Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Wargaming Campaigns: The Book

 It's not too late to join the wargame renaissance and give the classic umpire-led campaign a shot.  In fact, it may be a little too early.  If you've ever thought about trying your hand at running a larger-scale campaign, then Henry Hyde has a little advice for you.  I've already pre-ordered a copy of this book, which won't be out until the end of May.  Just in time to tell me everything that I've been doing right and wrong with the Trossian War.

The price is a bit steep, but if you pre-order a copy using this link you can save 30% off the cover price.  That's not an affiliate link, by the way, it's just a bit hard to track down the discounted fare and I am a giving soul.  The final book will be 500+ pages of beautifully written and illustrated work that your wife will want to leave out on the coffee table to broadcast to visitors what an erudite and thrifty couple you are.  Guaranteed.

Of course, once the game finally arrives in early summer, I'll be sure to hammer out a fully detailed review to see if it measures up to the hype.

Monday, December 28, 2020

Scattered Shots and Thoughts

 Time to make a scene!

Can't fight for the throne of the Trossian Empire if you don't have a continent of Tros to fight on.  So let's take a look at some of that scatter  This is all 2mm terrain from either Irregular Miniatures or PicoArmor.

Irregular trees on the right and, believe it
or not, hills on the left.
Very low hills.

Some water features, all from PicoArmor.
Not sure that I have a use for the coastal fortress or the light house, but the boat will make for a fine objective.  And even if they don't have a use, they add a touch of scenery.

Towns and such from Irregular
Now that I've got these painted, I can map out and paint up a few 'drop cloths'.  With the colors in pace and the river and widths established, we can move on to the next step.

PicoArmor churches, with a variety of extra steeples,
so you could make all these Orthodox if you want.
Figures for scale.
One thing to note on this, Irregular makes a much larger cathedral that includes the stone walkway you see in the center.  That cast wasn't very good, and it was way too big to fit into my storage, so the centerpiece didn't make the final cut.  I still used the stone base for a PicoArmor building, to...mixed results.  Looks great, but:

Now the church doesn't fit into my storage box.  The colored boxes are 4" by 6" photo storage boxes that fit neatly into a carrything case.  That courtyard makes the cathedral just a little too big.  So I snapped off the steeple and now when I want to use there is some assebly required.  Gotta roll with those punches.

Saturday, December 26, 2020

A Big 2mm Update

The big hoopty for 2020 here at Chez Inabox has been the move to integrate 2mm scale gaming into the mix.  Not only that, but we determined that a move into the new frontier of mass battle black powder gaming was in order.  We like to zig when the world zags, and we rarely go in half-way.  Five full armies and a few scattered allies await five players.

The littlest Brunswickers

But all those piles of teeny-tiny soldiers need some ground to battle over, and now we've just about got it.  Here's a shot of some excellent Irregular and PicoArmor terrain for you, primed and ready for some color.

Just getting the vegetation done adds a lot to the visual appeal, n'est pas?
And to give you a better idea how tall the little hills are, here is a WIP unit of Imperial or Militia infantry ready to storm the slopes.

One of the decision points on a project like this comes when you have to decide exactly how to account for the base thickness.  The massive 25+mm figs tower enough that it doesn't really factor in at all.  When your boys are only as tall as the base itself, it forces a wargamer to think.  Should the terrain have a base just as thick as the units?  I've decided to do just that.  It makes the table look a little more 'gamey' and a little less 'living diorama', but the game comes first.  This will help establish that border between 'open ground' and 'special circumstance' and prevent it from looking like all the armies are hovering well above the rest of the terrain demarcations.

And Happy Boxing Day, ya crazy, lovable, all-too-friendly Great White Northerners.

Friday, December 25, 2020

Peace on Earth to Men of Goodwill

’Twas Christmas Day on the Somme

’Twas Christmas Day on the Somme
The men stood on parade,
The snow laid six feet on the ground
Twas twenty in the shade.

Up spoke the Captain ‘gallant man’,
"Just hear what I’ve to say,
You may not have remembered that
Today is Christmas Day."

"The General has expressed a wish
This day may be observed,
Today you will only work eight hours,
A rest that’s well deserved.

I hope you’ll keep yourselves quite clean
And smart and spruce and nice,
The stream is frozen hard
But a pick will break the ice."

"All men will get two biscuits each,
I’m sure you’re tired of bread,
I’m sorry there’s no turkey
but there’s Bully Beef instead.
The puddings plum have not arrived
But they are on their way,
I’ll guarantee they’ll be in time
To eat next Christmas Day."

"You’re parcels would have been in time
But I regret to say
The vessel which conveyed them was
Torpedoed on the way.

The Quartermaster’s got your rum
But you may get some yet,
Each man will be presented with
A Woodbine Cigarette."

"The Huns have caught us in the rear
And painted France all red,
Pray do not let that trouble you,
Tomorrow you’ll be dead.

Now ere you go I wish you all
This season of good cheer,
A very happy Christmas and
A prosperous New Year."

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

2020: Best Year Ever

 At least from a wargaming perspective.

You wouldn't know it from looking at the blog, but I've had more wargaming related fun over the last twelve months than any decade of my life since leaving high school.  Dozens of games, multiple projects to completion, the start of an ambitious new chapter in my wargaming career...but best of all has been the many new friends and contacts that I've made along the way.

And the hits just keep on coming.

With the near-completion of the physical requirements, the Trossian War map-based mega-campaign should start up in earnest this January.

Behold my 2-millimeter glory!

We'll also be delving into the old dungeon.  Still on the hunt for the best dungeoneering wargame for my money, I'm taking the Song of.. ruleset down into the depths.  Not for the first time, but at least now I'll guidance from the author himself on how to properly balance the game.  Maybe the next delve won't end in a TPK in the first encounter.

So stick around.  The posting might be light, but the content is heavy on the effort.  We aren't going anywhere full time just yet.

For those of you who have been fans of the blog for years, perhaps an apology is in order.  My focus shifted from the written word to the realm of video this year, to great results.  When it comes time to talk wargames, I've found that the video reach far exceeds that of the blog.  Generally speaking, when it comes time to share, video presents opportunities that the blog simply does not.  Don't worry, we'll still be here posting content from time to time, but as a man of too little butter scraped across too little bread, it makes more sense to devote more time to The Joy of Wargaming.

Sunday, November 29, 2020

On the Eve of War

The fourth of five armies takes to the field in dashing black and capped in yellow.  This time around it's the not-quite-Prussian army, all 38 stands of 1-inch square menace.  That leaves just the not-quite-French army and a whole lot of terrain, and then we'll be able to kick things off in style.

Lest we slip too gallantly into the nonchalant acceptance of our little games as nothing more than mere frippery, it's worth remembering that the Malburnian/Seven Years War era saw countless shattered men, shattered families, and broken nations.  How about a moment of quiet reflection with a poem from a more recent engagement to pay our due respects to the heroes of our ancestry who marched and fought that we might enjoy such pleasant days here in the late autumn of our own turn of the Imperial Wheel?

The Eve of War – Geoffrey Faber

The night falls over London. City and sky
Blend slowly. All the crowded plains grow dark.
The last few loiterers leave the glooming park
To swell that mighty tide which still sweeps by,
Heedless save of its own humanity,
Down to the Circus, where the staring arc
Winks through the night, and every face shows stark
And every cheek betrays its painted lie.

But here through bending trees blows a great wind;
Through torn cloud-gaps the angry stars
Look down.
Here have I heard this night the wings of War,
this dark and frowning countenance I saw.
What dreadful menace hangs above our town?
Let all the great cities pray; for they have sinned.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Twargame Advice

A world of advice on using Twitter to get your wargaming fix:

Stay away from the #warmonger tag.  It's for people who don't do a lot of wargaming.  They like "thuh comm-MUNE-itay".  You get lots of ads for milktoast content providers and soy-based podcasts.  A lot of  paint-by-numbers figures that will never face the trial of the dice.  Lots of consoomer activity with maybe a splash of vaguely wargamey webcomic art (circa-1998 in style).

Not a whole lot of wargaming, tho.

Warmongers. Nothing a little testosterone
supplement can't fix.

You're looking for the #wargame tag - that's where people who actually wargame show up to show off their tables and link to interesting blog posts.

An odd dichotomy, but one for which I am grateful.

By way of apolgy for all those wahah!-wahah!-wa-hacky! soy-faces, let me recommend a solid channel for those of us looking to up our painting game.  Vince Venruella isn't a personality whose primary goal is establishing a brand.  His videos are not bookended by marketing ploys and video diaries and tedious attempts at humor.  Instead, they are hugely informative, densely packed with the theories and fundamentals of painting, and all presented in a cool and casual style that educates.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

On the Table at 2mm

With the painting out of the way, let's take a look at what 2mm figures look like on the table.

But first, here is a side-by-side shot of the Great Traffic Light Alliance, with British on top and Austrian in the middle and Russians on the bottom row.

Any serious wargamer would chafe at the oddities of these line infantry.  Any wise wargamer would understand that the pieces are representative - we're going to be using these guys for everything from the Marlborough Ear to Seven Years War and maybe even a little Napoleonics.  That's a pretty wide swath of history that saw a lot of refinements in battle field tactics.

My armies are hampered a little by the decision to purchase army packs that work great for one specific era.  Using them for a broader than intended sweep means sacrificing purity for flexibility, a sacrifice that I am willing to make for the cause of good gaming.

And here is a good shot of how easy it becomes to recognize friend from foe on the table.  Ignore the massively out of scale roads.  (It makes me smile to think of 6mm terrain as way too big.)  Instead, note that the Austrians and Russians are easy to tell apart.  So too with the difference between cavalry and line infantry, with even a little cannon holding the giant crossroads easily distinguished by its unique appearance.

While I'm not yet a 2mm supremacist, this project has been very fulfilling.  It's a new scale for me, and the game scale - full Corps represented by around 20 elements - offers new challenges and a fresh approach to big battles over that of the usual "Rank and Flank" style games.

Don't be intimidated by their size - these guys are great.  

All my figures to date are from Irregular Miniatures.  They don't have a massive line of figures, but it's the biggest around (heh) and at this scale figures are extremely flexible.  It wouldn't be much of a stretch to choose some fantastic colors and name the blocks shown above as orcs or elves!

Thursday, October 8, 2020

A 2mm Primer

With three full armies of these tiny little blokes under my belt, I'm finally ready to share some experience with you, dear reader.  By no means an expert, the best I can offer is my experience working with this incredibly small scale.

First up, when you spray coat them, use a very light touch.  As you can see, a light dusting provides highlights to the raised areas, and a bit of shadow in the deep crevices.  As smaller figures, you don't even need to use the black primer, white drybrush method with them - the shadows arise naturally.
I've mounted my primed figures on small tongue depressors or craft sticks for ease of handling.  No chance to handle these figs any other way!

Painting was a breeze.  Using nothing more than the usual washes and a little dry brushing it is a simple matter to pick out just enough detail to get these guys looking like a proper army.  You want to use bright primary colors, just as one does with 6mm figures, and a little light drybrush to lighten them up one more notch and you're good.

Here you can see what a simple schema of yellow on white can do to make these guys look good.  The horses are a mix of colors hit with a unifying wash of dark ink.

The next issue is, of course, basing.  I've opted for simple 1-inch square bases for my figures as they can be used individually or combined to create larger formations - depending on the ruleset.

These craft squares are only a nickel each, and while they are a bit thick compared to the units...they provide a better handle for the unit than the figures.  They have a nice rounded corner, making them pleasing to the eye, and only cost about five cents each from Jeff Bezos' Crazy Internet Emporium of Goods and More Goods.

Next comes the ground cover.  A simple fine sand affixed with PVA glue (unthinned) holds both the sand and the figures in place.  The material I use has a nice unsorted character, with the larger coral pieces making for nice big boulders to break up the green monotony.  

This is old school basing, and very traditional.  It's traditional because it works, particularly at this scale where static grass just isn't an option.  Even the smallest grass would look like massive vines!

And finally comes the painting of the grass.  Here you can see what each step looks like with the base color on the bottom row, a light green highlight, and then a very faint touch of mustard yellow to dull the contrast and give them a bright, summery feeling.  The top row has a few boulders picked out in dark gray, if you can make them out.

With the fields in place, the red uniforms really jump right out, giving these British figures the characteristic color for which they earned the moniker "Redcoats".

Tomorrow, we'll look at a comparison of the three uniform colors done to date.


Monday, October 5, 2020

The 2mm Journey

Here's a bit of a look at my 2mm journey, one upon which I have only just begun.  Specifically, here is the starting point for my SYW Russians.

Bare metal inventory in progress.  Planning plays a big role here, and you want to dry fit to a base so your numbers are right, before you paint.

Dark green uniforms on light green bases help these boys pop.

Horse, foot, and guns.  After a while all you see is blonde, brunette, redhead.

The beast attacks!  Parrot for scale.

One big Corp sized army, fits into a single sheet of paper.  It's a 20-base skirmish that plays and handles very different from a true skirmish game.  Can't wait to take it for a test spin!

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Back to the History Books

Behold, the first teaser image of the Totally Not the Austrian faction for the Wars of the Trossian Succession.

Horse, foot, and guns.

It feels darn good to jump back into the historical saddle after a too long hiatus.  Yeah yeah, imagi-nations are barely historical but whatever.  Let me walk you through some of the process.

This project involves a whole lot of first times.  It's my first foray into 2mm gaming.  It's my first venture into a umpiring a grand-strategic game designed to generate tabletop battles.  It's my first toe-dip into the black powder era.  That's a whole lot of uncertainty to deal with in a project.

To help ease into things, I've had to make a lot of concessions to gaming.  Irregular Miniatures, God Bless 'Em, sell pre-made army packs for use with their black powder rulesets.  It looks like the army packs have been designed with Irregular's house rules in mind.  At this point it is too early to know whether that composition would have worked for my preferred ruleset.  At the same time, it is too late to ever know, because I've swapped out a few strips of figures here and there.

For example, my Totally Not French army comes with very little in the way of cavalry.  Very little.  Which might work for a Marlburnian game, but would leave them at a distinct disadvantage in a battle set closer to the Napoleonic era.  Fortunately, the 2mm soldiers are enough like each other that you can swap strips around fairly easily.  Provided your rank and file blocks are the same size, they can be swapped around with impunity.  This allowed me to achieve a more reasonable balance between and among the various nations.  The Not-French are still a little light in the Cavalry department, and the Not-Russians have very little heavy cavalry on hand.  

Which brings us back around to the NotAustrians.  My first ever 2mm army, they turned out pretty good.  Yellow on white with a bit of red thrown in for flare, they stand out against the light green bases and stand together as a unified team.  Sure, they are a bit monolithic, with no variety in and among the regiments, but at this scale that is of little matter.  The figures could easily be painted with more variety if one were looking to recreate a specific battle, it just isn't appropriate for Tros.

Of course, it's easy to distinguish armies when you only have one.  Check back in a week or so to see how these units compare to the NotRussians.

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Black Powder Era Inspiration

 If you ever find yourself at a loss for inspiration, here are four great images to help you out.

Friday, September 25, 2020

Irregular Army Packs

Bust my buttons, I'd done all my planning for Napoleonic wargaming, then went and ordered Seven Years War figures like a complete and utter plank!

No worries.  My next big project is a campaign set in the imagi-nation of the Trossian Empire, specifically to help account for my own blundering inexperience with the horse and musket era.  We, like the best generals, shall roll with the punches, self-inflicted though they may be.  What this means is that the Trossian Empire campaign takes place in an alternate 1775, where the big battalions are gaining steam, but horse artillery has yet to see effective battlefield use.  We're in that odd transition between SYW and Napoleon, and fighting decidedly ahistoric fights with as much of a nod toward the real world as possible.

My loss is your gain.  Let us make wargaming gold from my mis-ordered straw.  Here then for those of you who may be considering a purchase of Irregular Miniatures "Marlburian Army Packs", a reasonably accurate accounting of the contents of each nation-specific army pack. 

(Figure Code) x (Number in the pack): Description of the code

Some of these may be a bit off.  When providing my census, it took me some time to really settle into the differences between some of these codes.  At this small of a scale a few mm either way can make a difference, that my untrained eyes didn't track.  Consider all these lists ballpark numbers and don't blame Irregular if I got any of them wrong. The hand-written notes in each photo are my first stab at it, the typed rosters may have a few changes made on further review.  And if you've got any corrections, drop a comment and I'll change them as needed.

If you want a much better census of what each specific code represents and what it looks like, check out the Tiny Tin Troops website.  It has many nice photos of each, plus a reasonably full accounting of the 2mm terrain items on offer over at Irregular.


BG1 x 8: Foot in two ranks of ten

BG3 x 3: Foot in skirmish, five figures

BG4 x 8: Lancers in loose order, one rank of six figures

BG5 x 20: Cavalry in one close order rank of eight

BG6 x 6: Artillery and caissons

BG7 x 3: Mounted trio of generals

BG13 x 6: Pair of mounted brigade commanders

BG14 x 36: Foot in three ranks of eight

BG23 x 6: Foot in loose order, ten figures

BG130 x 1: Army HQ



BG1 x 42: Foot in two ranks of ten

BG2 x 27: Foot in three ranks of eight

BG3 x 3: Foot in skirmish, five figures

BG4 x 10: Lancers in loose order, six figures

BG5 x 29: Cavalry in one rank of eight

BG6 x 6: Artillery and caissons (missing one caisson)

BG7 x 3: Mounted trio of generals

BG8 x 1:  Horses and minders

BG10 x 6: Cavalry, lancers, six figures

BG13 x 8: Pair of mounted brigade commanders



BG2 x 60: Foot in three ranks of eight

BG6 x 8: Artillery and caissons

BG7 x 6: Mounted trio of generals

BG8 x 1:  Horses and minders

BG10 x 6: Lancers in loose order, six figures

BG13 x 6: Pair of mounted brigade commanders

BG14 x 30: Foot in two ranks of thirteen figures



BG1 x 48: Foot in two ranks of ten

BG3 x 6: Foot in skirmish line, five figures

BG4 x 16: Lancers in loose order, six figures

BG5 x 30: Cavalry in one rank of eight

BG6 x 6: Artillery and caissons

BG7 x 3: Mounted trio of generals

BG8 x 1:  Horses and minders

BG13 x 6: Pair of mounted brigade commanders



BG1 x 40: Foot in two ranks of ten

BG5 x 20: Cavalry in one rank of eight

BG6 x 8: Artillery and caissons

BG7 x 3: Mounted trio of generals

BG4 x 6: Lancers in loose order, six figures

BG13 x 6: Pair of mounted brigade commanders

BG18 x 8: Mounted Cossacks in loose order, five figures

BG23 x 4: Foot in loose order, ten figures

BG130 x 1: Army HQ


Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Painted Desert, But Not the Real One

 It is done.  A full table of desert terrain.

Primed and ready for color

But not too much color - it is a desert after all.

Chicken Joe showing off some big rocks.

A small camp near the dunes and columns.

Hiding behind a small dune.

Deep in the shade during the heat of the day

Easy storage for the down time.

Monday, September 21, 2020

Vendee Defiant, a Battle Report

 This skirmish set somewhere in the middle of the French bocage flips the script from the first.

The Vendeeans, specifically the Pere Corbeaux and his three sturdy sons, all veterans of the American War of Independence and glad to return to La Belle Vendee to escape such revolutionary escapades, find themselves the first line of defense for their little village.

La Famille Corbeaux takes up position for an ambush

Pere Corbeaux is Rank 4, and each of his sons Rank 3.  The Blues are represented by a Rank 4 leader with six mooks of Rank 2.  In game terms its an even match at 115 to 116 points.
An unsuspecting patrol makes its way forward

In scenario terms its a blood bath.  Les Corbeaux had a scout take up sniper position among the rocks to the left of the road, and settled quickly into the woods and behind the stone field wall in the upper right corner.
The Blues split into two teams to take out
the brothers piecemeal and it didn't work.

Things soon devolved into a scrum in the 
rough forest copse at the end of the town fields.

Once again the Vendeeans turned back the revolutionary guards.  Once again they paid a high price, with Pere Corbeaux succumbing to his wounds.