Monday, 30 May 2011

Real (Bank Holiday) Life

Had a real grown up bank holiday. It consisted of:

1) Lots of rain
2) Doing some DIY
3) Visiting a stately home
4) Visiting family

Not a lot to say about the rain, except it kept me out of the garden which was a nuisance as I need to re-seed part of the lawn.

However I got stuck into painting the woodwork in one of the bedrooms/en suites which took up a fair chunk of Saturday. At least with these new water based gloss paints you can get both coats done in a day with little trouble, and it doesn't stink the house out like the old style gloss paints.

Sunday was the stately home.

Well, actually it was a wargames show, - Partizan at Kelham Hall. I was part of the Society of Ancients shows team for the day, and took "The Elephant in the Room" out for the first time since we published the game.

It was an enjoyable day. Played the game 7 or 8 times (although the first three games were disasters, over in about three moves each). The Romans won all the games in the day, but we had some near run things. This photo is of a game where the Romans were down to three figures before the elephant finally keeled over.

Footfall for the show was down on previous years, probably affected by the close proximity of Triples. It was easy to get round the trade stands, but several of them had obviously off loaded a lot of stock the previous week. It did mean that we had enough room to run the game comfortably, but we also had some long barren periods with no punters about. Having said that I thnk we sold 7 copies of the game, so that's a good hit rate.

On the trade stand front I picked up a pre-order from Peter Pig (more SCW regulars), a couple of the Zvezda plastic 1/100 BT-5 kits and a few Spanish buildings from Hovels.

We got away promptly as the show was dying rapidly in the afternoon, so home for a Bank Holiday Sunday Roast.

Monday morning was spent tidying up after the DIY on Saturday, and then doing some wargamer-y things. I've decided to colour code the back of my unit stands as I can't tell my militia or EP units apart. The armies are getting a decent size now and the production line is working nicely. Even found time to paint up a couple of buildings from yesterday. The afternoon was spent checking up on my parents who are now in their late 80s. My father has an unfortunate tendency to keep falling over and having to go to hospital for check ups.

The positive side was I convinced them to set up internet banking on their accounts. Despite having a PC and connection they never use it, but this means I can sort their bills and transfers out without having to take piles of authorities to the bank. Isn't technology wonderful.

And back to the rain...well it wouldn't be May bank holiday without the test match being ruined by the weather. Hold on, miracle of miracles, England have pulled off a win.

Real Bank Holiday Life.

Friday, 27 May 2011

The Fog Lifts

Thursday's game was another run at "Send Not To Know". We're on version 5a now, so I should be getting close to something that works.

There were a few changes made. Well, actually a massive re-write of all the combat rules. The other change was I cluttered the terrain a bit more so there was less of units trying to cross large open spaces.

The Nationalists had some SFL & Moroccans plus a Falangist battalion. The Republicans had some IBs, some militia and an EP battalion.

No guns or tanks for either side, as those rules still don't work.

On the Republican right the militia, supported by the battalion of EP advanced through a wooded area, exchanged fire with the SFL and Moroccans hiding behind the wall of a olive grove.

Now the site of Spain's finest troops lining a dry-stone wall in perfect order might intimidate many men.

Not so our brave Republicans, who proceeded to make use of the new "move more than one unit at a time" rule and launch a close assault on the supporters of Fascism and their colonial mercenaries.

Heroic it may have been, successful it was not. They were repelled in short order, taking severe casualties. A success for the new hand to hand combat rules.

On the other flank the IBs pushed forward towards the village, which had been swiftly occupied by the Falangists (who were no doubt busily engaged in bayoneting communist babies). The IBs got themselves nicely lined up and stormed into the village. In a fiercely contested piece of street fighting the Falangists were driven back from their initial position and retired to the rear of the village.

Elsewhere we had a few airstrikes and some other random shooting. Overall the rules held up well. We had an interesting discussion on pinning, on air strikes and off table assets and a few other odds and ends.

So I think the fog has lifted, and I've got the core of a game system that works. I need to work on the armour and artillery as I've said.

On a last note something that did work well was I divided the built up area into zones so that we could have the defenders fall back form area to area. This confirmed that thinking about the terrain layout is important in getting the game right.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

I hate ink jet printers

Yesterday my printer broke. It is less than two years old. I am consequently a bit annoyed.

It started to act up quite suddenly, either claiming it was out of paper, or it was jammed.

Last night it jammed properly. Paper stuck under the rollers, which tore when trying to get it out. Part of the paper is now trapped under the rollers at the bottom of the printer and there is no way to take it apart that I can see. No screws, no clips, no nothing.

So I won't be printing any flags for a while.

Nor anything else.

It was a Canon PIXMA ip2600, and I think that is the shortest any printer of mine has ever lasted.

I think I hate it even more than I hate Windows.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

We're all waving flags

I finished some of the standard bearers last night. Here's the one for the Ejercito Populare. The flags are from that Catalan Wargamer's site I gave in the last post.

I really like the pose of this figure. he's waving the flag in an ostentatious manner, obviously giving it all he's got.

I also did up standards for my militia and Falangists but there are no photos of them because either the flag is a bit dull or the figure isn't as interesting.

I'm still light a few flags for my Spanish Foreign Legion and Moroccan tabors. I poked around the internet last night for some inspiration as there were no flags for these troop types on the website (coming soon, it says, and has done for a year or two I guess).

Alas when googling for images of Spanish Civil war flags some of the most frequent pictures are of my International Brigade banners from this blog which are, alas, both fictional and not carried by Moroccans.

Back to the search.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Small Spanish Steps

Previously on "Wargaming for Grown-ups".....*

Trebian, unsure of whether to wargame the Spanish Civil War is finessed into it by a kind birthday present, starts to paint figures, realises he has to add to his figure mix (most of war not fought by International Brigades and Spanish Foreign Legion), disappointed by the few sets of rules he finds in various magazines begins to write his own rules, hits serious writers block, has a few abortive games and realises promising to put on a session at CoW in early July may have been a bit premature.

So, yes, really need to make some progress on this particular project and need to do it quickly. It hasn't been easy this week as I've had a couple of long days at work (taking part in a "Development Hub" at a remote location) plus a day in the City means my evenings have been a bit squeezed. However I have managed to finish a couple of battalion size units of militia and also a battalion of Popular Army.

I'll fill in the gaps in the unpainted lead requirements next weekend at Partizan (where I'll be on the Society of Ancients stand with the Elephant in the Room if you want to stop by and say hello). I may also pick up some buildings from Hovels as well.

I'm also a bit behind on my flag painting but on the positive side I stumbled across a site with a lot of downloadable flags ( which will make my life easier.

My big worry, however, is the ruleset. Every time I sit down to write them up I find I end up spending more time painting as they simply won't get written. I've been rooting around for inspiration in my wargames library and back numbers of Nugget and finding that it's not getting me anywhere. I was well into writing one set and discovered I'd basically just retyped big chunks of Ian Drury's "Bandenkrieg".

I may have made some progress this weekend, however. Certain things are coming together. The command and control system is looking good and capable of being used to provide further colour and control features.

The unit classification system which rates units on their motivation and level of training got another tweak that combines both to give a "Will to Combat" score. This information is captured on the back of the unit's command stand by means of folded sticky labels.

The infantry firing and casualty system has been given a severe pruning. I was using a high volume of hits with casualty markers and saving rolls approach which frankly had too much going on in it. What I was trying to do was have a way that all the companies in a unit were degraded as it took casualties. I think this is too complicated and meant I needed a lot of hit markers. I think instead I'll just simply remove a base when the unit takes three hits (although this means I need to work out how to apportion hits on to the MG companies).

The last playtest of the close assault rules was a disaster. Actually it was like a lot of my other close combat rules which lead to long and protracted melees in spite of my best efforts. I've now just gone for a straight results table, - die roll plus modifiers for each side then read the difference off a table. If scores are level the attackers are repulsed to their starting position. All I have to do is calibrate the modifiers and results, but it looks good on paper.

The artillery rules are...well...I've got a few ideas but most of them end up with me re-writing Bandenkrieg. Which might be the ultimate answer. And the armour rules are still on the starting blocks.

As I said. Small Spanish Steps.

* Okay, I've been watching too much cult sf on DVD recently. All episodes start like this.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Back to Spain

I seem to have missed writing a post somewhere. This one is a follow up to the post about the rules writing session I had last Saturday afternoon, which I haven't written.

So last Saturday Mrs T was out with the local Brownies watching the Gang Show so I had an afternoon to work on "Send Not To Know", aided by Phil S.

Having bashed some bits of them into shape (not the armour or artillery rules, but quite a bit of the rest) we had a Monday Night Group session this Friday.

Again making use of Mr A's figures we had some Spanish Foreign Legion, plus Moroccans, Requetes and Peninsula Army attacking a motley force of Republicans made up of IBs, Asaltos and Militia. These were variously hiding (skulking?) in some olive groves, the other side of a small stream, - mainly there for decorative purposes, but also because its banks were to count as providing cover.

Well, apart from the fact that the Nationalist player didn't seem to get the message and it all blundered around a bit and ended up indecisive.

However, we did mange to have a really confusing protracted melee in an olive grove. Where everyone seemed to be surrounding everyone else and the "Close Assault Resolution Table" singularly failed to resolve the close assault decisively. Certainly need heavy tweaking there.

The Requetes occupied the central village (the one without the wall round it) and were wiped out to a man by a stunningly effective Republican bombing raid and massive small arms fire.

In the centre a concerted push by the SFL & Moroccans was making solid progress, although their flank was secured by a battalion of Peninsula Army who were remarkably useless and suffered from deadly accurate fire from some IBs and the odd lucky shot from the Militia.

Finally the Asaltos did a fine job of holding their river bank against all comers.

In summary, lots learned from the game, - mostly that the bits I wasn't sure about failed to work, but the bits I was pleased with did.

What I wanted was a move sequence where play alternates between each side but not by unit. I wanted move sequences to be in variably sized blocks at the players discretion, so the game flares up in some areas then dies down but the player has the illusion of control.

Each side has an effectiveness rating which is calculated from how many odd bits it is made up of. The difference in that, plus the number of units, is the number of playing cards dealt to each side. Players then sort them into blocks of colours (eg 4 Reds, 2 Blacks, 3 Reds, 1 Black). They can move units/perform actions as long as they turn over cards of the same colour. When they can't do that any more, the turn passes to their opponent and so on. Jokers are put into the sequence and are standalone cards that represent air strikes.

Does that make sense?

Now, off to paint some Falangists whilst Mrs T watches Eurovision.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Wot we did etc part II

The Royal Wedding Day game ended unfinished (or did it finish unended?) so I left it set up on the garage table so we could return to it for our regular Thursday night game.

Due to circumstances we had a slight change in cast and the start was delayed as someone in our group had got a good win off e-bay which included the first sight I've had of the new Zvezda plastic 1/100 BT-5s (very nice looking, and c£2.50 per kit + postage).

However we managed to play through to the position I sort of wanted to be at lunchtime on Friday, and ended the game.

There were three crucial conflicts. The first was on the Red's right, around the station which as you will recall was occupied by a cossack regiment. Eventually they were evicted and driven backwards into the open where they were annihilated, unable to mount up and ride away. However in the process they had tied down 6 Red infantry battalions and two of their armoured cars, and at least half of the infantry was in no fit state to carry on with the battle. Several of the battalions had said "Nyet" to the odd order and been coerced into action, and in consequence we had a mutiny or two that was quelled through exhortation and the shooting of the ringleaders.

Probably, all things considered a good result for the forces of Counter-Revolution.

In the middle the Officer battalion in the wooded entrenchment hung on until outflanked by the Konarmy and assaulted rear and front. They turned to face the cavalry coming through the woods, only to be overridden from behind by another unit of horse. Due to failures in the performance of one the White armoured cars they were rather left hanging in the wind. On the upside they held on for a long time, although the damage to the Konarmy was not as great as they might have wanted.

On the Red's left the Order of Lenin for persistence in the face of the enemy went to the Conscript regiment that waded through a marsh, braved heavy fire from an armoured car and an emplaced Officer battalion in order to get to bayonet point. (Not to mention the need to quell an incipient mutiny on the approach march as well).

A protracted melee resulted in the Officers finally being overwhelmed and wiped out. Some no doubt were executed with a bullet to the back of the head in the aftermath as class enemies.

At which point we packed up. A tactical, Pyrrhic victory, for the Reds. Alas I fear they will be unable to exploit this as the Whites rush their armoured train with reinforcements to the spot.

Thanks to all of the players for their participation. The rules gave us a realistic, enjoyable, game but they are still flawed. We spend too much time reorganising units to resolve casualties, and I ran out of white & black casualty rings.

I think that I need to change the casualty recording system and also probably reduce the number of step hits each base can take. The armoured car casualty system needs a slight tweak as well.

Strangely enough the much maligned melee rules held up remarkably well, but they still probably take too long. The artillery rules are also a bit of a blunt implement and I'm not happy with their performance.

Hopefully I'll find some time to write up the changes, but alas the desk full of SCW figures beckons, and those rules won't write themselves (a blog for another time, I think). Plus this morning (Sunday) we have some Real Life in the shape of a bathroom door that needs painting/

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Style or Substance?

So I really should do the decent thing and do my Stylish Blogger post.

Rule Number 1: Thank those who nominated you:

Firstly, thanks to Ashley of "Paint it Pink" -( who nominated me first.

Secondly to Bob Cordery of "Wargames Miscellany" - ( who also nominated me, but doesn't really need the link back as he writes them ost popular wargaming blog in the universe.

Finally to Mosstrooper of "Tin Soldiering On" & "The Steadfast Tin Soldier" ( although it currently won't load on my PC.

Rule Number 2: Say 7 things about yourself:

1) Introduced to wargaming by my big brother, but really got going having borrowed the Don's "Battles with Model Soldiers" from the school library (is that one or two facts, or perhaps 3)

2) I love cult TV and think Farscape is the best hard sf series ever made. Except for the first season, which is seriously pants in places.

3) I live in hope that one day, perhaps, Somerset may win the county championship.

4) Been married for 27 years and still enjoying it.

5) I know what side I would have wanted to be on at Marston Moor & Naseby.

6) Homeopathy makes me cross.

7) The first LP I bought was Trespass by Genesis, and the last Close Upss, Volume 2 by Suzanne Vega.

Finally nominate 10 to 15 great blogs:
Er...this is quite tough as I don't follow many blogs because mostly they are poorly written drivel. Most of the wargaming ones have endless pictures of 28mm steroid junkies with pancake makeup.

So, this is my list:

1) Bob Cordery's Wargaming Miscellany, - mostly because he sets the standard for frequency & variety.

2) Tim Gow's Megablitz and More because he often makes me smile and he has an industril appraoch to the production of wargames kit that I aspire to.

3) Phil Steele's P.B. Eye-Candy because he says nice stuff about my toys and reminds me that I can always do better if I try that bit harder.

4) Ashley's "Paint it Pink" because it has a great name.

And that's the lot.