Saturday, July 4, 2015

While on the subject of scale. . .

 Last week I played my first game of DBA 3.0 at Village Games in Champlin. Three games, actually. This latest update of DBA is the best DBA ever. I'll provide more on the games played in an upcoming post. That same day, after playing 3 games of DBA, I watched a local Star Trek: Attack Wing tournament for a little while. The day of gaming got me to thinking about my last post on Star Trek "scale." Though Star Trek: Attack Wing uses ridiculously scaled-down "ranges," it didn't keep me from enjoying "the game." The same way that playing with twelve elements of around fifty total 28mm models to represent an army of maybe 50,000 soldiers is enjoyable - see the photo above. 

Once I enter the "game world" I accept the "world" we've constructed with our rules and our models and just. . . play the game. In between games I think about how I need more models to create a more realistic impression of the masses of soldiers that were present on ancient battlefields. . . like this photo of some 15mm models based for the Command and Colors:Ancients rules (I was working on rules for the Republican Roman Legions). . .

It looks really cool but I have just as much fun with 12 elements of 50 soldiers. . .  at least during the game. So how do I explain - or rationalize - the scale and size of my French and Indian War project? Obsession, I suppose. . .

Happy Fourth of July! Freedom is good.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Trek Observation. . . Embrace the Geek.

My Butterfly Brain is still thinking about gaming in the Trek World, mostly because I like the spaceship designs. So I'm thinking about where this project is going to fit into my already overloaded priority matrix, and the idea of scale again rears its head because I need an idea of how much space and how many ships will be needed. . . and I remember seeing a WW2 naval game once played on a gymnasium floor to represent scale distance and I thought "wouldn't that be a cool way to play with spaceships."

That led to some work with the calculator to work out some scale ranges. The little 4" Reliant is actually over 800 feet long in "real life." According to the Haynes Manual on the U.S.S.Enterprise, the original Enterprise's phasers had a range of 300,000 kilometers (roughly 200,000 miles), and photon torpedoes were effective out to 750,000 kilometers (roughly 500,000 miles). Yikes. 500,000 miles is almost two times the distance between the Earth and Moon!

So at 1/2500 scale, phaser range for the 4" Reliant is 77 MILES and photon torpedoes are good to 200 MILES. That's about the distance from Tulsa to Kansas City! The gym floor suddenly seems ridiculous. Along with the idea that maneuver or firing arcs matter. . .

Not sure that models are the way to game Star Trek after all. . . gonna think about this some more.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

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.