Sunday, November 28, 2021

Foundry Sumerians

While painting remains focused on 25/28mm Biblicals, today sees a switch from Hittites to Sumerians mustering out from the painting desk.  These twelve Sumerian spearmen are part of a recent Foundry order.  If my counts are correct, there may be enough spearmen to field eight or nine such stands.  Some BMUs will have a shielded front rank like and caped rear rank like this one while others will march out with two ranks of cape-protected warriors with no shields. 
For this stand, the front rank of spearmen carry the barn door-sized shield while the second rank wear the protective cape.  With the shielded front rank, the BMU presents a formidable sight.  A second such unit is in work with more to follow.  These Foundry figures are quite good and a pleasure to paint.  A simple paint scheme means quick turn-around.
What else is on the workbench?  Painting has finished up on John de la Pole's WotR Battle and basing has begun.  Work also progresses on two, 28mm Spanish/Italian buildings from Brigade Games.  One or both of these structures may make an appearance in an upcoming game.  The decision I have is whether these buildings will see action in Napoleonic Spain or 1898 Cuba.  I am very tempted to pull the Spanish-American War collection out of boxes for an upcoming remote game.  Still needing to decide upon the rules to use.  For remote games, simpler is better.

Finally, the long Thanksgiving holiday is usually a time to get in a game or two while others are distracted by the shopping frenzy of Black Friday sales.  Not this year.  Nancy and I spent the week in Seattle for Thanksgiving with dinner hosted by Daughter #2.  You know what?  She has become a superb cook!  A Thanksgiving with no cooking and preparation stress is quite nice.  I could get used to this treatment.  I will not get off so easily at Christmas.

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Collection Size and Age

Measuring and assessing collection size is complicated.  One of the survey questions asked in the Great Wargaming Survey 2021 (GWS2021) was,

How many painted figures do you have in your collection? 

How many respondents actually know the size of their miniatures’ collections?  Even when the contents of a collection are known, how are they counted?  How does one define one figure?  Is a cavalry trooper and mount one figure or two (I count as one)?  Is a chariot with crew and team one figure or many (depends on number of crew and team but I always more than one)?  

To paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld,
There are known knowns.
There are known unknowns.
But there are also unknown unknowns.

Some may keep detailed logs of their collection.  These wargamers know what they have.  Some may know roughly their collection sizes but know their data and memory are incomplete.  These wargamers know their information is incomplete but may have a rough idea as to collection size.  Some may not even know that they do not know the size of their collections.  These wargamers may have great difficulty in even assessing this question with a modicum of accuracy.  

Estimating is hard!

An anecdote following from the 2020 survey brings this situation to light.

One respondent answered last year’s survey with a collection size estimate of 5,000 figures.  After discussing collection sizes and how I track collection size, the respondent dove into the task of tallying all of his painted figures and entering them into a database.  The result after this, likely, multi-week effort?  Well, he came up with a collection size of about 20,000 figures!  He under-estimated the size of his collections by 75%!  How many others are in similar situations?  Plenty, I bet.

The size of one’s miniatures’ collection likely is governed by a variety of attributes.  Some of these attributes include a wargamer’s age, interest, budget, figure size, storage space, etc..  Now, the survey may not consider all of these contributing attributes but the survey can provide insight for some.

In the 2020 survey, counting bins for painted figure collections were,
Less than 100 painted figures
101- 500 painted figures
501- 1,000 painted figures
1,001- 2,500 painted figures
2,501+ painted figures

In the 2021 survey, the number of bins was increased at the upper end to provide more details into the more than 20% of responses settling into the 2,501+ bin.

The bins for the 2021 survey were,
Less than 100 painted figures
101- 500 painted figures
501- 1,000 painted figures
1,001- 2,500 painted figures
2,501- 5,000 painted figures
5,001-10,000 painted figures
10,001-15,000 painted figures
15,001-20,000 painted figures
20,001-25,000 painted figures
25,000+ painted figures

For this GWS2021 study, only one attribute will be examined.  That is Age Group.  Other attributes may be tackled in follow-up analyses.  Analyses of the 2020 survey suggested collection size was affected by a number of attributes.  These earlier results suggested younger wargamers tend toward fantasy/sci-fi gaming genres.  Older wargamers tend toward historical gaming.  Survey results suggested that many fantasy/sci-fi games require fewer figures than large historical games.  Collection sizes ought to reflect this tendency.  In a similar fashion, older wargamers have a longer time to collect and amass figures than the younger generations and typically more discretionary income.  Overall, one would expect collection sizes to show an increase with age.  What do the 2021 data suggest?

Looking at overall bin counts, the 101-500 collection size is the most chosen bin again in 2021.  Consistency is good.  Note that a lot of activity and variation occur in the 2,501 and above bins.  These details were masked in the 2020 survey.  Still, a small bump is present in the 2021 25,001+ category.  See Figure 1. 

Figure 1
Collection Size vs Age Group
What do these data show when examining Collection Size by Age Group? To begin, in Figure 2, note that the 31-40 age group makes up the largest component of the largest collection bin size of 101-500 painted figures.  About 50% of respondents hold collections of 500 figures or fewer while about 77% of all respondents have collections of 2,500 figures or less.

Figure 2
When these data are transposed such that counts of Age Group by Collection Size are examined (Figure 3) rather than by Collection Size and Age Group, we see that collection size tends to increase with age group.  The 31-40 age group is actually the largest group for collection sizes of 1,000 figures or less.  The age group 51-60 appears to holds rein as the largest collection group for collection sizes above 1,000 figures.  
Figure 3
If Figure 3 is changed from count based to percentage based then tendencies are more readily apparent.  In Figure 4, notice that the number of respondents having collection sizes of 1,000 figures or less tends to decrease with age while the number of respondents with collections sizes of more than 1,000 figures increases with age.  Also notice that collection size diversity increases with age.  While the 21-30 age group has almost 90% of its collections in the three bins under 1,001 figures, the 61+ age group counts 90% of its collections in the seven bins under 15,001.      
Figure 4
Although these results illustrate that some aging gamers are content with capping their collections at a particular size or jettisoning collections as the lifecycle unfolds, collection sizes continue to grow as time marches on for others.  I find myself firmly entrenched in the latter.  Where do you find yourself along this Collection Size vs Age Group spectrum?

In the next installment of GWS2021 analyses, the study of collection size continues with a look at another attribute or two as I build up to a multi-dimensional analysis to tie it all together. 

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Rein-Bow Warriors: Another Test

Ian and I convened for a Friday session with another round of playtesting of his Rein-Bow Warriors rules.  Ian would take command of the Hittites while I commanded the Egyptians.  Orders of  Battle would remain as in the previous gaming session.  Thrown into today's mix was a trial of the pre-battle scouting routines. 

The Egyptians committed more resources to scouting activities than did the Hittites.  With luck, the Egyptians discovered the Hittites' camp on Day 1 of scouting and out-scouted the enemy.  This meant that the Pharaoh could detach a portion of his army to try to outflank his opponent.  The Pharaoh promptly committed three units to these activities and these troops disappeared from the Egyptian battle line. 

While the Egyptian flanking force would arrive at some point during the battle, no one knew exactly when this group would actually appear.  After assessing the situation (the Egyptians rolled a high flank arrival target number), it looked like the battle may well be in full swing (or over) before any Egyptians would appear on the Hittite flank.  

Let us see how the battle developed.

Battlelines drawn
Chariots race out.
Chariot on the wings are opposed
but the Hittite chariot in the center is unopposed.
Failing to break the Egyptian bowmen in the center,
 Hittite chariots begin caracoling into the enemy archers.
Meanwhile, chariot dogfights continue on the wings.
The Egyptian bowmen are putting up a solid
defense against the caracoling chariots.
Casualties mount.
Out of arrows on the wings, chariotry
from both combatants head back to restock.
Hail of arrows continues in the center
while infantry close on the left.
Egyptian chariots return to restock their arrow supply.
More returning chariots.
The Hittite infantry line stands firm.
Clash of spears in the center!
Restocked, chariots return to battle.
Center chariot runs out of ammo and returns to restock.
The Egyptian bowmen breathe a sigh of relief.
Melee continues as each grinds away.
Casualties mount.
The main Hittite battle line remains firm.
Finally!
  Egyptian flanking force reaches the battlefield.
Chariots on the wings resume their dogfights
while Egyptian bowmen find the range to the Hittite line.
On the Egyptian right, infantry clash.
The infantry fight in the center is teetering in balance.
Both combatants are ready to break. 
The Egyptians in the center melee break first
but fortune smiles upon the Pharaoh.
The Egyptian flanking force drives off a chariot
 and the Hittite left collapses!
Nubians run to the rear.
The Hittite army in flight as the Egyptians press home.
The Hittite King sues for terms.
Hoorah!  A resounding victory for Pharaoh!

Adding in the pre-battle scouting phase increased the tension as first we attempted to out-scout one another and having completed that, waited for the flanking force to arrive.  I began to wonder if the Egyptian flankers would ever arrive.  The flankers arrived but the battle was nearly decided since the Hittite left was wavering from the Egyptian archery.

The keys to this engagement falls on the Pharaoh putting his emphasis in his archer line.  Both units of bowmen were upgraded to Elite status at the expense of downgrading his chariotry to Veteran.  In the end, the Veteran Egyptian chariotry outshot the Elite Hittite chariotry so that was a wise gamble by Pharaoh.

My recollection is that the battle was decided in under three hours.  More questions surfaced and more questions clarified.  Post-battle, I sent off another battery of questions for review.  Good fun and thanks to Ian for allowing me to get my Biblical armies back out onto the gaming table for another fine scrap.  I learned a lot about Hittite history too!

Friday, November 19, 2021

Hittites. More Hittites

Work and gaming with Biblicals continue.

Following closely upon the pounding wheels of the Hittite King's chariot and guard, off the painting desk today are two units of Hittite bowmen.  One unit is a single, four-figure stand of skirmishers and the other is a nine-figure stand of massed archers ('T' in Impetvs terms).  All figures are from Newline Designs.

Plenty of other figures are slowly working their way through the painting queue.  Most works feature a decidedly Ancients bent.

Besides a few odds and ends and a few packs of chariots, The Lead Pile is running low on stock of Newline Designs' Hittites.  I am waiting for the annual holiday sale.  Hopefully, Sean from Newline Designs will offer up the traditional Christmas sale so that I can resupply both Hittites and Sumerians.  Until that offer materializes, I look elsewhere.  I received a largish order this week of Wargames Foundry figures (well, largish for me of 124 figures).  Included were more Sumerian spearmen and javelinmen, Hittite spearmen, and Assyrian archers.  Plenty of figures to top off the coffers.

On the Biblical gaming front, my Egyptians and Hittites take to the field today for another remote playtesting run-out of Ian's Rein-bow Warriors.  I think scouting may make an appearance today.  We will see how that gets on.  First, the table needs to be set for Friday's, Biblical gaming session. 

Next time, I plan a second dive into the GWS2021 data to discuss collection size.  The first look at the 2021 survey focused on remote gaming (see: Remote Gaming: Call to Arms).  For the GWS2020 edition of the survey, collection size was one of the topics I plucked out for study.  The GWS2021 edition saw the collection size bins increased from a top-end, lower-bound of 2,501+ in 2020 to 25,001+ in 2021.  For those readers interested in refreshing memories of this topic, please see Collection Size or Mine's Bigger.

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Battle of Fort Washington, 1776

Battle of Fort Washington Map
Courtesy wargamesinthedungeon

Matt hosted another remote game in our long-running series of battles fighting our way through the AWI in chronological order using Rebels & Patriots (R&P).  We are approaching the end of 1776 with the Battle of Fort Washington.

For a summary of the historical action and Matt's battle report, please visit, Battle for Fort Washington, 1776.  Matt's account focuses on the British/German perspective with lots of close up photos of his beautiful terrain and figures.  My account focuses on the American point of view through the lenses of two webcams.

Over these games, we (well, at least I) have reached the conclusion that attacking is a very difficult sport in R&P.  I think at least 3:2 odds are needed and often times 2:1 is more reasonable for the attacker to make progress.  Given the tendency for the Americans to be on the defensive, the British are often under pressure and under the gun (literally) to press on regardless of casualties.

Fort Washington is no exception to the general rule of finding the Americans fighting behind defensive works while the might of the King descends upon them.  

Let's see how the Americans fare in this one.

Rebel skirmishers watch as the Hessians cross the river.
From the heights of Fort Washington, the defenders wait.
Jagers give fire.
Rebel skirmishers abandon their cover and run for the hill.
Rebel skirmishers give the Hessian musketeers a shot,
 disordering them
but the Rebel break and run at the first fire against them.
OK.  I admit that this is a very bad start to the battle.  Hopefully, the Americans can stiffen their resolve and put up a descent fight.  We do not want to embarrass ourselves.  
The Hessians press on but Rebel skirmishers are slowing
 their progress with fire from the woods and swale.
Hessians are taking fearful casualties as they climb the hill.
Hessians charge into the woods
and are repulsed.
The Hessian attack is running out of steam (and men).
Where are the British?
The British have landed!
Americans pull back from the barricades on the road
 to prevent an outflanking maneuver
 if the Americans fail to hold Laurel Hill.
The Hessian attack has ground to a halt.
The British grenadiers storm the works protecting
 the Rebels on Laurel Hill. The defenders break.
General Magaw takes up position on the heights.
 
The American militia let loose a withering fire
and the grenadiers are cut down where they stand.
The British attack is called off and
the Americans make good their escape.
Another hard-fought victory for the Americans! Hoorah!

One of the key moments in battle was the friendly-fire incident not reported by British High Command.  As the British stormed up Laurel Hill, the British skirmishers mistook the British light infantry as the enemy and gave them a hard volley.  Many of the light infantrymen fell (I recall two or three casualties suffered) and the mishap shook the confidence of this formation for the remainder of the battle.

Another excellent outing and an enjoyable session.  Next time, perhaps, Trenton, where the Americans will find themselves on the attack?

Thanks again, Matt, for presenting and sharing another of your wargaming spectacles.

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Brandywine: Americans on the Attack!

After successfully making it through the Battle of Brandywine in last Saturday's remote game see Brandywine: Knyphausen Attacks!), I presented the scenario to the Tuesday UK group.

Combatants were:
British: Chris and Richard
American: Ian, Graham, and Steve.

While I questioned the brashness of Greene's attack across Chadd's Ford to meet the British head-on in the Saturday game, the American players in the Tuesday game doubled-down and attacked across both fords!  In the Saturday battle, Greene's aggressiveness cost him the battle and his life. Would the same fate await the Americans in the Tuesday battle?

Let's see with a quick overview of the action.
In the distance, Americans line Brandywine Creek.
Maxwell deploys forward of Chadd's Ford.
Sullivan defends Brinton's Ford
Greene defends Chadd's Ford
Vaughn begins skirmishing with Maxwell's light infantry.
Pinned on three sides, the 4th Foot takes heavy casualties.
Grant brings on his brigade to lend weight
 in pushing Maxwell aside.
On the Allied left, Knyphausen orders the heavy
artillery to unlimber on the road.
The two batteries target the American guns
 in the redoubt on the far side of the creek
as Sullivan's men wade the creek.
Quickly, the Americans cross the ford
and fan out to take the high ground.
British dragoons race up to garrison the farm.
While British heavy guns pound the American battery,
counterbattery activities slow the German approach.
The 16th Lt Dragoons are thrown in to thwart
the American advance. 
Ferguson's Rifles engage the enemy at the farm
 in support.  Too late.  The dragoons are scattered.
At Chadd's Ford, with the Redcoats tangled up with
 Maxwell, Greene strikes across Chadd's Ford.
Maxwell's light infantry are giving much
 better than they get.
 Maxwell, with his small command, stops two British
brigades in the their tracks.
  Unbelievable display of cunning and luck. 
Even when attacked by two British regiments,
 Greene's light infantry throw them back down the hill.
Vaughn attacks up the road trying to break the Americans.
Maxwell keeps up an unrelenting harassment
 of the enemy while Greene arrives to
reinforce Maxwell's successes.
Battlefield overview
Maxwell's light infantry are such a nuisance that Grant throws
 five regiments into combat to deal with this meddlesome unit.
Despite heroic efforts, Maxwell's command breaks.
Opposite Brinton's Ford, Ferguson retires as the British
 guns continue pounding the American positions.
  The American guns are destroyed.
Finally reaching Brinton's Ford, the Germans
 form up and attack.
Weakened, Sullivan is forced to vacate the west side
 of the creek. 
As Maxwell's command scatters, Greene attacks.
While Weedon's command is broken in the fighting,
 so is Grant.  Vaughn teeters on breaking as
both the 4th and 23rd scatter.
The British right has no more offensive capability.
Dispositions at battle's end.
Greene controls Chadd's Ford.
Sullivan about to lose Brinton's Ford.
After eight turns of play over about four hours, we called the game due to the late hour.  At that snapshot in time, the Americans firmly hold Chadd's Ford and have a tenuous hold on Brinton's Ford.  With Stirn's command having hardly a scratch and Sullivan's Division showing signs of heavy wear and tear, we conclude that one more turn would see Brinton’s Ford in German hands.  Given that each holds one ford and casualties roughly equal, a draw seems a reasonable assessment. 

This engagement saw a really a hard-fought battle especially on the British right.  Maxwell's tenacity (coupled with some luck) combined with Greene's aggressiveness tore the British right to shreds.  For the British, Grant's Brigade was broken and Vaughn was nearing that point.  For the Americans, Weedon and Maxwell were broken with De Borre wavering.  

My eyes could not believe what they were seeing.  Having envisioned a defensive stance along the banks of Brandywine Creek, the Americans threw caution to the wind and attacked with great gusto.  On the American left, that brashness paid off.  On the American right, these attacks met with less success.  This Battle of Brandywine was an exciting and long fight.  Great fun watching this battle unfold.  Sometimes the best defense is a great offense! 

For battle accounts from two of the participants, please visit,
Patriot Games with that Battle from Hobbiton - Graham (Maxwell then Sullivan)
Battle of Brandywine Creek - Chris (Knyphausen and Stirn)
 
Thank you to all of the participants. 

Next up on the gaming slate, a return to Matt's table with Rebels & Patriots and the Battle for Fort Washington.