Thursday, March 30, 2017

HONVED JAEGERS ON THE WAY

Honved Jaeger from Ralph Weaver's Hungarian Army 1848-49
I've been knocked-down with a nasty chest cold that has stopped hobby productivity for over a week. However, there is still some news to share. The greens of the first figures that I commissioned with Steve Barber Models have been completed! These are Hungarian Jaegers in two poses: loading and firing.  As usual, clix pix for BIG PIX.
One thing I sometimes find frustrating is the way that many uniform details (sometimes nearly all!) are lost under piles of equipment. Given that I could have these my way, I wanted a sculpt that would allow the uniform details to come through...
From the Somogyi Honved Army 1848-49
...who wouldn't want to showcase such jaunty uniform details? So these jaegers are stripped down for skirmish action, with backpacks and greatcoats left with the company wagons. Watch for them to come out in the next few months.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

AN INTERLUDE: GEICO MINIATURE GREEK WARFARE

BUSTER SAYS
Rummaging through my computer, I rediscovered that I had captured and saved the above bit of fun (loaded into my Google Files area: it will come up at the link above: then just click the play button).  Here in the US, the GEICO Insurance Corporation has a very clever, high-profile ad campaign.  This was a short-lived, one-off commercial.  Not much to say other than Click the above link and enjoy!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

MEANDERING AT COLD WARS 2017

The Vendor Hall at Cold Wars Humming on Friday Afternoon
I just returned from Cold Wars 2017 held in Lancaster, PA. As usual, this trip was up in the air until late, and the decision to attend came at the last moment.  As usual, I'm happy I went. While things are still fresh in my mind, I'll share this report of my meanderings.  I wasn't systematically recording and logging things, so I hope it may suffice for those who can adjust expectations downward sufficientlyWhat few observation I do make are intentionally limited to what I saw and aren't intended to weigh-in on any of the issues surrounding the convention or the site. As usual, for the images, you may clix pix for BIG PIX.

If you have been following the discussion in the community, there has been much buzz about the state of the venue (the Lancaster Host Resort).  I got lodging nearbye, so I can't comment on the work that has been done on the rooms, but from my perspective as a longtime attendee, it basically felt like the Host that I have known--only without the makeshift heating plant pumping  away and other ramshackle and patchwork stuff in evidence.  In short, it felt familiar. There was renovation going on in some of the wings, but that didn't impact me and I didn't explore there.  One thing I did notice is that the lighting seemed dimmer than I had remembered, particularly in the Distelfink Ballroom, where many of the games seemed to be in almost partial darkness

The brisket, roast pig, and fried chicken dinner set up on Friday...
...the usual food service was in operation during the event.  Many have raised complaints about this operation, but I have always found it more than adequate (maybe my expectations have been lowered sufficiently).  Downstairs was the usual sandwich/hot dog/burrito and beverage concession operation going full time, and upstairs (pictured above) the carving stations came online for both lunch and dinner.  The ice cream bar rolled out every night at 9 p.m. to top things off (shifted to downstairs as opposed to upstairs where it used to be).   For other options, we hopped across the street, even given the snow the sidewalks were clearAs always, the bar provided restorative Gin and Tonics throughout.  Worked for me!

The Saturday morning registration line...
Upon opening Saturday, the usual line formed outside of registration. This cleared up by 10:00 a.m. I had pre-registered and gotten my badge on arrival Thursday night, which went smoothly enough.

The tournament room (left) and the flea market (right) on Friday...
A camp of one of the more serious tournament competitors, no doubt
...The flea market was good this year, meaning that I wound up spending too much money.  Despite not having a list, I came away with quite a haul from this convention, both from the vendor area and flea market (more on that in a bit). Perhaps next time I should have a list in order to contain myself!  

 The Distelfink Ballroom on Friday night (left) and Saturday night (right)...
....The main gaming area of the convention is the Distelfink Ballroom. It was full on Friday night, but on Saturday at around the same time (around 7 p.m.), about half the tables were empty. This is something we've noticed in the last few years and is something of a new trend--Saturday during the day is still strong, but Saturday night doesn't seem to be "prime time" like it used to be (maybe my recollections are tainted).  Still, there was plenty of gaming to be had over the course of the convention, regardless, and from what I saw and heard, getting into the games was not a problem (I don't know how many went short on participants, so I'll leave that discussion to other places). 


 Connecting with Colleagues and Seeing Old Friends...
George visiting with Frank
...games aside, I met and caught up with old friends, as I always do--and as many others do as well.  As the years go on, this simple human dimension seems to grow more important and others less so, at least to me.  For a few days, the community comes together, and this benefit seems to me to easy to forget amidst all the other issues.  I'll step off of my soap box now and shift to my takings and the games...


 The Swag!

...The above isn't quite all of it (I left off pictures of exciting things like a bunch of bases and a jar of wonder wash). Like I said, this was a good convention as far as stuff goes.  Top left: I picked up some bare trees from Battlefield Terrain Concepts: a new item.   I also picked up a smattering of 6mm trees and hedges (got from the flea market), and a bunch of ready-painted gew gaws to scatter on the table (barrels, etc) that will come in handy for any number of black powder-era skirmish games (to include some chests and a chest full of coins: something to fight over!).  Top right:I picked up Bloody Big Battles to inform my 19th Century gaming, as well as a reference on the Cossack Wars from the Nafziger booth and a reference on the War of the Austrian Succession from the On Military Matters both. Bottom left: it happens that I've had a jousting game project on the back burner for some time for want of figures.  In this flea market there were several people unloading knights suitable for just such an occasion--so for the price the bucket of coins that I had converted to bills just before coming to the convention, I scored a bunch of those (kismet!). The jousting project now moves from back burner to...somewhere not on the back burner! Bottom Right: finally, if you are a follower of this blog you will recall the rousing game of Nuclear War that was had during RobbieCon in September. Well, there just happened to be another vintage copy of this excellent game among the stacks in the dealer area, this one with an intact spinner. For a few shekles I scooped it up: the next time we play we'll have a spinner that really spins! 

The Games!

What follows is a series of shots that I took of the event (most were on Friday).  Apologies for not having consistent information.  Hope they provide some eye candy....
An interesting harbor and city set up...
Another fantastic Bruce Weigel ultra-realistic terrain board...
A double-blind WWII game (left) and a 28mm Eastern Renaissance Game (right)...
The Great War in 28mm (the round artillery base is very interesting)...
Napoleonics in the snow...

 The H.A.W.K.s room, buzzing as usual (left), and F&I period garb in the Distelfink (right)...and some other pix with no names (below).... 




 BUSTER SAYS....
..for another report, check out Mark's Blog.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

WORK IN PROGRESS: CHOCOLATE BOX WARS

I've got the Cover Art Done: What Else is there?

In response to several inquiries about the rules, I thought I'd post a sneak peek at what has been done thus far. I have to add that it is my intention to have a workable set of rules done sometime this year, hopefully in the next six months. However, like other projects this is no guarantee (I've already busted my timeline on when I thought I'd have something).  I've got the unit and force structure. What remains is to proof the mechanics (which currently exist in note form: combat, movement, morale).  Given how many figures I've painted and mounted for the system, I've certainly invested in it myself! So if I don't finish it, the joke will be on me.  Once complete, this material will migrate to one of the content pages of the blog. In the meantime, here is what there is if you'd like to follow along. I can't guarantee when the complete rules will be available, but figures done in accordance with this system should be able to be used with other systems, though, as explained in the piece below.
A version of the following piece describing the system was published in the Foreign Correspondent, #112 (Oct 2016)--that excellent publication of the Continental Wars Society edited by Ralph Weaver.  


First, A Diversion On My Many Conversions  
If, dear reader, you are among those who have undertaken to wargame the continental wars of the 19th Century, then I can hear your thoughts: “Eh? Danish Horse Guards in 28mm? Nonsense! Nobody makes ‘em,” and right you would be. Indeed, this is the challenge that many would recognize. There are excellent figures available in the genre, but few lines are complete, especially in 28mm, forcing one to cobble together units from an amalgam of manufacturers (enter the figure match issue to compound the challenge). Thus, many have lost heart and become ruined men, driven to other eras with pre-packaged units in shiny blister packs tied to hardbound rules and supplements (one shudders). However, I speak not to these fallen heroes, for they would hardly be among the brave fellows reading this publication [Foreign Correspondent].
Danish Horse Guards: Converted Northstar Austrian 1866 Dragoons
On the other hand, there are those who instead flaunt convention and seek to create something out of nothing. I am such a one, and I speak to others of like mind. They though I was mad at the academy when I presented my findings. Mad am I? I’ll show them. I have shown them!

Chocolate Box Wars: The Inspiration
You may be asking, “How did this all come about?” Well, in part, I blame Hollywood. The idealized Victorian military gestalt in films like The Prisoner of Zenda (pick your version), The Great Race (which, come to think of it, is the Prisoner of Zenda, too), and others of their ilk have always been compelling.
Baron Von Stuppe and Minions in The Great Race
The images of elegant officers and steady soldiers in their post-Napoleonic finery are at one with those found on biscuit and confection tins and boxesLet me add that my own military career causes me to understand that warfare, pretty uniforms or not, is a destructive, savage, and brutal business (so let’s get that put away). That’s not what we’re about...
 Von Stuppe Hussars?
...at heart, we're about toy soldiers.  The post-Napoleonic continental armies represent the ultimate expression of the “toy soldier” motif. They are one in the same with the inspiration behind the foundations of our hobby. 


 It also doesn't hurt that I discovered that there are those among my associates who share the underlying mania for this era. Many have 19th Century armies that have been languishing for yearsGiven a new purpose, these toy soldiers would proudly march again. Thus, I finally decided to give in to the lifelong temptation and take the plunge. Being an inveterate tinkerer and rules writer, I of course decided to create a rules system of my own.

Chocolate Box Wars: The Premise and The Promise
The working title for my rules system (still a work in progress) is Chocolate Box Wars, which should give you an idea of the approach. The armies, then, would be “Chocolate Box Armies.” Originally, I was going to toss history aside and build imaginations, but my grognard DNA just wouldn’t allow it (although this system will certainly accommodate this approach). Therefore, I stuck with researching and producing specific forces, which will still have plenty of appeal. The open ended nature of the system, not being too concerned with specific historical events (DBA-like in this regard), will still allow me to gravitate to where the color is. Others may certainly apply this system to their imaginations forces (and imaginations yet to come). In support of this approach, I hope to eventually have some AK-47 Republic-like nationally flavored lists that will allow one to model an imaginations force along certain lines in the spirit of the era, like Mittel Europe, Teutonic, Gallic and Anglo Saxon (to name a few).


Here is the concept in thumbnail:
 

The era is loosely defined as extending from post-napoleonic to pre-khaki with the following guiding principles (if interested, I recommend downloading the pdf of the rules at the link below the opening image in this post):

1. Stand-based (two stands per unit; one for artillery) to allow for basic formation effects. 

2. 28mm, with stand size 2.5” x 2” for infantry; 2.5” x 2.5” for cavalry; 2.5” x 3” for artillery.
3. Low figure count (3 infantry per stand; 2 for cavalry)--this also winds up being how many of today’s largish figures can easily fit on a stand of the above sizes. 
4. Army-list approach, with a relatively low total stand count (sort of like DBA/M) and a "plug and play" approach: a set number of units per army (so you can build a force quickly).
5. Unit differentiation that allows period and other flavors (volunteers, frei corps jaegers, etc). 
6. Simplified mechanics that will still reward handling units as a coherent force. Right now, it's a cross between DBA and Volley and Bayonet light.
7. Unspecified unit level (although I'm thinking that each unit might represent either a battalion/squadron or perhaps a brigade/regiment, with each stand then being a wing or division of that larger element).
You may, dear reader, have noticed a key flaw in my process, that I have purchased and painted armies for a system that does not yet exist. Such is my mania, you might think (and perhaps be correct). However, this will keep this endeavor from taking up ranks in the legion of half-finished projects that tend to litter many a game-room in our hobby (or should). 

Having said this, there is some pragmatism at work. The number of stands per force may be modest, but if all else fails, it will still allow me to use my collections to play other systems, like some of the DBX 19th Century variants, in particular the Vae Victis versions, or the half scale version of Bruce Weigel's 1859 or 1866, or a small to mid-sized Volley and Bayonet game. So I do have some grounding in utility to temper my mania, at least that’s my story and I’m sticking with it.  

Nurse tells me it's time for my laudanumSo for now, dear reader, adieu.
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