Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year 2011!

Another year is upon us and I've decided it is time to consider my gaming resolutions for 2011. Without further ado, here they are:

1) Thin my miniatures collections down to just the stuff I love and use. Too many periods and scales causes me to lose focus and productivity. Bins full of unpainted figures do not bring me any enjoyment.

Brigadier Peter Young, in his book Charge! or How to Play War Games, said:

If you are enormously rich and have plenty of room, you may be tempted to build up war game Armies of several periods. This is enticing, but it is madness! We would commend you to choose your period, stick to it, read up the subject and get the atmosphere of the age. This is the most rewarding approach to a pastime which, while not lacking excitement, is decidedly more agreeable than dropping atomic bombs on one another. (p.116)

This is valuable advice and it conforms nicely to my thoughts on simplifying my life in general. I doubt I'll drop down to a single period any time soon, but I will strive to find more focus in 2011.

2) Play more games with my friends. I love playing games with people I like to spend time with. 'Nuff said.

3) Play more games with my kids. This is obviously related to resolution number 2 above. Recently we've been playing Castle Ravenloft and Battle Masters. I want to keep this up.

4) Kickoff my Mutants & Masterminds 3e campaign and play at least one session per month in 2011. I'll post more about this campaign in the coming weeks.

5) Blog more. I hesitate to add this one, because there is obviously a very good chance it will fall by the wayside.

That's it, I guess. I'm really looking forward to some great gaming in 2011!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

15 Games in 15 Minutes

This has been going around the gaming blogsphere, so I thought I'd chip in. 15 games I've played that will always stick with me (in no particular order):

1. AD&D
2. Champions
3. The Russian Campaign
4. Advanced Civilization
5. Diplomacy
6. Villains & Vigilantes
7. Axis and Allies
8. Eastfront
9. Command Decision
10. Twilight 2000
11. Traveller
12. Squad Leader
13. War and Peace
14. Top Secret
15. Ogre/GEV

It's interesting how many of these games are from high school and before as compared to after high school. Partially it's because I had a lot more time for gaming then and partially it's because it's hard to judge whether the games I'm playing now will be meaningful in 5 or 10 years.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Revisiting Old Projects That Never Got Off The Ground

A few weeks ago the Brigadista was nosing around my workshop after a game of Command Decision when he stumbled across some painted stands of 15mm WW2 American infantry. "If you finished these off, you'd have almost enough for a battalion," he announced. Yeah, yeah, I thought. Those models have been sitting like that for almost two years.

After poking around some more, he came across a second batch of painted American infantry. "This is enough for a second battalion. You need to get these on the table," he proclaimed.

Hmmm... Once again, the Brigadista was on to something. After I shooed him out and sent him on his way home, I took an inventory of my 15mm WW2 Americans. I had started this project on two separate occasions, but immediately lost steam each time. The two batches of figures were painted maybe two years apart, so they weren't a perfect match in terms of color or style. However, they were pretty close. Some highlights would go a long way towards making them look good together.

After a count of painted figures, I determined that I did have all of the infantry I needed for two Command Decision battalions. I did need to paint some support weapons, a couple of jeeps, and a couple of light trucks to make the units complete. I dug out my unpainted metal and found everything I needed to finish the two battalions (plus a bunch of other stuff as well - more on that another time).

I started by rebasing all of the painted figures onto 3mm thick Litko bases. I have been using magnetic bases for my other 15mm Command Decision units, but decided to go this route because I didn't have enough magnetic bases on hand and because I didn't want to wait for an order from Litko.

Next, I highlighted all of the painted figures. I did this so they would all have roughly the same shades for their pants, jackets, and helmets. The different base coats on the different batches of figures ended up giving a pleasing variation in final appearance. After the painted figures were ready, I quickly painted up the handful of figures I needed to complete this mini-project. These were painted in a different style from the first two batches, but were highlighted with the same colors.

The last step was deciding how to flock the bases. For my 15mm British, I used acrylic pumice to texture the base, which was painted and highlighted before adding patches of static grass. For this project, I decided to go with something simpler.

I mixed up a batch of Woodland Scenics burnt grass flock with some very small stones. Then I covered the base in diluted white glue and piled on the flock mixture. Viola! Very simple and very quick, but I think the final result looks great on the table. The bases on my British look nice up close, but they tend to stand out on the table. These bases blend in. I like them.

In less than a week I was able to field a nice sized force for Command Decision. In fact, the figures were immediately put to use in a Battle of the Bulge scenario where they valiantly held the town of Dom Burtgenbach against the 12th SS Panzer Division.

It's a good feeling when you can make use of figures that have been taking up space for years. In this case it was remarkably (embarrassingly?) easy. The best part? I put a nice force on the table without spending a dime. (Of course I spent many dimes when I originally bought the stuff, but that was years ago. Sunk costs. They feel free now.)

Now that I have a nice foundation of American infantry, the Brigadista and I have big plans for how we are going to use them. More on that soon.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Thoughts on John Prados Third Reich

Here are some thoughts on John Prados Third Reich after completing a few games.

1.  The diplomatic system plays well, but doesn't give particularly historical results.  Examples:

France can easily build its entire force pool early in the game and still have plenty of money for diplomacy.  Since everyone knows France won't be in this game for the long haul, it doesn't make sense for France to try to win allies.  The best use of all that money is to reduce German and Italian influence in various places.

It is very difficult for the Germans to gain allies in Eastern Europe.  

It is very difficult to keep Sweden from turning hostile towards the Germans (which cuts off the supply of iron ore and costs the Germans 10 BRP per year).

2.  The ground forces of Britain and Italy seem much more potent than they should.  

3.  It is very easy to achieve some things that never happened historically.  For example, building the Italian aircraft carrier is trivial.  As is building up a substantial Italian amphibious capability.  Some this stuff makes Italy more interesting to play, so it is understandable why it was included.

4.  Submarine warfare doesn't seem to work very well.  Subs are capable of inflicting significant losses and it is very difficult for the allies to inflict losses on the subs due to the way the sea zones are laid out.  Even if the allies want to commit to an ASW campaign, they just don't have the bases to pull it off.

5.  Both games we played had interesting interactions between Italy and the allies.  In the first game, the allies left Italy alone.  Italy swallowed the Balkans and then went after Britain.  In the second game, Italy wanted to be left alone, but Britian and France declared war in Winter 1939 and swallowed North Africa.

Neither result felt quite right.  The second case was especially ahistorical.  The British player (me) basically wrote off France (France will fall with or without British assistance) in order to try to achieve a quick kill of Italy.  It worked, but it made me feel a little dirty.

The game feels well balanced and fun, but it just doesn't always feel very historical.

Our next effort for this game system (after a brief hiatus) will be the Pacific version, Great Pacific War.  After that we intend to join the games together to play the entire Second World War!

John Prados Third Reich Wrap Up

The Brigadista and I managed to get in another session of our JP3R game on Friday night.  As I mentioned in my last post on the subject, we ended last time after the summer 1941 turn.  The Germans had invaded Russia and the British, having cleared North Africa, landed in Sicily.

Things really didn't go the Brigadista's way at all.  The German fall attacks in Russia were successful, but not overwhelmingly so.  The Russians were able to rebuild their units and even start to counter-attack.  Bad weather and a lack of money stymied any German efforts in Winter and Spring.  The Russians received massive force pool additions in Spring 1942, which pretty much eliminated any German opportunity to win the war.

In Sicily, the British army bypassed the main Italian army and captured Messina.  The Italian forces on Sicily were forced to surrender.  The British hopped the straights of Messina and invaded the boot of Italy proper, where they were stopped by hastily summoned German infantry.  The Italians had had enough at this point - the Brigadista blew the surrender die roll (a '3' on 2d6) and the Italians promptly surrendered.

Meanwhile the Pearl Harbor event came up and the U.S. joined the war.  Soon American troops were flooding to Britain.  A Summer 1942 invasion of France was definitely in the cards.  At this point the Brigadista wisely threw in the towel.

The game was enjoyable, but not as much fun as our first session.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Happy Birthday Sir Harry

The Brigadista has informed me that Sir Harry Paget Flashman VC KCB KCIE was born this day in 1822.  The Brigadista has also informed me that we shall be holding a party in Sir Harry's honor next year on May 5th.  Details to folow.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Back, with Stuff to Say

Sorry for the long hiatus, but I haven't been doing much gaming or painting.  Shame on me.

Right now I've got one gaming project going on.  The Brigadista and I have started a new game of Avalanche Press's John Prados Third Reich.  This time I'm commanding the Allies and the Brigadista is commanding the forces of fascism and oppression.  This game is a bit of a monster and we can usually finish about four turns in an evening session.

I'm not going to give a detailed blow-by-blow of this game because I don't want to lose the few readers I have.  (Or at least think I have...  Hello??  Is anyone out there??)  The game got off to a typical start - the Germans quickly overran Poland, the Low Countries, and Denmark.  France held out until Fall 1940, despite receiving no help from the British.  The Germans never invaded Norway.  The Germans invaded the Soviet Union in summer 1941 and things are on schedule there.  (One bad thing for the Germans - the Swedes got tired of German aggression and cut off the iron ore supply!  Fortunately for the Brigadista the game impact isn't as severe as what I suspect the real world impact would have been.)

Things went off script in the Mediterranean.  Yugoslavia got fed up with fascist Italy and declared war in the Winter of 1939.  Britain followed up with a declaration of war against Italy that same turn.  The Italians defeated Yugoslavia in a couple of turns, but things did not go so well in the Western Desert.  The British (under Wavell no doubt) quickly cleared Libya and, after a series of costly naval battles, seized control of the Med and landed in Sicily in spring 1941.  Monty hopes to win the 'Race to Messina' since Patton is still back at Fort Benning with the rest of the U.S. Army.  To add to the Italian misery, Mussolini decided that the best course of action in the face of these setbacks would be to declare war on Greece.  (In fairness to the Brigadista, this was a random event and not his own hair-brained idea!)  Fun stuff.  I can't wait for our next session.

In other news, I'm currently rearranging my basement game room.  I've added taller shelves, which has allowed me to shift things around a bit and have more stuff out and accessible.  Now I'm trying to get my painting desk under control so I can actually paint some something.  It's hard to claim to be a miniatures gamer when you don't paint anything!

I guess that's enough for now.