Monday, November 30, 2020

A Productive Holiday Weekend

I managed to get a fair amount done over the holiday weekend, finishing more 6mm buildings, some 15mm Vehicles that will see action in WWII, African imagi-nations, and the Cold War, plus making a little progress on the latest batch of 6mm aircraft.

First off are the 6mm buildings; here are  three more from GameCraft:

And five more from Leven Miniatures;

Then there are some 15mm JSU-152s, SU-100s, and SU76s from Gaming Models:

Oh, and that QRF Vasilek mortar that I posted about a few posts back.

And while not complete, the 6mm aircraft are in process on the production line:

They don't look much different from the last post, but the jets have gone from bare metal casting to being primed with bare metal base-coat, so trust me, progress is being made. 

Painting them will probably take me through the end of next weekend, which should be close to the time that I receive some more decals from Flight Deck Decals to complete these.

Friday, November 27, 2020

A Few 6mm Buildings Done and Aircraft Started

 I've actually been working of several things over the last few days; some 15mm late war Soviet and US stuff for use in my Africa imagi-nation and WWII games, more 6mm aircraft for the Cold War, and I finished a few 6mm buildings, also for Cold War games.  

I have a about a dozen more 1950s aircraft to finish, and figured i'd get a start on some of the 1960s stuff, while wrapping up the older aircraft.  Mostly just cleaning, assembling, and pinning thus far.

1950s and 1960s vintage aircraft in various stages of preparation.

And here's a few buildings completed.  The current batch is mostly from Levin Miniatures with a couple from GameCast mixed in.

I've got another half dozen or so to finish in this batch, then will move on to some of my own castings of  WWII French and Belgian houses that I made some time back.  

Not a lot to show, but it is keeping me busy at the moment.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Solo Wargaming and the Campaign Journal

After wargaming with miniatures for around 20 years, and as it became harder for my group to meet regularly, I reached a point where solo wargaming became more appealing.  As I started to play solo more often, I found that I enjoyed the ease and freedom that comes with solo gaming.  This really surprised me, despite having gamed solo off and on since my start in the hobby.  I had never considered solo gaming an important part of the hobby, probably because I almost always had readily available opponents.

Though I would occasionally find gamers at conventions and whatnot, whose gaming style was not necessarily compatible with my own, I have been lucky in that the regular members of the groups that I typically gamed with were always quite enjoyable.  This is probably why I had never given serious consideration to solo gaming.  

As I mentioned above, as the years passed, it became harder for us to meet with the obligations of home, family, and career reducing the available time, and particularly in my case, the energy, to game regularly.  As multi-player games lasting late into the evening became less frequent, I began to tinker with solo games that might involve only 20 minutes to an hour of play and span several evenings.

Early on in my gaming, I came to embrace and enjoy the campaign, where the actions of one battle had implications in the next.  Unfortunately, campaigns are complex beasts to try to tame, and in my first decade of "serious" miniatures gaming, I only played in one full blown campaign that ran to conclusion.   

After a year or so of solo gaming, I came up with this idea for a mini campaign set in the Soviet-Afghan War, where a Soviet soldier is captured and begins to fight with the Mujaheddin.  His capture was with purpose as he was the son of a senior Soviet officer, and the original idea was that he would have some value in trade back to the Soviets.

I quickly began experimenting with loose campaign rules that evolved on the fly, and to allow the dice to direct the path of future games.  Instead of rigidly following the course of the original idea, he ended up fighting with, and eventually leading Afghans in battle.  I found need for character development, and for more characters in the form of leaders and officers.  I also found that I enjoyed this theatrical sort of semi-role playing element in the game, an extension or expansion of my tendency to immersively role play my forces in most games.  The campaign ended when he was killed during a Soviet attempt to capture him and bring him to justice.

At this time, I had a web site, and briefly considered sharing the campaign with others through my site, but I knew that in reality, the "story" lacked integrity.  There were a lot of very American actions by not very American soldiers.  I had a lot of fun with it, and explored new avenues of gaming, but the actual campaign lacked wasn't completely true to itself.  

I realize that any attempt to step into character within a game is a very subjective experience, but one can be more or less subjective, and I didn't try very hard to objectively "play" the cultural roles in these games.  What I did do was develop a concept that would become the basis for my African imagi-nation campaign a couple of years later.

Since that time, I've slowly worked on a series of campaign ideas that branch off from the original concept in varying ways.  My post-apoc campaign approaches the game map and narrative in a different way from my African campaign. The Cold War campaign that I've been working on most recently will be structured very differently from the first two campaigns.  I have additional ideas for a colonial campaign, set in China and the south Pacific, based on my old "Ponape" colonial games, and a WWII campaign inspired mostly by the book Company Commander.  Each will be a little different in approach from the others.

When I started my Cold War era African imagi-nation campaign, I had first envisioned writing a journal telling the story of the war through a series of after action reports (AAR) of the battles, maybe with a smattering of short stories offering background.  This was to be just for myself, as I had come to realize that I quite enjoyed this sort of thing with my Soviet-Afghan War experiment.

Shortly after starting my African campaign, I began a gaming blog, and though it took a little time to convince myself, I finally shared the first AAR of my campaign.  Very much to my surprise, it was relatively well received.  To be honest, I was quite shocked by the interest, and despite having really enjoyed a couple of somewhat similar efforts by other gamers (especially this) on their web sites, I completely expected my effort to be some combination of ignored and/or belittled.

It has now been something like thirteen years since starting my African campaign, and it slowly continues, with a series of new twists awaiting attention at this moment.  And, as mentioned above, I have added other campaigns to my gaming, set in other periods or genres of interest, varying mechanics of both campaigns and the manner of sharing them in each case.

In the last few years, I've become somewhat nostalgic about my own adventure in the hobby, and more recently, fascinated with the origins of miniatures gaming and the early efforts and accomplishments of the "founding fathers" of the hobby.  

Last year I picked up a couple of Don Featherstone's books and read them with great interest, being most impressed by the quality of some of the games presented in images from those days.  More recently, I've picked up some of John Curry's titles addressing the efforts of Tony Bath, Lionel Tarr, and Michael Korns.

Given the main focus of my interests and solo playing style, I relate most closely to the efforts of Lionel Tarr, but maybe the thing that has struck me as most interesting is in Featherstone's "Solo Wargaming", and that is the discussion of the campaign journal or diary.

In some ways, my blog posts following my African campaign are the fruits of re-inventing this wargaming wheel, but some of the suggestions in Solo Wargaming are of far greater wisdom and scope than my own effort, addressing use of the journal or diary as a tool in the conduct of the campaign.  Through the recording of notes and pre-battle planning, the journal becomes a tool, an active element in the campaign.

I have a folder of notes with many of these details from my African campaign, but they are in the form of abstract notes, tables, and scraps.  It never occurred to me to weave all of these bits into a a cohesive story of the game itself, broader than simply telling stories of the battles.  I might go back and do so, as much as I am able, though knowing that some parts of the process are simply lost, undocumented or discarded.

In retrospect, I wish I had recorded (somewhere, if not my blog) the thought process in building the campaign, the background and story-line, and some of the missed opportunities and prospective possibilities that didn't or haven't come to pass.  It might have been interesting in retrospect, whether for nostalgic purpose or pragmatic, to follow the evolution of my campaign(s). 

Expanding on the concept of the journal or diary, I also wish that I had kept a sort of log or maybe scrapbook of my gaming adventures from day one.  It would be interesting to look back at thoughts and images of those first efforts as I tried to first imagine rules for toy soldiers, and then those after I had been introduced to basic gaming concepts already created by those before me.

I may yet attempt to pull something together, allowing me to look back on it in ten or twenty years, but it won't be the same as visiting the thoughts of that 13,15 or 20 year old gamer, who spent much time trying to invent a hobby that others had already created.

Sunday, November 8, 2020

World War III 1958 - First Counter Sheet

I haven't had much time to work on it over the last two weekends, so its not nearly complete yet, but here's the first counter sheet for the 1958 version of World War III in Germany:

So far I've only worked on ground forces and I need to go back and make some adjustments and correct a couple of typos, but overall I'm pretty happy with the results.  

The counters display the army, corps, or other groupings that they are assigned to in the upper left, for example, the Soviet 8th guards Army would  be indicated by "8G" in the top left.  The actual division or brigade number and type is listed in the top right, "11G TD" identifies the 11th Guards Tank Division. I went with primary vehicle silhouettes, rather than the military symbol to visually identify the unit, as it will better capture the period for me, and the bottom three numbers are the attack, defense, and proficiency ratings.

With any luck, I'll have the NATO ground forces roughed out today as well. Slow progress, but progress none the less.