, the market stalls. 

Here are the stalls, with a few different colors slapped on them.

We also did a few rugs hanging from a stall, and off one balcony (not pictured).

Here you can see some US troops moving up the street.

Here are some of the buildings which we put posters and such up on.  I made the posters using a few random bits from the internet and some random colors.  Here is the image for them!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Some basic paint on the 15mm modern buildings

Hi all!

Well, a bit of Battlefield 3 and some "Generation Kill" got me in the mood, so I threw some paint on my 15mm buildings, just as a start.  There is obviously a lot left to do, but at least they look better than plan MDF!:)

Plus, I picked up that Stryker in the middle at Fall In (the loot post is yet to come) and I wanted to get that going:)

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Fall In- The Game I Played (Borodino!)

Hi all!

Okay, time for Part 3 of my Fall In posts!

I usually play at least one game at fall in, and I did play one game at Fall In this year.  I had done a little asking around for recommendations over on TMP for which game would be a visual treat, and everyone pointed to the usual suspects; the Carnage and Glory guys, led by Nigel M. and Dave B.  This year they were doing a big, three-part refight of Borodino.  So I figured... what the heck!

And as a special, added bonus I took a BUNCH of photos of the game right next to ours, which was another one of the Borodino games.

So.  For our game, I was one of four Russian generals.  Our objectives were to hold the hill on our left, and if we can the woods on our right.  We also had to kill a lot of French and their Polish allies!

We had, if I recall correctly, four divisions at our disposal.  I would start the game in command of just the jager company in the woods on the one side of the board, whose main division was holding the hill.  I would attempt to delay the enemy advance if possible and tire them out, and then drop back to the hill, assuming command of a newly arrived division at that point.

Here are our boys, advancing through the wheat field towards the battle!

Here you can see my four regiments of jagers.  I threw them into open order to prevent too much exhaustion... open order is vulnerable to charge, but keeps you moving in trees!

And here you see the enemy advancing on us through the woods.

A close up of the Polish troops opposite me!

They got in and beat on my guys pretty badly.  My troops eventually crumbled, one group routing, the other three withdrawing in relatively good order.  I was a bit indecisive, and that cost me; the enemy attacked with three battalions, and while I HAD four I only had two on line.  This was a mistake.  This left the woods contested.

Thankfully some friendly reinforcements in the form of another Russian division quickly moved up through the wheat towards the front!

So... I was given command of the center division after I turned over command of my jagers back to their original division commander (who is holding the hill at the top of the above photo, the Russian left.)  You can see my division in the center, along with all those guns, and the Russian Guards division to the far right, which moved in to hold the woods. However, before I snapped a photo, a questionable move on my part opened a hold between my own division and the Guards division, which our enemies quickly attempted to exploit!  They began to pour men into the breech.  My artillery, however, worked wonders, pouring cannister into the Poles and forcing them back as Russian reinforcements advanced to plug the gap.

Here you can see both my own division and the reinforcements beginning to plug the gap, as more men from the Guards division in the woods swarm out from the other side.  The French and Allied troops in the gap looked to be in bad shape.

As my guns fired away (the right of the photo) I also rushed men up to the hill to help plug gaps, and as I crested the hill I plunged right into the face of the enemy, who had already been battered by artillery in their long advance up the field!

Here is a shot from above and behind our lines.  From Russian left to right, you can see us holding the hill all the way to the board edge.  Then you can see my own division with the guns in the center, some of them swarming down the hill, throwing the Polish down before them.  You can see the gap, as columns of Russians are thrown into to plug it, and then the "knuckle" of the Russian Guards in the woods.

Another shot from roughly the same spot.  You can see some of my men pouring down the hill, screaming and stabbing as they go!

A shot of the French and Poles as they are thrown back out of the gap, leaving many dead and wounded behind, including a captured General and a captured flag!

The French and Poles attempt to take the hill, but are struggling, as my own men, bloodthirsty from their bayonet work on the hill, countercharge down into them!

Another shot of the French and Allied lines, with my own Russians actually among them!

We did end up winning the game convincingly... while we didn't hold the woods (the woods were actually quiet as both sides just faced off but were more intent on keeping their opposites pinned in place and unable to help the center) we DID hold the hill.  Plus, we inflicted a LOT of casualties!

Now, as an added bonus... here is some eye candy from the Borodino game that was happening at the very same time, right next to us!

Big thanks to Dave Bonk for a fun game, to the other generals (if you read this, please say hi!) who played (and helped this relative newbie out of a lot of jams!) and to the folks who supplied the fantastic figures and scenery.  THIS is what a game should look like!:)

French pouring out of the woods.

The Russian defenders.

The French attack the Russian positions.

Yikes... that's a LOT of Russians!

But there are a lot of French on the way!

Battle is joined in earnest!

Not sure who won the game... but it sure looked nice!:)

Monday, November 5, 2012

Fall In: The Games!

Hi all!

Well, it is that time!  Time for the games!

Now... I hate to do this.  I really do.  Honestly.

But man... the games this year really did not live up to my expectations.

Now, maybe I have too high expectations.  Maybe they are unrealistic.  But I was really, really disappointed by the overall quality of the tables of the games.

Now, often the figures were fantastic, but there were SO many tables that were just bits of felt or bits of lichen, and it left me so disappointed.

Someone I was talking to on Saturday night theorized that wargamers have three different "concerns" when it comes to games.  First, there is the competition aspect of it.  Second, there is the fun of game playing.  Finally, there is the spectacle of it all.

And I admit; that last one is HUGE for me... and the terrain is a big part of that!  When I was a kid I ADORED dioramas.  Adored them.  The tiny trees, the tiny fields, the tiny buildings... what wargamer DIDN'T love them... or heck, DOESN'T love them?  I spent hours standing in front of every diorama I could find, drinking in all the tiny goodness!

Unfortunately, I didn't get that feeling a lot this year at Fall In.  There were simply too many games that just didn't look very good.

So I was just left very disappointed by the overall visual quality of the games this year.  I hope next year can be better.  And it doesn't take a lot of money; it just takes some time, some work, and a bit of flock!

ANYWAY; let's get to the show... the games!  As always, please let me know if you recognize some games, or if you ran them yourselves, and want to contribute more info!  I even numbered them this year, for ease of clarification!:)

1) First up, this fantastic table that was up in the main lobby for the whole time!  It was sculpted Styrofoam.  I forget the name of the fellow who made it, but I've seen it before, and I know someone out there knows this artisan!  It hosted a number of games, from Napoleonics...

... to modern!

Now, it was a beautiful table, and I LOVED the woods!  A helpful gamer picked up the end so I could get a good shot of how the woods lay right on top of the trunks.  Looked great, AND very useful!

2) This was an ACW table that was being taken apart... I like the modular nature of it!  Apparently it consisted of three different battlefields all mixed up.  Note the Gordon and Hague miniatures on the bottom right!:)

3) Another nice table, although I missed what the game was:)

4) A big 1812 game, Brits on the left, Americans on the right!

The British were Perry figures and very nice.  Not sure about the makers of the Americans!

Here are some more shots of the Brits; they were very clean, and very nice!

Some more Brits...

And some more!

5) Now, this was another game near the entrance to the main hall... I missed the theatre, but I think it was 1812... but I wanted to make sure to get some photos of the great boats and landing parties!

6) This was a very neat game, ran by a fellow from the Old Glory Shipyard... nothing like 28mm naval combat!

7) A huge pseudo-Space Hulk game, perfect for the kids!  No squares on the tiles (they were using rulers) but it was awful neat how the hulk got revealed piece by piece.

8) A huge game outside of the main hall... I believe it was either 1812 or French and Indian.

Here are some of the troops preparing to enter the table!

9) Okay, I LOVED this table.  A 15mm naval game.  The ships were just beautiful, the figures were simple and pretty... really, I loved this one.  And it looked like fun!

A close up of one of the ships in action.  I liked how the bases were painted like planks!

And another ship, sitting out this fight!

10) Look at all of that fence... must be ACW!:)

11) If I recall correctly this was a Roman Civil War game.  Nice elevation changes, too!

12) Hmm.. Normandy?  Not totally sure, so if anyone can help out...?

13) A neat 28mm Old West game that was doing a great job at getting the next generation involved!

14) This was a monster in one of the side rooms.  No idea what it was... snuck a photo and ran!:)

15) A 28mm Moderns game... if I recall correctly, it was Afghanistan.  You can just make out some NATO troops in the top right of the shot.

16) I just caught this one setting up... no details, sorry!

17) A fun little dungeon crawl that ran over several sessions.  Looked popular and fun!

18) The fields say ACW... the flags, Napoleonic?  I am not sure what this one was, so if anyone can help?

19) Another 28mm Moderns game.  Love seeing two M1A1s on the table... I'm sure they brought the pain.

20) A very clean 10mm ACW game of Antietam (note Bunker Church on the far left of the shot).  The GM used some cheap materials, like the plastic mats and the corduroy, and they were carefully cut and edged, making for a nice clean look!  Simple, affordable, and effective.

Having pretty figures doesn't hurt either, right?:)

21) A skirmish game that I believe was set in the 1812 era, using some very nice Miniature Building Authority terrain!

22) Ahhh!  A 28mm WWII double-blind game.  Loved the use of the projector screen to separate the two tables.  Now, in order to pull this off, you need two identical sets of terrain and armies; not easy!

So here is a shot of the American table... they see a Stug on the road, but that seems to be it...

But here is the German table, where it is clear there is German infantry and a troop carrier hidden among the weeds by the road!

23) Marengo!  A 28mm Napoleonic Carnage and Glory game (more on that later.)

Very pretty table...

... and the figures were beautiful!

Here some Austrian troops move through the countryside towards the sound of the guns.

The French advance across the fields towards the Austrian enemy!

24) Okay, for this one, I caught "Turks" and "Horseflesh."  I know the Brits were there, but I wasn't sure what else.  One thing?  A CRAPTON of figures (and a Best Game of the Show award!)

As I said... crap ton.  Just base that last group, please!:)

25) Okay, I couldn't help it... a sci-fi game.  But come on, it was TIE fighters vs X-Wings!  Dude, who WOULDN'T play that!

And finally a WWII game that clearly put the Miniature Building Authority guys' kids through college!:)

So... those were the games!  Some beautiful ones, for sure... but I hope next year we get even MORE beautiful games!  Thanks to everyone who looked at me with mild annoyance, wondering why some nosey guy was leaning over their shoulder snapping photos with a big obnoxious flash!:D