Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Regiment de La Reine and Canadian Milita

Finally finished up basing on my new (and last) French regiment - La Reine.  I also now have two units of Canadian Militia and a leader so I took some photos of them as well (even though I think I included them in another post - but I did this just to show small units using my new picture taking knowledge).

The La Reine regiment uses all Conquest Miniatures (Warlord Games).  The Canadian Militia is a mix of Galloping Major Miniatures and North Star Military Figures.

Having learned something useful about my camera over the weekend I set about using this new found knowledge to take these pictures using some different lighting.  I now see why having a "natural" light bulb is critical (vs. the yellowish light of standard bulbs).

Actually, this one little tip has served to change everything for my picture taking ability.  I'm still nowhere near pro, but this one is key.  I have a Nikon D3000 SLR camera.  I'm a meat head when it comes to cameras so I'll attempt to explain this in my own terms.  There are two key things you need to do on the camera itself:

  1. Adjust the "picture mode" knob to "A" (means aperture).  To date I had used auto and the flower (called "macro") - with and without the flash - not good for what I was attempting to accomplish (that "depth with clarity" in the pictures).
  2. When in the aperture setting, you can adjust the "F" setting.  My default F setting is 5.6 - whole insufficient for shooting pictures of miniatures.  The F setting adjusts how much light (exposure) will be taken when the picture clicks.  Now, the more light you let in (the higher the F setting number), the more light, and generally as a result, the longer the exposure time. For standard 4x6 foot tables it was recommended to start with an F setting of 22 (a far cry from 5.6!).  To adjust the F setting on my camera I need to rotate my wheel located at the top-right side of the back of my camera (it is used to adjust other settings as well - like the flash setting for example).
Now, since the exposure is going to be longer than the quick click that most of us are used to it is critical to keep the camera dead still.  This will require a tripod of some sort and the usage of the picture delay (my delay is 10 seconds).  The reason for using the delay is to give yourself time to click the picture button (causing the camera to move) and allow the camera to settle and be dead steady for the exposure.  Note that exposures can take many seconds ... so be patient and make sure the camera doesn't move until you hear the second shudder snap.

Regiment de La Reine
(just using sunlight coming in from the garage door being open)

Another angle - showing depth. Again with the natural
sunlight coming in from the garage door.

The garage door is now closed, this is the light
from the ceiling lights.

Room lights with my painting lamp pointed at the front
of the unit - it uses a natural light bulb.

Another angle using the natural light bulb lamp.

Canadian Militia unit #1.

Canadian Militia unit #2.

Canadian Militia unit leader.

And there you have it.  Clearly I have more I can learn (no doubt about that on any topic) - but a big step forward.  I saw the pictures the Wargames Illustrated lad had taken of my M&T demo games and the depth and clarity of the game pictures was just astounding.

I hope you all find this useful -- I never had the patience to really dig through learning all there is to know about photography - I wish I met this guy many years ago and got this tip!

Monday, May 27, 2013

KulbaCon 2013 Report

KublaCon, the San Francisco bay area's largest gaming convention, was held this weekend.  I took Friday off of work and headed over the convention around noon after packing up all my stuff.  The main plan was to play mostly board games throughout the weekend, but I did bring along Muskets and Tomahawks, X-Wing, and my SAGA stuff.

R2D2 ... and Yoda backpack.

Friday was mostly board games, playing lots of games of King of Tokyo, Gloom, and of course the first of the many rounds made through the dealer's room. My favorite dealer at this convention is always ZombieSmith and they did not disappoint.  They had several new releases for their Quar and the much anticipated Shieldwall rulebook for their War of Ashes game. I picked up some newly released Gwynt to compliment my Royalist armies (I love the bicorns on these guys along with their red jackets). For Shieldwall I was able to play in a large demo game and had a blast - it is a truly unique system that focuses on the ebb and flow of large bodies of troops smashed together in a chaotic shieldwall.  I have a 4 banner army for this (after spending some money at their booth) and will post up a review of the system and armies in a separate blog post.  I also picked up some armour for my Coftyran army for Quar.  Pictures below compliments of my phone.

New Quar.

I managed to get the last stretcher bearer.

A mix of whimsical one offs.

Demo armies for Shieldwall.

Various factions from Shieldwall
(of which there are four).

Quar - Royalist Coftyrans.

Quar - new releases for Fidwog, including some
splendid looking new cavalry.

Quar armour options.

Quar stuff.

Shieldwall - the Kuld are a hoard army and my
first army I'll be playing for this system.

Shieldwall - a buddy of mine picked up a 4 banner
Vidaar army - looking forward to playing against him.

A Kuld army for Shieldwall - and the army I used in
the demo game.

The Vidaar army I played against in the demo game.

The Shieldwall demo games photos are below:

Cool game for kids/younger wargamers called Wooden Wars. The Kickstarter for the system just ended (funded). They had a large setup with lots of kids playing.  They move units and roll little bouncy balls to knock over the other sides troops when shooting.  Since I have a 4 year old, I just couldn't resist and picked up some units so I could get him started with wargaming early.  All of the miniatures are laser cut thick MDF and can stand up to a hell of a beating.

Wooden Wars game in progress.

Dan Kerrick, a good friend of mine, ran a regional qualifying X-Wing tournament. John Lantz, another friend, managed to take home first place using his Tie Fighter swarm list.  He won a free ticket to the national tournament in Seattle this year - congratulations John! Even more shocking than that was the rather attractive girl that played in the tournament!  I was heading back home about this time so couldn't play in the tournament myself, but watched a little into the first round.

X-Wing regional qualifying tournament in progress.
(girl in black, third table from the left)

Traffic jam!

Nice trophy!

I brought along my Muskets and Tomahawks stuff. I had just finished basing my new French infantry regiment and my last Indian unit.  I had more than enough to run two game simultaneously so I setup my two 4x4 tables and ran some people through the game.  I was setup in the main hallway to the miniatures rooms, so I had lots of foot traffic and people asking about M&T - so hopefully we'll see new players as a result!

One of the best parts of this was Wargames Illustrated was here and they stopped by to take some pictures and chat.  Being rather camera challenged myself, I spoke with him about taking pictures of miniature battles (he had a Nikon SLR like I have).  He filled me in on how to really capture the clarity and depth of tabletop games in progress!  I look forward to providing much improved pictures of games in progress in my future posts.

My British F&I stuff.

Indians with some civilians (most of them where already
out on the table).

My French F&I stuff.

Getting setup.

Kicking off the first turns.

Josh (head zombie at ZombieSmith) showing
in theme tattoos - sword and musket - nice! 

When I got home my Dead Man's Hand stuff had arrived --- whoot!!!  Oh wait, incomplete order --- for some reason they didn't include any of the card decks (I should have two) and out of the four gangs they only sent two???!!!! I contacted them immediately, the good news is that even over the long weekend they responded within an hour letting me know they'd get the missing stuff in the post on Tuesday.

Monday, May 20, 2013

General Update - 5/20/2013

I have several updates for anyone that cares out there.

First up, took a second run at the recent Black Powder scenario I played with my friend Roy (see battle report for 5/10/2013).  Now being fully back up to speed on the rules the game played much faster (~3 hours) and was even more entertaining as we executed different strategies.  Although I think on paper it is hard for the British to win, I do this there is a cleaver balance to the scenario (from Albion Triumphant Vol. 1 - the "Battle of Granja de la Abundancia) scenario).  French victory as the British army broke on turn 7.

Well underway as the brigades get marched onto the table.

Both sides start softening up targets before melee time.

A bloodbath in progress.
The battle of the large hill decided the game.

As a friend of mine likes to say, "War is hell!"

So a little gaming over the weekend was fun.

I've funded the Robotech kickstarter project which is just now coming to an end. What an amazing deal. I was a chronic Robotech watcher growing up and still have all the episodes. This looks like a really fun game (based on the demo video). Original goal was to fund at 70k ... they just past 1.4 million ... DAMN! With all the free stuff I just can't wait to get my hands on it!

Another great project I have coming up is Dead Man's Hand - the old west rules now available from Great Escape Games. A very fast and fun system ... and you only need up to seven models for a gang ... that's it!  The terrain is beautiful and I have some plans to knock out a great little 3'x4' table for this game.

Awesome demo table!

I'm also wrapping up the basing for my second French regiment for my French and Indian War collection - along with two additional Indian units. That will finish up all the French and Indian figures I have.  Just a few more buildings to finish up and some fort artillery.

So I'm hoping to make lots of progress over the summer. There is a local game convention coming up (KublaCon) that I'll be spending some time at ... and will post a report on that when I get back.

Until next time, happy gaming!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Scenario: Rear-Guard at Quatre Bras

This is the first in a series of Black Powder Napoleonic scenarios I plan to post up on my blog. I've played many different Napoleonic rule sets over the years and one of the great things to come out of that is many scenarios and scenario books.  I've taken the liberty of converting existing scenarios for other rule sets into Black Powder equivalent scenarios.

This particular scenario is a conversion from the "Napoleonic Scenarios 1" book for the "General de Brigade" rules. The scenario books for "General de Brigade" are some of the best out there ... a great resource if you pick them up. So now on to the scenario ...


*Note: This is a "what if" scenario ...

OverviewFollowing Napoleon's default at Waterloo, the French 7th division has arrived at Quatre Bras to provide a rear-guard action for the withdrawing French army. If successful, the Prussian pursuit of the French army will be halted and Napoleon will be able to reconstitute his forces in safety. Marshal Ney, famous for his rear-guard actions during the withdraw from Russia, has been tasked with this key action.

Duration: The games ends after 12 turns, or when either the French or combined Prussian/British armies break (more than 1/2 of the brigades in the army are broken). Victory points are awarded for:

  • Each objective that is held is equal to the number of victory points indicated by the table setup diagram.
  • For each broken/destroyed enemy unit score 1 victory point.
  • For each shaken enemy unit score 1/2 victory point.

To hold a terrain feature, no enemy units occupying the terrain feature with a least one friendly unit located partially or completely within the terrain feature. When the game ends, the side with the most victory points is the winner.

Objectives - French: Hold Quatre Bras until the game ends.

Objectives - Prussian/British: Take and hold Quatre Bras or break the break army (three brigades).

Table Setup: The diagram below displays the table and terrain setup as well as the starting deployment areas for the brigades involved. This scenario uses a 6 foot by 8 foot table (28mm miniatures).

Table setup and initial deployments.

Order of Battle - French:
Commander-in-Chief - Marshal Ney (Staff Rating = 9)

1st Brigade - Piat (Staff Rating = 8)
- 2 x Line Infantry Units
- 2 x Light Infantry Units
- 1 x Foot Artillery Unit

2nd Brigade - Brue (Staff Rating = 8)
- 3 x Line Infantry Units
- 1 x Light Infantry Unit
- 1 x Foot Artillery Unit

3rd Brigade - Blanchard (Staff Rating = 7)
- 1 x Cuirassier Cavalry Unit
- 1 x Carabinier Cavalry Unit

4th Brigade - Pire (Staff Rating 8)
- 1 x Lancer Cavalry Unit
- 1 x Chasseurs-a-Cheval Cavalry Unit
- 1 x Horse Artillery Unit

5th Brigade - Corbineau (Staff Rating 8)
- 2 x Old Guard Infantry Units
- 2 x Young Guard Infantry Units

Order of Battle - Prussians/British:
Commander-in-Chief - Gneisenau (Staff Rating = 9)

1st Prussian Brigade - Steinmetz (Staff Rating = 8)
- 4 x Musketeers Infantry Units
- 2 x Landwehr Infantry Units
- 1 x Jager Companies Unit
- 1 x Foot Artillery Unit

2nd Prussian Brigade - Losthin (Staff Rating = 7)
- 2 x Musketeers Infantry Units
- 3 x Landwehr Infantry Units
- 1 x Landwehr Cavalry Unit

3rd Prussian Brigade - Luztow (Staff Rating = 8)
- 1 x Hussars Cavalry Unit
- 1 x Uhlans Cavalry Unit
- 1 x Dragoons Cavalry Unit
- 1 x Horse Artillery Unit

(Arrives turn 2 at the indicated entry point - see table setup diagram)
1st British Brigade - Grant (Staff Rating = 7)
- 2 x Line Infantry Units
- 1 x Highlander Infantry Unit
- 1 x Light Infantry Unit
- 1 x Rifle Companies Unit
- 1 x Foot Artillery Unit
- 1 x KGL Hussars Cavalry Unit

Special Rules:
All rules from the Black Powder expansion book: Albion Triumphant: Volume 2 - The Hundred Days Campaign, are in effect for the French, British, and Pussian armies.

I hope you enjoy this scenario. I'll be playing it in the coming weeks and posting a battle report to accompany the scenario, so stay tuned.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Battle Report 5/10/2013 - Black Powder Napoleonic's

It has been some time since I've played a game with my Napoleonic collection, which is a real shame since it is the largest collection of have with some 2000+ painted miniatures spanning 4 armies (French, Bavarian, Prussian, and Austrian). I was a big fan of the Republic to Empire rules but I simply just don't have the time to play a detailed set of rules for any given period (since I like to play several).  I find Black Powder provides that ease of play with just enough period flavor added in now thanks to their expansion books (initially I was turned off of Black Powder because of the lack of period rules).

My friend Roy has a British army so I decided to pull out my French and play one of the scenarios from the Albion Triumphant, Volume 1: The Peninsular Campaign expansion book. The scenario was "The Battle of Granja de la Abundancia, July 1810 - Capture la Bandera" - which was the perfect pace for rebooting the brain on Black Powder. The nation specific rules added in the expansion books are what was missing in the original Black Powder release - with the additional rules the flavor of the period really starts to come through in the game.

A must have for any Napoleonic Black Powder player.
The introduction from the scenario: "Somewhere in Spain; in the height of the hot Spanish summer, the French - under pressure from guerrilla raids and suffering from lack of supplies - are making for much needed resources harvested at the Farm of Abundance. The British, well supplied by the Royal Navy, have discovered what the French are at' and are racing to secure the harvest from the French."


Commander-in-Chief (SR 8)
- Lieutenant General Roderick Scholey

Lane's Brigade (SR 7)
- 3 Units of British Line Infantry
- 1 Royal Artillery Battery

Hoole's Brigade (SR 7)
- 2 Units of British Line Infantry
- 1 Unit of Highland Line Infantry

Dale's Brigade (SR 8)
- 1 Unit of Rifles (small)
- 1 Unit of British Light Infantry
- 1 Unit of Cacadores
- 1 Unit of KGL Hussars


Commander-in-Chief (SR 8)
- General de Division Mainarde d'Belle

Dupont's Brigade (SR 7)
- 3 Units of French Line Infantry
- 1 Unit of French Light Infantry
- 1 Line Foot Artillery Battery

Maurice's Brigade (SR 7)
- 2 Units of French Line Infantry (large)
- 2 Units of French Light Infantry
- 1 Line Foot Artillery Battery

Brune's Brigade (SR 7)
- 2 Units of Chasseurs a Cheval
- 1 Line Horse Artillery Battery

I used French Hussars and Lancers in place of the two units of Chasseurs a Cheval (which I have, but need to be re-based).

The table setup was straight forward with a T-junction road and the farm centrally located between the two entry points.  Several key terrain features (hills/buildings) provide victory points for the scenario.

The setup.
I have several Spanish buildings I need to paint up (including making up some orchards), but for now I made do with what I had for Napoleonic buildings.

Ready for action on the tabletop.
Both sides have 12 turns to decide the game - we would need only 8 before the British army broke.

The Farm of Abundance - ripe for the picking!
The French and British brigades march on the board from the road entry points.  The French got the first turn and decided to move the cavalry brigade on first. I was hoping to get the cavalry up to the farm area to slow down the British and give me time to organize and position my infantry brigades for the assault.

The first three turns saw the French and British advancing onto the table and starting to move towards the large hill and farm.  The French Hussar regiment would fail two order tests in a row and get left behind by the house near the French entry point.  The French Lancers would advance to the farm quickly - but in facing off against the British Hussars they would come out on the loosing side and break - taking the brigade commander with them. The French Hussars finally get into the fight and destroy the British cavalry.

The French and British infantry would meet at the large hill and fight it out. Long story short is that the French artillery got into position early and did enough damage that once the French columns got  up the British didn't have enough units in place to stop them.  At the end of turn 8 one French brigade had broken while two British brigades had broken, ending the game.  That being said, we did several things wrong rules-wise through the first half of the game - but by the end we had gotten back in the swing of things. Regardless, we both had a great time and the scenario was a lot of fun.

More pictures of the game below.

That's all for now - happy to be back to gaming after my 3 month work hiatus.