Sunday, 13 August 2017

Switching Gears Again

Today I met up with the lads, got out my flying goggles and played some flying games. We had four players up at the local community room for a game of Wings of War (WoW) and XWing. I discovered I had been playing WoW incorrectly and was much happier with the game this time around. I ran a Spad XIII and ended up getting shot down in a nail-biter, head on showdown with Martin's triplane. Great fun and added to my to play list. Maybe add it to my next year 6x6.

Evasive maneuvers!

We also played a game of X Wing. Jonathan and Martin provided the miniatures and I brought my game mat. I played with Jonathan Scum fleet. I had two X Wings that were tasked with getting in the enemy's way and drawing fire from the expensive ships behind me. Martin ran 2 buffed up Tie Defenders. I love the look of these ships. They are too expensive for me to collect seriously but I did enjoy the game. Martin was once again the last ship standing.
Close Quarter Blasting

I lined up the perfect shot but couldn't close the deal :-(

I was going to play my Talavera game this weekend but there are a few people wanting to play so I am postponing until next Saturday night.

I have been watching terrain tutorials on Youtube, especially The Terrain Tutor. I really enjoyed making my game mat last weekend and am inspired to keep adding terrain. I plan to develop a wish list of terrain items to make/purchase and also design a table for a specific battle such as a WWII Italian in 28mm defensive line or 15mm Stalingrad. More on this later...

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Battle of Talavera 1809

I spent the weekend building a new game mat and hills for my hex based games and now it's time to try it out! I looked through my scenarios for Commit the Garde. I went with Talavera. This battle saw Wellington and his Spanish allies facing off against Marshall Jourdan and Napoleon's brother, Joseph, who was recently made king of Spain. As was typical of many Peninsular battles, there was very little artillery, the British have powerful infantry, tempered by their weak allies, the Spanish. The Allied army had taken up strong defensive positions on the outskirts of Talavera and the French are going to try and dislodge them.

Deployment - French on the left
French Centre looking at British held hill

 The bulk of the French are deployed against the British

The CtG scenario allowed a free set up of troops. I used the Napoleon's Battles Scenario to find a more historical set up and went with that. The French are deployed mostly facing the British. They have a significant reserve and could send troops against the Spanish defenses.

I am planning to play this game solo. I recently read "The Solo Wargaming Guide" by William Silvester. He suggested contemplating options for each side and assigning them a probability, then rolling to see which plan they go with.

 The French options are as I see them:
1) Attack the Spanish defenses and pin the British - This is assigned low probability because of the high cost of attacking defenses and the Spanish are worth only half victory points.
2) Attack to the left of the Spanish defenses and attack the Spanish while pinning the British - This is a weak point in the line but would be easily reinforced from each side. It would allow the French to bypass the Spanish defenses and defeat them in detail. This I assign a moderate probability.
3) Attack to the left of the Spanish defenses and attack the British while pinning the Spanish - Again, this is a good place to breach the line. The British are the primary target of the campaign and this would force them to redeploy a little. I assign this a moderate to high probability
4) Attack the British centre and demonstrate against the Spanish - This is playing into the defenders hand as the British are powerful and set up in defense. I rate this a low/moderate probability.
5) Attack the British right and roll up the flank - This bypasses the bulk of the British defenses and would allow the French to cross the stream before attacking the British held hill. The Spanish could easily abandon their defenses and reinforce the British. I assign this a moderate/high probability.
6) All out assault along the line and exploit where the cracks appear - A general purpose strategy but not good for concentrating forces in the attack and plays into the hands of the defender. I assign this a low probability.

The Allies choices are more limited. They have to set up first and start the game holding all the victory objectives. As a result they are waiting for the French to make a move and will react accordingly. There may be times in mid game where I will roll a dice to randomize a command decision.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Terrain Upgrade

This week I have been focusing on upgrading my terrain. I have been admiring my friends Hexon Terrain and decided to improve the look of my hills and mat to give my hex based games a better visual appeal. My current hex mat is simply a green felt mat with hexes drawn on and some spray paint high lights. After using it at Huzzah, I decided I wanted a better looking product. My hills are made from low quality foamcore, painted and flocked. They were too thin and flimsy and they looked cartoony.                                                                     

Sample of old hills and old hex mat

To replace these hill I bought some 6mm thick board and drew on a bunch of 4" hexes. Before I cut out the hexes, I clamped another board to the first and drilled out all the corners of the hexes. This second board provided a template to use to mark the hexes on my new mat. I then cut out the hexes on the first board and sanded the edges a bit to bevel them. I put these aside for now until the game mat was ready to be built...

Canvas bolted down and MDF hills cut

Before I started blogging I had made a home mead flocked gaming mat. I was not happy with the results and ended up throwing it out. I had followed the advice of some Youtube Gurus and made the following mistakes:
- My home made flock was too course and did not have enough paint in it
- The sand I used was to course and I used too much
- The caulk mixture did not have enough paint and was applied to thickly
- I did not apply a fixative to the finished product

The result was a mat that was bland looking, with cracks in the caulk and weighed way too much. After a year of sitting under my regular game mat, I turfed it out.

With further Youtube research and lessons in hand I am trying the home made mat project again. To start, I prepared the flock. I wanted 3 colors. I still had my bucket of sawdust donated by a neighbor who runs a wood mill. I sifted about 3 litres of sawdust and then ran it through my food processor. My goal was to make it as fine as possible. I wanted to get wood flour but it was hard to get and expensive so DIY.

Supplies needed. Cute dog nose is optional

I divided the product into three piles and added lots of poster paint, a little soup and some water and mixed vigorously. I spread the flock out on newspaper over night and got a nice, rich color of flock that I hope will show up better on my final product.

Flock ready to go

Next was to find a better sand to add to the mix. I looked at my local DIY shop and Garden Shop but found the play sand too fine to meet my needs. I thought about using cat litter as it is light and near the fineness I wanted but had visions of it clumping into unusable blobs and abandoned the idea. In the end, I splurged and got some Woodland Scenics Ballast. When winter comes, I will see if grit will be suitable for future products as it is way cheaper.

I bought a good quality sheet of canvas from my local fabric store and more poster paint. I bolted the canvas to my table so it would not shrink as the caulk dried. I mixed the ballast, caulk, paint and some water together in a sturdy bucket. I spread the mess thinly on my canvas with newspaper underneath to absorb excess. I also added it to my new hill tops. I sprinkled the three colors of flock onto the mat and gently pressed it into place. After an hour, I spread the flock around some to give it a more blended, natural look. After letting the mess dry for a day or so. I fixed the flock in place by spraying the mat down with a mix of PVA and water, I let this dry another day. I then got my predrilled hex template board and used it to mark the hexes on the mat. These I marked in with brown felt. 

Flock added to the base of caulk and sand

I cut the mat to 6'x4'. This will be usable for the Command and Color ranges of games as well as Commit the Garde. If I ignore the discreet hexes, I can use it for other games as well. I will still need my old hex mat for Epic sized games of Command and Colors. Stay tuned for pictures of the new mat and hills in action in future posts!

Completed hills and mat

Big screen finished product

Finished hills