Saturday, September 19, 2020

The Desertification of My Table

Time for a new weapon in my terrain arsenal.  That means packing as much desert terrain into a small box as possible.  As usual we start with the ground cloth, a simple light tan fleece bit of fabric cut to fit my tabletop.  The 32-inch by 36-inch size is unorthodox, but try and stop me!

Accidentally did a great job matching my
desert terrain to the driveway.

Nothing too fancy here, just a few layers of mottled spray paint layered one on top of the other.  The deep brown paint will also be used to base-coat the rest of the terrain and provide just a touch of unifying color to the whole project.  Here's a nice comparison shot of the two hues of fabric, and the desert color compared to my more temperate and wet terrain cloth.

The MDF or masonic boards were cut to size and shape months ago with an eye towards this project.  Felt good to finally put them to good use.

The plastic trees are trees, and they have a nice molded peg sticking out the bottom.  That really helps keep them in place.  To add more support, I throw a few rocks down around the tree trunks and slather enough glue to choke a horse in the cracks and crevices.  It all gets covered with more glue and sand, locking everything together.

A few 3D printed plastic columns from an Etsy seller, and a tent from, for that pulpy desert style gives some hard cover to the table.  And the circular dunes are just plastic reflectors for highway use.  Lightweight, sturdy, and a great size and shape for the tabletop make them a natural fit.

The assembly of all this took about two hours, not counting the hour or two of planning, shopping, prep work, watching YouTube videos on game terrrain, reading articles, and all those countless other enjoyable parts of the process.

Friday, September 18, 2020

What Are The Odds

 Prolific YouTube commenter Andrew Beasely had a great question on my solo play of Osprey's En Garde!

To bring you up to speed: in this game each melee figure gets to enact a set number of ploys.  Better fighters get more options.  The players each take a number of tokens that corresponds the figure's rank.  To complicate matters, the player has to choose how many will be attack and how many defense.  The players do this in secret and reveal their attack-defense ratio after both have selected, enabling a mini-game of bluff and counter-bluff.

My solution was to draw beads randomly from a bag, but Andrew makes a great point.

One of the reasons my games played so wonky is that I would draw beads from the same bag.  Think about what that means for each combat.  My fighters were balancing each other out!

Let's use an example to illustrate the problem:

  • The bag contains ten of each bead, attack and defend.
  • Two Rank 5 figures are going to fight.  The first one draws four attack and one defend
  • Now the second fighter isn't drawing from a 10:10 bag, he is drawing from a bag that has six attack and nine defend
  • The second fighter is more likely to draw the opposite of what the first one does, resulting in very even fights with few all out matched attacks
What I need to do is get a second bag with the same mix of beads.  That way both fighters are drawing from the same ratio pool as the other.

Man, I should have started The Joy of Wargaming a long time ago!

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Called It!

 Man, did I call it or what?

The Little Wars TV guys are great.  They provide some fun, light-hearted wargaming fare with high production values, and this is no slight against the work they've done.  This latest gimmick, though?
They're better than this.
Two weeks ago they wondered whether wargaming was dying, and one that didn't have much to say.  Some think it is, some think it isn't, like, whatever man.  That sparked off yet another round of post-mortems on the thriving hobby, and a lot of conversations that amounted to little more than a chance for the usual suspects to remind everyone that they are Very Good People willing to burn the hobby to the ground to save the hobby.  Little Wars TV followed up with some suggestions for what can be done to save the hobby that they couldn't even conclude was in danger let alone dying.  They finished off with a promise that next week they would have the solution to the kind of maybe a problem if you squint your eyes just right and ignore what's in front of your face.
And of course this week they fulfilled that promise with...

An ad for their patreon.

Is that the theme from Curb Your Enthusiasm  I hear in the distance?  

You want to know the secret to spotting this?  I'm a history guy.  I learn from history. This same line has been used to milk cash from more hobbies than you can shake a drybrush at. Video games, comic books, tabletop RPGs, you name it.

By all means, donate away.  When they are talking about wargames on the table and a little light history, they've got the best thing running on the Y'allTubes.  Well worth tossing a couple bones at them to keep their spirits up.

Maybe they'll make enough money to quit with the borderline grifting and get back to dancing with the one what brought 'em - tabletop wargaming.

Repetition and Redundancy

For those of you faithful readers who have been enjoying the fine vidya content that I've been throwing up all over the Tubes4You, allow me to explain-slash-justify something.

If it seems like there is a lot of overlap between content here for you dear reader, and there for the more video-inclined crowd, that's because there is.  If you're part of the overlap between readers and watchers, you are in some rarified company.  Most people prefer one or the other, and since the production of blog posts and videos takes considerably less time than the wargaming, it affords me the luxury of presenting my table in multiple formats.

It also is a defensive measure.  There are a lot of slash-and-burn the books types running around the internet these days, and rather than make myself vulnerable to the Great Cancelling, it makes a lot of sense to produce backup copies.  Having videos and blog posts about a given subject is just smart tactics.

You're a wargamer.  You understand the wisdom of redundancy and backup plans.

Take what you want and leave the rest.

Monday, September 14, 2020

War In The 15mm Vendee

Some shots of a recent battle between Vendeeans and the Parisian boys in Blue using Osprey's En Garde!

The local National Guard - professional REMFs
meet the local boys, untrained but scrappy.

The action starts just as the National Guard attempts to close
down the local church.  The locals come out of their homes
to see what all the fuss is about.

The blue markers show who fired a musket and needs to
reload.  The cordon collapses around the Blues.

Split up, ill-led, and outnumbered, the training and muskets of
the Blues makes little difference.

Cut down to a man, they'll have to be avenged by 
the Parisians.

The gems are the method I've used to play a very non-solo game alone.  Since I can't fool myself as to ploys, I draw one bead from a bag for every Rank in the fight.  Red means attack, green means defend.  No need to out-think myself.  I can just post-hoc rationalize whatever results the laws of randomness give me.

The Vendee is a little outside the date range given in the rulebook.  It doesn't make any difference for a small scale game like this.  You've got one shot black powder weapons and then close to melee.  On any table with sufficient terrain, and the bocage definitely counts, it works just fine with no changes.

You can watch the full battle played out in real time, right here:

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Small Droppings

The littlest Gaslands project is just about ready to hit the road.  I traced the N-scale templates out onto heavy cardstock and cut out the appropriate sizes.  The thick cardstock can be bought at the local craft store cheap - the offcuts from the framing shop go for a dollar for an 8x10 piece.  They take paint like a champ, and a bit of brushed on varnish keep the edges from fraying during light use.  Probably not suitable for everyday use, but we're dilettantes here.  If Gaslands gets more than a dozen plays, that will put it in my top five games played of 2020.

Friday, September 11, 2020

Great Borodino Thread on the Twit Box

If you're on the Tweeter Machine and you want to read about a massive and intricate refight of the action at Borodino, brother have I got a thread for you!

If you're smart enough to avoid that place, then brother have I got an website that neatly compiling the thread in browser-friendly format for you!

Here's a taste, gotta click for the rest!

Some gorgeous shots of a lavish table and a lot of furious wargaming action.  You won't want to miss this, and it makes me even more hungry to start my own journey down the Napoleonic rabbit hole.