Saturday, January 31, 2009

Interesting Software With Possibilities for Gaming

While trying to figure out how to keep track of all the developing characters in my two ImagiNations, I stumbled across an interesting program. It's called "Personal Brain" ...I thought I might do the old school handwritten journal for each country, but I just happened to be looking for something to easily track genealogy for my nobility characters and I happened on this program. The key thing for me was that it's free in the simple version. I've been tinkering with it today and with a little bit of tutorial, it actually works pretty well for keeping everything organized. I took a screen shot showing what I'm up to with it. It's a little "zoomy" for what I would normally tolerate in my gaming (which is first and foremost supposed to be FUN and STRESS FREE!...) but...if it works, what the heck...

Battle Maps

The excellent cartographers (and supernaturally fast!...) over in Bleiherzen send us today a map showing the location of the the recent winter battles. (The countries are experiencing an unusually warm winter season and thus the military activity at the borders is more pronounced.)

My table dimensions are indicated by the rectangles. Each grid square is 4 miles on the large map but for games the distances are scaled down by a factor of around 1:15 thus making the game scale 1"=10 yards workable...and that's about as far as I take "worries" about actual ground scale vs game scale, etc....which is not very far at all!

I'm using Adobe Illustrator for the mapping and finding the layer capabilities really great for keeping up with movements, troop locations and such. I can just turn them on or off as needed. This image is just a screen shot selected from the large map. Zooming in is accomplished without loosing image quality I think because Illustrator is a "vector based" graphic program...but don't ask me why this is...

January engagements zoomed...

Friday, January 30, 2009

The Green Mile

Now that my newly painted table has dried sufficiently, I spent a couple of pleasant hours just setting out figures and terrain to see how things would look...and surprise!, surprise!...eventually my entire collection of 18th century figures was on the table....

Perhaps if I get a few spare hours this weekend I might go ahead and fight this one out...I set things out based on a map I sketched up this past week for a battle that might logically follow the storyline after the forces of the Duchess defeated and pursued a Bleiherzener raiding force in the "small scenario" I recently posted...this one battle would center on the city of Königswald, a few miles over the border of Bleiherzen.

I really like the new green table surface....who knew that going "old school" could be so invigorating! Here are a few pics of the "set down" today: (...and please bear with me gentle readers, on the ofttimes blurry photography...I'm going to get it right eventually...I promise!)

...the Erbprinz Fusilier Regiment von Kluge in action again...

Austrian Artillery in the service of the Duchess

overview of the town of Konigswald and its Bleiherzen defenders...and, in the upper left distance, Grolstein Jagers hold "der Jagdhüttenberg"

Austrians massing (at top) outside the village of Gleissen...

Fuzilier Regiment von Kluge standing strong after its stalwart performance in "the small scenario"...the Duchess' Austrian "mercs" massing in the distance

Cavalry massed for battle...

Bleiherzener Musketeer Regiment von Pfhulstein...

Bleiherzen's Prussian allies marching up through the Konigswald town square...

Grolsteiner combined Grenz, Hungarian mercs. and cavalry brigade closing in from the north...

...more Prussians and Colonel Gerlach's Jagers in the distance defending the slopes in front of of the town of Oschlt.

Bleiherzen/Prussian cavalry

Near the village of Gleissen, the Duchess' Cuirassier Regiment 1 awaits its moment!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Some New Comparison Images

OK, Here are some new comparison images of Blue Moon 28mm vs an RSM 25mm Austrian Grenadier (RSM is on the right)

and versus a female figure...

and versus another male figure...

So you can see, height is similar (within a couple of mm) but heft is more pronounced on the Blue Moon stuff...

One thing I found very nice is the Blue Moon figures do not need basing as the bases as cast are already flat and nicely textured...

The Characters Arrive!

...a seriously outrageous hat...

RSM Austrian Genadier on the right Blue Moon civilian on the left and in the background...

the Compté Du Gas and his assistant Jean lugging their drawing and surveying equipment.

RSM grenadier on the left...the height is right...but the 28mm characters have that "heroic style" heft...

Inspired by the wonderful posts on Emperor vs Elector (especially the vignettes of tidders' "The Kingdom of Wittenberg" blog), I've now started a civilian "program" for my 18th century nations. I just received a nice box of 18th century character figures (Duelists and Swashbucklers" from "Blue Moon Designs" (shipped with the usual blazing speed from Old Glory USA). The figures are beautiful Bob Naismith sculptures and are just right for 28mm but are also fine for my 25mm RSMs because I think its cool to have characters at a slightly larger scale than the bulk of the rank and file. That way when I acquire a few Willie and Tradition 30mm hopefully will work as well. I'm posting a few comparison posts of the raw castings with an RSM Austrian Grenadier (got a fresh shipment of RSM's yesterday as well...from Rich at Dayton Painting Consortium...the RSM Valhalla!).

I had some time this evening to do a little converting with "green stuff" and made a figure to repesent Compté Du Gas, King Wilhelm's newly appointed Cartographer and Visiting Minister of Military Affairs to the Armeé des Königreich der Bleiherzen and his faithful assistant, the young Jean Lefebvre, who is invariably tasked with lugging the Compté's precious surveying instruments over hill and dale. The two can often be seen traversing the fields and forests of the Königsreich preparing for the defense of the realm.

The two lady figures in the box are very nice as well, though I think the dresses are later 18th century (Empire period) and I will probably make them more voluminous for the mid 18th period...particulary since the Duchess enjoys not an inconsiderable bit of fluffiness!

I'll be working to figure out how to convert the dueling figures (in back) but you never know what may transpire in the complicated world of the 18th century!

I'm also lucky to have another batch of civilians en route from Eureka I feel rich at the moment!

And finally this evening I ordered the "Gentleman's Coach" from Blue Moon based on the strength of these figures.

and Paypal account is screaming!!! :0

...I'm truly obsessed with this hobby!...Help Me!!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Going Green!

It's time,... he said to himself... off of work early..., and he jumps into the car headed for the local DIY store for a gallon!? you really need that much? ...his inner voice says...of course!,... he answers... ("what's that" the wife he tries to sneak the gallon can past "the guards"...)...oh nothing much, a little paint... ...just a little of the most beautiful... (to a gamer...) shade of green that he can imagine!! A few paint rollers and a few hours later and voila!...the reverse side of his flocked gaming boards are turned to the finest "Old School" Green!

ahhh...quite a cathartic moment I must say and I can't wait to lay out another battle on the new table! magnificent fellow!!...somehow it all feels... So Right!!



and without futher ado... the Bleiherzeners decide to parade before the city gates...

...despite their recent seback on the God, they still parade splendidly!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Under Construction

Since my day job teaching architecture keeps me re-thinking any design decisions I've made about my blog...combined with my wife's already extensive blogging experience and her comment this evening that "Lead Gardens should not have a black background, it's hard to read"....has sent me back to the drawing I beg you, gentle readers, to bear with me, ...I'm going to experiment with the look of things for a few days...and probably, eventually get everything back to where it was...because the "graphic grass" is not always greener...but nevertheless experiments are almost always blogging as well as gaming.

Poitiers On a Budget

Ok so its a Saturday afternoon again, and I have another 2 hours to slip in a short game. So short on time, short on figures (my regular gaming space is across town...), and rules (they are over there too)... I do have a few hills I just finished ready to bring over to my gaming space...and I've got a roll of green indoor outdoor carpet...and a clear dining table...and those plastic knights and foot from a couple of Lionheart games that I was playing with with my little guy the other evening...

So I quickly laid out a historical battle using an old Featherstone scenario for the Battle of Poitiers and roughly worked out a simple set of rules based on the mechanic of "Victory Without Quarter" rules for ECW by Clarence Henderson. This took about 15 minutes. I had the figures ready already (they are unpainted plastic that slot into their bases) I worked out the two sides and laid them out on the table...hunted for some dice and a ruler..

I used the gold plastic side for the Black Prince's English and the silver figures for the French under King John, and I was ready to go. another 15minutes...

The game took about an hour start to finish so I'm using my last half hour to write this's that for working on a budget!

And here are the pics:

the French battles appear on the "North Ridge

King John orders the army forward..

The cavalry of Marshals Clermont and Audrehen attempt attack into the breaks in the hedge..

the French first battle is shattered by English archers while the Dauphin's column advances on foot

the Dauphin's foot struggle uphill to the hedge

the Dauphin's infantry is shattered...

the Duke of Orleans' third battle crowds up to the back of the survivors of the Dauphin's column

Captal De Buch's English knights begin their flanking charge against the shaken French foot...

and the final charge into the flank of the disordered French panics the rest and they flee.

Thus ended a quick rendition of Poitiers, and though the I played the French the way they behaved historically the simple set of rules scribbled on a sheet of paper did a pretty good job of simulating the battle...and though the English took some casualties at the hedge, their position and their archers were the decisive factor.

Pretty fun for a quickie!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Return to ECW Horse...and Another Skirmish

A new troop of 40mm ECW to bolster my Parliamentarian Horse. I'm planning to take my time with these guys and try a bit more shading and highlighting. I have the figures now for 3 new horse units so I think I'll be doing a 2 squadron regiment after this is done. Something to keep Rupert's Horse at bay.

Taking it slow though after an intense holiday season. I'm also expecting any day now a batch of new RSMs to get my Grolstein infantry brigade underway. I'm using Hanoverian castings and probably going with orange-red coats...but trying to do something a little different to distinguish them from historical Hanoverians. I also ordered a few Eastern "exotics" ...i.e. mamlukes/pandours to add to the Duchess' host.

I also set up the scenario (in my last post) and giving it a run through with my 18th century stuff. a few pics shown here:

Colonel Gerlach leads from the front ...again! (his coat was holed in the early going...) he seems foolhardy in the extreme...those saving throws can only get you so far!

Mercenary grenz (die roten Teufel!) in the service of the Duchess hold the church yard in Schermissel.

Grolstein cuirassiers set to charge!

Bleiherzen reinforcements arrive...Erbprinz von Kluge Fusilier Regiment supporting the cavalry raid across the border.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A Small Scenario

I worked up a small scenario for a cavalry/light infantry action involving my two ImagiNations and I thought it might make a good generic 18th century red vs blue scenario. It involves about 100 figures on a side and I assumed a 4'x8' table (what I have..) but the deployment areas can be eliminated for a 4'x4' game.

I've not played this yet so its not tested, but I think it will be fairly balanced. The map comes from my country map for my ImagiNations, so it is based on a historic piece of turf (...scaled down a bit for the scenario...on my country map a grid square, (4'x4' in the scenario), is 4 miles... a scale down of about 1:15 if you are using Grant's "The Wargame Rules"). I'd be interested if anyone cares to give this scenario a try, please let me know how it turns out.

I'm going to set it up on my table this week, and I may try it both as an 18th century game and later as an ECW game. I might make some of the woods into enclosures for the ECW game.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

History On the Top of a Pool Table

My wife recently convinced me to start a Facebook page, and though I had till now resisted getting into the Facebook thing, I was really surprised to reconnect with an old friend of mine, Allan, from high school who reminded me of some of our early gaming experiences...

You see, there was this pool table...

As a more sane alternative to the motorcycle my brother and I really wanted, my father quickly realized that a safer alternative was required; thus a basement pool table was proffered—smart man my father. My brother and I took the bait, and played pool constantly for about a month, until music, girls, and "other things" began to monopolize our interest. My "other thing" was a budding wargame hobby and that pool table was soon commandeered and converted into a gaming table with a couple of plywood sheets.

Allan and I would regularly set up unpainted Airfix 1/72 scale Civil War figures individually and we used a Britans metal die cast 25lbr that could shoot toothpicks with decent accuracy. We used a 5 men to a shot rule and we fought to the death. Terrain was rudimentary—board stacks of hills, plastic model railroad houses and construction paper rivers. I had read a copy of Little Wars that I found in the school library so I'm sure that was the inspiration to use the "toothpick cannon". From there "The Table" became the site of many a Micro Armor game, the smoking Napoleonic fields of Europe using Scruby "N" guage (9mm) figures...and when figures we not available (or affordable on an 8 dollar a week allowance), we would cut out counters from colored construction paper and used them right alongside the painted minis. I still have a box that contains two Tolkein fantasy armies... that is, a box full of little construction paper rectangles with "ORCS" and "ENTS" written on them. WWII 1/72 Airfix worked into the lineup and eventually Minifig 15 strip figures.

The games on the pool table were supplemented by games at my other gaming friend Bob's apartment. A Viet Nam navy vet who befriended several of us students (his war stories were real eye openers!) and was an avid gamer. His table was "purpose-built" for gaming and in those days, was really top of the line. It was a 4'x4' and was surfaced with green felt and had edges to keep the figures from being brushed off. He also had built in shelves below...all in all a real "Cadillac" table for the time. I still have a pic taken in 1975 of Bob's table. (I was 19!):

Reb brigades mass for an attack!...Bob's table, circa 1975. (the minis are Minifigs strip style ACW 15mms)... and how about those stepped particle board hills...Old School indeed!

And amazingly, I realized also that I think I still have the 25lbr!...and now I'm on an "all points search" for it somewhere in my "stored stuff"...but I don't think my brother ever forgave me for taking over the pool table ;)

{ occurs to me that it might be a cool web project to make a collection of everyone's early gaming photos...any interest?}

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Party's (close to) Over...

The Long Christmas Break is one of the nice perks of being an academic...but unfortunately even it must end. I am back to serious work next week so today was my last day of being able to paint and game at leisure. So I decided to go out with a productive bang by "finally" making the bridges that I have needed for a long while. I built them up out of foamcore board and a quick paintjob and drawn stone joints and I had three bridges (1 large, 2 small) ready for future ECW or 18th century battles.

My little guy and I played a bit with them after dinner this evening using some plastic medieval figures from an out of print boardgame called "Lionheart" that I bought 3 of copies of a couple of years ago on ebay for just such an occasion. The figures are actually pretty good and they have slotted bases so the hits can be removed. I broke them out this evening when my little guy wanted to play with daddy's new bridges. Fortunately the foamcore bridges are more or less indestructable so it was a non-stressful kid-dad moment on the dining table!

I was also most honored to go over to check out the Emperor and Elector blog and suprised to see that one of my ImagiNations had received honors from the Reich Duchy of Sax Beerstein....and...well... I'll drink to that right this minute!

And finally...since my son and I were in serious "making stuff" mode, we cooked up a pretty cool spaceship from a cardboard paper towel tube... that unfortunately punched a hole in mommy's nice paper lamp in the living room... rock on ;) !