Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Big Goose Egg

I promised myself (and you) that I would keep track of my monthly miniature painting total.  Well for June, that number is zero.

I've got good reasons, not the least of which is being out of the state for two weeks.  I also had an annual review at work to prepare for.  On the "I did do something fun, hobby-wise" front, I got in one game (resulting in a horrible loss) and some modular dungeon terrain built.

I made a bit of a mis-step in trying to get my miniatures-painting mojo flowing again by busting out these zombie miniatures by Wargames Factory that I've had forever sitting around.  After a few hours of painting them, I remembered why.  The detail is very crude, and WF has distinctly shown improvement since these figures.  But they are disheartening, and I have actually considered just pitching them.

In my off-hours and long travel times I have been considered the "Desert Island" question, considering and dismissing games that would qualify as "Desert Island" material.  Most skirmish games have been dismissed, for example, because I want to be able to have a healthy amount of miniatures to paint.  Almost paradoxically most "epic" games requiring 8' by 12' tables are out because of space requirements.  Somewhere in there is the sweet spot, probably about 4' by 6' or 8'.

I also really want a game that plays well as a solo game.  That is leaning me more towards the card-driven games like Piquet or any of the Two Hour Wargames products.  More as this progresses, not the least of which will be the final word on the new job in a couple of weeks.

Monday, June 28, 2010

AAR: Empire vs. Dwarfs (WHFB, 1999 pts)

In a word, I got shellacked.

Wrong army, bad deployment, and lousy die rolling.   Top it off with some bad generalship in the form of forgetting to move/fire units, and I deserved to lose.  Thinking I was going up against Tomb Kings, I took a pretty infantry-heavy army: spearmen, swordsmen, and halberdiers, most with free company back-ups.  Two knight units.  Two small units of archers, a unit of huntsmen (whom I promptly forgot when they got into the forest) and a mortar.  Captain, BSB, and a level 2 wizard as heroes.

My opponent and arch-rival Vince?  Shooty Dwarfs.  Two units of thunderers, four bolt throwers and a flame cannon.  Warriors, longbeards, and hammers as the hard center.

At best, the battle was a duel of war machines: my mortar pounded away at his three infantry units while his flame cannon panicked my two halberdier units almost off the table.  Neither rallied in time to get back into the action.  Then it was a turkey shoot for his thunderers until my S3 units got to his firing line and were unable to punch through.  One of my knight units was actually wiped out attacking a bolt-thrower crew (ugh).

Vince graciously offered to start over about halfway through when it seemed like we were heading for a rout. It actually wasn't as bad as it looked: while I had some heavy losses--a lot of units were still on the table, just not where I wanted them because of panicking.  On the other hand, I had hardly dented his army at all, so there is no doubt about who won.  I declined his offer, having limited time to play this month, but at least I got a game in, one I plan on learning from.

I also decided to go old school in my post-game activities.  I've been reading the reprint of Featherstone's Solo Wargaming and he dedicates a chapter to keeping a gaming journal.  This was obviously in the pre-internet era where blogs allow people to record gaming exploits (like this one), but I still found the idea of a written tome that I could go back to on my own appealing.  As it turns out Staples had a "red and black" notebook on clearance (A4 sized, oddly enough) for $1.50.  I jokingly call it my "book of grudges" since my first entry will be a brutal loss, but I'm hoping it'll inspire me to get to a table a little more often.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Battle of Hogwarts, HOTT style

I've been on holiday for the past week, and on the long drive back home I spent some time daydreaming on wargaming.  We've been listening to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows during the drive, and the final battle at Hogwarts got me wondering how I might recreate it on a gaming table.

There's lots of systems one could use, but the easiest would be Hordes of the Things (HOTT) and their typical attacker/defender dynamic plays into the scenario perfectly.

For those who don't know (stop reading if you want to avoid spoilers) at the end of the last book Hogwarts, Harry's castle-like school, is attacked by Lord Voldemort and his Death Eaters in an attempt to stop Harry from finding the Horcrux Voldemort has hidden there (and hopefully kill Harry, thus putting an end to his shenanigans).  The students, faculty, and assorted friends of Hogwarts hold off the Death Eaters in hopes that Harry will be able to find the Horcrux and put an end to Voldemort's evil.  In The Deathly Hallows the battle is merely the backdrop to Harry's adventure, but the wide variety of characters and creatures involved make in an ideal HOTT scenario to play.

One note though--Harry Potter and Lord Voldemort do not take place in the battle itself; Harry is running around looking for the Horcrux and Voldemort is holding back, expecting Harry to seek him out for the final duel.  If you want to include them, make Voldemort a God (to reflect his power) and Harry a Hero on the Hogwarts side.  I've also decided that most of the wizards and witches count as Shooters, since in the book most of the spells are short-range and do nothing but remove the target from action (through death, immobility, etc.)

Attacking Army: the Death Eaters
Magician General (Bellatrix LeStrange)
Shooters (Death Eaters)
Behemoths (giants)
Beasts (giant spiders)
Flyers (dementors)

Defending Army: the residents of Hogwarts
Stronghold: Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
Magician General (Minerva McGonagle)
Shooters (students, faculty, and the Order of the Phoenix)
Blades (animated armor)
Hordes (house elves)
Riders (centaurs)
0-1 Behemoth (Grawp and Hagrid, on a single base)

The table should include a forested area to represent the Forbidden Forest, as well as a lake where the mer-people live on the Hogwarts grounds (curiously enough, the lake monster and the mer-people fail to appear in the final book).

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Desert Island

I haven't talked about this much, mostly because up to date I haven't really been able to for professional reasons, but I feel like I can say now that there is a good chance I will be moving sometime this summer.  Let's call it 50/50.  It is a good job with a new company, a big step up both in responsibility and salary, but it is also about three states and one time zone from where I am now.

Because I own my house, in all likelihood, should I get the new position, I will be living in a small rental unit in the new city while my wife stays back in our old home.  This situation may stretch on for months.
Not to bore you with details of my private life (we haven't even gotten around to discussing the children, who will probably move into the rental unit in the new city when school starts) but I wanted to set the scene for what it playing out in my head hobby-wise these days.

The new city might have a gaming store.  Over the past week or so the store's website has gone down, which isn't a good sign.  The next closest store is about 45 miles away.  Without the kids it might be doable to go down for a game, but after school starts and I'm a quasi-single parent, I think that's a wash.

So, given the following factors (small apartment or home, limited time, no gaming stores) I'm thinking about what I can do in terms of wargaming.  I've been calling this "The Desert Island" because it feels like Phil Olley's old mental exercise of asking himself "if you were on a desert island, what one game would you bring with you?"  (Someone once wrote "naval wargaming, 1:1 scale.")

What have I been thinking about?  Solo wargaming, for one.  I brought Featherstone's Solo Wargaming, joined the Yahoo Group, and peruse the TMP Solo Wargaming boards.  I fulfill two of Featherstone's recommended characteristics for a solo wargamer: a lack of an opponent and a paucity of time.

I have also considered engaging my son in wargaming.  He's ten years old, but has an active interest in my miniatures and in fact often raids the "it doesn't matter too much what happens to them" miniatures to play a home-made miniatures game called "Capture the Flag" with friends.  The Percy Jackson series has done much to pique his interest in classical mythology and battles.

The other thing that I have been considering is switching to smaller scales.  99% of what I own is 28mm.  However if I'm gaming by myself in a two-bedroom rental unit, maybe even an apartment, then even fielding a 4' by 4' table might be excessive.  It makes more sense for me to consider going with 20mm or smaller and using a 3' by 4' or 3' square table.  Part of the interest I have in it (rather than doing some 28mm skirmish game) is that I could explore terrain building at a smaller scale, etc.  And if I'm paying for two homes, the savings in the smaller scale ranges are attractive.  I'm aware that I could save loads of money by not buying new miniatures, but don't trouble me with details.

So, you may see some changes here in terms of what gets seen.  Stay tuned.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

June is terrain month

After finishing May with a healthy 20 miniatures painted and meeting my painting goal for the year, I've decided to dedicate June to getting some terrain projects done, in particular my latest modular dungeon.  From a blogging  perspective, I don't know how interesting it will be for me to post pictures of corners or hallways that all really look alike, but to keep the blog up-to-date I'll try to at least get something up each week.

I did receive a couple of miniatures recently, two free ghouls from Mantic Games and a Reaper dwarf for my D&D game, so as plaster sets I may still get a few miniatures painted in the month of June.

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