Thursday, December 31, 2009

Age of Dreadnoughts

I've finally pushed my World War I naval project back to the fore. Over the holidays, I pulled out the GHQ ships I purchased months ago and finished up the painting, basing and labeling. Michael and I have taken the opportunity to play a couple of games with the collection. We're using Age of Dreadnoughts from Mongoose Publishing, itself a variation of Victory at Sea. While not the most detailed set of naval rules out there, and with no particularly innovative rule mechanisms, AoD gives a fun game that presents enough tactical challenge to make this aging brain work (but not too hard). Why WWI naval? There's something about these "castles of steel" (as Winston Churchill described them) that evokes some sort of odd romanticism in me. From a gaming perspective, I like to describe it (facetiously) as Napoleonic naval gaming with coal-powered ships and longer ranges. Fire control, ranging, and sighting were still relatively rudimentary, forcing gunnery officers, more often than not, to plot their firing by shell-splashes! Ships operated in squadrons that tended to remain in close formation to maximise firepower and command control. Orders were transmitted by flag signal and signal lamp (wireless sets were fitted in most ships but were used for strategic control rather than tactical direction).

I've based my collection on the order of battle from the Battle of Jutland in 1917. While I don't plan to ever have both fleets entire for the battle (yeah, I say that now), modelling historical OBs gives a certain feeling of order and continuity missing from my Napoleonic collection. Here's my collection so far (all in the glorious detail of GHQ 1/2400):

Grand Fleet

2nd Battle Squadron
  • HMS King George V (BB)
  • HMS Ajax (BB)
  • HMS Centurion (BB)
  • HMS Erin (BB)

3rd Battlecruiser Squadron
  • HMS Invincible (CB)
  • HMS Inflexible (CB)
  • HMS Indomitable (CB)

1st Destroyer Flotilla
  • HMS Galatea (CL)
  • 8 x destroyers
HMS King George V. The bases are magnetic and custom-cut by Litko.

1st Destroyer Flotilla, led by HMS Galatea.


III Battle Squadron/5th Division
  • SMS Konig (BB)
  • SMS Grosser Kurfurst (BB)
  • SMS Kronprinz (BB)

II Battle Squadron/4th Division
  • SMS Hannover (BB)
  • SMS Schlesien (BB)
  • SMS Schleswig-Holstein (BB)

II Scouting Group
  • SMS Elbing (CL)
  • SMS Pillau (CL)
  • SMS Wiesbaden (CL)

VI Torpedo-Boat Flotilla
  • 8 x torpedo-boats
II Battle Squadron/4th Division. These are pre-dreadnoughts of the Deutschland class. By the time of Jutland, these ships were antiquated at best but remained in the main battle line. They are hampered by short-range main armament but enjoy plentiful secondaries. At long ranges they are severely vulnerable to the British guns but if they can get in close their superior secondary armament and host of torpedoes (fore, aft, port and starboard launchers!) can cause some serious problems for the Brits. To make matters worse, they have the 'poor sub division" trait in the rules which doubles any flooding or torpedo damage. Ouch!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Western Irony!

A few years ago I built some buildings for Daniel's 28mm Western Gunfight collection. You can see the small Western town we created in the photo below.

It's only been the last few months when Daniel has taken a renewed interest in this project. When I visited him and his brother at Royal Military College a few weeks before Christmas, we played a small Western game. You can see some pictures here. While there, Daniel showed me a new building he had been working on, a massive hotel! When he arrived home for the Christmas break, he brought the finished item with him. This is an amazing piece of work, as can be attested from the photos below.

Daniel's hotel, measuring about 15" x 12", and perhaps 8" high.

Although it's hard to see, there is a notice beside the main door advising cowboys to leave their sidearms at the bar!

The gun shop attached to the hotel...and yes, that is a 6 foot wooden Indian out front! The sign is handpainted, with the stitching included to model three canvas sheets added together and hung by ropes.

The rear of the hotel. The clapboard siding is made from individually laid boards (as is the fence). The log gun-shop is made from real bark!

A view of the interior of the second floor. The walls are papered and the floor boards are individually laid. The entire floor pulls out to reveal a fully furnished main floor.

Now here's the irony. Walking into Daniel's room at RMC and seeing his hotel was a bit of a shock since I had bought the Old Glory hotel at Fall In! and was in the process of assembling and painting it as a Christmas gift. His town would now have two hotels! It was gratifying to see his happy face on Christmas morning as he opened the box with the hotel.

This hotel is almost as large as the one Daniel scratch-built (and the two bear a striking resemblance in plan and form, even though there was no cross-pollination). Although I didn't have the same fiddly work as Daniel had with his creation, this model presented some challenges. The second floor detaches as an entire piece as does the main roof and the roof on the side shed. In order to make the second floor piece fit snugly into the corner created by the covered veranda took some creative finagling. The resin casting itself was rather crude in places and required some extensive carving and sanding to make things fit and look "right."

The barrels and various crates scattered about the base are 1/35 scale items borrowed from some Force of Valor WWII sets.

The rear yard is scratch-built from balsa and various pieces of scrap plastic and resin.

As an added bonus, I also finished up another smaller building for his collection, this time a hardware store. Both this and the hotel are made of resin, and the hardware store in particular required little fiddly work (unlike the hotel).

I find the posters really finish off these models. These are from Gary Chalk's excellent article in Wargames Illustrated.

Daniel's 10-year old sister, Diana, also got into the act. She decided to paint up some tipis for Daniel's collection as a Xmas present. We did some internet research and Diana picked the colours to conform to our idea of a historically-correct Hollywood western movie set (yes, that is an oxymoron, I'm sure).

These are "soft" resin models from Old Glory and take the paint quite well. Diana did all the painting on these and I finished off the groundwork. Now, if I could only get her to paint horses for me...

When we get all the buildings together for a game later next week (hopefully), I'll take some pictures of the entire town!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

1813 Campaign: Battle of Braunschweig

We played the latest battle in our 1813 Campaign this last weekend, this time between the Army of the North (Russians) and Le Grande Armee (nord). The strategic situation has changed considerably since the beginning of the campaign (as is expected, of course). The French have made considerable gains in the south, taking the Base of Operations of the Army of Bohemia at Prague in Turn 9. In the north, the Army of the North under Bennigsen has been slowly but steadily pushing back the French northern wing, commanded by Marechal Ney, centered on Erfurt. Looking on the map below, you can see the original starting positions of the armies on the bright green lines and the current positions along the yellow lines (note: these are generalized positions).

Farthest north, a Russian force under General-Leutnant Osten-Sacken has been pushing against an isolated French force under General de Division Sebastiani, commander of 2e Corps d'Armee. Osten-Sacken was finally able to bring Sebastiani to battle at Braunschweig. First up, the order of battle:

Army of the North
CinC: General-Leutnant Osten-Sacken

IX Corps
  • 15th Divsion (infantry)
  • 9th Division (infantry)

XI Corps
  • 10th Division
  • 16th Division

I Cavalry Corps
  • 1st Division (dragoons)
  • 2nd Division (hussars)

Le Grande Armee (nord)
CinC: General de Division Sebastiani

2e Corps d'Armee
  • 10e Division (infantry)
  • cavalerie (light cavalry)

Division Lefol (infantry/cavalry: division de marche)

Garrison (infantry)

Battle of Braunschweig: First Phase

The French commander elected to try and hold the high ground in the center of the field with the garrison troops while threatening the Russian right flank from the village on the opposite bank of the river. While the French command was superior in quality to the Russians, the troops were another matter. Sebastiani's divisions had been beaten before and, to make matters worse, were out of supply. The previous defeats and the supply situation produced a number of "down" modifiers when calculating the unit characteristics. Conversely, the Russians had received a number of "up" modifiers. The Russian plan was fairly simple: pinning the French light cavalry while assaulting the high-ground position in the center. The Russian attack developed quickly and the French annoyance on the opposite river bank proved nothing more than a mere itch that needed a quick scratch.

A view along the Russian lines (figures from the collection of Steve Thomson).

Battle of Braunschweig: Second Phase

The French cavalry was quickly routed from the field and the garrison troops in the center overwhelmed by numbers and combined arms. The French division on the opposite bank quickly turned and moved back out of harm's way when it saw the tide of battle fast approaching.

In this Decisive Victory, the French lose 35 National Will Points and the Russians gain 3 NWPs. The French divisions will receive a"downgrade 2 units" modifier and another "downgrade 2 units" modifier for the pursuit (the available Russian cavalry outnumbered the French cavalry by more than 2:1). All the Russian divisions receive an "upgrade 2 units" modifier. The French must retreat to either Hanover or Gottingen.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Carlist Wars: British Auxiliary Legion

I have plans to add a few battalions of the British Auxiliary Legion to my 28mm Carlist Wars project but these are a fair distance down the priority list. Fortunately, my son Daniel was looking for a something to paint and decided to take a crack at the command figures. The results you can see below. I haven't finished the basing on these but couldn't wait to post the pics. I'd like to say that I taught him all he knows but he's far outstripped his teacher! Hopefully they'll give me some incentive to get going on the infantry, and maybe some lancers as well (as soon as I order them). You can see the lancers here on the Perry Miniatures site.

Mounted officer. A fine job on the shading of the horse colours.

Aide to the commander. Daniel's recreated a map with some nice detail.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

French & Indian War w/Sharp Practice

I was able to play a fun game of Sharp Practice (from Too Fat Lardies) on Friday night with Steve Thomson and his very nice 28mm French & Indian Wars collection. As an introduction to the rules for Steve, we decided to keep the scenario simple: a small Indian village with a group of Indians "at home" attacked by a Colonial force of rangers and colonial regulars under the command of George Washington (the pictures of whom unfortunately did not come out well); to the rescue come another group of Indians and some French regulars. But the scenario was actually rather secondary to just learning the rules. With that in mind, some pictures below with little in the way of an After Action Report:

Indians holding the village. All the figures and buildings are from Steve's collection. The figures, I believe, are from Conquest Miniatures. Behind the one long house you can see a "Blind." These are hidden units (or dummies) as yet not spotted by the enemy. Steve has made up some very nice textured bases with counters marked with ID numbers and national colours.

An Indian war party working its way along a stream bed hoping to outflank the colonial regulars (sneaky Heathens!).

The same war party debouching from the woods and engaging the colonials in Fisticuffs!

A colonial Ranger group led by the intrepid Major Rogers (leading from the rear).

Sharp Practice is a card-driven system that focuses on the actions and initiative of the Big Men in a battle, those men who, while not necessarily heroes in the normal sense of the word, influence the nitty-gritty happenings in combat. Each turn involves the turning of a deck of cards that essentially is directed at the abilities and actions of these Big Men. If the "Tiffin" card (or Tea Break) is flipped, the turn is over and the deck is reshuffled, regardless of whether some Big Men have been activated or not. While this adds a certain tension to a turn, (which I like), not knowing if any or all of your plans can be carried out, it can at times become overly restrictive (interesting coming from a Piquet-ophile). I think next time we'll use an optional second Tiffin card in the deck. In this version, the turn ends on the appearance of the second Tiffin card. Still some tension, but fewer turns ending on the first or second card flipped. Otherwise, the system is great fun and has a number of possibilities for conversion to other periods and genres. I'm sure I heard Steve musing about using SP for his 28mm modern collection!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Gaming at Royal Military College

I had the pleasure to host a War of 1812 game at Royal Military College in Kingston, Ontario this past weekend. Actually, I should say "attempt to host" but more of that in a moment. My sons, Michael and Daniel, both students at RMC, had asked me up to the campus to put on a game with my 28mm War of 1812 collection for them and some of their fellow students. I dutifully trooped along the 401 to Kingston on Saturday and was treated to dinner and drinks with "the boys." Unfortunately, for them, their attempt to out-drink the old man fell by the wayside. In fact, I seem to remember keeping up with the shots (even the evil-tasting Sambucca) and continuing to trounce them at whatever game came to hand (darts, pool, air hockey).

A future leader of the Canadian military trying valiantly to hit the dart board (unsuccessfully, I might add).

But I digress.... After breakfast on Sunday, we repaired to the cadet's mess and set up my game. You can see some photos below that I took with my Crackberry (since I left my camera in Daniel's room...duh).

The game was based (very, very) loosely on the Battle of Bladensburg in 1814. You can see an earlier blog of one of my re-fights of this battle here. The good news is that the table looked good, the company was eager and friendly. The bad news? After an hour of setup and game/rule explanation and a half hour into the first turn, a birthday party group showed up that had booked the entire cadet's mess. This apparently had not been posted or advertised. The cadets regularly use the space for gaming and none had any prior indication of the booking. So, we had to pack the entire game up.

Not a total loss though. We decided that rather than transporting and setting up the game in a new location, we would go to the gaming club room and play a quick game with Daniel's Wild West collection. This would be easier and quicker to setup and would provide a faster game (given that it was now mid-afternoon). I took some quick pictures of the game, again with the Crackberry. All of the buildings and terrain pieces have been scratch-built by Daniel and me and the figures (brilliantly) painted by Daniel. We used the Warhammer western gunfight rules which give a quick entertaining game. The mechanics are the same as for the GW's Lord of the Rings rule set with, of course, period flavour and weapons.

Our attempt at Deadwood. This will grow a fair bit in the near future. Daniel is currently working on an enormous hotel & saloon. We also have some Indian tipis that will look great on the opposite end of the table (it's Hollywood, after all, and historical accuracy is not a priority). Perhaps a train station, a bank, a sheriff's office......

A closer look at the main street. The roof of the barn in the foreground looks great but was a real pain to put together (this building was a joint project between Daniel and me). All the tiles are individually laid and painted!

An admittedly poor photo of some of Daniel's exquisitely painted figures. In some cases, he's painted mounted and dismounted versions of the same figure. Very cool!

Monday, November 23, 2009

New Year's Day '09 Mega-Game

After a spirited discussion following our 1813 campaign battle yesterday, it's been decided that we're going to try a New Year's Day Napoleonic mega-game! We've been talking on and off for some time about trying a massive game with all of our 28mm Napoleonic collections together. The New Year's Day mega-game will be based very (and I mean very, very loosely) on the Battle of Leipzig. In fact, the only things that the two may have in common is a horse-shoe type battlefield and the gathering of all available forces in one place. Everything is preliminary at this point but I've thrown together a quick and dirty order of battle and table set-up to give some impression of what's going to happen. I'll update our progress on this project.

The tables in the diagram are 6' x 4' giving us 28-32' x 14' on the outside of the horse-shoe. The Allies will deploy around the outside and the French on the inside. The reserve tables will have labelled zones that correspond with tables in the main set-up. This will allow reserves to move off-table (rules to be determined) and onto the main table with little fuss. The terrain in the diagram is not as it will be on the day. This is just a basic representation to give an idea of what it may look like. The two main rivers, will, however, be in the final set-up. These will divide the Allied attack into three sectors. On the left will be the Prussian sector, the Russians in the center, and the Austrians in the left flank sector.

Orders of Battle (preliminary)

Most infantry brigades are 4-6 units strong and probably average out at about 60-70 figures each (the exception would be Prussian brigades which are closer to French divisional strength). The cavalry brigades average about 16-24 figures each.


Russian Imperial Guard

1st Division

1st Brigade (guard infantry)
2nd Brigade (grenadiers)

2nd Division

1st Brigade (guard cavalry)

1st (Russian) Corps

1st Division

1st Brigade (infantry)
2nd Brigade (infantry)
3rd Brigade (infantry)

2nd Division

1st Brigade (infantry)
2nd Brigade (infantry)
3rd Brigade (infantry)

Attached Division

1st Brigade (militia infantry)

2nd (Russian Cavalry) Corps

1st Division
1st Brigade (light cavalry)
2nd Brigade (light cavalry)

2nd Division
1st Brigade (dragoons)
2nd Brigade (dragoons)

3rd (Austrian) ArmeeKorps

Advance Guard Division
1st Brigade (infantry/cavalry)
2nd Brigade (infantry/cavalry)

1st Division
1st Brigade (infantry)
2nd Brigade (infantry)

2nd Division
1st Brigade (infantry)
2nd Brigade (infantry)

4th (Austrian Reserve) Korps

1st Division
1st Brigade (grenadiers)

2nd Division
1st Brigade (heavy cavalry)
2nd Brigade (heavy cavalry)

5th (Prussian) Corps

1st Brigade (infantry/cavalry)

2nd Brigade (infantry/cavalry)

3rd Brigade (cavalry)


Garde Imperiale

1er Division
1er Brigade (old guard infantry)
2e Brigade (old guard infantry)
3e Brigade (young guard infantry)

2e Division
1er Brigade (guard cavalry)

Artillerie de la Reserve

1er Corps d’Armee

1er Division
1er Brigade (infantry)
2e Brigade (infantry)

2e Division
1er Brigade (infantry)
2e Brigade (infantry)

3e Division
1er Brigade (light cavalry)
2e Brigade (light cavalry)

2e Corps d’Armee

1er Division
1er Brigade (Berg infantry)
2e Brigade (Berg infantry)

2e Division
1er Brigade (Hesse-Darmstadt infantry)
2e Brigade (Hesse-Darmstadt infantry)

3e Division
1er Brigade (Berg cavalry)
2e Brigade (Hesse-Darmstadt cavalry)

3e Corps d’Armee

1er Division
1er Brigade (Wurttemberg infantry)
2e Brigade (Bavarian infantry)

2e Division
1er Brigade (Saxon infantry)
2e Brigade (Baden infantry)

Brigade de Cavalerie (Saxon cavalry)

4e Corps de Cavalerie

1er Division
1er Brigade (dragoons)
2e Brigade (dragoons)

2e Division
1er Brigade (cuirassiers)
2e Brigade (cuirassiers)

1813 Campaign: Battle for Prague

We played the latest battle in our ongoing 1813 campaign yesterday at the club. This was a follow-up battle to the one last turn at Pilsen where Napoleon served up a sound thrashing to Schwarzenberg and his army of Bohemia. Schwarzenberg had fallen back on his Base of Operations at Prague after the fight at Pilsen, whereupon Napoleon quickly followed up. At Prague, Schwarzenberg did not have the benefit of a large garrison or extensive earthworks (though small amounts of both were available for this battle) as he had enjoyed at Pilsen. His army was also suffering under some serious negative modifiers that downgraded the quality of a number of units. Here you can see on the campaign map where the Battle of Prague took place (bottom right of the map):

I have no photos of the game this time so maps and narrative will have to do. First up, the orders of battle.

Army of Bohemia
CinC: FML Prince Schwarzenberg

I ReserveKorps (GdK Hessen-Homburg)
  • 1st Division (grenadiers)
  • 2nd Division (cuirassiers)
I ArmeeKorps (GdK Merveldt)
  • Light Division (infantry/cavalry)
  • 1st Division (infantry)
  • 2nd Division (infantry)
IV (Russian) Cavalry Corps (GL Vasilchikov)
  • 1st Division (light cavalry)
  • 2nd Division (light cavalry)

Grande Armee (sud)

CinC: Emperor Napoleon

Garde Imperiale (Napoleon)
  • 1er Division (infantry)
  • 2e Division (infantry)
  • 3e Division (cavalry)
  • Artillerie de la Reserve
3e Corps d'Armee (GD Bertrand)
  • 8e Division (infantry)
  • 11e Division (infantry)
1er Corps de Cavalerie (Marechal Murat)
  • 1er Division (dragoons)
  • 2e Division (cuirassiers)

So, on with the Battle of Prague.

Initial Deployments and First Phase

Schwarzenberg chose to deploy the majority of his infantry along the bank of the swampy river on his right flank. These divisions were fronted by earthworks (although these are not represented on the maps). His reserve grenadiers were deployed in the central woods. This was a solid deployment that restricted the frontage of any French attack and protected the vulnerable infantry divisions (which had taken some serious damage in the last battle). Interestingly, all of the Allied cavalry was deployed off-table on the left flank. This was not necessarily a flawed deployment choice but these three divisions, a potent strike force, were destined to sit the entire battle without moving on-table (more of that anon).

Napoleon ignored the possibility of moving through the nasty terrain on the Allied right flank and concentrated his effort in the center (as Schwarzenberg had anticipated and for which he ahd prepared). The Emperor hoped to bring as many guns forward to bear on the earthworks and blast a hole in preparation for a massive cavalry and infantry assault. Thus, the infantry and cavalry of the line corps were deployed centrally, using the swamp to safeguard their left flank. The entire Imperial Guard was placed on the right flank, prepared to swing around and contact the left flank of the Allied line (the location of the Allied cavalry was unknown to Napoleon at this fact for the entire battle...but more of this anon).

Second Phase

The French attack moved forward and the Imperial Guard artillery unlimbered within range of the Allied infantry hiding behind their earthworks on the far side of the stream. The artillery commander (with Napoleon's blessing) took a great chance by unlimbering his guns so close to the Austrian grenadiers hiding in the woods but it was thought that the accompanying guard infantry and cavalry could foil any attempts to disrupt the gun-line. Unfortunately, the grenadiers darted out from their concealment (as only Austrian troops can dart) and forced two of the three guard batteries to abandon their pieces. before themselves being chased off by the presence of the old guard infantry. Unfortunately, the guns had been silenced for the remainder of the battle. The gamble had not paid off for Napoleon. And now, the sun was beginning to set. The Emperor had little time left to crush Schwarzenberg's army once and for all.

Final Phase

The Allied position now seemed relatively secure but General de Division Walther, commander of the guard cavalry division, had witnessed impotently the silencing of his artillery brethren and decided to hasten the issue. He trotted before the ranks of his Imperial Guard troopers, waving his sword in the air and launched them toward the enemy earthworks. This charge of Europe's finest cavalry was awe-inspiring, crashing violently into the redoubts and quickly punching a hole in the enemy line. Caught up in the excitement, Marechal Murat, commanding the cavalry reserve, was not to be outdone and led his cuirassiers in support. Murat's troopers poured through the breach caused by the guard cavalry and began to turn inwards on the hapless Austrian infantry.

But the sun had set and darkness descended quickly on the field. Napoleon was not able to take advantage of his success; darkness and the lurking Allied cavalry prevented any adequate pursuit. The Allied cavalry was fresh; in fact, it hadn't moved an inch the entire battle. If Schwarzenberg had chosen to move his three divisions of cavalry on-table, they would have been perfectly placed to threaten the French right flank. Undoubtedly, Napoleon would have needed to redeploy his guard cavalry and at least some of the guard infantry to counter this threat. The power of the guard cavalry would then have been directed away from the more-vulnerable infantry divisions.

Schwarzenberg has lived to fight another day, despite the battering his army has undergone in the last two battles. He has now lost his Base of Operations but can still draw supply from his Temporary Supply Depot at Chemnitz.

On to Turn 10.....

Thursday, November 12, 2009

54mm AWI at Fall In!

I've acquired some pics of the 54mm AWI game at Fall In! hosted by Bob and Matt Lehman of Ohio. Bob and Matt are great friends and good customers of Ken's ATKM figure lines. Bob is a painting and terrain-making machine, as can be seen in the photos below. His collection for this game contained 16 units per side, 11 of which on each side were formed infantry in 14-figure units (12 muskets + 2 command). That alone is over 300 painted 54mm figures! Add to that various artillery, skirmish, and cavalry units and you get a true extravaganza. The amazing thing is that Bob is already planning another, bigger game for Cold Wars 2010! Bob deservedly won a Best of Show award from HMGS-East for his efforts and the pictures below show why.

A view along the main British and American lines. The table was L-shaped and the Americans had a small force trying to turn the British flank (this can be seen in the top-right of this photo). The massive hill in the background is one solid terrain piece.

Continental Line facing the advance of British light dragoons.

American light dragoons preparing to cross the river. This unit would launch a furious charge in the first turn against a Hessian artillery battery. The guns were wiped out without firing a shot but the dragoons would be quickly shown the door as well.

The glorious dead! Oh, and this is where we put the lost figures as well....

The award winner front and center! L to R: Ken Cliffe (of ATKM), Bob Lehman (the master megalomaniac), Matt Lehman (sports fan extraordinaire).

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Remembrance Day '09

My darling daughter Diana and I attended the Remembrance Day ceremonies today in Brampton. I love the innocent and simple questions a ten-year-old can ask: "Daddy, are those swords sharp?" or "Who are the men dressed like cowboys?" [Royal Canadian Mounted Police in their scarlet tunics and broad-brimmed hats] Even questions that coming from an adult could be considered more "loaded" seem (and are) completely innocent and devoid of any hidden agenda:"Why don't the speakers talk about all the Jewish people the Nazis killed in the war?" Now to put that last question into context, she's currently reading The Diary of Anne Frank so it was, I'm sure, a totally logical connection for her.

The ceremonies were blessed by a large turnout and gorgeous weather, the sun shining down on a reverent crowd and highlighting the cenotaph. All the regulars were there (local reserve regiment, veterans, army cadets, police, fire department, etc.) and all the normal things were spoken at the podium. One of the highlights for me was the playing and singing of God Save the Queen near the end of the ceremony. I am an unabashed royalist (regardless of whether I can explain or justify it) and this is one of the things that I believe clearly distinguishes us from our good friends south of the border. Music at this type of gathering can have an enormous effect on people: the lone trumpet playing Last Post, notes ringing off of the surrounding buildings, and the mournful strains of the pipes reaching through the crisp autumn air.

I am always enormously grateful for all that our men and women in uniform have done and continue to do for us, allowing us to live our daily lives in relative peace and security. A tip of my hat to you all...

They shall grow not old

As we that are left grow old;

Age shall not weary them,

Nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun

And in the morning,

We will remember them.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Fall In! AAR

I've been home for a day or so since Fall In! '09 and I've had some time to reflect on the show. TMP has been full of discussions about the show. Check here, here, here, and here (these are just a sampling).

There have been some passionate discussions about the show but I'm not about to comment on the politics etc of HMGS-East, mainly because I frankly don't give a damn, Scarlett.

My perspective is one of a punter anyway. Conventions come and go, gamers come and go, but the hobby never changes substantially (at least not in my 30+ years as a gamer). Manufacturers grow and decline, conventions disappear and re-invent themselves, friends fall by the wayside and I find new ones, and the vocal minority doesn't go away (nor should it). I think what I'm trying to say is that I've seen few substantial changes in the essential makeup of the hobby in 30 years. When I read hobby articles and commentaries from 20 years ago, they are almost indistinguishable from those of today, in the context of intent and tone: the greying of the hobby (yeah, whatever); convention and club management incompetence (a favourite target of those willing to offer criticism but no solutions); and manufacturer gouging (when a manufacturer is small, there is support for the little guy trying to get ahead but when real money is made and proper business and marketing techniques are employed, they're really just trying to screw us).

Is it really that tough to enjoy playing with toy soldiers? Maybe we should all join the French Foreign Legion:

As for Fall In!, I found it a tad under-attended and a little chaotic (the latter is normal for any large show). The games, what I saw of them, were somewhat uninspiring overall. That's not to say there weren't some fine looking set-ups but I think the overall quality has been dropping in recent years. Despite that, I was happy to be present when Bob & Matt Lehman from Ohio won a HMGS award for game presentation for their 54mm AWI game on Saturday night. I'll post some pictures when I can get them from Ken.

As for shopping, this was the first time I believe I have walked away from a convention with no figure purchases (whether Wings of War models counts for this is up for debate). This was partly due to my shopping list having only Carlist Wars figures on it and the fact that there were no Carlist Wars figures to be had. Everything else on my list was a bust as well. In fact, of all the items on my list and the things I was asked to pick up by others, only one was found and purchased. I'm not sure if that is a reflection of the narrowing of my (and others') wants or the paucity of choice in the dealer hall.

Generally, I was happy with my Fall In! experience this year. But that was due as much (if not more) to the friends I met up with than with the convention itself. Bluntly, I wouldn't make the nine hour drive if it weren't for the great times I have with friends there. The convention alone doesn't have the same draw for me.

Just another punter's viewpoint...

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Fall In! '09....second day

Ken and I have survived a second day of Fall In! Rumours abound of the kerfuffle that is HMGS-East Board of Directors and Historicon 2010. Apparently the world is about to end and Historicon in Baltimore is the cause. Keep your eyes open for the sky a-fallin' and a possible gaming sojourn in King of Prussia (that would be the place, not the person).

Some more photos from the dealer hall at Fall In! '09:

28mm Carlist Wars demo game using Perry Miniatures.

And again...

My coffee barrista with the morning delivery!

The traveling ATKM World Headquarters and Review!

More Perry Carlists.

British Auxiliary Legions rifles from the Carlists demo game.

Carlist infantry....

Off to enjoy some good-hearted camaraderie, beer, and cigars....not necessarily in that order!