Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Prone Markers for the SAW

US Dismounted Cavalry
One of the poses present in the Old Glory Spanish-American War skirmishing packs is a prone figure.  When I first began the SAW project using Old Glory figures, I wondered what to do with these figures.  After years of thought, I finally decided to put these prone figures to use as prone markers.  In the jungle and rough terrain of Cuba, formations would likely spend a fair amount of time going to ground especially with deadly rifle fire whizzing overhead.

Since most of the bags of figures purchased are in the advancing pose and not skirmishing, most of the regulars had no accompanying prone figure.  Knowing that Old Glory has fulfilled special requests in the past, I added my special request of a few handfuls of prone figures to a buddy's Old Glory order.  As expected, the order arrived with the bag of prone figures shown below:
Mix of SAW prone figures
Included in the bag are prone figures for Spanish in both uniforms and American infantry.  Should be enough figures to make a sufficient number of markers.  Off the painting desk are three such US dismounted cavalry markers.  Time to put some of the Spanish markers into the painting queue.

Another item included in this latest Old Glory order was the church from the pirate range.  When Jake brought up the box, I was surprised by the size of the church.  It is HUGE.  For scale, a battalion of 28mm Front Rank Portuguese are arrayed in front of the building.
The motivation for getting the church was my Peninsular War Napoleonic project.  Upon further reflection, this fine piece could see service in Cuba, Mexico, and Italy too.  I look forward to giving the church a coat of paint and making it a focal for a Peninsular War battle.  Seems like a long time since the 28mm Napoleonics last saw action on the gaming table.  Time to work them into the schedule.  With a new piece of terrain, it will be hard not to plan an action soon.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Assyrian Wars - Kallapani

Today, something a little different for the Assyrian Wars project.  That is, my take on a mobile missile stand or kallapani.  For Impetvs, the Assyrian Army has an option for one or two kallapani that moves at chariot speed but fights as a dismounted, 'T' missile stand. 
I wrestled with the question of how to represent such a weapon platform.  Should two stands be fielded one for each mode?  In the end, I decided to field one stand for both modes.  The stand contains the kallapani battle cart with mounted bowmen along with a half-dozen dismounted archers.  For me, this combination looks pretty cool on the gaming table. 
Figures are from Wargames Foundry.  Enough figures lurk in The Lead Pile to field a second such mobile artillery platform.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Old Glory Swiss/Italian Crossbowmen

Off the painting desk today is a nine-figure Impetvs 'T' stand of missile troops.  Figures are from Old Glory and muster out as a band of Swiss crossbowmen.
In Impetvs lists, there is always room to squeeze in another unit of crossbowmen.  Good thing, that!  Two more such nine-figures bands remain in The Lead Pile.
Having battled the flu for more than two weeks, the painting production line seems to have stagnated.  Still working on figures at the painting desk but getting these figures to the basing and flocking stage has been a sluggish process at best.  Cold outside temperatures have not helped.

On a brighter note, the first Friday Night At The Fights of 2018 kicks off this evening with a rematch at Mollwitz.  As I take command of the Austrian Army under von Neipperg, let me see if I have learned any lessons taught in Game #1.  The first Mollwitz game was closer than it looked.  Can von Neipperg break Frederick's army before his own is broken?  Stay tuned.   

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

French Infantry for the 1799 Project

After a heavy dose of painting 25mm figures in 2017, the new year begins with figures of the smaller variety.  That is, 18mm Napoleonics for the 1799 project.  Since one of my 2018 goals included getting more 15s across the painting desk, I start the year off on the right foot.  
Off the painting desk are two, 13 figure battalions of early French infantry.  The figures are from Campaign Game Miniatures out of Spain with the exception of the mounted officers who are from AB Miniatures.  The grenadiers are wearing bearskins while all others are in bicorne.  I really like the look of French in bicorne!
Among other items in work at the painting desk, two more battalions of French are winding their through the production line.  It will be a week before the second group of two battalions emerges.  Several units for other projects are in line at the photo booth first.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Project Planning 2018

Time to consult the crystal ball to see what may lay ahead in 2018 for the Palouse Wargaming Journal.

Historical Battles to Fight
While a game (or two) is always out on the gaming table, sights are set on developing four "monumental" historical battles in miniature for 2018.  My thought is to feature one "monumental" battle per quarter spending time to fight each battle more than once before moving on.  Tentatively, the following are under consideration:

2018Q1 - Mollwitz 1741 in 18mm
Mollwitz has already seen one playing in late 2017.  At least one or two more playings expected in 2018.  An account of the first game can be found at Dashing Through the Snow. 

2018Q2 - Albuera 1811 in 18mm
My initial development of the Battle of Albuera scenario was created to commemorate the 200th Anniversary of the battle back in 2011.  Albuera provides an interesting and challenging situation for all participants and would make a good group game.  Resource management is particularly important at Albuera.  Albuera is a good sized game for three to five players and provides an opportunity to pull my 18mm "Empire period" Napoleonics from their long period of storage.  Included for reference are two photos from that 2011 game showing initial dispositions. 
Albuera Initial Deployments
Albuera Initial Deployments

2018Q3 - Zorndorf 1758 in 18mm
With the 260th Anniversary of the battle in August 2018, Jake has set one of his 2018 goals as fielding the Russian army for Zorndorf.  That is a great goal.  At the rate units are already mustering off his painting desk, we will see the Russians before the August anniversary.  While I have yet to consult the Prussian OB for Zorndorf, my Prussian army ought to be sufficient without additions.  I may add some Prussian units into the painting queue just for good measure.

2018Q4 - Castiglione 1796 or Rivoli 1797 or Trebbia 1799 in 18mm
To continue momentum on my French Revolutionary War project, one of these three battles would make a good choice to end the year.  While Rivoli has seen action on my gaming table in 2004 (has it really been that long?), the other two have not.  Should I update Rivoli and send the Austrians down the Adige to attack Joubert or give one of the others a test on the field of battle?  With Trebbia, my Russians would get to see their first action.  That might be fun.  Below is a photo from that 2004 Rivoli game:
Rivoli Battlefield

In addition to the monuments detailed above, what other games might see action on the gaming table in 2018?  With my varied interests and collections, many possibilities are on offer.  Will 2018 see the first Great Italian Wars or Assyrian Wars game in action?  Perhaps the Punic Wars or Reconquista will witness a clash or two? 

While the 10mm ACW collection has seen recent maneuvers on the game table under the guidance of Two Flags-One Nation, my own Republic rules have not been out in ages.  Maybe a re-run of either Gettysburg 1863 or Stones River 1862/1863 would be a fun exercise? 

ECW or WWII skirmish?  Both could squeeze into the schedule as could quick, pick up games of Canvas Eagles, Samurai Battles, or Commands & Colors Ancients.  The 28mm Peninsular War collection has not had a run-out in ages.  With a new terrain piece heading my way and destined for the Iberian Peninsula, I am even more motivated to get the collection out on the table.  As always, so many periods, so little time.

Figures to Paint
With all projects in sufficient quantities to field armies for games, there is little pressure to concentrate on any one project to reach that critical, gameable mass.  No new project(s) planned for 2018 either.  Without either of these incentives, the 2018 painting goal ought to be something more pragmatic.  As a step towards pragmatism, the 2018 goal is to make a dent in The Lead Pile by buying less than I paint.  A painted figure goal of 900 seems reasonable. 

To reduce The Lead Pile, effort should lean towards the 15/18mm category since 2017 saw most painting activity in the 25/28mm size.  To aim towards that objective, the 1799, 1859, SYW, and Feudal Japan projects should see renewed activity.  With moderate effort, the inventory of the Peter Pig Samurai figures in inventory could be brought down to near zero.  If enough progress is made on the 1859 project to field French, perhaps, a start on a small Prussian army for either 1866 or 1870 could be contemplated?  Does starting a new Prussian army for either the 1866 or 1870 conflicts count as a new project or an expansion of the existing 1859 project?

While focus may be on the 15/18mm side of the ledger in 2018, expect to see a steady stream of 25/28mm units winding their way through the painting queue too.  Plenty in The Lead Pile to muster large numbers of Assyrian Wars, Reconquista, Peninsular War, Great Italian Wars, Punic Wars, or ECW units.  Writing out these lists reminds me that a recent influx of ECW lead arrived in-house.  Adding in a TYW lead gift received earlier in the year, perhaps the 30mm ECW project ought to see renewed interest at the painting desk?   

Scenarios to Design and Development
Scenario research, design and development are rewarding aspects of the hobby.  To that end, scenarios are needed for Zorndorf (HoW) and Castiglione/Rivoli/Trebbia (Wars of Coalition).  The scenario for Albuera may also require some attention and last minute refinements.  Finally, having built a scenario for Norm's Two Flags - One Nation rules in 2017, two more scenarios are under consideration.   

Rules to Design, Develop, Test
After playing Risorgimento 1859 and Wars of Coalition from QRS' exclusively for a couple of years now, 2018 may finally be the appropriate time to begin codifying the rules into a coherent body of text. The nucleus of game engine for these rules began as a heavily modified version of Whitehouse's Ironsides and Old Trousers.  Today, Howard's originals would barely be recognizable.

Finally, Impetvs on Grid has been drawing my attention again.  Plans to push forward with rules for Feudal Japan on a grid are back at the fore.

Solo Wargaming
Of course!

Boardgames to Explore
Recently, feelings of nostalgia towards my early wargaming roots have surfaced.  That is, board wargaming.  From playing SPI's Borodino in the early 1970s on a card table against my grandmother (!) there has always been a spot at the table for the "hex and counter" board wargames.  Yeah, that is right, "grandmother."  She played a pretty good game too and was a rules' stickler.

Part of my boardgaming Renaissance is due to the acquisition of a number of old, out of print titles as well as some new releases.  Some of the OOP titles were games I had in the past and recall fondly.  Others are games only recently discovered.  Another cause for this renewed interest is actually getting some of these games to the table and rediscovering their value and enjoyment.  Thoughts of using a boardgame as a campaign generator for table top battles is always in mind.

In 2018, I would enjoy increasing the time spent peering over the maps and counters of the list set forth below.  Note, most of the items on my Wish List are series games to hopefully reduce the inevitable learning (or relearning) curves.  While many may not make it out onto the gaming table in 2018, one from each group would be a success. My top picks to see action are listed below: 

Borg's Commands & Colors (and derivatives)
Borg's series is one of my favorite "set 'em up quickly and finish in an hour" games.  The guys I often game with enjoy these series as well.  A game of C&C is rarely dismissed on game night and a quick pick-up game is never more than  a few minutes away.

Resch's 1914 Series including 1914 Offensive a outrance via VASSAL
I became interested in WWI via the Serbian front following my reading of an excellent history of the conflict and Dan Carlin's commendable series Blueprint for Armegeddon.  Picking up Serbien muss sterbien to help in following and studying the campaign, the game system intrigued me.  My initial thought was that even though the counter density of SmS was low, the system was of a complexity that I hesitated to tackle.  Luckily, a fellow blogger was also interested in the 1914 system and suggested we tackle the introductory scenario in 1914 Offensive a outrance and put the system to test.  Through this first scenario via VASSAL, we both are learning system basics.  After completing the intro scenario, we may decide to carry on to one of the regular scenarios.

Dalgliesh's Combat Infantry
I received a copy of CI as a Christmas gift from Scott.  This is the first block game from Columbia Games to hit my shelves.  Unfamiliar with these, I would enjoy giving this system a try in 2018. 

Essig's Operational Combat Series including Tunisia II
One of my favorite series from one of my favorite game designers of all time.  After a long hiatus from playing OCS, I brought Tunisia II out under the Plexiglas at the end of 2017.  Would enjoy relearning and honing my skills in these classic, WWII operational games.  Games via VASSAL or FtF are preferred but even solo study is a good alternative.

MMP's Advanced Squad Leader (ASL)
I recently bought a copy of ASL Start Kit #1 as a means to reintroduce myself to the old AH classic Squad Leader and its offspring ASL.

Critical Hits' Advanced Tobruk System (ATS)Another remake of one of my first wargames from the mid-1970s.  Would enjoy dabbling in this one as a comparison of design engines between ASL and ATS.

Bey's Jours de Gloire series including Fuentes de Onoro
This series of Vae Victis games has been in the collection for a number of years.  While I have pulled them off the shelf, set up a scenario or two and attempted to push a few counters, I have never gotten too far.  Perhaps 2018 is the year I make a more determined attempt?

For blog updates, the last three years have seen post frequency hanging onto the 140-150 annual publication rate. Averaging two-three posts per week is a rate that seems comfortable to maintain and will be the 2018 goal too.  
Expect wargaming topics to be broken up by my occasional ramblings on the cycling around the Palouse and travels around the world.

Besides writing blog posts, the photo gallery could use work.  The gallery for the 28mm Reconquista collection is horribly out of date.  To ensure photo consistency, I plan to rephotograph the whole collection.  While updating the Reconquista collection, I would like to add two new galleries to catalog the 28mm Peninsular War and Great Italian Wars collections.  All three of these tasks will take some effort to complete.

If half of these goals come to pass in 2018, I will be satisfied with the effort.  Regardless of outcome, the journey will be interesting and entertaining as always.  With so much on the plate for 2018, perhaps, this should be part of a three-year project plan?

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Meikraft Models Pfalz DIIIa

The variety of old, plastic 1/72nd WWI aircraft kits available via eBay surprises me.  Many kits are from the 1960s and 1970s and arrive still sealed in shrinkwrap.
One recent purchase was this mid-70s kit from Meikraft Models of a German Pfalz DIIIa.  Meikraft Models is a company unfamiliar to me from my youth.  At that time, Revell was about the only manufacturer I recall ever seeing in stores.  
This Meikraft kit, states that it was a short-run from the mid-70s and "Made for the serious modeler - Experience required."  That warning is appropriate since the kit comes out of the box in rough shape.  Flash, heavy flash, rough cuts, poor molding, and poor fit are all in abundance. 
The best surprises in the kit are the two decal sheets.  From these two decal sheets, a number of Pfalz DIII's can be adorned.  A really terrific variety of aircraft possibilities with these.  Getting these old decal sheets, alone, might provide justification for buying this kit.   
Even though the kit was a bit rough requiring extra work, the construction was straightforward.  After painting, application of decals, and some dirtying up, I think this kit will be a good addition to my growing German Jagdstaffel.  A neat kit and terrific decal sheets.

Monday, January 1, 2018

2017 Painting Log in Review

2017 ended with a whimper on the hobby front.  Rather than enjoying the week between Christmas and New Years' Day with a chance for a bit of R&R with friends and family, I was stricken by a nasty flu.  Still battling the effects of that terrible holiday bug as I write.  Planned games cancelled and painting sessions cut short as fatigue comes quickly.  Just enough energy to file away the 2017 Painting Log Review.  

A few completed units lay in wait at the workbench patiently awaiting their turn at the photo booth but in summary 2017 saw, 
  • Total Number of figures painted: 911 figures and 8 pieces of equipment
  • Total Number of Adjusted Painting Points: 4,334
While figure count was down from 2016 (1,105 vs 911), Adjusted Painting Points actually increased slightly (4,317 vs 4,334) over 2016.  That painting point count placed 2017 in the slot of fourth largest annual total since I began tracking such things more than twenty years ago.

Having ultimately made no formal declaration for project plans for 2017 at the beginning of the year, the following was mentioned in the 2016 Painting Log Review:
While neither the 1799 nor 1859 projects saw action on the gaming table in 2016 as planned, games in these two periods are very close to seeing fruition.  The 1800 and 1859 battles of Montebello are almost ready for playtesting.  The map for Montebello has been transferred onto the gaming table and OB and scenario details for the 1859 action are in the final stages.  Playtesting should begin by the end of January.
What lays ahead for 2017?  Well, in general, more gaming would be most welcome and a new project (Neo-Assyrians) will likely take center stage.  Those thoughts are for another post.  Until next time. 
Very handy when I failed to set a benchmark for accountability at year end. Given that these two paragraphs were all I mentioned as goals at the beginning of 2017, still, they provide insights into my thoughts on a few goals.  First, the two battles of Montebello saw a lot of action on the gaming table in 2017.  Actually, a lot of gaming activity took place in 2017 and easily exceeded two dozen games.  Likely the most gaming I have done in one year in a very, very long time.  Second, the Neo-Assyrian project mentioned as a start-up in last year's post, exploded in 2017 as will be confirmed in the following graphs.  Checking the Painting Log, 46 BMUs for the Assyrian Wars project crossed over the painting desk in 2017.  A tidy sum, that! 

As with past years' analytics, painting totals are presented in unadjusted (raw) figure counts as well as adjusted figure counts.  Adjusted counts consider figure size as a component while unadjusted simply tallies the number of painted figures produced.  Adjustments are made based on Analog Hobbies' Painting Challenge points system.

On an unadjusted basis of painted figures by era (Figure 1), the major effort (34% of total) was in the 25mm Assyrian Wars project.  With 46 BMUs finished, no surprise there.  The count of 308 painting figures does not include the work done to refurbish and base the nine Assyrian chariots.  Next, coming in at 127 figures (14% of total), the 25mm Great Italian Wars project took second billing followed by the 18mm 1799 project (90 figures; about 10%) and 25mm Reconquista (86 figures; 9.5%)
Figure 1
On an adjusted figure count basis (Figure 2), the percentages by project are transformed as the weighting of the 25/28mm projects (Assyrian Wars, Italian Wars, Reconquista) dampen the effects of the 18mm 1799 project.
Figure 2
Turning to disaggregating counts by scale (Figure 3), fully 75% of all painting production was recognized in the 25/28mm classification.  2017 was the year of 25/28mm figure for me.  Perhaps a better balance is needed in 2018?
Figure 3
On an adjusted basis, the 25/28mm classification dominance is even more pronounced.  Fully 85% of all production found itself in the larger scale projects.  
Figure 4
How does 2017 fit into the historical trends and tendencies over the life of my figure tracking?

On an unadjusted basis, painting trends show consistency in 2014 - 2017 periods with each hovering around 1,000 figures annually (Figure 5).  Had 2017 painting output been more balanced between 25/28mm and 15/18mm then 2017 would have seen very similar raw figure counts as 2014-2016.
Figure 5
Converting these counts to an adjusted basis by Year and Scale (Figure 6) shows that painting output in 2017 reached the fourth highest output since painting statistics have been tracked just edging out 2016.  Again, by painting a little most days, consistency remains in place and good gains can be realized.
Figure 6
Project diversity continued in 2017 as shown by the variety of differently colored bars in Figure 7.  Even given the 2017 focus on the Assyrian Wars project, fifteen different projects saw figures muster off from the painting desk.
Figure 7
On an adjusted basis, Figure 8 reconfirms that 2017 was a good year at the painting desk.  The graph also confirms that my painting production has found a very sustainable level of consistency over the last ten years. 
Figure 8
While my totals are not as monumental as some, the balance of about 900-1000 figures painted annually seems about right.  Given that no new projects are on the drawing board for 2018 and that I am slowly shifting towards an emphasis of more gaming, my 2018 goals on the painting front may be lowered.  That, however, is for another post when project planning for 2018 is considered.
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