Thursday, August 13, 2020

French Line for 1859

I sometimes find myself puzzling over which unit to push into the painting queue next.  Not that I lack choice.  The problem is that I have too much choice.  With one or two projects from which to choose, finding something to paint is easy.  A dozen or more projects on tap poses some bigger issues.  When I reach such indecision, I often prep three dozen French or Austrian infantry for the 1859 project and push them straight away onto the workbench.  Simple but colorful uniform buys time while I contemplate what next.
This week saw one of those times.  Rather than waste valuable painting time wondering what to paint next; pondering all of the useful possibilities; and going through The Lead Pile in search of just the right unit; I dove into work on a regiment of French line.  These Frenchmen are from Lancashire Games.  As I say every time I paint a few, the French and Austrian infantry for this period are my favorite Lancashire figures.  Really great figures.
Now that this unit is finished, did the time spent working up another French regiment clear my head for what to paint next?  I think so!  In addition to clearing out the figure bins of more skirmisher figures from an assortment of projects (like I did recently for Cretan bowmen), expect more Hittites to enter into the painting fray.

Does indecision on what to paint next ever grip anyone else?  I would enjoy reading your thoughts.

On the cycling front, weekly mileage remains at a little over 200 miles with each day averaging about 33 miles.  At this pace, August will come in with roughly the same totals as July.  Weather has been pleasant but cycling is not without hazard.  Witnessing a crash unfold is a rare event.  This past weekend, that rare event came to pass.

As I entered Riverfront Park, I saw a cyclist approach the street from the park.  Making the transition from park pedestrian/cycle path to the street, he failed to notice a missing pylon from one piece of road furniture barring vehicles from the path.  The event unfolded in slow motion for me as the cyclist's rear wheel clipped the offending pylon bracket.  His back wheel slide out from under and he went crashing to the ground, landing in the street.  He appeared uninjured.  Perhaps his dignity suffered a bruise or two?  Ouch!  After confirming all was OK, I continued on.  One must remain ever vigilant.
The Victim
The Perp
The Fall
The Crash

Monday, August 10, 2020

Pharsalus: CCA in 6mm

 
This weekend past saw a return of Commands & Colors Ancients (CCA) in 6mm with a LIVE opponent!  That's right.  I managed a F2F game of CCA after many months of no in-person gaming.  A major milestone, I think.  I set the game up outside on the patio table in the evening shade of the house.

The battle fought was Pharsalus, a contest between Caesar and Pompey in 48 BCE during the Roman Civil Wars.  Since the historical battle was fought on 09 August, the game this weekend represented an "anniversary edition" of the famous contest.

The battle deployment using the CCA scenario is illustrated below with Caesar's army at the bottom and Pompey's army at the top.  Each side requires seven banners to win.  Pompey holds four Command Cards while Caesar holds six.  Pompey moves first.  The Julian Legions Rule is in effect for both armies.  This rule allows Medium and Heavy infantry to conduct ranged combat.  Also, the Julius Caesar Rule is in effect allowing a unit attached to Caesar extra capabilities.  
CCA version of Pharsalus
My version of the battle deployments converted to 6mm figures rather than blocks is shown below:
Kevin chose to command the Caesarians and we launched into battle.

My Pompeian battle plan was grounded on the notion that the Pompeians hold a numerical and qualitative superiority in cavalry on the Pompeian left.  I would try to overwhelm the Roman cavalry on the Roman right, expose that flank, and then roll up the Roman line.  I would need to accomplish this task before Caesar's superior Heavy infantry defeated the Pompeian Medium infantry.

One note on the troops differentiation between the Caesarians and Pompeians.  Caesar's legions were superior to the Pompeian legions.  To account for this qualitative difference, the game assigns most of the Caesarian infantry as Heavy and the Pompeians are mostly rated as Medium.  In game terms, Caesar's infantry battle with five dice while the Pompeians will battle with four dice.  This is an effective and simple way to distinguish troop quality.  Neat.  

Back to the game.  This seemed a reasonable plan until I drew my four Command Cards.  None of the cards drawn were applicable for the Pompeian cavalry wing. OK.  Toss that plan out and begin an advance on the Pompeian right since I had at least two cards for that sector.  Perhaps I could launch a cavalry attack later?  Well, that was not to be.  At no time during the battle did the Pompeians draw a card that would activate their cavalry wing.  Rats.

What Pompey did was to attack on the right with great force.  Caesar lost a unit or two and then fell back having suffered heavy casualties in that sector.  Pompey pressed on.  While Caesar fell back on his left, he advanced in the center leading from the front when required.  Units were exchanged during this phase of the battle but Pompey managed to break the Roman left.  The banner count at mid-game was 6-4 to Pompey.  Leading from the front, Caesar with a heavy infantry legion struck into the Pompeian center.  Two Pompeian legions fell in quick succession.  The Pompeian center was in shambles.  With banner count tied 6-6, Pompey attacked a weakened legion near the Roman base line destroying it for the win, 7-6.  A very close contest that went down to the final banner.  

At the end of the battle, the field looked like this:
End of Game
This was a very fun contest and a real pleasure to game again against a live opponent.  A very bloody affair; over in about 45 minutes.  Caesar will expect a rematch.

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Cretan Archers & Survey Time

While no gaming on tap besides a few solo dabbles, my attention has been drawn to rummaging through The Lead Pile.  In an effort to consolidate and organize the bins of figures, I spent time inspecting the stockpiles of figures for each project.  The Punic Wars project likely already musters enough Cretan archers for the field armies but these dozen figures were left over and taking up space.  Grabbing these dozen 25mm BTD archers and pushing them into the painting queue frees up some space in the storage bin.  I get three skirmish stands too.  It is very good that I stockpiled a number of figures divisible by four since my BMUs are four figures strong and BTD has withdrawn the ancients ranges from the catalog.

On the gaming front, a solo AWI replay of the Action at Mill Creek remains to be tackled.  With some luck, I can get back to that little scenario later this week.  With even more luck, a F2F session is scheduled for Saturday evening outside on the patio.  Commands & Colors Ancients is on the slate using my 6mm collection.  With proper protocols and facing off across a table in the Great Outdoors, any risk should be minimal.
Finally,  01 August signaled the return of the Great Wargaming Survey by WSS.  Again, I plan to be performing some of the data wrangling for this venture when the survey closes.  Some of the questions have been tweaked just a bit from prior years to better enable analysis.  At least, that was my plan when I submitted my requests.  I added a couple of questions too.  Stay tuned to death by analysis once the surveys are in. 

If you have not already completed the survey, go to,
and have your preferences counted. 

Monday, August 3, 2020

Another Project Finished?

Having finished off the Feudal Japan/Samurai Battles and the Federal ACW brigade projects in July, August kicks off with another project sliding over to the completed side of the ledger.  That project?  My Russian/Afghan/Indian force to be mustered as a primary protagonist against a British/Native Army for the Great Game.    
With several Afghan units coming off the painting desk in June, today sees two Russian regular artillery guns.  Fielding these two guns and crew exhausts the stockpile of figures in The Lead Pile for this project.  While these figures may potentially signify the completion of the project, nothing stops me from adding more units over time if Kevin decides to launch an arms race.  
Still plenty of action at the painting desk.  Next off the painting desk will likely be three stands of Cretan bowmen for the Punic Wars.  With a bit of luck, I can squeeze in a second game of Fields of Honor: AWI this week.

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Cycling the Palouse - Fish Lake Trail

With Spokane being a rail hub and "Gateway to the West" at the height of the railroad boom in the late 19th/early 20th Centuries, the area's landscape is crisscrossed with many railroad lines.  Today, given different economies, a number of these rail lines are abandoned.  Luckily, some of these abandoned railways have been paved over and converted to trails.  Hundreds of miles of such trails await the cyclist.  One such path is the Fish Lake Trail.  
The trailhead is situated on the western end of Spokane and runs 15 miles southwest to the University town of Cheney.  Outbound, the trail is a constant and gradual incline to Cheney.  Inbound, the route is slightly downhill back to Spokane.  Downhill, that is, until I reach the Spokane trailhead.  After that, I face a grueling uphill climb home.  From my house, reaching the trailhead is seven miles.  The total mileage for this route is 44 miles.
Trail cutting through basalt
Another railroad cut through basalt
As a converted railway, the path frequently cuts through the basalt rock, common to the region.  In the heat of summer, these railroad cuts offer a bit of coolness and tranquility under the shade of the steeply banked corridor.
Wonderful shade on a hot day
Being a practical people, Fish Lake Trail passes by its namesake, Fish Lake.  Are there fish in the lake?  I don't know!
Fish Lake
As for cycling in general and metrics in particular, July witnessed a jump in miles put into the legs.  We say that summer doesn't begin until July 4 and 2020 was no different.  With temperatures heating up, the mileage climbed as well.  When the weather is good, cycling switches over from the indoor trainer to the Great Outdoors.  Indoor cycling simply cannot compete with the motivation of cycling outdoors.  Besides, when I am 20 miles from the house, I simply cannot climb off the bike and call it a day like I can after 20 miles on the trainer.

Now to the metrics.  I logged 834 miles in July.  June saw 552 miles logged but about half of those June days were spent on the trainer, indoors avoiding the rain.  Notice, also, that there was no day off in July for me!  My leg, broken in January (January sure seems like an eon ago, doesn't it?), works as expected although some stiffness, swelling, and soreness remain.  Fifty-two hours in the saddle?  That is a shocking statistic.    

Can I repeat this level of mileage in August?  Well, with no travel plans on the horizon and time on my hands, don't rule it out. 

Next time, I plan to put the finishing touches on another project.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Afghans/Pathans for the Great Game

Off the desk today sees a return to yet another dormant project.  This time, three Afghan units for the 25mm Great Game project.  On offer from the painting desk are 2 x 15 man Afghan warbands (three stands each) and one gun and crew.  Figures are all from Wargames Foundry.
The Great Game project has been slowly percolating on a back burner for about five years.  The initial motivation for the collection was to field an army to oppose a gaming buddy's 1840-1850s British and Indian colonial armies.  With that goal, I began fielding a mid-19th Century Russian army augmented by Natives to use in The Great Game.  My Russians may have actually taken to the field in an action against his troops a few years ago but I find no artifacts of the event.  Only slight, fuzzy memories exist.  It may have been a dream.
Stepping forward to late last fall during pre-COVID days, Kevin hosted several Commands & Colors battles on a LARGE, tiled table with his 25mm troops.  The battles were set in the 1840s and pitted the British against Native protagonists (see Battle Report EIC 1840).  The plan was to continue these battles on a semi-regular basis with a goal of pitting my Russians against his British.  Both sides would likely be drawing upon Native contingents as well.  Before any of that fun could be arranged, I broke my leg and then COVID struck.

With the addition of these three Afghan units mustering to the colors, the Russians will be even more prepared to face their English adversaries when hostilities resume.  Oh, two more Russian guns are in the painting queue too.  Kevin, one day we can return to the field of battle...      

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Fields of Honor: AWI - First Look

A first look, twenty years late!
Fields of Honor - The American War of Independence (FoH-AWI) was published back in 2000 by Pinnacle Entertainment Group.  The American War of Independence version of the rules is a descendant of the 1994 Fields of Honor (FoH) rules covering warfare in the 19th Century.  Since the original FoH's publication 25 years ago, I have continued to hold the rules with much fondness.  Even though I have not played them in many, many years, FoH still represents a comprehensive and well developed ruleset.  Given this provenance, I was quick to buy FoH-AWI when it was published twenty years ago.  

FoH-AWI was unique in that it not only included rules and playing pieces for a traditional hex and counter game but also rules for use with miniatures.  While I tried the hex and counter version upon publication, putting the miniatures' rules into play did not occur.  Until now, that is.

As a brief overview, FoH-AWI has a simple turn sequence using an IGO-UGO mechanism.  The Turn Sequence has four phases.  Attacker movement, Attacker combat, Defender movement, and Defender combat.  For combat, a unit may either fire or melee but not both.

Each unit has a Quality Rating for each of Fire/Melee/Morale.  This rating has five values (A,B,C,D,E) and is independent for each of the three attributes.  Quality Rating acts as a die roll modifier for each of the Fire/Melee/Morale attributes.  The die roll modifiers range from +2 (A) to -2 (E).  With five possible values for each of three distinct attributes, each unit's characteristic can be fine tuned to suit the scenario or situation. 

With only four phases in a turn and a limited number of modifiers to consider for each of the Fire/Melee/Morale play is fast since the few modifiers are easily remembered after a few turns.  Attached leaders may add bonuses for Fire/Melee/Morale but may become casualties if the unit is destroyed.

One interesting twist to the rules is the inclusion of random FORTUNE and CALAMITY tables.  At the beginning of each turn, each player rolls 1D10.  On a '1' the player receives a Calamity such as Out of Ammo, Demoralization, or eight other events. On a '0' the player receives a Fortune Event such as Captured Orders, Inspiration, or eight other events.  The inclusion of events keeps scenario replayability high.  None of the events are game stopping.  

How does the game play?  Well, wanting a small scenario as an initial test, I reached for a scenario played several times from Norm's Two Flags - One Nation ACW ruleset.  The scenario chosen was Action at Mill Creek (see Action at Mill Creek) and transported back in time to the AWI.   

The British win this contest if they can place two regiments onto the hill and be the last to hold the bridge.  The Americans have positioned their medium gun and two militia regiments onto the heights.  Two Continentals foot regiments are covering the bridge and three regiments will be arriving as reinforcements. 
Let's see how it played.
British troops begin the advance upon
 the American positions
The Lights lead the way to the bridge
The Long Red Line
General advance as British take fire from artillery
The Lights splash into the creek
The Americans opt for HOLD orders (OP FIRE)
to wait to see the whites of their eyes
British right reinforces the attack
upon the militia on the heights
Colonial militia take heavy casualties as one regiment
scatters  and a second withdraws from the heights
British take the right most hillock
Continentals reinforce the hill
but perhaps not for long as the position is outflanked
Colonial guns deliver pain but the Redcoats stand firm.
Not able to stall the assault on the guns,
the guns are destroyed
Colonial reinforcements arrive pouring murderous
 fire into the British but success is short-lived.
With pressure mounting against the hill, a
third infantry regiment is scattered on the Colonial right.
With the American force reduced to 50% strength, I put an end to the bloodshed.  The bridge was firmly in British hands and the heights held two British regiments.  Given one or two more turns, the remaining Rebels would have been driven from the heights and likely the field.  Tactical victory to the British.

In six turns, the British were able to march up and blast the Americans from their positions.  The British dished out more than they took with only light casualties inflicted against the King's troops.  The militia got off a couple of volleys but the British line infantry were not shaken.  When pressed by regulars, the colonial militia buckled.  This battlefield trial seemed one-sided but was that pre-destined?  The battle deserves another go, at least.

The Events did not come into play in this battle.  It would have been interesting to see some of these enter into the game.  Perhaps, an event could have pushed the British onto a back foot to allow just a little time for the Americans to regroup.  One thing I discovered too late was the power of placing the Americans on HOLD orders until the British came up into range.  A HOLD would allow an American unit to interrupt the British move/attack sequence and get off the first volley.  Also to consider is placing Continentals on the hill and militia in the woods.  Perhaps allow the colonial reinforcements to enter earlier too?