Monday, December 12, 2016

A-Wings and B-Wings and TIEs Oh My

A-Wings are fun to fly
After our rousing game of Retro Raygun last week, Jon and I kept to our space theme and headed to a galaxy far, far away for a game of X-Wing. I hadn't played in a long time, and was very rusty on the rules. But in the end, we muddled through for a fun game.

Jon (who always seems to end up playing the bad guys!) took a pair of TIE Interceptors and one TIE Fighter, while I countered with a pair of A-Wings and a B-Wing. We just put some meteors on the table and started at opposite sides and went at it.

And, of course, the Rebels won. :)

We didn't play with any additional special attributes or anything. But we discovered the A-Wings are quite maneuverable, if a bit light on weaponry, while the B-Wing drives like a tank but if anything gets in its way it's toast. And the general commentary was the Empire clearly is not concerned with pilot safety. How about some shields here, your eminence?!

I'd like to get this one out more often. I've tried it with my kids with mixed results, but they are getting older now and may be able to handle it better. I did end up buying one of the starter sets for my nephew/brother-in-law for Christmas, so maybe I can get a game or two in there.

B-Wings = tanks


This could get interesting....

Where'd all the TIEs go?

Friday, December 9, 2016

Retro Raygun: Mission to Riderso

Ace McGuire and Jane Hunter crouched, hidden - for the moment - in a small copse of trees near their target.

"I don't like it," Ace said quietly.

"You never do," replied Jane.

The pair were the leaders of a crack unit of Galacteers sent down to the surface of the planet Riderso, which had recently come under attack by the Robot Legion. The settlers of Riderso, mostly farmers, were no match for the legions of Queen Mechanika. Her centurions immediately began the task of "cleansing" the planet and turning it into another factory to produce more of her minions.

Ace and Jane were studying the Robot Legion primary base on the planet. It had been a long slog to get here, but if they could take out the main shield generators, the rest of the Galacteer force could strike directly at the base, hopefully convincing the 'bots to leave Riderso.

"No, I mean I really don't like this," Ace repeated. "Look, hardly any cover once we get past these trees. Just those small structures. This is gonna be tough."

"And you always say that," replied Jane. "Come on, let's go."

Reluctantly, Ace gave the signal. To his left, Yellow Squad was ready with its ion blaster, as was Red Squad right behind him, along with his old friend, Rocky Rizzo. To his right was Blue Quad, with Dr. Zahn and an engineer assistant.

"Oh, nuts!" said Ace just after his Galacteers fired up their jet packs and started heading toward the objective . They had been spotted already! How?

Two Robot Squads started heading toward their position and, worst of all, Ace saw to of the giant Warbots heading their way. No choice now but to keep going.

It was a disastrous start. The squads took what shelter they could behind the round Ridersoan structures, but Ace cringes as he saw a Robot unit take out Yellow Squad. Jane yelled and pointed, and Ace turned just in time to see Blue Squad go down. He feared the worst, but his spirits lifted when he saw Rocky emerge from the smoke and start running toward where he and Jane were hunkered.

But right away, he saw they had bigger problems.


Ace brought up his raygun, but the mechanical lady was too fast! One shot from her stunray sent him flying through the air - all the way back to the copse of trees! Jane screamed and went to her knees from the force of the blast.

Meanwhile, Rocky had his own troubles as one of the giant Warbots blocked his path to Ace and Jane. Thinking quickly, he jammed the butt of his raygun rifle into the back of the giant robot's knee joint, causing it to stumble backwards. It was just the opening he needed to turn back toward Ace and Jane. But where was Ace?
Recovering quickly, Jane got back to her feet and faced her female nemesis.

"Guess it's just us," Jane said.

Mechanika made no reply, but the mechanical noises - was it laughter - from her made Jane shudder. Jane tried to take a step toward the bucket of bolts, but again Mechanika was too fast. One blow sent Jane flying as well, toward where Ace had landed.

"No!" screamed Rocky as he rushed toward Mechanika, with two of the pestering little minibots nipping at his ankles. But even the galactic brawling champion was no match for the metal beast this day, as he, too, was sent spiraling through the air after his companions.

That left just Red Squad to try to complete the mission. They used their jet packs to reach their assigned shield generator, with the Dr. Zahn immediately setting up his demolition gear while the squad provided a screen. Right away one of the Warbots headed their way. While the Warbot and Yellow Squad exchanged fire, Dr. Zahn managed to destroy the shield generator!

But as he looked up in triumph, he saw the Warbot heading right toward him, with no sign of Yellow Squad in the smoke. Before he could react, the Warbot was on him. He stood his ground, but he felt the world going dark around him...

Back at the trees, Ace was helping Jane and Rocky to their feet.

"Come on, we've got to get out of here!" he yelled at them.

"But what about the rest?" asked Rocky.

"What rest? They're gone!" Ace replied.

"No!" said Jane. "I saw a generator blow. Someone got through. It must have been Zahn! We can't leave him!"

"He's a smart guy, and a survivor, he'll be OK," said Ace. "We'll get him later. For now, we need to move!"

As if to emphasize his point, raygun fire from an advancing Robot squad knocked down a branch above their heads.

The trio ran back in the direction of their rocket, discouraged by the outcome, but more determined than ever to come back to finish the job - and to rescue Dr. Zahn from the clutches of Queen Mechanika before she could extract Galacteer secrets from him!

To be continued....

OK, now some thoughts:

I played this game with my friend Jon at Rider's Hobby Shop in Flint yesterday using the scenario more or less straight out of the rulebook. In short, it was a blast! We attributed the difficulties of the Galacteers to three factors:
1. Bad initiative rolls. The first two turns, initiative went to the Robots. As the attacking force, that was bad news for the Galacteers. The Robots were one step ahead of them the whole way.
2. Crazy Robot rolls. Geez, Jon, how many sixes can you roll!
3. Lack of linear cover. Some walls, pipelines, crevasses or even rock piles would have provided better cover for the advancing Galacteers. Need to work on some terrain.

But regardless, Retro Raygun provided a fun game, and I can't say enough how absolutely gorgeous these minis from Hydra Miniatures are. We both agreed they perfectly represent the spirit of the genre, and are a delight to paint. He's already talking about expanding his Robot force, and maybe getting into Imperials. I'm pretty set on Galacteers, but having started Valkeeris, may have to pick up some more to expand that faction.

We will definitely give this another go!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Day of Infamy

Today seemed as good a day as any, ahem, to give Day of Infamy: The Attack on Pearl Harbor from High Flying Dice Games a try. I've had it in the stash a while, but just hadn't gotten to it. This is one that seems particularly suited for solitaire, so I gave that a whirl first, though I hope to try with a live opponent soon.

Pearl Harbor is one of those events that at first glance seems impossible to wargame in any meaningful way. As some astute readers from years past may have noted, I have successfully gamed small, individual plane-on-plane actions as part of the Pearl Harbor attack using Check Your 6 miniature rules. Having P-40s and P-36s scramble to do what they can against individual formations of Zeroes, Vals and Kates is one thing, replicating the entire attack is another.

And yet, this game manages to do it in a reasonably convincing way. I admit I had my doubts, but it managed to hold my attention, offer me options (as the Japanese attacker, anyway, though the Americans do have some choices of their own to make), and leave the outcome in doubt. Well, relatively in doubt. Let's make no mistake here, the Japanese are going to "win." But with an interesting set of victory conditions provided, the American player can more than hold his own. In fact, in the end, my game ended in a US "victory." As an interesting aside, each victory level states that ultimately the US wins the war.

As for game play, rather than a hex map, the map features an overview of Pearly Harbor, with five attack zones delineated: Battleship Row, Hickam Field, Ford Island and two tank farms. The game is card driven (I sprung for the special set of cards from HFD, which I think greatly add to the level of enjoyment of the game), with each card indicating how many actions a player gets, or whether there is a special event, etc. Players use actions to move forces onto the board, conduct attacks, etc.

A very clever system allows for the US awareness level to increase throughout the game, meaning its defense capabilities increase throughout the game. In effect, this means that the Japanese player is likely to enjoy his greatest success on turn one, then find the going more difficult with each successive turn. (The game lasts six turns.)

Indeed, that's how it worked for me. A wave of Kates really hit Battleship Row on turn one, but had only a few hits after. Same with Hickam and Ford; I used Vals to hit those, but all the damage was done early. By the time I turned to the tank farms, I only managed one hit. It should be noted the US player can exercise a "repair" option to reduce damage levels. I was able to that a few times with Hickam.

As for fighters, the Japanese player can escort bombers to minimize the effects of AA fire or take opportunity attacks to minimize repair capabilities. It's done abstractly, but very effectively. US fighters have a difficult go of it - I was never able to do a lot, and found it virtually impossible to hit the Zeroes. Probably accurate!

Other features included that didn't play into my game are Japanese midget subs, the possible escape of the USS Nevada and even the arrival of a flight of F4Fs from the Enterprise. What that adds up to for me is replayability potential!

One production note, the included game tracker has one line that is supposed to be used to keep track of the level of everything: damage, alertness, victory points and all. That got very cluttered very quickly and was difficult to use. I quickly whipped up another sheet that broke them all out into individual tracks, and it was much easier to follow. Other than that, counter quality/readability and the map are very nice. Some rules concepts a bit difficult to grasp when just reading the rules, but make much more sense when actually playing.

Kudos to game designer Paul Rohrbaugh for tackling a difficult subject and yet making it work and an abstract, streamlined fashion that still yields believable results.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Here They Come! First Dervishes Done

I finished up my first unit of Dervishes - based individually in a group of 16 for The Men Who Would Be Kings. These are from 19th Century Miniatures/Old Glory 15s and are very nice indeed. About five or six poses with spears and the same with swords, with some nice leader poses as well. Hardly any flash - just a few "spears" at some points, but virtually none on mold lines or anything like that. Good detail, and they are painting up nicely. I am very pleased with them.

I don't know how accurate I am on colors and such, but they look good to me. They are painted with a base coat of Vallejo off white, washed with pale gray and then spotted up with "patches" using fine tip Sharpie and artist pens.

Once I get another hundred or so painted up, the mob view will probably be more impressive than any individual color element anyway.

So there. Keeping busy on the Sudan project!

Friday, November 4, 2016

The Khaki Line

Well, there it is, enough British and Egyptians to field a solid 24 point force in The Men Who Would Be Kings. I have some more in the queue to provide some variety - some Sudanese, some additional Egyptians, some Egyptian lancers, even the 21st Lancers. No artillery yet, though.

Question: Is it a khaki line or a khaki smudge? Certainly not a thin red line at this point.

In the meantime, a sneak peak at the Dervishes. Just a few to go there! Fortunately they should not be overly complicated and hopefully go quickly.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Camels Without Hooves

One of my more amusing painting faux pas occurred years ago when I was painting up some 15mm WWI Arab camelry. Things were going well, and all looked very nice. As I was showing them to a friend - and I wish I could remember who this occurred to first - we noticed I had painted the camels with hooves. Camels don't have hooves!

Curiously, I haven't painted a camel since, until now for the Sudan project. These three are from Peter Pig's camel baggage train, with two Egyptian handlers. Note the fine detail on the packs. Note the accurate light color for camels of the region. Note the lack of hooves. :)

I think the Peter Pig minis are slightly smaller than the Essex I started with, but they won't be mixed together, and the difference is negligible. I like having little extras like this that provide something for one side to attack and one side to guard. Perhaps I should get some more.

Right now I have one final British unit almost done, and have started in on the Dervishes that I received from 19th Century Miniatures. Those look very nice as well. Stay tuned.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Highlanders for Sudan

I've been enjoying painting up these old Essex 15mm figures more than I expected - even the Highlanders! Now don't get me wrong, I love Highlanders. After all, that's where the family tree has its deepest roots. I've always wanted to do a William Wallace/Robert Bruce army, or even a Jacobite one for the '45. But the plaid!

These guys definitely took longer than the other British unit and the Egyptians completed so far. But in the end I think they turned out nice. I went with a sort of Gordon/Black Watch "representative" tartan - basically Imperial Blue with Leaf Green stripes (Vallejo colors). Then you have sporrans and socks on these guys that you don't have to worry about on others. It strained my poor old eyes at times, but I suspect they will probably be one of my favorite units. Or is that favourite?

I have enough command figures leftover I could do one more unit, if I get brave enough to buy enough soldiers to fill it out! We'll see. Camerons, anyone?

So that's three units done, which if I upgraded them enough in TMWWBK would probably get me to 24 points. But I also have one more British unit on the bench, which I may or may not finish yet today while waiting for the Dervishes to arrive. That would get me to 24 for sure, then I could start in on some alternate units that would allow me to mix up my forces. Camel Corps, perhaps? Lancers? Sudanese? Seems the possibilities are endless!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

I Think I'll Slip On Down to the Oasis

I had an additional moment of Zen yesterday while plugging away on the Sudan project. One needs very few trees for terrain!

I've never quite got the "look" of American forests down for AWI or ACW, or for that matter even European woods for Saga and such. So many trees! And let's not even start on Central American or African or Southeast Asian terrain needs.

So this came as something of a revelation, and provided enough incentive to begin some terrain. I suppose an oasis would be an important feature for all sides, so let's start there. This was remarkably simple - and inexpensive. The only thing purchased new was the cork, and that came half off at an office supply store that is closing.

I cut the tile to shape, cut a hole in the middle and glued a thin piece of styrene sheet on the bottom for the water. I painted mine Testors Dark Sea Blue. Perhaps it should be a bit "muddier," but it looks good to my eye. Some chopped up bits of cork and some pumice gel represent some bits of rock and sand. The grass I had on hand and glued down with super glue and PVC glue. The palm trees came from a set I picked up at a dollar store a while back that had not found a home yet.

There, ready to be placed on a caravan route perhaps? Maybe one scouted out by some Dervishes for an ambush?

Speaking of which, I received a shipping notice that the Dervishes are on their way. Gentlemen, start your paint brushes!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Walking Like an Egyptian

My second unit of colonials is complete - an Egyptian unit in later Sudan war kit. These are also 15mm from Essex, and are very nice and painted up well. I painted the flag in the colors of the 3rd Egyptian for no particular reason. I suppose a unit this small could have been provided a company flag, but this is prettier.

The Sudan project is proceeding well. I now have the Sudan Osprey book, as well as the Omdurman Campaign book. In addition, upon the suggestion of a poster at TMP, I downloaded Slatin's Fire and Sword in the Sudan on my iPad. Should make for some interesting reading.

As perhaps mentioned, I am initially looking at The Men Who Would Be Kings for the rules. Those also arrived yesterday, and so far they are looking good. I've seen some mixed reviews out there - some really seem to like it a lot, some feel it falls a bit short in certain areas. For what I am trying to do, with limited knowledge, they should do the trick. Eventually I may also get the venerable Sword and the Flame rules.

In the meantime, fear not, Dervishes are on the way from 19th Century Miniatures! And I also ordered a few more Essex and a smattering of Peter Pig to fill out some holes, create some "scenario fodder," etc. And, of course, some terrain has been started, with ideas on making some more. All in due course!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Dipping the Toe in Colonial Waters

Inspiration can come from many directions. Usually it's a book, or a movie. Or just seeing some nice new line of minis. Or it can come from the attic in the garage, where I found these old Essex 15mm Sudan minis.

I have no recollection of buying them, or what I might have bought them for. But I do seem to remember trying to sell them on ebay a while ago, without success. I uncovered them again last week while looking for something else, and decided what the heck, I should paint some up.

I'm not 100% sure I got all the colors right, but I think they look decent. I based them up separately - and in a group of 12 - because I have a notion I might try The Men Who Would Be Kings with them. I don't have a lot more of the British, but enough for a start. And no enemies, fuzzy wuzzies or whatnot. I'll probably create some kind of magnetic tray or something at some point - they are mounted on 1/2 inch washers.

Basically, I know precious little about the period. I've heard of Gordon (who hasn't?) and know the bare basics of Khartoum, and Mahdists, Fuzzy Wuzzies, Omdurman, etc. Looks like some Osprey purchases might be in order.

At the moment I'm thinking of getting some more Essex to add to the British for consistency, but might go with Old Glory 15s for "targets." These Essex figs did paint up rather easily. I know there are a lot of very nice looking 28s out there, and a skirmish game like TMWWBK might look better at that scale, but with 15s already started, there you go. Of course for terrain I also have nothing.

Because another period and more figs is just what I need, right?

Friday, October 7, 2016

Start of a Qi Army

A while back I posted about backing a Kickstarter from Watchful I Studios for some ancient Chinese from the Warring States period. It's really something I know very little about, but having seen an exhibit on the Terracotta Warriors, and with my daughters' interest in all things Chinese, I jumped in. My Kickstarter experiences have been hit or miss, but I am pleased to say this one is a big hit!

While I settled on a Qi army early on (that's one of the seven warring states - I should probably do a post on that one of these days) for no particular reason, it took me a while to settle on a color scheme. Info from the period is a bit sketchy, and I saw different color combinations mentioned in different sources. In the end, I decided no one could tell me I'm wrong (a refreshing change from my norm), so I went with a primary color of green, with blue accents. I think it looks pretty good!

The figures are 28mm metal, well cast. They come in multi pieces, allowing some combination of heads and armament. Overall, though, they are pretty much all in the same marching pose. The designer says he is impressed by the sight of huge multitudes marching, as apparently seen in movies. I'd prefer some more "action" poses, but nonetheless these are painting up nicely and I'm sure would look good en masse.

The goal here is to use these with Lion Rampant, or "Fu Dog Rampant" as the variation I have been working on is tentatively called. (Dragon Rampant being already taken!) One key difference is unit size. Lion Rampant is based on units of six or 12. Watchful I provides figures in packs of five, which historical units of the period are based on, and is considered a lucky number in China. Right now I'm thinking of just fielding units in groups of five or 10, and allowing them to shrug off the first and second hits, respectively. Obviously some testing is required. Watchful I says its goal is to create a set of rules, with units based on units of five. So five it shall be.

So far I have a unit of heavy infantry, one of light infantry and a light cavalry unit done, with some archers and another light infantry on the bench. And more to assemble and paint! Paint is the usual mix of Vallejo and Testors, with Citadel ink washes, which I really like. Banners are also from Watchful I.

 Watchful I also has a great lineup of items with a more fantasy bent, including Terracotta Warriors come to life, and other undead. I picked up a set of the Fu Dogs that have come to life. There was also mention in the Kickstarter of a Dragon. Dragon Rampant might come into play yet!

Friday, September 9, 2016

You Shall Not Pass... or Enter!

I've had some time lately (long story, despite the lack of blog posts), so I have been resurrecting some long-ago terrain projects.

First up to show are a bridge and stockade from Acheson Creations for use in 28mm Dark Age games. I've set them up with a few of my Saxons. Just try to get across this bridge, Viking! Or enter this stronghold!

Oh, who am I kidding. A few bad rolls of Saga dice, and they will probably run away!

These are very good pieces, though I must learn to clean them better. I don't know what Acheson uses for release agents, but it's the toughest on any resin I have encountered. These, especially the stockade, were particularly tricky getting paint to stick.

I've seen some people will actually run them through a dishwasher, but I'm fearful of that. But regular hot water and dish soap doesn't seem to cut it, either. I have a few other crates and barrels I just finished up (no photos yet) that I doused liberally in Wesley's Bleach White Tire Cleaner and let soak a few days. That seemed to do the trick, and primer and paint went on those better.

Regardless, Acheson has a great variety of goodies, and the design and casting is top notch, and the prices very reasonable. They are well worth the extra time and effort to prep them for painting. These should look great in a Saga game. Come and get us, Viking!