Civil War Ball in Gettysburg

Buck and Candy before the Ball
Buck and Candy before the Ball

This past weekend, we attended the Gettysburg Civil War ball in the Gettysburg Hotel.  The event began for us Saturday morning with a two-hour lesson on period dancing.  It was very fun.  After lunch and just a few minutes to peek into one or two of the stores very close to the center of town, it was time to begin to suit up and prepare for the group photo.  After photos we headed to the ball.  While people were being seated, a guy who looked like Andrew Jackson played and sang period songs on the piano.  The dinner was better than the average “event dinner.”

Buck, Candy, Buck's Mom, Buck's Dad, Buck's Sister (Sheila), and her husband (Rob)
Buck, Candy, Buck's Mom, Buck's Dad, Buck's Sister (Sheila), and her husband (Rob)

After we finished eating we left the dining room so that the hotel staff could clear the tables and make room for dancing.  The dancing began with the grand entrance march.  The entrance march reminded me of films of the RCMP horse troop at the Calgary Stampede.  By following the person in front of you and taking commands from the platoon of professional dancers we travelled around the room in various formations.  The purpose for this, I gather is so that everyone sees everyone else in a Victorian-appropriate manner.  Many of the women put some incredible effort into their dresses, so it was a good opportunity to see them.  The dancing lasted for about three hours.  Music was provided by a three-piece bad, called “Smashing Windows,” consisting of a piano, violin, and recorder/flute.  I wasn’t sure how much fun this would be, but we’ve made our reservations at the Gettysburg hotel for next year.

Candy wore a borrowed dress, but she’ll probably have one made for next year.  For next year, we’re talking about getting her a wig, since her hair was too short for Victorian styles and she couldn’t find a good hair piece that matched in color.  I told her this is her chance to be a blonde with long “boing boing” curls.  I pieced together a uniform from my dad’s closet, as did my brother-in-law Rob.  For next year I may have a uniform made that will fit a little better.  (The uniform was a little large, and we couldn’t get the belt to fit properly.)  Just to be different, I’m thinking about a naval commodore’s uniform.  Everything was re-enactor quality, except I wore my real shoulder boards.  Since they are bullion, it worked, even through the eagle on Colonel’s rank has changed shape just a bit.

Blood and Swash Cards

Sample Cards
Sample Cards

I saw a link on The Miniatures Page not long ago about a print on demand shop, superiordpod.com.  I got the idea that for my pirate tavern fight convention games, it might be nice to have cards with pre-rolled stats.  In those games, using Blood and Swash, I usually have each player control one of each character class: Swashbuckler, Hero, Swordsman, and Man at Arms.  Over the holidays I photographed each of the pirate figures I use in those tavern fight games and then made these cards.  It took a few iterations with the company to get my cards to match the template for printing, but I’m really happy with the final product.

This photograph shows some figures along with their matching cards.  Note that each character class has a different colored label.  This is so I can quickly sort them into four stacks and have the players draw one from each stack to start a game.

In practice, I plan to get the hard cases used for collectable cards.  Each player will put his cards in one of those cases so he can use a grease pencil to mark off ammunition and hits.

I’m so happy with these cards that I’ve been thinking about other uses of custom cards.  A deck of 54 cards costs about $6.00 plus another $5.00 for shipping.  I made some mistakes on the first order.  Then I wanted to finish making cards for the rest of my pirates.  I just sent in another order for 108 cards, and the total order cost was something like $14.00.  The price is very reasonable.  I’m working on custom decks of cards for GMs of Look, Sarge games.

Barrage 2011 a Success

On 22 JAN, the HAWKs hosted their annual gaming day at Archbishop Curley High School in Baltimore, MD.  The turnout was very good.  We had 24 events run during the day, and every game master had enough players to run his or her game.  Genres varied from fantasy to WWII, with just about everything in  between.

Clever Ancients Game
Clever Ancients Game

Matt Kirkhart ran two ancients games using his scratch built figures.  These were built from various bits from the craft store.  It’s not often you can describe a war game as “cute,” but these really were.  The game was not silly.  It was a real ancients game, and both kids and adults seemed to enjoy it.

Wide shot of the gaming room
Wide shot of the gaming room

This is a wide shot of the gaming room about mid morning.  In this picture you can only see about half the room.  We had 8 games scheduled to begin at 0900.  We weren’t sure we’d have enough gamers at that time to fill that many games.  While a few games waited until 0930 to start, every game was run (and was full).  We even had two ad hoc games get set up, Ambush Alley and Sea Kreig.

Airboats and Aligators
Airboats and Alligators

Two youngsters playing in Todd Harland-White’s Airboats, Alligators, and Daemon Rum game.  This is a race by bootleggers to get casks of rum past the revenue men.  The game uses a combination of Jamie Davis’ Future Race rules and Blood and Swash.  My daughter won this game.

Mike Montemarano in the Carlist Wars
Mike Montemarano in the Carlist Wars

Scott Perry ran a beautiful 28mm Carlist Wars game.  He claims to have the largest collection of Carlist Wars figures in North America.  He’s probably right.  This is a very niche period.

Scott Mingus' American Civil War Ironclads Game
Scott Mingus' American Civil War Ironclads Game

Civil War author Scott Mingus ran a very attractive American Civil War ironclads game.  There were about eight players in this game.  Everyone seemed to enjoy it.  I think he did a really nice job on the terrain for this game.  Scott also had some of his books for sale.

Battle of Lvov
Battle of Lvov

Chris and I had 12 players for our 16 player Cold Wars game.  We had just played 2/3 of this game the night before at our regular HAWKs meeting.  We will make only minor tweaks for Cold Wars.  All of the players were engaged and fighting until we called the game.  We started about 45 minutes late.  We made sure the games run by non-HAWKs were filled before starting this 12-player game.  As a lot of folks arrived at 0930, we didn’t really get started until 0945.  The game had a hard stop time, because there were two games scheduled to use the tables after us.  If we had been allowed to play the full time scheduled (if we had started on time), the Germans and Russians might have been assaulting the town.

This is a close-up shot of the Germans approach one of the Polish defensive lines.  The fighting was hot and heavy here for about an hour of game time.  The rules were Look, Sarge, No Charts: World War II.  Note how clean the board looks.  This is not prettied up for the photograph!

Look, Sarge, Way Too Many Charts!
Look, Sarge, Way Too Many Charts!

Contrast the Look, Sarge game above with this view of another game at Barrage.  The aesthetics of the figures are completely destroyed by the charts, special measuring devices, and HUGE labels behind the units.  This game use a popular, expensive, hard-cover set of rules.  Which do you think looks better?

Aerodrome
Aerodrome

One of the ad hoc games at Barrage was a six-player Aerodrome game.  My kids love this.  In fact for his birthday last year, I bought Tommy a complete set of rules and playing aids.  I can’t afford to send him to college, now, but he can have fun playing this game.  This game ran from about 1400-1800, with players rotating in and out.

Tim Tilson's Sudan Game
Tim Tilson's Sudan Game

Tim Tilson ran an attractive Sudan game using The Sword and the Flame.  This was another player pleaser.  Every time I passed the table the guys looked like they were having a ball.

Sack of Panama
Sack of Panama

Peter Hess ran this very attractive pirate game in which mobs of pirates were trying to sack the town, capture the fort, and get away with treasure.  The game lasted four hours and appeared to be exciting to the last.

Productive Martin Luther King Day Off

Over the three-day weekend (which was supposed to be a four day weekend, but I ended up working all day on Friday) I had some time on Saturday and Monday to work on hobby stuff.  I’ve begun working on zombies for our HAWKs zombie club project, but none of them are done yet to show.  What I did finish are some more space ships for War Rocket, some Sikhs, and a few Pulp figures.

Four War Rocket ships, the larger ones being new
Four War Rocket ships, the larger ones being new

Here’s a view of four War Rocket space ships.  The two larger ones (Class IV) are new.  These are really fun to paint.

Galacteer Class IV
Galacteer Class IV

This is a closeup of the new Galacteer Clas IV ship.

Valkeeri Class IV
Valkeeri Class IV

This is the new Valkeeri Class IV ship.  For some reason, all my flash photos of these ships show the purple to be much lighter than they look to me in person.

John Carter and Princess from Tin Man Miniatures
John Carter and Princess from Tin Man Miniatures

Before Christmas Tin Man Miniatures had a sale on their figures, so Chris and I put in an order.  I love the John Carter books.  The Deja Thoris figure is so “amply proportioned” and in such as pose as to really be a parody or caricature, but this one isn’t too bad.  I like the incubator and the little bits of alien terrain as well.

Pulp Miniatures Sikhs from an army builder pack
Pulp Miniatures Sikhs from an army builder pack

Getting away from fantasy, above are some Sikhs from Pulp Miniatures.  You can never have too many Sikhs, can you?  This pack is an army builder, so you get eight in the same pose for the same price as their normal five-pack of individual figures.  Mixed with some personalities and perhaps some heavy weapons, these are going to look great on the table.

She Wolves 2 from Pulp Miniatures
She Wolves 2 from Pulp Miniatures

The final bit for the weekend remained in the pulp genre and from Pulp Miniatures.  These are their She Wolves, Nazi women with guns.  Actually one of the figures in this photo is from the first She Wolves pack.  I had pulled it from the box so I could match the colors.  I don’t often mix colors any more to make it easier to touch up chips and match previously painted figures.  In this case, I think I did a good job of matching.  Now with ten of these — a full GASLIGHT unit — I can more easily incorporate them into a game.

While it sometimes requires me to sacrifice historical accuracy, in multi-player games, I like to make each player’s figures visually distinctive.  This makes it much easier to determine the owning player during a game.  I might, for example, mix the She Wolves into a pulp scenario, not because I need She Wolves, but because it will be a visually distinctive German unit.

Well, back to the zombies and original Star Trek on DVD…

Grand Manner Buildings

Right before Christmas I ordered four buildings from Grand Manner.  This is a UK company that makes really nice resin buildings and terrain pieces.  You can buy their buildings unpainted, as I did, or painted.  You have two painted options: wargame quality and museum quality.  I bought mine unpainted, because I couldn’t afford to buy them painted and because I enjoy painting them.

The four Grand Manner buildings from their Guilford Courthouse set
The four Grand Manner buildings from their Guilford Courthouse set

This picture shows all four of the buildings in the Guilford Courthouse set.  They were cheaper as a set, plus Grand Manner had them on sale leading into Christmas.  What really struck me about these from their add in the British gaming magazines and their Web site was the very obvious chinking between the logs.

The largest of the log cabins
The largest of the log cabins

Here is a close-up of the largest of the log cabins.  You can really see the chinking.  The roof is removable.  There is a removable attic floor as well.  The roofs should probably be brown bark shingles, but I decided to paint them as slate for some color variance.  The bases are textured enough that I could have painted them instead of flocking them, but I like the look of the flocking.  Note the small tufts of grass as well.  It was Sam’s idea to dribble some brown ink down the roof for added interest.

The porch of one of the buildings
The porch of one of the buildings

I really like this building.  The porch and porch roof are really nice.  I can imagine this building in a cowoby game, French and Indian War game, or a Pulp game with moonshiners.  I have the Beverly Hillbillies truck from Blue Moon that would look great next to this building.  The porch roof supports both snapped off during prep for painting, but they were nice clean breaks that were easily repaired.

Guildford Courthouse
Guildford Courthouse

This is the Guilford Courthouse building from which this set derives its name.  This picture doesn’t really do this building justice.  It  is really nice.  Note the combination of rock and brick on the chimney.  Very neat.

Interior of Guilford Courthouse
Interior of Guilford Courthouse

The shot depicts the interior, upper floor of the courthouse.  In both buildings with removable top floors, there is an open trap door.  In addition, a few small terrain bits, in this case a crate, are molded to the floor to provide a convenient handle to remove the floor.  This is a really nice feature of these buildings.  Normally I have to glue some other terrain bit to the floor myself.

The interiors of the buildings have detailed floors and fire places.  My only complaint with the kits is that I couldn’t really get a paint brush inside the buildings to paint this detail.  I had to settle for merely dry brushing over this detail so you can see it.

These are great buildings at a reasonable price (at least I thought the sale price was good).  They are easily prepared and are fun to paint.  Service was excellent too.  They shipped from England about 24 hours after I ordered them and arrived within a week.  I highly recommend these buildings.

Colonial Fort Finished

For Christmas my parents gave me the Acheson Creations’ frontier fort.  I’ve been coveting this for some years.  I had previous built a fort using bamboo skewers from the grocery store.  While these skewers are probably more in proper scale for 28mm figures, I’ve always liked the look of the Acheson Creations’ fort.  I have really wanted to get my French and Indian War figures on the table again.

Aerial view of the Acheson Creations fort
Aerial view of the Acheson Creations fort

They also purchase the block house.  This view shows about 85% of the fort, including two of three buildings.  In fact, there are probably too many buildings to fit within the fort and be able to move figures around inside it comfortably.  I may purchase a few more wall sections at an upcoming HMGS East convention, like Cold Wars.

British Grenadiers approach the fort
British Grenadiers approach the fort

This view shows a close up of a corner of the block house and some Old Glory FIW Grenadiers approaching the open gate.  (I don’t know if Acheson sells gates, but I’ll be looking for them at Cold Wars or I’ll make some from dowels.)

Each of the wall sections has a firing platform.  The platform is a separate piece, which aids in painting.  I glued the platforms to the walls and supports with “tacky glue.”  I find that using a better glue won’t stop the pieces from coming apart during play, and the white glue doesn’t take the paint off with it.

Looking out of the open gate
Looking out of the open gate

This view is my lame attempt at being “artsy.”  I placed the camera inside the fort and took a picture through the gate of approach British line infantry.  The flash kept casting a pronounced shadow on the backdrop, so I took the photo without the flash and then lightened it with the Previewer on my Mac.

I’m pretty happy with the overall effect.  I can’t wait to play some French and Indian War skirmishes!

New Years Eve Gaming

I have never understood the fascination with partying on New Years Eve.  Like Halloween, it’s a holiday I don’t understand.  Most New Years Eves, we sit at home as a family, watch some old black and white movies, and go to bed before midnight.  Every once in a while, Candy would want to do something on New Years Eve.  I’d rather not be on the roads, so we began having people to our place.  I’d much rather pay for the food and clean up after the party rather than go out.

Having done it two years in a row, we now have a time-honored tradition of inviting members of the Harford Area Weekly Kreigspeilers, the gaming group in which I am a member, to our place to game all afternoon and evening.  I find it a really nice way to spend New Years Eve.  There’s only a little booze, but we have a good time anyway.  Imagine that.

Granville, IL, the site of the battle
Granville, IL, the site of the battle

This year we played four games.  The first was my Pulp game.  I had intended to run it with To Be Continued… by GASLIGHT; however, I ran out of prep time and just used Blood and Swash.  For about two years, I’ve been assembling the town of Granville, IL.  This is very loosely based on the town of 1200 people, and their one main street, near where I spent my summers as a kid.  Some of the buildings were built from War Foam kits, others from Litko.  A couple were scratch built from foam core.

A figure's-eye view down main street toward the town hall
A figure's-eye view down main street toward the town hall

The basic scenario involved two rival gangs.  The first gang occupied a number of buildings in the town.   This gang, known affectionately as the Jennifer gang after “Ma Jennifer,” the leader,  had just hijacked some booze from their rival gang, and the profits from this transaction were hidden in a safe somewhere in town.  They had also recently kidnapped the daughter of one of a state official in order to gain some support/concessions.  The second gang came to town to take the money from the safe — which they considered rightfully theirs — and to free the hostage to ingratiate themselves with local corrupt officials — this is Illinois, after-all.  The attacking gang, which we’ll call the Palmer gang, didn’t know where the safe or the girl were hidden.

A view of the game in progress
A view of the game in progress

The police were neutral.  They could engage any of the gangs.  Each player had three figures with pistols and one figure with a submachine gun or shotgun.  Once the gangs began using weapons other than pistols, the police could break into the arms room and bring out the BARs and .30 cal. machine gun.

My intent was for the Palmer gang to spend a lot of time searching the buildings for the safe and the captured girl.  Eric Heliman did in fact spend a  lot of time looking for the safe.  The girl was in a small boarding hose on the other side of town.  Her location was accidentally revealed to the Palmer gang when on of the police moved into the building and the roof needed to be removed.  A sharp fight soon ensued in the boarding house, during which the captives got loose and jumped out a window.  She didn’t see one gang as being any better than the other.  With members of both gangs chasing her (Jennifer and Sam for the Jennifer gang and Eric S. and Tank for the Palmer gang), she managed to run across the alley in her underwear, through the theater, and out the front, where she ran into some police (Geoff) who, despite the best efforts of both gangs, managed to take her to the safety of the city hall.

Gangster and move poster
This character had almost nothing to do with the game, but I really like this picture.

On the other side of town Eric H. found the safe.  Despite the noise created by Tommy, Sammy, Chris, and Steve exchanging fire down below, Eric managed to crack the safe.   Eric shoved Tommy’s figure out the second floor window, and Tommy failed his Save (with a 20!) falling on a bystander in the street.  Eric decided that it was lower risk to jump out the second-floor window with the satchel of cash than to try to get through Bertha’s Italian restaurant on the first floor where Steve’s police were filling the place with shotgun shells.  In the meantime, Chris had finally gotten the engine started on a getaway vehicle (a truck full of flour barrels for the Eagle Foods store.  Unfortunately, the Jennifer gang and the police were closing in on Eric.

Part of the fight for the money satchel
Part of the fight for the money satchel

Despite machine gun fire which caused the truck to conk out, Chris used the vehicle to run over people.  It became like the pirate tavern, in which everyone who touched the satchel was gunned down.  At one point, police machine gun fire enraged the little dog sleeping in the alley with a hobo.  The little dog charged the police, passing unscathed through a hail of bullets and leapt at a policeman.  In true Blood and Swash fashion, he failed his slug roll and went sailing past the policeman!  In the end, one of Eric’s figures picked up the satchel and ran off into the woods, avoiding pursuit.

A view of Santa's Workshop at the start of the game
A view of Santa's Workshop at the start of the game

The second game we played was a G.A.S.L.I.G.H.T. game run by Chris.  He has been assembling figures for a North Pole game LOOSELY based on the Tolkien Father Christmas Letters.  Santa’s forces consisted of toy soldiers (Eureka), teddy bears (Eureka), Elf North Pole Militia (Brigade Games), snow men with candy cane guns firing stale gumdrops, and many characters from the Rankin-Bass Rudolf holiday stop-action animation.    The “bad guys” were an assortment of goblins and evil snow creatures bent on stealing packages of toys.

Carnage on my side of the table
Carnage on my side of the table

The carnage was terrific.  On my side of the table, in a series of sharp engagements, the “bad guys” knocked out the teddy bears, killed Rudolf, killed Yukon Cornelius, damaged the pop-gun artillery, etc.  On the other side of the table, the goblins killed Santa, wiped out two units of toy soldiers, and melted all the snow men.  The only main character who survived on the Santa side was Bumble.  We figure Christmas will be interesting next year with the Abominable Snow Man delivering presents.

Bumble and Yukon Cornelius
Bumble and Yukon Cornelius

The HAWKs consensus was that the North Pole game could benefit from changing the initial deployment of the Santa forces and perhaps making their units — and Santa — a little tougher.  It was a real hoot.

We finished the evening with a game of Munchkin Booty (the pirate version of the game) and Kung Fu Fighting.  By then we had watched the ball in Times Square go up and had a little champagne.  I think it was a very successful party, and we look forward to doing it again next year.

Last Figures of 2010

I keep a running log of the figures I paint during the year.  Because of the six-month deployment and the month prior and following it, my output for 2010 was pretty low.  These are the last figures I painted in 2010, finished around 0900 on the last day of December.

Dark Sword Miniatures Frog Minstrel
Dark Sword Miniatures Frog Minstrel

Chris and I have been painting Eureka frog and turtle figures for use with G.A.S.L.I.G.H.T.  In early December, Chris discovered these Dark Sword Miniatures figures.  They are VERY expensive.  They do not have all the figures you might need to create units of frogs, but they do have some nice personality figures.  To the right is the Frog minstrel, who will lead my North American frog army to victory over Chris’ south American frogs.  There are few things more stirring than the sound of the bagpipes leading men (and in this case, frogs) into battle.

Dark Sword Miniatures Wizard
Dark Sword Miniatures Wizard

To help gain and advantage over their foes, my North American frogs have enlisted the aid of the court wizard.  Note that To Be Continued… by GASLIGHT includes elementary rules for magic to support witch doctors and other supernatural elements of Saturday afternoon movie serials.  This wizard is old and grizzled, but I imagine he’ll be able to produce some smoke and light that will cause Chris’ frogs and turtles of scamper away.

Dark Sword Miniatures Bishop
Dark Sword Miniatures Bishop

I’m not sure what religion frogs have, but it is surely under less attack than Christianity in the US.  I have no idea what impact a bishop will have on my frog army, but the figure was too cool not to purchase and paint up.  If nothing else, he can just be an unattached Main Character and go around beating people with his big stick.  I’m thinking that he will have a positive impact on the morale of whatever unit he is near.  On the other hand, perhaps his sermons are so boring that he will actually decrease morale!

Dark Sword Miniatures King and Retainer
Dark Sword Miniatures King and Retainer

Eureka makes a very nice frog being carried on a sedan chair by four retainers.  Though all of my frog and turtle games have involved both my figures and Chris’ figures, moving around as much as I do means I must have enough figures to play both sides of any potential game.  I needed a second king to lead the other side if I have to break my army in two for a game.  The cape on this figure was separate.  I really like the flintlock his retainer is carrying.

Dark Sword Miniatures Queen and Retainer
Dark Sword Miniatures Queen and Retainer

Last, but not lease, is the queen frog and her retainer.  I really like the dress with the Queen Elizabeth I looking collar.  In retrospect, I think the pink dress was meant to be frog skin and should have been painted green.  I like the pink.

Buck’s law states that the first time you use new figures in a game they get smucked.  I can’t wait to put these figures on the table and see how they do.

Dismounted Bicycle Lancers
Dismounted Bicycle Lancers

The last group I painted consisted of 12 dismounted Napoleonic cavalry.  Many years ago, Eureka Miniatures released a cavalry unit on penny farthing bicycles.  They never released the dismounts.  Dismounted Napoleonic cavalry is very difficult to find.  This year the freebie at HMGS East Fall In was a sprue of two plastic dismounted cavalry.  Chris was able to scrape together five of them for me, and an additional sprue came with Miniature Wargames one month.  Note they are not an exact match for the mounted figures, which have a cuirass.  I guess they take off the armor for dismounted work because of the weight.