Tag Archives: Buck’s Blog



I’ve had this project hanging over me for quite some time.  For an upcoming game we needed this chariots painted up.  As the game’s host’s house has been under renovation for almost a year (it seems), he hasn’t had a chance to get his painted, so it was up to me.  In the vein of just-in-time logistics, I completed them this weekend for next weekend’s game.

(As an aside, the only all-nighters I pulled in college were to get battalions painted for the next day’s big Napoleonic war-game.)

The chariots are recasts of old Marx sets.  As I was finishing up this project I was reminded how much I hate plastic.  I did all the things you are supposed to do.  I washed the figures.  I used Krylon Fusion (which is supposed to bond to soft plastic).  I buried a statue of St. Anthony upside down in the garden.  Actually I didn’t do that, but I did the other stuff.  No matter what, unless you paint with the flexible artists’ acrylics that come in the toothpaste tubes (really too hard to work with if you want to paint any detail), I rarely have any luck getting the paint to stick to soft plastic.  (I haven’t had the same problems others report getting their paint to stick to the Bones plastic figures, however.)

So anyway, the six chariots are done.  Thank God!  I fear, however, that more and more paint will flake off these every time I game with them.  The required five-inch-square bases won’t be available until I get to the game on Friday, so I’m worried about their condition by the time I get down to Charlotte with them.

I think they turned out okay.  Each one is a different color to make them easier to distinguish on the track.  I didn’t put a lot of detail into them, but the sculpting and molding didn’t help me much.  They’re good enough for the game next weekend, and I hope they last for a few games before they return to the bare plastic from whence they came.  I’m anxious to get them mounted onto bases so that players can handle the bases instead of the soft figures.

P.S.  I’ve continued to slog away on my 16 battalions of 10mm Russian grenadiers.  I painted all the tiny muskets this weekend.

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Dave’s Great Idea


On federal holidays, Dave usually comes down from Aberdeen and we run around BWI airport (12.5 miles).  It gives us a chance to talk politics and gaming while getting a workout.  For me it’s a long run, but for Dave it’s a short run.  Today, being Veteran’s Day, Dave and I ran the airport.

Along the way we talked about our Napoleonic 1814 scenario book and the WWII skirmish rules.  Dave hit on a great idea for squad and team leaders.  I was saying that I thought the ranges were too short for weapons  in the WWII skirmish game.  I cut the max effective ranges in half once because you can’t usually see to max effective range on the battlefield and then cut them in half again because people tend to be excited on a battlefield and don’t shoot as well as they do on a rifle range.  Dave suggested that a good role for the team and squad leaders might be that they reduce the range modifier for shooting by one band if the squad leader is not shooting but is instead directing fire.  (In BAPS I did something similar.  If the squad leader wasn’t shooting, he could add is leader rating to the squad’s firepower.)

This idea led down a path of what other things the squad leaders could do.  For instance, if the squad leader is firing his weapon, he probably can’t swap activation dice.  The idea is that the squad should be rewarded when the squad leader is leading his squad instead of firing his weapon.  This perception goes back to my platoon leader days, when I realized that if I was firing my weapon, something had gone wrong.  The platoon leader’s job is to control his squads, his machine-guns, and his radio.  The same is true of squad leaders.

So far, I’ve been able to represent the fact that you don’t get to snipe at the person you want to hit (card flip to determine which figure gets hit) and that a squad fires into an area.  I’ve also represented that better units are more likely to inflict damage.  I think I’ve also represented well enough the difference between a bolt-action rifle and a semi-automatic rifle.  I’ve even — finally — got a decent representation of morale.  Now I’m beginning to address the role of leaders.

I have a lot to think about during tomorrow’s run, but I am excited about this.

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Look, Sarge, No Charts: Near Future and Sci Fi


A sci fi tank company

A sci fi tank company

The development of Bear Yourselves Valiantly:  Look, Sarge, No Charts:  Fantasy, Ancient, and Mediaeval is nearly done, and I have begun the first draft of the rule book.  From previous posts you will recall that I have been tinkering with a new concept for WWII (or modern) skirmish fighting.  At the same time, I’ve been talking about a near future and science fiction version of Look, Sarge, No Charts.

Command vehicle

Command vehicle

That project won’t start for a year, probably, but it’s not too early to start building up some forces for those early play tests.

Daleks -- Exterminate!  Exterminate!

Daleks — Exterminate! Exterminate!

I found the futuristic tanks in the flea market at Fall In, last November.  They are from a line, called Gropos.  I don’t know much about the line or the company, but these two packs I found make a pretty nice tank company with three line platoons, a scout platoon, and a headquarters section.  My buddy Greg found the 10mm Daleks there as well.

Scout cars

Scout cars

They assembled and painted quite easily.  I painted them in tactical colors, in this case olive.  I have never understood red, yellow, psychedelic, paisley, or plaid camouflage patterns on futuristic vehicles.

A tank platoon.

A tank platoon.

Over the next year or so, the plan is to comb through flea markets and hobby shops for odds and ends to begin making up some forces for play tests.  It was a nice break from blanket rolls on 480 10mm Russian grenadiers!

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2013 HAWKs New Years Eve Gaming Party


Early stages of "Montmirail"

Early stages of “Montmirail”

For five years now we’ve been hosting a New Years Eve gaming event.  As we’ve moved several times, this is the third venue.  This year’s event featured two full, four-hour convention games.  People began arriving about 1430, we had a break for dinner, we toasted the new year, and finished the second game by about 0100.

The battle commences

The battle commences

"Montmirail" continues

“Montmirail” continues

We started about 1530 with distortion of the Battle of Montmirail.  Montmirail is a Napoleonic battle from the upcoming 1814 campaign book, written primarily by Dave Wood.  In this case, as I am about to wade into the writing of the book for Bear Yourselves Valiantly:  Look, Sarge, No Charts:  Fantasy, Ancient, and Mediaeval, I substituted fantasy figures for the Napoleonic figures.  It wasn’t a faithful substitution.  I have each player roughly 1000 points of figures, which was more figures than would be on the table for the historical scenario.  In addition, the 1000-point armies tend to be a mix of troop types rather than being the infantry or cavalry divisions of the historical fight.  It is supposed to be a 10 turn game.  We only completed 7 turns, but I think that in a convention, with a smaller number of troops, we could fit all 10 turns into a four-hour convention slot.  We have one of the HAWKs who seems to like the rules but who doesn’t like fantasy, so I asked Tank Nickle (one of the BYV co-authors) to bring his Romans and Carthaginians, who acted as opposing commands of humans on that wing of the table.

"Montmirail" was a bloody affair

“Montmirail” was a bloody affair

Victory conditions involved ownership of four towns.  The “French” (consisting of dwarves, elves, and Carthaginians) held one of the four towns but needed to capture one of the other three to win the game.  The “Allies” (humans and goblins) held the other three.  This required the French to be on the offensive.  In the end, the dwarves, elves, and Carthaginians had not captured a second town.  With another few turns two of the three might have been contested, but about 1930 we called the game an Allied victory, tore it down, and set up the next fight.

Orc's Drift

Orc’s Drift

Eric Schlegel then set up and ran a fantasy game using his modifications to GASLIGHT, which he calls Mage Light.  The scenario was the British colonial battle of Rorke’s Drift, but the forces were fantasy figures instead.  (This New Years Eve was certainly the night for fantasy transmogrifications of historical battles!)  We, the “bad guys,” with a host of goblins, koblods, gnolls, ghouls, skeletons, orcs, and other assorted units were defending our homeland against the evil rampage of the “good guys.”

Orc's drift as the battle unfolds

Orc’s Drift as the battle unfolds

This too was a bloody affair.  A high point for me were when the hill giants defending the wall against the imperialist Ent, turned it into kindling.  The good guys had a cleric who kept resurrecting dead “good guys” and a wizard who kept putting up walls of fire, thorns, and other stuff to slow down our movement of troops within the walls of Orc’s Drift.

Ent and hill giants battle

An ent and some hill giants battle

The battle was going hot and heavy at midnight, so we stopped for 45 seconds to acknowledge the drop of the big ball and toast the new year before continuing the game.  By about 0100 Eric called the game a “bad guy” victory; although, both sides were reduced to fewer than a dozen or so figures.

Bill Sleeping

… It was a long day and night of gaming.

Fighting two, full-length battles worked well.  In past years we’ve run two somewhat shorter events and then had to start a third game around 2230 or 2300.  The HAWKs are no spring chickens, so STARTING a game that late has been somewhat difficult.  We’ve done things like Munchkin or Red Dragon Inn, but even then, it’s hard to start that third game.  I liked what we did this year better; although, it’s good to have those other games in reserve in case a game plays poorly, and we end it early.

We were missing a couple of “usual suspects.”  The Dean’s were unavailable; the Palmers were indisposed; and the Woods were unable to attend.  On top of that, the Priebe’s were busy getting married.  Still we had 12 players for the first game.  Even missing these folks, we had an excellent time.  It was a nice way to ring in the new year.

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Miscellaneous Hobby Stuff


No town should be without its “crazy cat lady,” and now, thanks to Chris, my town of Granville that I use for pulp games has one.

Completed "division" of Napoleonic Polish

Completed “division” of Napoleonic Polish

I recently purchased a large number of painted 10mm Napoleonic figures.  I don’t typically purchase painted figures, but this was a really good deal.  Most of the figures were Old Glory, which is the manufacturer I’ve been using mostly for this project.  They were painted as well or slightly better than I do myself.  I have already based, labelled, and flocked the French forces.  I have assembled III and V Corps from 1805-7.  I now have enough additional French line infantry and artillery for almost an entire third corps.  What would be missing is some light cavalry and light infantry.  This past weekend I finally got around to pawing through the box of Polish figures and found that I could assemble a small division, consisting of two infantry brigades, a cavalry brigade, and two guns.

Sixteen battalions of Russian grenadiers in progress

Sixteen battalions of Russian grenadiers in progress

This weekend I also dry brushed the base green color on sixteen battalions of Russian grenadiers.  That seems like a lot of grenadiers, but it turns out that the Russian VIII corps in 1812 had an entire division of grenadiers.  I am painting the VII and VIII Russian corps.  Once I complete these infantry, I will have completed both corps.  In the painted collection there are enough line infantry to make a third corps, but again, it will be short on guns and cavalry.

Chariot men

Chariot men

In late January JJ is going to be hosting a chariot race game with 54mm Marx recasts.  I got six chariots from Ed of Two Hour Wargames.  I just started painting them this weekend.  I started with the riders, as they will take the longest to paint.  The horses and chariots will be mostly spray painting and dry brushing.  There is not a lot of detail on these figures, and the detail is not molded very deeply.  I find these figures much more difficult to paint than 28mm figures.

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Hobby Stuff for Christmas


I received a number of hobby-related items for Christmas this year.  Above is a pulp pistol my wife found in a catalog.  It’s all plastic and has no working parts, but the look is effective.

"Books are secure here, sir."

“Books are secure here, sir.”

My kids got me these really cool book ends that are reminiscent of the old green Army men.

"Hold your position, books!"

“Hold your position, books!”

My wife also found this really neat coffee mug.  I don’t drink coffee, but this is really cute!

Giant, undead, drunken dwarf faces off against wood elf infantry

Giant, undead, drunken dwarf faces off against wood elf infantry

My buddy, Chris, made this giant dwarf figure for me.  It is based for Bear Yourselves Valiantly.

Assortment of magic walls

Assortment of magic walls

Chris also made this assortment of magical walls for Bear Yourselves Valiantly.

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Completed Three Litko Buildings


I love the MDF buildings from Litko.  A year or so ago, they released six new ones.  You can find information about them at http://ift.tt/1bugLFF .  The old ones are here: http://ift.tt/1czmHll .  I have three of the new ones.  They are a bit more expensive, but they are high quality and have clear plastic to put into the windows after finishing construction.  These will look great in my town of Granville for my Pulp games.

I put the last three on my Christmas list and hope to assemble them by Historicon, so I can run a couple of Pulp games with my expanded town.  I highly recommend these kits for their quality, ease of construction, and final appearance.

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Premature Review of Battle Troll


     I mentioned in my Fall In post that I had played Battle Troll with Howard Whitehouse on Saturday evening.  At a friend’s urging, I wrote a short review.  I call it a premature review, because I haven’t played it enough yet to have a valid opinion.

Bottom line:
     I liked it.  There are a number of interesting ideas for games involving small numbers of figures.  I’m not sure how it would scale.  I’ve only played it once, so I can’t provide a valid review, but here are my initial thoughts.  I’ve provided a little more detail in case you wanted to include any of it in your blog.  If you don’t want to use it, let me know, because I might use it on my blog then.
     First, it was fun to play with Howard.  He’s a funny guy, and we probably would have had fun reading insurance forms.  The book, like all Howard’s books, is fun to read because of the humorous quips he throws in from time to time.
     We played with four figures on each side, two heroes and two huskarls.  Mark Ryan and Howard were the bad guys.  Lee Howard from Blue Moon and I were the good guys.
     Activation is card based.  Some folks have applied interesting twists to the original TSAF method.  A pitfall of card-based activation is that sometimes a lot of folks are standing around watching one person do stuff.  In Battles by GASLIGHT we use double random activation to address this.  Muskets and Tomahawks has modified the card system so that regulars go less frequently, but do more when they activate, while irregulars go more often, but do less when they activate.  In Battle Troll, there are two types of activation.  One lets everyone on a side act.  The other lets the player pick a hero, then that hero and anyone within two inches of him moves.  In a larger game, I can imagine that the “everyone goes” card might take a long time to resolve and so would make the other side feel disconnected.  In our first run through the deck, our side got a string of cards, so we approached, threw javelins, and then closed into melee while Howard and Mark stood there drooling on themselves.  Most of the rest of the game, the card draws were pretty even, but this first turn really favored our side.
     I didn’t really understand how the missile combat was working when I threw some javelins.  Howard told us what to roll, and we did it.  The results seemed reasonable.
     Melee is where I think these rules really came into their own and had some nice features.  I really liked the paper-scissors-rock feel of melee.  I’ve seen this done for jousting games, but never general melee.  The attacker chooses one of five attack cards, while the defender chooses one of five defense cards.  Some attacks provide bonuses if you are using the correct weapon (e.g., axes get a bonus on “slice” attacks).  The attack card and the defense card are then flipped over and cross referenced on a small table.  This cross referencing tells you how many dice the attacker rolls and how many the defender rolls.  The other interesting aspect of the melee is that these are sort of opposed die rolls.  You compare the highest die rolled on each side.  That means that someone with five dice who rolls all low numbers, can be defeated by someone who rolls a six on the one die he gets to roll.  The probability is low, but it’s still possible.  I liked that.  I also liked the way that the difference between the high die and the low die was a modifier in computing damage.
     The other nuance of this card-based melee system is that figures other than heroes don’t get to choose an attack or defense card.  Instead, they draw one randomly from the deck.  One of the five cards is an accident card, which you would never intentionally draw, but huskarls and karls may draw them randomly.  These can cause the figure to drop his weapon, cutting off his own toe, fall on his dagger, or other humorous events.
     Finally the impact of minor wounds was really interesting.  Depending on how wounded you are, you “offer” your opponent the opportunity to make you perform some number of re-rolls.  This could be anything from 1 re-roll for a slight wound to more re-rolls for more serious wounds.   These re-rolls are cumulative.  At one point, I was able to make Mark re-roll five times, which was great, because he kept rolling fives and sixes.  This is a nice way to handle the impact of wounds.  It also make you think a little about whether you wanted to have the player re-roll a die, because he might roll better!
From reading the book, it appears that karls can suffer morale failure from being pushed back several times or other things.  As we had no karls, our game had no morale effects, so I can’t speak to how well that worked.
     I think for a one- to two-hour game in a pub or on the kitchen table, these are really nice rules.  We only had eight figures on the table, but I’d bet it would be fine with as many as a couple dozen on a side if most of them were karls.  From limited use of both these and Songs of Blades and Heroes, I think I like Battle Troll a little better.  I haven’t played enough Saga to form an opinion.  I can see myself playing more Battle Troll in the future, but I’ll need to get a handful more figures to supplement the Vikings from a Tallahassee club project from eons ago.

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More Thoughts on my WWII Skirmish Rules


While running on Friday and again today, I have been thinking about revising the record sheets for the WWII skirmish rules I’ve been chatting about on this blog.  The level of complexity is easily scaled, depending on the number of squads a player wants to control and how closely the players want the game to resemble a role-playing game.  Additionally, the resolution need not be consistent throughout the game.  The “heroes” might be at the highest resolution and complexity, with a player controlling just half a squad, while many of the other soldiers might be represented at the lowest level of complexity.  This is not the same as Main Characters and Extras in GASLIGHT.  It is merely the level of personalization and complexity desired by the players.  In that vein, I have developed the following three record sheets, which will fit on 3″x5″ cards.

Unit record for the lowest and middle complexity units

The highest complexity unit takes both sides of a 3″x5″ card, as shown below.

Unit record for the highest complexity unit

I’ve also been thinking about how best to represent leaders in the game.  I want to test this in a game before modifying the action cards, but I think I will add a modifier to the shooting portion of the card.  This modifier will indicate a right shift if the leader is not present.  For purposes of this rule, the leader is not present if he is firing his weapon, stunned, severely wounded (not sure what that means yet), or otherwise unable to influence his squad or team.

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Some Views of Fall In 2013


Having started a new job, I don’t have a lot of vacation saved up yet, so I worked most of Friday and didn’t get to Fall In until dinnertime, so I missed a whole day of gaming.  When I got there, Kurt was running his battle of Chickamauga game, using A Union So Tested.  After saying hello to everyone, I went to the hotel room to do some work for my consulting job.  I tried to hit the sack early to get ready of a day of gaming on Saturday.

Steve's Marengo game using Shako II

Steve’s Marengo game using Shako II

Steve also ran the battle of Marengo, using Shako II.  Everyone seemed to be having a good time in this game, and the table looked quite good.

A portion of Noah's and Greg's Dr. Who game

A portion of Noah’s and Greg’s Dr. Who game

While I was doing some shopping for toys in the vendor area, Noah and Greg ran another of their Dr. Who extravaganzas for 20 or so players on two tables.  The game went long, because everyone was having fun and didn’t want to quit.

Eric setting up his Saipan game

Eric setting up his Saipan game, “Look, Sarge, the Japs have tanks!” using Look, Sarge, No Charts: WWII

Eric ran his Saipan counterattack game.  We played this last week at HAWKs night, and I was the Japanese tanks.  It’s a fun scenario.

Sam Fuson in Eric's WWII game

Sam Fuson in Eric’s WWII game

Saturday afternoon I ran what was supposed to be a six-player Napoleonic game: the Battle of La Rothiere, 1814.  Nine people showed up for the game, and by subdividing a couple of commands, I was able to accommodate all of them!  This is from the scenario book that Dave Wood and I have been writing.  The French are trying to hold three towns until nightfall, when they will execute an orderly withdraw in the face of superior allied forces.  The allies (Russians and Austrians) are trying to take all three towns to disrupt the French withdrawal.

Looking down the French line past La Rothiere

Looking down the French line past La Rothiere

A close up of my battle of Rothiere using Fate of Battle rules

A close up of my battle of Rothiere using Fate of Battle rules

The battle was a narrow allied victory.  Neither side had uncontested possession of all three towns, so the allies won more victory points based on destroyed French battalions.

Another view of La Rothiere

Another view of La Rothiere

We had several folks in the game who had never played the rules before, yet they picked them up quickly and seemed to have a good time.

Duncan's Chrysler's Farm War of 1812 game using Wellington Rules

Duncan’s Chrysler’s Farm War of 1812 game using Wellington Rules

Duncan ran a very nice War of 1812 game.  One of the folks who showed up at the table was the author of an book on this battle.

Saturday night I sat in the hotel bar with Mark Ryan and a couple of other folks in the business.  Howard Whitehouse gave us demonstration of his Battle Troll rules, for Norse saga type games, which I enjoyed a great deal.  Plus we spanked Mark and Howard!  By the time I got to bed, it was after 0100, and I was beat.  Sunday morning, I wasn’t in the mood for deep thought, so I wandered around the vendor room and the flea market in a daze.

Duncan's "Charted Seas" WWII naval game

Duncan’s “Charted Seas” WWII naval game

I did play in Duncan’s Charted Seas WWII naval game against Dave Sunday morning.  Charted Seas is Duncan’s mashup of Uncharted Seas, Axis and Allies miniatures, and X Wing Fighter.  It really works well.  The X Wing (and other airplane game) activation mechanism addresses the biggest drawback of Uncharted Seas.  This was quite fun.  I sunk half of Dave’s convoy, which made the game a draw.

The initial setup for Eric's Wizards Tower game using Blood and Swash

The initial setup for Eric’s Wizard’s Tower game using Blood and Swash

While I was playing Charted Seas, Eric has run his traditional Sunday morning Blood and Swash fantasy game.  Eric takes all comers and runs a battle that spans the table you see above and also an underground labyrinth with bits from Dwarven Forge.  Eric’s layout gets better looking each year.

Mushrooms that Sammy painted for Eric's game

Mushrooms that Sammy painted for Eric’s game

It was a thin convention for HAWKs.  Fall In is usually lighter for us, but this year it seemed like life really got in the way of the hobby.  A lot of folks who would stay all weekend just came up for Saturday and the HAWKs room was half empty.

I found many of the things I wanted at the convention vendor hall and had time to try a set of rules that I’ve been wanting to try.  For me it was a good, although fast, convention.  I’m looking forward to Cold Wars.

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