July 29, 2016

Final Thoughts on Historicon 2016

I've just finished going through my notes preparing records for my own Glorious Obsession. It is impossible for me to do a write up on every game we ran, but I wanted to highlight some of the action.

First of all, hats off to Captain Murray who had to be the most active officer on the table. He was killed in game one by an errant shot (Event Card) that caused the rout of the Williamite center on the last turn of the game, fought a personal duel on the crest of the Pennyburn Bridge and killed General Maumont in game two, led a charge that recaptured a lost standard in game three, 'rescued' General Maumont's Mistress from the Jacobite camp and led the most decisive win of the week in game five with a victory called after eight turns (out of ten), and got caught up in a retreat and drowned in a bog in game seven. He personally led multiple cavalry charges. His first squadron was ALWAYS the first over the bridge in the assault and were routed or destroyed in every game except one. His second squadron fared slightly better and managed to survive four games, but suffered capture in game two. Bull's cavalry suffered serious casualties as well, but not in the spectacular fashion of Murray's!

Lord Grand Priors's battalion fought well. They were deployed near the bridge and had to withstand multiple cavalry charges almost every game. They managed to capture colors from both of Murray's squadrons in game two.

The Kestrel proved to be an entertaining part of the scenario. The effectiveness of the guns varied depending on the skill of the players with maneuvering in the current, but it did reduce a scratch squadron of Jacobite horse to a bloody smear at near point blank range in one game. We had a boarding action once when Jacobite troops launched a small boat to pursue the ship. Another game featured a waterborne 'sniper' duel when a lone soldier (his partner fell overboard) spent the session picking off crew men. Near the end of the game, the captain became so alarmed at the losses that they turned loose a full broadside at the little boat... by turn ten the launch was sinking, but the sniper managed to paddle to shore!

Besides all of the enthusiastic gamers at our table, I had a lot of fun hanging out 'after hours' with people I had only really conversed with online, including Dan Faulconbridge and Dave Taylor.

So how was the rest of Historicon? Well, I don't really know. I didn't get away from our table often. There was a few grumbles about registration (which I think I avoided as a GM who checked in Wednesday night), but for the most part everyone I talked to seemed to be having a good time. I've seen other negative comments that it was too hot in the main hall (which I never noticed), a funny smell (besides the great smell of hot dogs grilling near by, again I didn't notice) or there weren't as many people (several dealers I spoke with said their sales were up). I guess I was just having too much fun...

It was also great to get to hang out with my partner in crime (photo above the only proof I've seen that we were BOTH at the table - from Thomas Grove). We've only been in the same city twice in the ten years we've been working together so it was good to be able to sit down and share a beer (well. ok lots of beers). I honestly don't know if we'd get anything accomplished that didn't including toy soldiers if we lived on the same continent...

July 24, 2016

My First Saxons!

Yes, I am excited about painting these models! I normally start with a pile of rank and file and 'reward' myself with leader types once I've got a good muster of troops, but this time I wanted to assemble the leaders of the warband first.


This will be Lord Aeth-something... I haven't decided exactly, but there are a pile of good Saxon nobles that begin with that syllable! There are a lot of great shield transfers out there, but I decided to paint all of my shields by hand. To some degree that will limit the level of detail that I can add, but I think they will blend in better with my style of painting.

The Lord's most trust retainer carries the holy Christian banner of his house into battle. Of course the flag is Quindia Studios and made in the same style of the Grand Alliance, GNW, and AWI collections offered at the LoA store. No, there are no plans to offer Dark Ages flags in the shop at this time - this one was just for me!

The paints used are Wargames Foundry, except for the metallics which are Games Workshop. Both models were given a dusty campaign appearance with weathering powders.

Quick review - The Footsore Miniatures are a joy to paint. There was virtually no flash on these models, which is important on chainmail as you can never quite get rid of mould lines without ruining some of the armour. The models are crisp and even tiny details like the button on the pouches are easy to pick out with a brush. These compare well with any other brand I buy and if you are thinking about starting a Dark Age project, they are well worth considering.

The rest of the armoured lads are up next!

July 22, 2016

Donnybrook Dark Ages

I spent very little time in the dealer hall at Historicon. In fact I really only took one tour through on Saturday, mostly to visit a few folks I know like Rob Walters of Eureka and our own Bob Miller of Le Roi Soleil, the dealer for Warfare Miniatures in the US. I also stopped to visit a new friend, Bill Thornhill of Footsore Miniatures. We met for the first time at Historicon. I knew Bill had placed an ad in BLB a few years ago for his Musketeer Miniature line... what I didn't know was that Bill has a wonderful and growing range of Dark Age models under the banner of Footsore Miniatures. Ok, I know this isn't news, but it was news to me.

After preparing for six months to run BLB at the con, I was spoiling for something different and the Footsore minis came at the same time I had just finished watching this season of Vikings and I started rereading The Last Kingdom series (yes, I know there's a TV show for that too - not quite the same, but I will check it out when I've finished the books again). Bill had some 4-point Saga warband deals available at Historicon (and on his website) and I picked up the Anglo-Saxon set and an extra character pack. I spent the last few days assembling the fyrd and managed to basecoat them this afternoon!

I should have snapped a few pics before basecoating, but if you head over to Footsore Miniatures you can see lovely examples of the painted models to get an idea of what I'm working with.

After getting home and taking stock of what I wanted to do, I realized I need more (and they are on the way)! The plan is to build two Saxon warbands, rival earls or eldermen of Northumbria and Mercia. These groups could then be pitted against each other or combined into a larger force to face the painted Foundry Vikings I already own (and have lots of unpainted lead for as well). I have a wonderful pair of Viking longships from Adrian's Walls and I'm planning to scratch build a small village to go with my Historicon boards (and others. of course, but the Historicon set up is the only coastline I have at the moment).

I am also using Dalauppror's 1-2-3 basing method for this collection. I've been looking for an excuse to try this and Dark Age skirmishing seems perfect. It gives the flexibility for skirmishing, the convenience of quicker movement, and the coolness of mini-vignettes. Yes, I glued them all down before painting them and it will make it a little harder to paint, but it will be a little faster as I won't waste a bunch of time painting details that are covered by by the shields or other models. If I can't reach it with a brush, you won't be able to see it! I will probably rebase the Vikings as well to match the new collection.

So what's with the title of the post? As I've said many times, I've used Donnybrook from everything from Warhammer to Darkest Africa. I have a handful of amendments to drag the published version back to the eighth or ninth century and we may even publish them as a PDF later this year, but for now suffice to say I'm planning on using my own rules rather than Saga. The Saga dice and charts are a cool idea, but seem a bit tedious to me - I am finding I very much prefer simple and straightforward mechanics these days, especially for skirmishing. Not that there is anything complicated about Saga and the charts really seem to add a lot of character to the encounters, but I KNOW Donnybrook without the need to usually look at any charts at all. This project is mainly for my table so I'll stick with that (besides, the force building rules are similar and I can always use Saga too).

Lots more to come as I expect this to my main focus for as long as it takes! I still have final thoughts on Historicon as well as I post those sometime next week...

July 17, 2016

Historicon Sunday

Whew! Seven games in four days!




(I think he cheated)

I am sooooo going to get it when Hilton gets back to a computer. He will be plotting his revenge on the entire flight back to Scotland. You'll have to keep an eye out over the LoA blog...

It was fun to get the chance to run Beneath the Lily Banners for so many great wargamers. I'll have more over the next few weeks...

Historicon Saturday

Three days, six games...





So far we've had four victories for the Jacobites and two for the Sons of Derry, though I think the later had the most decisive win, causing the game to be called on turn 8 out of 10. Now I'm off to bed as I was out drinking with Scotsmen and Canadians!

One more game tomorrow... err... later today now... oh, dear!

July 16, 2016

Historicon Friday

Two more great games, but one sequence stood out...





Yes, they gave him a medal. Yes, he may be insufferable for a bit. Yes, I think he made that face just to mess with you... I think.

Seriously, congratulations on being inducted into the HMGS Legion of Honor. Barry has produced decades of amazing games under the League of Augsburg title and is deserving of the recognition. His work has inspired many of us.

Of course, pal, I'll be back to making fun of you tomorrow...

July 15, 2016

Historicon Thursday

I'll write some full reports after the show, but wanted to throw up a couple of quick shots...





Fantastic day. Had a great dinner out. Interest was so high we decided to run a SECOND game Thursday night. Off to bed because it's now tomorrow and I have to be up around 0630... I'll make more sense on the next post (maybe).

July 12, 2016

Packing List for Historicon

Inspired by Miles from Lair of the Uber Geek, I thought I'd add a quick post on the list of everything I need to pack for Historicon. He and I followed similar paths this spring and summer, documenting all of the preparations for our games so I thought I might as well keep up the trend.

Two 4x4' Game Boards
Island (an old GW hill that sets on the water)
Bridge, Windmill, and Barn
Pennyburn Mill Sign
Assorted Walls and Fences
Wheat Field
Tents, Crates, and Other Assorted Camp Gear

Three Commanders
Three Battalions of Foot
Two Regiments of Horse
Three Detachments of Foot
Light Gun

Three Commanders
One Battalion of Foot
Three Regiments of Horse
Three Detachments of Foot

Other Models
Assorted Civilians and Livestock

Small Cutter w/Crew and Two Guns
Three Launches

Game Stuff
Two Beneath the Lily Banners Books
Six sets of QRS
Unit Cards
Unit Roster Sheets
Player Handouts
Dice (D6's and D10's)
Two Tape Measures
Order Markers
Condition Markers
Wheeling Templates

Display Stuff
Table Cloth
Signs for the Table
     Quindia Studios
     League of Augsburg
     Beneath the Lily Banners
Business Cards for Blogs
     Quinda Studios
     League of Augsburg
Uniform Guides
     Battle of the Boyne
     Siege of Derry

Other Stuff
Super Glue
Pens, Pencils, and Markers
Wedges (in case of uneven tables)
Camera, Lenses, and Charger
iPad (not likely to forget this) and charger (might have forgotten this)

Barry Hilton (must remember to pick him up at the airport tomorrow)

Somehow I need to save room for a suitcase and one for Mr. Hilton as well! The good news is that everything has already been checked and rechecked and packed in their boxes. All I need to do is load up the SUV (and make sure not leave any boxes... maybe I need to make another checklist).

Right! Heading out tomorrow after lunch. I promise to take tons of photos and keep my camera with me between games to try and get some shots from other tables. I am hoping to find time to visit other games and stroll through the vendor sections, but I only have a two-hour window between games on Friday and Saturday during most of the action.

Can't wait!

July 6, 2016

Last Notes on Preparation for Historicon

Ok, Historicon is next week! The only thing I have left to do is paint the edges of the boards (working on them tonight) and paint four models for the crew of the Kestrel. Everything else is ready. The Hilton invasion has even begun (no need to hide your wives and children as he brought his own... mind your fruity drinks though). I am due to pick him up in Richmond next Wednesday, but he will be rampaging around Florida until then.

The theme for Historicon is Cavalry, Mounted Warfare Through the Ages. Barry left the subject of the game to me and I chose the Battle of Pennyburn Mill because the encounter featured lots of the dashing cavaliers. Some of my existing forces were pressed into service which was fine because we don't know most of the uniforms from that part of the period. However, once we started working on the uniform books, it became apparent that the mounted forces of Derry probably didn't have many uniformed cavalry and one of the two Jacobite formations involved was a scratch company made up of men gathered quickly by their officers.

This bothered me. We were going to be presenting the game with copies of the uniform plates at the table and all of my horse were smartly arrayed. It wouldn't really matter but it still bothered me. I had units with red coats and units in grey and tried mixing the stands. That helped a bit. Early during playtesting, I pressed some of my ECW cavalry into service to make up numbers while I was still painting and the boxes were still in the game room and as I sat staring at the array of horsemen I hit upon the cunning plan...

Ok, there are a few anachronistic bits, but individuals still provided their own gear at this stage of the war and it is not unreasonable to assume some turn up with kit from the ECW. While I would have liked to field four regiments of motley civilians, the effect I was able to achieve does the job. Hell, they most likely didn't carry standards either, but I reserved that bit of realism for the scratch Jacobite unit. The flags were necessary for identifying the units on the wargame table and besides, they look better!

Also, here is Lord Galmoy's regiment - another commission painted by Rob Goodyear of Polymath Workshop and based by me to match the rest of the collection. Like the commanded shot from last week, this unit is for sale at the show. Come see us at the table to ask about the price.

We will be featuring some new Order Markers and Condition Markers in the games. There will be a limited number of sets available from Le Roi Soleil, the official US dealer for Warfare Miniatures who will be in attendance. I designed these, but my brother Dennis is the one who actually produced them. We are still exploring the possibilities of having access to a laser cutter...

Finally, besides our six games, Barry is hosting two seminars...

Friday 6:00-7:30p
Decisive Results on the Table Top. How to plan and execute table top refights of large historical battles while reaching a decisive conclusion within the available time.

Saturday 5:00-6:00p
Why are Wargames Light on Cavalry? A look at mounted troops across history and the part they could play in table top games. Learn about the assembly, organization and use of cavalry components in wargaming, with special emphasis on the 1680s-1815.

Mr Hilton was inducted into the HMGS Legion of Honor last year and sometime on Friday will receive his award during a brief ceremony as well. I'm not sure this is a public event, but thought it was worth mentioning. The HMGS Legion of Honor was established by the HMGS Chapter Board in 1995 specifically to provide a means by which the recipient of the Society's lifetime achievement award, the Jack Scruby Award, might be chosen every other year. As such it was thought that members of the Legion should also be chosen for their distinguished service to the hobby if they were to act as electors for such an important process.Thus today the Legion acts as a self-electing honor society that not only decides the Scruby recipient, but also serves as a source of inspiration and achievement to which all miniature hobbyists might aspire. I can think of no more deserving wargamer.

Right, so that's it! I'll try to post a few times during the show, but our schedule is fairly heavy with games until 6pm every day. We also need to pack everything away every night because there are no secure storage facilities at the hall for GM's. By the time there's been dinner and drinks, I may be too knackered to fiddle around getting photos uploaded and tap out something coherent, but we'll see. We will definitely take lots of photos and have full reports of the event afterwards.

I am really looking forward to this - See you there!