Monday, April 13, 2015

U.S.S. Reliant

"U.S.S." as in "United Federation of Planets Star Ship." Here is my first 1/2500 plastic model kit completed. Yes, the U.S.S. Reliant. It is a stock build of the AMT plastic Cadet series kit that also features the "refit" Enterprise and a Klingon K'tinga cruiser. I buy these kits at Michael's when I have 40%-off coupons. I buy doubles just for the extra set of decals. Some of these models are literally completely covered in decals and they take a little practice to get right. The decals are worth the work - the "aztec" patterns on the Federation ships just look cool. I had a couple of decal accidents, so was glad to have the extra set. Decal-setting solution - like Micro-Sol - is a must. Some patience helps, too!

Not a perfect build but a good practice ship. I learned a lot building this little model - it's only about 4" long.

How am I going to play with my new model? The plan is to use it for Star Trek: Attack Wing, so it needs a base. Enter CorSec Engineering. CorSec makes a clear 60mm square acrylic base with screw-in support rods with a variety of attachments for the models. 

Still deciding whether to mount the models permanently to each base or make them removable. More on that when I decide.

See ya!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A Storm of Spears

I just finished a compelling and enlightening book: A Storm of Spears: Understanding the Greek Hoplite At War. If you have any interest in the manner in which ancient warriors fought each other, this book may be a required read. Amazon describes it thus: 

The backbone of classical Greek armies was the phalanx of heavily armored spearmen, or hoplites. These were the soldiers that defied the might of Persia at Marathon, Thermopylae and Plataea and, more often, fought each other in the countless battles of the Greek city-states. For around two centuries they were the dominant soldiers of the Classical world, in great demand as mercenaries throughout the Mediterranean and Middle East. Yet, despite the battle descriptions of Herodotus, Thucydides, Xenophon etc, and copious evidence of Greek art and archaeology, there are still many aspects of hoplite warfare that are little understood or the subject of fierce academic debate.

Christopher Matthew's groundbreaking reassessment combines rigorous analysis of the literary and archaeological evidence with the new disciplines of reconstructive archaeology, re-enactment and ballistic science. He focuses meticulously on the details of the equipment, tactics and capabilities of the individual hoplites. In so doing he challenges some long-established assumptions. For example, despite a couple of centuries of study of the hoplites portrayed in Greek vase paintings, Matthew manages to glean from them some startlingly fresh insights into how hoplites wielded their spears.

These findings are supported by practical testing with his own replica hoplite panoply and the experiences of a group of dedicated re-enactors. He also tackles such questions as the protective properties of hoplite shields and armor and the much-vexed debate on the exact nature of the 'othismos', the climax of phalanx-on-phalanx clashes. This is an innovative and refreshing reassessment of one of the most important kinds of troops in ancient warfare, sure to make a genuine contribution to the state of knowledge.

Christopher Matthew has just completed his doctoral thesis on hoplite warfare at MacQuarie University in Sydney, where one of his assessors has said he 'singlehandedly advanced the whole field'. He has also been invited to lecture on the subject at other Australian universities. This book, closely based on his doctoral thesis, will be his first, although he has already had several articles published in academic journals. 'He is currently working on a new translation of Aelian's work on tactics and co-editing (with Dr Matthew Trundle) Beyond the Gates of Fire: New Perspectives on the Battle of Thermopylae, both of which will be published by Pen & Sword.

“…groundbreaking reassessment combines rigorous analysis of literary and archaeological evidence with the new disciplines of reconstructive archaeology, reenactment and ballistic science…painstakingly examines and reconstructs details of hoplites’ equipment, tactics and capabilities…Both experts and laymen can gain fresh knowledge from reading this well written analysis of ancient warfare…”
Toy Soldier and Model Figure Magazine

"The author has taken a fresh look at old evidence of ancient Greek writers and artists and coupled that with modern research. . . . In the process, some interesting and groundbreaking developments emerge that shed new light on just what the ancient writers meant and how much artistic license was used in creating the vase paintings we envision when we think of this period of history. This is a serious work of intellectual pursuit."—IPMS/USA

"…indispensable reading for anyone interested in ancient warfare."

"...practical and thought provoking...a well-argued, well-written and well-illustrated chance to think about the problem anew."
The Historian 

I recommend this book unreservedly. It changed the way I view Hoplite warfare. As a martial artist and product development professional I appreciate Dr. Matthew's use of re-enactment and applied science to reach his conclusions.

So what "game effect" does all this theorizing make? I don't think it changes the way Hoplites should be represented in any of the rulesets I currently use. It may effect the miniatures chosen to represent said Hoplites. For instance, according to Dr. Matthews my favorite beloved Wargames Foundry Hoplites are using an overhand grip to throw a javelin. . .

. . . since spear-fighting while in the phalanx was done underhanded. . .

I have a lot of these overhand-spear-wielding figures in the Lead Mountain. I sure do like them, even though I now believe they don't accurately depict Hoplites in the Phalanx.

Hmmm. Vive artistic license!

See ya!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Just HOTTs

Though relegated to the basement of Tower Games for our last Hordes of the Things outing due to a cards tournament, Bruce and I soldiered on through two games.

My Undead defended in the first game; Magician General, Hordes, a Behemoth, Knights and a Lurker who never showed up. . .

. . . against Bruce's Macedonians; Hero General, Behemoth, Spears and Warbands. . .

He wanted his Warbands to find my Hordes, and I wanted my Knights to get to those Warbands first! I sent my Knights across the front of my army toward the Warbands and Bruce countered with his Hero General, while the Behemoths jousted in the center.

But the Hero General was fighting without support - very heroic of him! - and eventually fell to a "hard" flank by the Knights. Game One to the Undead.

We decided to play our second game at "double-size," or 48 points, with up to two generals, one of which was designated as Commander-in-Chief. Bruce brought out the Sea Kings, in roughly two equal commands. I didn't get a picture of the army deployed, but it consisted of a couple of Heroes, Airboats, Riders, Behemoths, Warbands and Knights.

The Undead were again defending and countered with one large command and a smaller aerial strike command of Aerial Hero General ("Cruella") with two Flyers. The large command was led by the Magician General (C-in-C) and consisted of Hordes, Behemoths, Knights, Beasts and a Hero - "Undead Larry, Moe and Curly." I anchored my right flank of Beasts in the Woods. Plan was to hold position with the large command and counter attacks as best I could, regenerating Hordes from the nearby Stronghold, while looking for key strike opportunities for Cruella.

The Sea King Airboats moved out in front, while their Heroes pressed hard on the Undead left flank of Knights and Behemoth.

The Knights and Behemoths were able to hold off the Sea King Heroes on the left flank, eventually killing both through good use of terrain and fortunate die-rolling.

Cruella was able to force the issue on the right flank, then descend on the Rider General and kill it, subsequently demoralizing the command when it failed its next PIP roll.

A couple of turns later, a PIP roll of 6 for Cruella allowed each of the three elements in her command to move individually, providing enough flank contacts and overlaps to eliminate the elements needed to break the sea King army in dramatic fashion. Game Two to the Undead. Thank you, Bruce, for two more fun games of HOTT!

One HOTT/DBA project I've been looking forward to is the painting of two 28mm 36-element Samurai armies representative of the combatants of the Battle of Sekigahara. The Steel Fist Miniatures Kickstarter I supported just made the last of the requisite Daimyos (in combination with Perry Miniatures) available. Don't know when I'll get to painting them, but I have one less excuse now!

This is Ishida Mitsunari from the Kickstarter page:

See ya!

Saturday, February 28, 2015


Here is a shot of the pre-TNG 1/2500 scale models I've been building, glued together, filled and sanded and ready for priming and painting. The white models are Federation starships; the Excelsior-class Enterprise B, the movie-era "re-fit" Enterprise and the Reliant. These are all from the AMT Cadet-series styrene kits. The green model is also an AMT Cadet kit, and is the Klingon K'tinga cruiser. The "cream-colored" model is a Klingon Bird-of-Prey from the AMT "Adversaries" kit - an older and less sophisticated model that required some scratch-built additions to complete satisfactorily. The blue models are resin kits from Delta Quadrant; a smaller 22nd Century Klingon Bird-of-Prey and two Romulan "Nemesis-era" Birds-of-Prey. The Delta kits are really nicely detailed.

Here is a photo showing three of the models - in proper scale with each other - next to the Attack Wing models. . . showing why I decided to "scale up."

The TNG-era starships start to get considerably larger. This photo shows a couple of the earlier models next to the "saucer" section from Picard's Enterprise D.

 A couple of weeks ago I dropped into the Mall of America to check out Star Trek: The Exhibition. The exhibit has been open awhile so I literally had it all to myself for an hour. It was kinda high on the "Cheese Scale" - props and costumes, in particular, almost always make we wish I hadn't seen them. But some of it was fun and I'm glad I went. You can actually sit in Kirk's captain's chair on a replica of the original TOS Enterprise bridge.

And, of course, we say thank you and good bye to Leonard Nimoy.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Where's the French and Indian War Love?

All this focus on HOTTs and Star Trek lately. . . what's going on with the F&IW project? I have been slowly building some more "mountainous" wooded terrain, as well as adapting some open fields, hills and rivers for use with both my 54mm Jenkins figures and 28mm HOTTs/DBA. More on that as it develops.

Mr. Jenkins has been very busy. I've long hoped for some figures for the 60th Royal Americans, and Mr. Jenkins is finally obliging!

The 60th has a colorful history and participated in many of the key engagements of the F&IW. A brief history from the JJD UK site:

The 60th (Royal American) Regiment of Foot, better known under its later name, The King's Royal Rifle Corps, has long been associated with Canada. After Braddock's defeat by the French and Indians in 1755, authority was granted to raise a regiment of four battalions to be recruited in Germany and from German colonists in North America. The regiment was named the 62nd, or Royal American, Regiment of Foot; but it was re-designated the 60th (Royal American) Regiment of Foot in February 1757. Recruiting for the Royal Americans in North America was disappointing, and more than half its strength was drafted from men rejected by British regiments in Ireland. From this unlikely collection of foreigners and cast-offs was fashioned one of the most renowned corps of the British Army.

Among the officers recruited in Europe were two able Swiss soldiers, Henri Bouquet and Frederick Haldimand, who commanded respectively the 1st and 2nd battalions of the new regiment. Bouquet trained his battalion as light infantry, emphasizing the skills required for forest warfare. Haldimand also adapted his European experience to war in the American wilderness.

 The 1st and 4th battalions of the 60th accompanied General Abercromby's advance up Lake Champlain in 1758, and participated in the disastrous assault on the Ticonderoga position the following July. In November, Bouquet's 1st Battalion played a major role in the successful advance to Fort Duquesne, which secured the western border of New England against the incursions of France's savage Indian allies.

In 1758, the 2nd and 3rd battalions were assigned to the forces of General Amherst for operations in eastern Canada. Both battalions were present at the capture of Louisbourg, and moved on to Quebec with Wolfe the following year. The performance of the 60th at Montmorency Falls on 31 July 1753 won the regimental motto "Celer et Audax" (Swift and Bold) from General Wolfe.

The 2nd and 3rd battalions fought at the battle of the Plains of Abraham on 13 September, 1759. The following year elements of all four battalions participated in the final advance to Montreal.

I have two regiments ready for basing, too. French Bearn is complete but I was waiting to base the British 42nd Highlanders until the command figures were released. We just got word of the first officer release, Major Duncan Campbell of Inverawe,

along with a short bio:

In the year 1739, the six independent companies of the "Highland Watch", along with four newly-raised companies, were incorporated into a Regiment of Foot under John, the Earl of Crawford. This Regiment was originally numbered the 43rd Highland Regiment, but was renumbered as the 42nd in 1749.

The 42nd was sent to New York in 1756, and fought in the first battle of Fort Ticonderoga in 1758, losing over half its troops in a valiant assault on the breastworks. Prior to the action at Ticonderoga, the 42nd was given the distinction of being a "Royal" regiment, changing the uniform's facings from buff to royal blue, and earning the right to bear a distinctive seal on the colours and drums. The regiment was known from then on as The 42nd (Royal Highland) Regiment or Royal Highlanders.

The 42nd is rich in tradition from the battle. Foremost is the account surrounding the death of the regiment’s major, Duncan Campbell of Inverawe. The 42nd was a Campbell regiment. All 5 officer casualties at Fontenoy in 1745 had been Campbells. At some time in the 1740's Inverawe had been involved in concealing a fugitive. When it turned out the man had murdered his cousin, Inverawe turned him out in breach of a promise he had made. The fugitive appeared in a dream to Inverawe and said “I will see you at Ticonderoga”. By 1758 Inverawe had served in the Black Watch for some 20 years and was the major. Only on his arrival in America did he discover the existence of Ticonderoga. The fugitive appeared again to Inverawe in a dream the night before the battle. The bloodstained figure predicted his death. Inverawe was severely wounded in the battle and died at Fort Edward after his arm had been amputated.

And back to terrain, Dave at Traverse Dioramics has produced, with a little encouragement from me, a very nice "Dogtrot" Barn to go with his Hatchet Creek Farmhouse and Smokehouse. I think I have the very first production model.

Oh - and this blog reached 20,000 page views this week! Thank you to everyone who checked in on us over the last 80+ posts.

See ya!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

HOTTs and Poland

So. . . not HOTTs in Poland. . . The Poland part comes later on. Bruce and I played three games of HOTTs last weekend. I played with my Undead, Bruce trotted out a different army in each of the three games. I played with 8 Hordes, a Behemoth, 2 Flyers, A Hero (vampires) and a Magician General. I defended in the first game.

The Sea Kings brought Riders, Airboats, Flyers and A Hero General. We both lined up fairly conservatively, holding our Flyers in reserve. The Riders waded into the Hordes while the Airboats threatened the Undead left flank.

The left flank turned into a scrum. An Airboat went down to a Hero then the Sea King Hero General picked a fight with the Vampires and lost. . . so Game One goes to the Undead.

For Game Two Bruce defended with the Macedonians: Shooters, Spears, Riders, Behemoth, Warbands and Hero General, of course.

And then, suddenly, as the armies are closing, the Macedonian Hero General is ensorceled. Game Over! The "hole" in the Macedonian line is where the Hero was. . .

Since it was over so quickly, we decided to play the game out. With the General gone, all of the Macedonian moves cost an extra pip. The Hordes held on long enough to allow the Undead Behemoth to kill its Macedonian counterpart, then finish off the Warbands for the "official" win.

Barbarians turned up for Game Three. Magician General, two Heroes and Warbands. A scary number of Heroes.

I lost my Hero to one of the Barbarian Heroes. Though I was able to ensorcle one of the Barbarian Heroes and play for time, the other Hero shrugged off 3 magical attacks as it chased down the Undead Magician General for the win. The Warbands never even got into contact!

So what about Poland? I just finished reading Poland by James A. Michener. Not a new book; my mother-in-law recommended it - strongly - citing my Polish ancestry. Amazon describes it thus:

In this sweeping novel, James A. Michener chronicles eight tumultuous centuries as three Polish families live out their destinies. The Counts Lubonski, the petty nobles Bukowksi, and the peasants Buk are at some times fiercely united, at others tragically divided. With an inspiring tradition of resistance to brutal invaders, from the barbarians to the Nazis, and a heritage of pride that burns through eras of romantic passion and courageous solidarity, their common story reaches a breathtaking culmination in the historic showdown between the ruthless Communists and rebellious farmers of the modern age. Like the heroic land that is its subject, Poland teems with vivid events, unforgettable characters, and the unfolding drama of an entire nation.

Praise for Poland
“Engrossing . . . a page-turner in the grand Michener tradition.”—The Washington Post
“A Michener epic is far more than a bedtime reader, it’s an experience. Poland is a monumental effort, a magnificent guide to a better understanding of the country’s tribulations.”—Chicago Tribune
“Stunning . . . an unmatched overview of Polish history . . . The families themselves come very much alive, and through them, Poland itself.”—USA Today
“A titanic documentary novel.”—The Wall Street Journal

I learned a lot. For instance, I didn't know anything about the Russian attacks of 1920. Mr. Michener does a great job of creating characters you can really care about. . . and so many of them meet tragic ends. Quite a read - I recommend it, too.

See ya!