Sunday, 23 November 2008

Roman legionaries

[My Celts]( "My Celtic army") were starting to feel lonely without some Romans to bash, so after having seen the [Warlord]( "Warlord Games website") figures at Crisis, I buckled and bought two boxes of the plastic Romans for them to play with (even though they are historically incorrect - by the time the Romans were running around dressed like this, the Celts were well and truly subdued and part of the Roman empire). Pedantics aside, here they are (bases are not finished yet, as I'm waiting to do this until the entire unit of 16 is done):

Roman legionaries

They've been painted using the famed Quick Shade method, on which there will be a seperate blog entry soonish. They're also waiting for some shield transfers, which I'm still deciding on.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Nostalgia: Shootist game 11/11/2008

(yes, I still update this blog :) )

Last week, we had a blast of a Shootist game, using our hexified version of the old Shootist rules. As these are probably long out of print, I don't think there's a problem in putting the quick record sheet (from which a group of adult wargamers can pretty much play the game) online [here]( "Shootist QRS"). There's also a [character record sheet]( "Shootist character record sheet") available for download.

Pictures of the game can be found in [this set]( "Shootist game photo set on Flickr") on [Flickr]( "My photostream on Flickr"), as well as (currently, until they rotate out) in the sidebar on this blog.

We played three (very) loosely linked scenarios.

1. Free the safe cracker

An expert safe cracker was taken into custody by the sherriff and needed to be freed and escorted safely off the table. Two teams of two shootists each opposed each other in this: Koen and Eddy versus Graham and myself. The game resulted in a victory for the Koen / Eddy team. Eddy's shootists was killed in a gunfight, but Koen managed to snatch the prisoner and run off with him in a narrow escape.

2. Rob the bank (or in this case, the Whiskey Bar and Hotel)

With the knowledge on how to crack the safe now safely in their hands, three shootists (Koen, Graham and myself) had to get into town and get the gold, opposed by lone gunman (Winchester rifle) Eddy. Eddy was killed after a protracted gunfight with Koen and Graham, after which Graham shot Koen in the back (boo, hiss). While all this was going on, I (slowly, going through a stream) walked up to the safe, calmly took out the gold and then shot Graham who sought to contest my claim to the gold.

3. Get the gold out of town, under attack from Indians

In this game, Koen, Eddy and myself needed to get the gold (generously shared :) ) out of town on a wagon (which could only cross the river at one bridge), while Graham played a bunch of Indians trying to prevent this. This was a very closely contested game, with Graham, Koen and all Indians except for the rifleman dying in various fun and gruesome ways, and me speeding the wagon past the last remaining Indian who was taking potshots at me all the while.

I think fun was had by all, so definitely up for repitition, I'd say.

Friday, 30 May 2008

The Big Move

After living in the same house since 2001 -- where I set up an entire room as a wargaming room -- I'm moving to a different house. Biggest change will be I am not going to live there by myself, but with a "woman of the opposite sex" (to paraphrase Herr Flick from 'Allo 'Allo).

So what has this do with wargaming?

1. Since I have to pack everything, I realize I have a LOT of wargaming stuff. And I mean a lot! I've been collecting things since the late eighties, so that's a huge collection. Not that I don't sell things. I've sold sizable chunks of my collection before, but the acquisitions still manage to outnumber the sales. Moreover, some things will be difficult to move. A 3 foot by 2 foot castle? A 2 foot by 2 foot pyramid? All kinds of scenery items that don;t seem to fit in normal-sized boxes? Anyway, I'll have to find a solution ...

2. Since I have a wargaming room now, I also want a wargaming room in my new home. However, as I said before, I won't be living there by myself, so I'll have to play a little committee game first. But things look good for now, although it probably won't be as cosy as my attic.

UPDATE (29 July 2008):
It has been a while since I moved, and most of the wargaming stuff is unpacked. I am using the garage as my new wargaming room, and it seems everything will be ready in due time to host a game somewhere in August.

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Experimental Command & Control

I've been toying with a 'new' C&C system over the past few weeks. I haven't playtested it yet, but maybe I can sollicit some constructive criticism here.

To start with, the system is not entirely new, of course, but is based on previous published systems. Maybe it already even exists, so be it.

Some motivation:

The C&C system is based on the idea that you can only activate a limited number of units each turn. Other rules already do this, in various formats: roll a dice to see how many pips (or impetus points ...) you have, and activate that number of units; roll a dice with decreasing probability to succeed each time you want to activate an additional unit etc.

Although I've been a fan of the latter (e.g. Blitzkrieg Commander, Warmaster, ...), it creates some frustration because you never know exactly how many units you can activate. Rolling for a number of points at the start of your turn moves this problem to the start of your turn, but adds some certainty to the player as to how many things he can do in his entire turn. On the other hand, these systems limit intervention by your opponent. In some sense, intervention by the enemy is built in since you never know exactly when the opponent will have his turn by randomizing the amount of units you can activate.

So, I want to combine the following:
- knowing how many pips/command points/units you have available in each turn
- allowing for intervention by your opponent.
I got some inispiration from the cardgame Magic the Gathering, in which each player has 'mana points' available to cast spells. However, your opponent can also use his mana points to interrupt your spells, which you can interrupt again etc.

Here's my C&C system:

1. Every player has a number of command points, which he can use in his turn + the opponent's turn. The number of points can be fixed for the whole army (e.g. you get 10 points every turn), or can be the sum of command ratings of individual commanders on the battlefield (e.g. you have 3 commanders with command rating 4, 3, 3, which adds up to 10 points). The latter allows modifications for killed commanders (command points decrease).

2. During his turn, a player can activate a unit (or group of adjacent units, depending on underlying framework of rules), to perform an action (actions again depend on underlying framework of movement, combat resolution, morale checks etc.). He has to spend 1 cp (command point) for such an order, but he has the option to spend more (see later). The amount of cp you spend on an order is an indication of the 'urgency' of the command, the quality of the transmission of the order etc. A player can give multiple orders during his turn, by spending the appropriate amount of cp. (note that further modifications are possible here: units far from the commander cost more cp's; multiple units cost more cp's etc.)

3. When an order has been given (and the player has spend the relevant amount of cp's, plus any additional cp's he sees fit), the opponent now has the opportunity to 'interrupt' your order with an order of his own. He has to spend at least one cp more than yoy did in order to do this. Again, the amount of cp your opponent spends indicates the urgency, the outsmarting, the effectiveness of his commander to provide an order to one of his units.
E.g. suppose you give an order to one of your troops, and you want to move them forward to occupy a farmhouse. You spent 1 cp for this order. Now your opponent can spend 2 cp to act before you do, possibly because he wants to occupy the farmhouse first. By spending the 2cp, he makes sure he acts before your troops, and your unit gets 'suprised' by finding out that the farm is already occupied when they get there.

4. You can interrupt your opponent's interruption again (by a different unit, and by paying 1 cp more than his last order). All interruptions are resolved in reverse order. Note that you can voluntarily spend more cp's on an order, to increase the probability or likelyhood that your opponent will interrupt.

5. At the end of your turn, your pool of cp's is replenished. So, you start with a full allotment of cp's when your opponent starts his turn. THis hopefully encourages players to interrupt when they think it's crucial, but at the same time keep enough cp's to use during their own turn. In essence, there's no real difference in turns anymore, except for who has the initiative to start a sequence of orders and interrupts.

As I said before, I haven't playtested this yet, but I think it might have some potential. As with any C&C system, it is crucial that the players have the right mindset, and know exactly what cp's and interrupts represent. An interrupt does not mean that your unit sees another unit moving towards the farm, and quickly decides to move there too, but should be interpreted as if your unit was on its way already, except that your opponent wasn't aware of it yet.

The pool of cp's you can spend on orders and interrupts might also force the players to put some thinking in what parts of the battle are really important to them, so they can decide how many cp's certain orders are worth. Given that the amount of cp's is known beforehand, players might also feel less frustrated by varying die rolls as in some other systems.

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Warhammer 25 Years

This year Warhammer is 25 years old. Warhammer was first published in 1983 by Citadel, to give people a ruleset to use all their fantasy miniatures. Up to that point, fantasy miniature wargaming was not a mainstream genre, although fantasy roleplaying was hugely popular -- hence the collections of fantasy miniatures people were building up.

One of the anniversary products is a fascimile edition of the original ruleset. It was sold in a box, and contained 3 booklets. Actually, it was also one of my first fantasy games, so I have some fond memories of that first edition. When reading the booklets again after so many years, I can almost again feel the same sense of discovery I had back in 1983.

Anyway, I have long dropped out of Warhammer (stopped when 4th edition was published), and these days I don't particularly like the philosophy of the GW rules, but I do recognize the huge influence Warhammer and GW had on the development of miniature wargaming and the gaming hobby in general.

Friday, 7 March 2008

Gary Gygax

This week (March 4, 2008), Gary Gygax passed away.

Gary Gygax was one of the co-inventors of Dungeons and Dragons, the fantasy roleplaying game that had a large influence on gaming in the 70s and 80s. Although I never cared much for the specifics of the D&D system, I do recognize Gygax' influence on the way games developed in these years. Many ideas floating around these days can trace a line back to the initial D&D ruleset.

Being born in 1966, I was a bit too young to experience the early days of roleplaying, and I think it was somewhere during 1982 or 1983 that I first heard of roleplaying games. I had been playing classic board wargames since years, and it was a visit to the the Tin Soldier shop in Sint-Niklaas that exposed me this 'new type' of game. The AD&D books were too expensive for the budget of a high-schooler, so I walked away with a copy of a new game called 'Warhammer' and a Grenadier blister of Undead Orcs :-)

Anyway, I was browsing through my old copies of White Dwarfs (I'm taking about the days when WD was still a roleplaying magazine) yesterday, and it is entertaining to read those old articles and see how gaming was perceived during the Gygax days. You can almost feel the pioneering spirit, and how various developers were working and expanding the initial framework laid down by Gary Gygax.

All gaming that we do today, is really standing on the shoulders of giants.

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Great Northern War Swedish


These are Foundry GNW Swedish musketeers, and the first concrete results of [the project]( to see the light of day.

I photographed them before they were based because I have no idea yet as to how to base them (to fit in with the rules I have not selected yet).

These took me quite a short time, about 5 hours in total, probably because they essentially have only two colours.

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

ACW Zouaves


This lot are Foundry ACW Zouaves, painted as the 1st Battalion Louisiana Zouaves. I spent just under an hour a figure on these (a bit longer than the [Carolingian spearmen](, as these have more detail).

If anyone's interested and will be at the Red Barons show next Saturday, I'm thinking of putting these up for sale in the Bring and Buy.

Next up are 8 Foundry Swedish Great Northern War figures. [The project]( starts.

Saturday, 9 February 2008

Carolingian spearmen

These are the 8 [Artizan]( Carolingian spearmen I finished over a week ago, but only managed to photograph today (lazy 'r' us):


They were finished metal to varnish in 3.5 2 hour painting sessions, so less than 1 hour per figure. I'm happy that I've been able to keep my painting perfectionist side down and painting volume up.

Next up are a set of 11 Foundry ACW zouaves, painted as the 1st Louisiane Zouaves (not the Louisiana Tigers), who are already about half done.

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

A new project dawns

Occasionally in the life of a wargamer -- or quite often in some cases --
one gets the idea to start a new period. Today is such a time for me.

I have grown a bit weary of painting what are basically ununiformed more or
less hairy more or less barbarians. The few Copplestone Chinese infantrymen
I painted for our Tintin game gave me a taste for painting uniformed
figures, with all the advantages those have for batch, or dare I say
assembly line, style painting.

So, I was half unconsciously looking to get into a period featuring nice
uniforms. The nicest uniforms around are of course those of the horse and
musket period, so my thoughts quickly settled on that. But what to choose?
Napoleonics and Seven Years War are the main contenders in Europe (ACW and
AWI feature more prominently in the US), but they did not immediately
appeal, possibly because of the popularity. After a while, however, I
stumbled upon a period that has just the right mix of quirkiness and
popularity: the Great Northern War.

For those of you now going _'huh?'_, the Great Northern War took place over
the first two decades of the 18th century in the Baltic area, contemporary
with the War of Spanish Succession (better known as the Marlburian wars) in
Western Europe. It featured Sweden under King Charles XII, then a major
world power, against just about everyone else running around in that area,
most notably the emerging Russians under Peter The Great. At the end of the
war, Sweden was eclipsed and its leading position in the area taken over by
Russia, which became a world power in its own right.

The Great Northern War features Swedes and Russians of course, but also
Poles, Saxons, Danes, Norwegians, and what not. Enough variety to scare a
flock of flamingoes with. Now, being a somewhat less popular period, I'm
having some trouble finding good figures for them in the One True Scale
(28mm). So far, I've found Wargames Foundry, which have some Swedes and
Russians in their Marlburian range, and a manufacturer in the US who is
listed with a phone number and might not even be in business any more, but whose figures are nice enough, judging from a review on Magweb. I
haven't looked at Old Glory yet, but they will most probably have at least
few suitable bags. Does anyone know of any other suitable figure ranges?

And finally, what about rules? I have really no idea as to what rules to
use, so I 'm throwing that one out to you readers as well - what rules are
good for the early 18th Century Horse & Musket period?

Thursday, 24 January 2008

Romano British command and their very late cousins

Just to prove that I wasn't kidding [yesterday](, here's the latest painting results:

Romano British cavalry command

And their somewhat later cousins:

Modern British battle group

The first set are Foundry 28mm Romano British cavalry command figures, the second are Modern British 1/285th GHQ figures.

Monday, 21 January 2008

It lives...

Just as we were ready to pronounce it dead and buried, the ancient beast
shudders, sloughs off layers of dust and sleepily opens one eye to peer at
the world outside. Yes, TTM still lives.

Due to a variety of reasons, some personal, some not, I haven't posted
anything here since the first half of last year. Lots of things happened
since then, some of which conspired to stop the regular flow of posts here.

That said, I'd like to kickstart things again with a 'what are you working
on' type of post (that phrase is not chosen at random, see further on).
recently started painting again after several months' inaction (long enough
to forget most of my 'paint recipes'), and these are things I've recently
finished or am working on at the moment:

* A GHQ Modern British combat command (1/285th) (essentially a reinforced
battalion) - these are all finished. The idea is that we start some kind
of a 'Cold War turned hot' project soon(ish). Frank is doing Germans,
Koen is
doing Russians, and Alan has been making noises about acquiring some
too. I'm looking at [Cold War Commander]( for this project.
* 4 Romano British cavalry command types (Foundry 28mm) (1 leader, 2
standard bearer, 1
musician) to round out my RB cavalry units. These are finished but for
* I just started the first batch of 8 [Artizan
Designs]( [Carolingian spearmen]( These
are my next Dark Ages army and might feature in a Carolingians vs Vikings
in Leuven game sometime in the future.

The last two painting sessions I did went very well (a bad painting session
is one where I break out all the stuff and than twiddle about doing not
at all, putting everything away after painting just 1 layer on three
or so), which I attribute to a [tip of Phil's]( - listening to podcasts
while painting. I went through the latest episodes of [The Naked Scientists
podcast](, [What are you working on](
(aha) and [All about miniatures]( while painting the latest batches of
figures, and find it works very well. It is an unintrusive enough way of
keeping your mind occupied while painting, yet not intrusive enough to
distract from the painting (as TV tends to do). I think I'll be doing this
lot more - thanks for the suggestion Phil.

Finally, the biweekly Schild en Vriend games have been going on strong,
an ACW game (the Henry Hill action of [1st Bull Run]( ) and a Blitzkrieg
commander game (German invasion of Belgium in 1940) having featured
recently. Photos of the latter can be found [on Flickr](

That's it for now, and let's try to get some more posts up.