Monday, June 4, 2012

Black Powder: French vs Russians

A week ago Saturday, I was able to get in a game of Black Powder at David's house. As usual, since I do not have any Napoleonic figures to speak of, we used his figures and terrain.

In the scenario, French and Russian forces were to meet and fight over a small town's water supply. Dave won initiative and began to march his French brigades on the field of battle:
David rolled really well for his activations, and was able to advance his infantry about 3/4 of the way across the table. In addition, his cavalry was able to move past the disputed town:
I rolled poorly (VERY VERY poorly) for my activations, and was barely able to get a couple of units on the field (we were deploying from off the table). Threatened by David's cavalry's quick advance, I ordered my units into squares to repel the horsemen:
Meanwhile, David had split off some light cavalry to occupy the town:
David rolled well for activations again, and was able to advance his infantry against my infantry. My troops were still in squares because of the threatening cavalry, and were caught in the wrong formation for taking on other infantry:
Though I took some casualties, the squares held, and I was able to bring on some additional infantry support on the next turn, rolling just well enough to advance and form a line of infantry:
David's cavalry, which had been dissuaded from charging my infantry, had no qualms about charging my much smaller cavalry unit. Knowing the end result would probably go against me, I nevertheless counter-charged!
While the cavalry units engaged, David continued to advance his infantry and some supporting artillery to face the Russian line:
In the town, David's cavalry unit dismounted, and held one end of the bridge that bisected the settlement:
I was bringing a column of infantry into the town from the opposite end, but they took a while to get where I needed them, especially because of my dice rolling problems. (Have I mentioned I was rolling poorly?)

Where the main thrust of the battle was taking place, I wheeled some of my infantry and fired into the flanks of David's troops:
Things were looking decent for me at the time, until David's cavalry, having seen off my own horse units, charged into the flank of my line. Formed into line as they were, since they were facing infantry, the cavalry charge proved decisive:
My units began to break, and my once well-formed line dissolved into individual units with gaps between them where the broken units had once stood (Cowards!):
But all was not lost! In the town, my plodding infantry finally came to grips with the small unit of horsemen holding the bridge:
After several rounds of a vicious melee, my Russian infantry finally chased off the pesky cavaliers, and occupied the town:
At the game's end, the Russians held a strong defensive position in the town, but the bulk of David's forces, having totally scattered their foes, was approaching and a fierce battle loomed:
Alas, time had run out. We called the game a pyrrhic victory for the Russians. Technically, I did hold the objective, which David had overlooked in his zealous attempt to smash my forces. But I can't argue with the fact that everywhere else on the field, my troops had taken a thrashing at the hands of the French!

David and Stephen finished the game the next day. I was unable to attend, but here's David's description of the outcome:

"The Russians continued to hold as the remnants of the defeated  Russian brigade returned to the battlefield along with a reconstituted brigade of 2 cavalry regiments with horse artillery - this was just enough to hold off the renewed French attack as the French Polish brigade was forced into square and one disordered square finally broke as the Hussar cavalry assaulting it retired after a simultaneous break test. Fresh French reinforcements of 5 battalions made no headway in attempting to break into the village from the south eastern corner. French forces will have seek fresh water further downstream. The French cavalry Polish Horse artillery battery was crushed after 3 rounds of melee as the artillery vainly struggled to hold on to the battery."

So, another game of Black Powder under my belt.I must say, they are very different rules to what I am used to, since I am not a Napoleonic gamer. There are things about the rules that I like, and others that cause my grief. I think perhaps some of my difficulties stem from the fact that I am not familiar with Napoleonic strategy and that definitely has an impact on how I play the game. I am keeping an open mind, however, and want to get in a couple more games before I make up my mind about the rules. Of course, I will report back here and tell you all about it.

'Til next time!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Black Powder AWI Battle Report

After months of conflicting schedules and just general busyness, I was finally able to get to my friend David's house last weekend for a bit of wargaming. He invited another gamer, his neighbor Stephen, and we enjoyed a day of Black Power action, recreating a British raid on a colonial stronghold during the Revolutionary War.

When we arrived, we found that David had already set up the field of battle, and prepared the forces. Stephen and I would command the British troops, and a band of privateers, while David led the colonial rebels.

On the left flank, Stephen was in charge of the privateers, accompanied by some Royal Marines. They would assault the rebel fort. On the right, Stephen led a column of infantry, while I commanded another column of infantry and a small detachment of cavalry. Stephen had played using Warlord Games' Black Powder rules before, so we let him control the bulk of the British forces, while I concentrated on learning the rules.

Here you see the peaceful village, unaware of the destruction that is about to visit them.
 The British forces begin the advance along the right flank.
An overview of the field. The privateers and marines are at the top, assaulting the fortress. The advancing infantry and cavalry are at the bottom.
In the middle of the field, some hearty militiamen wait for the inevitable...
After burning the first home (which unfortunately turned out to belong to a local royalist... ooops!) the cavalry advance on the next homestead.
Some natives gather and concentrate behind the woods, waiting for the moment to strike.
Meanwhile the cavalry torches another home, this one at last belonging to a rebel. But the forces of independence have a small unit attempt a counterattack.
In the center, the British forces finally arrive at the wall. Natives wait in the cornfield as the militia prepares to receive the attack.
To the north, the Royal Marines have made landfall, but find their way across the bridge blocked by a ragtag unit of rebels.
Meanwhile, the privateers (really no more than a bunch of pirates) assault the fortress.
The natives must be driven from the woods - whatever the cost.
The British are charging in multiple locations as once, as the center column makes contact with the rebels - driving them off!
On the bridge, however, the marines are driven back. Cowards!
This overview of the right flank shows the successes of the British advance. Three houses are burning (though only one belonged to a rebel... someone is sure to file a complaint!), the natives are close to being defeated in the woods, and the left column has beaten back the militia, taking a solid defensive position along a road.
One unit of rebels rolls a blunder...
... which moves it into the perfect location to be charged in the rear by the cavalry and destroyed!
By the time we had to stop play, the right side of the board was solidly in control of the British, with four houses burning (50% of them rebel) and the American colonials in retreat.
All in all, it was a very enjoyable game. I like the way the Black Powder rules flow. I will need more practice with them to feel fully comfortable, but it was a good first game for me. David did a great job of hosting and teaching the rules, and it was good to have Stephen on my side to keep David honest. :)

I don't see myself getting into Napoleonics and large scale horse and musket gaming in a big way, but I am looking forward to some more Black Power at David's in the near future.

'Til next time.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Gruntz Transports from Matchbox Trucks

Well, it's been a bit since I was able to post. Real-life family issues have kept me occupied, but hopefully things have settled down now enough for me to get some more hobby and modelling projects finished.

Last week I was able to finish up a couple more GZG Colonial Legionnaire squads for 15mm science fiction gaming, particularly Gruntz.

Painting up the squads was pretty straightforward, I used the same color scheme I used for the earlier troops. The only difference is these guys had helmets. I must say I prefer the legionnaires with the kepis, and will be getting more of those to flesh out my units.

In my eternal search for cheap gaming models, I came across a Matchbox truck that looked promising. It's their version on an International CXT, which is apparently the largest pick up truck in the world.
It looked to be about the right size, and at 98 cents it was worth taking a chance.  Once I got it home I checked it with some 15mm GZG UNSC Marines.

It looked okay, but I wanted to check the actual dimensions. I measured it and compare it with the real truck. The Matchbox is a little oversized, but well within what I'd consider reasonable tolerances.

International CXT Actual and Scale Dimensions

Actual1/100 ScaleMatchbox Model
Length21.5 feet (6.6 m) 2.58 in2.8125 in
Width101 inches (2.6 m) 1.01 in1.125 in
Height9 feet (2.7 m) 1.08 in1.1875 in.

The next day I picked up a few more, and began the conversion process. I began by disassembling the truck into its component parts. This required drilling away the rivets that hold it together, but was pretty straightforward.

I wanted to enclose the truck bed. The model comes with a covered bed, so rather than cut through the metal, I just added another surface and some side panels from styrene. Yes, technically not realistic, but otherwise it would mean a lot more cutting and filing than I wanted to deal with. It's a compromise, but one I can live with.
I made two open-bed trucks, and a third with supports that can hold a canvas canopy.
One other change I made was to cut the window out of the back of the plastic insert that represents the glass. On the left is an unmodified window insert, and the truck on the right has the rear window section removed.
The reason why I did this, is that without the rear window, I can fit two troops on penny bases in the bed of the truck.
Here you can see one of the converted and primed trucks, beside an unmodified one.
I spray painted a sand basecoat on the trucks, then added some rust, a little brownish wash, and a light drybrush. I also masked off where the wipers would clean the windscreen, and then dirtied up the glass. Also, I added a drop of glue to the wheels to lock them. Otherwise, when placing the trucks on a slope or incline, they'd roll right off!

The end result, sitting beside the regular, unmodified truck:
Here is my current fleet of three. The only thing I may still do is add a canvas cover to the truck with the cover frame.
And finally the transports with their accompanying squads:
I must say, I really enjoyed making these. First, the price was certainly about as good as it could get. $3 for the fleet. And I really do like the look of them, if I do say so myself. They are generic enough that they could almost pass for anything from a vintage truck, to a modern truck, to a near future sci-fi or post apocalyptic setting. I have one unmodified truck left, and I am not sure whether to convert it into a vehicle for a post-apocalyptic warband, or maybe a command truck for my Gruntz force. When I decide, I will certainly post it here.

'Til next time.

Monday, March 5, 2012

First Painted Figs of 2012!

Well, this weekend I decided that I would do some painting - no matter what. I am still not 100% organized in my basement work area, but I had not painted any figures yet in 2012 and it was time to remedy the situation. And since on Friday night the tornado sirens went off in my county and we had to be in the basement anyway... well, what could be better than taking my mind off the possible danger by painting up a squad of 15mm FSE Colonial Legionnaires from Ground Zero Games for Gruntz!

First I prepped the figures, cleaning them up and basing them on pennies. For the Dragoon halftrack from Old Crow, I added magnets for the turret to hold it in place, while allowing full movement.

I primed them black, then gave them a basecoat spray of "sand." I added a little flesh on the faces and hands, then I used a lighter sandy color on the body armor, and a darker brown on the boots. A quick wash, and we're done! The joys of 15mm - at least the way I paint them - is that there's no need to stress over every little detail. Just get the basic colors where you want them and you're good to go.

And here's the completed squad and transport - and ready for Miniature Monday to boot. On the halftrack I painted some stripes in brownish yellow, then drybrushed a lighter shade over the whole thing. Pretty quick and simple, but I am very pleased with the results. My first fully painted figures of 2012! (I have to admit I think I may have already surpassed my 2011 total...)

I thought I'd write a few words about the Ground Zero Games 15mm figures. Overall I really liked the legionnaires alot, enough that I am going to make them the mainstay of my 15mm force. As you can see on the images below, there is some flash that needs to be cleaned up, primarily between the legs and under the arms. The one thing I was not terribly pleased with were the faces. Especially in the case of the bare-headed squad leader, the face was a fairly shapeless blob. Fortunately, at this small scale I do not think it makes a huge difference, but I have seen other 15mm figures with crisper detail.

And for your patience in following this post to the end - a teaser of my next several projects on my workspace. I have some more GZG 15mm figures to add to my Gruntz force - this time it's FSE Legionnaires with helmets, UNSC hardsuit marines, and "sci-fi Egyptians with Jackal-head helmets" (also known as Horus Jaffa from Stargate!). Plus, I found a toy car, in a drugstore of all places, that I simply had to have - a 1955 Chevy Nomad! It is slightly oversized for 28mm, but after I get done converting it I don't think it will be that noticeable. It will become the main ride for one of my "road warden" bands for a post-apocalyptic setting I am still working on. More details to come as I move forward with that project.

'Til next time!