Tuesday, August 28, 2018

54mm AWI French Artillery

Continuing with the 54mm French expansion to Tricorne, I painted up two sets of plastic artillery.

Like my militia, the cannon will serve with the British and the Americans (I constantly find myself short of cannon!). The distinctive French artillery uniforms means these guys are single use.

These plastics figures (Armies in Plastic) were a bit thin on detail so I was happy to go with some high-contrast summer uniforms.

Hopefully with autumn coming and the garden winding down, I will have a bit more time for painting.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

54mm AWI French Grenadiers

The unit lists for the first expansion of Tricorne have been posted online so I'mslowly painting up the 54mm troops I need. The expansions mostly about the French (presumably as a step towards an Indians and FIW expansion).

Rummaging around my boxes I found eight unpainted grenadiers that will work for the two French Units I need. I used the 1776 warrant (I think) which was all-white for these guys.

Fortunately these plastics had a lot of detail. The photos do a poor job of showing the wash effects--they are nicer in person.

Next up are some French artillery. And then some French line. The folding up of ATKM has made it tough to find suitable 54mm AWI figures as a decent price!

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Fort Walsh, Saskatchewan

On my way back from a work trip, I took a detour to Fort Walsh, Saskatchewan in the Cypress Hills. This was more out of the way than I imagined (maybe an hour off the TransCanada highway) and involved some entertaining alpine driving (in the middle of the prairies!).

Fort Walsh has a nice interpretative centre (with canteen) up top that walks you through the Fort's history and purpose with a bit of background about the Cypress Hills massacre. You then hike down to the fort itself. You can go down the road (below) or the trail (end of post).

The fort is maybe 500 or 600 feet per side. None of the buildings are original as the fort was abandoned and its remains destroyed by forest fire. The site was later re-activated as a horse-breeding centre for the RCMP before being transferred to Parks Canada.

There are numerous buildings to explore plus costumed interpreters. It was cloudy and cold the day I was there but the parking lot was busy despite the remote location of the fort.

Above in the interior of the commander's house (I think). Below is a two-pounder inside the smithy (I think).

There are lots of barracks to walk through.

There is also a nice 1/87-scale replica of the fort at its peak. Sorry the shots are poor--the glass case and wicked reflections made shooting tricky.

Outside the fort were a few teepees and some Metis buildings. The original fort had quite a boom-town spring up for a few years. The only thing left is a cemetery and some stone foundations.

Below of the shot of the trail leading down to the fort. What is most striking (beyond the Cypress Hills themselves) is the isolation of this post when wagon train and horse were main transport mode.

I'm pretty sure I wouldn't go back here (it was a long drive) but it was a very interesting side trip.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Early Pony Wars playtest

Bruce has been kicking around putting together a game loosely based on the old Pony Wars game. The players cooperate against the game system to rescue settlers and thwart bandits in the old west. He put on a playtest using paper counters to see how his updated mechanics worked.

Combat and activation was based on a modified "They might be kings" ruleset (basically Dragon Rampant). He modified NPC play by shrinking the original Pony Wars card deck and adding in some addition colour.

Each turn an event card is drawn (e.g., 3 warbands arrive, bison and bison hunter arrives, landslide) with random placement. Then the NPCs on the board all move (die roll). Then the small number of player units (US 7th Cavalry) moves.

The game is won based upon points. Above, we have a unit persuading the minors to come with the cavalry across the board to the safety of the Fort. Below, the same unit is also grabbing the settlers from an isolated farmstead. The rail workers have also arrived (if they compete their work it is big points) but are being assailed by angry locals.

The cards give rise to lots of funny and/or stressful situations. Below, a wagon train has to get across the board but has been jumped by locals and the wagons have been circled. The cavalry is arriving to save them but, in the meantime, the wagon train has taken casualties.

We also had the usual run of wild dice, including this roll by Bruce. (wow, that was super bad).

Here the Major is bringing two groups of settlers into the fort. Entering the fort heals cavalry injuries. Alas, this did not help much due to some spectacularly bad rolls two turns later.

Here we have a wagon train being pursued through a pass only to run into more locals. The wagon train was not ambushed (a risk of using the pass).

A few turns later, a landslide closed this pass. Future movement would require scaling the hills (slow) or going around).

We also had a smoke signals card come up which made a very bad situation somewhat worse.

Overall, we recorded a loss but had a pretty good time doing it. The various mechanics Bruce has put together worked pretty well and by the halfway point, I stopped using the QRS except for novel units that appeared on the board. Bruce has done a nice job of retreading a very 1970s set of rules.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Fort Battleford, Saskatchewan

Earlier this summer, work took me past Fort Battleford, Saskatchewan--one of the old NWMP forts from the Riel Rebellion era. Fort Battleford is located in Battleford, just off Highway 16. The signage is pretty slim so looking at a map ahead of a visit is a good idea.

The site itself is on a wind-swept prairie bluff overlooking the North Saskatchewan River. There is an interpretative centre, a wooden palisade, and five period buildings.

Outside the walls are barracks (that were originally intended as stables). I didn't get inside here because a school class was using the space. You can see some costumed staffers in the picture below. There are also foundations and cellars from various buildings that you can see from the frisbee-golf course but all of the signage is too sun-bleached to read.

The fort itself is pretty good sized for a prairie fort--maybe 700 feet per side? Below is a pano shot of the interior from the main gates.

There are four buildings inside plus foundation outlines of many more. Below you can see the guardhouse (foreground) and the sick horse stable (behind, with pagoda to improve air circulation).

The guard house was interesting, with cells, a small barracks room, and some period pieces (rifles) behind glass. The stable was, well, horsey-smelling.

There are also two residential buildings and some tents.

 The senior officer's building is half tricked out as a residence and half as an office space.

The commander's residence is basically a big farm house with summer kitchen out the back (on the right in the photo below).

The interior was nice and reminded me of my grandmother's house in Perdue.

Most of the inside of the fort is just grass. There is one small cannon on display.

Maybe a two-pounder?

This was a nice stop on a long drive. The cafeteria was not much so you'd want to get food in town or bring your own. I'm not sure I'd go back but it was a pleasant walk and the siting of the fort really illustrates how vast the prairies really are--you can see for 15km or more.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Song of Ice & Fire

We had seven guys out at the club this week which was pretty good given how hot it was outside! Jonathan and Scott played a game of Commands and Colors Napoleonic. George hosted the rest of us in a game of Songs of Fire and Ice (a Game of Thrones miniature game).

Chen and Scott played tea red (Lannister?) while Terry and I played team blue (Stark?).

Basic alternating activation. Combat was reasonably straight forward: roll to hit, roll to save, roll of morale. Casualties by attrition with loss of ranks reducing dice.

The only complexity for new players is the modifiers and special rules: units have special rules, characters add rules, off-board strategy play can add modifiers, cards and objectives can affect play, and so can conditions placed on units. It is a lot of take in at first but therein lies the thematic chrome of the game.

There was a general advance to secure objectives markers to gain victory points. Then team Red's super unit killed our dog. And the rain charged my archers with predictable results.

Terry did some nice maneuvering to try and kill the opposing general but came just short and got rear-ended himself.

Back on my side of the time, flanks were getting turned and I could not roll worth crap.

Then, suddenly, I rolled an amazing 10 hits. But then Craig said them all. And we ran out of time about half way through the six turn game.

Lovely plastic miniatures: as nice as most metals due to multipart construction.

Overall, fun enough to play again. Thanks to Terry for bringing painted terrain and to George for hosting.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Some 32mm mercenaries

Nothing too fancy today as the outdoors draws my attention. These seven guys are from (I think) a bunch of Horrorclix figures I got from Scott. The fellows with the shields originally had green outfits.

A bit of paint and we get a small group of corporate security of special forces troops. Or maybe some scifi-figures? These guys are a bit tall (like headed towards 32mm) when compared to a 28mm Batgirl or a 25mm Buffy.

Not sure what is next: mostly I'm moving small projects off the table to clean up some odds and sods.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

More Boxers

Bruce hosted another playlets of his Boxer game this week. Main change was extending length to 25 turns. The last five turns see no new Boxer units arrive, but existing units continue to operate. And, if the gong in ringing on turn 20 (which causes Chinese units to stack up rather than enter until it stops), the gong stops ringing and the stacked up units also arrive. Predictably, this went badly for us (but is a great mechanical tweak).

I had lot so units besiege the barricade between the Russian and American embassies.

Some bad rolls cause major losses on my side of the board and things were thin. Fortunately, the plucky Russians managed to hold of the hordes of Chinese troops.

We lost three of the five embassies this time but still managed to win the game. In a five player game, there would have been winners and losers. There were also two points where supplies got very tight and that would have caused some interesting interactions between the players.

Overall, I'd say this is pretty much ready to go and could accommodate 7 players (5 European and 2 Chinese). It could also be played within the 2.5 hours we have at the club.