Thursday, August 17, 2017

Whale Hunt! A Reintroduction to Canvas Eagles

Nieuport 11 tails a Roland Walfisch
After having brought up the notion of introducing Canvas Eagles (CE) to the guys and repairing my long-in-storage and damaged aircraft, a game was put onto the schedule.  With three players up for a gaming session and two of them with no experience in CE, I picked Early War aircraft and kept the situation simple.  

The encounter would feature two Nieuport 11's attempting to discourage one L.F.G Roland CII "Whalfisch" from completing its assigned reconnaissance mission.  After a briefing on the Sequence of Play, QRS and Aircraft Maneuver Schedules (Schedules for aircraft shown below), I sent the two new pilots off into the Nieuports and climbed into the Walfisch cockpit to begin Game One.
Stat Sheet for Walfisch
Stat Sheet for Nieuport 11
Action heated up as the Nieuports converged on the Walfisch.  At first, the French had difficulty bringing their fixed Lewis guns to bear on the lone German.  As the French closed, the Walfisch's observer was able to draw a bead on one of the Nieuports causing limited damage.  It was not long, though, before the pilot in the white Nieuport figured out how to fly his aircraft and maneuvered himself into a tailing position.     

Once tailed, the unlucky pilot of the Walfisch spent the remainder of the game handing out Tailing Cards to the Nieuport pilot.  The rookie in the white Nieuport, kept his aircraft on the tail of the Whalfisch (see leading photo of Nieuport tailing Whalfisch) and riddled both aircraft and occupants multiple times.  In the end, the Whalfisch was brought down after having suffered a critical hit to the wing.  Quick and bloody.  Game One goes to the French.  
German gets the drop on the French Nieuports
In Game Two, the situation began the same.  That is, the French pilots converged onto the Walfisch.  While the Frenchmen flying the Nieuport in camouflage pattern maintained a conservative flight path, once again the Whalfisch mixed it up with the white Nieuport.

In a series of running maneuvers, counter-maneuvers, and bursts from the machine guns, the German finally got into a tailing position on his White Menace.  How did the German manage this accomplishment?  Well, he took advantage of the Nieuport's difficulty in turning left to escape the Frenchmen's tailing efforts.  Slipping the tail, the German got himself into a tailing position.  After several bursts from the observer's Parabellum gun, the Nieuport went down with a critical engine hit.

The Whalfisch then banked to bring the remaining Nieuport to bear.  The rookie Frenchmen pilot, noticing fuel was low, broke off and headed towards Allied lines.  Game Two goes to the Whalfisch in an another fast and bloody engagement. 

That was fun!  Both games were completed in under two hours total including rules' briefing.  Both games resulted in action quickly and outcomes were decided decisively.  After two turns, plotting and carrying out moves seemed quick and effortless.  Combat resolution was equally easy and with few questions.  The games played smoothly.

What did my two rookie companions think of CE?  Both enjoyed the games greatly.  Games were quick with little conjecture as to who won the encounter.  CE was a hit!  CE is perfect for an evening of light gaming or as dessert following a more intense battle.  As we cleaned up the game, Scott and Kevin both talked about buying a few models in anticipation of building and fielding their own aeroplanes for future games.

Getting the guys to commit to building aircraft after only one playing says a lot for CE.  As a bonus, the components for CE are easily transported to another locale.  The planes can be boxed and map rolled in minutes.  Few other items are needed besides the flight stands, rules, and a few D6.  With the combination of ease of play and aircraft modelling, CE might provide a good stepping stone towards getting our next generation of young wargamers  pulled away from video games and interested in the hobby.  I expect CE will see semi-regular action on the gaming table; at least more frequently than once every dozen years. 

Not surprisingly, encouraged by the afternoon's gaming, I placed an order to bring in a few new aircraft into my aerodrome too.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Chaldean Auxiliary Archers

Work continues on the Assyrian project as another unit scrambles off the painting desk.  Following the recently mustered Chaldean slingers, a nine figure stand of Wargames Foundry Chaldean archers crosses over to the "Painted" side of the Painting Log.   
As expected from Foundry's Assyrian range, these archers are excellent sculpts with much facial character.  This batch, though, sported distinct mold lines on a few of the figures.  Some times, you do not notice that the mold line has not been completely removed until the figure is painted and photographed.
A long line of Assyrian units are either in work or awaiting in the painting queue.  The remainder of August may be entirely consumed with painting Assyrians.  Perhaps even four or five more units could be called up before Labor Day?  One concern is that I am rapidly outstripping my supply chain for bases.  I had hoped to hold off ordering until Litko's traditional Labor Day sale but I may not make it.  Regardless, I still plan to take advantage of Litko's Labor Day sale.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Foundry's Assyrian Auxiliary (Chaldean) Slingers

Work continues on the Assyrian Biblical project with the disembarkment of two stands of Assyrian slingers from the painting desk.  The figures are Wargames Foundry and listed as Auxiliary (Chaldean) slingers.  I suppose that means that these Chaldeans could fight either for or against the larger Assyrian Empire.  I bet they see action on both sides of the fence.  
The figures are based in foursomes on skirmish sized stands for Impetvs.  This basing scheme should also work for To the Strongest when I get around to giving that set of rules a try.  First, I need to make a gridded game mat on which to regulate the game.  Something I do want to try especially considering all of the interesting BatReps found and enjoyed.
More Assyrian units are in work with the next to debouch from the painting desk to be a nine figure stand of Assyrian Auxiliary archers.  After that, a unit of mounted archers, foot guard to accompany the King's chariot (yes, that means rebasing the chariot!), and a foot unit of Babylonians.  These planned additions should suffice to take me deep into August. 

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Action at Mill Creek - BatRep

Action at Mill Creek
Following my initial solo game of Two Flags - One Nation (see TF-ON BatRep), the situation for the Action at Mill Creek was reset and played out solitaire a second time.  The Confederate objective is to push two regiments onto the heights while maintaining control of the two road hexes on either end of the bridge spanning Mill Creek.  Any other outcome results in a Union victory.  All of the Confederate forces arrive at 10:00.  The Union player will receive reinforcements beginning on Game Turn 2.  Note that unit disorder is denoted by 'SH' markers on the table.  "Disordered" or "SHaken" close enough, right?  The game spans two hours from 10:00am to 12:00pm with a possible Confederate extension. 

The scenario begins with only Federal troops on the table.  Porter's brigade is deployed to the west of the bridge near the copse of trees and Richardson's brigade deployed on the heights overlooking the bridge and creek.
Federal Initial Dispositions
The battle opens at 10:00 with the Confederate division under Elzey entering the table from the south edge.  Federal artillery strikes the first blow by hitting the limbered Confederate guns before they can deploy.  The Reb artillery passes the Capability Test (CT). 
Elzey approaches Mill Creek
10:18. Random Event: Federal General Porter shot dead.  Both regiments of his brigade are disordered until a replacement can be found.  "Pop!"  Right off the bat, Federals witness issues with the fall of Porter from a stray bullet.  Confederate artillery scores a hit on Federal artillery positions while Elzey's division continues its advance upon the bridge.
Action heats up quickly
Confederates descend upon Federal positions
10:35.  Confederate guns score three hits on the Federal guns on the heights but the Federal gunners hold firm.  Federal guns target the approaching Reb infantry for no noticeable effect.
Elzey continues advance
Federals on the heights
Confederate guns find their mark with three hits
10:48.  Confederate guns continue pounding the Federal artillery on the heights as the Confederates continue their advance toward Mill Creek.  Federal guns take two hits, fail their Capability Test, and retire, disordered.  Since the guns have five or more heavy casualties, they must take a CT during the Retreat Phase.  This CT they pass.  Note that the guns had to take two CTs.  One CT from casualties suffered from fire and a second CT due to now having 5+ Heavy Casualties.
Rebs continue to pound Federal guns
Heavy Casualties pile up on Federal guns
Federal guns fail Capability Test and retire
11:06.  As Confederate infantry step into Mill Creek, Porter's boys pour a hot fire into them.  Regiment nearest the bridge takes two Heavy Casualties but is undaunted.  On the Confederate right, one Rebel regiment takes fire from Federal infantry on the hill.  Light casualties are suffered.  Even though disordered, Federal guns are brought back up on the crest of the hill.
Rebels step into Mill Creek
11:23.  Still limbered, the Federal guns are hit again from Confederate artillery fire.  Failing their CT, the guns pack off towards the rear.  As Confederates near the woods on the Confederate left, musketry exchanges increase.  Both sides take casualties but no one backs down.  One of Richardson's regiments advances to cover the threat against the bridge.
Rebels close in
11:38.  Having only just moved up to bridge to aid in its defense, Federal troops fall under the sights of Rebel guns and take three hits.  Now within close range of Federal positions, Confederate fire takes its toll on the defenders.  Casualties mount quickly.  The Federal Divisional commander, Schenck, joins Porter's brigade to help stabilize the situation.  No sooner had he joined the regiment than he goes down in a hail of bullets.  The regiment he joined suffers three casualties.  Fighting is getting very hot!  
Rebel left turns a flank
Federal take three hits!
Schenck killed!
As the supported Rebels charge into the woods to come to grips with the wavering Federal troops, the disordered defenders are unable to release a closing volley.  In the close combat, the attackers suffer three hits but pass their CT.  The defenders take two more casualties and Porter's replacement is killed.  It has been a tough morning for Federal generals.  Failing their CT the defenders take an additional heavy casualty and fall back.  In the Retreat Phase, the Federal artillery is destroyed as it fails a CT and takes one more (the 8th) Heavy Casualty. 
Rebels attack into the woods.
Close-up of Confederate attack
With at least two more turns remaining and having suffered heavy casualties, the Federals concede their position and pull back.  With their left crumbling and leaderless what more is expected?  The result is that Elzey holds the field in victory.  The anticipated Federal reinforcements from Keyes' 3rd Brigade never materialized.  On each turn the roll needed for reinforcement arrival was never quite sufficient to bring them on.  
Another interesting and challenging game with a lot of action.  Units took punishment quickly.  Some held, others could not.  The Confederate guns were deadly with their artillery fire this day.  In the end, the early neutralization of the Federal guns, a lack of reinforcements, and the death of three Federal generals likely spelled defeat for the Union.  While Mill Creek was a barrier, it was not much of one as all Confederate regiments passed their CT upon entry.  The creek did slow movement to one hex but with Federal battle lines drawn near the creek not much maneuver was needed to close on the enemy.  

After my second game of Two Flags - One Nation, what are my impressions?  My impressions will be addressed after a third game is in the books.  What I can say is that Norm has produced a fun, compact game with a lot of action and tough decisions to make.  Norm responds to rules' questions promptly too.  In the third game, I face off against a Face-to-Face opponent.  

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Switzerland: A Walk in Luzern

Having arrived from the USA on an overnight flight to Zurich, we immediately grabbed our bags and headed to the train station within the air terminal to purchase Swiss Travel Passes and board a mid morning train to Luzern.

Arriving in Luzern about noon, we walked the few blocks from the train station in search of our hotel a block from the Chapel Bridge.  The tower guarding the Chapel Bridge was the first sight seen after exiting the hotel and turning north.  Spectacular!  We experienced a bright sunny day in late April as a bonus.
Chapel Bridge
Feeling a bit fatigued, our first day in Luzern would be an easy one so that we could accommodate the effects of jet lag.  From the West Coast of the USA to Zurich is a LONG flight!  Our plan for this first half day was a walk around Old Town including a brief visit to the Lion's Monument, the Bourbaki Panorama (see Bourbaki Panorama), and the Depot History Museum. 
Reuss River and Luzern
The Lion's Monument was about a twenty minute walk from the hotel and we crossed the Reuss River using the Chapel Bridge to reach Old Town.  Meandering through the winding streets, we followed the old town wall to reach the Lowenplatz.  Along the way, several notable buildings were passed before reaching the quiet confines of the Lion Monument park.

The Lion Monument is a striking sight and measures 33 feet long by 20 feet tall.  The sculpture honors the Swiss mercenaries killed or executed defending the French king during the French Revolution.  The engraving, difficult to read in the photo, reads, "Helvetiorum fidei ac virtuti."  That inscription translates to "To the loyalty and bravery of the Swiss."  Moving stuff.  Luckily, we had the park to ourselves so unobstructed views were achievable.  
Lion Monument
Having spent ample time gazing at the monument and a short rest, we struck off back towards the river, our hotel, and the Depot History Museum.

The museum is housed in an old three story building on the riverfront.  The collections are an eclectic mix of stained glass, furniture, uniforms, arms and armor, paintings, tourism posters, and even a display of antique toy soldiers.  "Depot" is a fitting term for this museum.  No finely created artifact displays.  A real industrial look to the whole concept.  This seems to be a storage place for artifacts not having a permanent home yet too interesting or historical to throw out.  Many of the items are either behind glass or bars making photography and careful study difficult.  An interesting display easily worth a forty-minute browse.  
Stained Glass with two Renaissance soldiers
Napoleonic era cuirass
Uniforms
Stacks of pike
Antique toy soldiers
Armor
Arms
After spending sufficient time investigating the Depot Museum, we followed the river down to the waterfront for a look at the lake before heading back to the hotel.


Next time, we travel to the Berner Oberland with a two-day base at Lauterbrunnen.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Assyrian Auxiliary Spearmen II

A second stand of Assyrian auxiliary infantry musters out from the painting desk.  While tunics are varied in color like the previous unit, shield coverings are all the same.  Variety with uniformity.  Figures are Wargames Foundry.
Continuing on with the Assyrian project, on the painting desk is one stand of auxiliary archers and two stands of skirmishing slingers.  The slingers are auxiliary troops as well.  Figures continue to come from the Foundry stable but a stand of Newline Designs Babylonian spearmen is in the queue.  
Word arrived today from BTD that my early July order for a selection of their Assyrian foot are on the way.  With no photos of the BTD Assyrian foot on the BTD website, I am anxious to see what I get when I unwrap the small package.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Blow Gun Darts as Spears/Pikes?

Blow Gun Darts
My wife knows that when we make a trip to the hardware store, only part of the trip will be devoted to shopping for household improvement items.  Almost always, a reconnaissance for items to be pressed into service on the hobby front is included in the shopping trip.

While this post is not about a recent hardware recon, it is about maintaining vigilance for items that can be useful in the never ending pursuit of hobby paraphernalia.  Case in point is a recent thread on TMP requesting information on sources for spears and pikes.  As an alternative to Nortstar's excellent product, blow gun darts were mentioned.  What?  Blow gun darts?  That piqued my curiosity.
50 pack darts
A quick search on eBay brought up a number of vendors for steel blow gun darts.  For about USD8 including free shipping, I ordered a 50 dart package as a trial.  The package arrived within days as shown above.  

First task was to compare the size of the Predator darts with Northstar.  As shown in the comparison photo below, the Predator darts are almost exactly the same size as the Northstar 100mm pikes but slight less in length than the Northstar spears.  Insignificant difference.  The gauge of steel looks the same size as well.  A good match!
In addition to the 50 steel darts, included are 50 colored cones for the darts.  Well!  These colored cones are an interesting bonus.  I can envision these colored cones being pressed into service as morale markers, unit status markers, or any of a number of game markers.  Great stuff!
In what other game functions could these colored cones prove useful?
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