Sunday, January 13, 2019

Project Plans 2019

As has become routine in the first days of the New Year, time to consult the crystal ball to see what may lay ahead in 2019 for the Palouse Wargaming Journal.

Historical Battles to Fight
I enjoyed the notion of fighting "monumental" battles presented in 2018 whereby several battles were selected and staged for prolonged play.  Mollwitz, Foz d'Arouce, and Zorndorf were the three battles tackled in 2018.  While 2018 had four such battles penciled in on the calendar, only these three made it to the gaming table.  From these repeated playings, I gained considerable insight into the battles and quite enjoyed the experience of research, set up, and recreation.  

Given the enjoyment drawn from these 2018 ventures, 2019 will see a similar set of goals.  The twist for 2019 is that all battles selected will be commemorating notable anniversaries in 2019.  The monument battles under consideration for 2019 are (drum roll, please):

Trebbia 1799 in 18mm
While I was prepared to slot Rivoli into the gaming rotation for 2019, the allure of having a set of anniversary battles was too great.  In keeping with the concept of an early Napoleonic battle to replace Rivoli, Trebbia will get the nod.  Trebbia provides an opportunity to field a combined Russo-Austrian army against the French.  There may be painting needed once an Order of Battle is drawn up.  

Kunersdorf 1759 in 18mm
Kunersdorf (by special request) represents another chance at an anniversary battle in August.  Like Zorndorf played on the 260th anniversary in 2018,  Kunersdorf allows another opportunity to field Jake's Russians on the field of battle.  Facing off against Frederick again, this time the Russians will be joined by an Austrian army. 

Abensberg-Eggmuhl 1809 in 18mm
Napoleon vs the Archduke Charles battling it out in Bavaria along the Danube.  Having visited the Eggmuhl battlefield in May 2018, staging one or both of these engagements for the 210th anniversary provides an opportunity to share a bit of my battlefield walk near the village of Eggmuhl.  Recreating one or both pair of battles in 2019 coincides with the 210th anniversary of the battles in April.  An anniversary game; I like the sound of that.  The massive collection of Napoleonics suited for the 1809 campaign have not been out of their storage boxes in years.  Eggmuhl would be a good chance to see this venerable collection back in action.

San Martino-Solferino 1859 in 18mm
The battlefield of San Martino I visited during the 150th Anniversary commemorations in 2009.  A return to this battle in 2019 seems a fitting time to see this battle back out on the gaming table in an encore, 160th year, anniversary performance.  While the battle will likely focus on the major action around San Martino, I may expand the battle to allow the inclusion of nearby forces.  Broadening the scope of the battle may force a different decision matrix from the first outing ten years ago.

Developing and fighting four protracted battles may be too much to ask in 2019.  Perhaps, picking three of the four is prudent but which three?  In addition to the monuments detailed above, what other games might see action on the gaming table in 2019?  Topping the list of collections to get out onto the table are the Great Italians Wars and Assyrian Wars armies.  Perhaps a mix of games using To the Strongest! and Impetvs in a matched pairing?  If other gaming opportunities arise, that is fine.  These goals provide a reasonable nucleus from which to plan.

Figures to Paint
With no new project(s) planned for 2019 (yet) and no pressing need for projects needing vast quantities of figures, I set the painting goal at 900 figures and will prepare to paint what inspires me.  Perhaps 2019 will see the start of an 18mm Prussian army for either 1866 or 1870?  Perhaps, 2019 sees the beginning of a Hittite army to face either the Assyrians or Egyptians?  Of course, these would not be considered new projects; simply expansions to existing projects.  See, it is quite easy to justify such actions.  Perhaps something new entirely?

More 1799, 1859, and SYW troops in 18mm are planned to cross the painting desk in 2019.  If the Battle of Trebbia is fought, the Russians will likely need augmentation especially in the cavalry arm.  Expect more 28mm figures seeing activity at the painting desk than in 2018.  With 15/18mm dominating production in 2018, a more balanced approach is likely to be seen in 2019.  Regardless, The Lead Pile needs to experience a reduction in 2019 so I ought to buy less, paint more.

With the Society of Ancients choosing Telamon as its Battle Day battle and the expectations of following all of the assorted Battle Reports in the coming months, I am inspired to push some 28mm Ancients lead into the painting queue.  It has been a long time since any ancients of the 28mm variety crossed the painting desk.  A quick check of the Paining Log confirms this recollection.  The last 28mm Ancients unit passed off the painting desk in 2017.  A large number of Celts/Gauls and Germans have remained untouched for years in The Lead Pile.  Perhaps, some activity on the Ancients front?  To exacerbate the problem with Celts, last week I placed an order with Northstar for a few Crusader Celt collections having a couple dozen figures each.  What can I say, they were on sale!        

Scenarios to Design and Development
Scenario research, design and development are rewarding aspects of the hobby.  Scenarios are needed for Kunersdorf, Trebbia, and Abensberg-Eggmuhl.  San Martino will need a scenario update as well to expand the scope of the battle.  Plenty of work with just these four battles.

Rules to Design, Develop, Test
After playing Risorgimento 1859 and Wars of Coalition from QRS' exclusively for a couple of years now, 2018 2019 may finally be the appropriate time to begin codifying the rules into a coherent body of text. The nucleus of game engine for these rules began as a heavily modified version of Whitehouse's Ironsides and Old Trousers.  Today, Howard's originals would barely be recognizable.

Solo Wargaming
Certainly!  Solo gaming in both miniature and cardboard will likely consume a chunk of my allocated gaming time.

Boardgames to Explore
A number of boardgame group sessions were shared in 2018.  Hopefully, these sessions become a trend in 2019.  A couple of batches of board wargames came in house in the latter stages of 2018 due to several Black Friday sales.  Other games came in infrequently from eBay purchases.  Some of the titles were old and out or print but a number of new and recent releases too.  No commitment as to what should see action on the gaming table in 2019. 

Tackling either a new or old monster game sounds fun.  A step in this direction would be to learn or relearn at least one new monster.  My shelves are full of these monsters, many having not seen action in years or decades.  Expect to see some MMP titles and perhaps a Europa game on the table.  For MMP titles, Squad Leader/ASL, OCS, BCS, SCS, GTS or other three-letter acronym systems all look very interesting to try.  Since I have yet to play either a BCS or GTS game, 2019 may be the year to try.  Maybe strike out on a follow-up GMT 1914 title while that system is still somewhat fresh in mind?  The Serbian front looks interesting.  A number of magazine games are on my RADAR for consideration including some very old S&T and Vae Victis games.  Too many interesting choices!  Difficult to foresee which of these may see time at the table. 

Expect to see blog updates average two to three posts per week.  I find that pace comfortable and seldom run out of material to share.  Expect wargaming topics to be broken up by my occasional ramblings on cycling around the Palouse and travels around the world.  A big backlog of travel stories still awaits to be committed to paper including a short battlefield walk of Eggmuhl and more travels around Germany, Austria, Italy, and Switzerland.  Likely a few Mayan ruins' posts linger somewhere from my New World adventures too.

Once the Napoleonic cavalry refit is completed, photographing the collection will be in order.  Updating the Photo Gallery which was not undertaken in 2018 could see some progress in 2019.

For planning 2019, that is a wrap on a look ahead.  Planning is an iterative process; expect change!

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Kushite Egyptian Chariot and Crew

After arraying the Biblical armies on the gaming table, it may come as a surprise to few that the spectacle motivated the fielding of another Egyptian chariot and crew.  Certainly, I am not surprised!    
I bought several of the wonderful BTD Egyptian chariots when on sale a long time ago.   Even though Jake fields a large Egyptian army (see some of Jake's Egyptians in battle here), I figured another chariot or two may be useful.  With the arrival of this chariot, I can now field three such units.  As expected, the BTD figures are nicely sculpted with horses tending toward the larger end of the 25/28mm size.  Beautiful figures!  One more of these beauties remains in the The Lead Pile.
In other news at the painting desk, one more BMU for the Assyrian Wars project is seeing activity and nearing completion.  That unit is a second stand of Israelite/Hebrew heavy infantry from Newline Designs.  The refit and reorganization of Napoleonic cavalry continues as well.  Six more cavalry units are back in maintenance to paint and refit one additional trooper to each regiment.  This process requires rebasing of the cavalry to three figure stands vs two-figure stands.  Still more cavalry to refit and rebase but I see the light at the end of this tunnel.  Finally, two more Austrian infantry battalions for the 1799 are in work.  Have I missed anything?  Oh, yes!  A regiment of ECW horse for the 30mm ECW project is getting a workout on the painting desk too.  It is a busy place...

Monday, January 7, 2019

Assyrians and Kushites Take to the Field

Assyrian King leads his army into battle
Finally!  After watching a seemingly, non-ending stream of Assyrian units march off the painting desk, the Assyrian Army took to the field of battle.  Pitted against the Assyrian Army was the flower of the Kushite Egyptian kingdom fielded in a similar endless parade of units off my opponent's painting desk.

With a newly marked grid and Army Lists in hand, To the Strongest! (TtS!) was chosen as the rules of engagement for this first contest.  Since TtS! suggests a battle of 130 points as a good evening-sized battle, we drafted two army lists to fit these criteria.  The lists produced yielded about a dozen units per side.  The Rule of Twelve at work!  With labels affixed, the two armies were deployed for battle.
Armies arrayed for battle
With this being only my third game of TtS! and Jakes' first, we kept the battle situation and rules simple while we came to grips with the rules.  The battlefield was laid out devoid of terrain.  Ammo limitation and resupply were not considered and no Stratagems were in play.  Each army was divided into roughly three, equal commands.

Playing cards flew fast as the two armies maneuvered to close on their opponent.  Notice that spearmen and warriors were often supported by a unit of bowmen in the same box.  Having the Assyrian bowmen in tandem with a unit of heavy spear would add punch to a clash as the bowmen could fire at a target before the spear engaged.  A sound tactic, I thought.  The Kushites ascribed to the same tactic but a number of skirmishing bow were also included in the Kushite OB.  These skirmishers caused a number of harassing hits on the Assyrian army before it could close.    
Battlelines close
Coming to grips did not take long and soon casualties were mounting on both sides.  With most units only capable of sustaining two hits before elimination, the battle was bloody.  The Assyrian King, in his heavy chariot, drove deep into the enemy line.  Unfortunately, many of his supporting troops were repulsed by counterattacks.
Melee in the center of the battlefield as Assyrians attack
Having Victory Medals of eight each, the conclusion to the battle was reached quickly.  Kushite attacks were fierce.  Elements of the Assyrian Army began streaming from the field as first the Assyrian right and then left collapsed and scattered.  In less than one hour of play, the battle was over.  Victory to the Kushites!       
Assyrian Army in deep trouble
With a quick decision in Game 1, the contestants were brought back to their starting lines and a second battle began.  Unfortunately for the Assyrian King, the lessons in the first battle proved elusive to grasp.
Kushites on the attack
As in Game 1, the Kushites delivered a series of potent attacks and fended off repeated Assyrian counter punches.  Quickly, the Assyrians lost their eight Victory Medals.  Could the Assyrian Army regain enough momentum if the Victory Medal count was increased to ten?  No, the Assyrian Army quickly lost two more units to the deadly combination of missile fire followed by melee.  Another quick end to Assyrian aspirations.
Kushites dominate Game 2
Both games were bloody quick.  That is, bloody and quick!

While rules' mistakes were made during the game and I missed several of the Saving Throw modifiers.  Nothing likely to tip the balance of the final outcomes except one.  The Kushite light chariots deployed on both flanks should have had only one hit vs the two we allowed.  That may have brought the sweeping flanking maneuvers to a halt and saved both Assyrian flanks from completed destruction.  But then, maybe not.  Without doubt, my Assyrians were manhandled by their Kushite foe.

Having most units capable of sustaining only two hits, actions were decisive.  Only the Kushite warriors maintained the ability to absorb three hits before scattering.  The difference between taking two or three hits can be decisive.  To allow more unit resiliency, I may recommend increasing the Army Point total for the next games.

The games were a lot of fun even in defeat and played quickly even though the rules were questioned and consulted frequently.  That frequent consultation is expected when learning a new game.  TtS! helps in this learning process with a well laid-out rulebook and superb Index.  Questions were answered with a quick thumb through the book.  Note that both armies were originally built and created under Impetvs Army guidelines.  We found creating a TtS! army based upon Impetvs did not always translate into one-for-one matches.  We may need to tweak the TtS! lists to conform more precisely to our existing organizations.  

I look forward to a rematch! 

Friday, January 4, 2019

Reflections on Gaming, 2018

Time to reflect and reconcile the objectives set out at the beginning of 2018 (see Project Planning 2018) against my actual progress.  Figure painting has already been addressed in an earlier post so I will skip that and dive into the 2018 gaming goals and how those survived the test of time.

Historical Battles to Fight
On the gaming front, my primary plan was to develop and game one "monumental" historical battle per quarter.  Each monument was meant to be fought multiple times before moving on to the next monument.  How did that work out?  Let us see.

2018Q1 - Mollwitz 1741 in 18mm
Following the initial contest in late 2017, the ground at Mollwitz was fought over twice more in 2018.  Frederick managed to go 3-0 in these battles but the victory was within Austrian grasp in two.  An interesting yet tough fight for the poorly trained Austrian infantry.  The Prussians had challenges of their own.  Mollwitz comes down to the Austrian cavalry clearing the flanks of Prussian cavalry and defeating the Prussian infantry juggernaut before the Prussian infantry can reach the outclassed Austrian infantry standing in front of Mollwitz. Some tense moments in each of the three battles but the historical result prevailed.

2018Q2 - Albuera 1811 in 18mm Combat at Foz d'Arouce in 28mm
The second quarter battle of Albuera was replaced by another Napoleonic Peninsular War battle.  Rather than Albuera, the Combat at Foz d'Arouce was fought.  Instead of 15mm, it was fought in 28mm.  Foz d'Arouce saw action three times on the table.  Wellington was victorious in all three actions.  Again, the historical result prevailed and the battle featured my new church!

Foz d'Arouce
2018Q3 - Zorndorf 1758 in 18mm
Zorndorf was recreated on the gaming table four times.  The decision was split.  Two victories for Frederick  and two victories for Fermor.  Since the historical outcome was inconclusive, a 2-2 record supports the historical outcome.  Zorndorf remained on the table for about four months leaving no time in fourth quarter to stage a fourth monument.
2018Q4 - Castiglione 1796 or Rivoli 1797 or Trebbia 1799 in 18mm
No monument battle in Q4 due primarily to holidays and scheduling challenges.  Instead, the Assyrian Army took to the field against an Egyptian Kushite Army in a pair of To the Strongest! battles.  Rivoli will be saved and presented another time.

Scenarios to Design and Development
Scenario research, design and development were completed for Zorndorf and Rivoli but that was it.  No new scenarios to go with Norm's Two Flags - One Nation rules.  Over the Winter Break, I did manage to replay my Fox Gap scenario using Norm's latest amendments to TF-ON.  Presentation for that replay is in work.  

Rules to Design, Develop, Test
2018 plans included moving from QRS to codified rules for a couple of works-in-progress.  No movement on this front.

Solo Wargaming
Yes, plenty of solo wargaming including miniatures, blocks, and hex and counter games.

Boardgames to Explore
The wargame collection grew significantly in 2018 due to eBay purchases and several publishers' Black Friday sales.  Not as much time spent on boardgaming as planned but I did get in one, long-term game of GMT's 1914: Offensive a Outrance via VASSAL.
Another highlight of 2018 was the development of a cooperative campaign game on the French & Indian War.  I ran the strategic/operational aspects of the campaign via VASSAL using Markham's Montcalm & Wolfe DTP boardgame while Peter at Grid-Based Wargaming resolved the tactical battles generated by the campaign engine.
Campaign map AUG 1758
That experience was great fun.  I think Peter may have fought out 16 individual battles before the British won the war.  
Other Boardgames Played
Commands & Colors:
A handful of Commands & Colors games using the Ancients, Napoleonics and AWI versions saw action on the table both in block and miniature.  No Samurai Battles but maybe in 2019?

Bey's Jours de Gloire 
Fuentes de Onoro 1811 from Vae Victis saw action and was the inspiration for the Combat at Foz d' Arouce battle.  This series is huge and a number of the early Napoleonic battles look very interesting to replay.

Triumph & Tragedy
Played this a couple of times as a three player game.  I recall being attacked and beaten both times by my ally!

Squad Leader
After roughly a 35 year hiatus, I made a return to the WWII tactical combat game that started it all, Squad Leader.  Only a few games were played (only one FtF) but my interest has been rekindled in this classic. 

In general more games saw action in 2018 than in recent memory.  Likely a few more have been overlooked as memory of games played fades.  A good mix of miniatures vs board, FtF vs PBeM vs solo, two-player vs multiplayer, period, and scale.  Quite a good diversity of gaming and an enjoyable re-entry into boardgaming.

I managed to stick to the 2-3 posts per week goal for a total of 135 posts.  Content rotated between games played, units painted, travel, cycling, plus some miscellaneous content.  The average number of comments per post increased which is most welcome.  Reader comments are always appreciated!

No progress on updating the Photo Gallery.  The galleries are even more out of date now than at the beginning of 2018.

Looking Ahead to 2019
With a retrospective completed, the next logical step in this progression is to put plan to paper for 2019.  Those plans are still formulating.  Until next time.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

2018 Painting Log in Review

Sharpen the pencil and slide the visor down over my head to shade the glare from the lamp.  Time to reconcile the parade of painted troops passing over my painting desk in 2018.

Before we move on to the Bring Out the Charts section, what were my painting goals set out at the beginning of 2018? To recap from January 2018:
With all projects in sufficient quantities to field armies for games, there is little pressure to concentrate on any one project to reach that critical, gameable mass. No new project(s) planned for 2018 either. Without either of these incentives, the 2018 painting goal ought to be something more pragmatic. As a step towards pragmatism, the 2018 goal is to make a dent in The Lead Pile by buying less than I paint. A painted figure goal of 900 seems reasonable.
To reduce The Lead Pile, effort should lean towards the 15/18mm category since 2017 saw most painting activity in the 25/28mm size. To aim towards that objective, the 1799, 1859, SYW, and Feudal Japan projects should see renewed activity. With moderate effort, the inventory of the Peter Pig Samurai figures in inventory could be brought down to near zero. If enough progress is made on the 1859 project to field French, perhaps, a start on a small Prussian army for either 1866 or 1870 could be contemplated? Does starting a new Prussian army for either the 1866 or 1870 conflicts count as a new project or an expansion of the existing 1859 project?
The outlook for 2018 provided just enough details to give direction to the painting year yet allow plenty of wiggle room to veer off course.  Let us see how I did.
  • Painting Goal:  In 2018, I painted 1,268 figures and 31 pieces of equipment.  That equates to about a 41% increase over expectations.  That is a good start! 
  • Paint More Than Buy: While I have not taken account of figure purchases, it is most likely that I painted more than bought in 2018.
  • Concentrate on 15/18mm: Yep.  About 77% (1,004) of the total painted figures were in this class.   
While figure count was up from 2017 (1,268 vs 911), Adjusted Painting Points actually decreased slightly (3,896 vs 4,334) over 2017 due to the concentration on 15/18mm.

As with past years' analytics, painting totals are presented in unadjusted (raw) figure counts as well as adjusted figure counts.  Adjusted counts consider figure size as a component while unadjusted simply tallies the number of painted figures produced.  Adjustments are made based on Analog Hobbies' Painting Challenge points system.

Bring Out the Charts!
On an unadjusted basis of painted figures by era (Figure 1), the major effort (39.52% of total) was in the 18mm 1799 project (Suvorov in Italy/Switz.).  Next, coming in at 228 figures (17.57% of total), the 18mm 1859 project took second billing followed by the 18mm SYW project (189 figures; about 15% of total).  The Feudal Japan project saw activity too, coming in with 74 figures completed.  My sense is that few figures remain in The Lead Pile for this project. 
Figure 1
On an adjusted figure count basis (Figure 2), the percentages by project are transformed slightly due to the weighting scheme but the 1799 project still comes out on top at 30% of total output.
Figure 2
Turning to disaggregating counts by scale (Figure 3), more than 77% of all painting production was logged in the 15/18mm classification.  I stuck to a goal!
Figure 3
On an adjusted basis, the 15/18mm classification loses some of its dominance with almost 31% of production booked into the 25/28mm classification. 
Figure 4
How does 2018 fit into the historical trends and tendencies over the life of my figure tracking?

On an unadjusted basis, painting trends show 2018 experienced a slight bump up in total figure count over the previous four years.  This increase is almost certainly due to the concentration on 15/18mm figures (Figure 5).  I expect that if 2018 painting output been more balanced between 25/28mm and 15/18mm then 2018 would have seen very similar raw figure counts as 2014-2017.
Figure 5
Converting these counts to an adjusted basis by Year and Scale (Figure 6) shows that painting output in 2018 managed to creep into the Top 10 years since painting statistics have been tracked.  Again, by painting a little most days, consistency remains in place and good gains can be realized.
Figure 6
Project diversity continued in 2018 as shown by the variety of differently colored bars in Figure 7.  Even given the 2018 focus on 15/18mm in general and the 1799/1859 projects in particular, twelve different projects saw figures muster off from the painting desk.
Figure 7
On an adjusted basis, Figure 8 reconfirms that 2018 was a good year at the painting desk.  The graph also confirms that my painting production has found a very sustainable level of consistency since 2008.  Consistency over time is key to building large armies.
Figure 8
That is a wrap for the 2018 Painting Review.  2018 was a good year at the painting desk and many a fine recruit mustered to the colors.   For those whose eyes have not yet glazed over from the charts, 

Happy New Year!

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