Friday, January 30, 2009

The Battle of Prescott's Mill - Day 1

My opponent in my first historical wargame has written up a great in-character battle report. The game was Field of Battle using 10mm GHQ miniatures to play out a fictional American Civil War battle. The report is written from the point of view of S. Michael Warren, a British war correspondent and writer for the London Register.


The Battle at Prescott's Mill - 1863
By S. Michael Warren

It was a frosty Saturday morning in Virginia, with the rolling hills near Prescott’s Lumber Mill still clothed in the wispy mists of the early morning. The sun had not yet embraced the large field where lumber was meticulously stacked for retrieval by work crews later that day. There were gentle hills on each corner of what would become the battlefield, as well as light woods at the southwest edge and an apple orchard to the north.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Battle Report: 10mm American Civil War using Field of Battle rules

I recently got a chance to play my first ever historical wargame. We used the Field of Battle rules from Piquet to play an American Civil War battle. It was a small game. Each side had one brigade of infantry composed of five regiments, one regiment of cavalry, and one battery of artillery. That's how much I had painted for the Union side. I haven't started painting Confederate miniatures yet, but I wanted to try out the rules. So we had to use empty bases to represent the confederate army.

I don't yet have any specifically 10mm scale terrain yet, so the battlefield set-up would be simple. We used a 4'x4' table, with a few hills and a couple of woods. In the center of the table we placed some log piles. The scenario we came up with on the fly was that both forces were sent off to capture a logging mill, represented by the log piles in the center of the table. I guess they needed to plunder some lumber for something. Neither side is really expecting trouble, but they both arrive in the vicinity at about the same time, and must drive off the enemy to capture the mill. If one side controlled the mill at the end of the game with no enemy within 6" (300 yards) they would win the battle. Otherwise it would be a draw.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Attraignnor IV Campaign: Background

The battle takes place on Attraignnor IV, an Imperial world out on the very fringes of Imperial space, near the Tau Empire. So far, the Tau have mostly left it alone. But being on the very frontier of Imperial territory, Attraignnor IV isn't particularly well protected or patrolled by Imperial forces, and it pretty much has to fend for itself. The planet has so far done pretty well for itself, with very little help from the Imperium.

Originally Attraignnor IV was colonized just for the sake of expansion, even though it didn't seem to be a particularly valuable planet in any way. But the people of Attraignnor IV were extremely successful at mining pockets of gas located deep within the planet. The gas is greatly valued for its use as fuel in a variety of vehicles, and inhabitants of Attraignnor IV made a lot of money exporting it. This naturally pleased the Imperium, which proceeded to tax them very heavily on their profits.

Resentment began to brew all over the planet because they had to pay so much of their hard earned money in taxes to the Imperium and get basically nothing in return. Gas mining is a very dangerous and risky enterprise, and colonizing a world in the first place is extremely difficult for the early settlers. So they felt as all their risk and hard work was being punished rather than rewarded by the Imperium that basically left them to fend for themselves.

The breaking point came when a particularly large and powerful Ork Waaargh, led by Warboss Gruka Spinetearer, attacked Attraignnor IV. The defenses were overwhelmed and the planet was quickly infested with rampaging Ork warbands. Planetary Governor Devonius Krell had sent out calls for assistance to the Imperial Navy, the Imperial Guard, and the Space Marines. The sub-sector's Naval and Imperial Guard forces did not want to provoke an attack from the nearby Tau Empire, especially with their limited forces so far from the core worlds of the Imperium. So the Navy and the Imperial Guard both replied that all of their forces were tied up and they had nothing available to send to help defend the planet.

The Space Marines of the Imperial Fists did respond, and sent a few squads led by Lord Captain Octavio Ferranus, Commander of the Fourth Company, Master of the Marches. When they arrived they did their best to strike at the most powerful of the rampaging warbands in the more vital areas of the planet. But Captain Ferranus realized how ridiculous the situation was. The planet was hopelessly under supported. It had no outside support. Most of the troops it had raised had been called away by the Imperial guard, leaving them with a token defense force. The few ships in the system fleet had been easily chased away by the large Ork fleet. The situation seemed hopeless.

Being far from the prying eyes of the Inquisition, Attraignnor IV had a relatively large number of chaos cultists who secretly prayed to the gods of chaos for all kinds of things. Now, in these desperate times, much more of the population were convinced by these cultists to turn to the chaos gods for salvation. Arch Heretic Fellonius Degrassio, Demagogue of the Cult of 36 Secrets, managed to gain a particularly massive following amongst the populace.

These citizens formed huge cultist militias to fight back against the Ork invaders. They fought with incredible zeal and determination, some even seeming to fight with superhuman powers granted by their gods. It was even rumored that some of the largest cults had succeeded in enacting dark rituals to summon forth daemons from the warp to attack the Orks.

The Imperial Fists Captain began hearing rumors of the militias, and how they may be connected to cults that might be connected to chaos worship. But as the tide began to turn against the Orks due to the ferocity of the cult militias, Captain Ferranus accepted this as necessary and allowable in order to achieve the greater good. He even began working with some of the more influential militia leaders, including Fellonius Degrassio, in order to coordinate attacks against the Orks.

By this point, Captain Ferranus had grown increasingly frustrated with the situation, as the casualties amongst his men continued to increase. Every day he would request aid: more marines, naval support, the Imperial Guard. He explained that the number of invaders was greater than anticipated, and the situation was hopeless unless someone came to their aid. But none would come. He grew angry at the inability of the Imperium to act. His anger even extended to his own Chapter, the Imperial Fists, who had left him to die in a pointless and impossible fight. As the war raged on, Captain Ferranus grew more and more determined to destroy the alien invaders, no matter the cost, just to spite those who had abandoned Attraignnor IV to its fate.

Then things suddenly took a turn. The Ork fleet that had been chasing the planet's small fleet of ships was engaged and scattered by a large Tau armada. The Tau, however, did not attack the planetary fleet or the planet itself, and simply left the system. With the Ork fleet gone, the system fleet was able to support the ground battles with naval bombardments and bomber attacks. Together, the planetary defense forces, the cult militias, and the remaining Imperial Fists managed to fight back and eventually destroy the remnants of the Ork warbands that had landed on their world. The war was over, but at great cost. Much of the planet was devastated, including the source of their trade income, and it would take years, possibly decades, for it to recover. Most of their mining facilities were destroyed, and in their place stood massive columns of fire from the burning gasses shooting up through the ground.

Then finally, once the war with the Orks was already well in hand, a small Imperial naval fleet arrived at the planet. Naturally, Governor Krell thought, it was just like the navy to show up with reinforcements once they were no longer needed. But when some of them came down to the planet, the governor was told that they weren't reinforcements. They were with the Imperial government, and there to collect the planetary tithes.

Devonius Krell was enraged. After being told there was not a single ship available to help save his planet, and being left on their own to fight against hopeless odds by the Imperium, a fleet had shown up to make sure they paid their taxes to the institution that had abandoned them. He was especially furious that they would show up now, when their planet was devastated and their financial situation at its most dire. He had had enough. His planet clearly had no need for the Imperium of Man, and they had proven it by surviving the crisis without help. The rebellion that had been building for years and years was now coming to a head.

In a fury, the governor had the tithe collectors arrested. He had his planetary defense guns and his fleet attack and destroy the unsuspecting Imperial fleet. There was no going back now. They were in open rebellion. Perhaps this would finally draw the attention of the Imperial military.

Shortly thereafter, as fate would have it, an emissary arrived from the Tau empire, trusting that the destruction of the Ork fleet was a suitable show of peaceful intent. The Governor needed to find a way to survive the retaliation that would surely come from the Imperium, and the Tau had already aided his planet more than the Imperium of Man ever had. So the Governor struck a deal, agreeing that his planet would join the Tau Empire and fall under their protection.

The population of the planet was already well aware of the rebellion of their world. After what they had been through, there were relatively few on the planet that still wished to remain loyal to the Imperium, but hearing the news that they were to join the Tau Empire split the population in two. Some knew that it meant the military protection they needed, and were so glad to be rid of the oppressive Imperial rule that they were ready to accept the ideals of the alien Tau.

But many others would never accept such a fate. They had just given everything they had and more in a desperate fight to stop an alien menace from conquering their world. There was no way they were going to turn around now and just hand the world over to a different alien menace without a fight. Especially those who had turned to the ruinous powers to aid them in the victory, and who wanted their world to be devoted to the praise of the chaos gods.

The entire planet erupted into a fierce civil war. On one side: those who supported the decision to join the Tau empire, loyal to Planetary Governor Devonius Krell. On the other: those who were against, some because they simply despised all xenos, some because they disagreed with the ideals of the Tau Empire, and some because they had seen the power of the chaos gods and wanted to devote the planet to their masters. These included large forces of cultist militias, many of them now lead by Arch Heretic Fellonius Degrassio, Demagogue of the Cult of 36 Secrets.

Captain Ferranus of the Iron Fists had been trained all his life to hate all xenos and all that they stand for. He had also been trained to hate Chaos, but by this point his exposure to it during the war against the Orks had affected him. He chose what he thought to be the lesser of two evils, and fought with the rebels against those loyal to the Planetary Governor. Soon, drawn to the planet by the whispers of the dark gods, small bands of Chaos Space Marines began arriving on the planet to join the fight. Many of them eventually banded together under the brilliant leadership of the Imperial Fists Captain.

Also, a renegade marine chapter with a large spy network was told of the rebellion of this world. In it's desire to aid any world rebelling against the Imperium, the chapter sent a contingent to the planet to aid in the fight, not knowing it had turned into a brutal civil war. War continued to ravage Attraignnor IV, with the capitol city being mostly destroyed by the constant bombardment. The remnants of the Planetary Government, including Planetary Governor Devonius Krell, are now hiding in bunkers deep beneath the capitol city while the war rages above them.

There are also in some places, including the capitol city, small pockets of men still loyal to the Imperium itself, caught between two warring armies of traitors and just trying to hold out and survive. This includes Chief Justice Frenauld Grennior of the Adeptus Arbites, who, with a small force of Adeptus Arbites, is holding out in the Arbites precint house in the capitol city. There are also some Imperial Guard troops still loyal to the Imperium left in the capitol city. Led by Lt Sgt Bartlmus Ortega, they are doing all they can just to defend their HQ from being taken by the various traitors. There are even rumors of a couple of Imperial Assassins operating somewhere in the capitol city, doing anything they can to punish the traitors.

It is at this time that a Tau army arrives on the planet. Not wanting to lose the planet they had been promised, the Tau send an army in to secure the capitol city of the planet and defend Governor Krell, with whom they made their deal. Little do they know that as they arrive, the forces of the unknown renegade marine chapter and the warband of the Imperial Fists captain are also converging on the capitol city to find and eliminate the last remnants of the loyalist government.

Fallen Imperial Fists:
With the Imperial Fists Commander came his command squad including an Epistolary Librarian named Santiago Botrejadre, as well as Chaplain Heinz Wartsmicht, three tactical squads, 2 assault squads, and one devastator squad. His force was further supported by Techmarine Ollivander Smythton who ministered rites to the force's 3 predators, bikes, 5 rhinos, and 3 land speeders. The brutal battles with the vile Orks and the subsequent civil war has reduced and scattered the Imperial Fists' forces and squads have been forced to form from the mixed survivors. Chaplain Wartshmicht was killed in single combat with the Vile Ork warboss before the xenos scum were driven back in the battle of Parisiana by the quick actions of Company Champion Sun Laotzu. The fall of Chaplain Wartshmicht was the beginning of the end for the warriors of the Fourth. Without his spiritual guidance, Captain Ferranus was easily frustrated by the next two years of battle against the Orks. He began to be swayed by the Chaos cults he was forced to use as foot troops, and so when he declared his secession from the Imperium of man, the fourth went with him to a man. Epistolary Botrejadre had already been pushing his powers well beyond anything he'd ever done attacking the vile Ork wyrdboys. He began experimenting and getting more and more reckless in his rites of purity in the name of survival. At the battle of Lamedon, Company Champion Laotzu toppled the massive warboss Grugnir SpineEater, the Ork's great champion, with one great swing of his mighty hammer, Foe Bane. This was the turning point in the battle. In honor of his great valor, Captain Ferranous had the Chaplain's revered suit of Terminator armor cleaned out and gifted it to Laotzu. During the civil war, after nearly all the Fourth's war machines were damaged beyond even Brother Smythton's prodigious skill to repair, the Techmarine along with Apothecary Renauld and six other Battle Brothers, simply disappeared. What became of them remains a mystery.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Painting 10mm Union Cavalry Riders

This is the second part of my tutorial on how I painted my 10mm GHQ American Civil War Union Cavalry. This entry will demonstrate how I painted the riders. With some minor differences, this is very similar to how I painted my Union Infantry. So between the two posts it should give a pretty good idea of how I went about painting most of my 10mm union miniatures so far.

The first step was to get them mounted on something so they would be easier to paint. With the infantry and horses, this was just a matter of gluing them to some large popsicle sticks. The cavalry riders were a bit trickier, but I managed to come up with a decent system. I straightened out a paper clip and used clippers to cut it into many short, straight sections. I super-glued one of these to the tab on each of the riders. Then I drilled small holes in a popsicle stick and inserted the ends of the paper clips into the holes, applying some glue. When the glue dried, they held pretty well. The only tricky part is getting the paper clips glued solidly to the tabs on the riders. The end result can be seen below.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Painting 10mm Union Cavalry Horses

I recently finished painting a unit of 10mm GHQ union cavalry miniatures. I'm going to post pictures and a step by step description of how I painted them to hopefully help gives others some ideas and painting tips. For those who haven't painted in this scale, it will hopefully help convince you that it isn't at all as hard as it might seem. I don't claim that my methods are the best way to paint, or even a good way, but they're how I painted this partcular unit, and it turned out pretty well.

I'll make separate entries for the horses and for the riders, since they were painted separately then glued together. First up will be the horses.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Attraignnor IV Campaign: Rules

Last year, me and three friends played a Warhammer 40,000 map campaign. The rules were based off the Vogen Hive campaign, which used to be on the Games Workshop website Now I can't find it on there, so I'm not sure if there is anywhere to get the original rules online. The campaign took place in the city of Vogen and included a map of the city broken into many territories. The batles in the campaign made use of the Cityfight rules. We had to adapt the rules somewhat, to update them for use with the updated Cities of Death rulebook and to work with the forces we were using.

The basic rules we used for our campaign were as follows:

1. Each player has a number of colored pins of a unique color. The pins mark which territories on the map that a player controls. There would be two sides in the campaign, (Chaos and Tau) with two players on each side. More players on each side would probably work even better, but I don't think more than two sides would work.

2. Each player starts with one pin in a randomly determined blank territory on the edge of the map. (We determined this by me secretly writing numbers 1-4 in 4 of the blank territories on the edge of the map that I thought would make interesting starting poitns. Each other player then picked a number, and they started on the territory with the number they picked. I was left with the remaining territory.)

3. Each map turn, each player may place another pin in a territory adjacent to one they already control. Two territories are considered adjacent if they have any amount of border in common. Two players on the same side cannot both place pins in the same territory. (The way we handled this was that I kept the map, and I would decide where I wanted to move and place my pin there. Then each of the other players, without knowing where I had moved, would all e-mail me their choice of where they wanted to place a pin. That way, everyone chose where to place their pin without knowing where anyone on the other team had placed a pin, and all moves were done in secret. Players on the same team would collaborate and discus their moves in advance, so both would not end up on the same territory. Once everyone had made their choice, the results were revealed to everyone.) To prevent players possibly being cut off by their own teammate, we also said that you could place a pin in a territory adjacent to one that your teammate controls, as long as you can trace an unbroken path to the new territory through territories that are controlled by your side.

4. If two pins from different sides are in the same territory, those two players play a game of 40K using the Cities of Death rules. The loser removes their pin, and the winner then controls the territory. If the game is a draw, both players remove their pin. If both players have moved into the territory in the same map turn, then Escalation rules are used in the battle, and neither players gets the benefits listed for controlling that territory in the game. (see below for benefits of controlling specific territories)

5. After the pins have been placed and all battles fought, victory points are determined. If you control a territory by having your pin in it, then you gain the victory points value shown for that location. Any location that does not have a value shown is with 1/2 victory point. The campaign ends as soon as one side has a total of 60 or more victory points. Some territories have two different numbers listed, which related to some special rules for the location in the Vogen campaign that we did not use. The these cases the lower number is ignored and the higher number is how many victory points the territory is worth.

6. If you lose all of your pins, you are out of the campaign. If one side has no pins left, they lose the campaign. Otherwise the first side to have a total of 60 or more victory points wins.

7. Games are played to any agreed points value and level (alpha, gamma, omega) and use a randomly determined Cities of Death mission, unless specified otherwise for the particular location the battle is taking place in.

8. Some territories on the map have fortifications set up, represented by one to three dots on the map. If you are fighting a battle in one of these territories that you control (meaning you already had your pin in the territory last turn, and a player on the other side placed their pin in it this turn), then you may make use of the fortifications. Each "dot" of fortifications grants the controlling player a free stratagem from the Obstacles stratagems or the Fortifications stratagem. These are in addition to any stratagems normally allowed for the battle.

Below is a picture of the campaign map. Click on it for a full sized view.
Attraignnor IV Campaign Map

For our campaign, the territories on the map would have the following special rules. Unless otherwise noted, all bonuses are gained only by a player that already controls the location and only for a battle is being fought on that location. Bonus stratagems are in addition to any stratagems you would normally be allowed to take.

122nd Cadian HQ: You must win a game against an Imperial army played by one of your opponents in order to take control of this territory.
Administrative Quarter: No special rules.
Angel Square: The controlling player gains a free sacred ground stratagem. If neither player controls the location, then a building in the center of the table counts as sacred ground for both sides.
Arbites Precinct: You must win a game against an Imperial army played by one of your opponents in order to take control of this territory.
Basilica Imperialis: The controlling player gains a free sacred ground stratagem. If neither player controls the location, then a building in the center of the table counts as sacred ground for both sides.
Building 235: The controlling player gains a free power generator stratagem.
Cartel House Dwellings: No special rules.
Dealer's Accommodation: Each player places D6 booby traps as described in the booby traps stratagem. All booby traps will automatically trigger when any model moves through the city ruin level or obstacle where they are located.
Execution Square: No special rules.
Genatorium: For any battles in this location, D6+1 steam geysers are placed on the battlefield in a mutually agreed upon manner are are treated as dangerous terrain.
Gibbet Hill: The controlling player gains the preliminary bombardment and observation point stratagems.
Gun Towers: The controlling player gains a preliminary bombardment stratagem.
Hab Blocks Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and Delta: If a model is "all on it's own" at the beginning of any turn, remove it from play as it is mobbed and murdered by a band of armed scavengers. If you have all of these Hab-blocks under your control, they are worth 8 Victory Points in total.
Hab Blocks Epsilon and Zeta: No special rules.
Harikon's Gate: Each gate section is considered to be adjacent to the corresponding Fortification location directly to it's West.
Imperial Senate House: No special rules.
Mercantile and Pleasure Districts: No special rules.
North Road Gate: The controlling player may re-roll any unsuccessful reserve rolls when fighting a battle in the North Road Gate or any adjacent location.
Palace Grounds: All games in these locations use a standard green table and scenery. The Cities of Death rules are not used.
Palace of Peace: A player must already have 16 Victory Points in order to place a pin in the Palace of Peace. The Grand Assault scenario from the Cities of Death book is always played in this location. If a player loses control of the Palace of Peace, the player loses another D3 pins, which must be the pins of his nearest to the Palace of Peace, as well as the pin on the Palace of Peace.
Railhead Depots and Terminus: If you control either location, you may assault the 122nd Cadian HQ and bypass the fortifications. So when fighting the Imperial Army to capture the 122nd Cadian HQ, or an opponent that already controls it, they will not get the extra stratagems that the fortifications would normally allow.
Sniper's Alley: Both players gain a free preliminary bombardment stratagem in these locations to represent the loyal Imperial snipers fighting against both invading armies.
Spaceport Complex: The controlling player gets one free deep strike stratagem per map turn that can be used in any battle they fight in any location.
Trading Houses: No special rules.
Vogen Law Courts: Any player controlling this location may discount two dots of fortifications when attacking the Palace of Peace.
Vogen Theater House: No special rules.
Water Purification Plant: The controlling player gains a free sewer rats stratagem.

So those were the rules for the campain as we played it. Let me know what you think. The campaign went pretty well, but I think it would work out even better with more players on each side. And it has the nice benefit that the map turns can be played out by e-mail. Try out the rules if you get a chance, and leave a comment if you have any suggestions.

I will be posting updates on a weekly basis of how the campaign progressed. So check back next week to read the background story to our campaign, and the following weeks to see how things unfolded for the Chaos and Tau armies fighting for control of Attraignnor IV.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Warmaster Chaos Warriors

Here are some pictures of Warmaster miniatures I painted a long time ago. I started making a Chaos Warrior army for Warmaster, but didn't get too far. I never ending up playing a game of Warmaster because I didn't finish painting an army, and nobody else I know painted pretty much any Warmaster stuff. It seems like a fun game, so hopefully I'll get a chance to play it someday. In the meantime, here are some pictures of the Chaos Warrior miniatures I have painted so far.

Chaos Warriors

Chaos Warriors Chaos Warriors Chaos Warriors

Marauders

Marauders Marauders Marauders Marauders Marauders

Chaos Hounds

Chaos Hounds Chaos Hounds Chaos Hounds

Everything

Warmaster Warmaster Warmaster Warmaster

In Warmaster, if I remember correctly, you could make brigades of up to four units that would be issued orders together and move around together. I decided to create a brigade of two Chaos Warrior units, and two Marauder units. I have no idea if that would actually be good in the game, but it seemed reasonable. And I figured I would differentiate different brigades by their predominate colors, including the color of their flags. So these pictures show the "Red" brigade. Another brigade of four infantry units would have all their flags, tassels, etc., painted some other color. It's not really neccessary, since it's easy to tell who is brigaded together as they would be in base to base contact. But I thought it would look good, and maybe be a good way to represent the army being composed of different tribes or families, or brigades devoted to different Chaos gods.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Union Major General Winfield Scott Hancock

Here are some pictures of a Union army command stand I made for use in the game Field of Battle, by Piquet. Again, the miniatures are from GHQ. The commander miniature is actually specifically meant to be Winfield Scott Hancock. The rest are various extra command figures I had.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Warhammer Historical: The Great War

I recently bought The Great War by Warhammer Historical and read through it, so I thought I'd post a review. The book itself is very nice looking. There's not much in the way or artwork, but it is full of many pictures of very nicely painted miniatures on tables full of great looking terrain. All the photos of miniatures are impressive and inspiring, and many of them are used as diagrams to illustrate particular rules. There are even a few photos meant to demonstrate step by step how to paint miniatures from the different armies that the book covers. So in terms of the photos and the presentation of the miniatures, it is very much like the production quality you'd see in a Games Workshop rulebook.

The text of the book, on the other hand, is not anywhere near the same level of quality. It is full of typos, grammatical errors, and poorly worded sentences. For example, in a section about painting miniatures, they have this gem: "For all the models the following techniques were used as standard with all of the models." It seems minor on its own, but there are sentences like that or worse everywhere in this book. It's almost as if nobody actually proofread this thing at all before it went to the printers. It's mostly just annoying, but in some cases the rules are worded in a very confusing way, or details are mentioned in the examples but not actually explained in the rules.

The rules themselves are based on the Warhammer 40,000 rules, and seem to be a mix of 4th edition and 5th edition rules, but with some of its own unique rules. Because of the poor wording, someone who has never played Warhammer 40,000 might have a very hard time understanding how some of the rules work. If you have played Warhammer 40,000, it should be pretty easy to understand what they are trying to say, but I think when playing the game it might be easy forget which rules are like 4th edition, which like 5th edition, and which completely different. So if you end up playing Great War and Warhammer 40,000, you may end up looking in the book a lot to double check things when you get confused about which rules go with which game.

Speaking of rules, I'm not sure the Warhammer 40,000 rules are the best set of rules to base a real world wargame on. The Warhammer 40,000 rules make use of huge ranges of strength and toughness to be able to represent anything from normal humans, to massive alien monstrosities that can rip apart tanks. In the Great War, there are no alien monstrosities, everyone is a normal human, so there is really no need for having strength and toughness characteristics. They could have left those out completely and just given all the weapons a "to wound" roll. And even the weapons don't vary much in strength, since regardless of what kind of bullet you get shot by, it's going to be pretty deadly. So there are thing that really could have been dropped entirely, like the to-wound chart, without changing the game much. But if you're already familiar with Warhammer 40,000, then you already know the chart, so it won't slow you down anyway. But people who have never played Warhammer 40,000 might wonder why they bothered with the needless complexity of having a chart for that. Then again, people who are more used to playing historical games are used to having lots of charts for everything.

Aside from that, I like the rules. They seem really fun, and I like a lot of the new stuff they've come up with, such as their rules for how heavy machine guns work. The way the armies are organized, into companies of several platoons with support choices based on the size and type of the army, seems like it will add a lot of flavor to the game, though it does make the process of selecting an army to a certain number of points somewhat laborious. I also really like the missions that are included in the book. They seem fun, and are very flavorful and objective based, so that should keep the games from just being about wiping out the enemy. Also, between the few different missions and few different deployment possibilites, plus options for reserves and wave attacks, there are a lot of different ways to play. So that should make each game play out very differently and keep it from getting predictable or boring, even after playing many times, and even if the armies don't vary greatly.

The armies that the book covers are the French, English, and Germans. They say they will cover other armies in future supplements. Each of these armies has several army lists, covering different types of battalions. For example, there are cavalry battalions, tank battalions, stormtrooper battalions, and others. Which army list you use determines which kind of company counts as core for your army. You must take a certain number of minimum core companies for a game, and the number of them you take total determines how many support choices you can take. The army list you choose also determines which support choices you have available, and how many of each you can take per core choice. Many support choices also have a limit on how many you can take in total in your army, which could vary from list to list. So there are many options, and much to consider when deciding what list you want to use.

The Great War book covers only the Western front during two years of the war, 1914 and 1918. Again, it says in the book that they intend to release supplements covering other fronts and the middle part of the war. For now, the French, English, and Germans each have six army lists in the book, three for 1914 and three for 1918. So there are a total of 18 different army lists to choose from, giving much greater variety than you might expect it to have with its limited scope. So it should be plenty to keep you going until they eventually released the promised supplements.

As far as historical background information, the book has very little. There is a section in the beginning that goes through year by year, showing a timeline of a few major events, and a few other mentions of battles used to illustrate a point or explain the inspiration for one of the missions. That's about it. It seems pretty normal for historical games to not include any background information in their rulebooks. Presumably people who bought the book already have some interest in and knowledge of the period, since that is likely what makes someone want to game in a particular period. But for people used to Games Workshop games that have a great deal of background information, it is a significant difference. So, like most historical games, you'll have to do some of your own research to find background information and historical inspiration for your battles.

Another thing I should note is that it takes a lot of miniatures to play a game. At a minimum for each army list, you need at least one command unit and two core companies, each of which consist of a company command unit usually a minimum of 2 (though sometimes the minimum is higher) platoons, each with some number of models. So even if you just want to play the bare minimum playable army with none of the fun support choices, and you pick the lists with the lowest minimums, it comes out to needing about 40 models just to play. For some of the lists you'd need many more just to fulfil the minimum requirements. Also, they state in the rule book that each 28mm figure you use represents about 3-4 actual soldiers. I plan to use 10mm figures instead, and put 3 of them on the same 25mm round base they say to use for each 28mm figure. That way nothing about the rules will be affected, but I'll have one model for each soldier the rules are intending to represent. I think that will look a lot better, but of course requires even more figures just to play the bare minimum sized game.

Overall, I really like the Great War rules. It seems like they will make for a very fun game in an interesting period of warfare. I haven't played a game yet with these rules, but when I do I will be sure to post an update with my reactions to how the game actually plays. Based on just reading through the book, I would definitely recommend it to anyone interested in playing small scale battles in World War One, or anyone who plays Warhammer 40,000 and wants to try something new or have lots of new options for army types. The rules should be very easy to learn for anyone familiar with Warhammer 40,000 and the army lists offer new challenges and opportunities for those sick of playing the same 40K armies and missions over and over again.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Union Heavy Artillery Battery

Here is my first attempt at painting artillery, a Union heavy artillery battery, plus an artillery officer command stand. They are supposed to be 20 pound parrot rifles, but I found out after painting them that rifled artillery was made of iron (and often painted black, I believe), while smoothbore artillery was made of bronze and was not painted. The reason for this is that rifling would get worn out in the softer bronze barrels, so rifled artillery had to be made of cast iron or wrought iron, which is much harder. The Civil War Artillery Page is, not surprisingly, a really good resource for information about Civil War artillery.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Irish Brigade

I've finished my first full brigade of American Civil War union infantry. It represents the famed Irish Brigade, consisting of the 69th, 63rd, and 88th New York, the 116th Pennsylvania, and the 28th Massachusetts Infantry regiments. In the middle, on horseback, is a brigade command base with their commanding officer, Brigadier General Thomas Francis Meagher, and their chaplain, Father William Corby.

Monday, January 5, 2009

69th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment

Here are some pictures of my very first historical miniatures, a regiment of Civil War Federal infantry. The miniatures are 10mm and from a company called GHQ. This particular unit represents the 69th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment (led by Colonel Robert Nugent), the first regiment of the famed Irish Brigade. I even included their distinctive green regimental flag, which depicts the sun peeking out from the clouds above a golden harp.

Friday, January 2, 2009

My Introduction To Historical Wargaming: Part 3

Step 5: Choose Miniatures
Now that you've figured out a scale for your miniatures, it's time to find a manufacturer that makes the miniatures you need. You'll probably find several, and will have to choose which to go with, or possibly just mix miniatures from different manufacturers in your armies. You'll have to be careful with this, though, since even miniatures that are listed as being the same scale can sometimes vary in actual size from company to company. And, especially in the smaller scales, they can vary greatly in how thick and stocky they are and how they are porportioned. So 10mm miniatures from two different companies might look a little strange next to each other, if some are very thin and others very bulky.

I had decided that my choice was between 6mm and 10mm figures. After some online searching I found one company, Baccus, that makes 6mm American Civil War miniatures. Thankfully, their website has many great pictures of their miniatures, which is not the case with a lot of other miniatures manufacturers. The American Civil War section can be found here. They look great in the pictures, all ranked up in big units with skirmishers out front and terrain on the bases. But up close they seem to be very squat and disproportioned. Plus, they aren't that much less wide than 10mm miniatures, so it seemed like I could have just about as many figures in the same amount of space with 10mm as with 6mm, but the individual models would look better and be more realistically proportioned.

I was able to find many manufacturers that make 10mm American Civil War miniatures. Some of them have a decent number of photographs of their miniatures on the websites. Most of them do not. It seems pretty ridiculous to me that they'd expect people to buy their miniatures without seeing what they look like, but I guess it didn't stop me. Luckily, I found this great site called 10mm World that has lots of pictures of 10mm miniatures. Many of them taken with the miniatures in front of rulers or grids so you can see exactly how big they are. And the pictures are grouped by manufacturer and by historical period.

The pictures on that site convinced me that by far the best, most detailed, most realistically proportioned 10mm miniatures are made by GHQ. Especially convincing is the scale comparision picture shown in the Napoleonic GHQ section. So I found the webpage for the GHQ 10mm American Civil War figures. They have pictures on their website of some, but not many, of their Civil War miniatures. But what I had seen already had convinced me that they would look great. They are definitely more expensive than many of the other 10mm miniatures ranges I looked into, but I thought it was well worth it for the quality of the sculpting detail and the more realistic proportions of the figures. So I ordered a few packs of Union infantry to get started.

Step 6: Decide on Basing
At some point you'll have to figure out what size bases you are going to use, how many figures to put on each base, where to put command figures, and other things like that. This might already be figured out for you by the rules you are using or the miniature scale. If you are playing a skirmish game, then you'll just base each miniature individually on whatever size base is appropriate for what size miniatures you are using. If the rules call for a specific base size, and you can only fit one or two figures of your chosen scale on that sized base, then there won't be much to decide on in this step. But as I mentioned, many rules sets seem to be fairly lenient when it comes to base size and number of scales. This is so that once you have your figures based for one game, you are still likely to be able to use the same figures based the same way for a different game in the future. Nobody wants to have to completely rebase their figure collection if they decide to try out some new rules.

The rules I had gotten, called Field of Battle, did not require any specific basing. It suggusted that an infantry unit in line should be 4"-8" long, with 6" being idea. If the unit was closer to 3" long, all the movement distances and ranges in the game could be halved to make up for it. Depth of the unit isn't particularly important. Figure scale and number of figures per base is not relevant to the rules. Each unit does need to have multiple bases so that they can be re-arranged to represent being in line, being in march column, or being in attack column. Another point about the rules that affected my decision was that there is a mechanic called Unit Integrity, which tracks the morale of a unit as it takes casualties. Infantry units start with 4UI, cavalry 3UI, and artillery 2UI. So it would be convenient for each unit to consists of one command stand plus one stand for each point of UI. In the future I intend to make up casualty stands with some models wounded or running away on them. Then when a unit loses UI, I can replace one of the normal stands with a casualty stand, but the command stand will always remain, and I can label the bottom of it with what regiment it represents. With infantry units of 5 bases to a regiment (which contains ten companies), this also means that each company takes of half a base. This could be useful for any regiments where some of the companies were uniformed differently than others.

I wanted my infantry regiments to look as much like a real line of battle as possible, so I wanted to pack the figures closely together, have a lot of them, and put them in two ranks. Two ranks just looks a lot better. Even in one rank the formation is much deeper than it should be, but the depth of the unit doesn't effect the rules much, so having them in two ranks should be fine. I decided two ranks of four per base would be good, because then in a one column wide march formation, they would be four figures wide, which would look good. Four of the figures side by side, with minimal space in between, took up about 3/4" or 20mm. I wanted them spaced evenly front to back so that when in march column all the rows would be about the same distance apart, and I didn't want any parts of the figures hanging over the edges of the bases, which could make it difficult to place the bases touching each other. So to accomodate all of that, I decided on 3/4" square bases for my infantry. I purchased very thin square steel bases from WarWeb.com, which can be found here.

With 8 figures per base and 5 bases to a regiment, that gives a ratio of 1 figure to about 10 or 15 men, which isn't bad. Next was determining where to place the command models, which involved a little research into where they would have been in reality. By design, I had an odd number of stands so I could make the center one a command stand with all of the command figures. I decided to place an officer figure in the center front of the base with a drummer to his left and one or two flags to his right. If two, I move the officer to the left a bit to fit them both. Union regiments normally carried two flags, a national and a regimental. So it looks good with two figures. But each figure represents at least 10 men, and the color guard would have been 9 men with two of them holding flags, so one figure can certainly represent both flags. The whole process of determining how to base figures is really a balancing act between aesthetics, trying to maintain the ground scale of the rules, and historical accuracy of where people were positioned and how much space they took up. I went back and forth many times with different basing ideas trying to balance these considerations. There is not one right answer, you just have to decide on something and go with it. You can always rebase them later if you change your mind or manage to come up with the perfect basing scheme sometime in the future. So what I came up with isn't perfect, but that's what I decided to go with. If you have other ideas or suggestions about determining how to base your figures, let me know.

Step 7: Paint/Base Miniatures
Now you're finally ready to paint your toy soldiers! You could do this before you figure out how you're going to base them, but it's nice to know how many you need for a single unit, so you can paint a whole unit at a time. Come to think of it, you might want to determine how you're basing things before you order the miniatures, so you can order then in the right amounts for the number or units you want to start out with. But I didn't do that, because it's much easier to figure out how you want to base things when you have the actual figures in hand and can arrange them and measure how much space they take up and see how they look in different configurations.

They way I decided to base my infantry, I would need 36 infantry figures and 3-4 command figures for each regiment. The GHQ American Civil War infantry come in packs of 24 infantry plus one officer, one standard bearer, and one drummer. So every three packs would give me enough for two regiments, plus some extra command figures left over to make brigade command stands. I won't get more into painting or basing here, since those are huge subjects and I plan to have plenty of posts covering those topics in the future.

Step 8: Play Game
Once you've got a few units painted up, it's time to play the game! I haven't actually gotten to this step yet, so I can't comment on it. I'll be sure to post my thoughts about it when I finally get to play Field of Battle. I'm looking forward to it, but I still have a lot of painting to finish before I get to this step.

Step 9: Repeat
As much as I'd like to deny it, I suspect this step is unavoidable. At some point you will become fascinated with some new historical period or set of rules and have to repeat many or all of the above steps all over again. But everyone needs a hobby, right?

Well, I hope you've enjoyed my walk down memory lane, and perhaps found some useful information in it. This is only the beginning, and I will be posting much more about my progress with this American Civil War gaming project in the future.