Friday, September 30, 2022

One Hour Wargames : Machine Age Experiment

Last night, I decided to do a little experiment using the One Hour Wargames "Machine Age" rules (well, my modification of them). 

Movement was randomized -1d6 in the open, 2d6 on roads or to charge into close combat.

After determining the force compositions, I doubled the number of infantry bases called for in the Infantry column of the table. Each one would count as a unit on its own - and as I think of them as companies, it gives me 1.5 to 2 battalions per side (I'm looking ahead to a map-based campaign and I'm trying to figure out what scale the battles will take place in).

For Heavy Infantry results, a single MG base was fielded, but attached to one of the Infantry bases (thus making a Heavy Infantry unit out of it).

Cohesion - companies in the same battalion, with the exception of those in reserve/off table at the start, must remain within 12" of every other company in the battalion. 

Assault Infantry (I replace the Cavalry column with Assault Infantry) get only 1 base, for a max of two companies. They receive +2 in close combat and ignore cover when close assaulting.

Artillery is all off-table and I determined target zones from which they could not deviate. Where the shells landed would depend on a die roll for a location in the zone - if a unit, enemy or friend was in the vicinity, it would be hit. Finally, artillery was limited to 2d6 rounds. 

As it turned out, I rolled a whopping "4" for the Austrians. For the Italians, I borrowed a technique from my solo role-playing days and rolled 2d6 vs the number already fired. As long as the number rolled was higher than the number already fired, the round arrived. Once the numbers were equal, the Italians would be out of artillery rounds.

 The scenario was "Take the High Ground".

The Italians started with two units entrenched on top of the hill.

My "trench" is more of a wall created from air-dry clay, but it has a certain "playing with toys" look, which I'm not unhappy about. The paint-work, hastily completed just before this game, is an attempt to create a look of grass topped by dug up ground, with sandbags at the top.

 As soon as the attack began, the Austrians suffered heavy losses from Italian MG fire.

In the distance, Italian reinforcements make their way to the battle.

With tenacity and courage, the Austrians managed to reach the trench and wipe out the Italian defenders. 

The Austrians are on old wooden "trays", and, of course, their magnets don't stick, so they slide off on the hill. The Italians are on metal "trays" and thus stick to theirs. I have to dig out the rest of the metal bases I have.

A determined Italian counter-attack eventually returned the trench, and the hill, to Italian hands.

Please pardon the sudden appearance of the A-H mg team. I forgot to put them on the table at the start of the game!

With 8 units on the table per side (plus an off-table artillery unit each) it still only lasted 10 turns and about 45 minutes!

On a grid, I think accepting 2-figure trays as a company is pretty easy. To my surprise, I like the four 2-figures-per-base battalions on the open table and I have no trouble picturing what they represent. When not using the trays, I think 2 figures acting as a company is harder to see (for me), and I prefer treating six to eight figure units as companies in that case. 

Again, this is just me trying out ideas as I consider a map based campaign.

Monday, September 19, 2022

Expansion Continues

Upon return home from my road trip (the subject of a future post), some additional acquisitions were waiting for me.

First up, four more Britain's Cossack figures - bringing my total for my "Great Game Gone Hot" Russians to eight. Of course, the Russian enclave on Venus has no doubt sent along some Cosscacks to deal with the Venusian inhabitants and to keep both the British and French in check.

 To my surprise, I won an eBay auction for them and managed to spend less than $50 USD shipped. The officer may have had their horse painted? It's very flat white. I don't really care - just noting for the purists out there.

They will make my Russians more mobile than my British, which will allow for some differentiation between two otherwise identically constructed forces. I really should look for some French cavalry.

Perhaps more importantly, to me at least, they put me within reach of being able to field the "Russia 1812" scenario  in Stuart Asquith's Guide to Solo Wargaming. I've done very little reading on the Napoleonic era, but what I did to was focused on 1812 and the attempted invasion of Russia. I have long wanted to do some sort of game around the French retreat.

Asquith's scenario is small (12 figures a side), and while I don't have 12 Cossack cavalry suggested, 8 is close enough. Eventually, I'll acquire some French, and finally scratch that itch perhaps. Perhaps I'll win another auction someday and reach the 12 Cossack cavalry suggested.

Additionally, two books I had ordered prior to departing arrived.

Unsurprisingly, they are titles to support my interest in the Italian Front in WWI. Both of these have been on my "want list"for several years, and while shopping for books for my trip, I found that they could be had for less than previously priced. Unfortunately, they would not arrive anytime close to my departure (indeed, they arrived just before my return).

I have only flipped through each at this point but both contain substantial numbers of photographs which are making it more possible for me to picture the fighting on that front.

Although part of the Images of War series, Sopwith Camels Over Italy 1917-1918, contains a good bit of text to support the many photos of pilots and their flying machines. There is very little in English on the air war over the Italian Front, so this is a valuable addition to my library for that alone. It also happens to line up with my interest in the wider War and justifies my acquisition of a Sopwith Camel for my planned British force for 1918 Italy. 

The First World War in the Alps has far more photos than I realized - many depicting life in the trenches as well as combat. With an unblinking eye, the horrors of war are on sometimes gruesome display within. And while I find it fascinating, the chapter on the recovery of an Austrian soldier, frozen and preserved in the ice many decades after the Great War ended, is a little too well-supported by pictures for my squeamish self.

So, while I'll probably hurry passed certain photos in the book, overall it's a welcome resource with images not contained in any of the other sources I have read.

Monday, September 5, 2022

News from the Southern Front!

 As I noted previously, the Italian MG team had jumped ahead in the queue.

The Italians have now completed phase 1!

Three Bersaglieri companies and one company of Arditi.

They are also a bit into phase 2 with the cavalry half-way finished. As an aside, I really need a better way to photograph an entire force at once. 

I am traveling this week and acquired some books for the trip, on theme for this post:

Morale and the Italian Army during the First World War is a well-researched, academic work that I am quite excited to read. The bibliography appears to point to mountains of future sources to read.

Counts and Commoners is fiction - about a Brit and an Austrian, fighting over the Italian Alps, written by a guy from Georgia, USA.  It has been on my radar awhile, as it gets decent reviews, but I've never pulled the trigger. The price was down to some 75% of the usual, so I snagged it. 

The author does appear to have done their homework at least as far as the planes are concerned. A quick flip through showed there are plane statistics and diagrams in the appendices. 

I had thought I would pick up Tunstall's The Austro-Hungarian Army and the First World War but the reviews are pretty dreadful. Which is a shame, as the Italian book in the same series has proven quite a worthwhile acquisition (so much so that, I replaced a copy I had let go of). I'm still on the lookout for something that covers the war from the Austro-Hungarian side of things, with at least equal focus on the Southern Front, if not entirely (Hell in the Trenches is great for this but is focused on assault troops) but that isn't out of my reach price-wise.

In any case, these books will accompany me on my trip so that even if I can't paint or game, I can still participate in my hobby,

Saturday, September 3, 2022

Bridgehead of Fantasy

The other night, I decided to play another round of Age of Fantasy and pit the medieval humans (Chivalrous Kingdoms) against the Tanitians (Dark Elves). For a scenario, I chose scenario #5: Bridgehead, from One Hour Wargames. 

The forces had around 800-850 points I believe.

Using OHW for the scenario setup required some adjustment - instead of using the turn arrivals, because AoF only has 4 turns in a game, I used each sides activations for unit arrival. This worked pretty well.

Victory for the scenario is that there is to be no enemy unit north of the bridge, but for AoF, which uses the conceit of objective markers, I put 4 markers down in the vicinity of "north of the bridge" that would effectively mimic the same thing.

The Chivalrous Kingdoms started the game with a 10-figure unit of foot knights, north of the bridge. 

This resulted in something of a log jam - which is not atypical even when using One Hour Wargames rules. Although the High Champion had "War Duty" which allowed him to command the foot knights to move towards the woods to their left (war duty allows him to command any unit within 12" to move 6" even if they have moved already), he himself was blocking everyone behind him.

The silver archers ended up in a crowd with less-than-ideal lines of sight.

End of Turn 1.
The Dark Elves/Tanitians concentrated their deployment on the flank behind the thick jungle. An unfortunate decision as this greatly hampered the advance of the infantry. The Abyssal Beast (elephant) arrived in a boulder field which hampered its movement as well.

Seeing the advance of the Black Guardians to the north flank of his foot knights, the High Champion charged into the fray. 

Unable to do anything resembling damage, the High Chamption braced for a terrible counterattack. Indeed, it was devastating - the High Champion, struck down. With the Dark Warriors still struggling through the tangled jungle, the foot knights turned to face their flank and crashed into the Black Guardians. Overwhelmed, the Guardians were wiped out to a warrior.

This left the Snake Lady to deal with the foot knights in the absence of "the lost battalion".

Her magic was strong and brought down many, but it was not enough. She too fell.

Meanwhile the mounted Realm Knights crossed the bridge to attempt to intercept the Abyssal Beast. 

This seemed like a good idea. Until it wasn't.

Run away!

Although the Dark Warriors finally clashed with the foot knights, neither was eliminated. Meanwhile the silver archers rained arrows from a nice safe distance, however ineffectively, at the Abyssal Beast, who lumbered about undisturbed. 

Both sides had lost their leaders and both sides were fairly well whittled down. Realizing there was nothing to gain and everything to lose, the sides broke off (end of the 4th turn)

Neither side met the OHW condition for victory. The Dark Elves controlled two objectives, one was contested at game end, and one was completely ignored by both sides because the random arrivals (per the scenario) had led to a lopsided deployment for the Dark Elves. 

So, at least in AoF terms, the Dark Elves/Tanitians won.

I have decided a final battle is needed to determine the overall winner, and so the lizards/Saurians will face the Tanitians/ Dark Elves in the near future.

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

World War I Updates

I completed the second machine gun and crew for the Austro-Hungarians (I use the German mg and crew from Irregular Miniatures, with gasmask heads because gasmasks look cool) and with that, phase 1 of my WWI armies, for Austro-Hungary at least, is complete.

We'll call this a battalion of three 6-figure companies with a stormtrooper company in front,

I haven't decided if I'm keeping the Green Tea base color or not, hence the plain wood rounds.

Now obviously, when someone says something like "Phase 1"that implies a "Phase 2". Indeed, that is the case here. 

Of course, these phases, so-called, were derived after the fact, thus the labels are being retroactively applied.

Phase 1: 

  • 18 infantry figures
  •  6 assault troops
  •  1 leader
  •  2 machine guns with crews. 

The Italian gun and crew are in the queue and have jumped to the front:

Irregular Miniatures British HMG and crew, with Adrian helmeted heads from their Empire  Multi-parts range,

Phase 2:

For both sides: 

  • 6 additional infantry figures (giving me 4 companies for my battalion, when using 6-figure units),
  • 1 airplane

For the Italians: 

  • 2 additional cavalry figures 
  • 6 Alpini figures
Phase 3:
  • 12 Germans
  • 12 British 
  • 1 German MG
  • 1 British MG

"Now, hold on there, Jethro!", I hear you say.  "What's this about an airplane?" 

Well, I acquired a print copy of Contemptible Little Armies and I really like the way air support is included on the table. Before I could say "contact!", I had a 1/48 scale model whizzing through the mail to me:

The search for a suitable (i.e. cheap and not difficult to assemble) kit for Austro-Hungary continues. 

I haven't built a model plane in nearly 40 years. I'm a bit nervous about the painting. And I've always hated applying decals(I always tore them accidentally). The 1/48 scale should hopefully be easier for my all-thumbs-itude and my sketchy vision to deal with, at least.

Finally, also World War I, but on the weird side, I have assembled my 1/35 ICM French

They remind me of game pieces in this grey state.

Let me be clear, I love these figures. The poses are fantastic, the sculpting is crisp, and the figures very clean with no flash and minimal, easily removed, mold lines. HOWEVER, I doubt they will last more than a game or two, if they survive painting. 

Apparently, the difference between 1/35 and 1/32 is that in 1/35, bayonets are skinny little needles that break when you look at them wrong (both of those pictured are glued together somewhere in the middle of their length as a result). That the bolts on the rifles were a separate piece to be attached with glue defies all logic that I can muster.

At least I somehow managed to glue the bi-pod on the LMG the right way.

As I said, this is a Weird World War I project (and ICM is helping by suddenly releaseing a bunch of sets of figures in the attempts at armor made during the war). Weird means there needs to be something, well, weird. First up:

This is in-progress. I have yet to decide on how I'll finish i off

This is a hook horror from CP Models. It is intended as a larger than human-sized 28mm figure. But, I wrote to the proprietor and found out just how big.

I think it fits quite well with the 1/35 figures. It doesn't look bad next to my 1/32 HaT Spanish Infantry either (which are undersized). 

Painting for the entire Weird War I project is intended to be grittier than my usual glossy toy-soldiers to convey the weird aspect in visual form.

Oh and one last thing, I recently learned of Never Going Home, a WWWI RPG. Savage Worlds has its own Weird World War I books, which I will acquire eventually, but I managed to score the entire Never Going Home PDF collection via a Humble Bundle deal. Highly recommend if just for the evocative artwork!

Monday, August 29, 2022

More Age of Fantasy

After assembling three 705-ish points army lists for Age of Fantasy, I set up a table and then drew two of the armies to participate. The result was a rematch of lizard warriors against medieval humans, or Saurians vs Chivalrous Kingdoms, in the parlance of the rules.

The armies would fight over a pass with four objective markers scattered about. Deployment was determined by die roll.

Activation in Age of Fantasy is by unit, and alternates between the sides. To make this more challenging as a solo venture, I assigned each unit to a card and each side had it's own deck. On that side's turn, they drew a card to determine which unit would activate. Thus sometimes, the order of units was not ideal, or rather did not meet my plans, and thus forced some changes to my thinking, which was the point after all.

Games are limited to four turns, which doesn't sound like much, but given movement rates and devastating combat effects, it seems to be more than adequate to determine a winner.

By way of example, the human archers were quickly cut down by the triceratops (the onboard crew did not even attack - as you can either shoot or melee and they are shooters. So it was all dinosaur stompin' time).

In the middle, the scrum lasted a touch longer, with the marine iguanas holding out against the foot knights for two turns.

The mounted knights charged the geckos and it went about as well as could be expected for the tiny lizard warriors.

That fellow in the lower right has the right idea.

 However, they passed their morale check and the survivors hung on.

For their part, the knight's victory was short lived. The lizard shaman (using the Frog-Mage stats) has some seriously powerful spells - and wiped out the entire unit with ONE spell!

On turn three, the Chivalrous Kingdoms, who had been quite aggressive to this point, found themselves consolidated into a rather thin line.

The High Champion, who must have truly been high, decided to make a bold move.

The results were predictable. In my defense, I didn't realize he only had a Tough trait of 3. I thought it was comparable to the same trait for the Triceratops. It was not - the triceratops has a Tough of 12.

Barely inconvenienced by the stupidly brave man on a horse, the triceratops and crew turned their attention to the human archers.

This pair began to seriously reconsider their life choices.

A similar miscalculation on my part with respect to hero hit points occurred in favor of the humans, when I failed to realize the lizard shaman only had three. However I also screwed up the way close combat works when attacking a single figure. I could not find anything in the rules, so assumed it was like so many other rules sets and allowed only three attackers. 

Later this was clarified for me in a Facebook group (oddly enough, I'm one of the admin) - the rules apply exactly the same. So potentially many more of the attackers could have been involved.

You might argue that the shaman survived the attack as a result. However, they have an insanely good quality of 2, so it's very hard to cause them any damage at all. 

In any case, it wouldn't have changed anything. The Chivalrous Kingdoms were down to this one unit of knights.

Here is the overview at the end of turn 4.

The lizards controlled two objectives, the Chivalrous Kingdoms had one, and one was contested at the end of the game. The humans had lost all but one unit of foot knights, compared to the loss of but one entire unit by the lizards.

A lizard victory. Not a bad accounting for the shaman's first outing.

Friday, August 19, 2022

The Gathering Storm

Two French scouts stop at the edge of clearing. 

"Mon dieu! Regarde! là-bas!"  ("Look! Over there!")

Small blue-orange lizard warriors enter into the clearing.

Followed by their larger cousins of the marine tribes that inhabit the many coastal shoals of the Venusian continents.

A terrifying toothy jaw of a Spinosaurus led by a diminutive beast master from the inland deserts came next.

Soon, the very ground trembled accompanied by the beating of a drum echoing through the jungle.

Crashing of timber heralds the arrival of one of the formidable Tritceratops battle platforms.

The gathered warriors hiss and chant. There is an undeniable energy in the crowd as they gather at the base of an outcropping.

Two more lizard warriors, Saurion champions, emerge to the riotous cheers of the throng.

Beating spears, feet, and tails against the ground, they are on the verge of frenzy.

Suddenly there is a bone shaking roar. A great and terrifying visage bursts forth atop the outcrop. A second roar and the crowd is silenced.

From the shadow of the great beast steps the very reason for this gathering: the Shaman who has gathered the vast and varied tribes of lizard folk together to resist the men of Earth and the men of Venus.

His words, though incomprehensible to the Frenchmen hiding and fearing in the jungle, needs no translation: there will be no peace on Venus for mankind.


As you have no doubt surmised, I finished painting the last originally planned figure for my lizard warriors: the lizard shaman. I say originally planned" because I came up with an army list for Fistful of Lead : Bigger Battles and this is that list. 

However, I already have ideas for expansion in part thanks to Age of Fantasy, in part because I have some extra figures (I have a lot of Wargames Atlantic lizards - the "beast master" above). I plan to put them on the howdah, and pick up 3 more Dark Heaven figures (the red/orange figures) to make a unit of 10 of those.

In any case, here are some glamour shots of the shaman.

OH, if you're getting Spider-Man vibes, good. His color scheme is based on the Mwanza flat-headed rock agama. Which, as you might guess, is nick-named "the Spider-Man lizard".

Unusually for me, I did some dry brushing, a bit of washing, and some highlighting. The figure had way too much detail to just go solid uniform color. He's also not glossy - instead I relied on Mod Podge to provide a mild sheen.

I suspect the gloss would look odd on a figure with this much detail.

The figure is from Iron Wind Metals from their Spellcasters game. It is a 54mm figure - all of the figures in the range are. I believe they are old Ral Partha sculpts, but don't quote me on that.