Monday, April 28, 2014

Little Wars 2014

I spent this last Saturday out at Little Wars 2014 in St Charles IL, an HMGS- Midwest society production it draws a great crowd from pure historical side of the hobby. While there is small cross pollination of new games they're all mainly historical or quasi historically based..there were some exceptions:  a smattering of various Sci Fi games, mostly home brew rules but some well done Battletech type games and really great weird war looking board, that I turned out to be Dust Tactics.  However outside a  small warmachine tournament, and home brew "Battle of the Five Armies" (it is this season for this anyway) I found very little similarities between what goes on here and Adepticon
that wasnt pure historical games.

I'd say the majority of the games going on were large Black Powder type games, Napoleonics or American Civil War is various scales, a couple Flames of Wars games and Bolt Action game. all of these being big games, the traditional tournament of the Games Workshop ethos doesnt happen here
I find I am really enjoying these "big game" type of community events more and more as time goes onthey just tend to be more fun, when veil of direct competition isnt a intense and there is no prize hierarchy to worry about, as a comparison if you've been following the local debate on the fate of the Adepticon swagbag, the swagbag at Little Wars is filled with candy/ snacks, including on hell of a brownie..which was quite the treat at 9am Saturday after a 45 min drive with my coffee.

One of the conspicuous things I saw lacking was Medievals which probably led to the popularity of the event I was helping out with. Rich's Battle of Arsuf  Crusades game. Which had both session totally full with people asking for extra tickets and but we had no extra spots. I had fun helping my end of the 14 foot table out helping the guys with the rules, walking them thru the turns. 90% of the players never having played Hail Caesar before but several had played Black Powder so the basic familiarity was rare. both games played a bit differently and in my opinion everyone really enjoyed it.
Rich has more detailed write and photos HERE. I'll leave you with his take on it was his event, I just made the Banner Cart.

The Banner remained uncaptured both games..flying high you could see it many tables away which means I made it big enough

One my favorite things about Little Wars last time was the Vendor Hall it pretty large and has alot of obscure stuff. While not as prolific at the last time around I was here (2012) This year Old Glory was here with literally, every single thing they make. I am not kidding. Part of the problem with buying Old Glory (at least in my opinion) is the website is very mid 90's with poor photographs and it tough to tell what your buying or how there 25mm scale with work with whatever you are aiming for. Well I got to see it all here close up, and it was awesome. I ended up walking out with their fully crew Viking Longboat..which is just a project I want to do one day..with a firm opinion that as soon as hobby budget allows it I am picking up a table full of their Chicago buildings for a Victorian style table. Unfortunately my day here was short due an engagement that evening. Next year I'll definitely be back..its a fun place to run a game or play in we will see what I get myself into. I'll it with some random photos from the event.

at least three really great looking Napoleanic games going one, many with a crazy amount of figures.

an elborate martian theme table for what I gather was a home brewed rules game

Nice Bolt Action table from some WI guys I know..nice use of loose foliage and carpet..I'll borrow that idea for sure.

Black Powder, Black Powder everywhere

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Richards Banner Wagon

Here is my Richard the Lionheart's banner wagon for our Little Wars big game taking place this Saturday. The game is a retelling of the Battle of Arsuf which took place in September of 1191 between Richard's Crusading Armies and Saladin forces. We are using Hail Caesar Rules with 100 point divisions, with 4 divisions a side its a huge game. The event is set up for 8 players, each player taking control of one division.  Rich owns the majority of the models and Mike is bringing the rest. My contribution was the Richards Cart which serves as the Crusaders center piece and Saladins prime objective. (to destroy or capture it.)

The planning for this started way back in December hunting down the models and figuring out the proper size,  but accounts the flag was I made it real life numbers it's 12.5 feet high by  22.5 feet long, the beam being a ship mast at about 25 feet.or so

Intinerarium regis ricardi is a latin prose narrative of the Third Crusade, and is supposedly a surviving first hand account written in 1220's. The bit on Richards Banner reads:

"..The Normans defended the was formed of a long beam, like the mast of the ship: made of most solid ceiled work, on four wheels. Bound with iron, and to all appearance no sword or axe could cut or fire injure it. A chosen body of soldiers was generally appointed to guard it..lest it should be broken or thrown down; for if it fell the army would be dispersed and put into confusion"

Unfortunately, I came across the narrative a little late in my plans, as it seem the wagon was enclosed and encased in iron as well as part of the shaft. my version here is much more susceptible to damage and very period looking, medievaly speaking which  was the point. the wagon is from Lead Adventure miniatures and  the horse team are Perry Brothers and the 4 men a Norman command pack from Gripping Beast. while I had the miniatures for sometime this project was started for scratch right after Adepticon, so its taken me all of hobby time since to get this far...some touch ups might still be in order.

The most challenging about the build was of course the Flag, the final version was iteration Three.
The first being a failed all green stuff banner which looked cool but had poor texture to paint on and a very tough surface to free hand paint the lion on. I spent three nights on the GS banner before deciding it looked like crap and realizing it would take far too long to free hand both sides of the banner. and said "let try something else"  I moved over to a paper banner by itself, wasnt liking that either, then I remembered I have used foil banners before but wasnt happy with the there appearance. Then I came up with what will be the way I do all my banners forever .  I set up my banner in photoshop after finding an appropriate image and printed it out on sticker paper, I then put a piece of folded foil inside the sticker paper but cut it short so the edges of the sticker paper would seal on all sides. this way the interior foil would give it a nice bend. The next issue was the printed red on the flag was not robust enought and looked fake, so I hand painted the paper careful avoiding the lion and then touched up the lion itself with some highlights as the paper absorbed the paint its took on very nice texture and foil became even more ply able for bending., in the end I was really happy with this method and that is way I will be making historical banners from now on of any size. the flag and mast are attached to the cart with a heavy magnet so it can be removed and this piece can be used a standard baggage cart in other Hail Caesar games.

The cart made it first appearance on the table last night at Rich's place where demo'd the game once again and you can see the banner wagon makes an impressive piece among the hundreds of models on the table. it must have motivated the Crusaders because they sent Saladin running for the hills this time in a clear victory (last time it was draw only by failure of objective, in terms of casualties, we were decimated)

Looking forward to Saturday and pictures of the event, I missed Little Wars last year but last went in 2012 and thought it was great, hope to see more of the same look for a follow up early next week!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Adepticon 2014 part 4

Jeremy's kick ass German Air Field stole the show as far as tables go.

My last Adepticon post covers Sundays Bolt Action Tournament. The was first time Bolt Action has had an event, this year featured a combat patrol event and this tournament. Bolt Action has been the main game I have playing since last summer so I was looking forward to event as it was something I actually played regularly. Although I have only played Aaron and Jeremy and probably played slightly over a dozen games, I felt I had enough of handle of the game not to get creamed, man was I wrong.

Tim's Warlord Ruins he shipped out , a great box set you get alot of terrain for $60 box, I have two boxes and its giving 8 full buildings and two decent small pieces, almost enough for a full 4x 6 table.

I ended up going 0-3 with my British. my first game was against Chris who came in from Louisiana.
He was running a pretty standard Fallschirmjager list with a 222 Armored car as I am accustomed too..abet he also had  Hetzer heavy tank but that did not have too much impact. The scenario was Maximum Attrition which is just a straight up assault, of which I just came out on the losing end of
I killed plenty of his guys but couldnt eliminate full unit which is was doing to me, at certain point
you reach the tipping point where it all goes downhill, by turn 6 I was nearly tabled. Chris hadn't played much and was very soft on the rules...being it was 8am, if was still a bit foggy and was forgetting alot of basic rules (small team, defensive fire etc) which led to my demise quicker than it should have.

Brents US troops are modeled after his Grandfathers regiment they look really really good, tough to tell from this shot but check them out on his blog.

Game 2 was the real eye opener. One of the cool things about Bolt Action you can played it casually and thematically as we do, or its very open to Min/Max competitive game of which my second opponent also Chris (but from Maryland) was well versed in. He had a nasty Soviet List including a Heavy tank with 2 MMGs and 1 HMG, a Flamethrower tank that also had a  ATG  gun a well in adition to couple Anti Tank rifles and Mortar...and Transport Truck with his free inexperienced platoon, that all Soviet armies get and which he had a special use for.

My second round opponent Chris's Soviets
The problem in this game was I was outmatched from the get go...I had little response to the flamethrower tank which started kicking my ass right off the bat frying my PIAT team  which I really needed from 18 inches away  He had one tank on each flank and the board had decent lanes of fire so my ATG got wiped out early with a lucky shot leaving no response for the big tank....My Humber could have taken out the Flamethrower tank and man I tried but missed on the few shots I had and the Recce move could not get completely out of the line of fire of the certain things and eventually it got popper, leaving me with zero response to his tanks..I had a decent Artillery strike but struck out when it came to the Heavy Tank and he even had Fubar from one his Anti Tank Rifles which I shot at his own tank but it missed.

The scenario was Top Secret, and while my remaining guys hit in heavy cover getting pounded and flammed, (except for my Commandos who outflanked and wiped out  a  Soviet vet squad but the real action was all the way on the other side of board) Chris had his Truck and Rookie Squad outflank in the truck disembark and overrun my mortar easily, once he had the objective he fanned his two squads out in a conga line so one squad could pass the objective to the other, (which you can only do once a turn) the rookie squard could them board the truck and then the truck could drive off the board
all in one turn!...and in this tournament scenario you add to escape via the opponent edge, as opposed to the book scenario which is exiting via your edge. I was pretty impressed you could get the thing off the board in one turn. If you've played Top Secret without a transport you know how had that is.

Chris was great fun opponent, who gave me some great advice on tweaking my list to make it more competitive and still keep the theme, I have already taken into account and look forward try it out.
so while although I was totally shellacked, this was still a great game...0-2

Aaron and Jeremy throw down Germany vs Japan, unfortunately we couldnt keep it Axis vs Allies

Game 3 was against Aaron, I had asked Tim not to pair us up because we've played the majority of our games against each other but considering we were both 0-2 there wasnt much choice
considering the event had some drops (being Sunday) and there were only 14 players. We said what
the hell and just played out usual basement game at a tourament. The scenario was Envelopment and one Aaron and I have played probably the most. My British kill at this as the attacked because of their rules I get and extra die on the Prepatory Bombardment chart which usually kicks out a ton of pins to my opponent first turn. Aaron won the roll, took Attacker and got some hot dice hurting me bad, on the second turn I call in my Artillery and I roll a "1" which allows Aaron to move it 12 inches were ever he wants and that was right into a bunch of my pinned to hell troops, it was game over right there..I gave it good try my left side was crushed, my outflanking commandos again came in on the Right, which was again the wrong side..Aaron got alot of stuff off the board and while I may have eventually killed 4 units..for 8 points, he picked up 16 for the easy win.  0-3

With Aaron and I being at the last table, I found it somewhat ironic that  He won Best Sportsman, and I and won Best Appearance, my Pal Kyle won best overall with his Germans...all victories for the home team here. Glad I pulled it off as there were some good looking armies there (Aaron, Brent, Jeremy, my second round opponent Chris)  I've been working on my guys for awhile now so I was glad people noticed as Best Appearance here was 100% player voted. -so thanks guys.

The award certificate, but I hear we are actually getting the Adepticon hard plaques that have gotten very popular as the preferred award even over the swag.
 The only downer on this event was Warlord Games lack of showing up this year and supporting this event. If you are the US rep for Warlord Games, the one event you want to be sure to make it to is Adepticon. This game has legs as it appeals to a wide genre of gaming types, not having it on Sunday and some press this could easily draw 30 players next year.  That's it for me for Adepticon 2014, we've got Little Wars coming up in a couple weeks and I will be there helping run some Historicals. If you were disappointed by the vendor hall at Adepticon and are local do yourself a favor and check out Little Wars.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Adepticon 2014 Part 3

Friday evening was the return of my Legends of the High Seas game which last washed ashore in 2011.  I knew the gang which only featured two returning players still had high expectations based on the previous events success, so I aimed to not disappoint.

It was somewhat odd seeing this whole set up transplanted here from my basement shocking things were moved to and from with very little minor damage
We had the full compliment of 10 players with average crew size of 12, meant 120 skirmishing figures all trying to outscore each other by capturing treasure tokens and objectives during each of the games three stages. I threw curveball in of having live 12 and 8 pound guns on the table that could be fired and could destroy buildings. The players wasted no time in jumping on this we had several buildings leveled as well as the Pirate ship being sunk as one crew valiantly tried to sail her to the other side of the board for the big points in round 2. An overshot cannonball did some damage to hull in stage one, leading to her early sinking.

I was concerned about about rules and turn protocol in a "big game" such as this. While although you were rolling initiative against the person across or nearest you, the game was really a big free for all. Anyone crew could attack anyone in the effort to score as many points as possible. The two Royal Navy players initially aimed to capture Pirates, I dont think the Privateers had the same restraint.
Thankfully, even with the rulebooks author Tim, on hand for the festivities the game played seemed very smooth, but that could also be a result of the mass quantities of rum on hand being consumed by many of the players.

With 10 players admittedly the board was crowded, this just added to excitement I think however if I added two more players, I would add at least full four feet of table space maybe more.
At the end of stage 3 we only had 2 or 3 of the 10 crews completely knocked out of the game. Newcomer to the event and game David was the high scorer with returning winner from 2011 coming in just 2 points behind. In very close match in the appearance category Jeremy's converted Perry bros Prussians proxying British Marines won the Appearance award. Prizes were of course not the usual Adepticon swag but small treasure chests filled with Pirate Coins and extra Foundry Pirate figures I had from back when we ran the campaign, everyone walked aways with something including Tim
getting awesome laser cut initiative(priority) tokens made commemorating the event.

The gang in action, Thanks to  Tim for bringing the Pirate Flag!

Feedback already has been great, its always satisfying when you put some much time into something and it goes according to plan. If my life lets me well be back again next year with some minor changes and even opening a couple spots, figure we had quite the audience watching the game which is always a good sign to increase attendance in the future. No idea on format yet but its great to see the interest in such fringe genre of gaming.. Thanks mates for all your support!

In my next and final say on Adepticon 2014, I will recount my Sunday, where I took part in Adepticon's first Bolt Action tournament.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Adepticon 2014 Part 2

I came out to Adepticon on Thursday evening to pick up my badge, unload the stuff for LotHS and socialize a bit with folks I only see once a year at this event.  My first day of gaming however was friday morning bright and early for the Lord of the Rings Championships.  The over a decade old, often maligned scapegoat of the GW game systems is a great strategy game at its core and a great rules system developed by Rick Priestly and Alessio Cavatore. I never quite understood the hate directed to the game by the GW masses, mainly because its written by the same guys that wrote
stuff for the all the other games and the IP for those games, like anything in the fantasy or science fiction genre always, even if it doesnt realize it, borrows from Tolkien.

Jeremy and I battling for the hill Round 1

 The game has taken it lumps last several years with the completely unnecessary re-branding of the game which only fractured the already fringe gaming community, This move was the set up for Games Workshop to fight tooth and nail to retain the license in order to manufacture figures for the new Hobbit films. Games Workshop succeeded but then somehow decided to destroy the line by producing most of the new figures for the game in their much reviled finecast material which has kept many people from buying the figures. Games Workshops bread and butter with LotR figures were the sales from collectors not just hobbyists. Releasing the majority of figures in a material unfriendly to both was pure idiocy.

Daves G's Dwarves here are the best I have seen of the new releases and best I've seen in good while. awesome job.

This event itself has suffered as a result. I've been around for the highs and lows, seen the dwindling effects year by year on Adepticon and our other local tournament Bilbo's Birthday Bash. This attitude also reflects upon its status at Adepticon. From room placement, to neglect in prize support to even the tourney format. For years the game format was always Good Vs Evil often requiring you to bring two armies to avoid mirror match ups. However when you struggle to get twenty people in an open event at a convention as large as this, such requirements become impossible. As a result the tourney  had no such faction stipulations and it was just a straight up swiss style event. I wish I actually read the tournament rules on format better, although I am not sure if the decision was made after the fact
based on the declared number of good and evil  players (if thats the case they should have reached out the players because I am sure alot of us could of brought different armies)
Kyles Games of Thrones themed army was very well done, however done as the Starks I think he should have went with a different color scheme. Love the warg with glowing eyes in cave. Models had good highlights as well as Stark iconography
 My games with my Rohan force resulted in a Minor Loss, and Minor Victory and Draw. Rohan played pretty well, only in the first game did I wish I had another 10 models however we played the scenario wrong and if we did not I dont think It would have mattered. I hadnt played the game in a year and my memory of the new rule set was pretty weak. I am really only playing in this as an excuse to paint LotR figures and see people I like and have a good time.  I played two new players who I hadnt met before, they were both great and we had a good, fun games however both players had Wood Elf Armies with Legolas, and since I was also running Legolas, it made the game less of a Lord of the Rings game and more a generic tourney match up, kind of not what I am looking for when I play this game once a year.

Jeremy's Castle and its Castellan.

 I played my pal Jeremy in round 1 who deservedly beat me out in the Best Appearance category by a couple points for his awesome entirely converted Dol Guldur Orc and Evil Sprit army with fantastic castle with spooky lights. You can tell he slaved on this project its won BA and both Biblos and this season, so congratulations are in order.. I knew I wasn't beating him going into it as I always get hurt on not having enough conversions in my army and I decided with all the other stuff I was doing this year I wasn't doing an elaborate display so I wasnt surprised nor disappointed.
John S' Orcs who are seen in the first photo above playing what looked like a really fun game with all the trolls. I never actually played a game where trolls get to square of against each other.
 I must say this year with guys I know from the Minneapolis area joining the LotR fray who are stellar hobbyists that  the modeling and painting was the best I have seen in along time versus the number of participants, I would say probably 1/3 of the field was in contention for the Best Appearance award within 5 points or so and that is pretty impressive.

Eric H's , awesome converted Burdur and Cave Troll goon Squad.
In end the event did leave a bitter sweet taste in my mouth, while I am glad there are new people playing the game its decline in status and current state of affairs with Games Workshop as far as releases and the closing of all stores with anywhere to play other than demos make its lifespan clear.  I cant see this surviving at all past the release of the final Hobbit film so next Adepticon is the last hurrah, and thats IF we even table space considering the size of the event and attendance (the team tourney was dropped this year)

Personally I think we should demote ourselves to "big game status" and some sort of huge themed event across 3 or 4 would make thing less tournament like given the game thriving in Good vs Evil situations and take the pressure of the Tournament requirements, but I dont make the decisions in that department, but I actually do for one of the other quirky fringe games I play, Legends of the High Seas, it was the first return of Pirates since 2011 and great rowdy, cannon blasting time was had by all, Thats coming up in my Adepticon 2014 part 3.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Adepticon 2014 Part I

One of the FIVE main Ballrooms where the action takes place
Another Adepticon has come and gone, my 8th year in attendance, Lots of things stay the same and lots of things change from year to year.  Despite running an event this year and playing in two, I was not as immersed in the goings on as usual. With no excuse other than lack of motivation I took no pictures outside the events I was involved in and I wasn’t there on Saturday at all, choosing to spend the day with my kids and going see the Captain America film instead of hanging around the convention. A couple of observations on Adepticon just having passed its 11th year. Following up on the big 10 year milestone can be a little rough, while it is  now a full 4 day convention with people showing up to register on Wednesday evening, a lot of the overcrowding and previous registration issues are things of the past.  I have no idea on attendance numbers, but its surely *seemed* alot less crowded to me than previous year for the 10 year Anniversary. 

There were lots of new games demoing and many new vendors I had never seen before in the vendor hall, but strangely enough even with cash burning a hole in my pocket, I found not a single thing I wanted to buy!,  shockingly because Warlord Games was nowhere to be seen this year and I mainly play games they produce. Several other notable retail vendors were missing as well including  mainstays like Armorcast  (who have been there ever year since I started going) Instead what we had were probably double the amount of boutique miniature start ups demoing  games and trying to sell their miniatures in the vendor hall, which I find off putting when there is a hall for games being demoed not 30 feet away. The big hobby names of the last 3-5 years were all out in force with huge setups:  Secret Weapon, Cool Mini or not, Battlefoam, GF9/ Battlefront, etc  and while I saw a few cool things there nothing I was really that interested in and nor could I  find a single Vallejo or Army Painter paint of wash for sale?? (no kidding)  Warlord Games not showing up at Adepticon while Tournaments and events of several of their flagship games were going on seems like a PR disaster to me.  Believe me it didn’t go unnoticed and by a lot of people not just me. I should add that while I am not crazy about their miniatures (design aesthetics mainly, I like some of the rulesets)  Mantic Games was out in fullm force and Ronnie Renton, the man himself at Mantic was here again from UK for like the what? 5th year in a row?? Talk about a guy who works his tail off to build his company  personally I have a lot of respect for that. 

Outside the vendor hall things seemed more compartmentalized than previous years. While Privateer Press has made a big splash in the past if you were not playing Warmachine , you wouldn’t even know they were there. (outside a 3rd year in row of a starter set in the swag bag) I only time I saw Warmachine being played is when I stumbled into the ballroom looking for the bathroom , while apparently Flames of War  Malifaux and Infinity all had grand events, I didn’t even notice until I spotted the terrain setups for the latter still up on Sunday. 40K and Warhammer Fantasy are still the majority slice of the pie here, and while both make probably 70-75% of the Attendees in at least in some regard (I’m saying  in my estimation probably only 25-30% of attendees are people who are not involved in 40K or WFB in any capacity over the weekend.  40k seemed bigger than ever and WFB seemed a bit cut back .surely due to logistic issues with the size of the event the previous two years. 

Personally I’m involved in the Specialist Games portion of the event. The Specialist Games being everything from Lord of the Rings, all Historical Games , and many new games that don’t yet have the attendance for major events. This year Specialist games definitely had some organizational issues but it was nothing that couldn’t be worked out and when it was all said and done the games got played prizes were awarded and everyone had fun, which is point of what is I believe the country’s largest, longest running fan run miniature convention.

Any problematic issues  all seem minor to me in this events grand scope.  Even as I get older and 4 days seems like too much for me, when its all said and done, I still looking forward to next year. Well that’s my overview for this year , next up I’ll talk about my events starting with Friday Mornings Lord of the Rings Championships.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

T- Minus 3 days

My 1000 point army for Sundays Bolt Action Tournament.
 Adepticon starts in 2 days, in reality its 3 for me since I have nothing going on until bright and early Friday and its going to be a long day. I'll head out Thursday night to get my badge and see some folks so I dont have deal with getting a badge in morning when I have an event starting at 8am.

Forgot to brush the excess flock out of the muddy road there, dont worry I already did it!
 Just wanted to get some shots posted of 1000 points of British forces for Sundays tournment.
these took longer than I thought to paint, and I probably have 1500 points when its all counted with Jeeps , the Stuart I just bought and enough men for 2 more squads, but here who coming to fight Sunday.
 I'm really enjoying playing BA and this army, kudos to Warlord Games for creating a game thats
plays great and seems pretty fair and well balanced at this size..definitely the go to game of the moment and Aaron and I counted at least dozen people locally we both know currently playing, I have not been able to say that about any games since I played WFB regularly.

The display was kind of an after thought, I realized I needed something when I set the guys up in the tray the first time, for getting it done in a couple days I'm happy with the way it came out. I found some WW2 German propaganda posters from Holland in late 44' and sized them in photoshop and printed them out on sticker paper and stuck on the walls for some thematic flavor. The building is the old armorcast modern ruins, I put some hobby stucco on and made work...the road is plasticstruct.
 There you go, my first Bolt Action Army for my first Bolt Action Tournament, hope they play as well and they do in my basement, Their counter part- Germans are next!, I'll of course report on how I make out on Sunday.


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