Buck's Blog

The Stream-of-Conciousness Journal of a Wargamer
  • .: Welcome to my blog :.

    I'm John R. "Buck" Surdu. I have two Web pages that contain relatively static information about my professional life (including papers I've written) and my hobby life (including information about rules I've written and my wargaming projects). This blog is where I plan to post personal tidbits, like vacation pictures, wargaming projects, etc. Enjoy!
  • Armies for Kids 2015 Gets Underway

    Posted By on October 19, 2014

    For the past several years, the HAWKs have been putting together painted armies, running games for kids at Historicon, and giving the painted armies away to the kids (ten and under).  The first year we gave away AWI armies.  In other years we’ve given away Seven Years War, Napoleonic, and Civil War armies.  This year we will actually run two games and give away two sets of armies.  The first is 40mm ACW, and we are getting a lot of help on that project from generous volunteers.  The second is 20mm WWII (US vs. Germans).  In November the HAWKs are going to have their first painting day, so in preparation, I glued the US forces to popsicle sticks and sprayed them khaki.  The picture above shows most, but not all, of the US figures.

    Terrain for 10mm WWII

    Posted By on October 14, 2014

    Usually a year or two ahead of rule development I start painting figures and building terrain so that when we start to work on the rules, we have something with which to play test.

    The vehicle in the foreground is a 10mm science fiction vehicle for scale.  I recycled some packing material.  One held a replacement GFE outlet, and the other held a bottle of some sort of goopy stuff I got from my wife.  After painting them, I made some of the windows and doors in PowerPoint and printed them on label paper to stick on the buildings.

    Not Quite Seven Years War in 10mm

    Posted By on October 14, 2014

    The grenadier regiment

    The grenadier regiment

    Rob Dean has been running Not Quite Seven Years War games in 54mm with home-cast figures for years.  A little over a year ago, Chris Palmer got the idea of doing it in 10mm with some variant of the Look, Sarge, No Charts rules.  As I had the day off today, I finished several units.

    The new regiments with the one original regiment, two batteries, and an officer

    The new regiments with the one original regiment, two batteries, and an officer

    In a previous post I described how the country of Bergdorfreuthenheim has 21 infantry regiments and that the facing colors rotate in a seven-color sequence.  I completed 8 regiments of line infantry (for a goal of 9, since I had completed one some months ago).  I also complete a grenadier regiment.

    A slightly closer view

    A slightly closer view

    A closer view of one of the new regiments

    A closer view of one of the new regiments

    Side view showing the flag

    Side view showing the flag

    Before I paint any more infantry, I think I’ll paint a few regiments of light cavalry.  I’ll add that to my purchase list for Fall In next month.

    More Air Support for My Female Hussar Force

    Posted By on October 13, 2014

    Warhammer helicopter with a female hussar replacing the dwarf as pilot

    Warhammer helicopter with a female hussar replacing the dwarf as pilot

    I have often said that much of the Warhammer 40K stuff looks more Victorian Science Fiction than “hard core” science fiction.  I have a few Warhammer vehicles that I have added some smokestacks and other bits to make into vehicles for GASLIGHT.  I have a hard time investing $50 for a single, unpainted model, but I found this one at the flea marker during our recent gaming day (Barrage).

    The original box art

    The original box art

    I enjoyed putting together the kit and sprayed it black in its major assemblies.  I painted it separately and then assembled it.  I think it turned out nicely.  I’m not sure when it will make it on the table, but I’m anxious to see how it fares in its first combat.

    Another view of the helicopter

    Another view of the helicopter

     

    Bear Yourselves Valiantly will be available soon

    Posted By on September 22, 2014

    A couple of weeks ago, we sent the files for BYV off to the publisher, On Military Matters.  Last weekend we reviewed two test specimens.  I tweaked the .pdf files as a result of reviewing these proofs and sent them back to On Military Matters.  These should be hitting the streets very soon.

    Gaming at War Horse Farm

    Posted By on September 22, 2014

    Starting positions for Lvov

    Starting positions for Lvov

    In previous posts I’ve written about events at which the HAWKs have support Senior Leader Professional Development events and gaming days at Sam Fuson’s War Horse Farm.  One of the unit’s members is heading off to the career course, and as a going away event he requested that we run a Look, Sarge, No Charts:  World War Two game.  How could we turn down such a flattering request?  Since we were running these games in September 2014, it was apropos that we chose two battles that took place in September.

    Introducing a younger gamer to the joys of wargaming

    Introducing a younger gamer to the joys of wargaming

    We elected to reprise our large Lvov scenario.  In this scenario, in September 1939, the Russians and Germans are converging on the Polish city of Lvov.  The Poles, however, may not rest on the defense.  While fighting in two directions to keep the Russians and Germans from linking up, they must also advance to seize German heavy artillery that are shelling Lvov from some high ground.

    The action begins to heat up

    The action begins to heat up

    On the flank shown in the picture (above), Polish horse cavalry and tankettes fought against heavy German armor, halftracks, and infantry to hold a line along a stream.  After some fierce fighting, the tankettes and armored cars were overwhelmed, and the Germans broke through.  They were heading toward the key village of Zboiska when the game ended.

    Poles being pushed off a critical hill by the Russians

    Poles being pushed off a critical hill by the Russians

    On the other flank, the Russian tanks finally broke through another Polish infantry battalion; however, the Poles along another creek and those shown on the hill in the picture (above) managed to strip off most of the Russian infantry support.  When the game ended, the Russian tanks were pushing toward Zboiska as well, despite a pummeling by Polish anti-tank rifles.

    When the game ended, the Poles were on the slopes above Lvov destroying the German artillery, and the Russians and Germans were in no position to take Zboiska without a protracted fight.  We declared the game a Polish victory.

    Duncan provides the historical context for his WWI game

    Duncan provides the historical context for his WWI game

    The second game of the day was a WWI game with Duncan’s modification of LSNC: WWII (with elements of A Union So Tested rolled in).  The scenario involved the beginnings of the battles around the Marne in September 1914.  This is a period of history in which I have little knowledge, but I’ve really enjoyed Duncan’s early WWI games.  In this scenario, the French were advancing to seize high ground on the far end of the table, while the Germans had to keep the French as far away from the high ground as possible.

    French advance across open ground toward the Hun

    French advance across open ground toward the Hun

    Despite terrible casualties, the game was a marginal French victory.  The French had an isolated regiment on the high ground and another regiment in position to advance to the high ground (against substantial resistance).  On the French right (show above early in the game before the carnage), however, the French economy-of-force regiment was nearly wiped out and holding onto the village shown in the picture) by the skin of their teeth.

    All-in-all, it was a good gaming day!

    Blood and LARP at Barrage 2014

    Posted By on September 14, 2014

    The swashbucklers before the brawl

    The swashbucklers before the brawl

    As Barrage 2014 was winding down, we set up a “barroom” ala Blood and Swash for some semi-LARP-ing.  The basic idea was to replicate the pirate tavern brawls and Jennifer, Chris, and I run using Blood and Swash with the HAWKs as the figures.  Note in the picture above that we used foam koozies as beer mugs.  We put koozies, paper plates, tables, and chairs around the playing area.

    Sammy's early musket shot takes out Tom before he even had a chance to do anything exciting.

    Sammy's early musket shot takes out Tom before he even had a chance to do anything exciting.

    There were four swashbucklers in the game, and they were assigned additional players to be on their teams.  Each swashbuckler was assigned a suit of cards.  I pulled cards and announced the suit.  The swashbuckler would then determine which of his team members would act.

    Kurt and William display their fencing skills.

    Kurt and William display their fencing skills.

    Rob accosts Sammy.

    Rob accosts Sammy.

    In Blood and Swash tavern fights the objective generally is to get a treasure chest full of gold out of the tavern.  It is every player for himself, with each player controlling three or four figures.  This game was no different.

    A three-way fight between Sammy, Rob, and Chris.

    A three-way fight between Sammy, Rob, and Chris.

    Rob is victorious against Sammy; Eric attempts to dodge a musket ball from behind.

    Rob is victorious against Sammy; Eric attempts to dodge a musket ball from behind.

    We used standard Blood and Swash rules.  Each player was given a card with pre-rolled stats (Slug, Shoot, Sword, Save, and Hit Points).  In Blood and Swash, figures are in one of four categories from swashbuckler (best) to men at arms (worst).  For our LARP event, the more dressed up the players were, the better their character type.  Equipped with foam swords, Nerf guns, and other accouterments, we launched into the game.

    Jennifer the pirate meets her doom.

    Jennifer the pirate meets her doom. Note the fallen "beer mug" and the spill marker cut from a cheap shower curtain.

    Bill and Chris fight over William's dead body.

    Bill and Chris fight over William's dead body.

    Sword play, shoving attacks, and fisticuffs were handled with the GM (me) calling out die rolls, which the players compared to their stats to determine success or failure of the action.  Throwing and shooting was accomplished by players physically throwing mugs or plates and firing Nerf guns.  As in Blood and Swash, reloading took four actions.

    Rob attempts to take the chest as Geoff considers his alternatives

    Rob attempts to take the chest as Geoff considers his alternatives

    After killing Rob, Geoff prepare to leap over his body to take the chest out of the bar.

    After killing Rob, Geoff prepare to leap over his body to take the chest out of the bar.

    The participants, observers (HAWKs not participating in the game), and GM all had a terrific time.  All of the things that make Blood and Swash fun, such as people slipping on spilled beer, dropping swords, and leaping over tables, chairs, and bodies, all occurred in this game.  The HAWKs are already talking about how to make this better next year.  I suspect at a minimum more people will develop costumes so that they get better characters.

    Geoff brought a fist to a sword fight.

    Geoff brought a fist to a sword fight. It didn't work.

    A protracted sword fight...

    A protracted sword fight...

    Chris bends down to pick up his dropped sword as he faces William amidst the growing pile of dead bodies near the chest and the exit.

    Chris bends down to pick up his dropped sword as he faces William amidst the growing pile of dead bodies near the chest and the exit.

    The victor!

    The victor!

    As Elton John said, “Saturday is all right for fighting!”

    Barrage 2014 Was Another Huge Success

    Posted By on September 14, 2014

    "Argh!" Geoff says, "If you did't attend Barrage, you're a scurvy bilge rat!"
    “Argh!” Geoff says, “If you did’t attend Barrage, you’re a scurvy bilge rat!”

    Barrage 2014 was another major success.  We had a record or near-record number of attendees and 16 tables full of game that ran from 0900 until after 2100.  Again Age of Glory and On Military Matters came and set up dealer tables.  We had to set up additional flea market tables on they fly to handle the demand.  The Flames of War tournament had 18 competitors, 17 of whom were pre-registered.  Once again we had a successful snack bar that provided hot dogs, drinks, pizza, and other food and snacks throughout the day at a reasonable cost.  For additional information about Barrage, you can check out http://www.bucksurdu.com/Buck_Surdu/Barrage.html.  The breadth of events was quite good, with games spanning the ancient period through modern Afghanistan.  Below are some pictures from the event.

    Jeff Wiltrout's soccer game in full swing
    Jeff Wiltrout’s soccer game in full swing

    Several of the HAWKs enjoyed this interesting soccer game.

    Chris Palmer's 100 Years War battle

    Chris Palmer's 100 Years War battle

    Roxanne Patton's Bataan game

    Roxanne Patton's Bataan game

    A view of some flea market tables

    A view of some flea market tables

    Rob Dean's dark ages game

    Rob Dean's dark ages game

    Battlegroup Kursk

    Daniel Erdman's Command Decision game

    Beau Geste by Ed Watts

    Beau Geste by Ed Watts

    Muskets and Tomahawks demonstration games

    Muskets and Tomahawks demonstration games

    Noah Guibault's Dungeon Hack and a somewhat long view of the gaming area

    Noah Guibault's Dungeon Hack and a somewhat long view of the gaming area

    Dave Wood's battle of Orthiez (1814)

    Dave Wood's battle of Orthiez (1814)

    Daniel Erdman's Command Decision game

    Battlegroup Kursk

    Tim Tilson's Sangshak scenario

    Tim Tilson's Sangshak scenario

    Eric Schlegle's ACW kids game.  As the number of kids was small, his game ended up with mostly adults.  This picture also shows a bit of a long shot of the gaming area.

    Eric Schlegle's ACW kids game. As the number of kids was small, his game ended up with mostly adults. This picture also shows a bit of a long shot of the gaming area.

    War Rocket kids game

    My War Rocket kids game

    Norman Dean's "Encounter at Jebora"

    Norman Dean's "Encounter at Jebora"

    Two opponents in the Flames of War tournament

    Two opponents in the Flames of War tournament

    Geoff Graff's Lego pirate barroom brawl

    Geoff Graff's Lego pirate barroom brawl

    As usual, we have a dedicate table established for games targeted at younger gamers.  Although the number of younger gamers was lower than we would have liked, the kids who participated all had a great time.

    A lull in the action at the snack counter

    A lull in the action at the snack counter

    Mike Byrne's Force on Force game with Chechens vs. Russians

    Mike Byrne's Force on Force game with Chechens vs. Russians

    Brian Cantwell's ancient naval game

    Brian Cantwell's ancient naval game

    Kurt Schlegel's battle of Corinth game using A Union So Tested

    Kurt Schlegel's battle of Corinth game using A Union So Tested

    My G.A.M.E.R. WWII skirmish game

    My G.A.M.E.R. WWII skirmish game

    My WWII skirmish was a bit of a surprise.  I planned the game for 6 players, and I wasn’t sure if the game would fill with an 1800 start time.  Not only did the game fill, but I had to add troops at the last minute to make room for 10 players.  I think the games as quite successful.  People keep asking me when the rules will be available for purchase.  I have been developing this for myself, and having just finished the three-year slog to get Bear Yourselves Valiantly ready for publication, I’m not sure I’m ready for another rules publishing project.  WWII skirmish is a crowded field, with Force on Force and Bolt Action being the big players with hard cover books and a lot of marketing oomph.  Too Fat Lardies have the UK market sewn up.  I’m just not ready to try to suffer the slings an arrows of biased reviews and TMP sock puppets right now.

     

    GAMER Cards

    Posted By on September 11, 2014

    The design of the cards for G.A.M.E.R. is mature enough that I wanted professionally printed decks for continued play testing.  I set them all up in the correct template and sent them off to Superior POD to be printed.   We had an early glitch in which I need to make some corrections to the files, but the instructions from Superior POD went into my SPAM folder.  Once that was corrected, in less than two weeks I had 16 decks of cards in my hand.  There are eight different backs so that each player could have their own deck without risk of getting the decks mixed up.  I will be using them for the first time on Saturday at our Barrage gaming day.

    Reaper Bones Sci Fi Figures

    Posted By on September 11, 2014

    Reasonable Sci Fi figures

    Reasonable Sci Fi figures

    I mentioned in an earlier post that last weekend I had started a couple f painting projects.  One was to paint up the Reaper Bones science fiction figures that were part of the Bones I Kickstarter.  For me, these are meant to be opponents for the Aliens-like space marines.

    Getting silly

    Getting silly

    I suppose these figures are meant to be painted in Stormtrooper white and black.  There is no situation I can imagine, other than embassy gate guard duty, in which white uniforms make any sense in a tactical environment.  Regardless of how far future you get, we will always strive to camouflage ourselves.  I opted for a brown theme to distinguish them from the green uniforms of my colonial marines.

    Many of the figures (see top picture) are armed with something that looks like a reasonable assault rifle.  Some have silly looking GW-like oversized weapons (see middle picture).  Others are just ridiculous.  I am not a GW basher; although, I’ve played almost none of their games that I enjoy, but one thing that really rubs me wrong are those crazy oversized weapons.  They are stupid from a physical/tactical sense, and they are aesthetically painful.  The good news, however, is that much of the rest of the industry has seen fit to follow suit in order to attract the hard-core Warhammer players.

    Completely ridiculous

    Completely ridiculous

    I can suspend disbelieve with the best of them at times, and I really enjoy old black and white movies.  There is a scene in a really good, old, WWII propaganda movie, called Air Force, in which John Garfield is firing a .30 cal machine-gun from his hip.  Silly.  That scene looks like real battlefield footage compared to the figures in the photo above.   Even if you presume some sort of exoskeleton type of assist to carry and hold the Gatling Gun looking monstrosity, you’d look like a ballerina doing a pirouette as soon as you pulled the trigger.

    Anyway, the figures are done, and I am ready to put them into a game.