Thursday, 29 December 2005

Lotsa blogging going on

There's an ever increasing number of wargames blogs out on the Net these days, but here's one of the latest and best: [Wee Toy Soldiers](

Hyun's blog is more about the modelling and painting side of the hobby, him being a 'converted' boardgamer attracted to modelling, so there's less actual gaming content than on other blogs (such as ourselves), but he does make up for it with other high quality posts. Just check out his brilliant [CD case becomes organizer]( post.

Tuesday, 27 December 2005

All Quiet on the Western Front?

On December 26 I organized a full-day World War 1 game. 4 players (Vince, Frank, Dominique and Brendan) showed up, and all were eager to take part in some trench-raiding action. Since it was 2nd Christmas day, quite a few people still had some family obligations, so the turn-out was a little bit less than expected, but 4 players was enough after all to create some good action.

Everyone gathered at 10am in my house, and the first part of the scenario started. The big picture was that German troops wanted to storm a British trench-system. However, the trenches were not fully finished yet (this was early in the war), and were still incomplete in some parts of the battlefield. Since the Germans had no idea what parts of the position would be fully defended, some reconnaisance patrols had to be sent out.

Every player (2 British, 2 German) got a secret mission for his patrol, and they had to come to the gamesmaster one by one to give their orders. Movement was on an individual map for each player, and during each order, each player was told what he could see or hear in their immediate vicinity. Since the weather conditions turned out to be misty for most of the game, visibility was extremely limited, and all players were moving around very cautiously. All the players were physically also in the same room (the gm being in the next room), and initially did not know who was playing British or German. This created some good tension in the beginning of the game. Of course, after a while, the clever players had figured out who was playing whom by the reactions of some of the participants, and linking it to their own actions just their turn before.

Typical orders included to do a recon of some part of the sector, or to intercept enemy patrols, to go to a specific sector and cut wires, to deploy mines etc. Since the movement axis of each patrol (start position and designated end position) was usually diagonally across the battlefield, a good number of interactions happened. Some patrols opened fire without a positive ID of what they saw or heard, and sometimes there were a few lucky breaks. One patrol got very lucky when a random artillery starshell exploded nearby, illuminating the entire sector that was supposed to be mapped out. Another patrol survived with 1 member, barely enough to bring all information back to HQ. Other patrols succeeded in laying mines, although they sometimes decided that they had gone far enough and deployed their mines some distance short from their designated objective. A German patrol ran into an ambush set up by a British patrol, decided to storm it in close combat, and won! I stressed to all players that their mission had to be obeyed, and this was played out very well. Every side got a total of 5 missions (once a patrol came in, the next one started), and after 2 hours of playing the Germans had gathered a lot of info about the British defences, while the British managed to lay some extra minifields and intercept some German patrols as well.

Then it was time for some lunch, and we headed into town to get some pizza.

When we started again around 2pm, the Germans had the choice of flying a recon mission by aircraft over the enemy trench lines. If succesful, this would mean that the Germans would see the setup of British forces in the next game before having to come up with their own battleplan. We used the Wings of War rules for this game (see for a more complete description of this game). This a WW1 aerial warfare boardgame, that plays very smoothly and has a very clever movement system using manoeuver cards. The British started with 4 patrol aircraft, the Germans with 3 fighter aircraft and a 2-seater who had to take the photographs of the enemy trenches.

Sadly, the German 2-seater never made it to the objective. Due to critical damage, its rudder got stuck. First it couldn't turn left anymore, a few turns later it got another critical and could only fly straight. So the mission failed, despite some good shooting by the German pilots.

Then it was time for the big game. This was played out on the big gaming table using 20mm WW1 figures and with a full trench system as scenery. Based on their recon information, the Germans had to come up with a plan, dividing their force over 4 attack groups. The British could deploy any way they saw fit.

I used some house-rules for this game, and the Germans started with twice as many units as the British ( since they were all hiding in trenches ...). The Germans started to move across the battered no-man's-land, units taking hits from artillery and mortar fire, morale dropping, officers trying to rally scared troops ... The British defended really well, but couldn't cause enough casualties to stop the attack wave once the first German lines reached the trenches. German trench raiders jumped into the trenches, and some tough fighting ensued. After a few turns, the British surrendered, so a German victory! By now it was a little after 6pm, the planned ending of the day.

Overall, I think this scneario using 3 linked games worked very well. Once the main game began, the Germans still had some blank areas on their map of which they didn't know anything about. As a result, they lost some troops to minefields. On the other hand, they managed to clear some barbed wire during the first game, and this created a big open field for a German attack wave (although this wasn't the sector were the final breakthrough happened).

The dogfighting game didn't produce extra information for the German players, but it could have, and the British had every incentive to stop the German planes to avoid having to give their troop dispositions to the German side.

During debriefing the players agreed the miniature game worked very well as, but probably the German players had too much machine guns available, and this created some unbalance, especially since MGs caused morale to drop very rapidly.

So, to conclude, a very good gaming experience, and it has encouraged me to set up similar full-day games in the future.

Sadly, no pictures ...


Sunday, 18 December 2005

Corcyra conquered by civilisation!

For those of you who have been following the [WEC](, our Warhammer escalation campaign -- we've just concluded turn three which saw a massive reversal of balance, which 4 out of 5 games won by the civilisation players. Consequently, Corcyra is now firmly in the control of the civilised side:

The WEC campaign world

For more information on the campaign, click on the image above, which will take you to the campaign home page. There's also the [game report]( for my game of round 3 (my Celts lost against Bruce's Belisarian Byzantines).

Wednesday, 7 December 2005

Painting in batches

One of the nice things of painting regular troops is that they all wear identical uniforms or at the very least, feature the same colour combinations. Even for Irregular mobs, the same colours will often reappear (skin, generic hairy warband brown etc...). This essentially means that in order to paint your army in the shortest timeframe possible, one has to adapt the Henry Ford method of painting. In other words you apply one colour to all your figures before switching to another colour. Some people actually paint this way and are able to process an insane amount of figs in one go, however, they are extremely rare and average Joe will certainly not paint all his 200 Romans in one batch.

The major downfall of the above method is that while it certainly will field your army in the shortest timeframe possible, you won�t get the satisfaction of a job well done until the entire army is actually finished. 200 figures with a flesh undercoat do not look as great as 3 fully finished figs and will certainly not give you the same level of satisfaction for a job well done. The amount of figures one can process without suffering painters drag is highly personal, in my case my maximum batch size is about 10 28mm figures, more than that and I don�t see enough progression to satisfy my fragile ego.

The amount of figures one can paint in one go is probably related to some aspect of personality. This brings us to the widely used MBTI personality tests, according to which one can roughly differentiate 4 fundamental parameters which make up the major aspects of your personality. One is Judging vs. Perceiving. A Judging person gets its satisfaction from achieving set goals and thus tends to be much more orderly, while a Perceiving person enjoys the process itself and thus tends to be much more flaky and in pursuit of a bundle of different things at the same time. This means that both types are probably doomed as the judging character is able to impose upon himself the ruthless discipline of painting 200 figs in one go but will not get any satisfaction till they are all done, while the Perceiving character can get enjoyment out of unfinished in progress figures but lacks the stamina to follow through and therefore runs the risk of never ever actually finishing anything before wondering off in pursuit of yet another new daft idea.

In the name of science and the possibility of achieving greater painting satisfaction and army production through adequate counselling and Zen meditation, let�s work out a J-P percentile inclination vs. batch size correlation plot here. I�m 11%P, batch size 10, what are you?