Tuesday, January 29, 2013

These Guys Were Made of Sterner Stuff: Starting Saga

As indicated in the last post, I am Scottish. Well, mostly. Well, I suppose not even mostly, when it comes down to it. There's also Irish, English, quite a bit of French actually, a touch of German and even a wee bit of Polish. Or Prussian? Wherever the border was at the time, I suppose. Even some Native American, if family stories are to be believed. (That French part became French Canadian, so...) But the name starts with Mac, so we're going with Scottish. Western highlands, to be more specific. Gaelic in origin, derived from Irish and Norse.

What I'm getting at is an interesting component of gaming is to examine family history through the lens of historical events. My guess is all of us know of ancestors involved in military activity. My grandpa was at Normandy. His dad in WWI. A great-great-grandfather was in the New York Heavy Artillery in the ACW. Going farther back, one finds some Loyalists and even some Hessians during the AWI period. Oops! Maybe I didn't need to know that... And some settlers in New York ambushed by Indians in the FIW timeframe before that.

Beyond that, it gets hazy, but it's not outside the realm of believability that the family was represented in the '45, certainly the clan was there. Whether any direct ancestors were or not is unproven. Perhaps some were caught up with William Wallace, or Robert the Bruce. Maybe a few had to fight off Viking raiders. If so, they were made of sterner stuff than me!

Which leads to... wait for it... Saga! Yes, I took the plunge, and the rules arrived last night. A quick read leads me to believe they are going to live up to the hype. Not only does this give me a chance to run around and shout Scottish fightin' words, it finally gives those Dark Age minis I painted about 15 years ago something to do at last!

I think I have enough Anglo-Saxons, Vikings and Picts/Scots to put together some 4-point forces, or reasonable facsimiles thereof. I have already ordered some more to fill in some holes, and some Normans to get that faction started. I really think I'd like to focus on some Scots, or better yet, some Gaels. Maybe an order to Crusader???

Updates as events warrant. Hope to get in a game soon!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Scotland the Brave

If you haven't figured out by now, I am of Scottish heritage. And proud of it. My wife, who is mostly Finnish, doesn't always get it, but I subscribe to the notion that "A Scot is a Scot, even unto a hundred generations." (OK, I stole that from an online store, but it's cool, no?)

And today being Robert Burns day, I am keeping myself going with thoughts of a wee dram (or two) of the good stuff when I get home tonight. Haggis would be great too, but my wife wrinkled her nose at that suggestion this morning.

Instead, I'm listening to pipes, watching the snow come down, and just getting through the work day. And getting inspired for, if not the '45 or even Bannockburn, but some dark ages Saga gaming! (Can you tell I also just watched the BBC History of Scotland episode 1?) My clan came from the west side, so how about some Gaels!? (Oh, and for the record, they were Jacobites as well.)

And yes, I did order Saga. Too shiny to let that go by. Like I need another game. But that's how it works, right? I already have a bunch of Saxons and Vikings and even some Picts/Irish painted up from years ago. Time to put them to use.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Why Reinvent the Wheel, er, Rocket?

One of the many topics included in this blog is rocketry and space exploration, and I thought this was one of the coolest things I have heard of in a while. Seems the rocket scientists at NASA are taking a page from their past and taking a closer look at the old F-1 engine as they develop new engines for a new generation of lift vehicles.

The F-1. As in the engine that powered the Saturn V rockets. You know, the ones that went to the moon. The moon! The most powerful engines ever built. And they were built with 1960s technology. Of course, I have a fondness for 1960s technology anyway (see also, the never ending '65 Mustang project), but this seems almost too cool. OK, so actually it was only part of the engine that was tested, the gas generator to be specific, but it's good to see these young whipper snappers look to the old timers for inspiration.

Some of you may recall I visited the Marshall Space Center last year. The Saturn V is a big beast.

And for the record, specialist Kate Estes has got to have the absolute coolest last name at NASA. Get it?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Going Global

We were talking about Google analytics at work, and I was showing someone the analytics for this blog as an example. Which got me wondering about some of my global visitors.

The vast majority are from the United States. No surprise there. Some come for the Indy car model content, some for the gaming content, some for who knows why. But being based in Michigan, I would expect most of my readers would be stateside.

I have to admit, though, that #2 surprised me a bit. Certainly I have multiple posts on Russo-Finnish miniatures and games, but I didn't think that would necessarily attract that much interest from Russia itself! If you're visiting from Russia, please let me know! And only two from Finland? My wife's ancestors are Finnish, so I hope you feel welcome!

Back to #3. China. I have a few posts now about Chinese aircraft in the Sino-Japanese War. Maybe that was enough to attract attention? There's certainly a lot more Japanese subject matter here, and no one from Japan has stopped by. Hmm.

Canada, UK and Australia at #4, #5 and #6. I know I have some regulars from the UK, and that's great. A bastion for gaming - and motorsports - if there ever was one. And Australia, how can you not love Australia? Look for more Aussie content soon with some RAAF P-40s possibly hitting the bench soon.

Germany, Indonesia and Poland. Huh. There is some mention of Germans here, so I guess it's not surprising someone there landed here. I wonder what grabbed the attention of anyone in Indonesia or Poland? I'd like to know.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Spartacon 2013 Report

Hall overview
Another good Spartacon has come and gone. I think I made it down in record time - no snow or ice this year! With record high temps in the upper 50s, it was a great day in downtown Lansing.

As for the con, the first thing to note was a new room, across the hall from the usual venue. This one is MUCH nicer. There was even carpet! And some lounge chairs. And no headache inducing echoes. So major plus there.

I started the day joining one of my long-time gaming colleagues in an ACW game using Regimental Fire and Fury. The scenario was a portion of the Battle of Atlanta. The minis were incredibly well painted, especially for just 6 mm (!) and the terrain very well done. The setup was very well organized, with all units, terrain, etc. labeled. It's just that none of us were familiar with the rules, and it was a bit overwhelming at first. In the final analysis, I'd say I like the rules and they show great promise, and I'd like to try them again, but I have so many other irons in the fire at the moment the ACW stuff will have to wait. As for the outcome, I was on the Confederate side. It was basically a straight ahead assault on the Union positions that more closely resembled the Somme. My buddy, already notorious for unlucky dice (I know, every gamer claims to be, but this guy is a sight to behold), was in for a rough day. The Union player directly opposite him kept rolling 10 after 10 after 10 (good in this game), while he kept rolling 1, 2, 3, etc. Unreal.

So on to game two. The plan was to join Dave Winfree from I-94 Enterprises in a CY6 game, but we were a little late getting back from lunch. Dave is a good guy and was more than willing to accomodate, but we had enough extra players that in the end we went off and played a side game using the planes I had stashed in the car. We combined two of my Pearl Harbor scenarios into one and had a nice four player game. Once again, the dice were against us! It got kind of comical after a while: Need a 9 to hit, roll an 8. Need an 11, roll a 10. Need a 6, roll a 5. It was crazy. In the end, the American shot down two Kates, but one P-40 was out of ammo and skedaddled, and the other Americans were square in the sights of the Zeroes before we ran out of time. I think they enjoyed it.

As for purchases, of course I left my list at home! But I ended up getting the Road to Rabaul scenario book, some new flight stands, and a nice assortment of new planes and decals from I-94. If you are into CY6, I highly recommend I-94.

Without further ado, some photos:

Fort Detroit, 1812
Union works, Atlanta
Fort Detroit
Samurai 25 mm - outstanding scenery
Persians and Hoplites
CY6 on the eastern front
WWII naval
Union works, Atlanta

Union works, Atlanta
DBA tourney
WWII desert convoy

The rebels advance
The Nuthouse - great food
That's Ben. January? In Lansing?
CY6 Pearl Harbor
CY6 Pearl Harbor

Muskets & Tomahawks - looked very cool
Muskets & Tomahawks
Muskets & Tomahawks
Muskets & Tomahawk

Friday, January 11, 2013

Spartacon Tomorrow

I don't get to many real gaming cons. OK, I usually only get to one a year. There are a few others reasonably close, but something always seems to conflict with them. But not Spartacon. Early/mid-January is always a rare dead time for everything else, so it is a perfect time for a "me" day!

It's about an hour and a half drive, mostly through some rural back roads, so I have to get up at o-dark-thirty and get going to get there on time. Most years it's either bitter cold, snowing, blowing, or a combination of all that and worse. This year, the expected high temp tomorrow is 57! Thank you, global warming. Should make for a more pleasant drive, without all the white knuckles.

I have my shopping list prepared, mostly CY6 stuff. Though if any WW2 figs or Dark Age stuff catches my eye, well, you know. It happens. It looks like a pretty good list of games, too. I definitely want to get at least one CY6 game in. There is one listed in each session, so that should be doable. I'm also taking some of my CY6 game in case a pick-up game is necessary.

Now I just need to make it through today somehow!

Report to follow...

Sunday, January 6, 2013

First Finished in 2013: CY6 Aircraft

Actually, I started these way back in 2012, but just finished them up. The intent here is to play out some Sino-Japanese air war scenario, going as early as 1937. Biplanes! Not quite WW1, which is still on the "to-do" list, but this will do for now.

The Japanese planes are Nakajima Ki-10 Perrys, which saw extensive use in the early war years against China, but were pretty much obsolete by Pearl Harbor. The Chinese have a mix of American and Russian aircraft (and pilots, but shhhh). The biplanes here are Curtiss Hawk IIs. I'd like to get some Hawk IIIs, available from PT Dockyard in 1/300. But if I order from him, I just know I'll want to order some of those lovely looking small craft (read: PT boats). And I do NOT need another period right now! But they do look nice... Both the Perrys and Hawk IIs are from Heroics & Ros.

And of course the other aircraft shown here are Russian I-16s in Chinese markings. These are Scotia minis. I have a few more to paint that might be given Russian markings, allowing for some early skirmishes against the Japanese, or for an expansion to eastern front action, and Finland...

Friday, January 4, 2013

So How Did I Do?

I thought it might be interesting to go back and review my 2012 goals, and see how I did:

  • Finish the Mustang. This is a hard and fast goal. A priority. I need to follow up with the body man to see how that's going. I've kind of stalled on reassembling the engine, what with the cold and dark weather, the holidays, etc. I have a bad feeling a lot of that is just going to sit there until spring. Bah! Hah! Hah! Anyone who has followed this knows this didn't come close to happening. What PITA cluster that turned into last spring. But the new guy is making progress, and insists he will return the body to me in February. Then I just have to put it together. Maybe this summer....
  • Finish a few model cars. I've had the Foyt Olds and Foyt '64 Watson on the bench a long time, and honestly it shouldn't take much to finish either. Oh, for a quiet Saturday afternoon. After that, I would like to do the '78 Unser Indy winner and the '55 Sweikert Indy winner, at least. Despite all of my many hobbies, Indy remains my true passion, and I really would like to devote more time to this aspect of my hobbies. I did finish the Olds and Watson, but not the '78 or '55. I also made good progress on the '57 winner, but it's not done either. I need to get back to these.
  • On the game front:
    • With a colleague, we have unofficially set a goal of putting on an AWI game at Spartacon 2013. All these years of participating, it's probably time to put one on ourselves. This gives us a year to prepare. The Weitzel's Mill game we did last spring is a possibility. AWI has long been one of my favorites, and while I still have figs to paint, I have my eye on some Perry minis and some Eurekas that could be in the budget in 2012. Not going to happen again in 2013. Sigh. One of these years. I did pick up a few Eureka minis in 2012, though. This still remains the period I am best equipped to put on a quality game.
    • Continue collecting and painting aircraft for CY6. I'm really enjoying these. I might start getting some WW1. While I didn't get any WW1, I have continued to build the WW2 forces. And even played a few games! I'll call this one a success. I really like this game.
    • WW2 skirmish: Had an enjoyable game just last week, so this is top of mind at the moment. Russo-Finnish is basically done, with the exception of some odds and ends. I debate about getting vehicles. Maybe. I also hope to continue early war Germans and British, and may consider purchasing French. This is an area I wish I had a regular opponent willing to do a side. Man, did this fall off the radar. I picked up a few more figs, but virtually no painting done.
    • WW1: This is something that's recently perked back to the top. I have a lot of 15s, and am considering rebasing for skirmish. We'll see. Not really a priority, but an intriguing possibility. Also fell back into the pile. I still have my eye on CDIV Test of Battle.
    • ACW: I have a bunch to paint. Always would like to buy more, but I really need to get that pile down! I don't think I bought any more in 2012. Still would like to keep this one going.
    • Liberators: Started in the fall, haven't made much progress. I'd like to revisit as time permits. This might be long-term. Yup, definitely long-term.
    • Age of Sail: A recent endeavor, but an interesting one. I have a list of ships I'd like to get... This actually picked up steam in 2012, no pun intended. I've finished one, and have another mostly done. Hopefully soon I will be able to have a sample game with them. And I ordered a few more. Verrrry interesting.
    • WW2 naval: Honestly, this wouldn't take much to "finish." I have some British I did many years ago, and should just spring for the Germans (i.e., Bismarck) and call it good. A quick and easy game, too, which is appealing. I did it! I ordered some more from C-in-C and actually painted them, and even played a sample game! Chalk this up as a success.
    • Dark Ages: Still languishing in the box, perhaps awaiting someone to get one of the exciting new rules out? No plans to expand or do much of anything in 2012, but I hate to get rid of them. Not much happened in 2012, but 2013 is off to a roaring start as I just took advantage of Black Tree's 50% sale to order some more, including Normans. I am verrrrry intrigued by Saga. Haven't bought it yet, but tempted.
    • Pirates: Why do I keep these? Why indeed. Didn't touch them in 2012, and no plans in 2013.
    • Wild West: Likewise. No plans to do much with them at the moment. And nothing happened. And no plans at the moment.
    • Aztecs: Again, no plans. Pretty, though. Hate to sell these as well. Not only did I keep them, I bought a few more from Eureka. I am intrigued by their potential adaptation to Saga, so I will keep these for now.
    • Ancient Greeks: A few Xystons still languishing in a box. Probably still not a priority in 2012, though you never know where inspiration will come from. And they still languish, though I did pick up a handful of ancient ships, so you never know.
All in all, not bad, I suppose. There's never as much time as one would like, of course. 2013 could potentially be the year of the Mustang. I will be very glad to get that done. So will my wife, I'm sure. That has been a time and financial drain. Money and time that could be spent on model cars and gaming!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Year's CY6 Dogfight

First off, apologies for no photos as I forgot my camera, but I did get a CY6 game in as part of the New Year's Eve festivities. The family was invited over to a neighbor's for some eats and some boardgames. I took the opportunity to introduce said neighbor to historical gaming. He's an avid D&D and Magic player, but had never tried historicals.

So I started him out with my simple Dogfight at Kaneohe CY6 scenario. He took the two American P-36s, and I took the three Japanese Zeroes. Each of us had one +1 pilot, the others were all 0. We started at TAL 5, speed four, him about 12 hexes at my 4 o'clock. We closed quickly and got off some deflection shots to no avail, then my +1 got on the tail of his 0. It took me a couple turns (after some bad rolling after scoring a hit) to shoot him down. I actually got him with airframe damage, then he attempted a split s, but we forgot to do the crew check!

I got his other plane on a head on shot where I rolled well, and he rolled badly on his robustness roll. So I shot both Americans down, with the only "damage" to me being one aircraft out of ammo!

It had been months since I played a game, so I kept the rulebook close at hand. Still, he picked up the movement concepts pretty much immediately, and though he didn't get much firing in, seemed to "get" the firing mechanism easily, too. The wives thought it was a long game, but he agreed it was short, probably about an hour and a half, which included a crash course in learnng the game. It looks like he is going to be attending a con with me in a couple weeks, so that's good too. Fun times!

And Happy New Year, everyone!