Monday, August 31, 2009

The Passing of Rich Villella

I will always think of Rich Villella as a very good friend and also a good wargamer. I met him, first, at Campaign Headquarters, in the mid 80s when I was a shop clerk for Joe Legat. Rich and I spoke a couple of times about different wargaming topics, which led to conversations about girls, music and a number of other topics. Eventually, he got around to inviting me to wargame with the Williamsburg crowd that gamed (in those days) at a training building of Colonial Williamsburg.

I started attending those gaming sessions (weekend nights) a couple of times here and there (work and school permitting) and Rich was always a gentleman (as were the rest of the club). Rich always inspired me, in those days, not only with his expansive knowledge of military history, but also his welcoming friendliness; his eagerness to share a game with someone new; and his open minded approach not only to game ideas, but to any sort of conversation topic. After that, for a couple of years (while I was still working at the hobby store and an undergraduate) I would do a number of contract painting projects for Rich. It was always a good relationship, for not only would I get to paint new topics, but I would also benefit from Rich's knowledge of history. After college, I saw Rich on occasion on weekend game sessions, when I lived in Williamsburg, and continued to see him from time to time.

A few years back I heard that Rich had retired, and we saw each other again (after some time of sporadic contact). It was as if no real time had passed in between - we took up our friendly relationship and conversations on historical topics (mostly Ancient warfare, Napoleonic history, and more esoteric things, like Garibaldi and the Reunification of Italy). Just earlier this year, Rich hosted a Napoleonic game at the Hangar, which I played in eagerly (using Rudy Scott Nelson's rules - which Rich introduced me to years earlier, and which I still enjoy playing). I was glad for the experience. Just before the first Williamsburg Muster (our local convention - of which Rich was totally supportive, and served on our committee), he ran a French Foreign Legion game, which was a lot of fun as well.

Then, just a few days ago, I received the dreadfully sad news that Rich had passed away. The wash of sadness still hasn't left me. The world will be a much hollower place without my friend Rich in it.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Undead Army

So, I've been thinking of building an Undead army for HoTT. Here is the reason why . . .


Friday, August 28, 2009

RCW Equipment Series - The FT-17

Renault FT-17

An excellent light tank of the early stages of WWII (France, 1940), was also used in the Russian Civil War, and a number of other conflicts/theaters (Rif War 1925-27; Spanish Civil War 1936-39). The FT-17 originally came into service during the Great War, during 1917. Before the end of that conflict nearly 3,000 would see service.
This tank was used (evidently) by both sides (Red and White) during the civil war. Notably, the Bolshevik government had the Krasnoye Sormovo Factory reverse engineer a number of captured, burned-out FT-17s and produce the first soviet-built tank - a copy of the FT-17, named the "Freedom Fighter Comrade Lenin" (now housed at the Kubinka tank museum). The factory would go on to produce T-34s for the great patriotic war. A discussion of the technical details of the Russian Renault can be found at Skoblin's History Blog.The FT-17 was the first tank to appear in Russia during the Civil War. They arrived, in a shipment of 20 tanks, in the port of Odessa, in December of 1918, to support French and Greek troops fighting the Bolsheviks. In subsequent fighting, six of these initial 20 were lost to the Reds. From then on, the FT-17 would appear on both sides of the conflict. They continued to be supplied to allied troops fighting against the Reds. Most tanks supplied to the White generals were actually British tanks (Mark V Heavy, Mark A Medium, Mark B Medium). [See the excellent "Armored Units of the Russian Civil War" from Osprey Books, by D. Bullok and A. Deryabin for more details. A preview copy from Google Books is viewable here

Some very nice websites showing scale models of the FT-17 are here and here.

For wargaming, wonderful FT-17 models are made by MiniFigs and also QRF. I have the latter, and they were easy to assemble, and look good on the field of battle. I will try to take some pix next time they see action.


Monday, August 17, 2009

Traveller from Mongoose

I was aware that the Mongoose Publishing version was out for some time, but I wasn't paying too much attention, until I picked up a copy of the mini-version of the rulebook during a summer vacation trip with my Wife to Staunton Virginia. We visited Dragon's Hoard gaming shop there (owned by a nice fellow, and long time friend, Harry), and I picked up a copy of this book.

It is great! Preserves all of the goodness of the original (1977) version of the game, and improves upon it without it becoming unplayable (which, I'm afraid, is my opinion of many of the other versions - T20, MegaTraveller to a certain extent, T4, and so on).

What a great game - now if I only had time to run a game.

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