Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Forces of Kas'trum for Space 1889 (and Happy Holidays)

In the swamps between the cities of Crocea and Gorklimsk lies the independent town of Kas'trum. Though out of the thick of the current war against the Earthers, Kas'trum provides an important gateway to the High Martian liftwood groves to the north. The exact details of this town are not yet known, but below is a brief report on the military forces thought to be under her control.

I sat down the other day to look over the new acquisitions as well as my existing troops and come up with some reasonable units. Unfortunately, RAFM packs provide figures in multiples of three while the official Soldier's Companion organizations are in multiples of eight. Eight and three don't factor well so it took a bit of thinking to make it all work. Ratings are all conjectural at this point but more or less follow the book.

Canal Marines
Marines simply because I like the blue scheme I used for the originals. A little light with only 15 in the unit rather than the usual 19, these will be pure shooters with rifle muskets or possibly breech loaders. I am thinking Regular V1S or E1S.

The Stalwarts
My conception of  Oh'ktava'an's experimental shield gunner company. One half company each of gunners and cutters, all troops get the +1 defensive bonus for being armoured. This is a defensive rather than offensive unit. Regular V0 or maybe even E0.

Kas'trum Civic Guard
Basic city infantry with the usual smooth bore shooter/cutter split. Irregular T2 or X2

Kas'trum Fencibles
A mix of armoured (+1 defensive bonus) troops  armed with shield guns and choppers in the front half company and a twelve man over strength cutter company in the rear. Another defensive unit Irregular T0 or X0. I might try splitting morale with the front half company getting V0 and the rear T0  or even G0

Kas'trum Volunteers
A mishmash of civic minded militia. Mixed shooters and cutters in the front half company with all cutters in the rear. These boys are enthusiastic but Irregular G1 or at best T1 armed with a few smooth bore muskets.

Pier Worm Roaster's Guild Social Club and Civil Defence Force "The Red Caps". 
Well known for their marksmanship but better known for their drinking, the Red Caps began as an informal gambling league when the Roaster's Guild started taking bets on who could pick off the most marsh slugs - rapacious predators of the pier worm. Marsh slugs have excellent vision making them a tough prey to tackle. The Red Caps bright head gear and garish clothing show in part their contempt for the eagle eyed slug.  Irregular X3S or V3S. Rifled muskets.
Second Troop, Third squadron Crocean Heavy Dragoons
A Gashant unit on loan from the city of Crocea, the 2/3 Dragoons give Kas'trum some mounted support. Regular V0H

Num'da's Raiders
A Hill Martian light cavalry unit hired by Kas'trum to provide long range scouting. Irregular T2

Kas'trum Scouts
Another half band of Hill Martian mercenaries, the Scouts provide reconnaissance and skirmish capability to the city forces. Irregular T2
Moeris Lacus Trucial Company "The Prince's Own" 
 A dual purpose unit. As loyal sepoys, The platoons can be split up and assigned to red forces to provide a much needed native scouting capability.  As mutineers, they can be used to give Martian forces a much needed boost to their fire power and morale. Regular X2 (I love these sculpts)

The Rest
Left over figures who will serve as overall field commanders, rebel leaders and other roles as required.

This will give me five possibly six companies with some supporting troops as well - note that the two Martian Whitworth guns are not depicted here. Hopefully, they will be able to take on a British platoon, maybe even two.

In any event they give me much to paint over the holiday period.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you all! May your pier worms always be well smoked!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Magic the Gathering Pauper Draft

I last played Magic the Gathering back in the days of Ice Age with just a smattering of Alliances. I traded it all away for Jyhad / V:TES which I considered a more interesting game. Years later, board games are back and with them board game stores. Magic is back in public view and is no longer relegated to tournaments and niche stores.  You can even find cards at the dollar store.
A couple of friends wanted to play. Jamie has never stopped but Marc and I haven't picked up cards in years. So rather than buying pre-built decks of the latest release, we held a pauper draft last night with five packs each from  the dollar/pound store.  To do the draft, each player opens a pack, looks through the cards and selects one then passes the remainder to the right. The select and pass continues until all the cards from that pack have been distributed. Each player then opens another pack and the process repeats until all packs have bee distributed.  Basic land is added in as desired to make a fifty card deck.

For the old timers there were more than a few questions about card abilities but in the end we were able to muddle through. I was gratified to see a Legends reprint Cat warriors in my first pack - I could understand this card at least, and looking at the rest chose that as the basis of a green-black deck.  It was not to be since Marc was to my left and was also collecting green and snagged all the good cards.  I had to revert to a Black/White deck with a focus on graveyard recycling and low coloured mana cost critters and spells.   

The games went well with the usual problems of getting the land balance right. Jamie beat me pretty soundly with some new fangled magicky stuff. Marc and I took classical deck design approaches and had a couple of very close games. Two stand out. The first was where Marc had a heavily buffed up Cyclops ready to pound me to smithereens, and I played Eye Gouge sending it screaming to the graveyard. In another game I was hurting but Marc was down to 3. I attacked with a 1/4 which Mark did not block planning to kill me next turn with his creatures and I used a white border Transmutation to flip it to a 4/1 and killed him.  The old cards are still good cards.

It wasn't about winners and losers though, just a bunch of mates having a good time playing games.  I very much enjoyed playing and thought that I would enjoy getting back into it. Then I remembered that Magic is as addictive as crack and that a lead habit is much less problematic and costly than a card habit.

Top level decks in our area run between $250 and $2,000 to assemble, the "legal" cards change yearly if not more frequently and they're just frigging playing cards.

Back to buying lead I think.

But maybe just one more pauper draft.....

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

More Reinforcements for Mars

A bit of overtime came through from work so it was off to the RAFM site to order up some much needed reinforcements for the forces of mars.  This time around, it was two more legions of Mars and enough Colonial Martian Infantry to bring the existing platoon up to full company strength.

This will give me just under 6 warbands of martian infantry, a troop of heavy canal martian lancers, a troop of hill martian light cavalry, a full warband of high martians in both flying and on foot configuration (or 2 if I don't worry too much about mixing), two Whitworth rifles with Colonial or Martian crew . The colonial company mentioned above can fight either for the Great Red Queen across the ether or switch sides in true Sepoy style and help to throw their oppressive masters off the beloved red planet.  In addition I have a troop or so of Boer War era mounted rifles I plan on doing up as German mercenaries in the service of a Martian prince or as British colonial irregulars.

With all that in place, I might just be able to take on a British rifle company and survive.... maybe if the dice gods are kind just maybe....

Oh'ktava'an will likely be back over the Christmas holidays. While attending to his - uh - ablutions the other day he realized that while shield gunners can press forward against bows and spears, against rifles, they are far better as defensive troops receiving a charge with their scatter guns at close range. He has also received information from Earther sources suggesting that the British ability to use cover is not as good as many Maritian units. Many red units are unable to spot concealed troops until they are well within charge range. 

More to follow and a lot more to paint

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Epic - Mad Padre's PBEM Diplomacy Game is over

There have been two games in my life thus far that I can call truly epic. The first was a double blind umpired game of Squad Leader I played back in my 20's. The second was the Diplomacy game set up and run by Michael - The Mad Padre that wound up this week: Diplomacy Game: Peace Breaks Out, We Have Winners.

That's my last army - withering away in the beer halls of Silesia

When Michael put the call out for interested players, I put my name in and drew Germany. I had played before but not since high school so naturally I went on line and read up on the best strategies to follow for this august and important nation.  Two main points came up: 1) you must ally with Austria or you both will die and 2) you have to talk to other players.  Armed with these words of wisdom, I sent a flurry of messages across the map even to Turkey but most importantly to Austria.  All was well at first, then after a couple turns, Austria went silent. Unfortunately the player had to withdraw. Life happens and I bear him or her no ill will but it left me in a bit of a pickle. I had antagonized Italy while I tried to defend a passive Austria, England was leaning hard on the Low Countries and Turkey was pushing hard for Vienna.

In retrospect, an alliance with Italy would have worked out well in the long run - he turned out to be an honourable player and good neighbour to the end. However, faced with no prospect of winning, I decided to focus on in no particular order 1) surviving and 2) making the game interesting for the rest of the players. So rather than keep the persona of a sober and solemn diplomat, I went with the bat-crap crazy but mostly harmless unfortunate street person down at the bus station that everyone leaves alone.

There were numerous conversations with a predatory Uncle England about the high failure rate of Royal Navy compasses. I may have accidentally on purpose misquoted different messages I received before sending them on to other parties and I thought I found an interpretation of the rules that would have allowed for a 3 or 4 way win with me holding the swing vote.  Most regrettably I was utterly wrong about that last bit.

However, the most epic bit of epicness was the all out charge against the forces of compass sabotaging Bolshevism. Figuring I was dead anyway, I headed east putting more pressure on the Czar than he really deserved. And England and France did nothing... So I kept going and they kept doing nothing. In the end I had to turn back and defend Munich and thus survived far, far longer than I had any right to expect.  In the Fall of 1906 mere moments before the outbreak of peace, my last army fell and the Kaiser went into well deserve exile in Canada.

A wonderful game and a wonderful experience.  Many many thanks to Michael and all the other players.

My one regret is now my inbox is regrettably lacking in content.

Monday, September 22, 2014

A CoC Challenge the Results are In!

What a great group of Chain of Command List submissions from the community.  For the official envelope opening see:  The Winners Is

Thanks to all the contributors and to Lardy Rich for a special bonus.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Fort George and the Grand Canadian Steampunk Exposition or Canadian Combat Wheelbarrows!?

This past weekend (11-14 September 2014) I was at Fort George Ontario for the first annual Grand Canadian Steampunk Exposition.  Apart from all the steampunk goodness, a real treat for me was being able to explore the fort and even spend several nights in the barracks.

I took a great many photos and some will certainly show up here in future posts. I did find traces of a little known part of Canadian military history: The Combat Wheelbarrow!

Now wheelbarrows are so generally useful it is to be expected that your standard wheelbarrow will see use by the military such as these cargo variants:

And a better shot of the model on the right. the slats seem to suggest this was used for fodder or other bulk material:

Then there is this model with adjustable sides:

Surely the mortar in front is just part of a general display of equipment under repair in the Artificer's Shop.   But no.  In the depot section of the barracks block, the ingenuity of Canadian (Ok early British Imperial) military thinking is revealed. An example of one of the earliest self-propelled (or should that read squaddie propelled) artillery pieces in North America the Combat Wheelbarrow!:

In loaded and deployed configuration:

Based on information in the display and accompanying markings on the equipment, this was not just an interesting way to pose equipment in the museum but a historical method of moving and deploying light mortars. A great vignette for any modeller or gamer. Forward the First Upper Canadian Barrowmen!

Monday, September 8, 2014

All quiet because there is too much going on.

Between work and life, it has been an extremely busy Summer.  I have started collecting 1/72 WWII for Chain of Command, created a gaming mat for 1889 and begun printing dungeon tiles on warprinter. I also won a PDF of Adventures in the East Mark an Old School Rules fantasy RPG and I even managed to type up a review - for someone else's blog of course. Head over to Tenkar's Tavern and check it out.

Pictures of all this to follow but here's a sample.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Chain of Command Contest - First entry!

Adrian Deacon of Bullets Bandages and Lard has posted the first entry in my Chain of Command Challenge.

It covers 3 kampfgruppe of the 21st Panzer Division in Normandy and contains a tasty selection of French armour and conversions in German service as well a good assortment of light armour.  Nary a Tiger or Panther in sight

Well worth a look.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Chain of Command Contest!

Lardie Rich has been cranking out lists like crazy and still people are asking for more.   So I figured some of those people should pick up the slack and let Rich get on with other things like In the Buff.

It's simple really make a list and post it to the Chain of Command forum or Yahoo group and get a chance at winning stuff. Details here: A CoC Challenge! 

Get posting and Good Luck!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

More painting and some conversions

It was hot and humid Canada Day but I managed to get quite a bit of time in the man cave while the missus helped the offspring with their post school year room clean up.

A while back, I unearthed a pack of British colonial infantry. As I have quite a few in redcoats already and some more in the pile destined to be clad in khaki, I decided to do this bunch as ersatz Royal Marine Light Infantry.  They aren't quite right in some details but only those a purist would notice and they are destined for VSF so all historical objections are moot.

RMLI (or close enough to pass on the table)

The other project for the day was a couple of conversions. My fallschirmjäger were a little light in the support department so for my birthday I placed an order with Wargames Foundry for some reinforcements. This created a bit of a quandary. One figure in the  heavy weapons pack gives you a choice between slung MG 34 or Panzerbüchse 39 but not both. I needed the MG 34 for certain platoon organizations but I really, really wanted the ATR for use in early war operations.  I wonder why? My Foundry order was large enough to qualify for an extra pack so with some trepidation I broke out the razor saw and cyanoacrylate.

FJ Supports (and a couple of Martians)
The centre un-primed figure running with the grenade was my sacrifice starting point.  The flanking figures are the result. Pretty good I think and useful for punching holes in any light armour sniffing around the green fields of Eakring.  I didn't quite have the nerve to remove the slung Kar 98 but FJ are supposed to be beefy lads so they can carry both.  The double based figures on the right are a sniper team. The figures are stock. The sniper scope being a section of  1/72 Macross VF-1 Valkyrie landing gear strut from the bits box.

My second band of High Martians got a long awaited dip and I even managed to dye some tea leaves for home made flock. I didn't quite have the nerve to appropriate the food processor to turn a bag of foam chips into ground foam - maybe next time.

A very productive and satisfying day off.

edit: I really do need a camera with decent macro capability.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Chain of Command Home Guard List Version 3

Some tweaks based on play tests and updates with the Coculator.  Still not perfect and overly complex but there we are ;)

Chain of Command Home Guard Version 3

Thursday, June 12, 2014

A little painting

One of the groups I loiter around at ran a low pressure "contest" to paint up an infantry unit. The prize - motivation and a finished unit.

Last year a friend dropped by for some gaming and very kindly gave me a box of these:

 Spartan Games Dystopian LegionsFederated States of America Wilderness Section
And this is my take:

Unfortunately the point and shoot camera I have was acting up and of the dozen or so pictures I took these were the only two that worked and even then I had to tweak the brightness and contrast. The actual colours are not quite so toy like and the finish is not quite so shiny.

With the exception of the resin bear traps and the leaping figure, all were re-based onto the steel washers I use. I just don't like the big display bases.  On the whole the figures were very nicely detailed sculpts.  And as usual, my painting doesn't do them justice.

Unfortunately, Spartan's caster might be pushing their molds a little too hard.  There were  a couple of fiddly arm joints - more of a design problem - and some fairly serious gaps in the dogs' hind legs that needed to be filled. The axe head for the leaping figure was completely missing. The rounded end where is should have been suggests the mould  didn't fill properly. A couple of rifle barrels also came up a bit short. The leaping figure had a significantly arched back, so much so that his rifle is decidedly curved in ways it shouldn't be.

Overall I enjoyed painting these figures and will happily put them on the table - especially the dogs, Pepe - the skunk hatted hunter and of course those bear traps.

Monday, June 9, 2014

What did you do in the War Grandad?

June 6 has come and gone and the sacrifices of D-Day have been rightfully recognized.  However June 9th is more important to me because of this:

The Mulberry Harbours set into place 70 years ago today.  Grandad and his brothers came from a long line of ship builders.  Working out of Harlan and Wolf in Belfast and Cammel-Lairds Liverpool, they worked on many fighting ships and merchant vessels.When grandad shifted to working on the Mulberries, it had follow on effects felt up to this day (it is in part why I am Canadian and not Kenyan). He also served as an ARP.

I should also mention Pop, my other grandfather who was a foreman at a gas works for the duration.  Important but not very exciting work until you realize that part of his job was to pull incendiaries out of gas storage tanks. He was in the Home Guard and stood watch over one of the first V1s to land without exploding.  A great aunt worked putting together fuzes until she asked to be moved because she was getting lonely working all by herself in a little shed far away from the rest of the plant.  It wasn't the danger you see, she just wanted to chat with the other girls.

And then there is my father in law, a Malta Gunner before the war, he did not take well to military life.  He spent much of the war as an electrician working on Hurricanes and Spitfires on airfields around Malta. To give you an idea of what that was like, the whole island was given the George Cross.

So today, I raise a toast in memory of those who  served at home in whatever capacity to ensure the fight was brought to the enemy.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Mad Padre's 100k contest

The winter has been long and busy with sadly little modelling done.  I am opening 2014 with a contest link: It's A Contest! Celebrating 100K Page Views For Mad Padre Wargames  Crass opportunism on my part? Not exactly.  The Padre does great work with his gaming.  While I have never been a believer, Padre and those like him put their asses on the line to take care of the mental and spiritual well being of the soldiers, sailors and air force personnel who put themselves in danger.


Napoleon: I hate playing IgoUgo rules with Wellington, he always drags his feet measuring the ranges.

Hanna Reitsch: 0
Yvette: 1

Ichi-sama's chances with Ilsa plummeted when he thought she asked for a "pint-sized perfect head" and not  a "pint with a perfect head".