Saturday, September 16, 2017

Canadian Heiress Kidnapped!!!

This is a blatant attempt to drum up players for my game "Death Temple of Sarnath" at Southern Front in Raleigh, NC October 7th.

Here is a teaser I came up with, I will brief the players at the game.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

See a Matrix Game in progress

Over at my other blog:

Take a look, things are starting to heat up.  Check out the entire set of entries to see briefings, rules, and it gives you real examples of at least how I rate arguments.

Otherwise, I am done building terrain for the conventions games I will run, and just making reference sheets, not terribly photogenic.  

Good gaming!

Monday, September 4, 2017

Built a fortified compound for Nyasaland

In between starting up a play by email matrix game and the rest of my life, I have been working on terrain for my upcoming convention games.

I built a small fortified compound I have built for Darkest Africa out of scraps I had laying around.  I did not want it to be too large, just big enough to hold maybe a dozen defenders comfortably and not dominate the table too much.  I originally wanted to make a traditional fortified tembe, but it would have had to have been larger than I wanted in order to hold defenders in each of the rooms.  So, I compromised on a small fortified compound that can serve as a mission or trading post.

This is an essential piece of terrain for my Nyasaland 1888 game I will be running and will serve as the centerpiece.  I will not provide a step by step, as there are many great tutorials on foam core terrain building, but hopefully you will see you can build decent terrain, on the cheap, with minimal skills.  I learned how to do this from the old Major General's website, visit it if you have never been before. Click photos to enlarge.

All the materials.  I based it on a scrap piece of peel and stick tile I had laying about.  The corners are joined using one of these, cheap but essential for foamboard buildings!  Door s made from stir sticks I found in a drawer.

And here we are after applying spackle with my fingers and a rubber glove. I paid extra attention to the exposed foam areas, as I intend to cheap and spray paint the thing.  Spray paint tends to each foam.

After the aforementioned spray painting with a can of tan paint I had in the garage (I bought nothing extra for this project) 

A little magic oven.... Next I dry brushed the walls, applied sand and gravel with watered down glue to the base, dry brushed it, added static grass, and made a roof from felt. 

Here you can see the garrison, ready to withstand attack, provisioned with plenty of water and supplies.  The Rev. Pimplebottom and his beautiful daughter Penelope are in the center.

Another angle

And a third angle with the roof removed, showing more defenders.  This was the last major thing I needed to do to prepare for running the games over the next few months, so now on to the details, where I hear the devil lives.

Until next time, good gaming!

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Matrix Game, South Carolina: Road to Revolution

Image result for colonial map of SC

I am running a play by email Matrix Game of the colony of south Carolina leading up the the revolution.

If you have any interest in Matrix games at all, I will be posting everything as it happens and you can follow along at a separate blog I have set up here.

The rules and player briefings can all be found here.

I will continue to post my preparations for the convention season here, but lease use the other blog to follow along and let's see how it plays out!  When I played with my wife on our last cruise, the crown was firmly in control and SC did not even get to send representatives to any Continental Congress...

Thank you!

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Death Temple of Sarnath, playtest #2

See playtest #1.

Did a second playtest of the scenario and rules with 4 players, my wife, my cousin, and her husband and son.  We had 4 factions on the table this time:

  • Doc Savage
  • Arab Slavers
  • German Institute for Teutonic Studies (Nazi GITS)
  • British COlonial forces (Central African Rifles)

The pace was fast a furious, here are a few photos.  It ended again with Doc Savage making off with the girl and the scroll of Thoth, but was a nice, close run thing.  Best quotes included:
  • "I punch him. In the face"
  • "Man, the British suck."
  • "I throw the pig at the cultist to try to trip him up."
  • "I will shoot Pat Savage in the back from 5 feet away... an miss"
  • "You just shot the heiress you are trying to rescue in the leg."
  • "I am trying to enslave a blonde, this one will do."
  • "Well, I guess I will have to enslave the pig now."
All in all great fun, and I look forward to one or two more plays before Southern Front.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Latest OHW AWI mods posted

I have finally done a little housekeeping and posted my OHW AWI mods.  See the link or the link on the right.  I am collecting all of these documents into a new Google Site so they are easier to find and manage.  Enjoy!

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Death Temple of Sarnath, playtest #1

Our oldest had her baby shower today, so of course I took the opportunity to play a game!  I used My cousin's husband (and my ex-college roommate) and their son as guinea pigs to do do a mini-playtest of my Astounding Tales! convention game "Death Temple of Sarnath" (see full description here)

We only had 3 factions, Doc Savage with his cousin Patricia Savage, Ham Brooks and Mnk Mayfair versus the cultists and a band of Arab Slavers.  I will post the full scenario, quick reference sheets and stats as I develop it.

It went quit well, and I made some design decisions to ignore some rules to streamline play:

  • Ignore range modifiers for shooting at long range, but shorten the overall weapon ranges.  For example, rifles only shoot 18".
  • Do not allow moving and shooting in the same action.  You can move 4" and shoot or move 8"
  • Ignore running / creeping speeds
  • Ignore the difference between Brawling and Serious Business in the rules, just call melee Brawling
Here are a few shots of the game, click photos to enlarge:

Daniel, as Doc Savage, carefully approaches the temple.  (Temple scratch built from Hirst Arts molds)

 A bit better view of the temple with Shirley Uoff tied up, destined for a fate worse than death!
But then, Mustafa the Cunning arrives to rescue her, and deliver her to the slave markets of Zanzibar!
Chaos ensues as Doc and Mustafa trade savage blow for several turns, while much mayhem erupts as the cultists, slavers, and Ham and Monk vw for the girl.  Until Crowley's chanting stops and something MAN WAS NOT MEANT TO KNOW shows up.

"Come with me if you want to live!"  Pat Savage manages to grab the heiress and spirit her away from the temple.

Just in the nick of time, Doc's plane arrives to carry the survivors off, we assume Monk grabs his best friend Ham and they make it to the plane.

The last known photograph of Crowley, taken from Doc's plane as they headed back to NYC and some much needed rest.  Doc will need to do some research in his fortress of solitude to determine how to deal with this new threat.

Great game, and we actually got another in that afternoon with 2 additional players, so stay tuned to that report.  most important lesson learned: If you are going to throw a pig at Cthulhu and you expect it to explode, make some preparations first!

Until next time, good gaming!

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Announcing Jozi's Tin Man Fall Tour 2017-18!!!!!

Apologies, I have been quiet for a bit.  Mrs. Tin Man and I took another cruise.  Nothing specifically militarily interesting, just sun, sand, steam room in the spa, and beaches.  Only two items of hobby note:

  • I did write a simple Matrix Game simulating the politics of South Carolina between the end of the French and Indian War and 1776.  I am working this up for my wife’s classroom and she played all 5 factions (Low Country Rice planters, Backcountry farmers, Cherokee, Parliament, and the Royal Governor) and we got a nice conclusion in an hour.  It ended in 1776 with the Rice Kings having successfully allied with the back country farmers, after surrendering some minor political power.  But they completely bungled their attempt at revolt and their delegates to the 1st Continental Congress were even arrested by the British!  We ended in 1776 with the crown firmly in control of at least the low country and the Cherokee fighting the Creek with weapons that the British had originally provided for them to use against any rebellious colonists!  It was a nice diversion, as soon as I have it complete, I will post it here as well as how running it in the classroom goes.  Otherwise we swam in the ocean, sat in the steam room, and took in the sun one last time before she has to get back to the classroom.
  • While lounging on deck, in addition to reading some more E. Hoffman Price occult detective stories, I also read Philip Sabin's Simulating War.  It is a fascinating read and I highly recommend it if you even have the least interest in game design.  He is primarily focused on using (mostly map and counter) wargames to teach college students and at staff colleges, but the design approaches are universal and he works within tight time and complexity constraints.  It comes with 8 different games from various periods, and I am already thinking about adapting "Angels 15" for use with Picoarmor WW2 aircraft

Meanwhile, I have gotten some great feedback on my Historicon post, I have just caught up with approving all of the comments.  Thanks for everyone who took the time to provide feedback and keep the conversation going.

Now for the important bit... I am also planning for Jozi’s Tin Man Winter Fall Tour 2017-18!!!!  As part of my promise to put my month where my mouth is, I have submitted games to the following upcoming events:

I will be running both of these games at each event (except MACE, where I will just run “Death Temple of Sarnath)  Keep checking the PEL’s for each event, but for Southern Front, I will run games all day Saturday, MACE Saturday from 6pm to Midnight, and I am trying to do all day Saturday at Siege of Augusta as well.  Additionally, I am looking at MACE West in March.  I figure after that, I will want to work up another game or games for 2018-19.

I am looking forward to comparing how miniature wargamers play versus the ones at MACE, which will be a higher percentage of RPG players.

The scenarios:

“Trouble in Nyasaland, 1888”
Rules: The Men Who Would Be Kings (TMWWBK)
Players: 5
(Inspired by actual events, an expedition lead by Captain Frederick Lugard against the slavers in 1888) 
Nyasaland in Central Africa is under the British sphere of influence and is suffering from the depredations of savage, aggressive tribes and Arab slavers who prey on the local population and are attacking missionaries and British trading posts in the Lake Nyasa region. 
One such mission station is that of the Unitarian missionary Reverend Pimplebottom.  Word has reached British authorities that the good reverend, his beautiful daughter, Alice Pimplebottom, and a hunting party led by Sir Archibald Hastings are besieged in the mission by marauding Arab Slavers and brutal Anzique cannibals.  The local authorities immediately dispatch a rescue expedition made up of a detachment of the Central African Rifles and a landing party from the gunboat HMS Indefatigable.
Will the relief force make it in time?  Or will the besieged make a heroic breakout attempt? Will a dashing young British Army or Naval officer win Alice’s hand? More importantly, what will the Anzique eat for lunch?
Rules are fast play and absolutely no experience with the rules is necessary. 

“Death Temple of Sarnath”
Rules: Astounding Tales 2!
Players: 8
It is 1934, and Shirley Uoff, daughter of Canadian millionaire industrialist Ronald “Rip” Uoff, has been kidnapped by gangsters! Rumors abound that she is being taken to Africa for some nefarious reason connected with notorious scoundrel, cad, and cultist Allister Crawley.  Rip Uoff has hired famed detective Hercules Poirot to assist the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in retrieving his daughter.
Completely coincidentally, the German Institute for Teutonic Studies (GITS) is sending an “Exploratory” Expedition to perform “anthropological” research in Africa.  Rumors of other terrible events have alerted Doctor Clark “Doc” Savage and local British Colonial authorities to potential trouble in the region.
Will Shirley be found and rescued? What is that rustling in the jungle? And more importantly, what is that thing with all the tentacles on its face?!?!?!?!?!
No experience with the rules is necessary, action will be fast and furious, bring your funny accent!

I have a long list of things I am prepping for running these games, and I have started with a homemade business card to give to participants:

I am furiously preparing range sticks, QRS’s, extra terrain, etc, and I will post pictures as it comes together.  I will also get at least one or two play tests in, so stay tuned.  Let's see how well I can execute!

Until then, enjoy!

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Brief Reflections on Historicon 2017 and game mastering

It has been two weeks since Historicon, and it seems long enough to have digested a few thoughts.  Just for the record, I am not involved in HMGS in any meaningful capacity besides attending Historicon every few years, nor do I have strong opinions about the Fredericksburg versus Lancaster debate.

What I do have are a few observations aimed at game hosts.

My trip was a surprise from my wife and we only had time to spend Saturday at the convention.  I saw some amazing games with beautiful terrain and wonderful figures that were inspiring.  But I did run into one issue that I have run into over the years at many conventions, the execution of the games.

Let me explain.  I played in one game on Saturday during a 4 hour block of time.  I will not say which one, as I am trying to give constructive feedback to game masters in general.  The guy running the game was very friendly and had a beautiful setup.  He hit most of the marks for a good convention game:

  • He was friendly and inviting and engaged all of the players in conversation before the game
  • His terrain was great and had all those little details that make you oooh and ahhh. 
  • His figures were very nicely painted to a higher standard than I can.  
  • He was well organized, with troops for each faction pre-sorted into boxes with a QRS and well written faction briefing for each player.
So far so good, I have seen those item missing in many convention games I have played in.

The fly in the ointment came when we started playing.  The rules were homegrown and not overly complicated, but with 8 players on a large board, play ground to a halt.  The bottom line was, over the four hour period, I got to move my troops 4 times, averaging once an hour.  And, we really did not reach a conclusion.  All in all, pretty to look like, nice group of chaps to talk gaming with, but unsatisfying as a gaming experience.

Here are my recommendations for game masters to avoid this problem:
  • Don't have too many "things" for the player to move and fight with.  
    • In this case, each player had about 2 dozen figures.  Not bad, except in the rules every figure could activate and do something different, unlike in rules like Saga or Lion Rampant where you activate groups of units and they do the same thing.
    • Similar observation with Combat.  It was man to man, not unit to unit, so a LOT of die rolls and modifiers were needed.
    • The rules themselves were pretty straightforward, but I think would have played better if each player had had half the number of figures they did.
  • Keep everyone doing something most of the time
    • As game master, you are the ringmaster, it is critical to keep the tempo going
    • In this game, every turn, players activated one at a time in random order.  Things were dragging terribly until a couple of us at the table took the initiative to activate our troops while action was going on on the other end of the table where there would be no interference, but in order as specified by the rules. 
    • It is critical to either keep the tempo of a game going by having as many players doing stuff at once as practical OR have each player make VERY quick moves in turn.
  • Playtest your scenario at least once!
    • This will help you determine of the subtle interplay of table size, complexity of rules, number of troops, and distances involved will work and give an enjoyable game in the time window you have.

I have run many convention games over the years, some fun and some duds.I understand the amount of time and effort it takes to host a game, the figures, terrain, and planning, with your only reward being the appreciation of your peers.

I hope people read this for what it is intended, as advice on how to make your convention games better by stressing speed of play and keeping your players engaged.

An excellent example I have seen of this being done, in my opinion, really well was at Historicon 2015 where I played in a game run by All the King's Men.  It was the Battle of Camden, and on top of being friendly, well organized, and having great terrain and figures, they kept the game MOVING.  They did this by having multiple game masters, streamlined rules, and constant focus on the tempo of the game.  It was an very enjoyable experience and the game reached a conclusion in about 2 1/2 hours of actual play time.  

Now, I have decided going forward to put my money where my mouth is, every convention I attend from here on out, be it Historicon or a local like Souther Front, I will put on at least one game.  I have the experience and material and it will give my thinking a little more weight than if throw from the peanut gallery.

That is it for my Historicon thoughts and a huge thank you to all who organized, volunteered at, and ran games at the convention, especially my gracious host.  It was fun, even though I did not get to do much and I appreciate the time and effort.  It was fun just communing with you and a great group of fellow gamers shooting the breeze about our wonderful hobby.

What do you think? 

Friday, July 7, 2017

OHW: Celebrating Independence in 6mm

Been offline for a few weeks, which included a great cruise with my lovely wife and daughter.  We had a spectacular time and I would not trade it for anything in the world.  Only item of wargaming significance was a trip to the WW2 Museum in New Orleans.  It is well worth a visit, we only had a few hours, but I suggest planning a day.

I also finished reading A Rifleman Went to War, highly suggested for anyone interested in WW1 or marksmanship in general.

Best news is I HAVE THE BEST WIFE EVER!!!  She has arranged a weekend trip to Historicon.  I won't be able to take off any days from work, but will be able to game my little heart out on Saturday.

I have continued to fiddle with One Hour Wargames for the AWI, even while I was on vacation.  I have made a few amendments to my house rules, see v6 of the QRS at the OHW link on the right.  I significantly modified the firing rules so that each unit only has 3 hits and does not clutter the table with casualty dice.  I shamelessly pulled all of the ideas from this excellent blog, thanks, John!  As you can see, I chose the "More Chaos" option.

Please give me any feedback you have on the rules.  The last set of tweaks I am thinking of to give more of an AWI flavor are somewhat inspired by Ruse De Guerre and include:

  • Allowing non-skirmishers to pass through each other, but the stationary unit may not move and takes 1 hit (or rolls to take a hit) to represent disorder, but the looser formations.
  • Also to represent the looser infantry formations and frequent rough terrain, allow non-skirmish infantry to move through woods, but only fire with 1d6 and melee with 1d6.  Or maybe take a hit if they move into the woods?

Meanwhile, here are a couple of quick games I played.  The first was on the third of July, solo just to try out the new firing rules.  I am rather pleased with how it worked and the table looked MUCH less cluttered without the casualty dice.

Click on photos to enlarge

 British approach the Patriot line
Closeup of the Volunteers of Ireland and the British Legion coming under fire 

 And the battle lines meet!
 The British Legion Infantry collapses
And here is my Impudent Mortal plastic dice tower in a felt lined tray.  Makes dice management less messy.

And here is a nice game I played this week with my lovely wife.  It is her first outing with the rules, she ran the British and I had the Patriots, who were trying to defend a ford.

Our dog, General Sherman, supervised operations:

The British General arrays her troops for battle
Here are a few shots of the game in progress.  I placed my militia up front, and the British eventually rolled me up and took the ford.

The victorious general basks in the glory of her victory!

The rules were a hit and she is onboard to play more games.  Sometime this weekend, I will probably post another updated QRS, and maybe get the SBCT back on the table.  Until then, good gaming!

Friday, May 19, 2017

SBCT Rifle Company Battle Position Defense

Switching back from the American War of Independence this week, I am returning to my Stryker Rifle Infantry Company project, today with a Company Battle Position Defense played with 5Core Company Commander.  You can see all posts and the evolution of this project here.

I am going to try to use some of the Tactical Vignettes from Armor Magazine as the basis for some scenarios.  For some reason, they do not print them anymore, but you can find a few from the 90’s here:

Today’s fight will be based loosely on this specific Vignette:

It will take some modification, but the main features of the scenario are:
  •     The Company will perform a battle position defense and prevent the OPFOR from crossing Phase Line APACHE
  •     There are two potential avenues of approach (AA1 and AA2) that the OPFOR might use, each covered by engagement area (EA) SEATTLE and HOUSTON.
  •     The company occupies 3 platoon BP’s (Battle positions) with an alternate to allow fires to be concentrated in EA SEATTLE.

As I am exercising the rules, I will deploy the company with only organic assets and no attachments:
  •        HQ
  •        1st Platoon
  •        2nd Platoon
  •        3rd Platoon
  •        120mm Mortar Section

The company has time for dismounted elements to construct hasty fighting positions and vehicles to assume a hull down position. For this engagement, no other support from Battalion or Brigade is available, nor any aviation assets.
The company will deploy dismounted elements with the intention of engaging the enemy with Javalin’s, ICV’s will deploy on the reverse slope, ready to either move forward to a hull down position is conditions are favorable to engage with the RWS or retrieve the dismounted squads.  3rd platoon in BP 1A ICV’s will standby to redeploy the platoon to BP 1D on order.
The OPFOR will consist of elements of a Krasnovian Battalion Tactical Group:
·        Forward Security Element (FSE)
o   1 x T-80U Platoon
·        Motor Rifle Company (+) (BMP-3)
o   3 x Motor Rifle Platoons
o   1 x T-80U Platoon
o   2 x 122mm SP Guns

As for tactical plan, I will have the sneaky OPFOR send their FSE over AA2 and demonstrate to keep the defender oriented that direction and then strike with the main body via AA1, with the intention of bypassing and penetrating into the task force rear area beyond phase line APACHE.

Here is the table setup, with the company deployed into battle positions and the OPFOR ready to roll forward. 

I ran through the scenario fairly quickly, here are the highlights.
 The OPFOR moves forward using bounding overwatch by platoons, with the FSE in the lower part of this picture demonstrating in AA2. They plan to bypass as much resistance as possible, so will stay mounted and mobile as much as possible.  Heavy fire from the T-80's and BMP's force the platoon on BP 1B to suffer casualties and partially withdraw.  1st platoon pulls back from BP 1A to redeploy to BP 1D.

 Javelins destroy a BMP-3 platoon, but concentrated fire form overwatch elements continues to take it's toll.

The rifle company commander throws in the towel and withdraws.  The final casualty list is:

SBCT Rifle Company: 4 Rifle Squads and 1 weapons squad combat ineffective along with Company sniper team.  I assume a "killed" squad is mostly disorganized enough to need reorganization and not actually wiped out, but still that is 50% of the company's leg strength and a significant number of it's anti-armor systems (4 out of 9 Javelins)

OPFOR: 2 x T-80U, 3 x BMP-3, 1 x 2S1 12mm gun

The company is pretty banged up and I feel failed in it's mission to prevent OPFOR from penetrating PL APACHE in force into the task force rear area.

Here are some observations and feedback I would love from the community:
  • I have posted the QRS and weapon ratings I used to the right.  Take a look at the stats and tell me what you think.
  • Javelins seemed deadly enough.  I did not allow them to reaction fire as they are missiles.
  • Reactive armor save was good, a couple of T-80's avoided blowing up due to reactive armor.
  • I treated the ICV's like trucks, as suggested on one of the forums.
  • I assumed the Infantry squads were in cover (hasty fighting positions) but even s, they seemed to wither under the direct fire of the BMP's and T-80's.
    • Are the fire ratings to high?
    • Is there something in the rules I am missing that is making this fire too lethal?
  • I forgot the mortars, it might have helped.  I need to look through those rules more closely and research what sore of ammo is carried that might be useful against vehicles or use smoke. 
  • First turn a force entered the board I allowed a free scurry and I gave the Americans a free firefight their first turn.  Otherwise, each platoon rolled an activation dies with the company commanders getting one that they could swap with one platoon.  Seemed to work well and injected just the right amount of chaos so far.  Anyone have other thoughts on running Company Command with mechanized forces?
I am fairly happy with the speed of play, just not sure about the lethality of direct fire versus dismounted infantry.  Thoughts? Or maybe it is about right.

Thanks for reading and good gaming!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

PRICE REDUCED AGAIN!!! Buy my stuff! 1:72 / 20mm WW1 project, table ready with figures and terrain.


Buy my 20mm WW1 project!  I am not getting this on the table and my interests have wandered elsewhere.  This is perfect for playing Through the Mud and the Blood, WW1 Chain of Command, or WW1 Bolt Action.  You get enough terrain and troops to play as soon as you open the box.

A platoon's worth of troops with all of the specialists and attachments that make it interesting for the British and Germans.  You can easily play out trench raids or battles from 1917 or 1918.  You also get trenches, barbed wire, fighting positions, bunkers, shell holes, and destroyed buildings to create challenging scenarios,

Figures are a Mix of HaT, Strelets, and Emhar plastics and Early War Miniatures metal figures.  Individual infantry are mounted on pennies.

Here is the box, ready to ship (16x16x16, 8 lbs.)

What do you get?
  • British Infantry platoon suitable for 1917 or 1918 with 54 Painted Infantry Figures including:
    • Lewis Guns
    • Stokes Mortar
    • Rifle Bombers
    • Bombers
    • Vickers gun
    • Sniper
  • 1 x Mark IV Male and 1 x Mark IV female tanks (plastic Emhar kits)
  • German infantry platoon 89  painted figures including:
    • Flamethrower teams
    • Storm troopers with SMG's and grenade sacks
    • Snipers
    • Minenwerfers
    • Granetwerfers
    • Short barreled 77mm guns for Storm Troopers
    • HM's
    • MG 08/15's and captured Lewis Guns
    • Sappers with wire cutters and Bangalore Torpedoes
    • Anti-Tank Rifle teams
  • Over 4 feet of Early War Miniatures Trenches, painted and ready for the table. You can see them new at Early War Miniatures here.  Includes 4 trench sections, a communications trench, and a forward sap as well as 1 inner curve and one outer curve section.
  • 3 x sections of shelled woods with removable trees for easy storage
  • Shell Holes, shell hoes, shell holes! including 5 reinforced with sandbags ad 2 x gun emplacements
  • 2 x short entrenchments and 7 feet of barbed wire.  Entrenchments perfect for late war German defense in depth position from 1917 - 1918.
  • Bunkers and buildings: one fighting bunker, two small observation bunkers, 2 ruined buildings reinforced with sandbags, and stone walls.
All of this for....

  • $250 $200 $150 plus $25 shipping to CONUS via USPS.  
  • Any other destinations, I will charge the actual shipping based on the 16x16x16, 8lb box.  
  • PayPal only please.

Click Photos to Enlarge

British Infantry Platoon

British Tanks (Early War Miniatures 20mm figure for scale)

German Infantry Platoon:


Shelled woods

Shell holes!

Entrenchments and barbed wire

Bunkers and buildings!