Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Basing for Rules Rant

 Things have been slow in the hobby area of my life. I have had little time between moving my daughter to college, starting the semester at my school, and the ramping up of all my son's activities. I have been working on various things, but in piecemeal fashion. Projects make some headway but then come to a grinding halt. There really has not been anything blogworthy to report on.

Even though I have nothing visual to show for, I have been thinking a lot. And what I have been thinking a lot about is figure basing. It has become my pet peeve that every new rule set I encounter seems to wants different basing. Let's take ancient/medieval/fantasy rules for example. One set still has you base your figures following the old WRG format (40mm length x Xmm depth, depending on troop type), which is fine with me. Then you have rules where figures have to be in squares. Then you have rules where the base dimensions are odd so that you have to special order them from some company. Finally, you have rules where each figure is individually based.  You have rules where the commanders are based independently from the units they command. Then you have rules were the commander must be based among the rank and file troops. The variations seem to go on and on. 

One one level, I do get the point of having bases of a standard size, but I have read through enough rules to conclude that the justification of basing troops a certain way did not seem to be all that critical to the rest of the rule mechanics. The rules would work fine as intended so long as you keep things consistent.

I read a lot on the various Facebook groups, particularly those that center around a single set of rules where posters rebased their figures to conform to this latest rule set. So in a year or so, when the new latest & greatest set of rules come along, are you going to rip off all of those figures from their current bases and rebase them? What if it ends up that you don't really like the rules?  Sorry, but I am not going to rip up all my figures and rebase them for a rule system that is relatively untried, nor do I have the money to duplicate units to match the various basing systems ("...and here is my unit of Orcs for Rules A, and here is my unit of Orcs for Rules B, and here is my unit of Orcs for Rules C...."). It would not be that big an issue, but some rules seem to force you to use a particular basing system. I will not name names, but the wording of the first edition of a particular rule set seemed to shame the reader if they dared to have multiple figures on a single base. Recently, I read some reviewer of rules state that those who insist on using the WRG basing conventions were old dinosaurs and need to get with the picture....really? 

I cannot put my finger on it, but I blame the rise of the Games Workshop mentality of rules. Not only must you buy and use only our miniatures to play our game, but you have to base them according to our conventions. Heaven help you if you do otherwise (even if it doesn't really matter so long as you are consistent). Again, a certain unnamed WWII set of rules seems to insist on basing your infantry on a particular sized base (which they are happy to sell you), even if it does not really seem to matter that much as far as I can tell. This mentality has permeated among a lot of rules that don't have their own line of miniatures. 

As a wargaming child of the late 70s, I am going to continue to buck the system and fight the Power, even if it means I will be using these rules solo. I will ignore their iron-fisted basing rules or adapt my already based miniatures to the rest of their system. I will make it work! 

Monday, August 1, 2022

Fantasy Painting Challenge IV: Deep Ones Part 2

The Deep Ones are now painted. I did them in a purple with pale green abdomens. 

I am not as happy with these guys (girls?) as I was with the lizardman. For their bellies, the pale green was followed up with a green contrast paint that I wasted a lot of money on. Maybe you can sense my lack of enthusiasm for these paints. They turned the entire surface a very dark green...not feel'n the contract here. I ended up repainting the offending features and starting over again, this time with tried and true highlighting and shaddowing. Contrast paints bumped static grass from the pedestal of hobby products that really annoy me.

The next step is to build the scenic item to go with them. As I think I have mentioned, I am not putting in as much effort into this one as I did for the lizardman challenge

Sir Winfred Oldschool getting directions from some 
Deep Ones who happened to be passing by.

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

First Air Battle Over the Leek-Leek

At 0600 hours, reports were coming in that Aquor-Ornur jets were flying over the region of the Leek-Leek National Forest. The commander of Sardeese AFB, which represents the Symbalian western military district, quickly scrambled the only combat-capable squadron still at the base, the 6th Squadron. The 4th and 5th squadrons, consisting of F-16s, were very recently transferred east. It was up to the 6th Squadron to take on the aggressors. Unfortunately, 6th Squadron consisted of the Hawk 200 fighter. These are light, multi-role fighters have yet to be tested in air combat. By 0700 hours, the 6th Squadron was heading to the border to defend Symbalian air space. 

The Match Up
Aquor-Ornur now has two types of fighters: the F5A Tiger II, and Saab JAS 39 Gripen. The Gripen is a more recent acquisition from Northern Chalupistan. The more veteran pilots as well as hired mercenary pilots fly the Gripens. The old Tiger IIs are flow by less experienced pilots. I rolled a D6 with a 50% chance of the Symbalians intercepting either. They rolled the Tiger IIs.  Rules used for this battle: AirWar: C21 with the ranges cut in half to accommodate my kitchen table.

Symbalian Hawk 200 light fighters.

Aquor-Ornur F5E Tiger IIs. These are painted in
Southern Chalupastan colors, but Aquor-Ornur's 
paint scheme is close enough.

The Tiger IIs have the advantage over the Hawk 200s.  They are faster and have a higher power rating than the Hawk 200. The Hawk 200 has a modern radar system and can carry four AA missiles, rather than two on the Tiger II. Both sides carried the AIM-9P3 Sidewinder missile. This is an all-aspect, heat-seeking missile. To compensate for the shortcomings of the Hawk 200, I gave the Symbalian squadron one pilot rated Good (the flight leader), and the two others rated as Average. The Aquor-Ornurians had one Average pilot (flight leader) and two pilots rated Poor. 

The Battle

Turn 1 

Looking from the east. The F5Es can just be seen
at the upper right edge of the table.

I rolled for where the two squadrons would enter from.  Aquor-Ornurians (abbreviated A-O for now on) entered the board from the north. The Symbalians came in from the east and had the advantage of the sun behind them They hoped that would add to their favor. Their better radar picked up on the A-Os first and they increased speed to try to catch them at their beam. The A-Os, still unaware of the Symbalians, maintained their course and cruising speed. 

Turn 2

The A-Os spotted the Symbalians, increased speed to maximum, and changed course to intercept. Both closed in.

Turn 3
Getting near weapons range, both sides started maneuvering to get behind each other. One of the Symbalians successfully performed a Barrel Roll, while another did a simple turn. The flight leader tried to execute a Barrel Roll and Turn that would have lined him up for a kill:

Despite his pilot rating bonus, the Symbalian flight leader failed. Not only did he find himself in a position he didn’t want to be, he greatly lost speed. Meanwhile, two of the A-O jets split off to the left and right to go after the Symbalians, but the one plane in the center flew straight and ended up almost nose to nose with the Symbalian flight leader:

 The two jets simultaneously fired their guns. Neither one could miss at such close range:

Guns a Blaz'n!!

The Symbalian flight leader gained a bonus damage die whereas the A-O pilot had a reduced number of damage dice due to his poor rating. The amount of hit damage to both fighters was enormous and both planes were destroyed. The Symbalian flight leader, though wounded, managed to successfully eject from this aircraft. The A-O jet was obliterated with no chance of the young pilot surviving. 

Turn 4
Both sides successfully passed a morale test due to the losses and the battle continued…but only for a short time. One Symbalian failed a Barrel Roll and Turn maneuver. The other Symbalian attempted a Split-S and failed that one: 

The Symbalians can't catch a break when it comes
to complex maneuvers!

The failed Split-S maneuver cost him two points of damage for excess speed. On the other hand, the two remaining A-O pilots, even though they were both rookies, successfully executed an Immelmann and a Break Right Turn respectively. Because of the failed maneuvers, neither Symbalian jets were in a position to fire missiles or guns. The both A-O jets launched a Sidewinder that found their targets, hit, and shot the Hawk 200s out of the sky:

Fortunately, both pilots successfully ejected. Their rescue transponders indicated they were sill in friendly territory. Helicopters were dispatched to pick them up. The two A-O F5Es turned west to head back to base to celebrate their victory and memorialize their fallen comrade. A-O commanders on the ground were satisfied with the outcome. At least for now, attack aircraft and helicopters will be unimpeded in their support of ground troops invading Symbalia!

Postgame Analysis
Chuck Yeager said about air combat, "It's the man, not the machine." This did not seem to apply to the outcome of this battle. I blame the loss of the three Symbalian fighter jets on poor rolls when trying to pass the special maneuvers difficulty ratings. It led all three into harm’s way. The flight leader’s roll was so low that not even his +1 allowed him to execute it and he ended up virtually face to face with his opponent because of the failure. Unlike other rules, pilots have to pass a difficult rating test to successfully execute what they call a special maneuver. AirWar C21 really has some major penalties for not passing the difficulty rating test. Not only do you not end up where you wanted to be but you often lose a lot more speed. On top of that, failures mean the aircraft does not get its particular defensive bonus for that maneuver. It is frustrating, but it does make for some interesting outcomes. I will give another set of rules for the next air combat game. 

Monday, July 18, 2022

Crisis Along the Aquor-Ornur/Symbalia Border!

Background Situation
After years of poor forestry management, Aquor-Ornur has very little in the way of forests left. Despite a shift to industry and other agricultural products, Aquor-Ornurians began crossing the Arnor River to illegally harvest Symbalian lumber. A prime target is the Leek-Leek National Forest Preserve. In the dead of night, poachers cross the river on makeshift barges or bridges, harvest what they can, and then either cross over with the timber or float it down river to be picked up at a secret point. The Anor-Ornurian government has largely turned a blind eye to the situation even when Symbalia formerly protests at the UN.

Symbalia has been actively countering the timber poachers and for the most part have been successful. A combination of forest ranger units, ground surveillance radar, and arial reconnaissance using drones and aircraft have made a big dent in the illegal lumber trade.  Nonetheless, the lure of rare, expensive types of wood sees Aquor-Ornurians still attempting to cross the river and harvest timber.

Buildup and Crisis
In the past six months, the lumber poachers have become more aggressive in their logging. Loggers have been arming themselves. There have been minor skirmishes between the armed poachers and park rangers. No casualties have occurred and the poachers fled or were captured. Several drones were shot at along the river and one was shot down. Symbalia changed tactics by more aggressive interdiction of poachers before they crossed the river. This was accomplished by armed patrol aircraft buzzing (but not shooting at) the poachers barges and bridges. This had the desired effect of the poachers abandoning their barges or bridge. Bridges were then demolished by rangers on the bank of the river. 

On the early morning of May 6th, a drone observed vehicles on a makeshift bridge hauling lumber across the river into Aquor-Ornur. Poorly hidden on the bank of the river appeared to be an anti-aircraft gun emplacement. Poachers on both sides of the river and the bridge began taking potshots at the drone. The regional head of the Symbalian forest rangers requested air support from the air force. It was granted and at 8:00 am, an EMB-314 Super Tucano armed with two 250 lbs bombs in addition to its machine guns took off. The Super Turcano approached from the south:

EMB-314: This is Slow Rooster to base, Slow Rooster to base. We are approaching from the south along the river at altitude of 800 m and have sighted the bridge 1.5 Km away. Permission to reduce altitude to preform a flyby.

HQ: Permission granted Slow Rooster. Warning, possible AA emplacement on west bank of river.

EMB-314: Roger that, adjusting altitude and reducing speed for run.

EMB-314: Executing flyby...(moments later) HQ! HQ! We are taking fire from the bridge and bank! Permission to engage hostiles!

HQ (after a minute pause): permission granted!

A twin 20mm AA gun fired at the airplane along with a number of armed poachers. The aircraft took minor damage, but none that affected performance. The Super Tucano passed over the bridge, turned 180 degrees, and fired its machine guns at the bridge hitting a truck and three poachers on the bridge. Drivers and other poachers on the bridge scurried off the bridge or dived into the water. The AA gunners abandoned their position, but some poachers on the river bank continued to fire at the plane, again putting some more holes into it. The Super Tucano climbed to a higher altitude and made a second run, this time releasing one of the bombs as it passed over the bridge. The bomb missed the bridge but exploded close enough to destroy it carrying three trucks loaded with lumber down into the river with it. The Super Tucano flew back to base and the loitering drone showed poachers swimming across the river or being picked up by rangers on the Symbalia side. About eight poachers died and 10 were taken into custody by Symbalian rangers. 

Symbalia ordered an investigation into the affair and found that the flight crew were justified in the actions they took, though they were cited for not asking permission to bomb the bridge. They included both cockpit and drone video, as well as photos of the damage taken to the airplane to back up their assessment. They did offer compensation to the victims, but delivered a stern warning that future engagements with armed poachers would be met with deadly force. 

This crisis was just what the military government of Aquor-Ornur needed to distract the populace from their promise of free elections and the return of civilian rule. Condemnation by Aquor-Ornur was swift and vocal. They were outraged by the death of its citizens and played up the fact that these were impoverished men forced into illegal logging. The delegate from Aquor-Ornur heatedly accused Symbalia of war crimes at the UN General Assembly. 

As stated in a previous post, Aquor-Ornur has been building up and modernizing its armed forces. Tension remain high between the two nations, however, Symbalia currently has most of its forces along the border with Bovatopia. On the eve of conflict between Bovatopia and an alliance of Lavonia, Symbalia, and the island nation of Kopitapai, the ambassador of Bovatopia has a meeting with the members of the top generals of Aquor-Ornur who rule the nation...

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Wooden Hexes

I ordered these about a month ago and am now just picking them up. 25mm hexes look a lot tiny-er than I envisioned, but they will do for my air combat games or ship battles with 1/6000 models. I will carefully glue them together and then mount them on some sort of board.

Saturday, July 9, 2022

Fantasy Painting Challenge IV: Deep Ones

Well, I wasn't going to do another painting challenge for awhile, but my challenger really wanted to, so I acquiesced. This theme is Deep Ones. I am not up on my latest D&D monsters, but they are included on the Monster Manual. Gee, I wonder where they got them from?

All from Reaper Miniatures.

Deep Ones High Priest

Deep Ones Warriors. They don't look all that fearsome.

Originally, I just ordered the high priest, but I was back in the Motherland (Chicago) and my favorite local brick&mortar store (actually it is the only local store), Games Plus, has a huge selection of Reaper Minis. I mean there is a wall that is about 2/3rds the length of the store devoted to them! So, I picked up two of their plastic ones. They were pretty inexpensive. 

According to canon, they are supposed to be green in color. I am sort of burned out on green from the lizardman, so I am going for purple with maybe a pale green belly. My friend OK'd the color. 

My friend wants to have a scenic included. I told him I'll think about it. Between working on a manuscript for publication, getting ready for the fall semester, and more critically, getting everything lined up for my daughter's big move to college, I have not had too much time for the hobby. I know I spent far more time building the scenery piece than I did painting up the lizardman for the last challenge. At most, I will make some sort of simple stele.

Apologies for the crapy photos. My iPhone has this "sharpen" feature, but it seems to make the pictures more pixelly, or blurry than in focus. The priest photo seems really bad. I don't know why I keep using it.

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Happy Father's Day 2022!

 Happy Father's Day to all of you are out there who are fathers, grandfathers, biologically, and even those in spirit!

I loves these two to the stars and back!

Gifts from my daughter:

A Brain Collector from Wizkids Pathfinder plastic minis. Comes with clear plastic domes that cover the brains. I have to figure out what glue to use for them.

Shirren Technomancers also from Wizkids. This is from their relatively new rpg Starfinder. Starfinder using the same game mechanics as Pathfinder. I played a demo game at Will's game shop a few weeks back. It was a lot of fun. Technomancers are sci-fi magic users. 

FYI, Wizkids makes several lines of plastic, pre-primed miniatures for D&D as well as the above. They are similar to the plastic ones that Reaper Minis makes (Reaper Bones series). It seems like they use a different plastic that is a little more flexible than that of Reaper. They also coat their figures with a primer whereas Reaper claims adding a primer to theirs is not necessary. I think the Wizkids has a little more detail to theirs compared to the Reapers, at least with the earlier Reaper Bones series, which were plastic versions of their metal figures. The Wizkids tend to be proportionally slimmer than those of Reaper. and slightly shorter. That being said, I have yet to decide which brand of plastic miniatures I like. The Reaper ones seem to paint up a little faster. I still have several Wizkids D&D figures that I am trying to finish. It is almost as if they have too much detail (is that possible?) and it has been somewhat frustrating.  

It is funny, but the packaging does not indicate what the scale of these are. I will have to look on an unopened Reapers package to see if it is still listed.