Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Sci Fi Week

Last week I spent most of the week visiting the kids.  A (who's now 9, 10 in a little over a month) called me a month or so ago and asked me if I had any sci fi figs.  I rattled off what I had painted and raw lead and asked him why.  He told me about a video he had watched on YouTube by a Warhammer gamer about making your own buildings.  He was stoked and proceeded to cut up some a plastic bottle and glue a straw and bottle cap to it to make a storage tank.  Well, he never got around to making the building out of foam-core board, but I showed him an even easier way to 15mm sci fi buildings - spray painting some plastic electrical boxes.  We got a piece of tan foam-core board and lightly over-sprayed it with green spots.  We got some fake aquarium plants at Walmart and had an instant game board.  I painted up some Rebel Minis Earth Force figures and brought them with, along with some Scourge and some Khurasan Huntarrs, for us to play around with.  Unfortunately, I didn't get a good picture of the Scourge.  We got in three games.  He beat me each time.  The first game was very close, but when he understood the concept of creating rules, he just couldn't stop! 

Initially, the rules were very simple.  Turn order was Move, Conduct lightning strikes, Shoot.  Figures could move 6", 3" if climbing on the "mountain" or moving through/up/down inside buildings.  Range to shoot was 12" and you had to roll 8+ to hit, with a -2 if the target was in cover, and a +1 at less than 3" range.  All shooting was simultaneous.  Figures were figured to be in cover if they were partially behind something from the shooter's perspective.  Initially, I didn't intend for figures to be able to shoot multiple times, but it quickly devolved to that, with no additional modifiers. 

So, yes, this planet has a problem with electrical storms.  On a 5+, lightning struck the board.  We divided the board up into 36 equal areas, each 3-1/3" high by 5" wide (the board was 6 areas wide by 6 areas high - roll a die for each axis to determine which area was struck).  If a figure was in an area struck by lightning, it rolled for a hit, just like shooting.  On an 8+ it was dead.  The nails sitting on the board are lightning rods.  If the figure was within 2" of the longer nails or 1" of the shorter screws when lightning struck the area, the figure was safe.  (The lightning strikes were A's idea, needless to say!)  We didn't have any figures die from lightning strikes, but there were a few close calls where it struck an area adjacent to the figures or struck an area where figures were near a lightning rod. 

We had a lot of fun shooting each other up and moving figures around on the board.  With eight figures a side, games were short and bloody. 

The upended figure at left is dead from opposing fire.

A private and corporal (from left) rounding a building.

Enemies square off on a roof top.

A Huntarr (you know what this really is).  We used them in a
game but the rules we used didn't work too well.  The boy
wanted two hits to kill the good guys and three to kill
the Huntar, but the Huntarr had to be visible to attack or
 shoot, and could only shoot 6".  He died faster than he
could kill his opponents.

A pair of soldiers looking for the Huntarr and sticking close
to a lightning rod, just in case.

The mastermind himself, along with one of
the board set-ups we used. 
We had a grand time, but I have to paint up some new figures now as I left the ones I painted with him to play around with.  We also got in a game of Settlers with sister J.  I won that one.  And we played our first game of Flash Point, a cooperative fire fighting/victim rescuing game.  We used the basic rules to get a feeling for the game, and it was close.  J was pretty lucky for most of the game and there wasn't much fire on her edge of the board.  A and I kept running into more and more fire and at the end of the game, most of the house was on fire with the exception of J's corner where it was still mostly under control.  We did lose three victims, though, so getting the seventh out safely was a necessity.  Fortunately, nothing bad happened and we were able to rescue her.  A and I also watched The Empire Strikes Back.  All in all we had a great time.  Next week, J comes to stay with me for three weeks.  Wondering what we'll get into then!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Lost in Space

I bought X-Wing a few months ago and it's been sitting in my dining room awaiting an opportunity to play.  I brought it with me, along with the Millennium Falcon, when I visited my kids in Idaho, knowing that my son at least would like the game.  We played our first game on Friday.  Actually we played our first four or five games on Friday.  The first game was a standard two Tie fighters versus the X-Wing.  I gave the two Ties to my son thinking that it would give him a bit of an advantage.  It was a very close game, but I ended up winning that one although the X-Wing was down to 1 or 2 damage points remaining.

The master plotting his move. 

The final dice roll.
The second game was the Millennium Falcon against the two Ties.  This time, the boy was the Falcon and I had the Ties.  The Falcon was down to just a couple of damage points remaining when he blasted my second Tie.  

The third game, I think, he insisted on playing with two Ties against an X-Wing and a Y-Wing with some asteroids scattered around.  I warned him that it was unbalanced in favor of the Rebel players, but he wanted to do it anyway.  In the end, I think the Y-Wing had lost a couple of shields and maybe a point or two of damage when the second Tie bit the dust.

Felt like we were playing the game all day.  It was a lot of fun, though.  We tried the advanced rules but they didn't really stick with him so we didn't really get the full effect. 
He got sidetracked part-way through playing by the Nerf guns that I had sent earlier in the week so we could chase each other around the house when cabin fever set in.  We spent a lot of time having Nerf wars in addition to X-Wing.  Productive weekend, all-in-all.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

An American Rout

We played the Battle of Hubbardton last night using the 1776 rules.  They are an old set, but we like the feel of them.  I've had the figs for this for a LONG time but we just got around to playing it finally.  Doug and I were the Americans, while Perry and Steve were the British.  The British entered down the military road from Ticonderoga with the light infantry in the van to find the American picket blocking the saddle.

The main body of the Americans, holding the fence in the field. Unlike the real battle, the fight never got to the field in our game.

The full British force marching through the saddle after pushing the picket back.  The light infantry are deployed for skirmishing in the lead
The supporting companies move up to block the British advance, but are chewed up by the British machine in turn!  Here, the light infantry have turned off into the woods and formed a skirmish line (the end of their line is at top center of the picture, just above the grenadiers), while the grenadiers are formed to attack against the scattered Americans.

Here is the light infantry moving through the undergrowth with the formed grenadiers in the background.  In the foreground, the Indians are giving the American militia fits with their fast movement through the woods.

2nd New Hampshire managed to gather its scattered forces and line up to hold the brook. 

The light infantry moving down the hillside clearing the woods and pursuing the militia.  A couple of supporting companies were able to harry the light infantry's flank and killed a couple of figures, but the formed battalions of light infantry and grenadiers were pretty much unstoppable.

Three of the American companies routing or retreating away from the grenadiers.  The Hessians haven't deployed yet - they are on the road behind the grenadiers.  The light infantry can be seen in the distance heading down the hill after the militia.

Steve and Perry masterfully handled the British and Hessians.  Here the British are just about fully in line: from top left, the light infantry, the Corps of Marksmen, the grenadiers with Simon Fraser and Peters' Corps right behind them, then come the Hessians with the jaegers at the brook, while the Hessian grenadiers and light infantry have crossed to pursue the retreating Americans, along with a detachment of the 24th Foot.  The 2nd New Hampshire is lined up to receive them. 

3rd New Hampshire is racing along behind the 2nd to try to hold its flank.  I didn't expect the light infantry to be on me so quickly and should have reinforced much sooner.  I could have wheeled the 2nd back, but it would have taken time and I would have been facing the full weight of both the light infantry and the grenadiers.  It's my own fault for waiting so long to reinforce the line.

At this point we called the game.  Doug had to go and it was getting late.  It might have been different if I had moved up another regiment or two from the fence.  I think the picket and the supporting companies should have fallen back faster, rather than trying to stand toe-to-toe and giving ground slowly - basically, it might have worked if they had led the British into the field.  At any rate, it was a fun - if frustrating - game.  There were few casualties for the number of shots fired.  The vast majority of them were low percentage shots because of being in the woods and most of the units were in skirmish order.  Perry was in unusually fine form, however, single-handedly doing the most damage with a (for him) rare performance of dice handling.  He killed several figures and at one point the Americans had three units in rout, although at the end, two of them began to improve their morale.  All in all, though, a good time.  Unfortunately, at this point, I have to paint more figures to do any more Rev War battles. 

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Blockade Runners Come Home

We did a fairly large ACW naval game today that I have been planning for a long time.  The basic set up is that the Union is blockading the mouth of a river and receive intelligence that Confederate naval forces are on the move, heading downstream towards them.  The Union forces assume they Confederates are trying to break out of the blockade, but in reality, the Southerners are coming to escort a couple of blockade runners into to the river.  The board was set up as a large ox-bow with a small fort and some individual gun positions watching the river.  The Union had the Kearsarge and two Itasca/Unadilla-class 90-day gunboats, along with a pair of mortar schooners and the river gun positions.  The Confederates started with the Morgan, Gaines, General Moore, Nansemond and Hampton coming down the river.  Rolling randomly, the Alabama, Banshee and A D Vance entered from the ocean side on turn 7 or 8.  By then, the Union ships and the Confederate river flotilla had joined action. 

The Union patrol just off the coast.

The Confederate battle line rounding the ox-bow, with a small Union
fort on the point.

The Union mortar schooners, waiting for a target. 
Alabama, A D Vance and Banshee (r. to l.) entering the battlefield.
The battle became such a swirling mess that at this point, I couldn't even recap the highlights!  Everyone was shooting everywhere.  It was a tough slog for the Union, though.  The Confederates had more ships, but there was an even number of guns and the Union had a slight edge in weight of shot.  The Confederates were pretty confident from the beginning, but did become rather concerned when these little guys popped up on the table - three torpedo boats and their tender, an armed tugboat.  

The shot of the game probably came when one of the mortar schooners dropped a 13" shell right down Alabama's stack, demolishing her stack, cutting her speed in half and enveloping her in smoke for the duration of the game.  The schooners hit General Moore at least once as well. 
There was a lot of action and finally, towards the end of the game, ships started getting worn down to the point where damage was getting critical.  The Gaines was badly hit by the Kearsarge and the gunboats, to the point we thought it might sink or be forced to surrender from morale failure.  Neither happened.  The Nansemond surrendered to the armed tug a turn before the tug was sunk, and then was grounded on the shore.  One of the gunboats tried to cut off the General Moore, only to rammed and sunk.
The torpedo boats were unfortunately ineffectual.  One was sunk by gunfire.  The second was rammed and sunk.  The third made two attacks, missing with the first and the second was ruled a dud.  The A D Vance and the Banshee made it to the river none the worse for wear - the Vance had minimal damage, while the Banshee was in danger of being sunk.  If only the Union gunners in the fort hadn't been celebrating their victory a little prematurely they might have been able to do a little more damage as the Banshee screamed past.  Here, the Vance (left - one of its masts was accidentally knocked off) and the Banshee race of the safety of the pilings.  Banshee won by a nose with the last Union shot chasing them around the bend.  The Confederates had done a number on the gun positions, as well.  Two of the individual positions had been destroyed, and the small fort and remaining gun position were damaged. 

It was a fun - but LONG - fight.  Turned out to be about 8 hours of gaming or so.  I have two more ACW naval battles planned - neither as involved as this one, though hopefully as fun.  All of the models are from Thoroughbred except for the A D Vance, which is from Peter Pig.  We used Bay Area Yard's Under Both Flags rules, which, despite its flaws, we still find to be one of the most playable sets we've tried. 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Air Battle over the Sinai

Haven't posted for a long time, but haven't played any games with my units in a LONG time, either!  We got in a short Check Your 6! Jet Age game Saturday night, pitting Israeli F-4s against Egyptian MiG-21s.  We used the stock scenario from the CY6!JA rules - First Kill: Phantom.  I had the RF-4, Perry was flying to my rescue with another pair of F-4s, and Doug and Perry's nephew Daniel each had a pair of MiG-21s. 

Basically, the scenario has an RF-4 running for home with two pairs of MiG-21s being vectored onto it by GCI.  Another pair of Israeli F-4s are coming to defend it.  The Egyptians started on opposite sides of the playing mat, parallel to each other.  Daniel, being new to the game, could have set up almost on top of the RF-4, but didn't realize it and set up a whole area back from it.  I actually could have escaped, but just for gamesmanship, I suggested we move the planes back six hexes since Doug's playing mat is a little small in terms of number of hexes.  There hadn't been ANY action to that point in the game and didn't think it would be too fun to finish the game without any shooting.  This gave me an extra turn on the board. 

I was running at an angle to the Egyptians.  I couldn't turn away from them.  Although this would have given me the exit sooner, it also would have exposed my tail to their heat-seeking missiles.  They caught up to me, though, and at almost optimal range Daniel and Doug each launched two missiles and Doug's other plane fired his cannon.
Daniel's second missile obtained the kill before Doug even got to roll.  Perry was on the opposite side of the board from the Israeli friendly board edge so we decided to fight on, and I took over Perry's green pilot, while he continued with the skilled pilot.  I was able to get my revenge and shoot down Daniel's green pilot with my cannon, but his veteran finished me off in a head-to-head shot, while I missed.  And with that we decided to call it a night.  Not a bad tally for me - one kill, started with one plane and ended up losing two!   
This is the second Arab-Israeli air battle we've done and both times the Israelis have had their hats handed to them.  Not sure how that bodes, but it was fun anyway!  I really like the way my F-4s turned out.  I'm not quite as happy with the MiGs, but they look ok.  It's hard to see in these pictures, but there are thin light grey stripes on each side of each of the dark green stripes on the MiGs.  I have another pair of Egyptian MiG-21s to paint up and they are going to be in Nile pattern camo (which I like much better), when I get around to it.  The aircraft are from Tumbling Dice, and the stands and missiles are from Fight's On!  (And I should mention the decals are from Dom's, of course!)

Monday, September 8, 2014

Titans in the Desert

On the advice of a friend, I visited the Titan Missile Museum in Sahuarita, AZ, about a half hour south of Tucson, this weekend.  Rather than taking the basic tour, I did the extended 'Beyond the Blast Doors' tour for an extra few bucks.  It was well worth it!  This tour only runs on the 1st and 3rd Saturdays of the month and is supposed to be an hour and a half long.  It turned out to last about two hours and fifteen minutes, and was followed up by a small "class" on the development of missiles from sometime in the past until the present.  This tour takes you through the command center, the crew quarters, down to the bottom of the silo and then up to the top.

Most of the tours have actual former Titan crew members giving them and the amount of information these guys possess - and pass on to you, the tourist - is incredible!  It was a lot of fun, the guides are - as noted - extremely knowledgeable, and extremely personable.  One of our guides was Bob, a former launch commander.  So let's begin out tour:

The outer blast door - 35 feet below ground level - weighs
in at three tons and hasn't sagged a millimeter in 50 years.

 Oops!  Just launched one in the general direction of Russia! 
They talked through the launch process and what it took to
send a missile on its way.

 The crew quarters and command suite are actually suspended inside a
concrete dome.  At the top is the 'hook' holding the complex to the
dome and at bottom is one of eight springs that supports it.  In an
earthquake in California, the launch facility at Vandenburgh AFB
didn't feel a thing!

While the springs support the weight and minimize vertical
movement, this doo-hickey minimizes horizontal movement.

The accommodations aren't much beyond four bunks
and a kitchen.  Very little cooking was done because
everything had to be cleaned to the satisfaction of the
relief crew.  They basically lived on Twinkies and Coke
when on duty.  When females were put on the launch crews
in the late 1970s, the Air Force - in its infinite consideration
for its personnel - provided a modesty screen for the bunk room!

The cableway connecting the command suite to the silo.
I think it was a hundred or so feet - could be more.

And there she is in all her glory!  From the bottom of the silo.
You can see the silo door is half open at the top of the picture.
The blast well, which channeled the exhaust, steam (thousands
of gallons of water were dumped on the missile during lift off
in order to dampen the sound and vibration and converted to steam
by the heat of the exhaust), and noxious gases to the surface.

And the business end, looking through the open silo
door - visible at the top right of the picture.  To give
you some sense of proportion the missile is 103 feet
from tip to tail and 10 feet in diameter, although the
engines were removed and on display elsewhere at the site.
Just a side note, although you can't get a sense of the size
of the silo door from these photos, it weighed 760 tons.  It
was claimed that a nuke could strike within a mile of these
complexes and they could still survive to do their duty.

Although these look like John Glenn spacesuits, they are
actually special suits used to handle the fuel, which was
extremely corrosive. 

Nothing like surviving another day without mutually assured
destruction, only to get bit by a rattlesnake in the access gangway!
I hope you enjoyed this brief tour of the facility.  If you're ever in southern Arizona, it's well worth the detour to see it.  For more information, please see the Titan Missile Museum's official website here.  Thank you for visiting!

Monday, September 1, 2014

A Small Air Combat Memorial Park

I found these pics in my files and thought I'd better put them up before I forget about them.  This is a small air park just outside Clay National Guard Center in Marietta, GA, which used to be a Naval Air Station.  I wasn't able to get a pic of the B-29 on the Air National Guard side of the base, but these make up for it somewhat.  What caught my eye driving by was the S-3 Viking, for a long time my son's favorite plane.  When I actually stopped to look, I realized they had aircraft representative of a carrier air wing.  So here we go:

Pretty neat stuff.  They had a small variety of other aircraft, Army and Air Force, but these were by far the more interesting.