Sunday, 19 May 2019

Gedemco "The Keep"

This weekend, in between sessions of working in the garden, I started putting together one of the Gedemco sets I reported on before.

Assembling a resin kit from the 80sis quite a challenge compare to the MDF plug-and-play sets of today. Nevertheless, the discerning wargamer is not put back by a few hindrances along the way.

Step 1: straightening out the pieces. Some of the wall sections were warped. Since they are made of resin, put them in hot water, straighten them again, and leave them to dry on the kitchen sink. Ignore the cries of horror of other carbon-based humanoid lifeforms in the house. The pieces below are from the Tower set, but the idea is the same.

Step 2: Start glueing together the kit. These old kits are not, shall we say, made to fit. Several tries, a lot of cursing, and using various wooden beams to keep everything together, did the job in the end.

Step 3: Admire the final result. Some period figures are shown for scale. The stairs form a seperate piece, I won't attach it permanenly to the keep, so I can still use a ladder in some scenarios.

Step 4: Fill up the cracks and holes with some filler, but this still needs to be done. Painting as well, of course.

Sunday, 12 May 2019

Some more Belgian wargaming history

A longtime gaming friend was cleaning up his basement, and asked me whether I was interested in old box of wargaming stuff. I always answer ‘yes’ to such questions, not in the least out of curiosity to see what shows up.

After our regular boardgame night, I loaded the box (unopened) in my car, and only unpacked it when I came home.

Lo and behold - a large treasure of Belgian wargaming history was revealed. A number of boxes of 25mm buildings by Gedemco. I already reported about Gedemco before, but I was pleasantly surprised to see so many boxes suddenly in my possession. That’s why I never say no when someone is offering me old wargaming junk ;-)

The boxes contain the address of the Tin Soldier shop in Sint-Niklaas, one of the first wargaming shops in Belgium, whose history can be read here.

Thursday, 25 April 2019

New Decorations for the Wargaming Room

I was in Paris a couple of days ago, and made a stroll along the Seine, taking a look at Notre-Dame (closed off due to the fire a few days before), but also checking out the various stalls of booksellers, the well-known bouquinistes. My eye fell on some illustrations - probably teared out pages from early 20th century illustrated encyclopedias - that could serve very well as decorations in my wargaming room. There was a whole box of them, but I resisted and only bought 2 of them, for 5 euro each. I still need to frame them, then put them up on the wall ...

Although there were plates of various periods and armies, I chose 2 that related to Belgian military history.

Wednesday, 17 April 2019

100 Days

Some new acquisitions came in the post last week - new 6mm buildings from Total Battle Miniatures. The buildings below are from the 100 Days range, so now I can finally host that Waterloo game I planned to do in 2015.

I guess the Waterloo fanatics will recognize some of the iconic buildings without blinking an eye ...

Sunday, 24 March 2019

Imaginations in 42mm (13)

Following up on my (solo) experiments with a ruleset for my armies of 42mm toy soldiers, I can already draw some conclusions w.r.t. further developments and a first real playtest.

1. Troop Density

The basic unit size is 8 infantry figures (4 for cavalry), and they can split in 2 subunits (4 figures for infantry, 2 for cavalry). That means that either an infantry unit can act as a unit of 8 figures strong, or as 2 subunits of 4 figures each. Since I give great importance to how the game looks visually, figure density is an important consideration.
I also decided the Commander in Cheif and his staff is represented by 2 cavalry figures.

Below you see both armies, with either full units in 1 hex, or 2 subunits in 2 different hexes.

Blue Army, 8 infantry figures per hex, or 4 cavalry figures per hex. The CinC is in front of the battleline. This is the visual impression when all units are located in a single hex.
(Part of) Green Army, deployed with all subunits taking up their own hex, resulting in 4 infantry or 2 cavalry per hex. Each infantry subunit has either an officer or a standard bearer.
Overall, I am pretty pleased with how things look, although I have a slight preference for the denser troop formations. But since units can be split or joined again during battle, we will have to play a few games to be sure.

2. The Time Track

The main mechanism in the game will be the time track, inspired by the mechanism used in the boardgame Conan.

Every unit is represented by a tile in the track. Every side gets 10 commands points each turn, and can use these to activate units (different actions can cost a different amount of command points). Once a unit is activated, its tile is put at the end, and the entire row slides forwards. Units in front can be activated cheaply, units in the back (which have been activated recently), are more expensive to activate quickly again.

During my solo playtest, it seems to work, but I will probably only make the first 2 slots a cost of 1 or 3.

3. Combat Resolution

I decided I wanted a mechanism that did not remove toy soldiers (after all, I painted them, so I want to see them on the table!), and that combat results would only be determined when a unit was activated. This requires that each time a unit is the target of an enemy unit in firing, it receives a little marker. At the start of the activation, the number of fire markers is used to determine the overall effect, and the fire markers are removed.

I used a very simple combat resolution table, shown below. I rolled a D6, cross-indexed with the number of hits received.

However, I forgot to include some more interesting effects. Thus, I will redesign this table, including some more effects:
  • Out of ammo
  • Unable to move
  • Disorganized
  • Retreat
  • Panicked Retreat, with adjacent friendly units retreating as well
  • Retreat, nemy units following up
  • Losing some commands points
  • etc.
Any of the (permanent) above effects such as out of ammo or being unable to move can be "removed" by a rally phase (beginning or end of a unit's activation), which I still need to think about in some more detail

I think having a variety of combat outcomes can greatly add to the atmosphere oft he game and add to the evolving narrative.

4. The Imaginations

I still haven't come up with good names for either of the two countries, except that I have decided I want the names in Dutch/Flemish (see also this blogpost for some previous thoughts on this).

Green Army (the more traditional one)
  • Generaal: Sigisbiduwald von Trappstein-Hohenschlieffen
  • 1ste Regiment Fusiliers, Companie A & B (Black)
  • 2de Regiment Fusiliers, Companie A & B (Red)
  • 3de Regiment Fusiliers , Companie A & B (Blue/Yellow)
  • 1ste Karabiniers te Paard, Eskadron A & B (White)
  • 1ste Artillerie (Brown)
Blue Army (the more modern one)
  • Generaal: Philip-Leon du Madeleine du Tré
  • 1ste Ban Schutters, Schaar A & B (Red)
  • 2de Ban Schutters, Schaar A & B (Turquoise)
  • 3de Ban Schutters, Schaar A & B (Straw)
  • 1ste Verkenners Te Paard, Patrouille A & B (White)
  • 1ste Mechanisch Geschut (Magenta)

Friday, 15 March 2019

Wet paint: 20mm British Airborne sniper team

I'm in the process of doing a bit of a refurbish / reorganisation on one of my very first wargame armies -- 20mm WWII British Airborne. I am reorganising the figures into units which are suitable for use with Chain of Command (although that will not preclude their use with other rulesets of course), as well as redoing their bases to have a single basing style. These figures were painted over many years and based in many different styles, so the rebasing was needed.

In Chain of Command, the platoon HQ section for a British Airborne platoon has a sniper team, for which I did not have any figures painted up yet. This is hereby corrected:

As you can see, the 'wet' part of the title of this post is to be taken literally - the ink on the base was freshly applied when I took the photo. The figures are from FAA (the sniper is part of the assault party).

As an aside, I am now officially getting old. Seeing details on these black undercoated 20mm figures well enough to paint them was impossible without magnification. I think I'm going to need reading glasses :)

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Imaginations in 42mm (12)

I finally managed to start experimenting with my 42mm soldiers, with the aim of developing a quick and simple ruleset. I still have to come up with names for my imaginations, but let's not worry about that yet.

I usually develop house rules by starting from a  core mechanism I want to explore. Once that core mechanism is solid in place, I start adding additional features in a "add-as-we-need-it" fashion. It might also turn out that the core mechanism I have in mind doesn't work, in which case we go back to square one ;-)
Such an approach to developing rules works quite well. Think about the groundwork first, before getting lost in all sorts of bells and whistles that will rarely get used.

So what are the core principles of the game I have in mind?
  • Hex-based.
  • Inf = 4 figures, cav = 2 figures, artillery = 1 gun + crew. I'm still pondering whether 2 Inf units can combine in a larger one, since I painted them up as "sister" units (one with a flag, the other with an officer).
  • I wantAs the main core mechanism, I want to use the timing mechanism from the Conan boardgame. Each army has a "timetrack", in which the units are lined up. Each player gets a number of command points, which he can use to activate units. If a unit is at the front of the time track, it is cheap to activate a unit,  if a unit is further down the track, it becomes more expensive. Once a unit is activated, it goes to the back of the queue and the entire queue is pushed "forwards". I think this could be a very elegant mechanic, but time will tell.
  • I'm also considering of having combat resolution for a unit only when the target unit is activated. Whenever a unit is shot at, place a marker next to the unit. When that unit is activated again, count the number of markers, and roll on a table to determine final effect, thus introducing a little fog of war w.r.t. firing effects.

Setup of the table.
The timetrack for one of the armies. I borrowed the idea from the "Book of Skelos" mechanic from the Conan boardgame.
My quickly scribbled notes for a first playtest.
The green army.
The blue army.

Saturday, 2 March 2019

Advanced Civilization: An Olden Goldie

During the 90s I was a heavy Advanced Civilization player. "Heavy" meaning we didn't hesitate to pull all-nighters to complete this beast, look up variants on the proto-internet etc. Our gaming group still fondly remembers those games. And yes, Crete was my favourite nation to play.

When I was recently thinning out the collection and bringing a couple of games to the local shop (which offers a nice 2nd hand selling service in exchange for store credit), I was pondering whether I should sell my copy of Advanced Civilization as well. But I just couldn't do it, mainly for nostalgic reasons, but also because apparantly it has become quite a collector's item fetching high prices. A gaming buddy of mine offered his copy (without doing some research first) for 20 euro. It was gone within minutes.

So, instead I decided to set up the game again after having been untouched in the box for nearly 20 years, and play solo. The result is shown in the pictures below. I quit when the first civilization started to collect a high number of trade cards. I considered continuing for a few more turns without trading (I even asked for opinions on BGG), but since trading is such an integral part of the game, I gave up and put everything in the box again. Perhaps 20 years from now I might take it out once more and repeat the exercise :-)

Monday, 11 February 2019

There ain't but one true scale

Co-author (well, main author these days) Phil was interviewed by Henry Hyde for his Battlechat series the other day, and the byline at the top of this page here was mentioned -- There ain't but one true scale.

The idea behind the byline is of course that, for me, there is only 'one true scale' for gaming, and that is 28mm. Except for planes, where it is 1:144. Oh, and WWII, where it is 20mm. Or 6mm. Bah - whatever :).

The very concept of there only being 'one true scale' to game in is of course ridiculous. Any scale of miniatures you have an enjoyable game with is the correct and one true scale, and there's nothing more to it than that.

That said, I came up with the byline because for my hobby, 28mm is the sweet spot. One of my main interests in this hobby is the visual aspect of it, and more particularly the (more or less) nicely painted toy soldiers we use.

In very broad terms, the things that attract people to miniature wargaming are in the name itself: miniatures, war (or rather, the history thereof) and gaming. Of those three, the 'miniatures' part is the main attraction for me -- I'd be playing historical board wargames otherwise. Painting miniatures (and terrain) is an essential part of the hobby for me. And I find that for the sort of painting I do, 28mm is the best. Hence the 'one true scale' bit.

As to the actual phrasing of the byline -- 'There ain't but one ...' -- that's a blatant rip off of a wonderful sketch by Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie, which forms a perfect (and topical these days in Belgium) note to end this post on:

Sunday, 10 February 2019

Warcon 2019

This weekend I attended Warcon 2019. Warcon is a nice convention, with approximately 25 traders and the usual mix of clubs staging a game.

We should have been there too with a Chain of Command WW2 game, but a last-minute unforeseen situation forced Bart to stay at home, and since he was the one who had all the gaming stuff, we had to cancel our game.

I spend a few hours at the con, mostly chatting with friends and old acquaintances, and browsing the trading stalls. It was a nice and relaxed experience exactly what a con should be.

One thing that still confuses met at cons though, are the traders that are selling what I would call "assorted junk". These are not the established rules or miniatures or scenery manufacturers, but rather the traders who sell a mix of all sorts of wares (could be a shop). We need them, of course.

But what I am confused about, is that they haul the same boxes of old junk from con to con, sometimes year after year: large boxes full of old rulebooks, old blisters from long-forgotten gaming systems, repackaged miniatures in plastic bags that have been jumbled around so much they stopped being transparant, a weird assortment of half-painted miniatures, etc. I guess they show up at every con.

Now, this is still all good and well, except for the prices they are asking (this is what confuses me)! I simply cannot understand why someone would ask "new" prices for old junk, especially if you have seen that same junk for several years, con after con. What's the motivation here? The vague (and vain) hope that the right collector will show up? I always try to haggle for a lower price, but usually get a negative reply. But seriously, I am not going to pay 5 euros per figure, for a bag of unidentified old figures. And I'm not going to pay 20 euros for an old stapled-together rulebook from the 80s. Old does not always mean vintage does not always mean collectible does not always mean high prices! I simply do not understand. So rather than selling non-movable stock at a lower price, they prefer to haul that stuff around for years?

But anyway, enough ranting, here are some pictures (don't ask me about games or clubs, I didn't make notes):