Tuesday, July 19, 2016


My wargaming bestie James was over last weekend for the third instalment of what we call OP THUNDERING DICE.   Since we moved further apart last year, we have been running an ongoing series of slumber parties, and this time, ROTO 3, we decided to play another game of War of the Ring, try Sharp Practice 2 with my ACW collection, and then play a fantasy game of Dragon Rampant.

James got caught up in the Friday not rush north to cottage country and arrived late and somewhat frazzled, but some barbecued goodness and a beer downrange later, he was good to go.   We started with War of the Ring (2nd ed) by Ares Games.  You can read his account of our weekend here.  It was our second complete game.  The first time I played Mordor, this time I played the noble and winsome free peoples.  Both times Mordor lost when the Ringbearer achieved his quest.   It was a near run thing, and it turned on the draw of one chit.  Some would say that a game which invests so much in the military and political aspects of the war, and then hangs on a couple of dumb hobbits meandering through Mordor, isn’t really much of a game at all.   Well, I suppose, but you could argue that one could say the same thing about Tolkien’s book. We had fun, at any rate.

On to Saturday, when The Other Mike joined us.   James introduced us both to Sharp Practice, the second edition of Too Fat Lardies’ well known black powder skirmish game.  We threw an evenly matched force of Yanks and Rebs on the table.   Other Mike and I were new to these rules, though I’ve played SP1, but despite that faint advantage, Other Mile picked it up very quickly.

Here the gallant Major #5 leads his Union boys forward to try and flank the Rebel line.

My company on the left wing gets into line and goes up against an equal number of Yanks.   However, the extra Union Big Man keeping their line steady, plus those annoying Yank skirmishers in the cornfield, would make it difficult for Rebs.  However, it’s the little hill on the right where the game will be decided.

Shock builds relentlessly and my line breaks.  As shock exceeds the number of troops standing in each group, the formation breaks up.  One thing we didn’t realize was that each time a group retreats because of excessive shock, it lowers the overall Force Morale of they side, and that’s a bad thing.  We almost lost the game when this formation was defeated.


The game was, as I said, decided on the right.   Here in this incredibly amazing, exciting action shot, Other Mike’s troops charge down off the hill and shatter the Union left.    It helped enormously that we were able to get our skirmishers on to the right flank of the Union line.

All of us liked SP2 enormously.   As Other Mike noted, it really felt like a subset of a regimental battle that you read about in the battle histories.   It had a gritty, small-unit feel that was very satisfying, and very different from another ACW game we like, Sam Mustafa’s Longsteet.

In the afternoon we reset the table, keeping the terrain and adding my Rohirrim village to play Dragon Rampant.  We gave the forces of Isengard the usual mix of Uruk Heavy Foot, crossbows (Heavy Missiles), archers (Light Missiles), Berserkers (Bellicose Foot), a shaman (Wizardling), and Warg Riders (Heavy Riders).  Against that daunting mix, we gave the Rohirrim a unit of skirmishing cavalry (Light Riders), one of heavy cavalry (Heavy Riders), two units of Heavy Foot, two units of Light Missiles, and two heroes, Gimli and Aragorn (both single model, 6 strength pick units).  We rated Gimli as Elite Foot, Aragorn as an Elite Rider.

It was a ripplingly fun game, where victory seemed within Other Mike’s evil orchish grasp.  Mike’s goal was to burn as many buildings as he could and capture the adorable and plump barnyard animal, Bakkonraed the Swine.   Here the surviving Rohan light archers (some old Wargames Foundry HYW English archers filling in) exult after they routed a unit of Heavy Foot.  In the middle, Gimli exults after massacring the Orc Bellicose Foot.


An overview of the battle, just before the Rohirrim Heavy Horse smashed into the warg riders and routed them, killing their general.   Other Mike threw in the orcish towel at this point and we spent a happy dinner hour with James and OM deciding to order their own copies of Dragon Rampant and scheming as to the armies they would field.  We all had terrific fun.

Note, BTW, in the last photo, my amazing spiffing Rohan watch tower.  I’ll get some photos of that in another post.


Blessings to your die rolls!


Saturday, July 9, 2016

Diplomacy Game 2016 - It's Over

Our Diplomacy game ended tonight with the German player conceding to the Turkish player, citing the uncertain path of a German win and the desire not to prolong the game.   I thank the German player for this gracious decision, sorry as I am to see the game end.

Here are the final positions:

And here are the final standings:
1st place:  Turkey     15 SCs
2nd place: Germany   13 SCs
3rd place:  Italy    3 SCs
4th place:  Austria  2 SCs
5th place:  England    1 SC
The finishing players were:
Turkey:  The USA’s Jonathan Freitag  (https://palousewargamingjournal.blogspot.ca)
Germany:  The UK’s Edwin King (https://diplomatist2.blogspot.ca)
Italy:  Australia’s Ben Gilmour (http://rosbiffrog.blogspot.ca)
Austria:  Canada’s Patrick Gilliland (http://irregularwarbandfast.blogspot.ca)
England:  Australia’s Mark Haughey (http://onesidedminiaturewargamingdiscourse.blogspot.ca)
Jonathan and Ben were new players in my online Dip games.    Edwin, Pat and Mark all played in the online Dip game I ran in 2014.   Mark kindly stepped into this game to replace the England player who dropped out.
So congratulations all.   I certainly enjoyed reading the diplomacy as it went back and forth, and as always I had the best seat in the house to watch the intrigue and maneuvers.  
I promised two painted miniatures, one to the top player and one to the best role player.
First choice is quite easy.  Jonathan managed a very convincing win, and I think could have dominated even against a German-Austrian alliance.   
Second choice is more difficult, as Jonathan’s Ankara What was a very convincing propaganda organ of the new Ottoman Empire, and showed lots of work, but the prize for best roleplaying goes Ben Gilmour.  Italy had several propaganda broadsheets of its own, and Ben’s diplomatic messages were always full of Italian brio and showed a consistent sense of humour.
Gentlemen, I shall give some thought to your prizes.   
Well done all and thank you for playing.    I may do this again in a year or two.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Happy Canada Day Gaming

It’s Canada Day, and this image pretty much says it all, eh?

What better way to celebrate Canada Day than to push massive armies around the table?   My old friend Mike M was the host.  Readers of this blog may remember me singing the praises of my eccentric and resourceful friend Mike before.  He’s a good chap and his house is a wonderland of wargaming.   His basement features two gaming rooms, and two tables, with enough unpainted stock to make most hobby stores look barren by comparison.   Some people talk about lead mountains.  Mike has a plastic Himalayas, yet I have no doubt he’ll get them all painted and then some.

Mike supplied us with a game set somewhere in the 13th century Baltics, and the freedom loving peoples there have massed to drive the Tuetonic oppressors away before the can complete their castle, shown bottom right.

Mike and I played the freedom-loving locals, and Kirk Mad Dog Docherty played the Teutonic Knights.  TK wasn’t going to sit behind this stream with a cavalry heavy army, and deployed the bulk of his horse on our side of the fordable stream.

The TKs come on.   Besides this chaps, Mike has painted several units of German guest knights in their individual heraldry, which he has carefully researched.   Apparently if you were a knight in the 1300s and wanted a bit of a fighting holiday, you went and hung out with the Tuetonic Knights.   Chaucer’s Knight in the General Prologue to the Canterbury Tales  is one of these martial tourists.

First blood to the TKs as they crash through our archers on our left flank.



More TKs lead by one of those fighting bishops that the Middle Ages produced in large numbers.  A sword and a mace are surefire ways to spread the gospel.  Notice the very fine work on the heraldry, no mean feat for a 20mm model.

The battle raged for several hours.  We held where we wanted to hold, on our left and centre, and the casualties piled up on both sides.  

The last desperate charge of the TKs looks promising, but they will be sent reeling back down the hill. At the end of play, Kirk had broken our right flank, but we had held where we planned to make our stand in the centre and left, and Kirk’s best units were spent or routed, while the Grand Master of the Tueotinic Knights lay dead under a pile of dead horses and men,


I hope these grainy photos taken with my iPad do some justice to this big and very intense game, it was a nailbiter down the final turn.  For rules we used Might of Arms by Bob Bryant, which has been around since 1996. You can find a review here, though I don’t think it is currently in print.  Very easy to pick up and pleasantly fast moving, I would rate it similar to Dan Mersey’s Lion Rampant in complexity.

Thank you Mike for your gracious hospitality and for a good game, and thank you Kirk for making it an epic and enjoyable fight!

Blessings to your die rolls,


Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Diplomacy Game: Fall 1907 Results

Hello again Diplomacy fans.   Our 2016 game is now at an exciting end phase as the two superpowers, Turkey and Germany, grapple for dominance.   Startling amid the Falll 1907 moves was Turkley’s patronage of the sole surviving English unit to drive the German army out of Brest, keeping England in the game.

Germany’s Austrian ally is now an army in exile, as all of its supply centres have been overrun by Turkey.   Italy struggles to survive, keeping its toehold in the south of France but losing Spain and Tunis to its sometime protector and sometime predator, Turkey

Fall 1907 Moves:

Results for Fall, 1907 (Movement)
General Notices:
Order resolution completed on 24-Jun-2016 at 22:01:04 EDT
Order Results:
A gal - ukr
A ven Holds
A war Holds
 F eng -> bre
No order for unit at Burgundy. Hold order assigned.
A bel - pic;  A ber - sil; 
A bre Holds Dislodged from eng (2 against 1). 
A bur Holds;  F den - nth; A edi - lvp;  A hol - bel; A lon Holds
F  nwg - nao; A pie - mar Bounced with spa (1 against 1). 
A pru Supports A war; F stp/sc Holds; F swe - bal; A tyr Supports A ven
F lyo Supports A spa - mar;  F rom - nap
A spa - mar;  A tus - pie
Failed because Germany: A pie - mar failed. 
F aeg -  ion; A bul - ser; A con -bul
F mao Supports F eng - bre; A mos -war Bounced with war (1 against 2). 
A rum Supports A ser - bud; A ser - bud
F tri Supports A tus - ven
Support failed. Supported unit's order does not match support 
 F tys -tun; A vie Supports F tri; F  wes - spa/sc
 And the results.   In the retreat phase, the German army driven out of Brest opts to retreat to the fleshpots of Paris.

And here are the results.  Germany, Italy and Austria all have to remove a unit, while Turkey gains another three, thus vaulting into first place with 15 Supply Centres to Germany’s 13.   Still a horse race, but the Kaiser must be feeling the pressure now.

Results for Fall, 1907 (Retreat)

General Notices:

Order resolution completed on 29-Jun-2016 at 19:46:54 EDT

Order Results:

Supply centers were lost. Units that must be removed: 1.


Supply centers were lost. Units that must be removed: 1.
Germany: A bre -> par

Supply centers were lost. Units that must be removed: 1.

Supply centers were gained. Units that may be built: 3.

Supply Center Ownership:
Austria: Venice, Warsaw (2 total).
\England: Brest (1 total)
.France: None.
Germany: Belgium, Berlin,  Denmark, Edinburgh, Holland, Kiel, Liverpool, London, Munich, Norway, 
Paris, St. Petersburg, Sweden (13 total)
.Italy: Marseilles, Naples, Rome (3 total).
Russia: None.
Turkey: Ankara, Budapest, Bulgaria, Constantinople, Greece, Moscow, Portugal, 
Rumania, Serbia, Sevastopol, Smyrna, Spain, Trieste, Tunis, Vienna (15 total).


Austria: 2 supply centers, 3 units. 1 unit must be removed.
England: 1 supply center is, 1 unit. No units to build or remove.
France:  No supply centers are, No units. No units to build or remove.
Germany:  13 supply centers, 14 units. 1 unit must be removed
Italy: 3 supply centers, 4 units. 1 unit must be removed.
Russia: No supply centers are, No units. No units to build or remove.
Turkey: 15 supply centers, 11 units. 3 units may be built. 


Monday, June 13, 2016

Chips, frites, et poutine

Salut!  I am currently in la belle province de Quebec.   If you don’t know Canada, it’s hard to explain Quebec and its relation to the rest of Canada.   Think of Scotland and England, or Texas and the rest of the US, and you have the general idea.   Quebecois, like Scots and Texans, speak their own language and think of themselves as a nation within a nation.   

Quebecers also like chips, or, as they call them, les frites, and they like their frites drowned in gravy and cheese curds, which they call poutine.  It looks like this.

I had some at a baseball game this weekend.   I’m not sure I would rush to have it again, but it was, as they say here, delicieux.      

I brought some painting stuff to pass the time on course, but since I am teaching the course, I have less temps libre than I would like.  I have however been working on my own chips, for the new edition of Sharp Practice from Too Fat Lardies.  I think you can guess which period I am painting them for.

I would like to post more photos of La Base des Forces canadiennes Valcartier, because there is some cool hardware here.   Sadly, I had to take this photo by turning my Macbook upside down and using the Photo Booth app, since Madame Padre has the family iPhone in my absence. It’s rather sad that there isn’t a military museum here, as Valcartier is an essential part of our army’s history.   Today it’s a vast base, home to a Canadian Army brigade and the famous Vandoos (the Royal 22nd Regiment) but in 1914 it was a sprawling field of mud and bell tents, where the Canadian Expeditionary Force trained in 1914 before leaving for Europe.   More here.

Home this weekend.  Hurrah!


Saturday, June 4, 2016

The Grizzled: An Eerie Card Game About World War One

The Chaplain’s Retreat that I mentioned in my last post is over, and while there the Padre Geek Contingent played a lot of games.   I got introduced to an addictive boardgame called Lords of Vegas, a kind of Monopoly meets craps game where cuthroat intrigue and strategy can stand or fall on the roll of a dice.  There was a game about racing camels that involved shaking bespoke dice out of a cardboard pyramid.  That was fun.   

However, the game that hooked us all was a small card game called The Grizzled, a cooperative card game about soldiers trying only to survive in the trenches.



A game for 2-6 players, The Grizzled (an English translation of the word poilu, the French slang equivalent of Tommy Atkins or doughboy), features poignant artwork and some simple mechanics to create a quickly building sense of doom and menace.   The object is for players to survive a series of missions and come through the war unscathed, so they can all go back to their village where they were childhood friends.   As the missions surmount, players’ characters accumulate psychic wounds, called Hard Knock cards, that make it harder to survive.   Between missions, players can try to benefit one another through kind acts in a phase called the Recovery Phase, to help heal some of these wounds.

It’s a hard game to win.  We played it three times straight, and we lost each time, but there were many theories as to how we could have done better.

There’s a review of The Grizzled here.  One sad thing mentioned in the review is that the lovely art for the game was done by Tignous, aka Bernard Verlhac, a French cartoonist who was killed in the Charlie Hebdou attacks in 2015.  

The Grizzled isn’t a wargame, per se, but it is a very effective way to think about war and to empathize with those who have fought wars, which is one reason why many of us play these games.  Highly recommended.



Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Diplomacy Game Update: Fall 1906 Turn Complete

The Fall Turn of 1906, the twelfth turn of our PBB Diplomacy Game, saw the knives come out as Turkey deftly carved its erstwhile ally, Austria, in half.   While Austria’s new alliance with Germany became apparent on the Warsaw front, the rest of Austria’s forces, committed to Italy, were out of position and unable to prevent Budapest and Trieste from falling.   How much of Austria survives the coming year remains to be seen.

Italy gained a reprieve as it celebrates its new status as a Turkish client state. The ghostly remnant of the Royal Navy haunts the North Sea, now a German lake, but the Turkish seizure of Portugal reduces England to one SC and one unit in the coming turn.

The score at present sees Germany leading with 14 of the 18 Supply Centres required to win,  However, Turkey is close behind with 12, and the endgame looks like a tight race between the two super powers with their respective vassals, who may be used either as battlefield enablers or as protein shakes depending on when their masters need to bulk up.


Fall 1906 Moves

Results for Fall, 1906 (Movement)

General Notices:

No retreating units; retreat phase skipped.Order resolution
completed on 30-May-2016 at 16:46:32 EDT

Order Results:


Supply centers were lost. Units that must be removed: 3.

Austria: F apu Supports A pie -ven; Austria: A pie - ven Failed because Austria: A ven -> tyr failed. 

Austria: A tyr - tri Bounced with adr (1 against 1). 

Austria: A ven - try  Failed because Austria: A try - tri failed. 

Austria: A vie - bud Bounced with gal (1 against 1). 

Austria: A war Holds


Supply centers were lost. Units that must be removed: 1.

England: F bre Holds; F nwg - nth


Supply centers were gained. Units that may be built: 3.

No order for unit at London. Hold order assigned.

F bal - swe;  A bur - par;  F fin Supports F bot - stp/sc; F bot - stp/sc

A lvp - edi; A lon Holds; A mar Holds; A mun - bur; A pic Supports A bur - par

A pru Supports A war; F stp/nc - bar


A gas - spaI; F rom - nap;  F tun - wes; A tus -rom


Supply centers were gained. Units that may be built: 3.

F adr - tri; A alb Supports F adr -tri;
A gal - bud;  F ion Supports F nap - tys;  

A mos -war Bounced with war (1 against 2).

 F nap - tyr; A ser Supports A gal -  bud; F spa/sc - por

 Influence at the end of the F1906 turn.


Supply Center Ownership:

Austria: Venice, Vienna, Warsaw (3 total).

England: Brest (1 total).

Germany: Belgium, Berlin, Denmark, Edinburgh, Holland, Kiel, Liverpool, London, Marseilles, Munich, Norway, Paris, St. Petersburg, Sweden (14 total).

Italy: Naples, Rome, Spain, Tunis (4 total).

Turkey: Ankara, Budapest, Bulgaria, Constantinople, Greece, Moscow, Portugal, Rumania, Serbia, Sevastopol, Smyrna, Trieste (12 total).


Austria: 3 supply centers, 6 units. 3 units must be removed.

England: 1 supply center is, 2 units. 1 unit must be removed.

France: No supply centers are, No units. No units to build or remove.

Germany: 14 supply centers, 11 units. 3 units may be built.

Italy: 4 supply centers, 4 units. No units to build or remove.

Russia: No supply centers are, No units. No units to build or remove.

Turkey: 12 supply centers, 8 units. 3 units may be built. 


Builds and adjustments for the end of 1906.  Germany builds three armies, Turkey hedges its bets between land and sea, while Austria’s military is cut in half.  With the fall of Portugal, the British fleet in Brest scuttles itself, and rumour has it that the last ships in the North Sea, loaded with the Crown Jewels, may make a run for Canada. 


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