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.

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.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Is The Hobby Still Dying?

 This is my result when searching for "miniature wargames dying":

It's fine.
People have been crying Chicken Little over the death of the hobby for decades.
Don't do anything stupid.
It will be fine.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

More Vendeean Eye Candy

Been playing around with Osprey's En Garde! while waiting for the Big Battalions package to arrive, and it's been nice to fiddle with a new ruleset and some blackpowder scenarios.  My fantasy town works well as a backdrop if I leave off the wizard tower and skull mountain pieces.

The game doesn't work all that great as a solo game, what with a big part of the combat requiring some bluff and counterbluff.

Random draws for combat ploys often results in pointless rounds of combat where not much happens.  That happens in two player games as well, to be fair.

In the first battle fought, the press of numbers proved overwhelming with two Rank 2 figs supported by five Rank 1 figs dominating a team composed of a single Rank 3 and four Rank 2 figs.  It also included the usual first volley bloodletting followed by everybody charging straight into melee.  A completely historical result if my years of Hollywood movies are to be believed.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Red Flags All Over the Place

 This is a mistake.

Last week Little Wars TV posited that miniature wargaming MIGHT have a problem.

Now they've got five solutions to that possible problem.  For the record, I'm firmly on the side of Team Not A Problem. The hobby is doing great, and the last 60 have worked well enough that we are spoiled for choice.  Quality is up, prices down, and there isn't an era of warfare that isn't already served by one  or more manufacturers.  But don't let this golden age worry you, Little Wars TV  has the answer!

Make miniature wargaming not so...minature wargamey.

Half their solutions are 'make it dumber', half are 'make it so you don't have to actually do the things that make miniature wargaming what it is.  All that research and painting and historical accuracy and reading and shopping?  It turns out those activities that integral to the hobby are a real problem for the hobby.

To my ears that sounds like 'the problem with golf is all that hitting balls with sticks and then walking along verdant green lawns while hanging out with friends.  Oh, and the little holes aren't helping either, can we just do away with all that stuff so more people can participate?'

Wew, as they say, lad.

Note the dismissiveness toward the old guard, toward the high functioning autists to pursue perfect accuracy and meticulous attention to detail.  Quoting directly from the video, "But who cares about them?"

I do - I care about them.  They can be grating sometimes, but that push for excellence is a vital part of a healthy hobby.  Take that away and you might as well be playing Calvinball.  Or post-Gygaxian D&D.  They may not be socially adept, but they've taught me a great many things over the years.  I love those guys, and I'm always happy to share table space and roll dice with them.

We'll have wait one more week to see what Little Wars TV has in mind.  For now, let me leave you with this dangerous sign:

From the description, they've got a plan to make the hobby dumber, ditch the old guard, and make miniature wargaming less appealing to miniature wargamers so they can grow the numbers by attracting people who aren't interested in miniature wargaming.  Add to that calls for a centralized cultural structure that will allow said outsiders to decide who the cool kids are and who shouldn't get a seat at the table and the ice is perilously thin.

This has all the classic earmarks of a Stage One Grifting.


Monday, September 7, 2020

The Wars of the Trossian Succession

Got a new blog that you might be interested in checking out: The Wars of the Trossian Succession.

As mentioned in an earlier post, my current big project involves a bit of the old toe dipping into Napoleonics.  And by toe-dipping, I mean taking a headlong plunge from the top of the cliffs into water I can only hope is at high tide!  Rather than stitch together a string of scenarios using some thin narrative connective tissue, I wanted to run a map-based, grand scale strategic game to generate battles with a lot more meaning to them.

To cut down on the research, I drew the map of a fictional black powder continent called Tros.  To cut down on the creative work I very cleverly drafted some friends into running five nations that march to war across that continent.  The death of the Trossian Emperor has left the land in turmoil and without his leadership the old enmities have sprung back into play.  Some fight for liberty, some fight for the Emperor's Throne, and some fight for love of the game.

It's a fairly big project, and deserves its own home on the internet.  The blog will stand as a sort of war journal, or complete record of the campaign at one central location.  Anything more general - figure prep and painting, rule considerations, and overall backstage maunderings will show up here.  As will irregular and brief updates to the campaign status.  Naturally, the battles fought across my kitchen table will feature heavily on The Joy of Wargaming, but for the most detailed and up-to-date action on the bloody fields of Tros, add a pointer to The Wars of the Trossian Succession.

Friday, September 4, 2020

The Future of Miniature Wargaming

It's fine.  Miniature wargaming is going to be just fine.  Check out this fantastic kid banging out videos like a boss:

If you're on the Youses and the Tubeses, and you're worried about "the graying of the hobby"* why not throw the kid a follow to encourage him to keep it up?  He's just starting out on his journey, and every little bit of support helps.

That's something new.  For something old, here's a great little clip that highlights the special effects used in (what I believe was) the first ever on-screen appearance of the Space Marines:

*I am not worried about it.

Wednesday, September 2, 2020