2015-11-28 16.50.28

Remember the Alamo!

I’d forgotten (to post) about it.

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We were in Texas over Thanksgiving and got to spend a day in San Antonio before returning to Virginia. At my request, we got to spend a little time at the Alamo; we haven’t been back there since before our wedding.

The diorama was, honestly, the primary reason.  What’s weird is I distinctly remember seeing a diorama at the Alamo last time, in 2006, but apparently the one there now was installed in 2009.  At the very least, the one there now is glorious.

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2,000+, 1:32 scale.  Lavishly detailed down to the smallest details.  And, according to the article above, done simply as a labor of love by some crusty old dude who just wanted to make something beautiful.

What I’m saying is: this is what I want to do when I get old.

John Basilone (1)

John Basilone

During Snowzilla (aka “Make Winter Great Again”), I painted up the Warlord John Basilone figure for the “We’re snowed in, so let’s have a painting contest” DAHGS painting contest.

John Basilone (1)

John Basilone (2)

I’m pleased with it, even if the mouth didn’t photograph particularly well.

It was a little disconcerting how few of the WWII buffs at the store knew who he was (“He’s going to have a bad time trying to fire that gun that way.” Well, yeah.)  Those guys probably should remember that it wasn’t Europe War II; I think I’ll blame Flames of War for that.

Amiens - End (9)

Amiens, Aug 8, 1918

Amiens - End (9)

The Amiens game (finally) went down on Sunday with, it appears, great success. Everyone had a good time, the rules held up (there were notes, but when wouldn’t there be), and things went smoothly (the game took ~4 hours, with 6 players and 43 Order Dice, so I think that counts as “speedy”).

I’ll post up the rules in a separate post, but I think they held up well; the smaller scale worked great and most of the period specific rules also accomplished what they needed to.

Casey, John, and Rhett were the Germans, desperately trying to hold off the British as long as they could; Gavin, Keith, and Steve were British trying to break through the German lines.

The Germans deployed: a lot more thought went into the placement of Barbed Wire than I’d anticipated.  Many of the German units deployed into Ambush, forgetting that the push would be preceded by a Rolling Bombardment. (Note: because there were 43 Order dice, we used regular dice and used the chart.  Black was German, White was British, Red was the Bombardment,)

Amiens - Turn 0 (2)

Between the bombardment and nearly every German unit starting the game with an Order, Turn 1 was pretty much a British show.  The Brits decided to lead with all of their tanks, holding the infantry back for subsequent turns.

Amiens - Turn 1 (2)

While the bombardment was effective in suppressing the defenders, it slowed the attackers down: advancing too far too fast killed a Mark V.

Amiens - Turn 2 (2)

The defenders fired Minenwerfers relentlessly at Tanks but weren’t able to hit a single. one. all game long.  Machine Guns, with the K Bullet, were more effective (I’m pretty sure that one died to a Machine Gun).

Amiens - Turn 2 (4)

Amiens - Turn 2 (9)

The attackers had a tough time making progress on their left, but the Australians along the right made more headway.  (Yes, the Australians were on the other side of the Somme from the British; I wanted Australian troops, so I gave them Australian troops.)

Amiens Turn 3 (2)

The “infinite reserves” rule I used kept things from being hopeless and boring for the Germans, but it made consequences too slight: it’ll be the first thing that gets tweaked.

Amiens Turn 4 (1)

The German presence along their right was solid….

Amiens Turn 4 (4)

Which meant their left was where the decisive action would take place.

Amiens Turn 4 (6)

The Brits were able to push into the second trench line, in the end.

Amiens - End (2)

At Turn 6, the Brits had established a foothold in the second trench line, and the game ended.

Amiens - End (7)

Per scoring (which also needs some tweaking), it was a blowout for the Germans: although the British made headway, their progress was too slow.

The Table:

I did most of this, but got some significant help from Steve & Rhett.  This is a concession: this isn’t what the German lines looked like in the Summer of 1918, but it certainly feels a lot more WWI-trenchy, and will, hopefully, see quite a bit of use in other battles.  They’re two 4’x2′ boards; we got clever while laying them out: the two red Xs above line up: in the future, we’ll be able to line them up side-by-side with two more boards across the front for a wider battle, and we’ll be able to spin the front line around and place a third board across the middle for a more standard 6’x4′ table.  All the trenches are duckboarded; the second line is built along the edge of a road, with hairpins, and two bunkers back by the orange !s.

I made a billion barbed wire stands: plasticard crosses supporting 28 gauge wire spun into circles. I’ll probably redo the wire: I had a marker to wrap them around, which meant they’re uneven.  I also, before game, painted up the crashed Sopwith.  Why is there a crashed Sopwith? Because I wanted a crashed Sopwith.

I’m hypercritical of myself, so all I can see are where things fell short of where I’d wanted them, but I really did hit a point where I just said, “Screw it; close enough.” Maybe I’ll circle back around and punch up some things, but there’s definitely going to be some things I just live with.

I’m going to revise the rules a smidge; I’ll run it again at Madicon  in March and then Historicon (Cold Wars isn’t in the cards for me this year).

I’m pretty glad to be done with the game, though: I’ve been working on this thing since September: it’s dominated my hobby time and I’m ready as hell to be working on something in 28mm again… as well as to be working on something that isn’t Amiens.

Here’s a photodump of some pictures some other folks took (Casey, Steve, Keith):

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Zurraigo - Front (1)

2015 Year in Review

Zurraigo - Front (1)

While overall 2014 was the most overall challenging years I’ve encountered, 2015 has given it a run for its money and hit unparalleled heights of stress… but was, for the most part, a pretty good year. Selling our home of ten years felt like it was going to kill me, but I (clearly) made it out alright, and it completely worth it.  Our new home is perfect, and my hobby space is definitely on the list of why.

Hobby Room - After

From a hobby perspective, I was kind of all over the place: some Infinity, a lot of Wrath of Kings assembly, some By Fire & Sword, and then about half an eternity doing 18mm WWI figures. Not much game playing, and all of it pretty scattershot.  In previous years, I Played Warmachine or I Played 40K or I Played Fantasy.  This year, I played a couple games of a lot of different games. Bolt Action probably wins in terms of frequency, but not by much.

I feel like this has been a wash of a year in terms of hobby accomplishment: the house and move were immensely disruptive… but the data disagrees. 2015 was my sixth year of hobby tracking, and just look at that chart. I went from No, Actually Doing Quite Well to Killing It.  This is going to make future years look unproductive by comparison.

2015 PpMbY

Warhammer Fantasy, the models that got me into this hobby, was killed: that understandably has cast a pall of impermanence over everything.  I’m unable to look at the sporatic, sputtering Age of Sigmar releases without thinking ‘Nothing beside remains. Round the decay / of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare / the load and level sands stretch far away.’ Anyway, it’s certainly contributed to my shift into historics.

I got tied up with a couple of other area guys doing scenario-based historical gaming, which has been a lot of fun. It’s been formalized into a club: TGS (Mrs. Rushputin thinks ‘The Girlie Show‘ every time she hears it).  Prep for just such a scenario has dominated the back half of my 2015.

I did very well in terms of painting competitions, I think: two first place awards at Historicon (and a kind, passed-along word from Reaper)

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and an improvement over last year’s showing at Captial Palette: a second and a third place award

Zurraigo Award

(Strangely, no FacebookBrag photo of the Capital Palette awards.)

The death of Warhammer Fantasy Battles wasn’t the only significant loss of 2015 – The Game Parlor, where I really started up my participation in the hobby shut it’s doors after well over two decades. I’m sad to see it go, though if I’m honest with myself for the past six months or so I’ve been driving right past it to get to Huzzah Hobbies.

Another notable achievement: at the top of the year, I set out to track what I spent on models and map it against  what I painted.  The plan wasn’t so much to regulate my hobby spending (can such a thing truly be done?) as it was to achieve a parity between what incoming, unpainted models, and “outgoing” completed models. I immediately hit a challenge with the release of a bunch of new Skaven models, but by May had actually gotten the Δ between bought and painted to below zero.  (Of course, Historicon-born enthusiasm screwed the whole thing up).


This has been vastly more free-formed than I normally do my Year-in-Reviews, but that doesn’t mean I’ll let goals slip by:

2015 Goals

  • FinishSuccess – I suppose I finished some stuff – I painted all of my Infinity (until I got more over the summer) and am very, very close to finishing the Amiens prep.
  • PaintComplete Success – As above – I’ve unquestionably done this.
  • CompeteSuccess – I played in three tournaments, all of which were pretty non-competitive, structured-play opportunities.  That’s okay, but it’s not exactly what I meant here.
  • GameSuccess – I did do this.  A lot of this, across a million different systems.
  • Dump StuffFailure – I got rid of some stuff before the move, but not enough and I replaced it with even more stuff.  I really need to fix that going forward.
  • Finish a Muskets & Tomahawks WarbandTotal Failure – The really bad thing is there’s actually people who play this game at Huzzah.

2016 Goals

  • Finish
  • Paint
  • Compete
  • Amiens – Successfully execute this game in January, and again at Historicon
  • Step it up at NOVA – I’ve done okay in the Historical categories, but I’m not kidding myself that they’re the least competitive categories there. I need to paint-for-competition some models that are worth the effort for some other categories; more than my usual, “Well, I paid for unlimited entries so I might as well put something in every category…”
  • Game in my basement – My workshop is also intended to be a game room.  It’s great that our sporadic Dark Heresy game goes down in it, but I’d like to put it to work, more.

Day of Days

I took a short break from the WWI figures to paint up the Historicon 2014 show model as a gift.

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It turned out okay, and was well-received, which was the point.

Kind of Sick of this Scale

Still grinding away at painting up dudes for Amiens. I’m nearing the end: I’ve finished painting the British Infantry, have moved in on German weapons, and have British tanks left to start.

Just in time, too. I started painting these suckers in September; I’m just about at 200 of them. I’m kind of sick of it; ready to start something new, preferably in a larger scale.

Amiens - GermansAmiens - BritishAmiens - British 2Amiens - Germans 2

Bolt Action – Alternate Mortar Rules


One of the things that comes up– a lot– in our games is how Mortars suck in Bolt Action (by “mortars” here we really mean “anything firing Indirectly”).

They’re so swingy: when they hit they hit really, really hard and when they don’t they’re just a waste of points. When something boils down to “how good are you at rolling dice,” IMO there’s a problem.  It’s also weirdly inconsistent in terms of how mortars fire mortar shells vs. smoke: if you’re firing at the place Unit A is sheltering, Unit A moves and Unit B takes their place… you’ve suddenly forgotten where your mortar was pointing.  There’s also nothing differentiating Inexperienced Troops from Veteran Troops when it comes to firing indirectly: club members who have, in the past, fired mortars for a living have expressed dissatisfaction with that. Finally, it’s binary: you’re either trashing a unit with indirect or they could care less.

I really kind of like the way 40K handles this with the blast template and the scatter and the scatter roll being modified by Ballistic Skill… but you can’t do templates in Bolt Action. The rules avoid them, and there are some clear benefits to not having them, so they’re right out.

We chatted through a different approach at Fall In; might as well share it here. Not asserting that this is perfect, or final but this is on track with what  would like to see.  (In fact, I’ll tag the parts I’m less than certain about).


Replace INDIRECT FIRE, paragraph 2 with the following:

When using indirect fire, pick a point on the table within the weapon’s maximum range and outside of the weapon’s minimum range and place a marker there. Roll a d6*. Your opponent may move the marker that many inches in any direction, so long as the marker remains between the weapon’s minimum and maximum ranges**.

In subsequent turns, the unit may either choose a new point to fire at (in which case your opponent chooses where to place the marker, as above), or may continue firing at an existing marker: place a new marker d6″ away from a previously placed marker.  Placing a new marker does not remove the previous marker; how many markers are left on the table depends on the quality of the unit firing: Inexperienced Troops may leave only 2 markers, Regular 3, and Veteran 4.  If a unit already has the maximum number of markers on the table, remove the least recently placed marker****

If a marker is placed within 1″ of a unit, that unit suffers a hit from the weapon. as usual.  If a marker is placed within 3″ of a unit, that unit instead suffers a hit from a weapon one step down on the HE chart*****.  For example, a Light Mortar 1″ away is HE (D3) and 3″ away is HE (D2).  A unit greater than 3″ away is unaffected.

There are no guaranteed hits, but saturating an area with fire makes you more likely to hit units in that area. A unit’s quality is reflected in that they are progressively more likely to hit units in their target area as they range in.  Impact on a target unit is no longer binary: there’s a reduced impact from a near-hit.

Thoughts? Comments? Criticism?

* Maybe it should be 2d6.  It should be possible that the first shot of a mortar hits its target, but unlikely.

** Or maybe not?  Maybe it’s okay to let your opponent

*** Or possibly every unit that may fire indirectly.  It’s not like they’re not coordinating.

**** Or any of them, I guess.

***** I’m least certain about this.  Maybe the ranges need tweaking, maybe the stepping needs tweaking (down 2 steps instead of 1?), but fundamentally this is where I’m at.