Monday, July 24, 2017

Olustee Project: Pine Solved: Making Southern Pines.

Roughly what I am trying to model.

    Let the challenge begin! The rather larger American Civil War game for the Battle of Olustee, FL is on a healthy start. I have been doing some research and watching quite a few youtube videos for terrain knowledge. No matter how good you think you are a executing a task like terrain, someone always finds a newer improved way. And so, too the Internet, I search!
     In this case, I have been researching trees. I have quite a few ways I make trees. However, I have entered the dangerous territory of modelling accurate trees. Five years ago, I probably would not have cared. It has now become about enhancing the game! That is why I was in search of the southern pine. I can simple look out my window for this, but I wanted to see if any good models were out there for them. The first place to go on the internet for this was my trusty, evil company of Scenic Express. The only type they had were 6" tall. Other places on the internet seem to direct me to either JTT Trees or make them yourself. I guess I will be making them myself.

These are the 6" trees that Scenic Express has for sale. 
        So, after a couple of videos about making southern pine trees, I felt that they still just did not cut it. They seem to lack some elements. At least, they were not all videos geared toward bottle brush trees. I had to do a test tree. I found that I had leftover green tuffs for basing. I decided to try out how they look as tree needles. Here is how that came out in comparison to the real deal

The tree I made.

Tree with 28 mm Union Figures.

The real deal
     Obviously, I did not have enough tuffs to fill the tree, but it is mainly a rough draft. What I have learned is that I am going to have to do it this way, which would be expensive as hell if we bought tuffs. This takes me into a new direction in terrain making. I am going to have to learn to make tuffs myself to cut the cost of my project down. This is a good thing, because I have discovered several useful videos on how to do this. Also, I found videos how to make my own static grass applicator for around $15. That is way better than $150+. The other thing is that this will save me for all of the basing I plan to do for 800 figures. I will just have to post how the real trees will look when I get there.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Never Ending Zombies: Zombicide: Black Death

    I am not much for playing board games to often, especially cooperative board games. Something about not attacking another player in a game seems a bit off. Plus, I tend to be the person who haphazardly walks into a room that dooms the rest of the players. The feeling of "We lost the game, and it is your fault!" can make the game unpleasant in the end. However, after playing the game Zombicide: Black Death, I can see cooperative gaming as fun. I think that it has to do with the set up. In the game, your characters can gain experience and gain abilities as you kill zombies and/or pick up objectives. You can also find weapons that you can use or food that can give you a point of experience. This makes this cooperative game a lot easier to deal with in terms of accomplishment. The past cooperative games I played seemed to have a "Mission Impossible" stance. It would take a miracle to even think about winning. In Zombicide, it is possible to win. Between my wife, my friend, Hugh, and myself, we actually won this game in the mission we played. It just makes me wonder why Zombie games for wargaming do not have this type of flow. Who knows. Here are the pictures from our coffee table game of Zombicide. Enjoy!

My two characters.

My wife's two characters.

The mission board.

The bells were the noise made breaking the door.

Zombies appearing at spawning points.

The "X"s were objectives.

Even our cat, Izzy was into to this. 

Or she just liked the boxes!

Lots of zombies.

Never ending zombies!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

New Project: American Civil War, the Battle of Olustee, FL.

A Re-enactment of the Battle of Olustee, FL
       After this year's Historicon, I wanted to create a new challenge for myself. In this case, it is the American Civil War. It is amazing that Kalissa and I did not have any figures for this time period yet. After all, I read and studied the war for a good portion of my youth and at college. It seems like the right time for it. Besides, there are a lot of cool scenarios and references out there. But I did not want to choose any of the more common battles. I wanted something a little different with some interesting flavor, which brings me to the Battle of Olustee, FL that took place in Feb, 20th, 1864. It was also known as the Battle of Ocean Pond. It seemed to be one of the only big battles in Florida that I did not know too much about. In a matter of fact, I did not really know about it until I had recently watched the movie "Glory". I was kind of curious to know what happened to the 54th Mass. after the assault on Fort Wagner, SC. I was led to this battle.

       The nifty challenges this presents is that it is Florida winter terrain. I was born in Tampa, Fl, so I have a good idea about it. Plus, there are a lot of re-enactment reference photos to get it right. The board I will be making might have some swamps. I will also have the fun of modelling southern pine trees that I cannot just buy. I will have to figure that part out along with the scrub brush that would be the pine barrens. So there are a lot of interesting terrain choices to consider. It will be fun!
       To top that, I have a huge amount of troops to paint. I want to be able to break down forces for a 6 player game. I, also, must consider whether or not I want to break down the game into a four part game or a one shot deal for multiple games. Either way, I plan on have quite a few figures. I had already bought 13 regiments worth of infantry for Sash and Saber in 28mm. The cool thing is that we convinced the owner to help support our project, so I will try to go above and beyond like usual.
      The last thing I have to consider are the rules system to use. The easiest would be to use Black Powder. However, I want to look through Pickett's Charge, Fire and Fury, Devil to Pay, and other rules. Maybe, Jay will share his Hallowed Ground rules. The mission is to get a rules system that does not have the possibly to bog down when played. If I accomplish that mission as well as put on an awesome Civil War game, it will be awesome!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

AAR: Sicily Project:The Results

       Like I had mentioned in the past posting, Kalissa and I got to Historicon a little early. One of the first things we did after talking to some various friends was to look at the gaming chart and look were we were going to really be. As luck would have it, we were to have the same table all convention long with no one else using it. So we naturally set up. It was perfect, since we did not have to fight any of the crowd and we could get maximum expose to the crowds. We had come armed with signs this time in hopes that I would not have to speak so much. This did reduce the amount of repetitive conversations about the game. The other purpose was for education of the battle. There were a lot of people who did not know about the Canadians' involvement in Operation Husky. This was really very cool, because I did feel like I did the veterans of the battle justice. We had a sign for our miniature company supporters, the description of the game and it's time, and a tri-fold board that had pictures and fact on them. Below was what the tri-fold board had on it. This was the scenario.

First German Encounter for the Canadians
On the morning of July 15th, 1943, loud cracks from German 8.8cm Flak guns hammer down at the men and tanks of the 1st Canadian Army. It was an ambush set up by the Hermann Goering Flak Regiment in the  seventeenth century built town of Grammichele, Sicily. Up on a mile long ridge with a view commanding the southern approaches with a nearly unobstructed view of the countryside, the Germans were surprised to see the Canadians rolling up Highway 124 in full single line, two mile long column. Instead of waiting for the Canadians to venture into town to ambush in close quarters, a German gun crew open up on the stopped Allied Division. The Canadians, Infantry of the Hasting Prince Edward Regiment and Tanks of The Three Rivers Regiment, were halted on the highway by a crater the Germans made to slow the Allied progress. The Germans were fighting a series of rearguarding actions to set up better defensive lines on the Catania Plain.
        After the Recce of the Three Rivers Regiment and the Hasty Pee's B Company entered the town, Lt.-Col. Tweedsmuir, commanding the Hasting Prince Edward Regiment, ordered for the crater to be filled. The first shots were fired, quickly destroying a Sherman tank. Machine guns and mortars rained down on the Canadian position causing the infantry to dismount off the tanks and take cover in the ditch. The Germans did not expect for the Canadians to react so well with this being their first battle. The Canadians went into action splitting their forces into a classic pincer move with the support of Bishop Self-propelled guns. After three hours of fighting, the Germans realized they were in danger of being surrounded and decided to withdraw at noon. They left behind a large amount of supplies, three burning tanks, and a number of  dead. For the Canadians, they lost a Sherman tank, three Universal Carriers, and suffered 25 casualities.

     The game used Bolt Action rules that had simple modifications. For one, we ditched the "Tiger Fear" rule, since the Canadians had not yet seen them in action yet. We also got rid of the "Turret Jam", since it does not make sense and it is hated by nearly everyone. The game played with glass beads in the pull bag instead of the order dice. The reason was to move the game along. I was only running each game for four hours with a six turn limit. The way it worked was that there were two color glass beads in the bag: either German or Canadian. Whatever bead was pulled, that side of players each got to play a unit. It made the game move faster without having long lulls of players sitting there doing nothing. It also did not ruin the integrity of the game system mechanics. The order die would just go behind whatever units. The draw backs were that the "Snap to Attention" rule would sometimes confuse things, as well as, "Ambush" and "Down" orders. I think there were two turns out of the five games where it got a little confusing. Also, the forces were assigned in advance. I found there is less chance for arguing if you don't give the issues a chance.
    Since this was an ambush, the player running the 8.8cm Flak guns got to fire two rounds for free before the first turn like a real ambush. Only two vehicles died from this in all five games. The last game, it was the front Dingo that took it in overkill. I even considered bring spare vehicle parts for a vaporized vehicle. The counter to the ambush to represent the fast response time, every unit of the Canadians got a free move! Then, turn one would begin.
    Overall, the Canadians technically only won one game, which was the last one. Despite this, everyone had tons of fun. We even had a grandson versus grandfather fight where the younger of the two rammed his Panzer III in a Sherman tank on the road. I was asked if he could, and I told him that I would buy him a Coke if he pulled it off. I ended up forking out the money for him!
    All games made it to round five. The first game was not scheduled. I felt I needed to play it instead of just occupying a table all day with no action. The second to the last game, we played a random tank face off round. We ignored all pins and fired to see what would die. Why not? Most of the games had almost the same casualties and losses as the scenario they were playing. Most of the time, it was a German tank short.
    These games received a lot of attention. It was heavily photographed by most of the attendees. I won a Pour Encourager Les Autres Award (PELA) on the Thursday game. I was a little shocked, since the players had not yet rolled a die in the game! It just received that much attention! We had all game tickets sell out, as well as, having a waiting list for any openings in the game. I would have added more, but I did not have the forces. Plus, too many people could ruin the game for everyone. I was told that judges wanted to give a PELA to every game I ran. You can only win one in the convention. This is was lead up to the next award I won, which was the "Best in Theme." I was also informed that I was in 2nd place for "Best in Show." A pirate game beat me out. They had a cool table.
   Either way, it was another success story! I had met lots of new gamer friends and had repeat players from the last two games I ran in the previous. Even though, I won some awards, I am awarded more by the people who want to play my games. That is what makes running at a convention well worth the effort. Now, I will just have to continue for next year's project! Here were the photos. Enjoy!

This was an 6' x 18' board. I am standing in the background for scale!

The set up for the beginning of each game.

There is a crater in front of the railroad tracks on the road that was done by the Germans. This was listed as impassible.

Lt.-Col. Tweedsmuir of the Hasty P's.

The Canadians were color coded for the player. They are just stickers on the rear of the tank.

A side view of the Canadians position before the ambush.

The evil 88's!

The German's ambush view.

The beginning of the town of Grammichele, Sicily.

I got these 99 cent rulers to help with the shorter movements to reduce the tape measure fights we all have.

The German's using Soviet tactics of Kursk!