Monday, December 31, 2012

Wrapping up the year

Despite the demands of holiday travel, I managed to cram a couple more games into 2012. Last Friday, a number of HAWKs gathered at one of members' abode for a traditional post-Christmas pre-New Year's game. This year it was Germans vs. British using Battles by G.A.S.L.I.G.H.T, a favorite set of Victorian Science Fiction rules, featuring a plethora of ponderous and less-than-reliable steam-powered vehicles. (Given that the year was 1910, I suppose it should technically be more like Edwardian Science Fiction, but for some reason that has less of a ring to it...)

German lancers, supported by the ill-fated Panzerkreuzschlüsselspaziergänger

British troops advance on the town.

Dreibeinigenkaffeedose overruns British field gun.

My poor spider-walker inched its way into position only to be blown up by a single shot from a massive British steam tank. When I brought my artillery up to retaliate, I thought I had exacted my revenge when the tank rolled a '20' on its save (a critical failure in G.A.S.L.I.G.H.T). Unfortunately, a roll on the results table determined that I merely set off the tank's main gun--not at all the intended effect! Despite the poor showing on my part the game ended as a draw, as the British only managed to capture one of their two objectives.

The second game of the Holiday Interstitial Period took place on Sunday, when four of my college friends came down for a game day. In between some bouts of Settlers of Catan and Cosmic Encounter, we set up a four-player Hordes of the Things game using some of my 20mm armies, with myself serving as gamemaster/mostly-impartial referee. (At least two of my players had some prior HotT experience, so I put them on opposite sides. Strangely, it was my "experienced" players who seemed to rack up the bulk of the casualties...)

One side took the Antediluvians and their usual foes the Dinotopians; the other side took the Mongols and a "Last Alliance of Elves & Men" mix of medievals with a small contingent of elvish archers. The Antediluvians and the Dinotopians were on the defense, and managed to hold off their opponents--though the Dinotopians had somewhat mixed luck against the medievals, the Antediluvian pikes proved more than a match for the Mongols' yakatheriums, as an attempted outflanking maneuver by the Mongols foundered for lack of command points.

Commanders consider their initial deployment.

Some early maneuvering.

 The knights pursued the retreating spinosaur... and were promptly destroyed.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The December dispatch

December has been a pretty busy month, what with one thing and another--bad for blogging, but not for painting. Last night, I put the finishing touches on the last of my squadron of Wachovian cuirassiers, which I have been working on diligently all month. Heavy cavalry has been a long-standing weakness of Wachovia, so hopefully these guys will help to close that gap.

The whole squadron

From the other side

A couple of views of the officer

I did manage to find time for one other little NQSYW project: updating the regimental flag for the 1st infantry regiment. Having recently settled on a Wachovian national flag, I decided that the regimental flags should share a unified motif, and besides which, the old one was not quite up to my current standards. (No pun intended there.) I stopped short of repainting the figure himself, though he's seen better days as well.

The new flag is stage one (or perhaps two or three, depending on how one is counting them) of my rather grandiose plans for Wachovian military expansion, the extent of which is hinted at by this sketch from a couple of weeks back:

As of now, only three of those seven units have any basis in reality, and the Cuirassier Guards are still too few in number to warrant a flag. However, this does provide a potential roadmap for a couple of years' worth of work, should I choose to follow through on it. The addition of at least a second infantry regiment has been part of my ambition for a while now, and having done one squadron of cuirassiers, I intend to expand them to a full regiment. Beyond that, we shall see. If I were to maintain my current painting speed of about one figure every two days, then this would keep me going until mid-2014...

(My other big project this December has been Christmas cookie-baking, which has also proceeded apace:

The color similarity between the Empire Biscuits and the cuirassiers' uniforms is totally a coincidence, I swear!)

Friday, November 30, 2012

Sneak preview

First of the Wachovian cuirassier regiment!

Now, to paint eight more of them...

(Well, seven plus an officer.)

Monday, November 26, 2012

Orc time is over

...back to painting humans. Yes, my several-month sojourn among the green-skinned fellows has come to an end, as I have painted what may be my last orc. Here are a few shots of the latest additions to the horde:
Orcish Hero, with faithful warg companion and personal standard-bearer.

Yes, that's a severed head he's carrying--borrowed from Boudicca.

A couple more warbands.

A second stand of riders, on surplus Mongol ponies.

The whole army.

All together!

Next up on my painting table are some 40mm Wachovian cuirassiers, but once I'm done with those it should be back to plastic for a while. At the moment, I'm leaning towards the 17th century (those winged hussars I did back at the beginning of the year are looking lonely) but we'll see. And the holiday season may throw a wrench into my plans one way or another...

Saturday, November 24, 2012

A Black Friday for Wachovia

This year it so happened that one of the HAWKs' biweekly meetings fell on the day after Thanksgiving, and since I was home for the Holiday, Dad and William and I decided to take the NQSYW troops up to the club for a game. As it was, we had plenty of players, so I ended up helping Dad run the game. This left my poor Wachovians at the mercies of other commanders, in whose hands they proceeded to do what they do best: get killed in great numbers.

The scenario was "A Threat to the Flank," from one of Dad's scenario books, apparently loosely based on the Battle of the Boyne. The attacking force, in this case the Schoeffen-Buschhagen/Wachovian/Wiegenburg alliance, is attempting to push across a shallow river, and has sent a small force downstream to outflank the enemy. The Western League, this time consisting of Schluesselbrett, Hesse-Hattemstadt, and Stanzbach-Anwatsch, is on the defense, holding a couple of hamlets in a hilly area on the other side of the river.

As it happened, the allied general decided not to commit much to the flanking force--just the Wachovian hussars, who put up a decent showing in what is probably the worst-case scenario for light cavalry in Charge!--fighting heavy cavalry in a confined space. Meanwhile, the main force attacked on a wide frontage across the river, trusting in their numerical advantage. Though losses were heavy, particularly among the Wachovians, they broke first one Hesse-Hattemstadt regiment and then the other. This left only the red-coated Schluesselbrett infantry holding the hill, until some well-timed artillery fire forced the Western League to retreat. 

Dad goes over the rules.

Western League commanders write orders.

Wachovian hussars cross the bridge, new flag in tow.

The attackers approach the river.

A few turns later. Note the fellows in blue coats and yellow facings up on the center hill: a new contingent painted up by Tank Nickle.

Much emptier! The von Nordhafen regiment clears the hill.

Last stand of the Schluesselbrett regiment in the face of the oncoming Wiegenburgers.

All in all, it ended up being a pretty fast-paced game, but it's always good to get the troops on the table. Hopefully my hussars will have a chance to demonstrate their mettle under more favorable circumstances next time, and in the meantime maybe I'll see what I can do about getting some heavy cavalry for Wachovia...

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Siege of Zerfberg

I believe I mentioned in a recent post that Dad and I had been thinking about hauling out the fortress (last seen at Historicon 2011) and running a NQSYW siege game, and this afternoon we got our chance to do so. My brother William also came up for the game, as did Marc, one of my college cronies with some Charge! experience. As Marc had played on the attacking side in one of the Historicon games, he elected to defend the fortress this time, which was promptly dubbed 'Zerfberg' after its commander. And so, William and I set to digging our trenches...

(As far as troops go, Wachovia and Schoeffen-Buschhagen supplied the attackers, while the fortress defenders consisted of the Hesse-Hattemstadt and Schlusselbrett regiments, dubbed the "Western League." This may puzzle anyone who has looked at the NQSYW map, as neither of the latter two countries lie in a particularly westerly direction from Schoeffen-Buschhagen--the answer is that the third member of the League is the enigmatic land of Saxe-Weilenz, whose animosity towards Schoeffen-Buschhagen seems to be matched only by their reluctance to do any of their own fighting...)

The first turn or two saw a number of saps zigzag towards the fortress without meeting much by way of resistance. In fact, we ended up pushing forward too quickly, beyond the support of our main trenchline--as we found when our attempt to dig a new parallel section provoked a sortie from the defenders. I tried to respond by bringing more troops forward, but the fortress defenders had returned to their positions by the time my intended reinforcements were ready.

Wachovian troops in their initial positions.

Placement of the first saps.

We abandon the diggings and fall back.

Grendiers move forward to support, but not quickly enough.

William deals with the sortie on his end of the line.

After that debacle, we took a more cautious approach the next few turns, digging some support trenches a bit further up, while our guns engaged in some counterbattery fire. This proved more successful than usual, as we dismounted several of the defending guns with some lucky shooting, which put Marc in a bit of a tight spot, as we had the advantage in numbers to begin with.

New parallels and battery emplacements being dug.

New trenches within long musket range of the covered way.

Digging another parallel section, this time with proper support.

The defenders' position only got worse, as William managed to take out their mortar with a well-placed shot from his own. And when Marc moved his last cannon over to try to take out one of our siege guns that had moved up to within range of the walls, a concentrated barrage from my batteries destroyed that one as well. From there it was only a matter of time--the next turn, I built a breaching battery right up on the lip of the covered way, and we determined that the guns would be able to open a sufficient gap in the wall before the time limit was reached.

Breaching battery (on the left)

All in all, I thought it went pretty well--there were definitely some moments early on when I thought we were in trouble, especially when I saw three whole companies come pouring out to attack my diggers--but some lucky shooting managed to turn things around. And it was good to get the fortress on the table again, too--the siege has a different flavor to it than a regular Charge! game, so it's nice to switch things up every so often. That being said, my next goal is to get my shiny new cavalry squadron on the table--hussars aren't much use in the trenches, after all...

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Setting some standards

I mentioned at the end of my last post that I had one more little NQSYW project in the works, and here it is. It had long been my intention to give the Wachovian infantry regiment a national flag to go along with its regimental flag, but efforts to follow through on this intention have gotten sidetracked on multiple occasions. However, after recently completing flags for a couple of our other NQSYW countries, Hesse-Hattemstadt and Schlusselbrett (not yet pictured, apparently) I decided that it was about time to do one for my own country.

And so, here is the Wachovian national flag, unfurled for the first time:

There's a heraldic pun in here that I think only my brother is currently aware of...

But that's not all! On a recent visit home, I picked up a couple of additional figures for the Prince's Own Hussars, I which I have also completed:

The colonel of the regiment. I've been doing some reading, which suggests that our armies have rather low moustache quotients for the 18th century, so I've been attempting to compensate.

A regimental standard!

And here's a shot of the two of them with the new company:

At this point, I'm not sure whether I'll get any more Wachovians painted before spring, as I prefer to do a good part of my prep-work outside, and it seems to have gotten a bit chilly sometime in the past week or so. Fortunately, I have plenty of plastic to keep me busy in the meantime--and hopefully the new troops should see some action before then...

Monday, October 29, 2012

Horses, but no bayonets

(Alright, I may have missed the window of relevancy on that joke by about a week.)

Anyway, the long-awaited second squadron of Wachovian hussars is now complete! By my reckoning, these are the first new Wachovian troops in more than a year, since I believe the last unit I finished was my second gun crew sometime prior to Historicon 2011. However, a couple of recent games inspired me to finally get these guys finished up. (And naturally, if all goes according to plan, the next NQSYW game will be a siege... where cavalry are kind of useless.)

All in all, this puts the total Wachovian contingent at two squadrons of light cavalry, a three-company regiment of line infantry, a company of light infantry, and a two-gun battery. The next unit I add will either be a squadron of heavy cavalry or a company of grenadiers--the former seems a little more likely at the moment, but we shall see where the inspiration takes me. (And I have one other little NQSYW-related project in the works, but more on that in due time...)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Hypothetical Hordes: Avatar: The Last Airbender

One of the great things about Hordes of the Things is that the troop categories are so loose that it's easy to generate army lists for just about any work of fiction--even ones that would be really difficult to actually find figures for. Since I haven't been getting a whole lot of painting done lately, (certainly not compared to last October) I thought I might have a bit of fun sketching out some Hordes of the Things armies that I will almost certainly never build anyway. First up on the list: the armies of Avatar: The Last Airbender.

(Alright, for anyone who's not familiar with Avatar and is too lazy to read either the Wikipedia page or the TVTropes entry, here's the quick version. Avatar is set in a heavily Asian-influenced fantasy world with a martial arts-like magic system based around the four classical elements of earth, water, air, and fire. The four main factions each use one of these elements. The Avatar, who is supposed to maintain the balance, can use them all, and is reincarnated into a different faction every generation. At the beginning of the story, the Avatar is a kid named Aang, who is the titular last airbender--the rest of the Air Nomads having been wiped out by the Fire Nation sometime prior. If you want to avoid spoilers for the show, you may want to stop reading at about this point.)

The show's main villains, the Fire Nation tends to be vaguely Japanese in style, but with a fairly unique "Asian-steampunk" aesthetic and a not particularly unique black/red/orange color scheme. Given their propensity for coming up with threatening new steam-powered war machines as the plot demands, their army list is a fairly flexible one. Possibilities include:

  • Heroes (Zuko in bad-guy mode or any of the various Fire Nation Generals or Admirals.) *
  • Magician (Fire Lord Ozai, possibly Iroh or Azula) *
  • Behemoths (Sinister steam tanks)
  • Airboats (Sinister steam zeppelins)
  • Artillery (Catapults or primitive cannon)
  • Sneakers (Another possibility for Azula and her gang)
  • Blades (Regular foot troops) *
  • Shooters (Low-level firebenders or conventional missile troops)
  • Knights (Mounted on sort of rhino-lizard things)
  • Hordes (A less charitable take on the average Fire Nation mook)
*Potential General options
Stronghold: Vaguely Japanese fortress and/or smoke-belching factory

The Fire Nation's most militarily formidable opponent, and certainly the most populous of the major factions. Tend to appear vaguely Chinese in style, with a green/brown/yellow color scheme. Again, a fair number of possibilities as far as troop types go. Possibilities include:
  • Heroes (Bumi or other powerful earthbenders) *
  • Behemoths (Blocky centipede-like stone "tanks" controlled by earthbenders)
  • Sneakers (Agents of the Dai Li)
  • Spears (Regular foot troops) *
  • Shooters (Low-level earthbenders or conventional missile troops)
  • Riders (Mounted on sort of ostrich-horse things)
  • Hordes (Conscript troops)
  • Lurkers (Jet's guerillas)
*Potential General options
Stronghold: A section of the invincible walls of Ba Sing Se or other Earth Kingdom city

Divided into the Northern and Southern Water tribes, they inhabit the polar regions. Vaguely Inuit in appearance, with a blue/violet/white color scheme. Of the major factions, they probably have the least variation displayed on the show and thus the fewest options as far as HotT troop types go. Possibilities include:
  • Heroes (Chief Hakoda, arguably) *
  • Magician (Master Pakku or other powerful waterbenders) *
  • Warbands (Less disciplined than Earth Kingdom or Fire Nation soldiers.) *
  • Shooters (You know the drill)
*Potential General options
Stronghold: Small village of igloos for the Southern Water Tribe, giant ice fortress for the Northern Water Tribe.

Just kidding! These guys are all dead, and besides, they claimed to be pacifists, bearing a striking resemblance to modern Tibetan monks, and quite unlike historical Tibetans. An army of theirs would be a very chancy thing, given that it would have to consist almost entirely of Magicians, Flyers and Airboats--and to make matters worse, those "airboats" are actually six-legged flying yaks. Good luck finding models of those.

Stronghold: Mountaintop monastery.

Instead, let's take a look at our protagonists and a few of the miscellaneous people they meet on their travels. Note that this list could also draw from pretty much anything on the Earth Kingdom or Water Tribe lists as well.
  • Heroes (I'd group the main cast together as a single hero stand. Upgrade to Aerial Hero if you can find a satisfactory Appa the sky bison...)
  • God (Aang in the Avatar State.)
  • Cleric (Guru Pathik)
  • Sneakers (Wandering minstrels)
  • Blades (Kyoshi warrior ladies armed with fans)
  • Flyers (Gliders or the Mechanist's balloons)
  • Lurkers (Foggy Swamp Tribe)
Stronghold: Random village, or any of the non-Fire Nation options

Unfortunately, despite the real-world influences, the visual appearance of the world of Avatar is pretty distinctive. I expect that putting these armies together could be difficult even in 25mm, and pretty much impossible in 20mm, as Asia is a chronically under-represented area of the world. Maybe in ten years, if Caesar Miniatures keeps issuing sets like these...

Anyway, I may do a few more "Hypothetical Hordes" entries at some point. If you have one you'd particularly like to see, feel free to leave a note in the comments...

Friday, October 5, 2012

A long-awaited map

Some of my gentle readers may at times have been bewildered by the various fictional countries featured in the battles of Not Quite The Seven Years' War. For their benefit (and to aid my fellow heads of state in planning their future campaigns) I present the following map:

Cities, mountains, rivers, etc. will hopefully be added at a later date...

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Past battles and future purchases

Despite just having been home for Barrage, I made my way north again last weekend at the promise of waffles and a NQSYW battle--which turned out to be a great improvement over the previous one, at least from the Wachovian point of view. Since I arrived the evening of the 21st, Dad and I decided to celebrate the publication of The Hobbit and the semi-completion of my Orcish army with a quick game of Hordes of the Things. Rather quick, as it turned out--somehow our generals managed to get themselves into a situation where one of them would inevitably die, and I lost the crucial roll...

View from the Orcish center

Orcish archers and their buddy the bunyip.

Facing down the Elvish contingent in the woods.

No room to recoil--oops!

The next morning, after the promised waffles, we packed about four regiments of troops (not to mention cavalry and artillery) into the trunk of my car and headed down to Chris Palmer's place, where the Pragmatic Coalition would once again face off against North Polenburg. (North Polenburg's partner in crime, Rosmark, is apparently having some internal problems again...) This time, our objective was to drive the enemy out of a defensive position which they had taken up in two villages and which they had supplemented with some redoubts. Fortunately, we had numbers on our side, an advantage which we used to good effect.

I took command of my Wachovian troops, making up our left wing; a combined Schoeffen-Buschhagen and Wiegenburger force, with a significant cavalry component comprised our center, and a second Schoeffen-Buschhagen regiment with light infantry support took up the right. While much of the enemy's attention was drawn to the right and the center, the Wachovian infantry advanced across the field towards the western village, sustaining relatively light losses from the guns in the redoubts. And on the extreme left, I took advantage of the Wachovian hussars' mobility (and lack of opposing heavy cavalry, for once!) to work my way around the very edge of the table and behind the line of redoubts.

Between concentrated cannon fire from our own batteries and the advancing infantry, we were able to suppress one of the two opposing guns. This left an enemy company occupying the western village and another half-company and a gun in the second redoubt. Braving a hail of fire from another company that was being deployed to the scene, the Wachovian hussars charged the rear of the redoubt and engaged the troops there in melee, allowing the bulk of my infantry to advance on the village. There we managed to put the lessons of the previous battle to good use--the defenders were reduced by volleys of short-range musket fire and a few well-placed cannonballs, and we did not have to try the rather iffy business of storming buildings. Meanwhile, our compatriots on the right and in the center had also gained their objectives (though not without some heavy losses, particularly for the Adellman regiment). The enemy was forced to cut their losses and fall back, leaving the field in Pragmatic hands.

(Note: you can read a couple of other accounts of this battle, free of pro-Wachovian bias, here and here.)

The North Polenburg general deploys his forces.

My fellow Pragmatic commanders.

Hussars begin their outflanking maneuver.

I wasn't the only one taking pictures...

Our forces advance.

Cavalry melee ensues.

Wachovian infantry approach the western village.

Wachovian hussars charge the redoubt.

Another Wachovian contingent takes a gun!

A broader view of the action.

Resolving another melee in the center.

We did get in one more game, but I didn't really take any pictures--not that there's a whole lot to see when it comes to 6mm WWII anyway...

In other news, it's an exciting time to be me as far as new miniatures releases go: as though reading my mind, Orion has put out a couple of sets of Byzantine infantry, so I will not be forced to use converted medieval Russians when it comes to expand that army. Finally, Caesar has released a whole boatload of new sets... including the long-awaited (long awaited) Mycenaean chariots, which look pretty darn spiffy, so I may have to get some work in on the Bronze Age again. And of course, I still have a few more orcs to paint, and the next unit of Byzantine lancers, and some Wachovian hussars, and a couple more NQSYW units beyond that... well, I guess I'll find something to keep myself busy. (And everyone seems to want a map for the NQSYW all of a sudden--I guess I should work on that too...)