Friday, January 28, 2011

Cedar Mountain Play Tests

Tonight a few of my friends helped me play test an American civil war scenario that I'll be putting on at our club's game night in February. I wanted a smaller scenario so that the game would be sure to be played to completion during a three hour gaming session at our club so I initially selected first Manassas. After getting a lot of RSVPs for my play test session I switched to a slightly larger yet still manageable scenario - the battle of Cedar Mountain - August 9th 1862.

As a starting point I used some historical maps I found on the Internet and the excellent Volley & Bayonet order of battle from Keith McNelly's Volley & Bayonet page. After reading about the battle a bit and reviewing the scenario notes I decided on starting my scenario at the point where the Union forces are approaching the crossroads and the Confederate forces are entering from their side of the battlefield. For sake of speed, I started with all troops on the table and the Union with a 1 victory point advantage. Additional points are scored for holding the crossroads at the end of the game and for exhausting enemy divisions. With the Union easily capturing the crossroads early on their 2nd turn, the burden of attack is clearly in the Confederates hands. Their superior numbers and morale balance this out, or at least that is the plan.

Below we see the two teams. First play test the team on the left comprised of George, Phil, Ross and Ralph played the Confederates and the team on the right comprised of Ed, Robert and Mike played the Union. For the second play test the teams switched sides with Ross remaining Confederate for both games since the Union army could only support three players comfortably.

For both games the Union plan was to set up a firm defense at the crossroads and the Confederate plan was to flank heavily on the Union left flank. On the first game the Confederate attacks went in on turn three and four with the Union repulsing them with heavy losses. After five turns the first game was called as a decisive Union victory. Some photos of this game are below.

For the second game, the new Confederate players chose to take a more patient approach with two of their divisions aiming to take several additional turns to attack the Union lines from the rear forcing them to fight on two fronts. The Union players were forced to make a hasty redeployment that allowed for a swift attack from their front with later attacks from the flank and rear. In the end they held off the Confederates with a final score of 3-1 in victory points, but with both sides having additional divisions only a point or two from exhaustion. During the fighting there was at least one turn where the Union tilted on the brink of disaster, but in the end they were able to consolidate their remaining forces in a firm battle line defending the crossroads.  There are some photos of this game below.

In the end all players got to play both sides of the battle and all agreed that the scenario is pretty close to tuned. I believe that I will only make two small adjustments. One will be removing one of the Union corps batteries, the other will be to somehow bolster Lawton's command, possibly by adding an artillery battery to it, or maybe by just adding some additional strength points to the brigades. I should have a follow up post to this one after our February game night where I will be hosting the final game. I'd like to thank everyone who came tonight to help me play test the scenario.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

ACW Re-basing Project (1)

Over the past week I've finished de-basing all of my 15mm ACW figures that were previously based for Fire & Fury and I've started to re-base them for Volley & Bayonet. Tonight I was able to re-base all of my Union officers: 13 division commanders, 5 corps commanders and one army commander. I also was able to start work on my Confederate officers finishing 8 division commanders, 3 corps commanders and one army commander. I still have one more each of Confederate division commander and corps commander. I think this means either I have too many Union officers or too few Confederate officers. Once I start setting up some scenarios I'll know which and either I'll be able to sell off some Union officers or I'll have to paint up a few more Confederates.

Last year I purchased a couple of armies from a friend in our wargaming club which were previously painted by my Uncle. These comprise about half of my collection. After purchasing these figures I re-based a majority of my infantry and cavalry to match the newly-purchased figures. Having a touch of wargaming ADD, I moved on to another project before finishing this one leaving me with the officers, artillery and some infantry left to finish. Below are photos of what I had re-based previously, Union on the left, Confederate on the right:

Below is a photo of what I have left to re-base, mostly artillery (Union and Confederate) and a few units of Confederate infantry and dismounted cavalry.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Yet Another Shameless Plug

Well, we're snowed in today, so I thought I'd continue working on one of my 2011 goals - re-basing my 15mm ACW armies for Volley & Bayonet (V&B). In doing so I've decided that I have too much Confederate cavalry, so I'm not going to re-base all of it. This unit is one I bought at Historicon years ago. Although it's served me well, it's time for it to find a new home. I've listed it on Ebay here:

These photographs are probably viewable in higher quality than those inserted into the Ebay auction. Hopefully someone will like them as much as I did when I bought and used them. The rest of the figures that I haven't re-based yet are soaking in water to soften up the PVA glue that I used to glue them to the bases. Later this week I should be able to remove them from their bases and get them based properly for V&B.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

2011 Goals

I haven't done this in the past, but I thought I'd set out some goals for the upcoming year. I'd like to do this to focus my efforts, which often tend to flow and turn with my changing passions during the year. I'm not promising I still won't get excited about different projects not on my goals list, but hopefully I'll be able to complete most of these.

Goal One - Finish My Early War FOW German Pioneer Company
I'm still waiting on Battlefront to release blisters of the Panzer I and Panzer IIc tanks. I also have two blisters of PaK-36 AT guns on order. Other than that I have to finish painting up my second platoon of engineer infantry, which is sitting on my painting table half finished. This should be a project that I can complete easily this year. The added motivation of being able to use it in the ongoing escalation league at Adler Hobby will help keep me on track with this one.

Goal Two - Finish Re-Basing my 15mm ACW Armies
I've made good progress in re-basing my 15mm ACW armies from Fire & Fury to Volley & Bayonet (V&B), but at about 75% completion I stalled on the project. This year I'd like to put this project to bed and start using the lead to run both V&B games as well as Carnage & Glory games. To motivate me to finish this project I've already scheduled my first two games with these armies.

Goal Three - Finish my Roman and Seleucid FOG Armies
This past year I made GREAT progress on both my Roman and Seleucid Field of Glory (FOG) armies. I'm only missing some mounted commanders to complete the Roman army, which is approaching double the size of a standard 'tournament' army. My Seleucids are looking good as far as core units (Pike, Elephants, Chariots) but still need some additional support. I'm guessing 2-3 more units will complete that army as well.

Goal Four - Convention Participation
Last year I was able to run a game at Huzzah! and run a game and coordinate the Centuries of Conflict event at Carnage. I'd like to do that again this year. I'd also like to try to attend Historicon this year. I didn't go last year and I'm disappointed that I didn't make it. This year I hope to take my motor home down and 'camp' in the convention center parking lot (which is allowed). Maybe I can even get some of the Conspirators to carpool down in the RV.

Reward For Making My Goals
If I can make goals 1-3, I'd like to start work on my 15mm FOW British Infantry Company and Matilda Tank Company. This dual-use command will re-use figures from each, so is only about 25% more work than doing either of the companies alone. 

Variety, the Spice of Life
I hope to sprinkle in at least a couple of 25mm AWI units. This year I only managed a single unit and a mortar. I have PLENTY of unpainted lead left for my AWI collection, mostly new Perry figures which are a joy to paint. Hopefully a couple units will manage to find themselves at the top of the painting queue this year.

Wish me luck in achieving even SOME of these goals. Best of luck to each of you in reaching your own wargaming goals this year.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

2010 Wargaming Year In Review

2010 was one of my better years of wargaming for many reasons: I painted a large amount of figures, I enjoyed playing in a lot of games, I hosted several games, I helped coordinate the 2010 Carnage Centuries of Conflict historical game theme and most importantly I made many new friends. Although these milestones aren't listed above in order of importance, let's look at each, one at a time in the order listed.

Here are my painting totals for 2010: 16 28mm foot, 431 15mm figures, 41 15mm vehicles, 21 pieces of terrain/misc, 277 15mm purchased painted or painted via commission.

The 28mm figures were mostly comprised of a single unit, Sargent's Massachusetts Battalion for my AWI figure collection. The 15mm figures were split between four major efforts: the last few units to finish up my Field of Glory (FOG) Roman army, the start of my FOG Seleucid army, the beginning of a Flames of War (FOW) late war Finnish WWII army and my early WWII German Pioneer company also for FOW. Although all of these were exciting projects, I have given the 'photo of the year' award (see above photo) to the Finnish Sturmi platoon I painted up way back in April. These models feature the fun to paint and fun to look at WWII Finnish cammo pattern and scratch-built improvised log armor to ward off enemy bazooka and panzerfaust rounds. This is easily my favorite unit painted in 2010. 

Terrain created in 2010 was mostly centered around laser-created items: 15mm corner ruin objective marker for FOW, 15mm and 28mm versions of a Russian steppes house, and smoke templates for FOW. I also whipped up some barbed wire and minefields for my German engineers to use on the battlefield. Painted figures I purchased were mostly Seleucid units for my FOG army. I also had a large commission completed by fellow blogger Kent from the 15mm paint shack. In my review of Kent's work I also took the time to rate all of the services and companies I buy painted figures from in case anyone is interested in purchasing painted 15mm figures.

I played in many good games this year, many thanks to my good friends at the Northern Conspiracy. I also was able to play in a large number of FOW games at Elite Hobby in Dover and Adler Hobby in Hollis. I attended both Huzzah! and Carnage in 2010 and was able to get in a few games there as well. Not counting the games I hosted myself I was able to play 21 games this year, which is almost two a month! Games I hosted this year included a few 28mm AWI Carnage & Glory games including running one each at Carnage and Huzzah!  My friend Mike C. and I ran a large Magnesia FOG game at our club after a couple of play tests in my basement. I also hosted a couple of HUGE Napoleonic Volley & Bayonet games in my basement as we concluded my 1813 campaign.

The best part about wargaming in 2010 for me has to be all of the new friends I've met. A big chunk of them are the players in the early WWII FOW escalation league at Adler Hobby, but I've also met some great people playing at Elite Hobby and also through my involvement with the Carnage and Huzzah! conventions. To all my new friends, thanks for making 2010 a GREAT wargaming year for me.