Thursday, November 30, 2023

How Do The Troops Come Marching In?

Another one of the new questions added into the Wargames, Soldiers, and Strategy's 2023 Great Wargaming Survey asked about the quantities in which new figures are purchased.

Specifically, the survey question asked, "When you buy new figures do you"
  • Buy all you need for a project you have in mind.
  • Buy large quantities 'just in case'.
  • Buy your miniatures in small quantities.
It turns out that the question was open-ended so respondents could add any answer they wished.  While most stuck to the prescribed choices, others went off on their own (not so beneficial for analysis!).  To reflect these non-standard responses, the stragglers were reclassified into two additional categories.  They are:
  • Depends
  • Other
The diagram below illustrates that "Buying all you need for a project" (Project Buy) and "Buying in small quantities" (Small Buy) capture the bulk of the responses. Together, these two responses make up about 86% of total entries.  By percentage, Project Buy narrowly beats out Small Buy in the survey results.  "Buying in large quantities just in case" (Excess Buy) makes up about 10% of totals.
Counts of Responses
This, in itself, is an interesting result in that respondents tend to buy it all or buy in small quantities.

Can any insights be gained by drilling down into the data?

For this exercise, five attributes will be examined.  Those are: Age Group, Primary Interest, Location, Collection Size, and Number of Unpainted Figures.

Let's see what the data suggest.

Age Group
When examining buying patterns by age group (ignoring 81+ since that has very low head count), the groups tending to Project Buy and those tending to Small Buy are roughly evenly split.  Age Group 51-60 tends to Project Buy more than any other group while the 20-and-Under group leans toward Small Buy.  Notice that having reached the 51-60 plateau, Excess Buy tends to decrease as a percentage with increases in age. 

Age Group
Primary Interest
When respondents are classified by Primary Interest (Historical, Fantasy/Sci-Fi, and Mixed), survey results suggest that Historical wargamers are more likely to buy by project than their Fantasy/Sci-Fi counterparts.  Conversely, primarily non-historical wargamers are more likely to purchase figures in smaller quantities.  As expected, the Mixed grouping falls somewhere between historical and non-historical gamers.  Roughly 10% of all respondents buy in quantities surplus to demands (Excess Buy). 

Primary Interest
Again, the split between the Project Buy and Small Buy is roughly even across locations with more tending to buy for a project than purchasing in small quantities.  The curiosity in the chart below is that UK and Irish wargamers tend to buy in smaller quantities more often than the other regions.  Also, this same group is less likely to buy figures in quantities surplus to needs.

Why this difference?  My hunch is that frequent and readily accessible wargames' shows in the UK allow gamers to purchase in smaller quantities, frequently.  With easy access to traders and no postage costs, perhaps there is less need to buy in bulk in an attempt to reach any price break points on shipping?

Collection Size
Breaking the results down by Collection Size produces an interesting and consistent result.  Consistent, that is, except for the spike in the Project Buy category for those with collections in 10,000-15,000 group.

What are these tendencies?  As the graphic below illustrates, Project Buy and Excess Buy increase as collection size increases and Small Buy decreases as collection size increases.  Big appetites consume big resources.  

Collection Size
Unpainted Figures
Finally, we turn to the number of unpainted figures and buying patterns.  Again, another interesting pattern emerges.  In the case of unpainted figures, Project Buy percentage remains roughly the same regardless of the size of the unpainted figure pile.  The difference is that Excess Buy increases monotonically as the number of unpainted figures increases while the Small Buy decreases monotonically as the figure pile grows.  These results suggest that painted figure output cannot keep up with the unpainted figure input.   

Unpainted Figures
Wrapping it up
What has been gleaned from this exercise of looking into figure buying tendencies?
Results suggest:
  • Wargamers tend to decrease Excess Buying having reached the 51-60 age group.
  • UK and Irish gamers tend to purchase in smaller quantities than other regions.
  • As collection size increases, so does Excess Buying. Conversely, Small Buys tend to decrease as collection size increases.
  • As the unpainted figure pile increases, so does the Excess Buy percentage. Similar to collection size, as the number of unpainted figures increases, Small Buys tend to decrease.  
Based upon these results, is it any surprise that some gamers have large piles of unpainted figures?  No surprise to me.

How do your troops come marching in?

Monday, November 27, 2023

Babylonian Bowmen

Today was demo day in the kitchen.  The project begins. Given that the stairs from the main floor into the basement (and game room) originate in the kitchen, access was mostly blocked.  No hobby activities were possible in the gaming/painting area after workers arrived bright and early.  Luckily, I have a few units in the office which have yet to see a turn in the lightbox for a photo session.
To break up the recent painting regimen of concentrating effort on WAS/SYW units, I slipped in enough Babylonian/Chaldean bowmen to make-up two, nine-figure massed bow units.  Figures are 28mm Newline Designs. 
These are not the only Biblicals seeing work at the painting desk.  Two more Sumerian battle carts and runners recently underwent the brush.  When these last two battle carts muster out, they will bring the total number of such vehicles up to eight.  Four carts each should be plenty to field for two Sumerian armies.  Well, that is my plan until Newline offers up the traditional January sale.  No, eight really is enough!
With workers busy in the kitchen, how did I occupy my non-gaming and non-painting time today?  Well, work progressed on my next planned big battle of Madonna dell'Olmo.  Battlefield was laid out onto the table yesterday and building of the OBs and scenario began in earnest today.  With more reading and research, OBs were roughed in and refined.  Setting up the spreadsheet to print rosters and labels followed.

Seems like when one basement door shuts, another door opens up.

Friday, November 24, 2023

Spanish Foreign Regiments

The Spanish build-up continues with 46 figures mustering out as two Spanish Foreign Regiments.  In a change from the predominantly white Spanish infantry uniform, Spain's foreign regiments offer a splash of color to the army.

Out from the painting desk today are 23 figures in the Irish Hibernia Regiment and 23 figures in the Swiss Buch Regiment.  Figures are Blue Moon foot led by Eureka mounted colonels.  Irish flag by Not by Appointment.  Regiment Buch still awaits its flag.
Irish Hibernia Regiment
Swiss Buch Regiment
As I begin putting together an OB and scenario for the next WAS battle, Madonna dell'Olmo, both of these regiments will be able to see service.  Hibernia will play itself.  Buch will take the role of the Spanish Swiss Jung-Reding.  Hopefully, battle details will be worked-out within the next fortnight with the first game seeing action the week of 10 December.  Like many of the larger battles going before, I expect this battle will see more than one playing.

Still much work to do as I piece together assorted and different OBs.  Table layout requires some thought as well.  Game will be on a hex grid.  Last time the armies saw action for a WAS clash (Bassignana), the table was non-gridded.  Rules need some work too.

Next off the painting desk will likely see a return to Biblicals.  The next installment in Great Wargaming Survey analysis may slip in as well.

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

A Few Artillery Pieces

With Thanksgiving holidays this week and a kitchen remodel beginning next week, the rapid pace of gaming will slow if not stop completely for the next two weeks.  A two-week gaming hiatus is probably optimistic knowing how construction projects typically work out.  Anyway, I hope to return to the table by middle of December.

What does this unplanned hiatus do for project planning on the gaming and painting front?  Well, it puts reaching 100 games played for 2023 at risk but increases my chance of hitting 1,000 figures painted for the year.  I really am close to both targets and both goals should fall before year-end.
On the painting front, mustering out from the painting desk today are three guns for the 18mm SYW project.  The guns and crews are Eureka Miniatures with two Piedmontese and one Austrian heavy artillery in the mix.
While a lot of this year's painting effort seemed to focus on the SYW/WAS project, a quick peek into the Painting Log confirms my hunch.  Today, I stand at 499 infantry, 84 cavalry, and 21 gun and crew for the SYW/WAS project in 2023.  

After the recent run of Ancients, Biblical, and Spanish-American War games hosted, the next battle in the planning stage takes a look at the War of Austrian Succession.  The battle under research is the 1744 Battle of Madonna dell'Olmo in Northern Italy outside the city of Cuneo.  Still much work to do as I sift through conflicting OBs and battle accounts.  There is a method to my madness and explains the push to send a number of Spanish and Piedmontese troops through the painting queue this year.  Unlike the earlier Battles of Bassignana, I will actually be able to field Spanish and Piedmontese for M d'O.  Progress!

Friday, November 17, 2023

Action at Dominica Plantation

As alluded to in a previous post, the Spanish-American War collection took to the field this week.  Twice, in fact!

For today's contest, Mark, Chris, and Tony take command of the three American regiments while David B. (DB) and David C. (DC) maneuver the hidden Spanish contingents.  Neither army knows the composition of the forces they face this day.

Outnumbered and hesitant to draw fire from US warships offshore, the Spanish opt to forego contesting the American landings at Siborney, Juraga, and Daiquiri.  They withdraw inland.  The American objective is to first on drive on Sevilla and then on to Santiago in an attempt to force the Spanish Navy to evacuate Santiago Harbor.

After coming ashore at Siborney, General Wheeler and his cavalry Division organize a push northward into the interior.  Reports suggest that the Spanish have fallen back to the north and are presently situated around the plantation of Dominica.  Wheeler expects the Spanish to fight a delaying action to slow American progress toward its objective.  A fighting withdrawal would likely allow time for Spanish reinforcements at the Sevilla garrison to come up in support.  The route to Dominica passes through the coastal jungle before opening up to the cultivated area at the plantation.  Known for digging in, expectations are high that entrenchments may be encountered.  In addition to dealing with the enemy in defensive positions, Wheeler warns his officers to be vigilant of attacks from the dense jungle on the approach.
By mid-morning on the 24th, the dismounted cavalry began making their way north.  What would they find?  As the Americans make their way north through the jungle Cuban Rebels report that portions of a Spanish brigade lays ahead.  Some are seen entrenching on the high ground.

The stage is set.

The action begins as Wheeler's dismounted cavalry push through the jungle on a broad frontage.  Young (Tony) and the 1st US Cav are on the left, Wheeler (Mark) leads the 10th US Cav in the center, and Woods (Chris) brings the 1st US Volunteer Cav up on the right.

Using hidden movement (no markers on table) and unspotted markers (small colored dice on a base), the Spanish begin their game of hide and seek.  Pareja (DB) commands the Spanish right while Alcanz (DC) guides the Spanish Left.

Shots ring out.
First contact!
Coming under fire from the jungle, the leftmost unit of the 10th is pinned.  With the Spanish Mausers firing smokeless powder, the enemy is unseen until they open fire.  Not wasting a moment, Young brings his men up on the 10th's left.  The Spanish melt back into the jungle.  At this point, the Yankees begin to advance a little more cautiously on a broad front as they push, in unison, toward the creek ahead.  
Young drives off enemy skirmishers.
The Americans advance.
Young advances on the left...
while Woods advances on the right.
As Woods' men approach the creek, they take heavy fire from the jungle just passed!  Casualties are heavy and two troops are pinned at the creek.  While Wheeler and Young's commands continue pressing forward toward the creek, Woods' command must deal with the enemy within. With all available men focusing on the immediate threat, the enemy is dispersed after bringing up the machine gun to offer the final say in the matter.  Woods' advance resumes although G and H troops have been severely mauled. 
Out of nowhere, hit from the rear!
Mopping up action.
Back to the task at hand.
Yankee advance from Spanish perspective.
As the Americans reach the creek, Spanish entrenchments come into view on the high ground to their front on the Dominica Plantation.  Besides the two skirmishes in the bush, the enemy has yet to be seen. Is there no opposition beyond a light skirmish screen?


As the Yankees splash across the creek, fire erupts from the trench in front of the building on the hill.  One unit of the 10th is pinned in the open ground on the trail.  Spanish commander Pareja can be seen behind the trench encouraging his men on.  Wheeler must act quickly to save his lead unit and remove the threat.  Before Wheeler can act, artillery shots ring out as shells fall on Woods. The situation is heating up!
Elements of the 10th pinned on the trail.
Quick action needed to reduce the threat.
Spanish mountain gun opens up on Woods.
Returning to the immediate threat to his front, Wheeler leads a charge up the hill and into the awaiting defenders.  In a shocking result, Wheeler and elements of the 10th clear the trench of enemy without so much of a scratch.  The Spanish defenders, overwhelmed by the Yankees' audacity, fail to put up any meaningful defense and break for the rear.  As the defenders bolt toward the rear, Spanish pioneers pop up from the building and pour a crippling fire into Wheeler and his boys.  The 10th, with Wheeler at the head, give no pause.  Charging on, Wheeler watches as the pioneers melt away as more troopers come up in support.  General Pareja is killed in the fight.  Young's command lends a hand and reinforces the 10th by coming up on its left.  On this front, the Spanish are in full retreat!  More Spanish appear in the trench to the rear and pin the 10th as its works to outflank the strongpoint.    
Spanish defenders break for the rear.
Wheeler clears the trench.
Elements of the 10th are pinned in the open
 as fire erupts from another trench.
With Wheeler and the 10th driving all before them, Wheeler sends two troops of the 10th to deal with the gun harassing Woods.  When the troopers of the 10th move up to screen two troops of the Volunteers, they are met with fire by Spanish infantry in the jungle.  Spanish jump out from cover and charge toward the Americans.  The Yankees counter charge.  The clash is brief and the Spaniards scatter.  

With the gun unsupported and the Spanish center gone, what is left of the Spanish blocking force retreats.  This action is over.  The Americans control the plantation.  
Troopers of the 10th offer help to the 1st Volunteers.
The 10th comes under fire...
but dispatches the enemy quickly.
An impressive looking American victory by sweeping away the Spanish defenders.  The victory, by casualty count, looks telling but there was a turn limit on the battle.  The battle was constrained by an eight-turn limit.  The Spanish army fell apart on Turn 8, the very last turn.  

Congratulations to Mark, Chris, and Tony as they ripped apart the Spanish defenders with great skill.  The two Daves put up a good defense with their early surprise attacks in the jungle as they disrupted American progress.

DB suffered in the center by a most unfortunate result in his clash with Wheeler and the 10th.  His Spanish defenders managed to not score a single hit on the Americans while suffering three hits themselves.  Their response?  Rout!  His pioneers suffered just as greatly.

For DC, had his Spanish infantry chosen not to attack on the American Right, he may have held on to scratch out a minor victory.  Alas, that was not to be.

Great game and fun to see the players wrestle with hidden movement, unspotted units, and dummy markers.

Thank you for another very enjoyable game.

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Lusitania Dragoons

The last post displayed two recently raised Spanish cavalry units trotting out from the painting desk.  In the commentary, Neil asked when will Spanish cavalry in yellow appear.  Well, the answer is today!
Out from the painting desk are a dozen Spanish cavalry from the Lusitania Dragoon Regiment.  While a number of Spanish cavalry regiments donned yellow uniforms, I chose Lusitania since this regiment was present at the Battle of Madonna dell'Olmo in 1744.
Batalla de Madonna del Olmo o de Cuneo (30 septiembre 1744).
Carga de los dragones de Lusitania. Autor Jordi Bru fotógrafo
During researching this battle, I found a painting depicting the Lusitanian Dragoons charging into a body of hapless defenders.  The painting is a magnificent sight.  This battle is on my To Do List once I return to bringing another SYW/WAS battle to the table.  Figures are Eureka Miniatures.  
On the gaming front, Tuesday's table action saw the Americans take on the Spanish in a Spanish-American War clash.  The game featured hidden movement, unspotted units, and dummy markers.  These mechanisms worked OK, I thought.  A few more games and the process will become much more natural.  I had five players in Tuesday's remote contest and the game was quite enjoyable for me as umpire and host.  Player response was positive (of course, they are all model gentlemen) and I received more ideas for expanding the bank of scenarios from which to draw inspiration.

I can say no more about this fight beyond stating that the Americans won on the last official turn of the game by breaking the Spanish Army.  Why must I remain silent on the details?  I have the same scenario scheduled for Wednesday in a one-to-one match-up and I do not want to provide any additional intel to my opponent.
Spanish spring the trap!
Looking through the photos from Tuesday's game, I am reminded of a number of decisive moments in the battle.  Hopefully a brief battle report will follow after the fighting dies down on Wednesday.

Sunday, November 12, 2023

Spain's Reina Dragoons and Cavalry

With rules' and scenario preparation occupying most of my time for this week's upcoming pair of Spanish-American War games, a brief lull allows a chance to catch-up on recently painted figures.  While a number of units are finished and awaiting photos, two units muster out in today's installment.
Off the painting desk are the first Spanish cavalry regiments for the 18mm SYW/WAS project.  While perhaps a little monotonous, I begin with two Spanish horse regiments in red uniforms.  The regiments are Reina Cavalry and Reina Dragoons.  A third Spanish cavalry regiment is finished but that can wait for another time.  The 24 figures are from Eureka Miniatures. 
What else is in the photo queue besides the Spanish regiment mentioned above?  Well, the table to my left holds Hanoverian cavalry, Swiss and Irish infantry regiments in Spanish service, a pair of Spanish artillery pieces, one Austrian artillery piece, and two units of 25mm Babylonian archers.  Quite a collection is stacking up with all but the Babylonians destined for the 18mm SYW/WAS project. 

Downstairs in the game room, two 18mm Hanoverian infantry regiments are in work at the painting desk as are two 25mm Sumerian battle carts and crew. 

Current painted figure count stands at 936 figures for the year.  Looks like hitting 1,000 figures by year-end is within reach.

Oh, and the blog reaches 1,600 posts.

Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Games Played With No Spin

First, I want to thank all participants who turned the recent Unpainted Figures post into a robust discussion.  Many terrific thoughts and insights shared.  Much appreciated.

On the gaming front, in addition to the recent pair of Biblical games chronicled here and here, a handful of other games have been played over the last week and a half.  Unfortunately, no time to put my own spin to chronicling these games as I prepare to host another round of battles next week.  Coming to a table near me is a return to action in the Spanish-American War.  The lead photo shows the table layout before any troops arrive or the placement of "battle furniture".  These games will be remote with limited intel on both sides.  Expect some Fog of War as the attacking Americans have little knowledge of their enemy.  I will be trying out hidden movement, spotting, and a few other tricks to confuse and obfuscate.

What games are missing my battle spin?

Battle of Ilipa: Five games played using Commands & Colors Ancients in 28mm.

Scott's Ilipa
Crossing the Spey: Jacobite Rebellion using Tricorns & Bayonets.  Graham's battle account here.

Graham's Crossing the Spey
Battle of Hubbardton: AWI battle using Rebels and Patriots.  Matt's battle account here.

Matt's Hubbardton
Blood Red Roses A Test Game:  First trial of the new WotR ruleset.  Graham's battle account here.
Graham's Blood Red Roses
It has been a busy and fun time at the gaming tables.  

For fun, I made a quick tally of the number of games played in 2023.  Current count stands at 93 games played.  I am likely to reach 100 by year-end.