Historicon 2021, Christoricon, and Axis & Allies

This post will cover my wargaming over the extended Veteran’s Day weekend – hopefully you will enjoy the discussion and the photos of the games here. Hell, grab a beer or a wine or whatever! Some cool pics and links to be sure.

I had been planning to attend the last Historicon – but it got moved (I think there was a pandemic or something, I (try) to forget). The event was then rescheduled for November. As Historicon and the other HMGS events have been on my bucket list, I wanted to go as a GM anyways and player too.

Also, as followers of this blog know – I have been deep into building out a series of games for the Spanish Conquest over the last year-and-a-half. This has involved many aspects – writing a rules supplement, painting figures, and building a series of games and battlefields much more for the for Feudal Patrol games for the period of the Spanish Conquest in Mesoamerica 500 years ago. I also recently rewrote my supplement Civilizations Collide – which will be a free download (as will a scenario booklet with multiple historic scenarios that I am working on now). So, I was very much looking forward to Historicon 2021.

Therefore, I signed up to run two games – both of which are scenarios on my in-progress booklet. I planned on running both my “Surprise Aztec Raid on the Spanish Outpost” and “Cortes’ Causeway Escape Attempt” games on Thursday night and Saturday morning respectively.

The Maryland-based H.A.W.K.’s were kind enough to admit me as a game master and share their room. I have been long-time friends with two members, Dave Wood (my old West Point roommate) and Buck Surdu (who also has been a friend since our West Point days which are now going back aways). Buck is also the author of many games, to include  Feudal Patrol and Wars of Ozz© (see a nice review of Ozz here).

My friend Craig Hogan, myself, and Dave Wood back at USMA – probably Ring Weekend in the Fall of 1983. Craig sadly was killed a few years ago now in a private plan crash.
Thanksgiving 1987 in Hagenbach, Rhineland-Pfalz, West Germany, Buck, myself, and my daughter Ellen (who is 34 now). We got together for gaming and the holiday. Buck came up from Vicenza, Italy where he was stationed to my place with a buddy, and we gamed and we had fun.

Through Dave and Buck, I have been lucky to make new friends with others of the H.A.W.K.’s, like Greg Priebe, Chris Palmer, and Duncan Adams (and many more too – like Zeb, Don, Eric and others – please don’t feel left out if I did not mention you). Due to my ongoing garage+ build (of which there are a number of updates that are listed here), I missed BARRAGE in September. So, I was pretty stoked about the opportunity to get together with friends (and make new ones) and push lead around the tabletop.

However, as fate would have it, some folks would not be able to attend Historicon due to personal reasons. As seeing and gaming with friends are as much a draw for me as the convention itself, I needed to make a change in plans. We had a Zoom call, and collectively arrived at a new plan. I would drive down from Massachusetts and meet Dave in Maryland for a gaming afternoon on the 11th at my hotel room. Then on Friday morning I would run my “Surprise Aztec Raid on the Spanish Outpost” game in Chris Palmer’s gaming room in Maryland, and then play in an Ozz game afterwards until I needed to leave for Historicon (about 90 minutes away). Friday night I would drive up to Valley Forge, Pennsylvania to set up my “Cortes’ Causeway Escape Attempt” game for Saturday morning play.

So, on a 28-degree morning in Massachusetts, I defrosted my loaded car (12 boxes of terrain, plus 2 mats, a wagon, plus a suitcase) and headed to Maryland – arriving around mid-day – where it was 4o degrees warmer. Ah, New England!

Frosty morning departure.

Axis & Allies

Dave and I have now gamed since 1982 – so coming up on 40 years. We have played Avalon Hill’s “Victory in the Pacific” (as well as other titles) dozens of times over the years. On Thursday, after I arrived, we decided to be different and try Milton Bradley’s “Axis & Allies” this time – a board game with plastic miniatures that we have discussed many times but never played before. I got this game back in the mid-80’s. At one point there was an on-line version but we never got around to playing that either. For this game, we picked sides at random, and Dave played the Axis, and I the Allies. It was Veteran’s Day, and as we are obviously both vets, it was a nice add.

The game went back and forth. A lot. I managed to keep Russia in the game – and built an industrial complex in India for the British. This allowed me to build 3 units per turn there in an attempt to keep the Japanese off the Russian’s back.

After the first turn, I had consolidated a nice position in Mother Russia to try to thwart Dave. And yes, the shirt says what I am impressed with – Dave has run dozens of marathons and many runs up to 50 miles and maybe more in distance.
We had a back and forth fight over the Karelia territory that had a factory I did not want to lose. Eventually, I did.

Meanwhile, my Indian gambit attracted a lot of Japanese attention – maybe too much. Dave hammered away at it and while the Japanese were unsuccessful he did attrite my forces and that prevented me from exploiting my force buildup.

Dave made multiple attacks on India supported by carrier-based fighters and land-based bombers. I had sent the American-supported Chinese infantry in to help defend. Meanwhile, Russia fell.

Dave kept hammering away at India, and eventually had his Germans violate Afghan neutrality – hitting India for the decisive blow. Yes, the Germans took India by blitzing panzers through Afghanistan…

I built India up and flew in American air support, but the next turn it fell.

I did desperately roll for Weapon’s Development for both the Americans and the British – with only the British succeeding in getting 3 – Rockets, Super Subs, and Strategic Bombers. My rocket and strategic bomber attacks slowed the German’s production, but it was too late…congrats to Dave!

Christoricon – Surprise Aztec Raid on the Spanish Outpost

Originally I was supposed to run my one of my games at Historicon on Thursday night – that being a rural one where Aztecs are making a surprise raid on a Tlaxcalan village (acting as a Conquistador supply depot) – only to see that there were indeed some Spanish there. Instead, we went to Chris Palmer’s house and I ran the game on early Friday morning. We joked and called it “Christoricon”. I hosted and there were 5 players – Buck, Duncan Adams, and Dave for the Aztecs, and Chris and Greg Priebe for the Spanish/Tlaxcalans. The defending Spanish/Tlaxcalans had one Warband of three Elements – 23 figures worth 41 points. The attacking Aztecs had two Warbands of 3 Elements each – 53 figures worth 78.25 points. Buck has already written a great post about this game and the others that day on his blog here – and his write-up and pics are great. I took some photos that you see below, but for me, simultaneously being a GM and a photographer is not easy – so I do recommend you take a look. Meanwhile, here are my pics.

The game is ready to begin. Chris and Greg elected to place the Conquistador Element armed with arquebuses further away from their leader in their secret deployment in lieu of their Element of Sword & Buckler men. This meant that they were “pinned” with their black powder weapons only activating at best on half of the turns. They could have “unpinned” but as luck would have it the dice did not let that happen. Note also that Franco the unlucky Conquistador made the trip!

Chris chose to send out his war dogs towards Dave’s Aztecs as a screen, and they promptly took atlatl damage. Dave, Duncan and Buck moved up quickly, while Greg took up a position in the maize field with his dangerous Tlaxcalan bowmen.

Dave moves up his “twinned” Elements of veteran/novice warriors towards a wounded war dog.

The Spanish then had their Catholic Priest take possession of the gold (possession of the gold was one of the game objectives) and drag it to a more secure location while they contested the Noble House (another objective) – (insert joke here).

Battle starting at the Noble House – the war dogs are already going down here. Their priest has already dragged away the gold to a safer location.

Buck’s advancing Elite Cuahchicque (“Shorn Ones”) took the full volley of arquebus fire from the less-activating pinned Spanish. Despite these Elite Aztecs taking a lot of damage and having a ton of Morale checks to overcome, Buck was able to rally his troops successfully against the odds twice. Meanwhile Duncan moved his Jaguar and Eagle Warriors against Greg’s Tlaxcalan bowmen in the cornfield – hoping to best them in melee.

Dave and Buck confer while surveying Duncan’s advance – and their chances at victory – with concern. This shows the second volley that Buck’s Elite Shorn Ones took and the blue beads are Morale checks he needed to pass. He did. Twice.

Slowly, the tide of battle started turning in the Aztecs’ favor. Dave’s attack on the Aztec right was making headway, and they were gaining control of the objectives.

Priest still dragging the gold away here.
Lots of carnage on the tabletop.

Eventually, the Spanish and Tlaxcalans were overwhelmed.

The game ended as a resounding Aztec win, as they had control of three objectives, as well as dragging off 9 pour souls for sacrifice, killing 2 more, and making one run away. The Spanish had only the gold, but did dispatch 15 Aztecs and capture one more. The final score was 86-40 as you see below. I think the players had a good game. Congrats to Dave, Buck, and Duncan!

Christoricon – Ozz

After the Aztec/Spanish game, Chris Palmer ran a Wars of Ozz© game that I played in briefly – again, Buck’s blog post has an excellent account as I left after having stymied Dave’s advance a bit (though I was pretty well smashed force-wise in that effort). I commanded a force of Winkies with allies (Greater and Lesser Pumpkinhead Warriors). My sacrifice was not in vain, and it allowed Chris and Greg to smash the Munchkin center.

I love the Ozz figures!

I then drove to Historicon, and set up for Saturday morning’s game.

Historicon – Cortes’ Causeway Escape Attempt

The drive up to Valley Forge Resort Casino was uneventful – though finding the H.A.W.K.’s room was a challenge. The gaming was not located in one location at the resort. Unfortunately, it was also a Friday night at a casino and all the close parking was gone. Luckily, I have a little collapsible wagon and was able to get into the room with my stuff in a few trips and set up the terrain and the troops for Saturday morning’s game, Cortes’ Causeway Escape Attempt.

My game flyer

You can see a short Instagram video of the set up here.

It’s a BIG battle. The Spanish/Tlaxcalans have three Warbands of three Elements (2 Spanish, 1 Tlaxcalan) plus support – 77 figures (including the 4 war wagons) worth 161.75 points. The Aztecs have five Warbands of 2-3 Elements each – 109 figures worth 154.25 points. 186 figures in total. This battle is Cortes’ second attempt to escape. He would do a second on the following day, and three days later a third – La Noche Triste. Originally, on the Historicon listings, the game was supposed to be La Noche Triste – which again happened three days later (and of which I will have that scenario written soon) – but I needed war canoes for that one. Those I don’t have yet, and will be mentioned here in a bit.

Back to the game set up. As I was setting up, I had a number of people come by to remark positively on the game visuals – terrain and figures. They had seen my posts on different forums (or fora both are ok!). To all of you, thank you so much for your kind words and interest.

Besides all of the cityscape – and it’s a lot I know – but with everything predeployed I just needed to put players on their troops and let them know what they needed to do on their part of the battlefield.

As I mentioned before, I had previously needed to cancel my Thursday game – and I got a comment from one of our blog community – Harry (aka borderguy190)- that he was disappointed as he had signed up for the game. I apologized, as I wish I could have ran that too at Historicon as well. But the good news was that he would be playing in this game!

He joined 7 other players. They seemed to grasp the concepts of the game quickly – and I did get some help from Greg Priebe and Buck Surdu in the early turns before they had to help run an Ozz game.

The game set up.
Troops deployed and dashboards out. My undermagnets and game markers really have proven their worth – especially in big melee scrums.

In this game, the Conquistadores are surrounded, and need to fight their way out from the Palace of Axayacatl where they were holed up with their hostage/puppet Montezuma II. They have war wagons, and while these are helpful in providing cover against missile weapons, they are also rickety and slow – and prone to breaking. In fact, all of them broke during the game and were unable to move afterwards. The Aztecs are trying to get to the Conquistadores and avenge the massacre that the Spanish perpetrated at the Festival of Toxcatl. Their Tlaxcalan allies are mostly on the other end of the tabletop and trying to break into Tenochtitlan to help their Spanish allies escape.

There were ups and downs for both sides all over the table. The Conquistadores breakout went slowly, but they did take out a lot of Aztecs. On the other end where the Tlaxcalans were trying to help, the two sides traded missile fire and got into a scrum but were unable to change the status quo.

Lots of action! Harry (in red) ponders his next move.
Aztecs swarm the war wagons and wound the crossbowmen and arquebusiers inside.
Thinks get more contested in Tenochtitlan.

One of the aspects of the game is the importance of The Banner of Cortes. It provides inspiration to the Conquistadores and helps them to reduce negative Morale effects. However, I also made its capture (as well as incapacitating Cortes and dragging him off for sacrifice) game objectives. The Aztecs took some heavy losses BUT were able to take out the bannerman and seize the banner. This lead to the Spanish having to try to satisfy Honor and retake the banner. However, this did not happen before the game’s end. As it was worth 50 points (see below), it was decisive.

The Banner of Cortes is taken!
Aztecs won 78-35. The 50 points for the capture of The Banner of Cortes made all the difference!

Thanks so much to all who played! I did not win any awards for the game – though many said I should have. Anyways, the best reward is happy gamers afterwards – and I got that in abundance!!

The gamers! Very cool group – thanks to all!

After the game, I got a lot of positive feedback, and learned of some areas to help make the play easier. Those suggestions have already have already been acted upon when I got home (mainly on the dashboards such as linking the undermagnet colors to the dashboards).

After the game, I then went with Greg and Buck to the vendors and the Flea Market. It was nice to go to the Badger Games booth and actually be remembered! Also, I was looking for canoes to use as war canoes, but only found one from Firelock Games that was $20. That is way too expensive when you need as many as do. I also found one in the Flea Market – a balsa wood scratch-built one from an estate sale- for $3. I am going to use both for gaming and as ideas on how to make my own. Of importance, Greg is a big lover of his 3D printer – and in exchange for me painting up some Viking figures for him, he will make me a good number of canoes! Win-win! So, my next job will be to paint those up.

I look forward to returning to the gaming and convention scene as a GM and a gamer. I hope you found this interesting – thanks for looking.

For all of my previous posts on games, units, and other projects for my 16th Century Spanish Conquest supplement for Feudal Patrol™ – “Civilizations Collide” – please see this page.

More Game Aids and Markers for Spanish Conquest Feudal Patrol Games

Back in March of 2021, I shared a post on gaming aids – specifically for my games of Feudal Patrol games using my supplement Civilizations Collide. This post expands on that list with a few more additions. It’s basically a process post.

As I wrote back then in March (quoting myself) – and it’s still true:

…I want to emphasize that I did not need to do any of these projects to play Feudal Patrol™. Period. I did because they suited my personal needs and – well – I get thoughts of stuff in my head that need realization.

Buck’s Feudal Patrol rules have more than adequate tools and game aids. They are fantastic. My goals here were for myself so that I can make my games easier for me mainly.

Now, as time has gone on I have realized that I wanted a few more things to ease play for me as a GM – specifically to adapt to the period. I am sharing those here and my processes as they may prove useful for some, and just interesting for others.

First, as far as steep-stepped structures (such as temples that one might expect to see in the Aztec or Mayan Empires), they pose a challenge gaming-wise. I have updated my rules for melee combat on these steps (but they are not yet published – but I use them). Most commercially available steep-stepped structures are either ruins (not ideal for depicting them in their heyday) or lacking adequate space on the steps to place figures during a game. Most of my figures are on 1″ bases, and getting them on the steps of my structures was not happening. I did not want them to be just big eye-candy on the tabletop. So what to do?

Make templates!

Below, I will share what I did and how – with the assumption that all my figures are 1″ based and that there would actually be sufficient depth in real life for them to stand on the steep steps in single rows.

The main need was for the small temple that I am using as The Temple of Yopico in Tenochtitlan. I figured out the size of the sides and the top, and adjusted for 1″ steel washer bases. You can see that each side should allow for 14 figures plus one on the top. After drawing these, I then I cut out the graph paper templates.
Ready for backing

Clearly these needed some heft – and my other main hobby, golf, allowed for some good cardboard backings with a glue stick application. I pressed them down with a book and a 25 pound dumbbell.

For phase 2, I traced the templates onto card stock, and in pencil drew in the lines. Next, cut out the card stock. Then I used red and black Sharpie pens to outline the steps and edges and color in. Add the glue stick, and press again under the weight.

I am pretty happy with the results and look forward to using them.

Final templates
A mock up of the templates with them full of Aztecs facing off against some Conquistadores. In games, I will have these templates setup off of the table for resolving combat but am showing it next to the temple for comparison.

I then did the same for the Temple High Throne and the Temple Sacrificial Altar structures that I have, just in case that they are needed.

The next marker project was a continuation of my previous one that I mentioed above with some additions. In a game, Elite troops such as Jaguar or Eagle Warriors (and more) can go “berserk” – basically making a fanatical charge until either they kill an enemy or are killed. There are advantages and disadvantages to trying this as a player. I found that if Aztecs went into “berserk” mode on the battlefield, I needed to differentiate that on the tabletop, as some figures would, while others might not – plus they tended to charge far afield on the tabletop. To remedy this, and for better availability, I wanted more of the same magnetic markers. I did the same as you saw previously – using cheap magnets and craft paints and printing off labels that I cut out. As I use steel bases, magnets are a good help.

Lastly, I printed off some new 2-sided 5″ x 8″ cards with all the special Morale rule differences for my game versus other eras/theaters. Mine are meant to evoke the nature of the Spanish Conquest.

Morale Cards – and yes I see the typo!

Now, I as I write this I am getting ready to hit the road for a fun weekend of gaming with some old friends. Well, we are all getting older at this point I guess…beats the alternative!

I am hoping to share a good post on all the games when I return. Also I need to do a follow up on the garage+ project as a LOT is happening. If you are unfamiliar with my garage+ project, you can catch up on all of them here.

Miscellaneous details and references for those interested in that sort of thing:

For all of my previous posts on games, units, and other projects for my 16th Century Spanish Conquest supplement for Feudal Patrol™ – “Civilizations Collide” – please see this page.

Catholic Priests for the Conquistadores for Feudal Patrol Games

Clearly, 500 years ago, the Catholic Faith of the Spanish Conquistadores was a huge part of their culture. One only need look at The Banner of Cortes to see that. As such, they were accompanied by priests that said Mass for them and worked – and did fight – alongside them in Mesoamerica 500 years ago. Remember, for them, in 1518-1521 it had only been a little over 20 years since they had successfully had the Reconquista and reclaimed the Iberian Peninsula from the Moors after 700 years of occupation. More recently, the Conquistadors had seen success in the Italian Wars. Much of that success was attributed to Providence to be sure.

For my Civilizations Collide scenarios for games of Feudal PatrolTM , I have updated my rules for priests on both sides. The updated supplement is soon to be made available for download, as is a planned 16-scenario booklet. In these games, the beneficial effect of Catholic Priests is that they can help reduce the number of Morale Checks that the Spanish might need to take as a result of combat and casualties, as they motivate them to fight on. They can also defend themselves, albeit understandably less effectively than a traditional Sword and Buckler Man.

While I have many Sword and Buckler Men figures, no appropriate figures to use as priests were in my unpainted mountain. After a good search I did find a few at Badger Games from Gripping Beast/Saga and Conquest Games. These looked quite medieval, but to my knowledge I would not think that religious garb or holy garments really changed much over the centuries back then. These were probably designed for the era of Viking raids. Plus, the two that I got that were from Conquest games were monks. And yes, as a practicing Catholic, I am familiar with the differences! Still, these looked the part as best as I could tell, so I bought them. They are 28mm and metal. As for painting research, I used the only plate I found in John Pohl’s Aztecs and Conquistadores (page 168) showing a priest as a guide for painting. Clearly, a monkish look – in black – was going to be fine for the tabletop.

With Historicon and some upcoming gaming looming as early as three days from today, I painted the three up quickly right after I finished Hernan Cortes. I’m fairly happy with them for gaming the period.

The two Conquest Game figures were both monks, the Gripping Beast/Saga one was called a priest:

  1. Catholic Priest/monk figure from Conquest Games Ecclesiastics/Monks Line via Badger Games (#CG CGMM121f Monk in Cowl) – designated CCP2 by me
  2. Catholic Priest/monk figure from Conquest Games Ecclesiastics/Monks Line via Badger Games (#CG CGMM121g Monk with Holy Cross) – designated CCP1 by me
  3. Catholic Priest figure from Gripping Beast/SAGA Priests Line via Badger Games (#SPR06 Christian Priest 2) – designated CCP3 by me
The three as received
I removed the slotted bases from the two Conquest Games figures and based them all on good old steel washers. You can see a glaze on the steel washers – that’s Gorilla Glue, which I use to improve later paint adhesion on them (especially the rims).

As I was hurrying to get these done, I took few WIP shots, but here you go below:

Primed up
Painted (base coat) and ready for some final touches

I want to mention a few areas of, well, let’s say minor challenges in painting these. First – and as someone without this condition I want to be sensitive. Two of them have shaven and/or bald pates. Painting shaved heads/bald heads was a new one for me and took a bit of experimentation to get acceptable results. After all, I would expect that these men of the cloth would have tanned up a bit facially. Still, the head and face on CCP3 (the Gripping Beast/SAGA figure) was not that easy to get right. Secondly, for all three you can imagine that their cloaks would have been less than pristine. I used some pigments for that. Lastly, highlighting black robes with gray was something I did want to play with here.

CCP1, 2, and 3. My three Priests. CCP3 actually has a sword in addition to his staff.

I like CCP 1 the best and CCP3 the least – mainly because of the face being a bit mushy. CCP2 is quite mysterious.

Well, now they have joined the ranks of the Conquistadores. Off to gaming with ye!

I hopefully have one more pre-Historicon post to share with you later today on gaming aids – if I can get it done before I have to pack. Then I’ll be silent for a bit and hopefully get a good post-weekend post on the gaming.

Miscellaneous details and references for those interested in that sort of thing:

For all of my previous posts on games, units, and other projects for my 16th Century Spanish Conquest supplement for Feudal Patrol™ – “Civilizations Collide” – please see this page.

PAINTS, INKS, GLAZES, SHADES, WASHES, PIGMENTS, FLOCKING, GLUES AND MORE THAT I USED ON THESE CATHOLIC PRIEST FIGURES:

  1. Gorilla Glue
  2. 1/8″ x 1″ Everbilt Fender Washers
  3. Poster tack
  4. Vallejo Mecha Primer “White”
  5. Vallejo “Flow Improver”
  6. Vallejo “Airbrush Thinner”
  7. MSP “Brown Liner”
  8. Vallejo Mecha Color “Off-White”
  9. Vallejo Model Color “Black”
  10. Citadel “Skrag Brown”
  11. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Cygor Brown”
  12. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Snakebite Leather”
  13. Vallejo Mecha Color “Dark Steel”
  14. Vallejo Model Air “Bright Brass”
  15. Army Painter “Tanned Flesh”
  16. Battlefront “Dark Leather”
  17. Vallejo Model Air “Silver”
  18. Vallejo Model Color “Black Grey”
  19. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Black Templar”
  20. Citadel “Contrast Medium”
  21. Vallejo Model Color “German Grey”
  22. Vallejo Mecha Color “Brown”
  23. Citadel “Longbeard Grey”
  24. P3 “Brown Ink”
  25. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Apothecary White”
  26. P3 “Ruby” (wash)
  27. Vallejo Game Color “Bronze Fleshtone”
  28. Vallejo Model Color “Sunny Skin Tone”
  29. Vallejo Model Color “Brown Rose”
  30. Army Painter “Flesh Wash” (wash)
  31. Citadel “Nuln Oil” (wash)
  32. Battlefront “Flat Earth”
  33. Elmer’s PVA Glue
  34. Army Painter “Brown Battlefields” (flocking)
  35. Vallejo “Dark Yellow Ochre” (pigment)
  36. Vallejo “Burnt Umber” (pigment)
  37. Vallejo “Pigment Binder”
  38. Citadel “Steel Legion Drab”
  39. Citadel “Tallarn Sand”
  40. Citadel “Karak Stone”
  41. Vallejo Mecha Varnish “Matt Varnish”
  42. Army Painter “Grass Green” (flocking)

Hernán Cortés de Monroy y Pizarro Altamirano, 1st Marquess of the Valley of Oaxaca

Or, let’s just call him Cortes for short – to avoid all the accent marks, surname confusion, and titles!

I got this figure from Gringo 40’s excellent collection of Conquistadores. It is from Gringo 40s Conquistadores line (#CONQP1 Cortez). The figure is 28mm in size, metal, and overall an excellent sculpt. I will be heading back to them for more figures. I had not painted a figure since I completed the war wagons back in August (also from Gringo 40’s), and really not a soldier since February. I am surprised at how much terrain took up the intervening time – as well as my garage (and now if you’ve not seen these you can see all of my garage+ project posts all in one place – here). But, let’s get back to Cortes.

In his early 30’s, Hernan Cortes made his way into the history books as a Conquistador and the vanquisher of the Aztec Empire. He lived to his early 60’s. Now, there are plenty of negative things to say about his life – and by no means am I considering him a “good guy” – just as I would not do that for Montezuma or any Aztec either. Both combatants were pretty damn brutal in so many ways. They were all men of their time – not today – and if you want to check out the Wikipedia page on Cortes you’ll get a flavor. He was remarkable in many ways, good and bad, and he was complex. I wanted a true Cortes figure for my Civilizations Collide scenarios for games of Feudal PatrolTM .

Of course, Cortes played a major role in the Spanish Conquest 500 years ago, especially as a combat leader. He also is bearded, and my good friend Roger over at Rantings Under The Wargame Table threw out a challenge for Mo’vember around such guys. Therefore, he is my submission for Roger’s challenge.

I was able to paint him up pretty quickly – and it felt great to paint again.

Primed and ready for Mo’vember
Early work on base coat
Base coated Cortez before washes and highlights added
Highlighted and washed – and very shiny – though I knew the matte varnish would help tone this down) some. I played with several metals here.
Flocked and varnished
Finished off with some grass and some touch up shading

And add a label:

I enjoyed painting Cortes. I tried to give his armor different shading and tones while maintaining an overall proper look. The photo gallery below is not as good a group of shots as I’d like – it was tough to get the lighting correct – he’s thankfully not that shiny (as you saw above).

I thought I’d add a picture of Cortes and Montezuma II. Cortes will get a lot more play in my scenarios anyways, but his picture is a little less shiny and better here, so here it is.

The two major figures in the Aztec Empire’s Fall

I hope that you enjoyed this – I have one more related post to do prior to this week’s Historicon game (I’m running it there on Saturday morning).

Miscellaneous details and references for those interested in that sort of thing:

For all of my previous posts on games, units, and other projects for my 16th Century Spanish Conquest supplement for Feudal Patrol™ – “Civilizations Collide” – please see this page.

PAINTS, INKS, GLAZES, SHADES, WASHES, PIGMENTS, FLOCKING, GLUES AND MORE THAT I USED ON THIS HERNAN CORTES FIGURE:

  1. Gorilla Glue
  2. 1/8″ x 1″ Everbilt Fender Washers
  3. Poster tack
  4. Vallejo Mecha Primer “White”
  5. Vallejo “Flow Improver”
  6. Vallejo “Airbrush Thinner”
  7. Vallejo Mecha Color “Off-White”
  8. Vallejo Model Color “Black”
  9. Vallejo Model Air “Hull Red”
  10. Battlefront “GI Green”
  11. Battlefront “Boot Brown”
  12. Citadel “Ironbreaker”
  13. Vallejo Model Color “Red”
  14. Vallejo Mecha Color “Dark Steel”
  15. Vallejo Model Air “Steel”
  16. Vallejo Model Air “Bright Brass”
  17. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Snakebite Leather”
  18. Vallejo Model Air “Gun Metal”
  19. Battlefront “Flat Earth”
  20. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Blood Angels Red”
  21. Vallejo Game Air “Chrome”
  22. Army Painter “Tanned Flesh”
  23. Vallejo Game Color “Bronze Fleshtone”
  24. Vallejo Model Color “Sunny Skin Tone”
  25. Army Painter “Flesh Wash” (wash)
  26. Vallejo Game Color “White”
  27. Citadel “Nuln Oil GLOSS” (wash)
  28. Army Painter “Red Tone” (shade)
  29. Citadel “Cryptek Armourshade Gloss” (shade)
  30. Citadel “Agrax Earthshade” (shade)
  31. Elmer’s PVA Glue
  32. Army Painter “Brown Battlefields” (flocking)
  33. Vallejo “Dark Yellow Ochre” (pigment)
  34. Vallejo “Burnt Umber” (pigment)
  35. Vallejo “Pigment Binder”
  36. Citadel “Steel Legion Drab”
  37. Citadel “Tallarn Sand”
  38. Citadel “Karak Stone”
  39. Vallejo Model Air “German Red Brown”
  40. Citadel “The Fang ”
  41. Citadel “Seraphim Sepia” (shade)
  42. Vallejo Mecha Varnish “Matt Varnish”
  43. Army Painter “Grass Green” (flocking)

Our Garage+ Project – Week 15 and 16 Update

Yes indeed folks, I am yet again combining a couple weeks into a single post. This update will cover Weeks 15 & 16 – which comprises October 24th to November 6th. The main reasons are the same – slow progress due to weather and shortages that have been the bane of the projects’ ability to progress.

It’s been very wet, cold, and windy, followed by now heavy morning frost. Anyone in Massachusetts knows that this month can be very variable indeed. I guess we’re lucky no accumulating snow has happened yet (but we have seen the first few flakes flying).

The work here still in these two weeks is focused on the patio – but I thought that first I’d share a picture of the deck at night with the solar caps all lit – my neighbor claims aircraft will be coming in to land!

The deck at night – I had a tough time getting a photo but you get the idea.

One of the wind-driven rain storms came in from the normal front of the house and hit from the back – where all the trees are. It was a mess, but I cleaned up early before Evandro’s guys came to pull off the forms.

Leaves everywhere – and more to come.
Pulling the fire pit wall forms.

Then, they added a screed on the walls and let that set.

At the end of the day on October 28th, this was where we were with long shadows hitting the yard.

End of the day – and note I did get the leaves up.

No work continued until November 1st. And then it moved onto coloring the walls with releasing agent (a first step anyways) and digging (by hand) the gas line.

Gas line being dug and walls being colored.
Digging the gas line.

Meanwhile, Evandro began his color applications and shaping.

Evandro working on the back wall.
After shaping it, he applied a releasing agent.
The releasing agent.

He did the same with the fire pit wall.

Evandro at work.
Here you see him literally throwing the dusty agent on the wall.

After this, the weather was lousy the rest of the week. And then it got cold before it got rainy again.

Yes, that is frost everywhere – the temperature was down in the 20’s.

So, not much to show for two weeks. The good news is that this week will hopefully start going a bit gangbusters – there were window and door deliveries, gas line materials are here, and Evandro should finish up soon outside the garage. Stay tuned and I hope that there is more to share at week’s end.

And, for you hobbyists followers out there, I should have a few more posts to share on some small projects I have done in preparation for gaming this weekend with friends in Maryland and at Historicon. There have been some changes in plans – I’ll share soon.

Our Garage+ Project – Week 14 Update

The work shifted this week (October 17-23) to the patio and fire pit – and that meant Evandro and his crew were front and center as Ready Installs awaits window and door deliveries – all delayed by COVID.

We had decided that we needed to upgrade our plan to include paving stone patios, walkways, a wall, and a gas fire pit. This post will focus primarily on those aspects. Evandro had previously roughly marked out where these new parts would go and link in with the new garage and the new house deck.

On Monday, Evandro verified his lines and excavation began.

Monday progress.

There was q lot of digging – and please note that this was done all by hand – no equipment other than hand tools.

Tuesday’s progress at seen at dawn on Wednesday.

On Wednesday, it rained. Thursday things picked up again. Subbase compaction began – some by hand and some by machine depending on the leach field presence underneath. Then crushed stone started being brought in and spread.

End of Thursday progress.

Friday saw a continuation of Thursday’s efforts.

Friday work.

However, it became obvious that Evandro wanted to catch up for Wednesday, so work proceeded on Saturday as well. The work was focused on building concrete forms for the back wall and the fire pit, and lastly placement of hand-mixed concrete. Evandro had an amazing drone that he used to take some photos and videos that will eventually show his work start to finish – and I hope to share a link for that when its available. The drone was able to self-stabilize in the wind and could reach heights of 500 feet!

Evandro and his drone ( you can see it just above the midpoint of the two reddish bird windmills).

The back wall was formed and placed.

The fire pit wall was started.

The crew worked past sunset on Saturday, and got good progress – though I had to wait until Sunday to have enough light to take a picture.

Week’s progress as seen at dawn on Sunday the 24th.

As I write this in week 15, it has been rainy and this is as far as we have gotten progress-wise. However, I bet Evandro hits the ground running when it dries up.

I hope this was enjoyable and thanks for taking a look. I may even do a hobby post shortly!

Our Garage+ Project – Week 13 Update

Lucky week 13 was October 10-16 on the project. Some really beautiful progress – though the delay in windows and doors has kept interior work from progressing. Therefore, for this post I have mostly deck updates plus a few hobby tidbits at the end for my dedicated hobby crowd.

On Monday, deck proceeded on the deck stairs and fascia.

Cutting up and moving up PVC fascia for the garage deck.
Decking being enthusiastically installed over the Trex rain gutter system you saw last week.
Monday progress at the end of the day.

On Monday, our new Weber gas grill was delivered from Home Depot. It’s for natural gas so we can avoid the hassle of propane tanks in the future (though Lynn wants to use both). This is to be mounted on the new gas line on the back deck. We also got a nice drip mat and a cover for it. On Tuesday, Lynn and I put it together with the help of the manual and the Weber app. The process took us just under 4 hours (Weber says it should take 90 minutes – no way), and we worked well together to get it done. That means we are still happily married and no murders occurred or were even contemplated – which can be side effects of joint assembly! Of course, we can’t use it until the gas line is put in for it from the house.

Happy wife, happy life – and the new grill.

The rest of Tuesday saw work on the stairs to the garage deck and the deck itself.

End of day progress on Tuesday.

Wednesday saw more of the same.

Morning work Wednesday.
Now we had stairs all the way up on Wednesday!

Thursday saw a couple of things happen. First, Jonny Victor got a boom truck in and all the blue board got delivered – though work on it can’t start until – yes – windows and doors are in. At least this saves time climbing the new stairs.

The deck and stairs just got more attractive as the week went on.

Work began on the columns sheathing.
Different angle view, Thursday mid-day.
View from the back mid-day Thursday.

It was too dark to get a good shot of the total work – but Friday came and the fog, but it looked like this below.

Happy Friday morning showing fog and Thursday progress.

National Grid showed up and added loam and seed to the gas line excavation of last week.

National Grid repairing over the gas line excavation to the garage.

Our plumber was prepping to do some work, and asked about a vanity size. We also needed another solar cap for the deck posts (they are solar and are really cool at night – no pic yet as we needed 1 more). So, off to Home Depot for both and some more shelving for the cellar.

Before we left for Home Depot, this was the progress. You can also see the new grill on its new home.

On Saturday, I got to get a shot of the completed work. Not only is it amazing, but the views from it are as well. The deck height is higher than our home’s second story windows.

Week end progress!

Now, I mentioned I would add a couple of hobby items. Well, I have a few – three to be exact.

First, I was able to finish writing the update to my Civilizations Collide supplement for Feudal PatrolTM. This is a way to wargame the Spanish Conquest and do it quite historically. I am working on a book of scenarios for that too. When either is available for download, I’ll share that.

Second, as I was working on the supplement, it became clear that I needed to have a way of tracking damage on Cortes’ war wagons, as after enough Aztec slings and arrows and more have hit them, they would disintegrate into scrap lumber. I saw these nice Litko markers and got 4 for my war wagons.

Just in case you missed what a war wagon is!
These markers count down from (or up to) 20 – which is the amount of damage each war wagon has before they got into combat in one game scenario.

Lastly, I mentioned that we also have gotten shelving from Home Depot and have been assembling them and redoing storage in the cellar. We have put together 3 of these, 1 of these, and 1 of these. The last one replaced an old particle board printer stand that had been used for laundry soap, bleach, etc. It was messed up, and had a storage area under it. In the storage area were a couple of yearbooks from junior high I had not seen in a while, plus under the stand was a big lint-encrusted pewter figure of Marshal Michel Ney, the Bravest of the Brave, that I bought in France in the 1980’s! I was always fascinated by his story. However, I had zero idea how he ended up there.

Come, see how a Marshal of France can gather lint and dust!

Buck suggested that he would be a cool giant for a Wars of Ozz game, and Chris Palmer suggested that he could be a moss giant. I thought maybe a lint monster…but no, I’ll clean him up and put on a shelf as is.

Anyways, next week should have even more progress on the project – so thanks for looking and hope you found this interesting. Now I have blogs to read! (likely yours).

Our Garage+ Project – Week 12 Update

Week 12 saw work being done on both decks, and well as connection to the National Grid gas line. We also had Evandro Rodrigues from E&V Masonry (who works with Ready Installs) come out to lay out the paving stone areas and the proposed gas fire pit. They also placed the concrete floor in last week.

It’s a bit difficult to see, but the spray-painted orange lines designate the plan for paving stones. These patio stones will go under the garage deck and stairs, then connect to the house deck. The gas fireplace will be the round circle here.

Work continued on the house deck as you can see below.

The garage stairs were stabilized and set up for decking.

The stairs being braced and supports added.
Close up of previous shot.

On the garage deck, the Trex rain gutter system was installed. This will keep the patio underneath dry. It will feed into a gutter under the downspouts.

The downspouts fit between the joists (with some help).
Jon and Will prep the downspouts for Josh.
Josh Victor stapling in the downspouts.

After the downspouts were in, the membrane that will carry the water to them is installed with the proper slope and sealed.

You can see the membrane here (and Will’s head).
Top view of the deck.
Underneath view.

Friday was a very active day, as National Grid came in to excavate and place the gas line. We also had deliveries for the finishing of the garage deck and stairs.

National Grid begins cutting the street and sidewalk to excavate for the new gas line.
Cut that asphalt!
There’s a gas main here somewhere…
…found it!

The line went from the street to the back of the garage along the driveway. This will be a second line we will have, and will provide gas for the heating of the garage as well as the future fire pit. Below you’ll see some shots of the trenching, connecting, and the asphalt repair.

At the beginning of all this, Home Depot and Jonny Victor delivered a lot of the materials for the following week’s work – mainly for the garage deck and stairs.

As a side note of interest (well I found it cute), I’ll add the following. My daughter works in a hospital as a radiation therapist with cancer patients – and has early hours two weeks a month. I help, as she drops my granddaughter Tabitha off with me at 6 AM (which for a 4 year old is pretty early). I get her breakfast and generally have good quality time with her before I bring her to preschool. While waiting to get dropped off at 8 AM, the following happened – watch my granddaughter here enthralled with her “sparkly pants”. I admit, she makes a good case for them…

Anyways, back to the project! There is still a lot of work to go, but this was a busy week indeed. Hopefully, I’ll be able to share an even more active week on my next update. Thanks for looking and feel free to throw in your two cents (or whatever the equivalent is in your currency) in the comments section.

And I hope you enjoy your fashion choices as much as Tabitha does!

Our Garage+ Project – Week 10 and 11 Update

The project continues! Although I was so late with Week 10 that I decided to combine weeks 10 and 11. As you will see from this post – a lot went on from September 19-October 2, 2021. Some of it involved construction, some not – as you will see. I’ll do my level best to make this interesting by including not only some construction photos, some other stuff, to include golf and a bit of hobbies!

There are a lot of pictures here – click on any of them for a bigger view.

Let’s start with electrical work and some progress around the cellar. Wait, the cellar? Why there? Aren’t you building a new garage and house deck Mark? All valid questions that I am presupposing that you may be asking! So let me attempt clarification.

To power the new building, I needed to get the service upgraded from 100 amps to 200 amps. Our electrical service meter and box was in the back of the house over the old (now removed) house deck. Previously, electrical power came from the National Grid pole out front on the street to the house then went along the soffit and into the cellar at the back right-hand corner of the house if you will. The plan was to make this bigger and better by moving the meter and building a new box for it at the front left corner of the house. A new hole had to be drilled for the new power cable, and that needed to be run to a new replacement distribution box in the basement. This work occurred on September 21st.

Here you see he old distribution box mounted on whatever lumber the previous homeowner had available – back in the 50’s? 60’s? – to include a piece of trim! We had a series of shelves built by the previous owner long ago (probably 40+ years) along this wall. We had put an old bureau (left over from my childhood actually) under the shelf planking that was attached to the monstrosity that the distribution box was mounted on. The dryer vent snakes up to the wall as you see.
Here you see the electricians (Mike and Paul) trying to determine the sill height to drill for the power cable by using the window as a reference for outside. The actual hole would be far to the left. The other end of the old shelving/cabinet that I referred to above is seen here on the wall under the cassette cases (future yard sale items).

Drilling through the old sill was a bitch. The sill was quite thick – 13″ – and made of solid oak. The hole drilling destroyed two hole saw bits.

The view through the sill access hole from inside. This was 13″ of solid oak. Mike Astrella (electrician) can be seen here peering through the other side.

Outside, work went on the new meter box and running the cable and hooking it up to the power grid.

Completed. The box on the left is an old Verizon landline box (now removed) and the one on the right is our Spectrum cable line.

Back in the cellar, the old distribution box mounting monstrosity was removed and a new sheet of plywood and some lumber from the garage build was used to build a suitable mount. The new configuration is bigger and we will need to move the dryer to the wall to the left of the distribution box so that the vent hose is not right next to it. But, as we were using the old the shelves I never got around to paint it as you can see – and it looked like hell.

Also, I need to back up a bit. It had been necessary for me to clear a lane along the wall for the electricians to run the power cable prior to their starting work. After I did that, I got a good chance to look at the wall and the crappy homemade shelving/cabinet. I noticed a lot of old paint flaking on the wall near the dryer vent and some puckering where I had painted the corner in the front left of the house. The puckering was due to efflorescence, not water leaking, even with the excessive rain we have had this summer. An old dry well that I had built over a decade ago in the front left corner of the house was no longer doing its job, so the rain water outside the basement wall was not properly draining – leading to the efflorescence bubbling up behind the paint. We decided that the shelving cabinet needed to go and the wall repainted.

Before I did that, I rebuilt the drywell. When I originally built it, I had dug down about 3 feet and hit sand, so I had then assumed that the soil was free-draining. When I dug this time, I went a bit deeper, and to my surprise I found that there was yet another soil layer under the sand. This one was a loamy clay – that does not drain well. So, I dug down another 3 feet and backfilled it all with sand from the excavations in the backyard. I replaced the downspout extensions and doubled the length. The we covered the area with a filter fabric and then covered that with river stones.

I then spent the time to take down the shelving/cabinet with my wife. She was able to recycle the doors as shelving in another section of the cellar. I scraped off any flaking paint and exposing any efflorescence. Then, I used a mildly acidic product, Drylok Etch, across the wall to clean and prep for painting with bright white Drylok Extreme (both from Home Depot). This took a while, but came out well. We are taking the opportunity to clear out some stuff and have a yard sale this weekend to get some new homes for some good stuff we don’t need anymore. Plus, I can’t do any hobbies as you can see below!

Back in the garage, the septic line was stubbed up in the floor with a cleanout.

A very exciting septic line beginning…

On the 24th, it was time to place the concrete floor in the garage. I say “place” and not “pour” because that was drilled into me in the US Army Corps of Engineers as the appropriate terminology – and that stuck.

The concrete truck arrives and begins to discharge its load…but there’s a problem…
…the concrete truck chute cannot extend far enough into the garage.

This was no problem as this plywood will be removed eventually when the door is installed.

Because of the many rain days, Andy Cormier arranged to get help to finish off the septic line installation.

Having the septic line in the ground and attached to the septic tank allowed for its backfilling as well as work to proceed on the driveway excavation.

On Monday, September 27th, Lynn and I participated in the annual West Point Society of New England’s annual charity golf tournament, along with our friends, Lisa and Jim Kularski. This year, the beneficiary was Homes for our Troops. It was a nice break while construction work continued.

When we returned home, there was a lot of dirt moved around. It turned out that the soil under the driveway had the same layering issue that I found in my dry well excavation – so a lot had to go, and be replaced with clean fill.

Excavation showing the soil cross section
Better view of the soil layers.

Of course, Tuesday the 28th brought yet more downpouring rain. Therefore, earthwork and any other work could not happen. We only got a delivery of deck material for the house deck.

Deck lumber delivery.

On Wednesday the 29th, the skies cleared and work could proceed. The driveway was excavated and brought to grade. Old asphalt, and interfering roots and stumps (including a 4-5 ton maple tree stump) were removed in this process.

At the end of the day, the driveway was filled, and all the holes were filled in.

Driveway base in.
Top view.
No more stump.

The next work skipped a day (rain), and that involved the framing of the replacement house deck. This was October 1st. Jonny also got ready to install the rain gutter system for the garage deck.

Deck framing on October 1st.

To make up lost time to rain, work continued on the deck on Saturday the 2nd. This weekend I had not one but two competitive golf tournaments. The first was on Saturday which was the Finals of the Tour of the Brookfields. If you are on Facebook, the group link is here. I am a member of the committee. My team was in the lowest division, but we did not come in the top three. Still, congrats to the winners!

Better luck next year.

After the tournament, I returned to see progress on the house deck.

Saturday progress
Different angle view.

So, a lot of progress was made over the two weeks!

(Lastly, I previously mentioned a couple things that I need to circle back to – the first being the Sunday Founder’s tournament at Quail Hollow Golf and Country Club (where I am a member). This was an individual event and I played better, but not well enough to be the winner (only one male and one female winner out of dozens of players so no big deal). However, back during the annual club championship (a two-day 36-hole tournament of individual medal play from the back tees) on July 31-August 1st – I was able to play my best golf of the year (98/88 for a net 2 over par for the event) and win the D flight against 11 others. So Sunday, I got my reward.

In my office!

What you see here left to right is a comic statue that belonged to my grandfather Marcus (a WWII vet who gave me a love of golf), my unlucky conquistador “Franco”, my trophy, and as it’s October, my Halloween mini-diorama with Ral Partha 25mm figures of classic monsters from the 30’s Universal Studios movies.

Ah, but I digress – week 12 is well underway and I will have much more to share. I hope that you enjoyed this and thanks for looking!

Our Garage+ Project – Week Nine Update

Last week (September 12-18, 2021) was unfortunately the slowest progress week to date. Gravel was spread under the new house deck location and some more asphalt was removed there as well. We also got our first plumber visit and a lot of action is happening that is not actual construction.

For example, we were able to get a visit from Door Systems of Worcester so that we could evaluate options and order a garage door. The bad news is that that door will take 3 months to arrive. COVID-19-related delays are a factor beyond anyone’s control.

The Victors measure for the gravel.
The gravel is placed.

This week should prove to be more active – Andy Cormier is back from vacation, so digging will recommence on the sewer line and the driveway. And much electrical work will be happening, with our service upgrade (needed for the new building demands and more) as well as some plumbing too.

Thanks for staying with me. I turned 59 this week, so I still believe that this project will get done before I turn 60!

Tabitha got me some practice foam golf balls – her favorite color – purple. Well, she also likes pink, but I’m glad she didn’t go down that route!

Hope to show you all more next week!