Sunday, March 31, 2024

Off the Painting Desk

In a seeming rarity, the past week saw no armies battling it out on the table.  Instead, I spent some time at the painting desk as well as assemblying and tuning a new bike.  Also occupying my time was designing and developing a follow-up scenario to the Battle of Sanguetta game.  Next on the table, we look at the 1495 Battle of Fornovo.  First run-out of the game is slated for Tuesday. 

I actually managed to get several units into the Painting Logbook before month end.  Many of those units in this month-end push centered on adding to the Biblical collections but those will appear in a later post.  

Out from the photo box today are two additions to the 18mm SYW/WAS project and a command stand for the Italian Wars project.
First up are two Piedmontese cavalry regiments.  The two regiments are Queen's Dragoons (red coats) and Savoy Cavalry (blue coats).  These two dozen figures are Eureka Miniatures.
Also out from the painting desk is a two-figure command stand for the Italian Wars project.  Figures are 1st Corps and they will go straight into battle on Tuesday.
On the gaming front, the armies are arrayed for this week's Battle of Fornovo.  We will discover soon if the scenario survives contact with the players.
Fornovo Battlefield
Finally, with the temperatures warming up barely enough to tolerate and the sun shining, I put the new bike and my aging body through the rigors of an early Spring, outdoor training ride.  Happy to report that both bike and body survived the excursion.  A few photos from the ride follow:
Long approach up "Doomesday" Hill.

Next time, maybe a battle report or more figures out from the painting table.

Happy Easter!

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

A Peek Through the Looking Glass with AI

Having spent considerable time exploring machine learning and developing business applications using such techniques during my career, the broadening application of artificial intelligence to search engines and expert systems is fascinating.  General-use applications such as ChatGPT, Gemini, and CoPilot have taken the techniques of natural large language processing (nllp) models and offered them to the masses.

Intrigued by recent AI experiments by two wargaming bloggers,
I buckled in, fired up the search engine, and posed the following question to

I asked, What is the focus of the Palouse Wargaming Journal
After only a few seconds wait, the algorithm returned the following summary:

Based on the search results, the focus of the Palouse Wargaming Journal blog appears to be:
  1. Wargaming and miniature wargaming, covering a variety of historical periods and conflicts such as the Italian Wars, Napoleonic Wars, American Civil War, etc. 
  2. Providing battle reports and game recaps of wargaming sessions played by the blog author and his gaming group. The blog frequently features posts about specific wargames played, such as the "Battle of Sanguetta 1497" series. 
  3. Discussing the author's painting and modeling projects related to his wargaming hobby, including updates on figures and terrain he is working on. 
  4. Sharing the author's thoughts and reflections on wargaming, game design, and the broader wargaming community. For example, the post "Thoughts on Re-Fighting History: War in the East" discusses the evolution of wargaming mechanisms and content. 
  5. Engaging with the wargaming community, as evidenced by the blog's participation in book giveaways and discussions. 
In summary, the Palouse Wargaming Journal appears to be a blog focused on the author's personal wargaming activities, battle reports, painting projects, and commentary on the broader wargaming hobby. 

The results are not too bad for a general assessment of the content and focus of this blog.  In fact, the results are quite good.

Notice that the emphasis on Italian Wars content seems to score higher than older content especially when the recent series of battle reports on Sanguetta are singled out. Since the battle reports on Sanguetta have only been published in March, search currency suggests that these nllp models are being retrained frequently.  The Thoughts on Re-Fighting History scored highly too.  Could this result be driven by reader commentary and discussion as (5) suggests?  Are these models devouring content as well as commentary?

Is Google actively vacuuming up Blogger content (without permission) to train its large language models?  Would this activity lead to an increase in pageview traffic or remain unseen in Blogger statistics?

This experiment raises a number of questions, hopefully, without making me out as a conspiracy theorist.  I may re-run this experiment later and see if results change as content evolves.

Have you tested these waters with your own blog?  What are your results?

Monday, March 25, 2024

The Quick and the Dead

On the 21st, Mark (Mud Blood and Steel) reconvened for a rematch of our earlier Sanguetta battle (see Battle of Sanguetta).  In that earlier fight, Mark led the Papal Army to victory in a close battle.  In this match-up, we would swap sides with Mark taking command of the Orsini Army under Vitelli.

Let's see how the rematch unfolded.

Before we arrived at the table, Mark and I both drew up battle plans for the opening battle deployments.  Vitelli (Mark) positioned his army across the hill with his pike blocks anchoring the ends of the line.  Borgia (Jon) positioned the Papal Army such that the left of the line was weighted with the heavy pike blocks.  Two very different deployments.
Initial deployments
Borgia heavily weights his Left.
As the battle gets underway, Borgia advances his battle line to bring the enemy within range.  Vitelli counters by charging into the Papal Center straightaway.  Targeting the Papal artillery, Vitelli leads his Men-at-Arms forward.  With crossbowmen in support of the guns, Borgia's crossbowmen attempt to get off a volley as the horsemen bear down upon them.  They fail.  In the clash, the guns are overriden and the crossbowmen break and run.  In pursuit, the crossbowmen are caught from behind and scattered.  Borgia's MAA watch on as the Papal Center is hollowed out. 
Vitelli charges forward into the guns!
In pursuit, the crossbowmen are ridden down. 
Despite the sudden and terrible collapse of his center, Borgia presses on with his plan to attack the enemy right.  First Borgia's Landsknechts are sent uphill against the enemy pikes.  In a protracted push of pike with casualties mounting to both, the Landsknechts tumble back down the hill in defeat.  Undaunted by this repulse, Borgia sends the Italian pike block up the slope.  This time, the already weakened enemy is sent packing to the rear.  The Italians gain the high ground and turn to face enemy crossbow.  
Having seen the Landsknechts stopped, the Italians attack.
Vitelli's pike block is driven off as the Italians crest the hill.
With thoughts of ripping apart the enemy right and center, Borgia's MAA moves forward to engage the crossbowmen on the hill.  Borgia's MAA are disordered as they close from enemy missile fire but press on.  The crossbowmen stubbornly hold their ground for a while before finally being forced into retreat.  With both enemy pikemen and crossbowmen in flight, the Papal MAA pursue.  Catching the enemy from behind, the MAA choose to overrun the pikemen.  That they do.  As the pikemen stream away, the MAA continue in pursuit. 
Borgia's MAA attack enemy crossbow on the hill.
The fighting continues...
until the enemy finally breaks.
Borgia's MAA pursue.
Vitelli's pike scatters as the MAA continue to pursue.
With a gaping hole where his right once was and his MAA pursuing deep into the woods, Vitelli turns his attention to his left.  First, Vitelli's mounted crossbowmen attack Borgia's isolated skirmishers. Surprisingly, the skirmishers repulse the horsemen.  Hooray!  Vitelli's pikemen begin their advance down from the hill.
With his right gone and center out of position,
Vitelli looks to his left.
Vitelli's pike block is put into motion.
Gaining the initiative, Vitelli moves his pike block forward to catch enemy horsemen from behind.  Unable to evade, the mounted crossbowmen scatter.  The only Papal unit left in the center and right is the isolated skirmishers.  If they can be destroyed, the Papal Army will break.  Wheeling about his MAA, Vitelli sets his sight on these isolated skirmishers.  The enemy really stands no chance.  They are overrun quickly and the battle is won.
Caught from behind...
Borgia's horsemen are destroyed.
Borgia's skimishers are in a tight spot!
When Borgia's Army breaks, Vitelli's Army is not in much better condition.  Vitelli's Army teeters upon the breaking point as well but he is able to outlast Borgia.
Situation at end of battle.
Congratulations to Mark and his handling of the Orsini Army.  Again, we see battle come down to the wire with Mark edging me out for a close victory.  While Borgia was able to destroy Vitelli's Right, Vitelli destroyed the Papal Right.  

Good, hard, sharp and vicious fight that we managed to conclude in about one hour.  One hour!  That is a lot of combat to complete in an hour.  Of course, with only two players, movement and combat is quickly resolved with only seven BMUs per side.  Could we have continued the battle even with Borgia breaking first to fight to the bitter end?  Sure, but both armies were out of position.  Re-engaging would have taken several turns and Borgia's two pike blocks were in much worse shape than Vitelli's single, remaining pike block.  Borgia would have lost more points first.   

Great fun and my many thanks to Mark for another, enjoyable beating at the gaming table.

Next up on the table, we stay in the Italian Wars with an examination of the Battle of Fornovo.