Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Will and I ran two games of Starship Troopers at Adepticon this March. The Mobile Infantry had to venture out of their fortifications to recover a downed satellite before it fell permanently into Arachnid hands (claws? feelers?). Here are some pictures:

Photo Mar 24, 5 27 54 PMPhoto Mar 24, 5 27 34 PMPhoto Mar 25, 10 21 23 AMPhoto Mar 25, 9 30 46 AMPhoto Mar 25, 10 21 59 AM

Back to Blogging

Posted: February 7, 2017 in Miniature Games, Other, Uncategorized

Well, it’s been several years since I wrote anything for this blog. Much has changed since my last post LOL.

I’ll be reorganizing things a bit, since my painting and gaming interests are heading in new directions these days. To get the ball rolling, here are a few recent pictures of some of my painting for Congo, from Studio Tomahawk.


Cannibal Chieftan for the Forest Tribes. 28mm figure by Copplestone.


Masai figures (bases unfinished). 28mm Foundry figures.

Given my crazy weekend (tons of errands, snow shoveling, massive cleaning in the house and band rehearsal), I didn’t get a chance to organize before heading over to Games Plus on Sunday afternoon to run a Tomorrow’s War demo. Looking through the figures I brought and that Zach had on hand, we decided on an assault by a Neo-Soviet force against a US Army defensive position comprised of a small settlement surrounding an industrial area.

The Neo-Soviet attackers were a large force consisting of a company of 9 Pegasus III tanks, moderately armored and gunned; a platoon of mechanized infantry in hover APCs; another platoon of VDV troops in tracked APCs and wearing TL2 Power Armor; and a tracked tank hunter attached to the VDV forces. All troops were TQ:D8/Morale:D8, except for the VDV, who were TQ:D10/Morale:D10. The Neo-Soviets set up second and had initiative for the first turn.

The US defenders comprised 3 Patton Heavy Tanks (also known as the Khurasan Siler tanks), 3 Ramirez IFVs, two squads of infantry and a weapons squad with 2 AT teams. All troops were TQ:D8/Morale:D10. We also gave the US tech level 3 and plasma weapons (negate one die of armor) to give them a better chance at holding off the Neo-Soviets. The US players had to set up first.

The village provided 1 extra die of cover in each building, 2 extra dice in the industrial buildings. The scenario objective was simple. Add up the number of buildings controlled by each side when time expires and the highest total = the winner.

The settlement...the US players set up to the left of the road, the Neo-Soviets came in from the right.

I should have known things would not go as I thought from the first turn. The Neo’s pushed one flank hard right from the start, using one platoon of hover tanks to fire smoke (pretty ineffectually, I might add) and then pushed forward a second platoon who drew reaction fire from two of the Pattons. That’s when things went…weird.

The Neo-Soviet advance at the end of Turn One

The first thing that happened was a Patton fired a round into a Pegasus for a quick kill. During the subsequent turn, another Patton rolled into view, and lost the draw with the surviving two Pegasi. One missed, but the second one rolled two hits with 2D8s. The frontal armor for the Patton is normally 5D12, but it was up to 6D12 because of the lower tech level of the Pegasus. Guess what? A hit, and one that proved critical: main gun knocked out. My son Steve (commanding the Pegasus in question) let out a whoop of glee! A second Patton rolled out to engage the platoon firing smoke. Moments later, the unthinkable happened again. The Patton lost the draw, but this time the return fire from a Pegasus knocked out the vehicle entirely. Harlow (commanding this Pegasus) had trumped my son’s achievement!

One burning, one main gun knocked weird day!

Paying the price for the Pattons

After this, the US players hunkered down and kept in cover. The wounded Patton decided to fire at APCs and infantry targets, while the sole remaining intact Patton stayed in cover for the most part, waiting for the Neo-Soviets to close. The Neo-Soviets did just that, but at incredible cost. The AT teams, along with the Ramirez APCs, played hell with the Neo-Soviet APCs, brewing up many and causing casualties among the dismounting infantry. On the Neo-Soviet extreme right flank, the VDV dismounted and advanced rapidly to take the first row of buildings, taking fire and light casualties, but putting it to the US defenders.

APCs burning bright from expert US gunnery

The VDV advance next to the burning hulks of many of the Neo-Soviet APCs

It was at this point that time ran out with the issue very much in balance. From a “buildings occupied” perspective, the US players were in the lead, but the VDV were chewing up the US infantry and not taking much in return.

A Ramirez IFV waits for the final push

All in all, it was a fun game with plenty of momentum shifts and thrilling moments. It just goes to show you that what looks like a balanced scenario can go to hell in one turn. But unlike other games, Tomorrow’s War doesn’t necessarily stay that way, as the US forces did a very effective job of turning the situation around and making it a very close game, despite the early losses.

2011 in review

Posted: January 1, 2012 in Uncategorized

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 33,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 12 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

I know many, many people are writing about the end of the Space Shuttle program and expressing nostalgia, disappointment, anger or even joy in some cases.

For me, it is simply a sad day.

As a kid, I grew up watching the Gemini and Apollo missions. The men who flew them were my heroes. My original “I wanna be when I grow up” career was astronaut and continued to be that until I was diagnosed with diabetes in my late teens. I pushed myself and graduated at the top of my high school class with my head full of the stars and my heart full of the joy of exploration. I actually spent one year in college in Astrophysics at the University of Illinois, thinking that I would eventually work for the space program and NASA in some way.  I was not alone. Thousands if not tens of thousands of  people felt as I did; the future was space. The truth is, the manned space program of the United States was a catalyst for positive change and set difficult, but attainable goals for several generations of young men and women.

Now? Now we hitch rides on the resurgent Russian space program.

Don’t get me wrong…the Space Shuttles are getting long in the tooth. They probably should be retired. But what have we done as a nation to replace them? Where is the plan for the next challenge? How will we keep pace with the rapidly growing technological competition posed by other countries who are no longer shying away from space, but accelerating their efforts to move beyond the current levels of achievement.

What has happened to our nation that we are no longer focused on the hard, the impossible, the aspirational, but are simply mired in the mundane. Before you get up on your high horses about the economics of manned space flight and the US deficit/budget crisis, the bad economy, etc., the benefits of our manned space program have more than paid for themselves several times over in breakthroughs in medicine, engineering, computing, miniaturization and other practical technologies. The very challenges of space force innovation…and that innovation pays enormous dividends for those of us stuck at the bottom of the gravity well. The problem is, when you launch a mission, there isn’t an immediate return on investment. Wall Street doesn’t gain 10%. Corporate coffers are not enriched immediately. Politicians don’t go up in the polls the same day. The benefits manifest themselves over months, years, even decades.

What the systemic dismantlement of NASA by the past three administrations has done has underlined a horrible, horrible trait of the present United States government and culture; namely, we can’t engage in long-term planning and vision. The words of John F. Kennedy still echo to me  from long ago:

We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too. “

How far, how very far we have fallen. God help us all if we can no longer aspire.

One day after eye surgery and my vision was good enough to paint. Three days after eye surgery we put the final touches on the boards and carted them over to Unique Gifts and Games for a playtest of the Bala Baluk scenario from the soon-to-be-released Operation Enduring Freedom book. Here are a few shots of the boards in action:

The full Bala Baluk board with terrain in place.

USMC in the irrigation canal fight their way to the disabled recon Hummers.

Taliban waiting to spring their ambush on the reinforcing USMC elements.

The buildings are not the final ones for the game; those are arriving courtesy of Shawn Carpenter. But otherwise, we’re good to go. In the two run-throughs we conducted, we learned a few things. First of all, Tier One Taliban are not your typical insurgents. They are a formidable opponent. Second, the USMC DMRs (Designated Marksmen) are worth their weight in gold against RPG-armed troops as they get to pick their targets. Finally, as we always remember in every game of Ambush Alley, the Fog of War deck is not your friend. In one game, after a particularly successful 155mm artillery strike by the USMC, the next turn a ‘1’ was rolled on a reaction test and the ‘Gas, Gas, Gas’ card was pulled. Everyone dropped a die in troop quality, which hurt the USMC far more than the Taliban.

I think we’re going to have fun with this one at Historicon. We’re looking forward to meeting lots of you and rolling the dice!

We have been busy with the two games for Historicon for Ambush Alley Games, and Shawn Carpenter gave me the green light to post a few photos “in advance” to whet the appetite. First up are a few shots of the 17 Syrian T-62s for the “Encounter on the Yehudia Road” scenario from the 1973 Arab-Israeli conflict. These figures were graciously donated by Geoff at QRF.

QRF T-62s in 15mm painted as Syrians

Closer shot of T-62s

These tanks are nearly finished. All I need to add are some of the machine guns and give them a final seal. For those interested, I primered them Army Painter “Army Green”, then airbrushed them with a pale sand and dark gray overspray. Weathering was a red-brown wash for the bogey wheels, with progressive drybrushes of khaki and pale sand. Since I couldn’t find any suitable decals in 15mm, I went all out and hand painted all the arabic numerals on the turrets. Information on insignia and numbering for Syrian vehicles is somewhat sketchy, but most sources show a 3-digit turret number. Sometimes the numbers were shown in a dotted box, but I elected to go the easier route. I’m very happy with how these have turned out. As for the camouflage colors, again, there is little to go on. I elected to follow the scheme in the Concord publication for 1948-1873 Wars of the Middle East. I have seen other pictures where the yellow was more bright, the green another color and the gray omitted, to name but a few options.

As for their opponents, Geoff again supplied us with Centurion 5/2s, which I have painted as Israeli Sho’ts for the game. Yes, there are a few differences between the Centurion 5/2 and the Sho’t, but most are minor at 15mm scale.

QRF 15mm Centurion Sho'ts

Closer view of Sho'ts

Again, there was a lack of 15mm decals readily available, so I hand painted the company chevrons and Hebrew platoon/tank designations on the fenders. The tanks were primered in Army Painter “Skeletal Bone” and airbrushed with Testor’s Israeli Armor Sand. I then painted the treads and bogey wheels in dark gray, followed by successive drybrushes of khaki and pale sand for weathering. The eight tanks in the scenario represent three platoons (with battle losses) and a company command vehicle. All that remains is the addition of the turret MGs and we are ready to go for Historicon.

The Yehudia Road action will feature 25 vehicles total and is designed to showcase the new armor rules in Force on Force. The action represents part of the last stand of an Israeli tank platoon against a full brigade of Syrian armor in the opening days of the conflict. The platoon held until reinforcements arrived, thanks in part to the superior gunnery of the Israeli tankers and in part because of the elevation involved. The Soviet-made tanks could not elevate their barrels high enough to hit the Israelis until they had closed the range. We’ve played the scenario a number of times and it still remains a tense action until the end. We’re looking forward to running it for everyone.