Monday, June 5, 2023

One Hour Wargames: Machine-Age Modifications

Recently completed Italians - two of the bombers were already done, but the rest were added.

For the last couple of weeks, I've been play-testing various rules - homemade, modified, etc. for WWI on the Italian Front for larger level battles (where a base is something like one to two companies or a battalion). In the end, the most satisfying set of rules - not too fiddly, easy to remember, fast to play but not too fast, etc - has been the Machine-Age rules from One Hour Wargames - albeit with several modifications.

Some of these are my original ideas (or at least as far as I can recall), some are modifications borrowed from other sources - like Hordes in the Trenches, Trench Hammer, and "Rules for WWI Land Battles in 6mm" from The Games of War: A Treasury of Rules for Battles with Toy Soldiers, Ships and Planes.

Here are the mods I've tried and will keep:


  • Infantry: range 12" half-damage beyond 6"
  • Heavy Infantry: range 18" (to reflect the longer range of the attached MGs), half-damage beyond 9"
  • Field Guns: range 24". Actual range would be longer, but since they are direct fire, they have to have line of sight, which on my table, I limit to 24"
  • Assault Troops: range 6", half-damage beyond 3" 
  • Mounted cavalry : N/A

Assault Troops:

  • +2 in Close Combat
  • 9" movement. 
  • When in open ground, count as in cover (to account for the dispersed order compared to regular rifle units) 

Close Combat:

  • Ignore cover damage reduction except BUA. 
  • Double-damage from flank..
  • Target destroyed if from rear.
  • If the defender is not destroyed, units remain in contact.
  • If defender destroyed, Assault Troops automatically advance to take their position, regular units do not. If results in new contact, Assault Troops may engage new target.
  • Units may voluntarily withdraw from close combat, but take 1d3 damage doing so.


  • Provide cover for direct fire only.
  • Units must stop before crossing a trench.
  • No shooting along the length of a trench.
  • Units in a trench can see and shoot 360 degrees. 
  • Opposing units in same trench may engage in close combat but 1/2 damage due to narrow front and twists and turns of the trench.
  • Mounted cavalry may not enter a trench but may cross it.

Field guns:

  • May move until fired. At that point the gun may only pivot on it's center point.

Mounted Cavalry:

  • As cavalry from Rifle and Sabre rules.

On-call Off-table Artillery:<needs more testing>

  • May fire on an enemy unit greater than 1 move from friendly troops and within 24"of those troops. 
  • Limited to 8 uses.

Prepared Fire Off-Table Artillery :<needs more testing>

  • May fire on any spot on the table as designated prior to the game - including specified turns. 
  • All units within 3" of spot are hit. 
  • Limited to 8 turns maximum. 


This is based on my understanding of how it works in Hordes of the Things. I have no idea if it's accurate but I do like it.

  • Roll 1d6.
  • Number of pips is number of units that may activate.
  • An activated commander may issue commands (activate) to units within 1 move at no additional cost, but no unit may activate more than once per turn.

Commanders:<needs more testing> 

I really want commanders to have something to do that feels command-like, but not engage in combat directly themselves.

  • 9" movement
  • When activated, may either: 
    • Move (and attach to a friendly unit if makes contact) OR 
    • Issue orders to all units within 6"  (Move/CC or Shoot, does not need to be the same for each unit) OR
    • Rally a unit in base to base contact. Must start turn in contact.
      • Rally: roll 1d6 and unit regains that many hit points.
  • If the Commander issues orders to other units or rallies a unit,  roll 1d6. 
    • On a 1, an enemy sniper has managed to kill the commander. (this is taken from Trench Hammer).
  • A commander in base-to-base contact with a friendly unit may activate with the unit at no additional cost but must stay with that unit for this turn. Commander gives that unit a +1 bonus for shooting/CC. Commander suffers the fate of that unit if it is reduced to 0 hp while the commander is in contact.

Also of note, I used between 6-10 units per side, rather than just 6 per One Hour Wargames.

One thing missing from the above, that I want to incorporate to better capture the flavor of assault units, is a method for creeping barrages. I've tried a few options that I didn't like, but the following is next on my list and I think it has promise:  

Creeping Barrage - <not tested>

  • To place barrage requires spending one activation and then roll 1d6  On a 6, place a marker at the desired point.
  • Moves 6" automatically move marker forward each turn thereafter at no Activation cost. [Perhaps with a deviation based on the year? Earlier attempts would out pace the  assault troops, later attempts would move more consistently]
  • All units within 3" of marker are hit  

It could hardly be WWI without barbed wire or canvas eagles, but I haven't settled on anything yet for either.

Barbed Wire:

I have some ideas but not yet tested.

Air Support:


Tuesday, May 23, 2023

I am a man of extremes

In addition to my love for the 54mm figures, I also love the 6mm and under crowd (although I've never had anything more than a sample pack's worth).

I have been toying with the idea of an Imagi-nations campaign set in Italy in the 1790s, between two Italian states, perhaps with French, Austrian, Prussian, and other involvement. I have no Horse & Musket era forces and thought that theater/time period might be a fun one to start with.

However, I have little time and even less money to start a new project.

As a long time member of the punk scene, I have a predisposition to appreciating D.I.Y. approaches to just about everything (not surgery though!). Hair roller armies and granny grate armies have always appealed to me aesthetically, perhaps do to the D.I.Y. ethos that surrounds them.

Given recent austerity measures I put into place and the subsequent freeze on purchasing any new figures, it seemed like a good reason to try my hand at "granny grate" figures.(The granny grate was already on hand, and costs around a $1.00 USD so I'm not too put out to acquire more if need be)

Here is a test unit based on the Sardinians to prove the concept.

Obligatory close up of the chaotic/impressionistic paint job. Yes, I tried to paint the lace on their hats.

The base was scavenged - and had dried glue on it that messed with the paint's ability to cover in one coat and frankly I was excited and impatient to see the result. 

Perhaps it does the figures no good to be on a sloppy base, but I can see the potential.

A company? A battalion? All I know is that it's 36 "figures" and looks the part.

The Prussian blue paint is not untenable, but is a bit dark, even over a white base, and so an experiment with a lighter shade might be worthwhile. 

Although I based 36, I painted 48. Total time was something like 20 minutes including time for the paint to dry.

The greater effort is cutting the figures out.

I made an effort to remove a small v-shaped wedge between the figures to enhance the differentiation, but at a distance, it's arguably not noticeable. The other issue is the height of the head. 

I was doing this roughly without a ruler. I think in the future I'd aim for a specific height or the head section. It's a small thing (pun intended) but it might help to prevent excessive numbers of giraffe-necks or the appearance of someone with their shoulders hunched over their ears.

Again though, those issues are not really noticeable at gaming distance, but I know they are there!

Experimenting with cavalry and the "Van Pelt" cut is next.

Saturday, May 20, 2023

Shiny Happy People

Well, I don't know about "happy" but definitely shiny. 

The first three Res Publican soldiers have been completed - the painting has been done for a week or so, but I finally got around to sealing and glossing them.

I wanted a look that would be at home in the jungles of Venus but not out of place on an arid plain either. I think this works.

And maybe it's just me, but I get strong Mesoamerican vibes from this color scheme.

Just another 17 hastati and 10 triari to go!

I've been keeping an eye on eBay and boxes of cavarly for them as well, but that's a problem for future me.

Saturday, May 13, 2023

Training Camp Opens!

 The first of the Reikland Reavers have arrived at training camp for the coming season of Blitz Bowl!

Total paint time wasn't very long, but other things conspired to make it take two weeks to complete them.

I followed a YouTube tutorial, albeit with considerably less skill (and one paint I don't have). None the less, I am satisfied with the results, despite it being distinctly not-toy-soldier style. Though, I'd hardly call it realistic either. 

Numbers would be nice, but the box set doesn't include a decal sheet(though if you buy individual Blood Bowl team boxes to expand, they do) and I am not going to attempt hand painting them.

I see lots of things in closeup that bother me, but at gaming distance, they look good and it's easy to tell which positions they are. 

I have three more to assemble and paint, then onto the Skaven. I have a Nurgle Blood Bowl box as well (so I can field two teams of Nurgle if I feel so compelled), but I need paints for them that I don't have and money is tight to be buying Citadel paints right now (to put this in perspective, I spent more on paints for the Reavers and Skaven, than I did on the Blitz Bowl box).

As a reminder, for those unfamiliar with Blitz Bowl, it's the lower figure count / smaller pitch size / lighter ruleset version of Blood Bowl - just six figures per team and games play in 1-2 hours. 

Hoping to complete the Reavers over the next week or so.

Thursday, April 27, 2023

Res Publica Color Scheme Test

 I knocked this hastati figure out rather quickly, once I finally settled on a color for the flesh.


Fear not! This figure will be given a shiny gloss, once his two compatriots on the table are painted.

I ended up using Vallejo Bronze for the skin tone - making them literally "men of bronze". Whether the background fluff will have them as metal men or just a play of light off their skin (think sparkly vampires from Twilight), I'll decide later.

The shield is Ceramcoat Laguna Blue -I love this color and used it with my lizard folk marines. I wanted an excuse to use it again!

The feathers are Ceramcoat Tahit Blue with a little white mixed in. Unfortunately, I'm out of Americana Desert Sand which I had been using for basing. So, a very old bottle of Anita's Nubby Linen it is.

Of course, with skin of bronze, I had to decide on something else for the armor and silver seemed like a good "go to" for fantasy figures.

Monday, April 24, 2023

Somewhere in Europe a Week Later

After seven days recouping behind the lines, Sgt. Baker and the boys were itching for revenge against the Krauts for the death of Sarge. The battalion in the meantime had been suffering setbacks and needed intel about enemy positions near the hamlet of Pecorino. (Apparently, somewhere in Europe is Italy). A plan to counter-attack the Germans depended on it.

Baker didn't hesitate to volunteer his crew for the job.

Bolstered by a BAR that Pvt Hunter “found”, the squad set off on its mission in the pre-dawn hours.

A thick fog masked the American approach to the target.

As should have been expected, the fog lifted at an inopportune time and Pvt. Leupold found himself looking across a clearing at a German jr. NCO on patrol outside a ruined house on the edge of the hamlet.

Leupold's aim was true and the German non-com hit the ground. As the rest of the squad advanced, shots rang out from the trees to their right - a German rifleman had found himself in the tree line when Leupold had opened fire.

Two more Germans appeared in front of the squad - one fired from the relative safety of the ruined farm and the other came running from his post closer to the road.

Across the road another rifle opened fire from the safety of another building.

Leupold and Hunter poured fire on the Germans with great success. Forcing some to ground and leaving others mortally wounded.

Pvt. Punch rashly decided to charge the German soldier to the squad's right. He was vastly overconfident and was knocked out of the fight, taking a severe wound from the German's knife.

The firefight continued unabated, with the sides alternating who had the upper hand.

Eventually, however, with himself and a rifleman remaining, the German NCO ordered a retreat, but not before the rifleman wounded Pvt. Austin.

Following on the heels of the retreating Germans, the squad made a quick investigation of the outskirts of the hamlet and noted the complete lack of any prepared defensive works.

Carrying their wounded, the squad slowly retreated to make their report.

The scenario and campaign background was again generated by Five Men in Normandy, with the battle handled by One Hour Skirmish Wargames.

The game lasted 8 full turns -although three turns lasted but a card or two before a Joker came up and ended the turn. The game was probably 45 minutes, maybe?

At the end of turn 8, when I drew to find out the fate of the Germans who had been downed in that turn (in some cases for the second or third time), only one was able to rejoin the fight. So, when turn 9 started, I decided the NCO would order a retreat. 

After all, they need to report the patrol to their higher-ups.

Pvt Hunter was the last figure to be named. He had an M1 in the previous games but ising the campaign rules in Five Men, I diced to see if we could get a replacement BAR. I was going to ask for a replacement squad member, but replacement soldiers come only with a rifle.

Pvt Punch was taken out in close combat, which doesn't allow recovery during the game per One Hour Skirmish.

However, as it is a campaign, I draw again after the battle to check whether a figure that was removed during the game is dead or still alive. In this case, Punch drew a black card. That means he survived his wounds. 
On the one hand, I feel like he should be unavailable for a bit. On the other,  I don't really feel like tracking healing and all that, so I may just say he's a fast healer and return him to the line up. 

Oh and here's an overview of the entire table to give a better view of the layout:

As I only have two buildings left in my collection for 1:1 54mm WWII games, this was the best way I could think of to represent a built-up area. It certainly worked well enough for the narrative.

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Vassal Map Hack

As I am mired into inaction by my indecision over color schemes for Res Publica, my mind has turned to campaign ideas, for both Venus and WWI in Italy. The latter is the concern of this post.

There are two articles in the current issue of Lone Warrior (#222) that are in part responsible for this diversion, as well.

Although I very much want to use a map, for WWI,  hexes force me into a state of worrying about area, unit frontages, etc. Which is fine, but I'm trying to be a little more "toy soldiers"  and flexible about that sort of thing - units for example, are probably going to be two companies per battalion, two battalions per regiment, two regiments per brigade, etc.

But, like I said, I really want to use a map. 

Inspired by the articles in the aforementioned issue of Lone Warrior, I decided to create a point to point map

I didn't just want to randomly draw some points on paper, I wanted it to reflect actual places in Italy that were fought over.

One of the few remaining boardgames in my collection is Burning Mountains 1916, which covers that very topic. It has a lovely map and would make a good basis for a campaign. However, I have no intention of marking up the map.

Somewhere, and I cannot recall where (BoardgameGeek maybe?), I learned that if you rename a Vassal module to a .zip extension, you can treat it like any other compressed folder and you can extract the contents, including the map.

There is a module for Burning Mountains 1916, so I grabbed the file and pulled out the map. I then uploaded into Google Draw to add the nodes, which would be towns and forts, with connectors being the roads.

Here is the map with all towns circled and rectangles around the forts. 

The roads aren't so much drawn to follow the path as to cover the spirit of the connection, that's it. I also traced the rivers, because the next step would be get rid of the underlay.

Triangles are reinforcement entry points. Except for the black ones, which are mountains. That is the only entry point not connected to a road, so I added an overland route and wanted to make sure I remembered that it's a difficult route.

 Stripping away the underlying map results in this:

I changed the triangles to crosses, because I didn't like that I had used triangles for mountains, too. I will add labels for all of the forts eventually.

When I was done, I was quite pleased with the result. Except, my goodness, that's a lot of nodes. I decided it would be better to take a small section to use for working out campaign rules. 

Below is a segment of the map (from the left edge):

I took some license here with the lower right - just a single fort and a spawn point rather than the exact copy of the full map. I did this to allow for more at the campaign-level game, without getting too crazy.

The gray town and forts are starting positions for the Austrians. The green are the Italians. The latter have two entry points for reinforcements, again to add some interest to the campaign-level game.

I don't know when I'll get around to actually play testing my ideas - my plan was to start work on this much later in the year. It may have moved up a bit on the timetable though.