On October 20th, there was a Devens game day at the former Ft. Devens in Massachusetts. I was interested in attending for a couple of reasons. First, I am trying to get to more gaming events in the area. Second, I was stationed at Fort Devens while I was a member of the 39th Engineer Battalion (Combat) from 1989-1992, so I was intrigued to see the post again in its new configuration. Fort Devens was closed as an active duty US Army post in the 1990’s, and Massachusetts has redeveloped the post by bringing in a lot of industry. Still, some of the post is used by the reserves. In fact my old battalion area seems to have been saved and redeveloped for the reserves. That area is all fenced off now and I did not want to photograph the area and draw unwanted attention to doing so! Other buildings and barracks areas are untouched since closure, with actual trees growing out of the edifices yielding an apocalyptic/Walking Dead look. This blog post is a bit late, but I did get wrapped up in the baseball ALCS and the World Series, which were both won by the great Boston Red Sox!
The actual game sessions were held at the Fort Devens Museum. There were three games there – a WWI game, a naval game, and a pulp game. I did not get any pictures of the naval game but you can read about in an excellent post here. I focused on playing a WWI game (given that it is close to the centenary of the end of that conflict). The board is entirely scratch built, and I believe the rules were “Trench Warfare”, but I am not sure. The game master, Bill, did an excellent job, and I wanted to share his board as it was excellent. The event clearly tried to recruit younger gamers, which was admirable for growing our hobby.
The game ended in a draw, but I enjoyed it a lot.
There was also a pulp game that I did not play in, but that looked interesting.
Lastly, I looked around the museum and looked for anything related to my old unit. The only thing I saw was a donation from a former lieutenant from the 1977 time frame. I do think I could find a few things myself. Interestingly, I am a local, and the 39th had members who for the most part live in other parts of the country. I do commend the museum for trying to resurrect the posts history from WWI until closure.
My thanks to the folks who set up this event and to the folks at the museum!
Many of you who follow my blog have read about Buck Surdu, my good friend and author of multiple wargaming rules systems. Of course, he is a fellow West Pointer so that’s in his favor! He is a major shaker and mover in the H.A.W.K.’s (Harford County Weekly Kriegspielers) in Maryland, and has been involved with BARRAGE for years.
Little Wars TV interviewed Buck, and I thought some of you would find this interesting.
The H.A.W.K.’s held their BARRAGE convention in Havre de Grace, Maryland at the end of September 2018. They had over 70 gaming events, and it had been on my “hoping to attend” list for most of 2018. Also on my wish list was to be able to run my “Attack of the Warbots” game using the Combat Patrol™ card-based system. I was hoping to attend but was unsure (for several reasons) up to a week beforehand as to whether I was going to be able to go or not. In the end, the stars aligned, and I also got to run my game! Box checked!
There was a lot going on here – and I saw a lot of great games. The following is just a snippet, through my eyes, of the experiences that I had. The games and the game masters that I saw did an incredible job. Truly impressive. Certainly, the H.A.W.K.’s put on a great gaming convention and my kudos to all of them and the other game masters.
I started on Friday with running my latest iteration of “Attack of the Warbots” with my Archive, Mega Miniatures, and Wargames Supply Dump figures, all of which are OOP. I had seven players, with three on the Warbot side, and four on the defending side. Of note, I was lucky to have had as players both Buck Surdu (my old West Point buddy and the author of the Combat Patrol™ rules) and Dave Wood (my old West Point roommate who introduced me to tabletop gaming in 1982). I also had the good fortune to have Greg Priebe playing alongside Buck – and Greg wrote the Star Wars supplement for Combat Patrol™. Buck is very fond of ducks (in a good way of course), and was in command of Duck Wader and some Star Ducks, while Dave was on the Warbot side with a couple of Mark 1 Sphere tanks. Greg commanded the Aphids and the Frinx. A few other players were there but I did not get their names (sorry). The Warbots needed to recapture a lost Mark 1 before the defenders could repair it and get it off the board.
I then turned into a player, and decided to try a Lion Rampant game ably run by Philip Jones. We were the Vikings who had seized prelates, monks, and treasure in a raid, and were trying to escape to their longship, while being pursued and blocked by Welsh troops.
Our casualties mounted! The game points were tallied, and rightly called for the Welsh. I did find the system fun, and Philip ran the game in a very fun way.
After this, I was walking around, and was recruited for a “What a Tanker” game run by Brian Lipscomb. It was set in North Africa, 15mm scale, with the British set against the Germans and Italians. Brian asked if I wanted to have a German or Italian tank. Being a sucker for a challenge, I of course said Italian. I was given a Fiat M13/40 tank.
Needless to say, I really enjoyed this game and the mechanics. Brian is a superb GM. More on that in a bit…but this was a fun way to end Friday!
On Saturday, I had really looked forward to playing Buck’s Sea Lion game. There weren’t enough players, so it was called, BUT I wanted to share the unbelievably beautiful game set up. Buck will run this game at Fall In and you can read about a play test of the game here.
So again, I wandered around, and saw another Brian Lipscomb “What a Tanker” game, this time set on the Eastern Front. After Friday, I was happy to give it another go. I was teamed with two others who had not previously played the game. We had a certain number of points, so I volunteered to take a lesser tank (a T-70 light tank) so that they could have better ones – in this case a T-34 and an SU-76.
At this point, Don Hogge and Buck Surdu visited the table put up a dollar each for anyone to kill me! Talk about motivation! We were being outmaneuvered by the Germans at this point, so I moved back and used my kill points to upgrade my T-70 to an SU-85.
The scenario that Brian devised also had infantry (controlled by him as the GM and using a random events chart) – with the town as an objective. I used the SU-85 to hammer the German infantry as Soviet infantry was arriving. I killed four stands and got a bunch of kill points. I reminded my teammates that I had started off as a T-70, and they gave me one extra kill point, which allowed me to get a monster ISU-152. At the same time, the Germans were reinforced with a Jagdpanther and a Sturmgeschutz III.
Immediately I maneuvered the ISU-152 to hit more infantry. The Germans decided to try to get me with their Jagdpanther and the Sturmgeschutz III. I moved my tank destroyer next to a building to face the Jagdpanther down the main street. He fired.
I returned fire and destroyed the German tank destroyer.
At this point, the Sturmgeschutz III was maneuvering to get a flank or rear shot on me. As the ISU-152 is very heavy and slow, I was only able to spin to face the Sturmgeschutz III. It was a question of initiative – and I got it, hit the German assault gun, and got kill #6 for the weekend (and the $2 bounty on me!).
I then participated in a play test for a near future warfare scenario using cyber warfare with the Look Sarge No Charts system. It was run by Dave Wood and was interesting to do.
Every BARRAGE there is a pickup WWI air combat game that is a hoot. I’ve never managed to get a kill in the game before, but I did this year as a German. Eventually, I got shot up and had to glide home.
The last tabletop game that I played in was a First Boer WarCombat Patrol™ game. I was on the Boer side and we had to defend our wagon from being seized by the British. The game was fun, but there was a low point. We had a couple of players from New Jersey who vanished mid-game without so much as a notice that they were leaving. I think they hated defending. Anyways, we struggled on and ended up winning the game. The other players were great sports, and were great company.
After this game at the end of the con, I got to play in the traditional LARP pirate game. I had a nerf crossbow (treated by the GM as a musket) that took out Buck with a shot to the glutes. My weapon later misfired, and the resultant damage took me out. That LARP is always a fun game though!
The flea market presented many vendors and items for sale. I grabbed a Verdun game that I had last played with a gaming club in Monterey, CA in 1985! I’m not sure when I will get to play it, or with whom, but it was OOP in 1985, so a nice find! Buck and I visited the Verdun battlefield in 1987 or so, so it was nice to get this game here.
I must congratulate again the H.A.W.K.’s on a well-run con. Little Wars TV attended and filmed so you can see more of the convention here.
Thanks for looking and as always, I love any feedback!
The Power-Armored Frinx are back, and this time as cavalry riding glyptodons into battle! The Frinx were a creation of Archive Miniatures back around 1977 or 1978. They are a smallish lizard-like race, often wearing power armor.
Glyptodons on the other hand were very real and existed from the Ice Age until about 11,650 years ago (give or take). They were prehistoric cousins of the modern armadillo, only they were mega fauna – and were as big as a Volkswagen bug. Plus, there is that massive spiked tail to consider. Why Archive put these two together is anyone’s guess, but the combination is indeed quirky and fun.
As a Frinx backgrounder for those interested, I have previously written several posts on the venerable Frinx, going back to my casting of their infantry in February 2016 (here), my painting and figure conversions of my Power-Armored Frinx infantry platoon in February 2017 (here), my May 2017 discovery and acquisition of an original Star Rovers RPG (here), and my casting of the Power-Armored Frinx on Glyptodon (Archive #2042) in July of 2017 (here). So this journey has already been 2½ years in the making. Phew!
Interestingly, the 1981 Archive catalog that came with my Star Rovers game does not have the #2042 listed, despite the drawing shown above being in the rule book. My guess would be that the kit was uneconomical to produce and/or difficult to produce well. I document several these issues in my casting post – but originally the kit contained no less than 11 pieces as shown below. As reference, the scale of the set is 25mm to 28mm.
I made my own modifications to this particular set and made molds to recreate the kit. It is indeed rare and given that it was already OOP by 1981, there cannot be many of these around. I thought they would serve well in a traditional cavalry role for my Frinx platoon. I cast several and shared with Buck Surdu (who graciously provided me the original you see above so that we both could have some). Buck did a great job painting seven of my recasts of these back in 2017 which you can see here.
This month to add to my Frinx forces I managed to finish 5 Power-Armored Frinx on Glyptodons (let’s call them PAFOG for short!) models. As shown above, each set has two Frinx riders on a glyptodon. I chose 5 because I felt that 10 Frinx riders would be a good number for a cavalry squad in either the recon or screening role in my Combat Patrol™ games. It also would give the unit enough punch if deployed as a mobile counterattack force. I sorted out what figures that I had, and chose the ones I would use for the cavalry squad. Some of the riders’ weapons were not very well cast, so I converted these weapons. I used Bombshell Miniatures sprues of Arc Weapons (#36013) to replace six of the blasters. My initial plan is currently to give these weapons better capabilities versus robot foes, which should prove interesting given that I have a lot of robots now.
In order to make these Frinx “pop”, I needed a plan. Clearly, my painting was going to do a lot to overcome the plainness of the riders. I also needed to figure out how I was going to base them for painting and handling – unlike other Archive Miniatures these had no bases. These are also very heavy (solid lead/tin). The feet of the glyptodons were not level, so choosing the right basing was a big quandary for me for several reasons. I tried several approaches in my mind, but eventually chose to emulate Buck’s choice and use washers. I did choose smaller ones than Buck did – using #8 steel washers and E6000 epoxy under each foot, allowing for hardening overnight.
Once they had set, I began by priming the bottoms, letting that cure, and then doing the tops. My goal was to make the bottoms reddish brown, leading to a more brownish top as the drawing of the glyptodon above shows. It was not easy! I had to do a lot of handling of the paint jobs and eventually I moved them to popsicle stick frames with poster tack, which was good for a temporary, if imperfect, solution.
After carving away 6 defective metal weapons, I mounted the riders on poster tack mounds on specimen jars. The saddles really did not present me with many other options for mounting them for painting.
As for a color scheme, I decided to go with the branch color of the US Army Cavalry (now Armor), that being yellow. Besides, yellow is a difficult color to pull off, so I thought it would pose a nice additional challenge. I primed them, and subsequently airbrushed the riders with Vallejo Game Air “Moon Yellow” as a base coat. I then used Reaper MSP “Grey Liner” over the riders to help show me what parts I could paint to bring out the best details. This step really was useful.
It was time now to return to the sturdy mounts – and I had gotten to the point that I was happy with my painting on them. However, what was missing was a set of reins for each glyptodon. When I cast them, I did use the original bits in their mouths, but the original reins were totally inadequate in my view.
I decided to make reins from the smallest jewelry chain I could find. Figuring out how to affix the chains was a lot of trial and error on one of the extra unpainted glyptodons that I had. I tried using wire, thread, as well as just hooking the chain to the mounts – all for naught. Then, a light bulb went off – toothpicks!
I determined that I needed 27 links for the main chain loop for the reins. I threaded the last chain link through a wooden toothpick. I then inserted the toothpick into the bits by the mouths. I used a push pin to slide the link into position on the toothpick, and applied a very small amount of Gorilla Glue on the wood/chain/bit connection. After the glue dried (often with the assistance of a hand held hair dryer), I snipped the toothpick with a sprue cutter as close as I could to the bit. The net effect was like a tent peg and a rope, securing the chain to the glyptodons’ bridle bits. I repeated the process on both sides, then tack glued the chain at the top and above the ears to make a loop. Then I dry brushed the chain with Tamiya “Gun Metal X-10” and let it dry. Lastly, I applied Citadel “Nuln Oil” to the chain.
After this, I removed the glyptodons from the frames in order to give the mounts a matte varnish airbrush treatment. Then I mounted the riders to the mounts with E6000 epoxy, and let it harden. I wanted to connect the chains to the front riders hands. For this I needed a massive 4 links of jewelry chain per model, push pins, and patience. I used Gorilla Glue, push pins, and the blow dryer to get the additional chain segments in place. I then applied the same painting and wash techniques to the 4 links.
The PAFOG squad project was now complete – except that I needed to make corrals for them as they are so heavy as to slide in my other Frinx box. No worries, as I want them to survive for many future games, and I’ve done that for other outsized figures
This project also counts for me in a community painting challenge that my Australian friend Azazel has sent out for July 2018. It is for a “Jewel” project – and given all the work that went into these from acquisition to casting to conversion to final painting – I’m confident that these will meet the requirement!
The eye candy follows, and hopefully you will find these as cool as I did. I always appreciate your feedback dear readers – let me know your thoughts and suggestions. Thanks for looking!
For those interested, here is the list of the paints, etc. that I used in this project.
PAINTS, INKS, GLAZES, WASHES, AND FLOCKING USED:
Citadel “Imperium Primer”
Vallejo “Surface Primer – White”
Vallejo “Flow Improver”
Vallejo “”Airbrush Thinner”
Testors “Universal Acrylic Thinner”
Vallejo Game Air “Beastly Brown”
Vallejo Game Air “Dead White”
Vallejo Game Air “Moon Yellow”
Vallejo “Black Grey”
Citadel “Agrax Earthshade” (wash)
Reaper MSP “Grey Liner” (wash)
Vallejo Game Air “Black”
Vallejo Model Air “Black (metallic)”
Vallejo Mecha Color “Yellow Ochre”
Vallejo Mecha Color “Brown”
Vallejo Model Air “Rust 080”
Citadel “Ceramite White”
Tamiya “Chrome Silver X-11”
Tamiya “X-20A Thinner”
Vallejo Mecha Color “Turquoise”
Vallejo Model Air “Medium Gunship Gray”
Tamiya “Copper XF-6”
Tamiya “Gun Metal X-10”
Vallejo Game Air “Wolf Grey”
Citadel “Hexwraith Flame”
P3 “Green” (ink)
Secret Weapons Washes “Just Red” (ink)
Citadel “Soulstone Blue”
Vallejo Game Air “Fluorescent Red”
Citadel “Nuln Oil Gloss” (wash)
Secret Weapons Washes “Purple” (ink)
Vallejo Mecha Color “Yellow Fluorescent”
Vallejo Mecha Color “Sand Yellow”
Citadel “Seraphim Sepia” (wash)
Polly Scale “WWII British Aircraft Gull Gray Light”
Finding a gaming convention that is close by to my home has been somewhat frustrating for me over the last few years. Since I returned to the hobby, I have attended a few BARRAGE events in Maryland , but that’s it.
Imagine then that there was a con 15 miles from my home AND that they have been having it for 34 years (and I never knew!). The event was the three-day (Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday) HAVOC convention, run annually by Battlegroup Boston. This year was HAVOC XXXIV, and I learned of it through the New England Wargame Groups List page on FaceBook. It ran from April 6-8, and I am really glad that I could attend, but it was a last-minute decision. I was also hoping to let folks know about our group, The Mass Pikemen’s Gaming Club in Central Massachusetts.
In this blog, first I’ll discuss the two games I ran, then share some photos and eye candy of some of the convention.
I managed to get 7 players for the game, which was great. I did not get as many pictures as I would have liked as I was running the game. The players really had a great time and there was a lot of action. No one had ever seen these figures before, and the mass of the Mark 1’s surprised them all! I used a number of Armorcast sci-fi structures as well on the board, and they worked great.
While all this was going on, the Warbots on the right closed with the Robo-Sentry guns and the Star Ducks defending the wall. In this game, I have the Warbots use the Japanese Combat Patrol™ deck, which has different morale results. A morale card result caused one Warbot team to make a Banzai charge at the last surviving Robo Sentry gun, which was jammed. This enabled the Star Ducks to hit the team with direct fire. When the Banzai charge was over, another morale check caused this same team to flee the game, stifling this assault. The Frinx just got their captured tank fixed as the game was out of time. Due to the casualties inflicted by the Warbots, I called the game a draw. The players all were highly excited by the game and loved the ease of use of the Combat Patrol™ decks for all aspects of the game.
Unbeknownst to me at the time, my game was nominated for the “Al Award”. From the HAVOC website, this is “presented for the game with the most stunning visual appeal. Our crack team of experts (expert team of cracks) will vote on the game that made us say “Wow!”.” I was honored to be nominated, but even more so to win! Thanks so much for this to Battlegroup Boston! A great con it was to be sure – and I felt very welcome here by all the club members.
The second game I ran was on Sunday, which was “GO FROGS RIBBIT – STOP THE BUGS”. It was a battle between the F.R.O.G. Commandos (with Star Duck reinforcements) and two Archive Star Rovers foes – the aforementioned Aphids and the Hurraku Space Phraints. So, basically, it was insectivores versus insects, albeit big bugs. The Frogs were defending a wooded area between two rivers and specifically their sacred pond. The insects’ objective was to seize the pond, and to dispatch as many amphibians as possible along the way with extreme prejudice.
I ended up with four players for this game – one for each attacking bug side on opposite sides of the board. Star Ducks would reinforce the Frogs as a special event card was pulled during the game. The Frogs would use the regular decks, while the bugs would use the Japanese decks. The Space Phraints also had a Sith. Here again, the players quickly adapted to the Combat Patrol™ deck. All were new to the game.
The Aphids got into the fray first with their Grav Cycles, while the Aphid infantry and the Space Phraints advanced.
The Aphids however did effectively draw the Frogs to their attack, weakening the side facing the Hurraku Space Phraints. This would have consequences.
At this point, the Hurraku gambled and turned the tide of battle. Linda (the Hurraku player) decided to take advantage of her Sith’s power of “Rage”. This ability causes a Banzai attack. This also removes all stun markers from her troops while they charge at the enemy and engage solely in hand-to-hand combat (or just melee as we are talking about bugs and Frogs). The Hurraku also all have the same activation number until the banzai charge ends, resulting in a true mass attack. Here (in melee) the Hurraku have an advantage as they are very tough fighters. They also move fast normally, and the “Rage” improves that movement by a factor of two.
At this point, a Star Duck squad jet packed in as reinforcements, but it was not enough. They jet-packed in to defend the pond.
The players here had a good time and were good sports. The tide swung from one side to the other. In the end, the “Rage” Banzai charge was decisive.
I will now share some photos of the two games I played on Saturday morning and afternoon (I did not play Saturday night). I played a Bolt Action scenario run by Friedrich Helisch. The scenario was a 1941 German attack on a Russian-held village. David Shuster was on the Russian side, while Friedrich and I played the Germans. This was my first try at Bolt Action.
This was a points-based game, and our taking of the second building allowed us to win by 1 point, so it was very close. As for the rules, I am on the fence, but more than willing to try them again at some point in the future.
The second game I played was a Gaslands scenario. I had heard this was an interesting game and thought I’d try it out. In this game you get so many points to choose and arm 2-3 vehicles (performance car, regular car, and pickup truck). The goal is to run over (3 points) or shoot (1 point) pedestrians (in homage to Death Race 2000) instead of the usual zombies on the game board. You can attack your opponents, but their destruction does not get you points (you do eliminate the competition). The movement is very much like X-Wing.
I played with two other players, who chose to max out two vehicles, while I did three lesser-armed vehicles. I chose to go after the competition and eventually had one of two vehicles to be the last on the tabletop. However, at this point the game masters deploy invulnerable Monster trucks to hunt you down and end the game. I just missed my last pedestrian which would have tied me for first. The game masters (Michael Eichner and Erich Eichner) did a nice job, and this was a fun game. The table looked great too.
I thought that I should share some photos of the rest of the con. I did not get to see as much as I would have liked, but there were a lot of very cool games. Kudos to all the folks at Battlegroup Boston, as well as the GM’s and players! Please share your thoughts in the comments section – thanks for reading this blog!
I cannot make Cold Wars this year – but these are some great options for those attending! See below!
From Buck Surdu’s Blog
Buck F: 215: Hold as Long as Possible (1) Friday, 9:00 AM, 4 hrs, Players: 6 GM: Buck Surdu & HAWKS Sponsor: None, Prize: None Period: World War II, Scale: 28mm, Rules: Combat Patrol™: WWII. ItisthePhilippinesinearly1942. The Americans are retreating slowly toward Bataan. A platoon of infantry, along with a handful of Stuart tanks, must […]
Buck Barrage planning and preparations continue. Barrage 2017 will be held 19-20 January 2018. (Yes, Barrage 2017 will be held in January 2018.) Our inclement weather day will be the following weekend. Take a look at http://www.hawks-barrage.org to see all the great games on offer. While the schedule is filling up, there is room for […]