Wednesday, December 2, 2015

AWI game using Black Powder

Last weekend (Thanksgiving weekend, which if I can be sincere for a moment, is a very important holiday for me, because I am Thankful to the Almighty for everything in my life...but I come close to being serious) I was lucky enough to get to host a 15mm AWI game at my house (on the GwC grand command center wargaming table - located in the basement).  I had a few great friends come over (which made it a perfect Thanksgiving weekend activity, see my earlier serious comment).

We played Black Powder, using the 50% reduction suggestion for 15mm (basically, the game is identical, as it should be, but all distances are halved).

The game featured 3 commands on each side (for the planned 6 players), and each command controlled two brigades.

The scenario was a fictional fight based in late September, 1780, in South Carolina, and is based on the premise that the Americans won the Battle of Camden.

The thesis is this:  First, the Southern Towns of the Cherokee Nation did not join the British against the Colonials, but remained neutral (so rather than being attacked by the SC Militia, they were harassed by the Carolina Loyalists).

Cherokee vs Soldiers: Imagine they had been British?
Second, imagine the war in the South if the Battle of Camden (fought on my birthday, but 185 years early, on August 16, 1780) had been an American victory.  If the Militia and States troops (Virginia and NC) had followed the example set by the Maryland and Delaware troops, and they all stood and fought, then the American force would have retained it's numerical superiority, and with 1,500 Continentals vs. 1,500 British regulars it very well could have gone the way of General Gates, rather than towards Cornwallis.
Battle of Camden: Imagine if the Colonials hadn't run?

Now, with the Cherokee's in the area being neutral, and leaning away from the British, and the Continentals having just won a large victory, the premise was that the Cherokee's would send two warbands to join the Continental army, along with a locally raised militia (both infantry and mounted) under a Colonel Von Ottendorf, based on Armand, who had been sitting out the conflict so far.
Colonel Von Ottendorf, from his home in Asheville NC

The British, in response to the defeat, would have had Cornwallis taking the south much more seriously, and calling down reinforcements.  But, with the situation in the north what it was in late 1780, that would mean shifting Hessians, which is what we reflected in the game.
Hessians - tired of New Jersey winter raids, 
The army under Gates started to swing south, planning to reinforce Columbia, but after reports of Cornwallis being in pursuit, and having met up with the Hessians brought in from Charleston, the Continentals instead veered to the southeast, along the Congaree river.  In the area that is now the Congaree National Park, about 15 miles southeast of Columbia, is where I envisioned the battle to take place.
Continental troops defend the tributary bridge

So the Colonial forces had two brigades of Continentals (same as at Camden), two brigades of various states regiments and Militia (mostly NC and Virginia), and also a brigade under Von Ottendorf, and a mixed brigade of SC Mounted Militia and Cherokee Indians.

Banastre Tarleton
The King's Army had one brigade of British Regulars, one brigade of Tarleton's British Legion and cavalry, two brigades of Carolina Loyalist infantry (Tories), one brigade of mixed Hessians and Philadelphia Tories (shifted down with the mercenaries), and one brigade of pure Hessians.

The Congaree river was on Gates' right, and the battle was fought on the southern side of the river.  On his right were the two Continental brigades ("B"). In the middle ("A") were the Virginia and NC regiments, and on the left ("C") were Ottendorf and the Cherokee.  The middle of the field was pretty clear, except for a manor house, with some planted plots of vegetables, and a peach grove.  The far southern end (where the Cherokee and militia were located) was forested, and the northermost end of the field (where the Continentals were located) had a tributary to the Congaree running through it, with a stone bridge across the stream, and a town.
Battlefield, showing tributary stream (upper right) and road network

Cornwallis left was also anchored at the River, and that was where his Regulars ("D") were placed.  In the middle were the British Legion (Tarleton) and the Tories ("E").  On the right end of the field (facing the Cherokee and Von Ottendorf, mostly to the left of "C") were the Hessians (at "G").

The game was pretty good, even though out of the six players, only one had played Black Powder many times.  I had one previous game under my belt, but not enough to count as experienced.  The other four players had never played before.
States regiments and the Militia - Hold the Line!

It is a testament to the rules that it went so well.  Each player had two brigades, and after the second turn the concept of initiative moves, and command moves, and issuing verbal orders before rolling for command was almost second nature.  The rules for shooting and combat are straight forward enough, and we got to concentrate on the scenario (which was great).  The rules were great, the scenario was fun.  Lots of misquoted lines from "The Patriot" including (several times) "Hold the Line". Thank you Benjamin Martin.
British Legion Cavalry - led by Lucius Malfoy
I definitely sense more Black Powder in the future!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Play test 1 of From the Sky We Came

Notes from my first play test of the Samurai era wargame rules I recently posted.. I didn't have my camera with me, so no photos yet.

After organizing my Feudal Japanese figures last night, I set out a few to represent some Clans of two different armies, and I went through the clan activation part of the game.  Some observations-

First, having markers on Clan Leaders showing their Command value is a huge time saver. Same with Bushi.

Second, if a unit is less than half strength and loses a morale test, it should disperse - otherwise small units might be littering the table forever.

Third, ninjas. I have some ninjas in my collection, and I need to include ninjas.  Just a few, like garlic on pizza, should go a long way.

Melee combat - I'm not sure I am crazy about having melee resolved after one dice toss.  I might change to a system with pushback and Bushi tests.

Not sure about the need for formations. I included rules for a column (to move through a village, mountain pass, or bamboo forest) but otherwise, just in a battle formation.

Basing.  I am torn between a square base method and a regular linear WRG type method, but I plan to rebase the collection.

Here is a scene from a TV drama showing a dramatization of the cavalry charge during the battle of Nagashino (1575), against the first recorded use of volley fire in Japan.  Interesting, but great images of armor and horse equipment.

And, for further research, the movies of Kurosawa are always welcome. This is a clip from Ran, showing a unit of Ashigaru firing from under cover and disrupting a cavalry charge. Great imagery of Sashimono, but the representation of units is very fluid compared to how wargamers typically represent bodies of troops.  Kurosawa might not be strictly historical, but it is very inspirational imagery.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

From the Sky we Came - Samurai Period Miniature Rules

I wanted to come up with a set of miniature rules for playing out 15mm battles between armies representing the Samurai Clans struggling for position with each other during the period of the 16th century (the Sengoku period, which is typically from the mid 15th century, through the end of the 16th), roughly ending with the battle of Sekigahara (Oct 21, 1600).  

Detail from the Battle of Sekigahara
 The name of the rules ("From the Sky we Came") comes from a line in a death poem written by Hôjô Ujimasa.  Ujimasa died (was forced to commit suicide, along with his brother) in 1590, after losing Odowara castle to Toyetomi Hideyoshi.  Ujimasa had been the head of the Hôjô clan, so upon losing his clan's castle to his clan's enemy, he was forced to commit sepuku.  Before doing so, he wrote the following death poem:
Autumn wind of eve,
blow away the clouds that mass
over the moon's pure light
and the mists that cloud our mind,
do thou sweep away as well.
Now we disappear,
well, what must we think of it?
From the sky we came.
Now we may go back again.
That's at least one point of view.
- Hôjô Ujimasa
Odawara Castle

Below are the rules. Keep in mind these are a playtest level prototype, and there might be some interesting combinations resulting from using these. They do seem to be pretty playable. Pictures of the playtest are coming.

From the Sky we Came

Units and organization
Units are roughly of two types, Cavalry (3-4 stands per unit) and Infantry (6-8 stands per unit).  On the table top, Cavalry is always represented either in column (one stand wide, for movement purposes), or in a single line (one stand deep, 3 or 4 stands in width).  Infantry is also either in column (one stand wide), or in line (two stands deep, either 3 or 4 stands in width).

Units are organized by clan (roughly), with a Clan leader being in charge of from 3 to 8 units per clan.  Each clan will have a Clan Leader, as a separate piece, distinct from the units.  Each side,  will have an overall commander, or Army General.

Unit Types
Units are split between mounted and infantry.

Mounted units may be either:
  • Mounted Warrior Monks
  • Mounted Samurai
 Infantry may be either:
  • Warrior Monks
  • Samurai
  • Ashigaru
  • Peasants
Cavalry are considered to be armed with a mixture of pole arms (spear, lance), and swords.

Infantry must be marked as being armed with hand weapons (katana, nodachi), pole arms (yari, naginata, etc), arquebus, or bow.

Samurai infantry units may have two categories of weapons - such as hand weapons (swords) and bow.

Command and Bushi
Each command stand (either Clan leader or General) has a Command rating.  This is a rating of that leader's ability to command troops in battle.  It will be an 8 for a Clan Leader, and a 9 for the General, but could be modified by a scenario or based on a historical battle.

Command is used by the command stand to (1) activate moves, (2) rally routing troops, (3) reform disordered troops.

Each unit has a Bushi rating.  This is a measure of the unit's general martial spirit and willingness to fight.  In the game, it is used for a test to see if the unit will (1) close to contact in a charge, (2) stand up to a charge from the enemy, and (3) charge lesser units if ordered to do so.  The first two tests (charge, and stand) are made against a unit's Bushi rating whenever a charge is ordered.

The third test must be made by a Samurai unit that is ordered either to stand, or to charge another unit, when an enemy Samurai unit is within charge distance.  If the this test is made against bushi when the Samurai unit is activated to move, and the unit Passes the test, rather than do what is ordered, it will instead move (at charge speed) towards an enemy Samurai unit within charge distance.

Unit Bushi Rating
Samurai - 9
Warrior Monks - 8
Ashigaru - 7
Peasants - 6

When a unit is required to take its first Bushi Test, roll 1d6.  If the result is a 1, then the unit has its Bushi modified down by one point, and if it is a 6, then it is modified up by one point.  Keep track of this, as the unit will have the same basic Bushi value throughout the battle.

Bushi and Command values will modify up and down during the game, they are best handled by having a chit with the value attached to the Leader figure or the Unit in question.

Turn Sequence
At the beginning of a turn, the two Generals will each roll 2d6 plus the number of Clans they still have under their control.  The high roller will then activate his first clan.

Activating a clan is done by rolling against the Command target of the Clan Leader for that clan.  If successful (by rolling equal to, or less than the Command number of that Clan Leader), then the player rolls two d6, and chooses the highest of the two dice.  That is the number of actions he has for the units in his clan.

If a player misses the roll against his Clan Leader's Command number, then that Clan may not activate this turn.  It is now his opponent's opportunity to nominate a Clan Leader to roll for.  This alternates back and forth, as long as both sides still have Clans to activate.  Once only one side has Clans left to activate, he may (one at a time) seek to roll for them, but the Command number for those Clan Leaders is treated as one lower than normal (representing that it is harder to coordinate a larger army).

Once per turn, when a player is seeking to activate a Clan Leader by passing a Command dice roll, if that player misses their opportunity, then the General may make the attempt.  If the General passes, then the Clan may activate as normal.  If the General fails, then all the activation is still lost, PLUS the General may attempt no other actions in the rest of the turn (such as Rallying troops).

If the Clan Leader is attached to a unit, then its Command score is reduced by 1.

If the Clan Leader has suffered Injury in combat (see Clan Leader Injury, below), then it has its Command score reduced by 1 for each injury.

For a General to make this attempt, it is necessary that the General's stand have a clear line of sight to the Clan Leader that failed their attempt.  There is no range distance, as this is handled through signal fans and banners.

Finally, after all Clan Leaders from both sides have activated, there is a Morale phase.  Routed units may be (attempted to) recalled, and Disordered units may be (attempted to) reorder.

Clan Activation
Once a Clan is activated, and the number of actions is determined, then three things must happen.

First, any unrallied Routing units are moved one full move to the rear.  If they reach the table edge, they are removed from the game.

Second, if there any Samurai units within the Clan that are within charging distance of enemy Samurai units, the player will have to assign an Action to that Samurai unit to charge the enemy Samurai.  If not, or if the player wishes the Samurai unit to do something else, then the player must make a Bushi test for the Samurai - if the Samurai fail, then they do what the player wished them to do (either stand and hold, for no activation cost, or perform some other move or charge, for 1 activation cost).  But if the Samurai pass their Bushi test, then their martial spirit drives them to override command.  They charge the nearest enemy Samurai unit (for NO activation cost), but they are disordered.

Third, once all Samurai units are handled, then any remaining units may have Activation points spent on them.  These are spent in the following ways:

Activation Point Costs
Move or Charge - 1 activation point
Cross Wall or Obstacle - 1 activation point (in addition to movement)
Reload Arquebus - 1 activation point
Fire Arquebus or Bow - 0 activation points
Fight Melee - 0 activation points

Each unit, when it is activated, will do their actions in this order:
1. Move, Shoot, Reload - in any order, but if firing Arquebus, no movement is allowed
2. Fight Melee if charge occurred.

Perform all actions for one unit at a time, and fight any resulting shots or melees that result.

A unit may only expend for each type of action, once.  This applies to 0 cost actions (example: a unit might Fire an Arquebus, for 0 points, reload the Arquebus for 1 point, and that is all - it may not fire a second time).

If a move results in a contact, then the enemy unit may take a defensive shot if (1) they are armed with bows, or (2) they are armed with Arquebus and are loaded.

A unit may pre-measure to see if they are within charge distance before ordering a charge.

Movement Rates
Foot Troops - 6" (plus 4" charge bonus)
Mounted Troops - 10" (plus 6" charge bonus)
Leader Stands - 16"

Arquebus or Bow armed infantry units may be equipped with Pavis (the Japanese equivalent), but will move at 2" slower.  If they ever Charge or Route, they lose the Pavis.  While they have them, they are considered to be "under cover" whenever fired at.

Firing Procedure
When a unit fires, bows or arquebus, it checks the range (it may not pre-measure range when declaring fire).  If out of range, there is no effect, but mark the Arquebus unit with cotton balls, to indicate they have fired, and must reload.

Weapon Ranges
Foot Bow - 16"
Mtd Bow - 12"
Arquebus - 20"

If in range then the firing unit rolls dice.  A mounted bow unit may fire in any direction, and rolls 2d6 per stand in the unit.  A foot bow or arquebus unit may only fire to the front (within 45 degrees to either side of straight ahead).  It rolls 2d6 per unit in the front rank (remember infantry is always deployed in two ranks).

A disordered unit only rolls half as many dice (i.e. - 1d6 per stand).

The target numbers, to score a hit, are as follows:
Samurai - 6
Armored Ashigaru or Monk - 5+
Unarmored - 4+

Each dice that makes the target number scores a hit.

If a unit is under cover (either behind Pavis, or in a building or on a castle wall) then only half the hits against that unit count.

Every three hits removes a stand from the enemy unit.  Mark any remaining hits.

If a stand is lost, then the enemy unit is automatically disordered.

If the target unit had an attached Clan Leader, then check for a Clan Leader Injury (see below).

If a unit has lost a stand, and is now at half strength (in terms of stands) of it's initial size, or less, then it must pass a Route test (see Route and Rally below).

Charge and Bushi Test
 If a unit has charged an enemy, it must pass a Bushi test to see if it will contact the enemy.  This is done after the target unit may perform any defensive fire.  If the unit passes its Bushi test, then it will charge the unit.

If the charging unit fails its Bushi test, then it only moves half the Charge distance, and is disordered.  If the unit was already disordered (either from defensive fire that turn, or from some other cause) and it fails its Bushi test, then it must also make a Route test.

The charged unit (the target of the charge) must make a Bushi test if it is charged by a unit that is not Disordered.  It does not need to test against a Disordered unit.  If it passes the test, then it will stand, and there will be a melee fought.

If the unit has an attached Clan Leader, then the Bushi test to either Charge, or stand against a Charge is made with a -2 on the dice.

Once a unit has contacted an enemy unit, then a melee is fought to determine the winner.

Melee Adjudication
The procedure is this - each side will roll a total number of dice, against a target number.  Then hits will be determined.  The side receiving the most hits will then withdraw from the combat.  If either side took hits, and had a Clan Leader attached, the leader must test for injury.  The side that has withdrawn from the combat will have to make a Route test (see Route and Rally, below).  The winning side may occupy the space the withdrawn unit was previously occupying, including if this means crossing over a defended wall (thus breaching a castle or other defense).

The number of dice thrown, per stand, are based on unit type and situation:
Samurai - 3d6
Warrior Monks - 3d6
Ashigaru - 2d6
Peasants - 1d6

Mounted units roll 1 additional d6 per stand.

Charging units roll 1 additional d6 per stand.

A second rank of infantry with polearms will be able to also add 1d6 to the stand in front of them.

A disordered unit only rolls half of the total number of dice they should roll.

An attached Clan Leader stand fights as if it were a Samurai stand.

Example: A mounted Samurai unit charges a unit of enemy Ashigaru.  The Ashigaru are able to disorder the Samurai during the charge (by defensive fire), but both sides pass their Bushi test and a melee occurs.  The Samurai, with 3x mounted stands, are to roll 3d6, plus 1d6 for being mounted, plus 1d6 for charging, per stand, at a total of 5x3=12d6.  Since they are disordered, they only roll half, or 6d6.

Once the total number of dice to be thrown is known, then the target number is determined, based on the enemy unit's type.  This is the same target number, as shooting targets.

The target numbers, to score a hit, are as follows:
Samurai - 6
Armored Ashigaru or Monk - 5+
Unarmored Monk or Peasant- 4+

Every three hits removes a stand from the unit.  Mark any remaining hits.

If a stand is lost, then the unit is automatically disordered (this applies to either the victor or the loser).

If either unit had an attached Clan Leader, then check for Clan Leader Injury (see below).

The unit which has suffered the most hits withdraws from combat, by moving to the rear a full move (but still facing the enemy).  The victorious unit may occupy the position.

If a victorious unit has a Clan Leader attached, then the Clan Leader has accumulated Honor with the victory, and his Command score goes up by one.

The withdrawn unit must now pass a Route test.

Clan Leader Injury
Anytime a unit has taken hits from either shooting or melee, and lost a stand, it must check for Clan Leader Injury - if there is an attached Clan Leader.

The Clan Leader rolls a single d6.  If it is a 1, then the Clan Leader has received an injury, and his Command Value is reduced by 1 permanently.

Route and Rally
Once a unit has taken hits, either from shooting or melee, and is under half strength (in terms of stands) compared to its starting strength, then it must take a Route test.

If a unit loses combat, and has withdrawn from a melee, then it must take a Route test.

If both conditions are true at the same time, then the unit must only pass one Route test.

The Route test is passed against the Unit's Bushi score.  If it passes (the dice are equal to or less than the unit's Bushi), then the unit is fine.  If it fails, then the unit will move 1 full move to the rear, facing away from the enemy, and is marked as Routing.  For the Route test, the unit has a +1 to the dice for each stand it has lost.

The unit may Rally during the Morale phase the end of the turn (after all Clan Activations).

The Morale Phase
During the Morale Phase, Routed units may attempt to be rallied, and Disordered units may attempt to be re-ordered.

To attempt to Rally, the Clan Leader of the Unit's Clan must attempt to make a Command roll.  If it is successful, the unit turns around in place, and is no longer Routed.  It is Disordered, however.

A Disordered unit may also attempt to be re-ordered.  Again, the Unit's Clan Leader will make a Command roll.  If it the dice (2d6) are equal to or less than the Clan Leader's Command score, then the unit is no longer Disordered.

If a Clan Leader misses the Command roll to either rally or re-order a unit, then the General may also make the attempt, unless the General earlier made an Activation attempt.  However, if a Clan Leader fails a roll, and the General makes the attempt. then the Clan Leader is dishonored, and has suffered a -1 to his Command score.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Minimal Wargames terrain

So, at the recent Fall In convention, Chris and I hosted a game of The Sword and The Flame.  The problem was that I didn't have much terrain with me.

I had brought my standard green drop cloth for the table (actually, I brought the two smaller ones, which are approx 6x6 each, as my larger one was on the Wargames table at home with a 28mm Balkanian battle on it).

I had my red pumice rocks (picked up outside a Hardee's restaurant in 1997 and still doing great duty).

I also had four bags of scrubby desert lichen.

I had also brought my home made African village huts.

At the convention I had purchased 8 feet of rail fencing.

With all that (which isn't much) I was able to put together a table that represented a decent tactical challenge for the players.

The fence was a movement obstacle for both sides.

The scrub (clumps of lichen) was a movement problem for the Anglo-Egyptian forces.  It also provided cover for all troops. The Dervishes could move through unimpeded.

The rocks marked six scrub areas as potential ambush areas for some hidden natives.

Finally, the village represented the focal point of the scenario.

The Table.  Coffee is a bonus.

It wasn't elegant, but it didn't have to be - it still produced a terrific game, and it all fit in half a duffel bag along with three cases of troops.


Sunday, November 8, 2015

Gaming at Fall In

So, although the weekend was very busy with me attending to online business with my Graduate Students, in the evening on Friday and Saturday I got to participate in some fine wargames.

First, on Friday, I got to play in Patrick Berkebile's most excellent game of Regimental Fire & Fury.  The scenario was the battle of the Wheatfield, during Gettysburg. 

I got to participate on the Union side, commanding the divisions of Zook and Cross.  It was great fun, and the battle looked fantastic.

Gettysburg: Into the Wheatfield (painting by Bradley Schmehl)

A portion of Zook's division, encountering some Confederates, coming through the rough between the fields
Patrick has been painting up the forces himself (in usual excellent manner) in 6mm.  The battlefield was done as a battle mat (that Patrick made, painting the features on canvas, and then adding flocking and details), over a contour layer of styrofoam for hills and rises.  Finally, all was pinned down for stability, and the trees were also pinned through the canvas into the styrofoam hills and foam layer under the map.
Bigelow's Artillery - also under my command

Gil Bates - Confederate Commander

Ralph Krebs, Confederate Commander (and far left, Mac, my ally)

Zook's infantry, out of command and disordered

Fighting in the wheatfields, and in the rough in between

Assault up the hill!

Other players included Gil Bates and Ralph Krebs on the Confederate side, and others.  Patrick knew the rules (and the scenario) very well (a must if you are going to run a convention game), and it was a completely enjoyable experience, that Patrick kept moving along very nicely.

Then, on Saturday, the ODMS lads played a great old game of The Sword and the Flame!  It was a Sudan scenario, with 14 units (and a gun) on the Dervish side, and 6 units (and a nordenfeldt) on the Anglo-Egyptian side.  There is a great write up (with lots of pictures) over at the Old Dominion Military Society blog.

ODMS Lads engaging in fine shenanigans!

Lots of cool games, and I did make some minor purchases (I got Rebellion! - the American Revolutionary War supplement for Black Powder, as well as some terrain building items).  A great convention - some extra pictures below.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Heading to Fall In

Heading to Fall In this weekend.

Looking forward to seeing lots of new stuff.

Planning on playing (at least) some Hordes of the Things, and also hosting a game of The Sword and the Flame.
An older game of TSATF

I hope to see some SAGA, Lion Rampant and maybe some Tomahawk and Musket.
6 player HOTT from 2009

Shopping for rules, and maybe some terrain bits.  Probably no new figures.  Probably.

Look forward to pictures this weekend.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Naval Wargaming article - over at ODMS blog

In anticipation of the upcoming Williamsburg Muster, which as War at Sea: Wargaming Naval History as it's theme, there is an article about Naval Wargaming (with lots of links to rules, some free, and some otherwise) over at the ODMS blog.

Some additional Naval Wargaming resources -

Naval Wargames Society (lots of free rules)

Interesting History of Naval Wargaming

History of Naval Wargames mostly as used by the USN

Wargaming at the US Navy Staff College

Archived Victory at Sea resource page.

A scan of the (long out of print, since 1975) rules, Don't Give Up The Ship

Don't give up the Ship
1975 Sailing Ship rules from Gygax, Arneson & Carr

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

19th Century Imagi-nations - Terrain for the 23 Weeks War pt 1

In 1871, when the 23 weeks war began, the forces of Furstenberg invaded the Cantons of Rumpwhistle, and began operations around Lake Nyakker.  The first land engagement was between the three Companies (in name only, they are close to battalion strength, of about 600 men each) of the Furstenberg Seebataillone fighting Fribourg canton militia at the battle of Krump's Farm.

The border between Furstenberg and Rumpwhistle runs through the Karzstan Mts

One of the recent model farm houses that I built was based on the farm house of this engagement.  The other key terrain features of the battle are (1) the old oak forest, and (2) the Persimmon grove at Krump's Farm.

The farm house is as constructed, recently.  It will be based on a base with a wall around the farm yard, and a work building in the back yard.  The base I am working on (I will post photos) will have a rough, but ruined, outline of the house, that the actual model house sits on.  This allows for the possibility of Krump's farm house to be destroyed by artillery or fire during the battle.

The Persimmon grove will be modeled by using several rows of smaller 15mm trees, representing the grove, with the stone wall around it.  This allows for the fight in and around the grove, and should be pretty flexible.

The edge of the old Oak forest, that also saw action, will be modeled using larger 28mm trees, grouped together on dark felt to show the forest outline.

Pictures will be posted soon, but here is a map of the battlefield...
 The map is approximately 6' wide by 4' from north to south.  The features, labeled, are these:
  • A. Krump's Farm, with a stone wall around it.
  • B. The Persimmon Grove, also with a wall around it.
  • C. The Chewgas Stream, that runs south east to the Maduro River, and south west to Lake Nyakker.  It is deep and fast, not fordable, but not very wide (about 2" in game scale).
  • D. Hedge rows, tall enough for a man to hide behind (soft cover - concealing, but not protective)
  • E. Two other farms along the road into the Maduro Valley

The Furstenberg Light Brigade (consisting of three battalion strength units of Seebataillone, and a battery of light guns from the Eiderduck) had landed by ships boats on the north shore of Lake Nyakker, and enter this map from the south side, between the southwestern leg of the Chewgas, and the southwest corner of the table.

The Fribourg Canton militia are in place, with one battalion stationed east of the bridge, on the road between the two farms, and two battalions in the ground between Krump's Farm and the Chewgas stream.  Finally, two units of Rumpwhistle sharpshooters will enter the road, in the northwest corner of the board.

The battle is simple - the Furstenberg troops must cross the Chewgas, and the Rumpwhistle militia must do their best to stop them.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

25mm houses project - pictures and tutorial

Working on some 25mm houses, to rebuild some of my terrain collection that has frittered away and declined over the past decade or so.

I want to build a couple of different styles of houses, mostly useful for late medieval through 19th century.  These will be used for a variety of different European conflicts (and, as always, will be stolen for everything else that I can think of), but initially they are intended for Balkanian wars in the mid 19th century.  The regions of Balkania that I tend to wargame that period in  (my two imagi-nations of Furstenburg and Rumpwhistle) are relatively poor, although they enjoyed some prosperity in the 15th and 16th century.  So most of the durable buildings left in the area (everything from wealthier farm houses, to high street shops, castles, churches, and taverns) are based on older (pre-19th century) architecture.  So this works perfectly with my bigger goal of rebuilding some houses that will be useful for a variety of conflicts.

My first goal are a couple of houses that could be used, maybe along with a tavern or a church, as the focal point for a small village.  So this first round are basically stand alone farm houses, that might end up in a walled compound with a small work building, animal housing, or a barn.

For construction, I looked at several options, including a lot of the really lovely print-and-assemble buildings that are available.  In the end, I returned to my favorite - which is using foam core board for the basic structure, and then applying architectural and details on top of that.

So first step was to cut out some basic shapes.  I chose to make the one story structures basically 1.5 inches tall, and then have a peaked roof rise another inch above that.  I made the peak ends of the house 3 inches wide, and the side structures another three inches.  For this basic pattern, I cut out enough pieces for two structures.

Foam core board is easy to work with, if you have a relatively sharp cutting implement, and resign yourself to having to cut along a score line a few times.  If you are unfamiliar with the material, it has been around for some time, and has been used for gaming models for a few decades now, and originally was used for really nice Architectural models.  It is basically two layers of paper (or sometimes sheet plastic) filled with a layer of foam, to give it thickness and strength.  My method, is always to cut three times (which almost always results in a nice clean edge).  First cut is to go through the top layer of paper.  Next cut is to go through the foam, and score the bottom piece of paper.  The third cut goes through the bottom piece of paper.  If you try this with anything but a sharp razor knife (an X-acto or something similar), then you will end up mangling the foam, and pulling/tearing the paper.  If you haven't worked with foam core board before, this is the single best tip I can share.

Next is to assemble the basic pieces.  There are a couple of options here, for strength and proper angles.  First, is to use straight pins, through one piece of foam core, into the one being glued to it - this holds it in place, provides extra strength, and ensures a straight join.  For these small structures, I didn't feel as if it was necessary, but when I have built much larger structures (castle walls, towers, large middle eastern buildings, Indian temples, etc) I almost always use straight pins.

The second option, is to use some sort of straight edge angle piece inside as a support to give the building strength and to help keep the corners square.  Again, on these small structures I didn't go this route, for two reasons.  First is because I could square them on my cutting surface grid, and basically just hold them until the tacky glue dries (I use tacky white glue for these, because it dries quick, is cheap, and is extremely easy to work with).  Second, is because I plan to mount these to wooden bases, will will ensure lots of strength down the road.

Once these guys set, and are dried, if you have any overhang on any edge, and you think it might be too much to cover over with the decorative material (whatever you end up using - paper, paint, spackle filler, etc), then you can use a razor knife to trim the left over bits that overhang.

Leave those basic structures to dry for a while before proceeding to the decorate stage.  Once I did that, however, I decided that rather than paint these guys (which would have involved some sort of undercoat of white spackle filler, or white primer paint) I would use colored paper for the basic wall covers.  I used a nice 65 lb weight card stock, mostly because it won't warp when you glue it, or if you come back and paint details on it.  I cut out basic shapes to glue on, and using a glue stick I attached them.  One thing - it is nice, at this stage, when you are covering over the side pieces to make sure the edges of the foam board on the end pieces are covered over.  Another technique to do this, which I usually use in conjunction to employing straight pins, is to cut away a section of one layer of paper and the foam on the end piece, and then the side piece fits in, so that once they are glued together and dried, there is no foam edge showing.  I will try to do a model like that soon, and post pictures.

As you can see, with this method, I was a little bit sloppy with my edges - so that the colored paper does not line up exactly with each other.  That's okay, because I plan to do some details that will decorate the edges, as well as cover up that gappy join.  For these houses, I planned to do a variety of different constructions.  One method will be half timber, and the other member will be stone structure with plastered over walls.  This first house is of the second variety, so I have to give the idea of stacked stones for support at the corners.  This gives me a great excuse to cover over that gap.

I cut out some different colored card stock - grey to suggest stonework - and decorated with a fine point marker the basic outlines of the stones.  Then using precision scissors I cut these pieces out, and scored them on one side (to help with a crisp fold).  A tip - whenever you have surfaces like this that are supposed to stand out on any sort of paper construction, always outline your pieces with black. Try not to let any edges of paper show that are not some dark color.  That is like black lining when you paint - it suggests depth, and shadows, in small ways, and hides some of the obvious model making materials.  These houses are far from realistic, but the black edging makes them look a little better (even if they are supposed to be the old school sort of cartoony terrain seen in a lot of the older wargaming books and magazines).  This is what I tried to do with this corner stone work (and also with the roof piece).k

As you can see, the edges cover over the joins between the sides and ends, and the stone work looks reasonable.

The last basic piece, before decorating with architectural details, is the roof.  For a small building like this, I used a basic piece of card stock, cut and scored, and with end flaps folded down to suggest depth, and just glued it on.  There you have the basic, finished shape of the model house.

For this building, some of the features I would want to add are (at least) a door and some windows.  Rather than messing around with glazed windows, I instead chose to do wooden shutters.

The door is done in layerd pieces of card stock - a dark wood for the background of the door, and a lighter wood for the door itself.  I did a small grey threshold stone under the door, again as a piece of decorated (slightly) card stock.

The effect of the door that I was trying was for something like this . . .
 Rather than adding on separate black pieces for the hinges and door handle, etc, I just decorated the door with a fine point marker.
For future cottages, and efforts, I had considered doing other details, like a lintel window over the door, or even a window as part of the door, but I think those are details that speak to a later architecture than what I was aiming for.  Here are some examples of other doors that feature those other elements - maybe to be added later . . .
The presence of gourds almost certainly mark this as a Balkanian door...

While a later period door (note the electric light), this could be nice to model.
At this point, the details on the roof decoration are seen.  I added some simple lines to suggest tiles on the roof.  I could have gone with thatch, or some other material (chinked planks, shakes, etc) - but instead, I wanted to suggest tiles. 

So, there is the first house.  I also built two others, with different looks and architectural features, to model specific buildings in Balkania, but the next article will talk about them.