Český Krumlov

The next day was in Linz.  We elected to take the excursion to Český Krumlov, a quaint mediaeval village back in the Czech Republic.  This town was largely untouched by WWII, so the castle and town are like they have been for hundreds of years.  After a walking tour of the town and castle grounds, we all sat down for a traditional Czech meal and then had some free time to spend money on stuff we didn’t need.  We also climbed the tower of the castle and looked at the museum inside the castle tower during our free time.  Despite the hour and fifteen minute drive in each direction, we arrived back in Linz in time to walk around the town a bit and get some Linzer tortes.

Our first glimpse at a portion of the castle.
Our guide, Stephan, did a great job showing us around the town.
Two movie stars we met during the tour. Viking provides a “Vox” device with an ear piece. This allows the guide to narrate the tour without yelling or bothering others not on the tour.
Another view of the town.
School is ending soon in the Czech Republic. There were many school groups in town. Here you can see one school group rafting down the river.
The castle walls. Here you can see how different sections of the castle were built in different decades with different styles.
The town was hosting a group of high wire enthusiasts. In many of these pictures you can see the lines high over the river or town.
Approaching the castle.
The castle was built over many decades. The castle, consisted of five courtyards, each built in a slightly different style. Many of the walls had frescos on them. This is the archway leading from the castle to the town.
The town from the castle walls.
The government is in the process of adding a military museum to the castle. Here are a couple of cannons on display.
They claim that this is one of the first two breach-loading cannons ever built, but the guide was a little hazy on the specifics other than that it was produced by Krupp.
Another of the courtyards. We later climbed to the top of that tower.
Another courtyard picture.
Many of the walls were painted to look like large bricks, but the walls were actually just flat plaster.
Another view of the faux brickwork painted on the walls.
Karen and JJ
A gingerbread shop in town. Cookies and booze seem like an unusual taste combination.
We had a traditional Czech meal in several courses in a restaurant, called the Water Mill.
The meal consisted of a very tasty soup. Then a tray of meats, including duck, chicken, beef, and pork, was brought out family style. This included red cabbage. Like most means over the past two weeks, vegetables other than cabbage were in short supply.
Many of the buildings in town were decorated with these detailed frescoes.
Another view of part of the town. The buildings were painted in a number of pastel colors.
Český Krumlov
After lunch we were released for some free time. We chose to climb to the tap of the castle tower.
The tower from below.
Candy in the tower with the town in the background.
A view of the town from atop the tower. You can see some of the high-wire lines in this photo.

After a little shopping we boarded the bus and headed back to Linz.  I don’t fee like we missed anything in Linz by spending the day in Český Krumlov.  It is a largish German city with a handful of churches to see.  We had a couple of hours to walk downtown and shop for Linzer tortes to bring home.  The shopping area in Linz was just a city street and was not really unique or quaint.

Passau and Beyond

After our time in Prague, we boarded a bus for along ride to Passau, Germany, where we boarded out boat.  Arriving a little before dinner, we received out orientation and unpacked in our rooms.  We stayed in Passau at the dock the first night.  The next morning, Duncan, Dave, and I took the “Hiking the Hills of Passau” walking tour, while everyone else took the normal walking tour of town. Our tour covered the same downtown (Old Town) area of Passau, but we also saw a monastery / church overlooking Passau from one side of town and the castle on the other side of the river.  The tour was billed as “strenuous,” but it really wasn’t too bad except for the climb up the hill to the castle.

JJ, Karen, Betty, Candy, Greg, and Nicole get ready for their walking tour of Old Town Passau.
A picture of Passau. We started the “hiking the hills” tour pretty early.
The altar in the church / abbey / monastery overlooking Passau that was the starting point of our our.
The group preparing to hike the hills. Viking combined us with a group from another Viking ship traveling the opposite direction along the Danube.
The church that was our first stop.
The cemetery for many of the priests and monks who had lived at the abbey.
A view of Passau from the abbey.
We’re walking, we’re walking…
Oh, how artistic…
A fountain in the middle of Passau.
This is my kind of garden. This is what I call the “riot of color” look.
Walking along the Danube toward the bridge to the castle.
A good view along the wall of the castle. You can see how the styles changed over the hundreds of years of construction.
Another portion of the castle.
Passau from the castle. You can barely see our boat behind the vegetation.
A building along our hiking route.

A portion of the castle.
Dave, me, Duncan at an overlook on the hill we walked up to get to the castle.
A view of Passau from the castle. In the distance, on the hill, you can see the abbey where we started our perigrination. The white line coming down from it and then turning to the left of the picture is the covered pilgrim’s way with 300+ steps.
A partial view of the interior of the castle.
Sitting on the sun deck as we departed from Passau: Duncan, Betty, Karen.
In the afternoon, there was a demonstration in the lounge of how to make strudel.

Overnight we docked in Linz for our tours the next day.


Danube Cruise, the Adventure Begins in Prague

Well, it finally happened.  After our Viking river cruise of the Rhine in 2019, we scheduled a cruise along the Danube in 2020, which was postponed to 2021, and then 2022.  Along the way, we encouraged several other couples to participate: Greg and Nicole with whom we took the Rhine cruise, Duncan and Betty, Dave and Brenda, Eric and Vickey, and JJ and Karen.  Our journeys began seven days ago with our flights into Prague for the “pre show,” three days in Prague.

Our first night in Prague Greg had identified a pretty neat restaurant called “the skewer.”  All of the food had a skewer stuck in it.  Some had two skewers.  The food was self-serve, and at the end you paid for the number of skewers you had eaten.

JJ, Karen, Candy, Greg, and Nicole.
Eric, Vickie, Brenda, Dave, Betty, and Duncan

After a stroll around downtown Prague (Praha), we all returned to the hotel to try to get some sleep despite the jet lag.

The next morning, we all took the included “Panoramic Prague” walking tour through the city.  The guide, Radick, did a nice job of showing us the highlights of downtown Prague, despite some heavy rain.

The astronomical clock in the Old Town Square that chimes every hour. The 12 apostles process past the blue windows. The skeleton rings a bell to summon people, but the other statues shake their heads to stay on earth at least another hour.
A street in Prague
A view of Prague, including the castle on the hill.
A building in the town square. Many of the buildings had these nice frescoes on them.
Another building in the Old Town Square.
Taking cover from the rain.
This is a church in the Old Town Square. Note the mutliple spires. This seemed to be common among many of the churches in Prague. Also note the connector from the main spire to the corner spires. This too seemed to be common in Prague. I am not sure if this is decorative or structural or merely provides a covered walkway to the corner spires.
By the time we reached the Charles bridge on our tour, the rain and clouds were fading.
Crossing the bridge.
A canal near the Charles Bridge.
A paddle boat made to look like an old car on the river near the Charles Bridge.
A long shot of the bridge.
Another canal near the Charles bridge looking in the opposite direction toward an old water wheel.

The tour continued by taking us up to the castles, which includes a church and the President’s offices.

One of the many stained glass windows in the church within the Prague castle.
Our guide provides information about the church.
Looking down the long axis of the church toward the altar.
Because the castle hold’s the president’s offices, there were both ceremonial and real guards on duty.
Candy and me in front of the church within the Prague castle.
The inner courtyard of our hotel looking down toward where we had an included breakfast each morning.

That night Duncan, Betty, Dave, Brenda, Candy, and I attended a traditional folk dinner in a rural area outside of Prague.   This included dancers performing traditional folk dances and a three-piece band playing traditional music.  The food included some kind of cheese spread on bread, soup, meat, cabbage, and potatoes.  It was a fun evening.

The band playing at the Folk Dinner.
Our servers.
The entertainment.
Dave and Brenda
Betty, Duncan, some movie star, and Candy.

The next morning, on our own, we went to find the History of Communism.  I don’t know how anyone can support Communism, Marxism, and Socialism after visiting this museum.  The Czechs know first hand the evils of these philosophies, and they are not afraid to oppose them.

Some of the displays at the Museum of Communism.
One of the boards next to some of the displays.
I love this quote. Centralized, government control has never and will never work. The museum provided a number of examples of how a powerful and controlling central government created hardships and shortages for the people.
Reassembling after the museum tour. Duncan, Betty, Brenda, Dave, and Candy.

We walked around the Old Town Square in much better weather than the previous morning.
I saw this winged moose on a building in Prague and thought is was interesting. I need to add one of these to one of my games.
Several of us took the optional Operation Anthropoid tour. Anthropoid was an OSS operation in WWII to assassinate Heydrich Reinhardt, the “Butcher of Prague,” who also designed the “final solution” resulting in the creation of the concentration and death camps throughout Europe. While the operation was a success, in that they killed Reinhardt, all of the Czech parachutists involved were killed.
We took an evening tour of Prague. One of the stops was a monastery on one of the hills near the castle for a beer and a scenic overlook.
Some of the gang waiting for their beers: Dave, Brenda, JJ, Karen, Candy, and Eric.
The monastery
Karen and Candy with evening Prague behind them.

Our last morning we had to drop off our bags by 1000, but the bus wasn’t scheduled to depart of Passau until 1300.  So, Karen, Candy, JJ, and I walked across the river and along it to the Charles Bridge.  We stopped at a couple of shops to look at stuff we didn’t need, then we crossed the bridge and made one last trek through Old Town Square back to our hotel.

A local group performing on the Charles Bridge.
Assembling for the trip to Passau: JJ, Betty, Duncan, Candy, Eric, Vickey, Dave, Brenda, and Karen. Where is Buck?
The bus ride from Prague to Passau. Like any good paratrooper, Dave was asleep before the bus door closed.

We arrived at the boat in time to unpack our rooms and have dinner.

Eric, Vickey, JJ, Karen, Betty, and Duncan


Napoleonic French

I recently completed these three battalions of French Napoleonic infantry and mounted them for the under-development Wars of Eagles and Empires.  Eagles and Empires is an adaptation of Wars of Ozz for purely historical games.  The initial version will be Napoleonic, but there will be supplements for other historical periods, such as the American War of Independence (AWI), Jacobite Rebellion, Crimea, and others.

Early Old Glory French Napoleonic infantry.

These figures are very early Old Glory figures.  These were sold with separate heads, and you could get them with bicorns or shakos.  At the time, I was building Davout’s III Corps for 1805-1807.  Almost half of his regiments were still furnished Royal white uniforms instead of Napoleonic blue uniforms.

I don’t know if these were Old Glory’s first 25/28mm figures, but they were very early ones.  I think I purchased these at Old Glory’s first Historicon.

Another view of Old Glory French Napoleonic infantry.

I have recently be remounting all of my Napoleonic infantry for Wars of Eagles and Empires from Empire.  I had painted three battalions of these figures.  In Empire a battalion of French was typically twelve figures.  In Wars of Eagles and Empires, French regiments are generally six bases; although, there is no prescribed number of figures per base.  The figures from Nick Cirocco that I converted from Column, Line, and Square were mounted six figures to a base, because that’s how Minifigs Napoleonics were packaged.

During my rebasing, I found a bunch more of these figures that I had filed and primed.  There were enough figures, when combined with the 36 I had already painted, to make three full battalions of them for Wars of Eagles and Empires.

I block painted the new figures to match closely the ones I had painted 35 years ago.  The result is passable.  I just love the look of big battalions!  May that is because of my dad’s collection of 54mm Britains that surrounded me as a kid.

I will be holding another Napoleonic play test this week, and these figures will be on the table.  “Buck’s Law” states that the first time you put new figures on the table, they usually get spanked.  We’ll see what happens…

Artillery for my Orcs

When I started working on Wars of Orcs and Dwarves (WOOD), I found that I had very few fantasy figures, as I prefer historical games in general.  So, I started on my journey to create several “brigades” of hobbits, orcs, and goblins for WOOD. I completed the hobbit army some months ago.  To complete the orc army, I needed some artillery.  After posting to The Wargames Website, which is a wonderful alternative to the troll-infested Miniatures Page, I received some good suggestions.

This weekend I completed two “artillery pieces” for the orcs.

A war engine from manufacturer unknown. Note that my orcs and goblins are painted in AD&D yellow instead of GW green.
This engine was a gift from my buddy, Dave Wood. It was partially painted, but I reprised it and started over.

This piece will be mounted on a 4″x4″ base like large creatures.  It will melee like a large creature in WOOD, but it will fire like a catapult.

When I saw this figure, it just cracked me up. The cyclops giant troll think has a catapult on his back and appears to be launching orcs or goblins at the enemy.
I like the guy on top getting ready to be launched.
My wife liked all the arrows stuck in the catapult.
I think this would get your attention.

Dave will be using my figures to run a WOOD game at the Recon convention in April in the Free State of Florida.  I can’t wait to see these guys on the table.

Foldable Terrain

I found foldable terrain pictured recently on The Wargames Website that are available from Badger Games LLC in the US.  I have not been a fan of 4Ground in the past, because I don’t like the exposed tabs, and they don’t seem to sell touch-up paint to cover the tabs in matching colors.  The concept of foldable terrain intrigued me.  Badger has a subset of the building kits.  The full listing can be found here.

I purchased one of the brig buildings just to see how easy they were to assemble and how they looked.  In general, I am very pleased the the results; although, there was definitely a learning process for the first floor I assembled.  There are no tutorial videos that I could find, so it was a bit of trial and error.  Hint:  you never put any glue on any white paint in these repainted buildings.

Here is a picture of the final Americana shop with the optional third floor.

Note the typical exposed tabs of 4Ground buildings. I will try to match the gray and cover the tabs and also paint the concrete sections between the stories to make them gray instead of laser-cut MDF brown.
The floors come apart and have their own floors.
To fold a floor, you start by lifting the floor sections, which are hinged.
Then the walls fold together on hinges.

I am very interested in the mediaeval ones.  I have reached out to see if I can order them from Badger or if I need to order them from England.

Does anyone know how to find paint that matches the 4Ground colors?

Munchkin Attack on Gillikin Village

Last night, I hosted a Wars of Ozz game.  The game involved three 20-point Munchkin brigades attacking two 25-point Gillikin brigades.  The Gillikins were defending a village that the Munchkins sought to capture. We had two guys who were familiar with the rules, and one newcomer who quickly grasped the rules.  We played four turns.  We probably needed a fifth turn to come to a conclusion, but the consensus was that the Munchkins would have captured the town.

The starting locations of troops with the Munchkins on the left and the Gillikins on the right.
The center Munchkin brigade in its starting location. It consisted of Zoraster’s Guard, Sourdough’s regiment, a Landwehr regiment, and a medium artillery battery.
The Munchkin cavalry brigade on their right: two heavy regiments, one light regiment, and a light gun.
My two Gillikin cavalry regiments had early success pummeling a Munchkin Landwehr regiment, but then the tigers and Munchkin infantry mopped them up.
While the tigers had little hope of closing with my Gillikin cavalry, since both units were badly mauled, their charge against my cavalry was enough to rout the goat riders from the table.
The Gillikin infantry holding the town got involved in a firefight with a unit of Munchkin infantry. Despite the cover of the town, the Gillikins didn’t do well in the firefight. In the bottom right, you can see one of my Gillikin infantry units moving up to support the town.
The Munchkins brought up a batter and a second unit of infantry. The Gillikins decided to defend inside the town to avoid being cut down by Munchkin musketry. My infantry unit on the right and my cannon were able to knock out a base of Munchkin infantry, but when the infantry later charged, they were smashed by the Munchkins.
Initial dispositions of the Gillikins on our left. Wayne was quite aggressive with his goat cavalry while his musketeers and bowmen kept plinking away at the Munchkin cavalry.
Early maneuvers on the Munchkin right (cavalry brigade) and Gillikin left.
The fight on the Munchkin right heats up. By the end of the game, all three Munchkin cavalry regiments had routed thanks to aggressive cavalry action by the Gillikins on goats and the support of the Gillikin infantry in the woods.

As I said, the consensus was that the game would have been a Munchkin victory if we had been able to play one more turn, but it was a “school night,” and we quit about 2200.  The game was fun.

Science Fiction Crawler Type Vehicle

I recently ordered this vehicle from an outfit called RealityAtWork.  Even without instructions it assembled easily.  There were some really nice features about how this kit, all 3D printed, assembled with printed clips.  I like the way I was able to assemble it so that the roofs came off easily for play.

The trailer was optional.  The door/hatch came already assembled and hinged.  The ladder is supposed to go up and down, but it is a very tight fit, and after painting, it probably won’t move any more.

The figures in these pictures are 28mm figures.

This vehicle will be the centerpiece of a science fiction skirmish scenario using the under-development Star Patrol(TM) version of Combat Patrol(R).

The interior of the main portion of the vehicle.
The interior of the front portion of the vehicle.

And this is something unrelated, but I picked it up last weekend at Hurricon in Orlando.  Yes, we are holding gaming conventions here.

Wars of Ozz at Hurricon 2021

Last weekend the folks in Florida hosted Hurricon, their first convention since the COVID panic overtook the nation.  It is held in Orlando (actually Kissimmee), Florida.  The venue was well lit, spacious, and clean.  There were plentiful food options on premises and nearby.  My friend, JJ, flew down from Charlotte to join me for the weekend.  I took of Friday for some gaming.  We played a Command and Colors Maori Wars game, a demo of Oak and Iron, a sailing ship game, a pirate free-for-all, and a fun little skirmish using a “stripped down” version of the d20 Star Wars roleplaying game.

On Saturday, I ran two Wars of Ozz games.  The rules were released after I moved to Florida.  Conventions all over the country were cancelled.  This was my first time running the rules in public since Fall In 2019, when they were in pre-release form.  Bottom line:  both games went well, the players like the rules, and everyone liked the figure, despite my paint job.

I ran the same scenario twice.  A force of Gillikins, Nomes, and Winkies attacked a force of Harvesters, Quadlings, and Munchkins to seize a Munchkin village.  Each attacking brigade was composed of 25 points.  Each defending brigade was composed of 20 points.

Initial setup on the “good guys'” right flank with the Munchkin village in the foreground.
A close-up of the initial Munchkin deployment.
The Nomes, supported by lions, directly faces the Munchkins.
The “bad guys'” center and right. The Gillikins were in the center, and the Winkies were on the right.
The Land of Harvest deployed on the “good guys'” left flank.
A close up of the Winkie deployment.

In the first instance of the game, the “defending” Munchkins were very aggressive, advancing from the town, only to be mauled by the Nomes.  The game was an easy-to-call attacker victory.

One player had to leave early.  Other young guy came over to see the game.  He was very interested in the rules and the figures.  While he was standing there, a now-commanderless brigade needed to make some Reaction Tests.  I got him to make those rolls, then a few more rolls, then move some troops.  He ended up staying for the rest of the game, and he had a great time.  He and the Winkie commander had a swirling melee involving infantry and cavalry.  He even came by during the second game to see how his troops were doing.

Advancing Munchkin infantry.
Deployed Nomes.
Winkies on Zilks
Havester cavalry mounted on guralopes.
The action in progress. Nomes and Gillikins advancing.
Quadlings advance to meet the Winkies.
Winkies pushing back the Harvesters.
Deployment for the second instance. Debbie (Munchkins), Gael (Quadlings), and Josh (Harvesters) make their plan. It was good to see women and younger people at Hurricon.
Jim, Carlos, and Jim make their plan for the “bad guys.”

The second game was a much more near-run affair.  The Munchkins did a better job of trying to hold the village.  The Nomes got into the village briefly, but the Munchkins counter attacked.  In the “good guys'” center, the Quadlings advanced toward the Gillikins instead of making the Gillikins come to them, but they didn’t really commit to an attack, so the Quadlings took a beating.  On the “good guys'” left, the forces from the Land of Harvest really got spanked by the Winkies.  The Harvesters didn’t really make any mistakes, but they just didn’t seem to be able to get anything going.  By the end, they were nearly wiped out, but they held on long enough so that the Winkies really never put any pressure on the village.

The Winkies advance in the second instance. The Harvesters’ pumpkin catapult knocked out two Winkie artillerists, and the battery routed, but it eventually returned to the fight.
An “artsy” closeup of the Winkie cavlalry.
The Greater Pumpkinheads beyond.
The Munchkins established a formidable battle line early in the game.
Another view of advancing Nomes.

I think everyone who played in the games liked the rules.  There were several people who had heard about the rules and figures.  There were at least two people there who had bought into the first Kickstarter, and one guy was actively painting his figures.  There was also a request for me to come to the local hobby store to run a demonstration game.