Monday, September 1, 2014

More CCN Online: Kinch Kickings at Krasnoi

Young Kinch and I met again on Google Hangouts this morning, it being Labour Day on my side of the Atlantic and a day traditionally set aside for studiously avoiding labour.  We enjoyed our last outing so much that we decided to do it again, this time choosing the Krasnoi scenario from the CCN Russian expansion.   Krasnoi was an unpleasant day on the Retreat from Moscow when Napoleon had to employ his Guard to block the Russians and allow the battered troops of Davout’s Corps to escape.

Once again we used parallel setups.   Kinch had the battle set up with his splendid figures, and was able to christen a splendid looking snow mat, seeing as this was the Retreat from Moscow.  Until he finds the time to post it on Joy and Forgetfulness, and I suspect his spare time will be somewhat crimped in the near future, you’ll have to settle with my ugly blocks.

Here’s the initial setup from the French side.  The two block French Line unit on the bridge on the river, and then strung out along the Left/Centre boundary are the half strength units of Davout’s Corps.   The French get a Victory Banner for the first two two-block Line units they withdraw off the French board edge, and get a banner for every two-block Line unit they withdraw thereafter.   The Russian player starts the game with eight Command cards, and loses a card for each of Davout’s two block Line units that the French exit from the board.   The Russians get a banner for every two two-block French Line units they eliminate.  They also get a banner for every turn they hold the bridge, and get two banners if they hold the village of Uvarova, which is on the bed of the river on the French right flank.   In the picture below, I made an error and put a French light infantry unit in Uvarovoa.  Actually, the Russians begin holding the village.


Kinch opens the ball by grabbing the first of the low-hanging fruit.



While on my right, I get incredibly lucky and push the light infantry of the Young Guard into Uvarovoa, eliminating the Russian lights holding the village in one lucky roll.


  Kinch introduces me to his cossacks.  Cossacks in the CCN Russian expansion are incredibly annoying.  They are like mosquitoes, they bite and draw blood, and it doesn’t matter if you swat them, because they don’t count for Victory Banners when you eliminate them.

Having managed the pesky cossacks, I decide to try and block the road with the Old Guard to give Davout’s command time to escape.   I thought they would last longer than they did.


Kinch decides to put pressure on Uvarova, and shoots down half of the Young Guard when they are caught in the open during their smoke break.



The rest of the Guard died shortly thereafter, and while I did my best to bring up reinforcements to hold the village, Kinch sneakily sneaked these horse artillery into Uvarova and that was all she wrote.   

Since the whole match lasted about an hour, we switched sides and tried it again.  This time, we read the scenario notes more carefully and discovered that Davout’s half strength lines are only worth a half Victory Banner each, and not two as we thought in the first game, which of course explains why I lost… well, that and Kinch’s sneakiness.  

I don’t have pictures of the second game, but it was a splendid and drawn out affair that ended in a narrow Russian victory.   Kinch was able to extricate much of Davout’s troops, but I was able to grapple with the Guard and whittle them down.  There was also a fairly large fur ball around Uvarova, where the Russian heavy cavalry stomped all over the Young Guard, that was fun.

Blessings to your die rolls!


Sunday, August 31, 2014

Diplomacy Game Results For Spring 1901 Turn

Results for Spring, 1901 (Movement)

General Notices: No retreating units; retreat phase skipped.

Order resolution completed on 31-Aug-2014 at 12:14:40 EDT

From the Daily Dissembler’s European correspondent.

Following a winter full of warm professions of peace and good will between the Crowned Heads of Europe, the movement of forces at the start of the campaigning season suggest that peace is not on anyone’s mind.

Of greatest interest to our readers will be news of a large clash between the Black Sea fleets of the Russian and Ottoman Empires.   Reports from fishermen who witnessed the battle suggest that the two fleets approached each other and suddenly began exchanging salvos for at least a half hour, until both lines of battle turned and headed for their respective ports.   Loss of life and ships in the battle is unknown at this time.   The Dissembler hopes to have comments from bot courts in due course.  Can this skirmish have been the result of a misunderstanding, or will war follow?

A source at the British Foreign Office suggests that elements of the Royal Navy have been sent north to protect British cod trawlers operating in the North and Norwegian Seas, but protect them from whom is the question of the day.  It is unknown how the British react to the German High Seas Fleet and Army occupying Denmark.   England and Russia appear to be moving on Norway and Sweden respectively to protect their interests.  

The massing of armies along Russia’s western border suggests that tensions are rising in the region.   It is unknown if the German and Austrian armies in Silesia and Galicia are cooperating.  

The presence of Italian soldiers in Tyrolia is certain to cause comment by the German and Austrian emperors.   France’s role in this matter is also uncertain, though it’s occupation of Piedmont suggests that Paris has intentions in the region.   The absence of French and English naval moves into the English Channel suggests an understanding between the two powers, at least for now.

The Daily Dissembler will endeavour to have comment from Europe’s Crowned Heads in its next issue.

Order Results:

Austria: Austria: A bud -> gal Austria: F tri -> alb Austria: A vie -> tri

England: England: F edi -> nwg England: A lvp -> edi England: F lon -> nth

France: France: F bre -> pic France: A mar -> pie France: A par -> bur

Germany: Germany: A ber -> sil Germany: F kie -> den Germany: A mun -> ruh

Italy: Italy: F nap Holds Italy: A rom -> ven Italy: A ven -> tyr

Russia: Russia: A mos -> ukr Russia: F sev -> bla Bounced with ank (1 against 1). Russia: F stp/sc -> bot Russia: A war Holds

Turkey: Turkey: F ank -> bla Bounced with sev (1 against 1). Turkey: A con -> bul Turkey: A smy -> con

Deadline for next orders is midnight EDT, Saturday, 14 September.

Right, I’m off to have a margarita or three.


Saturday, August 30, 2014

Saturday Paint Table


This week saw a little more work done on the 28mm Redoubt ACW minis that will form my Irish Brigade regiment.  Second of the three flesh shades has been added, and now I’m working on the muskets and hair.  The sculptor gave these fellows big shaggy heads of hair and abundant mutton chop whiskers and beards, so I need to pay attention to that aspect.   In the background are the GMB flags that they will fly once finished.   I’m doing some testing on shading for the kersey blue trousers.   One fellow, third from left, has been giving a coat of Citadel Drakenshade dark blue wash on his pants, and I’ll then add a lighter shade of pale blue as highlights for the fold and creases in his pants.    Another test figure, once finished, will simply get a wash of Army Painter soft tone, without the Drakenshade wash, and I’ll see which one I like better.   I’m very hopeful I can get these fellow done and off those uncomfortable nails by this time next week.

At far left is the 4Ground Sentry box, which has been painted and based, just needs some flocking and touchups.

Tomorrow once I finish preaching (my priest is on holiday this weekend) and I get home, we’re having some friends over for margaritas, so I doubt I’ll be in any shape to paint tomorrow!  

Blessings to your brushes and a good semester to all who are going back to school in one capacity or another.


Thursday, August 28, 2014

A Fistfull Of Limbers

No those aren’t aeronefs flying high over the countryside.  Baccus 6mm French Napoleonic limbers.

Pity the poor limber model.   In larger scales you don’t always see them on the gaming table because they’re expensive to buy, take time to paint, and take up space on the tabletop.  I’ve seen many games where players, myself included, move their artillery with the gun barrel pointed at their starting line, and then show the guns are deployed by turning the gun to face the enemy.  

In the really small scales, like 6mm, my reasoning was that there should be room on the table for limbers to properly move the guns around, and for caissons to keep them in supply and for everything to look proper and military.  So I’m happy to say that with these four limbers, I’ve finished the original Baccus order from two years ago, which is a mildly depressing thought that it’s taking so long, but anyway.  

Here’s the uniform I was aiming for, a soldier of the Train of Artillery, one of Gnotel’s wonderful colour paintings.   G.R. Elting’s commentary on the plate notes that the Train uniform coat was gris de fer, (iron gray).  It looks darker in the plate than the very pale blue that I ended up painting on these figures, and lighter than the blue I used for the caisson drivers from a year ago.  Variations in dye lots and issues, I suppose.  


Here’s the artillery all together.  Rather impressive, I think.




I’m looking forward to getting my hands on some of the new Baccus French sculpts, but for now I still have a lot of French figures from the collection I bought this winter.

Onwards and upwards.  Hopefully I’ll be able to put enough French and Austrian troops on the table that I can start playing with the Polemos rules.

Vive l’Empereur!


These figures bring my 2014 totals to:

 28mm Mounted: 13, 28mm Foot: 25, 28mm Artillery: 1

 20mm Foot: 33, 20mm Artillery: 2, 20mm Vehicles: 2, 20mm Terrain Pieces: 2

 15mm Vehicles: 5, 15mm Foot: 26, 15mm Terrain Pieces: 3

 6mm Foot:  120, 6mm vehicles: 4, 6mm Terrain Pieces: 2

 Kilometres Run: 808

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Tuesday Boardgame: GMT's A Distant Plain, First Impressions

I never got to deploy to Afghanistan, despite my best efforts, but at least I get to go there now, sort of.  I’m just coming to grips with  A Distant Plain (ADP), part of GMT’s COIN (Counter Insurgency) series of simulations.   I say simulation deliberately, because it appears to me that the designers, Brian Train and  Volko Ruhnkehave thought long and hard about making this a model of the political as well as military issues of the Afghan conflict.


So first impressions.   ADP doesn’t seem to be an easy game to play at first glance.  There are no playing pieces with comforting NATO symbology, combat values, etc.  There are a LOT of tracks on the board and information markers.   There are a lot of cryptic wooden playing pieces in various colours.   Fortunately, there is an excellent step by step player’s guide which has an extended tutorial that I’ve been working through very carefully and deliberately, and the more that I see and learn about it, the more that I am liking it.

ADP is a game for 1-4 players and has four sides:  the Coalition (Western/NATO powers), the Afghan government, the Warlords, and the Taliban.   It would be a total blast with four players, but is very suitable for solitaire play as either the Coalition or the Taliban, with decision tree charts guiding the actions of the non-player factions.

The sequence of play appears to be quite elegant.  There is the inevitable deck of cards (do any wargames published these days NOT come with a deck of cards?) but instead of holding cards in their hands, the cards are turned two at a time, so all players can see the card for the current turn as well as the card for the NEXT turn.  Besides special events which can be chosen by either the Coalition/Afghan (the COIN) players or by the Taliban/Warlords, the cards determine sequence of play.

As you can see from these two cards, at the top of each is a row of four symbols, each corresponding to one of the four factions, so on the right hand card, the Counter-Narc card, the Warlord player’s symbol is first on the left, so he can go first, then the Coalition player, then the Afghan gov. player, then the Taliban.  The order is slightly different on the left hand, “Line Item” card, which governs the next turn.   The catch is that if the Warlord player acts on the first card, there is little he can do on the second card, so basically you get to move every other turn, near as I can tell so far, which means that you have to be fairly careful in deciding when you want to play and what events you want to capitalize on.

Here’s one of the areas on the map, Kandahar Province.  The tan block is a Coalition force, the Green disc is a Warlord base, the smaller green circle is a Warlord guerrilla unit, the black disc with the star and crescent is a Taliban guerrilla unit, the two light blue blocks are Afghan gov police and the two dark blue blocks are Afghan gov military.   Control of a province goes to the Taliban if they have the majority of units in a province, or to the COIN forces (coalition and Afghan gov if they have a majority of units.  In this photo, currently, there are 5 COIN units to 2 Warlord units to 1 Taliban unit, so the COIN side has control and can count Kandahar towards its political and resource totals.  Here is a cool thing.  While the Taliban wants to control provinces, so do the Warlords, but for different reasons.   If the Warlord player has the majority of units in a province, neither the Taliban nor the COIN side controls it, so the Warlords have their own discrete victory conditions, and in a multiplayer game, would be the player that both sides would court, because even though the Warlord has the fewest units, he has the the potential to wreak a lot of havoc.  If you think of the current crisis with the Afghan elections stalemated between two leaders, one from the Pashtun south and one from the Tajik north, you can see that the game designers have thought a lot about how the Warlords represent the non-Pashtun tribes in Afghanistan, and what a complicated business it all is.

Guerilla units can either be operating openly, in which case the symbol is shown, or they can go into hiding, in which case the cylinder is inverted to show a blank side.   The COIN player has a harder time finding and eradicating hidden guerrilla units.

Hopefully next week I will have more game time in, and can report on how the game plays, but for now I wanted to give you a sense of the mechanics of what promises to be a terrific game and model of a complex war.  In other board game news, I finally got my copy of the new startup magazine, Ares, which true to its old SPI namesake, ships with an SF game, in this case, one based on HG Wells War of the Worlds.  It looks cute and at some point, once I get out of Afghanistan, I’ll show it to you.

More to come.  Blessings to your die rolls!




Monday, August 25, 2014

Another Weird War Update: Vampire Weekend

My two werewolves have been keeping bad company this weekend.  The lady in the middle is also a Reaper Miniature, a lady vampire that reminds me of the Hammer Studios movies that troubled my pubescent dreams.  She joins the ranks of the baddies in my Weird War project.


When she’s not preening in the graveyard, she’s doing important work within the shadowy wing of the SS dominated by SS Gruppenfuhrer Strasser.  As anyone knows who’s seen Coppola’s Dracula (1992), it’s pretty much obligatory for powerful vampires to have a retinue of wayward young women.   Her duties will include interrogating captured Allied airmen, spying on the Gruppenfuhrer’s human rivals, and nighttime strolls along the Unter der Linden


 I’m not entirely happy with her fangs.  She rather looks like she has two white straws stuck under her upper lip, but they do look noticeable from a distance.  On the plus side, I’m fairly happy with the flesh tones.


 It’s rather an odd sort of funeral monument that the sculptor has chosen.  It rather looks like a Celtic cross with the top bit removed, but I suppose that gives her a place to park her ample charms.



Team Vampyre ready to put the bite on the Allies.

These figures bring my 2014 totals to:

28mm Mounted: 13, 28mm Foot: 25, 28mm Artillery: 1

20mm Foot: 33, 20mm Artillery: 2, 20mm Vehicles: 2, 20mm Terrain Pieces: 2

15mm Vehicles: 5, 15mm Foot: 26, 15mm Terrain Pieces: 3

6mm Foot:  120, 6mm Terrain Pieces: 2

Kilometres Run: 796

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Beer Can Chicken

So in my previous post today I referenced beer can chicken and one reader wasn’t sure what I was referring to.    It may be a North American thing, since I recall now that the British Army chaplains who used to visit my house during my last posting were always unsure what it was as well.  I’m not sure how common they are in Europe, but in Canadian suburbs, most people do their cooking outdoors on their gas grills during the summer months, and some like myself have been known to cook on them during the winter.  Usually I just do burgers, pork chops, the odd rack of pork ribs to keep the heat down in the kitchen during the summer months, but this is a special recipe for the occasional lazy weekend.  Beer can chicken has a blue collar, redneck aura to it, but it’s fun to cook and delicious when you do it right.

Here’s what it looks like.

Mmmmm, delicious.  Here’s what you need.

1) A whole chicken - they are getting pricier all the time.  I was lucky enough to find one yesterday at the grocery store for just under $10 Canadian.

2) An outdoor barbecue or grill.  I have a decent propane gas grill, but I suppose you could cook it on charcoal.

3) A specialized stand like the one shown here.  I got mine from WalMart for less than $10C but I’ve seen fancier ones sold elsewhere for more money.   Most hardware stores, like Canadian Tire, or online stores like Amazon, sell versions.  I also use a stainless steel bbq tray as you see above.

4) A can of beer.   I prefer using a lager or lighter beer or an IPA.  Today it was a Moretti.  

5) Herbs.  There are many recipes for the herb coating but today I was lazy and used ClubHouse Italiano herb mix.

Here’s what you do.

1) Thaw your chicken and make sure the interior cavity is empty of gizzards and other nasty things.

2) Drink roughly half your can of beer (the best part).  Then use a knife or can opener and make 3-4 holes in the top of the can around the hole where you drink the beer from.

3) Inset the can in the beer can holder and place it on your cooking pan or tray if the beer can holder doesn’t have a built-in pan as some do.

4) Insert the, ummm, beer can in the chicken using the chicken’s, err, posterior orifice.  Liberally coat the exterior of the chicken with your herb mix.

5) Place the whole thing in your grill or bbq and turn the heat to as low a setting as possible.   Put the cover down on your grill.

6) Let the chicken cook for between 90 minutes to two hour.  Start checking on regularly it after 60 mins.  You don’t want to cook it too hot and too long or it will dry out.  If I was smart, I’d use a meat thermometer, but I simply stick a knife in and look to see if the juice is clear, which is how I was taught to see if chicken was cooked.

7) When it’s done, carefully remove the chicken off the beer can, using washable oven mitts or several paper towels, etc.   Pour the remainder of the beer from the can onto the chicken.   As you do this, you may notice that there is less beer in the can at the end.  It should come apart easily with a knife, but shouldn’t be so cooked that it falls apart at the touch of a knife. 

8) Have another can of beer as you enjoy your chicken.

 That being said, there is a fierce debate over this method, and whether it is the best way to cook a chicken.  Some say no and claim to have science behind them.  All I can say is that Madame Padre and I quite enjoyed our beer can chicken tonight.