THE CONQUEROR WORM

Saturday, November 5, 2016

BASE-A-BALL BEEN BERRY GOOD TO ME!

     I guess I'm sort of a tool.
     Back in my teen years, I was a yuge (we live in the Age of Trump!) baseball fan. I loved the Pittsburgh Pirates. But I haven't really paid much attention to the sport lately. Not since 1990 really, when the Pirates had Bonds, Bonilla and Van Slyke. Remember that?
     This year's World Series -- with the perennial underdog Cubs winning -- has re-energized my enthusiasm. Yeah, me and about 40 million other people. I think we all agree: awesome series!
     Anyway, that spurred me to pick up a wonderful text-based baseball computer simulation from Steam called "Out of the Park Baseball 17."
     This game allows you to run an entire baseball organization in every imaginable way, from managing its farm teams to negotiating trades and player salaries and drafting players out of high school.
     That's a bit much for me, though. Fortunately, it also allows more casual fans, like me, to just manage a season. That is, I'm simply playing the games one-by-one and making all on-field decisions. I select offensive batting and defensive fielding strategies, pitching decisions and make all substitutions during each game.
     I'm starting with the 2015 Pirates season. I watched a fair number of their games last year (we get all the Chicago games where I live, and the Pirates and Cubs are in the same division, so they're on TV a lot here) and I really liked the team. Baseball is weird in that you can't really enjoy the game until you bond with the players, and the Pirates had some pretty likeable guys. I loved McCutcheon, for example. Also Neil Walker and Marte. I really rooted for these guys. I loved Cervelli, for some reason. Plus, they had excellent pitching, led by Gerrit Cole.

Pirates defeat the Arizona Diamondbacks! Cervelli has broken out of his slump. So has Marte. McCutcheon homered, but he's still up-and-down. Neil Walker has cooled off, but he's the team leader. You really become attached to your team in this game.
     OOTP17 comes with every team from 1871 to the present. The real reason I bought it is because I wanted to replay the Pirates 1975 season. Stargell, Parker, Sanguillen, Zisk etc. What an offensive powerhouse they were! Lots of fun. It'll be tough to beat the Reds, though. The Big Red Machine. Man, they were good! Looking forward to taking them on.
     Why 1975? Because that was the year I was playing a boardgame called APBA. Each player had a distinct card. Roll the dice (one red, one white) and consult the card and cross-reference with the results card. Ah, good memories! You used to have to keep stats for yourself. With OOTP17, the computer does all that. Amazing the trouble we used to go through in pre-computer days, isn't it?

APBA cards. All you over-50 guys know what I'm talking about! This game still exists, too. I'm tempted to get a copy just for the nostalgia of it. IIRC, a "61" is a base hit!
     Speaking of nostalgia, I'll leave you with this. If you recall, in the 1979 World Series, the Pirates were down 3-games-to-one to the Baltimore Orioles. The Pirates came back to win three games-in-a-row to take the series. Sound familiar? Awwwwww Yissssssssss!


     One of the heroes of my youth: Willie Stargell. RIP, brother.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

WILLIE AND THE POE BOYS


     Actually, Poe did not come from a "Poe family." He came from an Allan family. He was an orphan. (Yes, I'm THAT guy. Just call me Senor Buzzkill.) And, even though Bohemian Rhapsody was awesome and everything, Poe himself was a still a little more eloquent:

"Come! let the burial rite be read -the funeral song be sung! -
An anthem for the queenliest dead that ever died so young -
A dirge for her, the doubly dead in that she died so young."
     Have a happy Halloqueen!

Thursday, October 6, 2016

NEW PROJECT - INDIAN WARS 1500-1900

     For my next project, I'm undertaking an examination of the Indian wars in North America from first contact through 1900 (excluding the Aztecs). I'm starting with the French and Indian War and the American Revolution eras, including especially the savage conflict in the Ohio River country. Kan-tuck-ee as Hawk-Eye in The Last of the Mohicans called it. You know, "face north and real sudden-like turn left." So at least we know how to get there.
     So I bought several packs of 15mm Frontiersmen and Woodland Indians from Blue Moon. I also picked up some deciduous tree armatures from Woodland Scenics and a Cigar Box Battle Mat.
     By way of initial review, let me tell you, the battle mat is outstanding. The company's website says to allow something like 6-8 weeks for delivery, so I wasn't expecting a quick turn-around, to say the least. Mine showed up in about 2 days! Now that's service! Seriously, the best companies I've dealt with in this hobby are Cigar Box and Wargamer's Terrain (where I got my river). I'll set up links to these places soon and give them a permanent spot on the blog.
     For rules, I'll be using "Our Moccasins Trickled Blood" for battles through 1800, and my own "Scalp Dance" for mounted warfare. I might give "Too Few to Fight, Too Many to Die" another shot at unmounted warfare (for which it is probably better suited than the wars on the Plains). I'll talk about "Moccasins"  in a future blog. (That's two C's, one S. Whenever I go to type the damn word, C's and S's begin raining from my keyboard -- two C's, one S.)

     So here's the plan. All minis are to be 18/15mm Blue Moon (figures in italics are those I do not already have in my possession).
1500-1650
Florida 1500s (TOO FEW TO FIGHT...)
French & Indians vs Spanish
Minis: Arquebusiers + Eastern Indians
Canada 1600s (TOO FEW TO FIGHT...)
French vs Iroquois
Minis: Arquebusiers + Eastern Indians

1750-1832 
FIW, Ohio 1750-1800 (TOO FEW TO FIGHT...)
Frontiersmen vs Indians
Minis: Frontiersmen + Eastern Indians
Northwest War 1790s (OUR MOCCASINS TRICKLED BLOOD)
Mad Anthony Wayne vs Indians
Minis: Mad Anthony Wayne + Eastern Indians
Creek War + Tippecanoe etc (OUR MOCCASINS TRICKLED BLOOD)
Andrew Jackson vs Indians
Minis: 1812 + Eastern Indians
Black Hawk War 1832 (TO FEW TO FIGHT...)
US Militia/Army vs Indians
Minis: 1812 militia + Eastern Indians

1833-1890 (SCALP DANCE)
Soiux + Nez Perce 1870s
US Cavalry vs Plains Indians
Minis: US Cav + Plains Indians
Western Settlers 1870s+
Settlers + US Cavalry vs Plains Indians
Minis: US Cav, Frontiersmen, Plains Indians

Battle Mat from Cigar Box. Trees from Woodland Scenics. River from Wargamer's Terrain. Field and fences scratch-built.
Close-up of the field.
Styrofoam hill under the battle mat makes a fine-looking hill.
The view from said hill.
I plan on using the guy on the right as a leader of the frontiersman -- Daniel Boone, Simon Kenton, George Rogers Clark or any of a myriad of other incredible American heroes. The guy on the left is a British regular. Hiss!
Some figures I plan on using for French and Spanish arquebusiers. These guys tangled in Florida in the 1500s, with the Indians taking the side of the French Huguenots. Who wouldn't? The Spanish of that era seem like pretty unlikable fellows, to be sure.Wonderful figures from Essex, via Noble Knight, a retailer out of Janesville, Wisconsin. Excellent service from these guys, too!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

WITH ROYALL ON THE ROSEBUD

     Playing a game of my semi-home-brew Sioux Wars game, Scalp Dance. It's an amalgam of Chris Peers' "Too Few to Fight, Too Many to Die" (which by itself has much to recommend it -- though not necessarily for Plains warfare) and rules of my own concoction.
     I'll let the pictures do the talking.

The game starts with Lt Col Royall's 3rd Cav defending some high ground. Unfortunately, Co I has become isolated after  pursuing some retreating Sioux. One platoon is all by itself (on the right), while two more occupy a little rise on the left.
These Sioux occupy a hill. They plan to dismount to pour some fire on the lone platoon of I Co below. Another group of Injuns go looking for some I Co scalps.
Making for the flank.



The Sioux get cocky. Not only one, but two, bases attempt to count coup. Both are driven back. I Cos chestnuts pulled from the fire.
The lone platoon of I Co high-tails it to the safety of his comrades on "Royall's Ridge." On the 3rd Cav's right, the rest of I Co tries to fend off two groups of mounted warriors, to no avail.
D, E, and L Cos, commanded by Lt Col Royall hold the high ground in the center. The command has become isolated from the rest of the army. Their horses are on the other side of Kollmer Creek (Seen here in the distance). The unit will attempt a fighting withdrawal to reach their comrades. Reinforcements are possible, but not likely.
Crazy Horse's minions approach! Steady, boys...Steady....
The Sioux isolate the remnants of I Co. One platoon has been pinned by "Skirmish Fire" as depicted by the fallen soldier on the round base.
Dismounted Indians on a hill pour fire into I Co.
The Sioux assault I Co. from the front but are driven back by withering fire from the cavalrymen's breech-loading carbines.
But now the 20 men of  I Co are hit from behind. Massacre!
FIRE! The Indians turn and flee.
Fleeing Sioux throwing up some clouds of dust.
With the TV playing on the horizon, a group of Indians attempting to flank Royall come under devastating fire.


Friday, August 26, 2016

THE BATTLE IS JOINED - OUDENARDE 1708

     Learning that the Allies have crossed the Scheldt in strength, the French surge forward to contest their advance. (And I've changed rulesets, from GA PA to Chosen Men, Well Disposed.)

French infantry columns arrive from the north while the French horse take up positions on a hill. Cadogan's men prepare to assault Huerne while British reinforcements stream in from behind.
The Danish general Rantzau prepares to take on Biron's horse. Natzmer's Prussian horse arrives to support him.
The attack on Huerne.
The opposing infantry shake out into lines. The French horse on the hill menace the British infantry flank.
The Allies just keep coming. The rest of Cadogan's men and a brigade of Dutch under Overkirk. I mean, over Underkirk. No, wait....reverse that. Oh, what the hell? Anybody know the over-under on this battle?
The battle for Huerne continues...
Rantzau vs Biron. Natzmer in support and a brigade of French infantry arrives in column.
Overview of the right flank.
The left flank.
The cavalry come to blows.
The view as seen by General Cadogan.
One British battalion finds Huerne too hot.
Rantzau makes it personal.
Natzmer's Prussian horse find themselves arrayed opposite a line of French bayonets.
     It's starting to get real out there, boys. Til next time: Don't take any wooden nickels!

Monday, August 22, 2016

SKELETOR? IS THAT YOU?

     Just for fun, I thought I'd post a little fantasy figure I painted this past weekend. My daughter bought me a handful of Reaper Bones figures for my birthday and this is the latest.
     Unfortunately, I discarded the package before recording the model number. It's been so long since I last painted one of these guys that I forgot about Reaper's awesome website. That's the place to go for some wonderful figure-by-figure painting tips. (I have a very cool Owlbear waiting in the wings, along with a squid-faced guy. I'll need all the help I can get for these.)


Saturday, August 20, 2016

WSS - Oudenarde 1708

     This is my favorite WSS scenario, a reenactment of the opening moments of the Battle of Oudenarde.
     The British advance guard, 16 battalions of foot under General Cadogan, has just crossed the Scheldt River and pushes against an unsupported detachment of Swiss troops holding the village of Eyne. Behind him are 8 squadrons of horse under the Danish general Rantzau. The Allies rout the Swiss and Rantzau rides down the survivors attempting to escape the village.
     The main French position is a couple of miles to the northeast of the area depicted by our map. Catching wind of the Allied movement, they send Lt. General Biron with 12 squadrons of horse to investigate. He is defeated by Rantzau -- and the Prussian general Natzmer with 20 more squadrons, just arrived -- and Cadogan moves toward Huerne. But, abandoned by the French, the 3 Swiss battalions in Huerne don't wait around for him.
     It's a fun little scenario, using a modicum of forces. The historical scenario can be played with as few as 8 British battalions of foot and 3 bases of horse vs. 7 of French infantry and 5 of horse. A little historical fun suitable for play with only the Baccus Starter Kit armies. (Would that Baccus might provide something like this!)
     For this one, however, I'm adding bunches of reinforcements for each side. The French will enter from the north and northeast, the Allies from the vicinity of Eyne in the southwest.

Cadogan's infantry has cleared Eyne. That's the remnants of the Swiss defenders fleeing the village. Rantzau's troopers in the north are bearing down on them. (I replace routing units with single-figure feeling horsemen. You see three of them in this pic.)
A nice little narrative develops. Using GA PA rules, one of the routing battalions chooses a bad time to rally. It attempts to form up to stand against the pursuing horse. Gotta admire their pluck -- if not their judgement.
British reinforcements march in column through the empty streets of  the village.
The infantry take to their heels again.
An overview of the battlefield. Biron arrives in the north. Rantzau, minus a unit still pursuing the fleeing infantry, moves to oppose his advance. British infantry column marches toward Huerne (off the edge of the pic to the right).
Hold on to you hat, fleeing guy! (Oh, and, by the way, don't look behind you...)
Three Swiss battalions defend Huerne (reluctantly). A bend of the River Scheldt is visible to the south.
The cavalry battle. One French stand has routed. But Rantzau is outnumbered.
The defenders of Huerne.
Awesomely, a random event causes one of the three battalions to rout for no reason. Art imitates life!
     Well, that's it for now.
     (Too many rules peculiarities in GA PA for my taste, though. It seems I can never get through an entire battle with them. Quirky and ultimately unsatisfying. For the rest of the battle, I'm switching over to Polemos. I keep hoping I'm going to like the Polemos rules and I'm going to give it a good solid determined try for my next gaming session. I'll share some thoughts on GA PA in a future post.)