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Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Assyrian Auxiliary Archers

Yes, Assyrians continue rolling off from the paining desk. Today's release comprises a nine-figure stand of Wargames Foundry auxiliary archers.  These figures are a mix of Chaldean and Neo-Hittite models.
Despite some planned rework of refitting and rebasing eight heavy chariots (rework, the wrench jammed into the gears of progress), The Assyrian Wars project makes good headway.  A four unit of mounted archers, another unit of foot archers, and a stand of Hebrew/Israelite spearmen work through the painting queue.
The project has expanded quickly and 28 stands can be counted as complete and ready for service.  Well, make that 20 stands as complete since eight of the finished chariots need runners and rebasing to come up to code.  With Jake working away on Egyptians, motivation to continue is high. 

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Project Management - Planning for Success?

Aaron, author of the fine wargaming blog, Here's No Great Matter, recently ruminated on the topic of when enough is enough when working down The Lead Pile (my term, not Aaron's).  Perhaps, I should name my unpainted lead behemoth in the basement something a bit more visual like "Godzilla?"  "Behemoth in the Basement" is not bad either.  Yeah, that would likely conjure up an image of the monster I face.

Back to Aaron and his thoughts on project management...

Aaron wonders out loud at what point he would be satisfied with his accrued painted armies.  When can one, with confidence and satisfaction, put down the paint brush and rest on one's laurels?  Aaron then proceeds to lay out an interesting and relatively long list of projects.  If finished, he would attain his desired, painting liberation.  Of course, a couple of additional Wish List projects are amended onto this list for good measure!  Aaron's prognosis is that he is about a third of the way to recovery to rid himself of this affliction.  Given his current state on the march towards nirvana, Aaron asks his readers where they fall along this (sometimes) forced march on the road to project completion.  Good question, Aaron!

Aaron provides an interesting blog with a good mix of wargaming (with figures and hex/counter), painting, and a steady flow of thought provoking commentary.  Focus is decidedly towards the Ancients end of the historical wargaming spectrum.  Solo and Face-to-Face gaming appear in seemingly equal proportions.   

Nathan, over at Natholeon's Empires, quickly picked up the gauntlet laid down by Aaron and posited a challenge to his readers.  His challenge is,
You make a Project Management blogpost which includes a list of projects you have / are working on / one day realistically intend to be working on. In the post you link back to the blog of the person that you got this idea from, like I have with Prufrock, and these instructions. That way we might get a chain effect of people discovering new blogs that they hadn't been following before. Or maybe just a bit of community bonding like the 'good old days'.
Nathan quickly came up with a list of about twenty projects that he has either finished, in progress, or some day hoping to build.  Long list of projects, Nathan!  Nathan has a penchant for gaming in 15mm using a wide variety of eras.  All played out in a reasonable size and scope.  His 19th Century and GNW projects are among my favorites to follow and always a treat to see in action on his gaming table.  We share a fondness for Lancashire Games' figures so he must be a good bloke!  

Peter, of Grid Based Wargaming, But Not Always, provides a glimpse of his project plans.  Peter's project list includes a definite Old School feel with Hinchliffe, Spencer, Smith, Airfix, and Minifigs making up the building blocks to new or refurbished projects.  Peter always has interesting rules ideas for gaming  on a grid using his Old School figures.  The reader is placed as co-pilot to observe rules development, playtesting, and refinements.  As a participant in the 6x6 Challenge, a new BatRep is never far off.  Great stuff!

Throwing his productivity hat into the ring, is Mark, author of 1866 And All That.  Mark offers up a list of projects to be completed within the next year-and-a-half that boggles this mind.  A more aggressive long range plan is not likely seen.  If anyone can tackle his plans with success, it is Mark; one of the most prolific painters I know.  Mark is a master craftsman turning out little architectural works of art too.  Oh, if I possessed his talent.  Mark's blog also has a steady stream of fine painted 28mm figures and visually exciting BatReps.

Finally, we move on to my own project plans for the remainder of 2017 and perhaps a bit beyond.  To review where action at the painting table has concentrated in 2017, below are two graphics broken out by ERA and SCALE.

First up is the distribution of painting points by scale.  Not much variation here. Fully 89% of my painting effort thus far has been focused on churning out lead for the 25/28mm projects.  The "Pacman" graph is uninteresting.
I really dislike the "25/28" designation.  Perhaps only the projects using Old School figures should maintain the "25mm" while all of the more modern figures should be classified as "28mm?"  Same holds for "15/18mm."  What is a fella to do?  

A more interesting graphic slices the painting pie by ERA.  The pie is dominated by the recently started 25mm Biblical project.  Wait!  Should that be "28mm Biblical project?"  Are Foundry figures 25mm or 28mm?  Some ranges are 25mm; some are 28mm.  See I am in classification hell already.

The Top Three efforts for 2017 through August in order are:
  1. 25mm Biblical - Assyrian Wars
  2. 28mm Reconquista
  3. 28mm Great Italian Wars
What will the remainder of 2017 hold at the painting desk?

For 28mm, a few more units of Assyrians are planned before I claim a game-ready army.  Also a new basing scheme for Assyrian chariots requires a refitting of eight chariots and the addition of at least twenty-four "runners."  More Assyrians will likely pop into the painting queue while the iron is still hot.

After that, I plan to work-in a few more units for the 28mm Reconquista project.  Having not painted any 28mm Napoleonics for a very long time (painting log shows the last unit mustered out was in May 2016), I would enjoy seeing a unit for the Peninsular War project hit the painting queue.  What will I pick?  Unknown now but I recall the Allies falling behind the French in the arms race.  Enough figures for a cavalry regiment for the long finished ECW project waits patiently for attention from a recent, Empress Miniatures' order.  That would be fun to see these horsemen on the table (or at least in the storage box).  Could the Punic Wars project use a unit or two?  Of course!

With such a preponderance of 28mm figures seeing action on the painting desk thus far, moving down to 15/18mm projects is a reasonable direction to head.  Along those lines of effort, adding more units to the 1799 Suvorov and 1859 Italy projects remain high on my list.  A unit or two of Ashigaru spear for the Samurai Battles project would be useful too.  Any new projects on the horizon?  I am hesitant to look. 

The hobby is not all about painting any more either.  More games have been seen on my gaming table in 2017 than in many years.  Averaging one game per month is a reasonable goal and I am ahead of that schedule.  With a recent foray into 1/72 WWI aerial combat after more than a decades' long hiatus, I envision both modeling and gaming in that space.  Games I would really enjoy moving out onto the gaming table in the final months of 2017?  Great Italian Wars and Reconquista would top that list.  My Great Italian Wars collection awaits its first test in battle.  I look forward to the day these colorful troops deploy on the battlefield.  A return to the Peninsular War would be most welcome too.  Perhaps working in a few generic scenarios from Grant or Thomas would work?  With the success of recent Honours of War games, a return to the SYW battlefield is in mind as well.  Certainly, enough gaming fodder to take me through the remainder of 2017.  Mine is a target rich environment. 

Progress continues on codifying and refining various rules I have in work.  Perhaps, several are to the point of moving beyond "everything on a QRS or in my head" stage?  Of course, I continue giving other rules a workout on the game table and imagine a few more games of Norm Smith's Two Flags-One Nation (see Norm's Battlefields and Warriors blog) before year-end.

To address Aaron's original question posed at the top of this post, I find painting and the reward of seeing yet another unit march off the painting desk too enjoyable to put my brush down any time soon.

Well, this exercise turned into much more than originally conceived but scope creep is often a necessary evil in project planning.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Egyptian Archers

Units for the Assyrian Wars project continue rolling out from the painting desk.  To add a bit of variety into the mix, off the workbench today is a nine-figure stand of Egyptian archers. 
Egyptian archers in my Assyrian Army?  Actually, yes.  Impetvs allows up to two stands of Egyptian archers in an Assyrian army.  Figures are from Black Tree Design and are quite well crafted. Detail is crisp and raised just enough for easy painting.  A few ugly mugs in the batch but chock that up to diversity.  Nice to push another manufacturer into the predominate Wargames Foundry foundation of Assyrians.

I picked up a few Egyptians with a recent BTD order for Assyrians just to see how they looked.  They look marvelous!  One advantage to fielding an Egyptian unit or two is that these troops can be added to augment an opponent's Egyptian force if fewer turn out than were called to arms.

Still a few more Assyrian units in the pipeline before my attention drifts to another project.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

A Rebasing Dilemma - Chariots

Having refurbished and rebased nine Assyrian chariots over the 2016 Christmas holidays, today I face a dilemma.  My original plan proposed basing each chariot on a one half-sized Impetvs cavalry base of 60mm x 80mm.  Two such stands would be placed together on the table to form one, 120mm x 80mm regular-sized cavalry base.  This original concept is shown in the photo below.     
Original basing scheme
After having based elephants for the Punic Wars project (see Seeing the Elephant) at one elephant per 120mm x 80mm base with runners, I thought this scheme would look good for chariots as well.
New basing scheme
As a test, I rebased the King's chariot in this fashion with four heavy infantry flanking the cart.  The result to my eye looks great. 
The chariot and crew are Wargames Foundry.  The Assyrian heavy infantry are from BTD.  With no photos of the BTD Assyrian infantry, I was a bit hesitant to order sight unseen.  When the figures arrived, however, I was pleasantly surprised.  The heavy infantry are exquisite!  The BTD shields have been replaced with left over Foundry shields.
To implement this proposed basing change, more runners will need to jump into the painting queue.  One major benefit of this approach is that the number of chariot BMUs will essentially double.  Yes, double!  That is, the nine chariots can be converted into nine chariots BMUs under Impetvs rather than the four BMUs plus one King's command chariot.

Is the new basing scheme a reasonable choice?   

Monday, August 21, 2017

Newline Designs' Babylonian Spearmen

Continuing on with the Assyrian Wars project, a fourteen figure unit of Babylonian spearmen debouch from the painting desk.
Unlike all of the Wargames Foundry lead coming before, these Babylonians are the first Newline Designs' figures I have tackled.  While, perhaps, not as sharply detailed as the Foundry figures, the Newline Designs' figures have a more rounded sculpting style.  Quite pleasing to the eye and the rounded features allow easy painting.  For size comparisons, these Babylonians fit in perfectly with Foundry figures from the Assyrian range.  
Excellent figures!  More additions from NDs' Biblical ranges are planned since a number of figures are not covered by existing Foundry ranges.  The Newline Designs' figures represent a good value too.  Even when not on sale, a pack of 24 figures with command can be had for BP20.00.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Assyrian Mounted Archers

Activity at the painting desk continues to focus on the Assyrian project.  Today, a four figure stand of Foundry Assyrian mounted archers musters off from the painting desk.
The growing Assyrian project now fields three such mounted archer stands.  Sculpting on both horse and rider are exceptional with good detailing on both.  Great figures and fun to paint.  A fourth stand is presently in work at the painting desk.
Under Impetvs, the Assyrian army can field a great many 'CM' cavalry stands.  Fortunately, The Lead Pile holds a "great many" Assyrian cavalry to be pressed into service.  At only four figures per stand, a unit of medium cavalry can be fielded with relative ease.

Many more Assyrians are working their way through the painting queue. 

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Whale Hunt! A Reintroduction to Canvas Eagles

Nieuport 11 tails a Roland Walfisch
After having brought up the notion of introducing Canvas Eagles (CE) to the guys and repairing my long-in-storage and damaged aircraft, a game was put onto the schedule.  With three players up for a gaming session and two of them with no experience in CE, I picked Early War aircraft and kept the situation simple.  

The encounter would feature two Nieuport 11's attempting to discourage one L.F.G Roland CII "Whalfisch" from completing its assigned reconnaissance mission.  After a briefing on the Sequence of Play, QRS and Aircraft Maneuver Schedules (Schedules for aircraft shown below), I sent the two new pilots off into the Nieuports and climbed into the Walfisch cockpit to begin Game One.
Stat Sheet for Walfisch
Stat Sheet for Nieuport 11
Action heated up as the Nieuports converged on the Walfisch.  At first, the French had difficulty bringing their fixed Lewis guns to bear on the lone German.  As the French closed, the Walfisch's observer was able to draw a bead on one of the Nieuports causing limited damage.  It was not long, though, before the pilot in the white Nieuport figured out how to fly his aircraft and maneuvered himself into a tailing position.     

Once tailed, the unlucky pilot of the Walfisch spent the remainder of the game handing out Tailing Cards to the Nieuport pilot.  The rookie in the white Nieuport, kept his aircraft on the tail of the Whalfisch (see leading photo of Nieuport tailing Whalfisch) and riddled both aircraft and occupants multiple times.  In the end, the Whalfisch was brought down after having suffered a critical hit to the wing.  Quick and bloody.  Game One goes to the French.  
German gets the drop on the French Nieuports
In Game Two, the situation began the same.  That is, the French pilots converged onto the Walfisch.  While the Frenchmen flying the Nieuport in camouflage pattern maintained a conservative flight path, once again the Whalfisch mixed it up with the white Nieuport.

In a series of running maneuvers, counter-maneuvers, and bursts from the machine guns, the German finally got into a tailing position on his White Menace.  How did the German manage this accomplishment?  Well, he took advantage of the Nieuport's difficulty in turning left to escape the Frenchmen's tailing efforts.  Slipping the tail, the German got himself into a tailing position.  After several bursts from the observer's Parabellum gun, the Nieuport went down with a critical engine hit.

The Whalfisch then banked to bring the remaining Nieuport to bear.  The rookie Frenchmen pilot, noticing fuel was low, broke off and headed towards Allied lines.  Game Two goes to the Whalfisch in an another fast and bloody engagement. 

That was fun!  Both games were completed in under two hours total including rules' briefing.  Both games resulted in action quickly and outcomes were decided decisively.  After two turns, plotting and carrying out moves seemed quick and effortless.  Combat resolution was equally easy and with few questions.  The games played smoothly.

What did my two rookie companions think of CE?  Both enjoyed the games greatly.  Games were quick with little conjecture as to who won the encounter.  CE was a hit!  CE is perfect for an evening of light gaming or as dessert following a more intense battle.  As we cleaned up the game, Scott and Kevin both talked about buying a few models in anticipation of building and fielding their own aeroplanes for future games.

Getting the guys to commit to building aircraft after only one playing says a lot for CE.  As a bonus, the components for CE are easily transported to another locale.  The planes can be boxed and map rolled in minutes.  Few other items are needed besides the flight stands, rules, and a few D6.  With the combination of ease of play and aircraft modelling, CE might provide a good stepping stone towards getting our next generation of young wargamers  pulled away from video games and interested in the hobby.  I expect CE will see semi-regular action on the gaming table; at least more frequently than once every dozen years. 

Not surprisingly, encouraged by the afternoon's gaming, I placed an order to bring in a few new aircraft into my aerodrome too.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Chaldean Auxiliary Archers

Work continues on the Assyrian project as another unit scrambles off the painting desk.  Following the recently mustered Chaldean slingers, a nine figure stand of Wargames Foundry Chaldean archers crosses over to the "Painted" side of the Painting Log.   
As expected from Foundry's Assyrian range, these archers are excellent sculpts with much facial character.  This batch, though, sported distinct mold lines on a few of the figures.  Some times, you do not notice that the mold line has not been completely removed until the figure is painted and photographed.
A long line of Assyrian units are either in work or awaiting in the painting queue.  The remainder of August may be entirely consumed with painting Assyrians.  Perhaps even four or five more units could be called up before Labor Day?  One concern is that I am rapidly outstripping my supply chain for bases.  I had hoped to hold off ordering until Litko's traditional Labor Day sale but I may not make it.  Regardless, I still plan to take advantage of Litko's Labor Day sale.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Foundry's Assyrian Auxiliary (Chaldean) Slingers

Work continues on the Assyrian Biblical project with the disembarkment of two stands of Assyrian slingers from the painting desk.  The figures are Wargames Foundry and listed as Auxiliary (Chaldean) slingers.  I suppose that means that these Chaldeans could fight either for or against the larger Assyrian Empire.  I bet they see action on both sides of the fence.  
The figures are based in foursomes on skirmish sized stands for Impetvs.  This basing scheme should also work for To the Strongest when I get around to giving that set of rules a try.  First, I need to make a gridded game mat on which to regulate the game.  Something I do want to try especially considering all of the interesting BatReps found and enjoyed.
More Assyrian units are in work with the next to debouch from the painting desk to be a nine figure stand of Assyrian Auxiliary archers.  After that, a unit of mounted archers, foot guard to accompany the King's chariot (yes, that means rebasing the chariot!), and a foot unit of Babylonians.  These planned additions should suffice to take me deep into August. 

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Action at Mill Creek - BatRep

Action at Mill Creek
Following my initial solo game of Two Flags - One Nation (see TF-ON BatRep), the situation for the Action at Mill Creek was reset and played out solitaire a second time.  The Confederate objective is to push two regiments onto the heights while maintaining control of the two road hexes on either end of the bridge spanning Mill Creek.  Any other outcome results in a Union victory.  All of the Confederate forces arrive at 10:00.  The Union player will receive reinforcements beginning on Game Turn 2.  Note that unit disorder is denoted by 'SH' markers on the table.  "Disordered" or "SHaken" close enough, right?  The game spans two hours from 10:00am to 12:00pm with a possible Confederate extension. 

The scenario begins with only Federal troops on the table.  Porter's brigade is deployed to the west of the bridge near the copse of trees and Richardson's brigade deployed on the heights overlooking the bridge and creek.
Federal Initial Dispositions
The battle opens at 10:00 with the Confederate division under Elzey entering the table from the south edge.  Federal artillery strikes the first blow by hitting the limbered Confederate guns before they can deploy.  The Reb artillery passes the Capability Test (CT). 
Elzey approaches Mill Creek
10:18. Random Event: Federal General Porter shot dead.  Both regiments of his brigade are disordered until a replacement can be found.  "Pop!"  Right off the bat, Federals witness issues with the fall of Porter from a stray bullet.  Confederate artillery scores a hit on Federal artillery positions while Elzey's division continues its advance upon the bridge.
Action heats up quickly
Confederates descend upon Federal positions
10:35.  Confederate guns score three hits on the Federal guns on the heights but the Federal gunners hold firm.  Federal guns target the approaching Reb infantry for no noticeable effect.
Elzey continues advance
Federals on the heights
Confederate guns find their mark with three hits
10:48.  Confederate guns continue pounding the Federal artillery on the heights as the Confederates continue their advance toward Mill Creek.  Federal guns take two hits, fail their Capability Test, and retire, disordered.  Since the guns have five or more heavy casualties, they must take a CT during the Retreat Phase.  This CT they pass.  Note that the guns had to take two CTs.  One CT from casualties suffered from fire and a second CT due to now having 5+ Heavy Casualties.
Rebs continue to pound Federal guns
Heavy Casualties pile up on Federal guns
Federal guns fail Capability Test and retire
11:06.  As Confederate infantry step into Mill Creek, Porter's boys pour a hot fire into them.  Regiment nearest the bridge takes two Heavy Casualties but is undaunted.  On the Confederate right, one Rebel regiment takes fire from Federal infantry on the hill.  Light casualties are suffered.  Even though disordered, Federal guns are brought back up on the crest of the hill.
Rebels step into Mill Creek
11:23.  Still limbered, the Federal guns are hit again from Confederate artillery fire.  Failing their CT, the guns pack off towards the rear.  As Confederates near the woods on the Confederate left, musketry exchanges increase.  Both sides take casualties but no one backs down.  One of Richardson's regiments advances to cover the threat against the bridge.
Rebels close in
11:38.  Having only just moved up to bridge to aid in its defense, Federal troops fall under the sights of Rebel guns and take three hits.  Now within close range of Federal positions, Confederate fire takes its toll on the defenders.  Casualties mount quickly.  The Federal Divisional commander, Schenck, joins Porter's brigade to help stabilize the situation.  No sooner had he joined the regiment than he goes down in a hail of bullets.  The regiment he joined suffers three casualties.  Fighting is getting very hot!  
Rebel left turns a flank
Federal take three hits!
Schenck killed!
As the supported Rebels charge into the woods to come to grips with the wavering Federal troops, the disordered defenders are unable to release a closing volley.  In the close combat, the attackers suffer three hits but pass their CT.  The defenders take two more casualties and Porter's replacement is killed.  It has been a tough morning for Federal generals.  Failing their CT the defenders take an additional heavy casualty and fall back.  In the Retreat Phase, the Federal artillery is destroyed as it fails a CT and takes one more (the 8th) Heavy Casualty. 
Rebels attack into the woods.
Close-up of Confederate attack
With at least two more turns remaining and having suffered heavy casualties, the Federals concede their position and pull back.  With their left crumbling and leaderless what more is expected?  The result is that Elzey holds the field in victory.  The anticipated Federal reinforcements from Keyes' 3rd Brigade never materialized.  On each turn the roll needed for reinforcement arrival was never quite sufficient to bring them on.  
Another interesting and challenging game with a lot of action.  Units took punishment quickly.  Some held, others could not.  The Confederate guns were deadly with their artillery fire this day.  In the end, the early neutralization of the Federal guns, a lack of reinforcements, and the death of three Federal generals likely spelled defeat for the Union.  While Mill Creek was a barrier, it was not much of one as all Confederate regiments passed their CT upon entry.  The creek did slow movement to one hex but with Federal battle lines drawn near the creek not much maneuver was needed to close on the enemy.  

After my second game of Two Flags - One Nation, what are my impressions?  My impressions will be addressed after a third game is in the books.  What I can say is that Norm has produced a fun, compact game with a lot of action and tough decisions to make.  Norm responds to rules' questions promptly too.  In the third game, I face off against a Face-to-Face opponent.  

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Switzerland: A Walk in Luzern

Having arrived from the USA on an overnight flight to Zurich, we immediately grabbed our bags and headed to the train station within the air terminal to purchase Swiss Travel Passes and board a mid morning train to Luzern.

Arriving in Luzern about noon, we walked the few blocks from the train station in search of our hotel a block from the Chapel Bridge.  The tower guarding the Chapel Bridge was the first sight seen after exiting the hotel and turning north.  Spectacular!  We experienced a bright sunny day in late April as a bonus.
Chapel Bridge
Feeling a bit fatigued, our first day in Luzern would be an easy one so that we could accommodate the effects of jet lag.  From the West Coast of the USA to Zurich is a LONG flight!  Our plan for this first half day was a walk around Old Town including a brief visit to the Lion's Monument, the Bourbaki Panorama (see Bourbaki Panorama), and the Depot History Museum. 
Reuss River and Luzern
The Lion's Monument was about a twenty minute walk from the hotel and we crossed the Reuss River using the Chapel Bridge to reach Old Town.  Meandering through the winding streets, we followed the old town wall to reach the Lowenplatz.  Along the way, several notable buildings were passed before reaching the quiet confines of the Lion Monument park.

The Lion Monument is a striking sight and measures 33 feet long by 20 feet tall.  The sculpture honors the Swiss mercenaries killed or executed defending the French king during the French Revolution.  The engraving, difficult to read in the photo, reads, "Helvetiorum fidei ac virtuti."  That inscription translates to "To the loyalty and bravery of the Swiss."  Moving stuff.  Luckily, we had the park to ourselves so unobstructed views were achievable.  
Lion Monument
Having spent ample time gazing at the monument and a short rest, we struck off back towards the river, our hotel, and the Depot History Museum.

The museum is housed in an old three story building on the riverfront.  The collections are an eclectic mix of stained glass, furniture, uniforms, arms and armor, paintings, tourism posters, and even a display of antique toy soldiers.  "Depot" is a fitting term for this museum.  No finely created artifact displays.  A real industrial look to the whole concept.  This seems to be a storage place for artifacts not having a permanent home yet too interesting or historical to throw out.  Many of the items are either behind glass or bars making photography and careful study difficult.  An interesting display easily worth a forty-minute browse.  
Stained Glass with two Renaissance soldiers
Napoleonic era cuirass
Uniforms
Stacks of pike
Antique toy soldiers
Armor
Arms
After spending sufficient time investigating the Depot Museum, we followed the river down to the waterfront for a look at the lake before heading back to the hotel.


Next time, we travel to the Berner Oberland with a two-day base at Lauterbrunnen.
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