My blog about my wargaming activities. I collect a lot of 15mm miniatures for the American War of Independence and so collect a lot of rules for this period. I started miniatures with Napoleonics, so I have a number of armies in 6mm and 15mm figures for skirmishing. I have15mm WW II figures that I use for Flames of War, Memoir '44, and someday, Poor Bloody Infantry. Finally there is my on-again, off-again relationship with paper soldiers that I sometimes write about.

Friday, November 25, 2022

Rules First Look: Fistful of Lead

As I reported a few posts back, I played the rules Fistful of Lead Reloaded (FFoLR) with gaming buddy Bill using his beautiful Western terrain and figures. For the most part we played them correctly, but some of the rules from Fistful of Lead Core Rules (FFoL) leached in as Bill was familiar with both. While I was at MillenniumCon 2022, and from the FFoL forum on FaceBook I learned that FFoLR was the older, simpler version of the rules and that FFoL represents the current incarnation of the rules. In addition I got to see an experienced game master run FFoL for six players (I being one of them).


FFoL has quite a number of supplements and variants – variants being standalone versions of the core rules and supplements being sets that require the core rules or a variant – to cover period- or genre-specific rules that give the rules their 'flavor'. I have most of the supplements and variants, but not all:

  • Fistful of Lead Core Rules
  • Fantasy
  • Horse & Musket
    • French & Indian Wars
  • Fistful of Lead Reloaded
  • Galactic Heroes
    • Codex Galactica Grim Dark Edition
  • Fistful of Lead Bigger Battles

Fistful of Lead Core Rules

FFoL are the 'universal' skirmish rules that cover all periods, but none in any specificity. There are generic rules for pre-gunpowder, early gunpowder, modern, and futuristic weapons and armor. If you want to go more in depth in these other areas, you can buy the variants.

Activation Order

FFoL uses cards to determine activation order, rather than a more traditional IGO-UGO. Each player is dealt one card for each figure in his force and played as a hand. The cards are counted down from King on down and as players have the card in their hand they assign it to a figure that has not activated yet. This allows each player to assign order to his forces, but turns are intermixed between which player acts next. It is a good compromise between IGO-UGO and card assignment systems like Tin Soldiers in Action where each card is assigned to a specific unit.

Note that some cards have special properties, such as healing wounds, granting bonuses to combat and such. Also, the Ace is treated as a Wild card, allowing the player to assign any card's value as its' value, so if you want to go first you could make it a King, or if you wanted too heal a wound you could make it the Queen of Hearts. These special properties add simple twists to the game that allow the player to play the cards more strategically, such as assigning a card that automatically reloads a weapon to a figure with an unloaded weapon (therefore not requiring them to spend action to reload), but at the cost of forcing that figure to wait later in the turn.

Actions

When a figure is activated the figure receives two actions, such as Move, Shoot, Pick Up/Drop Item, Mount/Dismount, Switch Weapons, Recover from Combat Effects, Aim, Reload, or Complete a Task. Because you can perform these actions in any order a figure can move twice, move and fire, fire and move, aim and fire, or fire twice. This is a good way to simulate time and that a figure is splitting its time between these actions.

Movement

Movement is a simple 5" per Move action. There are provisions for moving slowly (Creep), jumping, falling, moving through terrain, and moving while mounted. Movement is completely free, i.e. it is not constrained to moving only in straight lines, as is facing. However, if the figure comes within 1" of an enemy figure it must stop and engage in close combat. Note that close combat is not an action.

Note that movement is also reduced by Wounds and Shock (see below).

Shooting

Ranged combat is handled easily. All weapons have a short range and a long range. Targets within short range hit on a 5+ on 1D10, while targets at long range hit on a 8+. Rolls of a natural '1' indicate the weapon has run out of ammo. There are few modifiers to shooting, largely from cover and from the shooter being wounded or shocked. Note that spending one action to Aim before shooting only adds +1 to the die roll. You generally only do this when you have very low odds of hitting. Note that a natural '10' is not a guaranteed hit.

By the way, there is no pre-measuring in FFoL.

If a shot hits the target the shooter then rolls 1D10 to determine the effect of the hit.

Close Combat

Close combat occurs when a figure moves to within 1" of an enemy figure. It is resolved by both players rolling 1D10 and comparing results (after modification). The highest modified die roll is the winner and the loser's modified die roll is subtracted from the winner's. That difference grants a modifier to the 1D10 roll to determine the effect of the hit.

As with shooting, rolling a '1' means you have fumbled and lost your weapon. The rules also account for fighting against multiple opponents, being wounded, shocked, or prone, the close combat weapon, and defensive terrain.

Note that there is an element of movement in close combat as the winner can decide to stay locked in combat, switch positions with their opponent (and stay locked in combat), or push their opponent back out of close combat.

Wounding

When a figure is hit by shooting or in close combat a 1D10 is rolled to see the effects, which can be nothing, getting a Shock counter, getting knocked down and wounded, or being taken out of action. There is a modifier for close combat, but also a modifier for the target being previously wounded.

When a figure takes three wounds, it is taken out of action.

Recovery

The effects of Shock, Wounds, and being knocked down require the figure to recover in order to remove the effects. For each Shock and Wound counter a figure has they are -1" in movement, -1 to shooting, close combat, task rolls, and to recovery rolls. When rolling for recovery there is a chance, if the player rolls too low, that the figure will be removed from action.

Miscellaneous

There are a number of other rules, as you might expect, for Leaders, Overwatch, Tasks (like picking a lock, etc.), Fires, Hiding, and so on.

In addition they have a team building system largely centered around a list of special abilities (rules) called Traits. Examples are: Brute, use D12 for close combat instead of D10; Deft, where reloading only takes one action; Lunge, where the figure can conduct close combat from 2" away; etc. Figures can also be assigned negative traits like Lousy Shot or Slow.

All of these traits are built around your team customization. Your leader gets three individual traits, Specialists two, and Regulars only one. Additionally your whole team gets a team trait, which is the same as a subset of the individual traits only applied to all members of the team.

Weapons also have traits, such as Burst, Blast or Armor Piercing. In addition team members can have shields and armor. Armor is essentially an extra roll after being hit, but before rolling for the effect of the hit. If the target makes their armor save, it lowers the effect of the hit by one level.

Fantasy

There are three separate books covering the Fantasy genre: Might & Melee; Magic & Mages; and Monsters & Mazes. Might & Melee is a FFoL variant, meaning you do not need to buy FFoL Core Rules; it is a standalone set of rules. Everything that you see in FFoL above is a part of Might & Melee, save for things like modern weapons, armor, and equipment. All of the core mechanics are the same, however. Note that there is a lot of overlap between this variant and others as the Core Rules gave you Armor, Wasteland Warriors gave fantastical powers, and Tales of Horror gave the beginnings of magic use.

The primary difference between Might & Melee and FFoL is that the former goes into more detail with ancient, medieval, and fantasy weapons, armor, and equipment. Also, there are new traits that apply to the fantasy genre, like Bard, Born in Harness, Bowyer, etc.

Mounts are fleshed out a little more, having equipment slots and traits. Also, there are a few mythical creatures defined though more will come in Monsters & Mazes.

Magic & Mages adds depth to the magic system, defining spell caster levels, spell casting mechanics, and providing spells and their effects. In addition there is a system for dispelling opponent's spells and summoning creatures. Clerics and divine magic are not left out either, but they largely use the same mechanics as spell casters. Finally, what magic system would be complete if it did not have pages and pages of potion, scroll, and magic item definitions?

Last of all is Monsters & Mazes which is centered around defining monsters and their combat characteristics and how to use FFoL for dungeon crawling. Included is a system for random dungeon generation for solo play, if you go in for that sort of thing.

Horse & Musket

The Horse & Musket rules are another variant, so the FFoL Core Rules are not required. By and large the core game mechanics are the same. There are some minor differences, however.

For example, in the core rules the roll of a natural '1' while shooting means the shot misses and the weapon is temporarily out of ammo. In the core rules a Reload action takes an entire turn and cannot be split across turns. In the Horse & Musket era weapon were typically one shot, so a Reload action is required after each shot anyway. In the Horse & Musket rules a natural '1' means there is an additional malfunction, requiring a Repair action before the Reload action can occur. The Reload action itself may take one or two actions, as defined by the weapon.

Horse & Musket does not seem to have period-specific traits, but some of the names appear to have changed.

French & Indian War

Red Hatchets & Black Powder (RHBP) is a supplement for the French & Indian War (F&IW) for the Horse & Musket variant of FFoL. Largely this contain definitions for various troop types in the F&IW, rules for fighting in the Winter, and a larger number of scenarios. (Note that all variants contained a handful of scenarios.) Most of the scenarios contain scenario-specific rules, which can be used for your own scenarios. Some of those rules include: Natives and how they fight; capturing enemies; setting structures on fire; ambushes and scouting; wagons; forts; deep woods; and events.

Fistful of Lead Reloaded

FFoLR is the older version of FFoL and not really recommended other than for teaching new players and simplified convention game play (which typically involves quickly teaching new players how to play). The theme is Wild West, so the scenarios and campaign information is geared towards that, but the core mechanics are stripped down just a bit.

Personally I would not recommend getting them.

Galactic Heroes

As you might have guessed GH is a standalone variant and contains all of the core game mechanics plus enough variation to reflect what I would call Space Fantasy, and not Hard Science Fiction. Primary additions from the Core Rules are psionics (i.e. Space Fantasy magic), futuristic equipment (drones, sentry turrets, etc.), and vehicles (although the emphasis is on lighter vehicles).

Vehicles are treated much like any other figure. They are assigned a card for activation. They have damage points akin to wounds. When a vehicle is hit it has its own version of the Wound chart. The vehicle's driver and any passengers can bail out if the vehicle is destroyed.

When attempting to shoot at a vehicle you have to declare if you are targeting the vehicle itself, the driver, or its passengers. Combat against the vehicle is generally easier (because the target is big), but mechanically plays out the same as fighting any other figure. You roll to hit and if you hit you roll for armor, then you roll to wound. Once enough wounds are inflicted the vehicle is out of action.

As you might expect, vehicles have their own equipment slots and traits.

Codex Galactica Grim Dark Edition

CG is a supplement for the variant GH. It provides stats for a certain Space Fantasy IP backed by a company with a lot of lawyers. People tend to love that company's miniature – but not their prices – and initially love their rules – but drift away from them unless they are deeply into competitive play. (At least that is my assessment of it.)

Is every troop type of the Grim Dark Future defined? No? Every weapon and vehicles? No. Are you going to have to do some work on your own in order to define some of the more exotic troop types? Very likely. But enough weapons and traits have been defined to give each troop type in that universe a distinct flavor, especially when you start considering the team traits available to you. (I don't like how they defined the Tau, I mean Dynasty, Pulse Rifles though.)

There are new traits and mutations defined, but not as many as I would have thought. More importantly, psionics (i.e. Space Fantasy magic) are defined, including faction-specific 'spells'.

Note that there are two additional supplements to GH, one to represent starfighter combat and another for giant mecha combat.

Fistful of Lead Bigger Battles

While FFoL are for skirmishes where each figure is an autonomous unit, Fistful of Lead Bigger Battles (BB) is a variant for conducting grand skirmishes. Each figure still represents a single man, but figures are grouped together and it is these groups that are autonomous.

Wargaming has a notion of 'bath-tubbing' or playing a set of rules at one level, but representing another, usually higher, level. BB does this by having figures continue to fight as if they were individual men even though the group of figures can represent a much larger unit. So it is easy to think of each unit in BB as a Platoon, Company, or Battalion even though the unit might only have 6 or 12 figures in it. This despite the rules still playing with each figure as if it were an individual man.

As the unit is no longer a single figure, but a group of figures, the actions are a little different: Move at the Double (move twice); Maneuver (shoot and move or move and shoot with shooting at -1); Shoot (only once); Form Up; Concentrated Fire (shoot at +1; only Formed units); Charge (move twice into contact); Rally (removes Shock); Reload; Ready (overwatch); Regroup; Mount or Dismount; Setup a Crewed Weapon; and Complete a Task. As you can see, the primary difference is that there are not two explicit actions per activation, but rather a single action per activation that mimics FFoL's two actions.

Another key difference is the Close Order formation. Only Regular troops can Form Up, and when they do so they gain both advantages and disadvantages.

Shooting now has rules whereby a a unit must target the closest unit within line of sight. There are some exceptions and a player can opt to take a Hard task roll first in order to shoot at another unit, rather than the one indicated. There are rules for who can fire, who can be removed as a casualty, if a unit counts as being in cover, and so on.

As with FFoL, BB has a number of weapons defined, including the number of dice rolled for crewed weapons. There are also rules for indirect fire. When a unit runs out of ammo (the roll of a natural '1') rather than getting no fire it is allowed to fire at ½ the number of dice until it spends a turn reloading.

Close Combat is radically different than in FFoL making it much less decisive. Rather than conducting an opposed die roll, as in FFoL, units roll to hit and wound in close combat as in shooting.

As with GH, BB has rules for vehicles. The rules are similar in that each vehicle is a unit, thus getting its own card, and they have Damage Points (similar to wounds), sizes, movement rates, and special traits.

Events have a larger section in BB than in other rules. Events are triggered when a Joker is dealt to a player.

Summary

FFoL and all of its variants have some good game mechanics that are largely consistent across all periods, especially if you play FFoL Core Rules instead of the variants. Learn the rules once and you should be good for any of the variants with a simple quick reference sheet. Games play very quickly and even with multiple players per side you do not find yourself waiting very long before you get to act.

If you don't like rules where you always get to activate every unit on your side every turn, you probably won't like this activation system. If you like systems that add a random element to determine if a unit can act, such as Black Powder, Warmaster, and Blitzkrieg Commander you probably will not like this activation system. Finally, if you are not keen on rules with lots of special abilities to keep track of, and prefer more generic troops, again you will find FFoL and its variants not to your liking. You can easily keep that in check by not using so many traits for your troops and using standardized definitions to simplify management of your figures.

All that said, the game is very enjoyable to play. Again, if you have a particular period that you want to play

Friday, November 18, 2022

Attended MillenniumCon 2022

Now that I am retired, I can finally travel without feeling like I have to rush. Well, at least the reason for rushing has changed. It used to be that I needed to get back to work and now it is that my wife needs to get back to work! Equality, baby!

The original goal was to go to Fall-In 2022 in Lancaster, PA – a mere 2,200 miles/32 hour trip, each way – and make it a road trip across the U.S. but too many things fell through. I was going to combine the trip with a visit to my father, who was 94 at the time, but he passed right after I got out of the hospital. So we decided to wander around the West before heading to MillenniumCon 2022 in Round Rock, TX.

We started from home in Huachuca City, AZ and headed for the Apache National Forest to stay in Alpine, AZ, making it in after dark. From there we stopped at Chaco Culture National Historical Park where they have a number of cliff dwellings of the Pueblo people. When you think of American Indians (Native Americans, if you prefer) you tend to think of Hollywood's depiction in Westerns, but Chaco dates from AD 900 through 1150, well before what we think of as American Indians after the American expansion.

We did not stay there – there is really nowhere to stay as it is in the middle of nowhere – as we were on the way to Durango, CO. We had a timeshare unit there so it was really comfortable, but we were there for the Durango Train. Unfortunately the trains do not run for the first two weeks in November as they switch from the Fall to Winter theme and do maintenance on the trains. Guess when we arrived! Not only that, the museum is closed too!

To make up for that we decided to take a side trip to Mesa Verde National Park. This is another Pueblo culture site, dating from AD 600 to 1300. It was a beautiful drive and when we got to the top we found the museum … closed for renovation! I was feeling irritated by that until I heard another guy remark that this was his fourth time to Mesa Verde and every time he was there it had been closed for one reason or another, so I did not feel quite as bad.

My wife wanted to see Meow Wolf in Santa Fe, NM so we headed there next. Basically it is an interactive, experimental art project that you walk through with room after room of different themes.

My wife has also wanted to take me to Carlsbad Caverns National Park in NM and we finally went. Unfortunately, the bats were already gone for the season so we did not see them. But trust me, after walking 1 ½ miles in a cave more than 750' underground in a very humid 57º, the last thing I wanted to do was come back and watch bats in low light (as the come out/come back from hunting).

With those adventures under our belt we were getting close to the start of the gaming convention, so we made a dash for Austin, TX, which is a short drive from where the convention was being held. We stayed at a Wyndham timeshare downtown, was held hostage by salespeople, and eventually given a $150 gift card and promptly spent it on a very nice dinner at a posh place.

With my wallet screaming Uncle after buying yet more timeshare points it was off to Round Rock, TX for MillenniumCon 2022. We stayed there through the weekend then headed back home, stopping only to sleep in Van Horn, TX. Whew!


MillenniumCon 2022

This is definitely a smaller convention, as far as U.S. gaming conventions go. There were about 1-2 dozen games going on at once. What I had not realized is that there was a section to sign up for games before the convention started. When I got there and saw all of the sign-up sheets, they had all of the player slots full, some even with the stand-by slots full! I basically could not sign up for a game and be assured of a spot unless it was in one of my gaming buddy's games. (Not because his games were not popular, but rather because he would make a spot for me.)

My buddy is a real fan of Two Hour Wargames (THW) rules and he has been trying to refine Morale Napoleon (MR) and All Things Zombie (ATZ) for some time now. I think ATZ is in a good place now – it feels very episodic – but MR is closer to THW's old school 'wargame' designs rather than the newer RPG-lite designs. I promised him I would help him playtest any ideas he had and we played about six games of it. I think it is a better design now, by far, but think it still has some testing necessary, by people other than us.

A game of Morale Napoleon in progress.

One of the games of Morale Napoleon that I did not participate in.

One game that I did play in that was a standout was Raid on Downly Green put on by Faron Bell and his son, using the rules A Fistful of Lead (FoL) and the supplement Might and Melee, both of which I have been experimenting with of late. The scenario takes place in late 9th Century Britain and raiders are attacking a village to steal their treasure and capture their Witcher woman. I was on the raiding team – in fact I was playing the raid leader – and we ended up slaughtering the defenders. We did not get the treasure, but we did get the Witcher woman, in addition to wiping out ⅔rds of their force, by the time the game was called.


Why this game was a standout was definitely because FoL is a great set of rules for convention games (easy to teach, element of suspense) and because the figures and terrain used was outstanding. It almost made me buy 28mm terrain at the vendor booths!

My leader drags the Witcher woman away to the longships.

Speaking of vendor booths I tried to limit my purchases to terrain, rules, and scenario materials, but failed in some instances. I did not find any rules whatsoever that interested me – I was hoping for an old cardboard box filled with old rules – but I got one very interesting book filled with scenarios on the War of 1812 between Great Britain and Canada and the U.S. I look forward to converting them to other rules, probably Tin Soldiers in Action and One-Hour Wargames for mass battles and Fistful of Lead and One-Hour Skirmish Wargames for skirmishes. Unfortunately, there was little terrain for 15mm other than Battlefront terrain for Flames of War, which I have plenty of. There was a lot of laser cut MDF terrain, but all of it was 28-32mm. I talked to the guy about that and he told me that he used to make models for 15mm, but they just did not sell. Further, he does not sell the digital files so you can cut your own. So all I walked away with were three books, one paint set, and some miniatures I regret buying and will probably end up selling.

I also got two more games of Tin Soldiers in Action (TSIA) in, playing the classic scenario Hook's Farm (from H.G. Wells' rule book Little Wars). The first game I was attacking and was absolutely slaughtered, so no pictures of that! The second scenario, however, I was defending and it turned out quite different.

Justo delayed coming onto the hill until turn two. This allowed me to press forward with my infantry and defend in depth.

You can see Justo's cavalry in the lower right corner. He snuck around the flank, but lost the draw of the cards and my cavalry switched to counter his move and I decided to pull my artillery out of the line and canister his cavalry.

This next picture shows Justo's beaten cavalry turns later. My cavalry charged him and forced him to rout. It then turned around and made a desperate charge at his artillery (with supporting infantry no less) and ended up overrunning them against all odds.

When the sun went down I was still in possession of Hook's Farm with units that had been severely mauled by his infantry and artillery fire. Again, this was a very different game from all of the others I have played with artillery chasing cavalry to canister them and light cavalry charging artillery and actually pulling it off.

One of the reasons for the renewed interest in TSIA is that I have been corresponding with the author, Rüdi, and he has new rules to cover from ancients to modern era (and beyond?) and he wanted us to reacquaint ourselves with the rules before attempting his Hastings scenario. More on that later.

Ironically, I took a few pictures at the convention, but it was mostly of the terrain boards and not of the games in progress. Also interesting is when people come up to a game in progress and look, but rarely ask questions, even when you attempt to engage them. The one exception, for me, was when Justo and I were playing TSIA with these handmade wooden figures. People did not care about the rules or the scenarios, but the miniatures. They are such a curiosity these days, especially when people are now 3D printing whole beautiful armies and here I am gluing beads together and painting them. I have never had anyone criticize them either, and you know how some people can be, pointing out that "…you have only painted five buttons when the 1812 uniform had six!" The 'harshest' comment I have ever gotten was 'it seems like it would take so much time to make them' or 'I could not paint something that small'. No one has ever refused to game with them nor made fun of the cartoonish terrain I use (which is strangely appropriate for the figures). (By the way, I used my laser cutter to cut out those board and score the grid on them.)

I have long realized that this, wargaming, is not a single hobby, but multiple ones. For me, I continue to like to make my own minimalist figures with large heads and small bodies.

Thursday, October 27, 2022

News and Such

Face-to-Face Gaming

Fistful of Lead

As you saw with the last blog post, I recently tried out the rules A Fistful of Lead (Reloaded), which focuses on the Old West. Although I made a hash of the rules I have since purchased A Fistful of Lead Core Rules and Fistful of Lead Fantasy: Might & Melee. The Reloaded rules are an abbreviated/simpler version of the Core Rules and does not have all of the options and nuances available to the player that the latter two do. Honestly, the differences in the core mechanics are so small, especially viewed in terms of increased page count, one wonders why Reloaded stripped them away. I hope to try these rules again with gaming buddy Bill.

Brigade Fire & Fury

I am part of a Facebook gaming group dedicated to gaming in the SE section of the state and I have always noticed that one person was always posting about the terrain boards he was making and the figures he was painting – ACW, Napoleonics, and Napoleonic-era Age of Sail – just massive amounts of work. He would invite people to come to his house and join in, but he rarely got a response. I asked him where he was and he told me a place out in the middle of nowhere about 2 1/2 hours away. (Hey, this is SE Arizona. We are all practically out in the middle of nowhere!) His games were on Friday nights at 6 PM and I could just never make it. With three hours of prep and driving that would mean I would need to leave at 3 PM. That was possible when I was working but then there would be the gaming of at least two to three hours, then another 3 hours getting back. I was thinking that would be about midnight before getting back, after a (partial) day of work. It just sounded too taxing. Now that I am retired, I decided to give it a try, only I decided to stay in a cheap motel and make the drive back the next morning.

First off, it is a nice drive there, not too bad. I drove through the city of Tucson between lunch hour and rush hour so traffic was not too bad. On the way back I took a different route (not the interstate) and it was a very nice change (for desert terrain).

The game played was a pseudo-Gettysburg battle oriented towards learning the Brigade Fire & Fury (BFF). The host is building a 12' by 6' game board for playing Gettysburg in Warlord's Epic ACW scale, which I believe is 12.5 mm. He wants to play Gettysburg soon and this was a dry run of sorts. He is also building a Waterloo game board and the corresponding forces for that. His collection was truly daunting.

It has been some time since I have read the Age of Eagles rules, the Napoleonic variant of BFF, but I slowly got the hang of the rules as the turns rolled by. As you can see from the image below, it was a fairly sizable game. We (the Union) "won" but that was because we substantially outnumbered the Confederates and our rolls to move were definitely better, so we reached the objective (the central ridge) first, forcing the enemy to charge uphill to dislodge us.

At some point the host will finish up his painting and the game board and he will do another dry run of the game. If I do it again I will have to be sure that I get a better hotel room as this game lasted four hours and my back was killing me reaching across this 6' deep board and I needed a much softer bed!

Still More Marvel United

Our Marvel United games are still chugging along every Monday night. I lost one player to pickle ball and Middle Earth Strategy Battle Game but picked up another so we still have four to six players each game night.

Here is the Loki figure that I painted. Not a powerful villain, but still interesting.

I also commissioned Spiderman 2099, Miles Morales, War Machine, Spider Ghost, and Carnage, plus a few others not in this picture to be painted by Smooth Blend Studio and I think they turned out very well. The X-Men core set is being worked on right now.

Playing Around with Laser-cut Base Designs

I have been playing around with multi-use base designs again. Right now I am working on my 6mm Napoleonics whereby each group of figured is mounted on a 1" by ½" base which slots into a large 4" wide base for use in One-Hour Wargames. I intend to add additional figures as decorations to the base. As you can see in the image below, I will place line officers at the ends of each unit, NCOs behind them, and a general and his staff in the center of the base.

Russian Napoleonic Infantry 'Brigade'

If I were doing more of these units I think I would decrease the depth of the base so there is less empty ground between the two units and probably put the command staff at the rear.

The space showing in the upper left corner (which is actually the lower right corner when the base is facing away from you) would be were a label, specific to the rules you are using, would be affixed.

When I bought the rules Men of Bronze from Osprey I thought to myself "do I want to paint up a new set of figures (I have them in a lead pile) or do I want to take my huge DBA collection and rebase it?" I was thinking along the lines of something like this.


The idea is that I would base each figure separately, on a small base (white rectangles with a red line). When playing DBA (upper left and upper right) the number of figures per base and the base dimensions (gray rectangle with black line) would be correct. But I could then pull the individual figures out and slot them into larger individual bases (lower left) and use them for other systems.

The one catch in all of this is that one set of figures I would really like to use with this basing scheme have a beautiful basing scheme. The idea of destroying that for something lesser I would do is hard to contemplate right now.

I have been thinking about doing the same sort of scheme with my 15mm AWI figures. Currently some are based 2-3 figures on 40mm by 20mm bases, single figures on ½" square bases, and single figures on metal washers (of at least two different sizes). This scheme is sort of a 'cake and eat it too' dream.

That said, I may get rid of these figures...

My Wooden Soldiers

I have always enjoyed making my wooden soldiers. I have heard people say "that takes too long", but once you've assembled multi-part plastic models, scraped off their mould lines, and filled in the gaps you realize that making minimalist figures like mine is actually quicker. Also, having no cast details means you can paint only those details you want freehand, so it goes much quicker.

WWII British Infantry

Every time I bring out my wooden figures, or post them in battle reports, people always remark on them. I once played in a DBA tournament with handmade wooden figures and no one refused to play against me because 'they aren't real miniatures' as I imagined they might.

I know one of the things that has stopped me from selling many of my miniatures has been that I don't want to 'lose capability', i.e. not be able to play a genre or specific ruleset because I sold my miniatures. I also find myself trying to find rules to use because I have painted miniatures and the ones they were originally painted for have fallen out of favor. (WWII and Flames of War comes to mind. I like Hail of Fire, but they keep changing because the author comes up with great new ideas.)

So my new plan is to make and paint new miniatures for the collections that I have – maybe not so many this time – and then when it is replaced with wood, sell off the metal and plastic. (It is going to be hard to part with my beautifully painted Thracians though. I may keep them just for display.)

What do you think?

Scale75 Instant Colors

As those who have read this blog for a while know I have been experimenting with Citadel Contrast Paints, Army Painter Speedpaints, and transparent acrylic inks, washes, and paints. The idea is to paint a figure white, or primer black and then dry brush gray and white to highlight (now called the 'slap chop' method), before putting on the transparent colors. I like this style but have struggled with the various products.

To date, Citadel has been the winner, but as I watch more videos I have come to realize that the manufacturer's advice on how to use all of these products – one thick coat – is not the way to really use it. Better to use thinner coats and allow the dark and light of the undercoat show this. (Called 'value sketching'.)

There are several other competing products out there, mostly because Citadel's Contrast Paints have been so wildly successful, but I have not tried them. Green Stuff World's Dipping Inks, the upcoming Express Colors from Vallejo, and Scale75's Instant Colors have all been avoided, until now.

When I saw the first videos of Instant Colors – on Scale75's YouTube channel no less – I thought the results looked absolutely horrendous. Blotchy and pale. For some reason a video popped into my feed about 'underpainting and Instant Colors' and because I am always interested to see what color people use to underpaint with – such as underpainting with pink if the color will be yellow – I decided to watch it. I was actually amazed that the final product was so good and he used Instant Colors. So I went out to a hobby shop and bought one set (8 paints for $50) to give it a try.

What I found is that you need to treat these like paints, i.e. use thin coats and not thick ones like the manufacturer suggests. Unlike Speedpaints (and many Contrast Paints) which are very saturated with one coat, Instant Colors increases saturation as you lay down more coats. The figure below shows what I mean.

One Coat Two Coats Three Coats

Okay, they fewer the coats, the blotchier it is, but seriously, the above looks like they came from three different bottles of paint. Further, because they act as filters due to their transparency, if you use different colors on top of one another, you effectively make new colors without mixing. This document provides a really good example of what each Instant Color looks like over a specific color of primer. This has been my second most serious complaint about Speedpaints; they are too saturated and you have to thin with expensive medium to desaturate it. With Instant Colors it looks like it would be much easier to replicate the desaturated color palette from pre-industrial dyes. (That is a good resource for what colors to really use, by the way.)

So, as this is more the way I like to paint now, white base with transparent colors, followed by blacklining with inks to separate colors, Instant Colors not providing a strong contrast actually works better for me. (I went out and immediately bought a second set to test.) It will be interesting to see how this plays out on wooden figures.

Well, that is it for now. Next time, an update on one of my favorite rules, Tin Soldiers in Action and a report from a convention I will be attending. (Unfortunately not Fall-In 2022.)

Thursday, October 06, 2022

A Fistful of Lead (Reloaded)

 Fistful of Lead (Reloaded)

A gaming buddy in Tucson, Bill Bushong (YouTube channel), invited me to a game today. Given that his schedule and mine rarely meshed, it has been a while since I have gamed with Bill as his terrain is always outstanding (as you will see). Now that I am retired and healed, I was able to synch with his schedule and we met up to play an Old West scenario using the rules Fistful of Lead (Reloaded) (FoLR). As I had never played these rules – although I watched The Joy of Wargaming YouTube channel use them – I went ahead and bought them thinking that this was Bill's Old West go-to rules.

I read through the rules portion (skipping the scenarios, campaign material, and such) and realized that somebody I had been watching plays them "wrong". (Actually, I think it would be more accurate to say he intentionally plays a specific game mechanic wrong in order to facilitate decision making while gaming solo.) These rules are pretty simple and clean. Only two things came up where we played it wrong and only one thing was not spelled out sufficiently where it required we come to an agreement, during the middle of a game, on how to interpret it. Bill being the easy-going guy that he is decided to go with my interpretation, as it would affect us equally in a positive way.

Turn Sequence

FoLR uses cards to handle activation and sequencing. Each player is dealt one card per model. The player takes those cards into a hand and plays them during the turn. The cards are called out from King down to Deuce in turn and if a player has one of those cards he activates one of his figures that have not yet been activated and takes two actions. (Aces and Jokers are wild, meaning you can assign them a value of any other card.) Some cards have special effects, such as allowing a player to reload without having to take an action, add +1 to shooting, or heal 1 wound. Once all cards are played by both sides, the cards are shuffled and the next turn started.

It is interesting to note that Bill and I did not shuffle the deck until it was exhausted, rather than shuffling at the start of each turn. I actually preferred this method because once the special cards are played, you know they won't come up again until the deck is reshuffled. So the odds are not constant from turn-to-turn and card counting actually has a use.

Actions

The basic actions a figure can take are move, shoot, aim, reload, climb, jump, etc. Because you have two actions you can mix and match them in the order you want (move then shoot, shoot then move, etc.), allowing a player to use micro-tactics. There is no holding of actions (i.e. overwatch), so no complicated rules regarding that. Simple, like I like it.

Shooting

Basically you have a target number for short range firing and another for long range firing. If you moved, or the enemy moved this turn, that gives a -1 penalty (each). Each wound taken also grants a -1 penalty. Finally soft and hard cover grant a -1 and -2 penalty, respectively. That is pretty much it. There are a few other special case modifiers (card special effects, being pinned, etc.), but it is all very easy to keep in your head. A '1' is out of ammo and a '10' is always a hit.

If you roll the target number or higher on a 1D10 (1D12 for a crack shot; 1D8 with a green horn) you have hit your target. You then roll a 1D10 to wound the target. (This may also be modified by a weapon, such as a shotgun at close range.) The wounds can be Pin (go to ground), Wounded (three wounds = dead), and Dead.

Close Combat

This is an opposed 1D10 die roll (with a few modifiers) between the two sides. The highest roller wins. For every point of difference between the two modified rolls 1D10 is rolled to wound. All of the effects rolled are applied. (Close combat is deadly!) The worst effect rolled is applied.

Wounding

As stated previously, each figure has three wounds. In addition, two Pin results in a Wound. Wounds affect movement, shooting accuracy, and close combat. Wounds and Pins force a player to recover at the start of the next turn, which has a 50/50 chance. If you recover, you get one action; if you don't you can't do anything but crawl away.

That's pretty much it. A very simple, clean system. Their activation system will appease those that hate activation systems because everyone will eventually activate, while those that love them will lie this because it still creates the chaos/fog of war/friction that they always rave about.

Gunfight at the Lazy Corral

View from the South Side of Town

When I saw this layout it was just "Wow!". Bill puts on a good table. The figures were all well painted too.

View from the East Side of Town

This scenario finds the rowdy Stinky Pete Gang drunk at the Lazy Corral. The Marshal has been looking for Stinky Pete 'dead or alive' so a townsman alerts the Marshal and his posse of 5 to their presence. Meanwhile another townsman alerts Stinky Pete and his 5 gang members that the Marshal is coming for them.

The Marshal and his group start on the north side of town, west of the church. Stinky Pete and his gang all start within the corral. Two major modifiers from what looks like an even scenario:

  • Each gang member must roll to see if they are drunk at the start of the game. (50/50 chance) Being drunk counts as being wounded once. (Half of my gang, including Stinky Pete, were drunk.)
  • Figures were WYSIWYG, so the Marshal's posse all had pistols, save for one shotgun. The gang all started with pistols and two additionally had carbines.

I personally thought the scenario was lopsided agains the gang. I still think it is, despite the results.

Stinky Pete is a known gunfighter and thus rolls a 1D12 when shooting (rather than 1D10). He has one green horn who rolls 1D8 though. The Marshal was also supposed to be a gunfighter.

Please note that I forgot to take photos in the beginning, but that did not matter as it was mostly moving into 12" pistol range and early long range shots missed.

1 - The Left Flank
Gang Member with Carbine kills Deputy

Please note that a red chip represents one wound; yellow the unit is pinned; blue that the figure has an unloaded weapon; and white that the unit has activated this turn. (As this is the end of a turn, no white chips should be showing, but …)

1 - The Center
Stinky Pete and the posse member with the shotgun trade shots, resulting in the latter being pinned.

Note that the Marshal's side did not notice the gang member sneaking up from the rear (upper right corner by the yellow '!'). This becomes critical next turn.

1 - The Right Flank
The green horn climbs up to the roof of the building and trades shots with a deputy below. Another gang member fires with his carbine around the corner and pins the deputy in the open.

Note that both sides have one figure that was not shown in these pictures. They are getting ready to face off outside the fence of the Lazy Corral.

2 - The Left Flank
The gang continues to trade fire with the deputy, pinning him.
2 - Left Center
Sneaky Pete smacks the Deputy from behind, wounding him and knocking him down.

2 - Right Center
Deputy 'Sundance' Butch charges 'Two Pistol' Pete who guns him down.

One of the special effects in the game is that if a Deuce is played, each Shooting action allows two shots. You still run out of ammo at the same rate, but you definitely increase the change of wounding the enemy.

2 - The Right Flank
The gang members again exchange fire with the Marshal and his Deputy. The Deputy gets wounded and pinned. The Marshal and the gang member with the carbine both run end unloaded.

3 - The Left Flank
Both sides continue to blaze away, with the Deputy getting wounded.

3 - Center
Sneaky Pete finished off the Deputy with the shotgun. (He did not really stand a chance.)

3 - The Right Flank
Another Deputy goes down, this time at the hands of the green horn gang member.

At this point law enforcement is down to the Marshal and one Deputy, but still they press on.

6 - The Left Flank
Stinky Pete finishes off the last Deputy with his shotgun.

6 - The Right Flank
The Marshal gets caught in a crossfire and gets taken down.

Scenario Summary

I really thought, and still think, that the gang is at a disadvantage. So why did they win so thoroughly, taking no casualties while killing all of the enemy?

  • The gang having two long arms while law enforcement had none was a significant advantage. There were numerous times when I was shooting at short range and the return fire was at long range. The difference in range is a -30% penalty to hit.
  • The Jokers produce a random event. Two of those random events caused one of the gang members a -1 penalty for one turn each. Fortunately, they happened when those figures were out of combat, so had no effect on play. The other random event was a figure found a shotgun and shells. That figure was Stinky Pete. Because he rolled 1D12 to hit, that made the shotgun deadly.
  • The law was much more aggressive than the gang. Because the latter had long arms they were able to plink away at their enemies while the ones packing pistols maneuvered in close. Too many times the law ran out into the open, hoping for a lucky shot at a gang member in cover. (Essentially they were looking for a '10'.)
  • At the end of turn 2 the law was down, 4 to 6. By the end of turn 3 it was 2 to 6. I can understand them taking a chance of coming back on turn 3 as this game has a reputation for see-sawing back and forth quickly, but after turn 3, the odds were too great. They should have voluntarily retreated.

Game Summary

I like these rules. I would definitely like to get another supplement, say for WW II or modern, to see how they handle weapons with a higher rate of fire. I don't have a good set of skirmish rules for these periods. (For horse & musket and pre-gunpowder periods I am good with One-Hour Skirmish Wargames (OHSW). I will have to try those rules with WW II again someday.)

I like the semi-random activation order that FoLR uses (the same as both Bolt Action and The Sword and the Flame does) much better than the random order that specifies the side and unit activation order that Tin Soldiers in Action uses, or the random roll to see whether the unit activates, and the order stop if you fail (Warmaster, Black Powder, all of the ~ Rampant series, etc.). In the end I prefer rules that allow every unit to act each turn. IGO-UGO turn sequences where the entire side goes are simpler, but leads to all kinds of issues – the Alpha Strike being the primary one – unless it is specifically controlled for.

The simplicity of the combat system is nice. Die roll modifiers are a tried and true mechanism and works well as long as the list of modifiers do not get out of hand. If you can easily keep them in mind (with a 60 year-old brain), then that is about right.

The only morale, per se, is if a figure is pinned and then, when they attempt to recover, they roll a '1', the figure routs off of the board. Otherwise no rolls are made when wounded or you see someone die. In this regard, I like the fact that OHSW has a mechanism for determining if your force gives up the fight.

UPDATE: there were so many errors played in this game, it is not funny. I had watched these rules played on YouTube (several channels) and so I only skimmed the rules before playing. There were some differences I spotted, but there was a lot wrong. (I no longer rely on YouTube videos to 'teach' me how to play a game. Unless it is Rodney Smith on the Watch it Played channel, I just don't trust that they are going to get it all correct.)

Because of all of the errors in this game I am glad I did not formally review the rules.

Sunday, September 11, 2022

Another Scenario for One-Hour Skirmish Wargames

This post includes another scenario and some special rules for a skirmish game.

Playing OHSW Virtually

I wanted gaming buddy Justo to try out my version of the Sword & Sandal (S&S) variant of One-Hour Skirmish Wargames (OHSW) that I used in the last post, and get some feedback on the rules. Because we had to play virtually we first needed to figure out how to play a skirmish game using online tools.

The first option is something like Tabletop Simulator (TTS) on the computer, as there are a number of skirmish and mass-combat games to use miniatures rules with, such as this one for One-Hour Wargames.

If it does not have miniatures to your liking, you can always search TTS's Workshop for the keyword "miniatures" and find some others, like these medieval miniatures I found.

But, I wasn't sure Justo had TTS and, although we have both played games using Vassal, I did not want to tackle making or modifying a module for a scenario. So I fell back to my default: creating a grid for the map and using grid movement rather than freeform movement. The first problem to solve: how to convert OHSW to a square grid.

Converting OHSW to a Grid

As always, the first thing you need to do is figure out what the cell of the grid (square or hex) represents in terms of ground scale. Because most movement values are closely divisible by 3, I decided each cell was about 3" of ground, so a 3' square board would be 12 rows and 12 columns. Within a single cell you could have two friendly fighters (so four figures total, two for each side).

All distances were converted by taking the distance and dividing by 3, rounded to the nearest. So weapons with a 1/2" or 1" zone of control (ZOC) would be 0 cells (same cell only) and 2" reach would have a 1 cell ZOC and attack range.

In the original playtest we allowed long weapons to attack diagonal, adjacent squares, but I am leaning towards not allowing that. Diagonal squares represent a distance of roughly 1.5 times ground scale, or 4 1/2", which is a stretch for a weapon that originally had a reach of 2".

For movement it was the same, so light foot was 3 squares, medium and heavy were 2 squares.

When 'measuring', you count each cell in between the starting cell to the ending cell, plus the ending cell (but not the starting one). That is the distance. For squares (but not hexes) where you trace a line (of sight, march, or fire) diagonally the first such square will count as 1 square, the second as 2, the third as 1, the fourth as 2, and so on alternating the cost between 1 and 2 points each. Example: the player trace a line through four diagonal squares. The distance is 6 squares (1 + 2 + 1 +2).

The one exception that I made for fudging the distances was for the combat results. Combat results that force a figure to retreat always results in the figure retreating one cell away from the enemy.

Protecting Downed Friends

Another area that I wanted to address was the effect of a figure's ZOC has on enemy trying to dispatch downed friends. Although this should be added to the ZOC section of the S&S variant rules, they were playtested in this game.

Basically the rule is that if a figure is in the ZOC of an enemy, or you have an enemy in your ZOC that is in the same cell (within 1", in freeform movement games) it cannot dispatch a downed opponent unless that enemy is also engaged by another figure in close combat.

In the example above X2 cannot dispatch the downed A1 because it is in the ZOC of Y1. B1, however, can dispatch the downed A2 with a long weapon as B2 has attacked A4 with his own long weapon, engaging him.

Originally, I had the rule simply as you had to have 1 more figure than the number of non-Downed enemy figures. Both accomplish the same thing, but the current rule is a bit more complex when long weapons come into play on both sides. An example is the figure below.

Y1, with a long weapon, holds off both X2 and B1 from dispatching A1 until either X2 or B1 engage it first. Further, if Y1 wins that combat, either by killing, downing, or forcing the retreat of the enemy, it continues to block the other blue attacker.

Again, I want to stress this is not a 'grid' rule, but an adaptation of the S&S variant rules that I add to as I come upon new situations. The ability to easily dispatch downed foes has been the one area that has always bothered me about OHSW and this is an attempt to address that.

Town Raid Scenario

If you think you might have seen this scenario before it is because it is converted from the scenario "Town Raid" in the old Warhammer Skirmish scenario book.

The world of the Kingdom is a dangerous place and even in these civilized lands there is still more countryside than city. It is in these places where brave freeholders must struggle daily to make a living. Ever searching out fertile land for crops and grazing settlers have followed a small river out of the dark forest to the richer plains beyond. Out beyond the coast – and who know what danger lie off there? Can the small local militia protect the farmers?

Overview

A smaller attacking force – as part of a larger attack on a town – has been tasked with making a feint attack in one section of the town with the target of killing or absconding with the town's livestock, burning buildings, and causing general mayhem. The local militia are tasked with driving off the cattle to safety, preventing the burning of buildings, and slowing the attackers until a larger defending force can arrive to drive off the attackers.

Forces

Modified point costs are used, i.e. each figure costs 1 point + 1 point for each point of Army Motivation.

Defenders

  • 40 points
  • May include up to one leader, i.e. someone with the Leader (X) special ability.
  • 10 Livestock critters
  • One 6" (2 square) barricade in the top 3/4 of the map (rows 1-9)
  • If no leader is present then the maximum Army Motivation is 1, otherwise it is 2

Attackers

  • 80 points (no more than half of the figures may have bows; no mounted troops allowed)
  • Must include one leader, but may have a second
  • Minimum Army Motivation is 1 with a maximum of 3

Battlefield

The buildings are not built for defense in mind, rather they are simple dwellings of farmers. The local militia had some time to set up a single 6" barricade. Red-brown rectangles are buildings. Gray rectangles are waist-high stone walls. Green circles are single trees offering no cover.

There is no difference between grass green and light brown squares; they are both open terrain.

Objectives

The Attackers realize that there is little to no value in this area of the settlement, other than the cattle, but they want to draw the locals into this area to fight fires while the main attack heads to richer targets. The game ends when the defending leader (if any) or attacking leader is killed, either side fails morale, or at the end of six turns. Calculates each side's points to determine a winner.

Note that the game ending – regardless of the reason – represents the larger defending force's arrival, and the end of the attacker's marauding.

Attacker

Each defending figure removed from the board - 1 point

Each livestock animal killed - 1 point

Each building totally destroyed - 5 point

Each building partially destroyed - 1 point

Defender

Each attacking figure removed from the board - 1 point

Each livestock animal alive or escaped - 1 point

Each building still standing and not on fire - 5 point

Each building still standing but on fire - 1 point

It is important for the players to realize that the victory conditions represent not who wins this little skirmish, but about the larger action occurring elsewhere. The defenders have 1/2 of the points of the attacker; they are expected to get crushed. So just because the attacker wins the fight, it does not mean that they will win the scenario.

Players are advised to understand and keep an eye on the objectives. The defender can lose every single figure and still win the scenario. It this is not the type of scenario that you like to play – where your forces will almost certainly lose militarily – I suggest that you not play the defenders.

Deployment

The defenders deploy first, then the attackers, then the livestock is deployed.

All defenders must start in the northern half (rows 1-6) of the map, save for a maximum of 2 figures, which may man the barricades. No two defending figures may start in the same square.

The attackers must enter from the south (bottom of the map). However, they must be deployed adjacent to the column where they will enter.

Livestock are then placed alternately (defenders choose first) anywhere on the board at least two squares from any table edge or any other livestock model. (If a livestock model cannot be placed because all eligible squares are filled, then it may be placed within 1 square of another livestock model.)

Scenario Special Rules

Attacker's Initiative

The attacker always has the initiative on the first turn. Initiative is determined as normal on subsequent turns.

Livestock

Livestock are +0 in defense, draw 1 card, and do not attack back in close combat if they are attacked. They are killed when the attacker exceeds the defense value by 4 or more. If the animal is not killed it immediately retreats away from the attacker 2 squares.

Either side may spend 1 AP to drive a livestock model. The figure must be in the same square as the livestock. The figure may choose which direction the livestock model retreats two squares.

Any retreating livestock that comes within 1 square of another livestock, or killed within 1 square of another livestock, will cause that livestock model to retreat 1 square directly away from the retreating or killed livestock. This can cause a chain reaction.

Livestock that run off of the board in any direction save south will be considered saved for the defenders. Those that run off towards the south will be considered killed for the attackers.

Livestock cannot enter buildings or cross stone walls, so adjust their movement accordingly.

Livestock in the square reduce the number of models both sides can have in the square by 1 for each livestock model. Livestock moving into a square already at capacity forces another model out of the square (player's choice). For example, two defenders and one attacker are in a square. A cow retreats into the square making the capacity one model for each side. One defending figure must retreat from the square (away from the cow).

Setting Buildings on Fire

The attackers using one-handed weapons are assumed to have torches to light the buildings on fire. Any model with a torch that is touching a building and not in close combat may try to set it on fire for 1 AP. Draw a card and if it is red, the building is on fire and the figure loses their torch. (If black is drawn another AP may be spent and another attempt may be made.)

A defender not in combat may attempt to put out the fire. Draw a card and if it is black, the fire has been extinguished.

At the end of every turn (not round!), after morale and figure recovery is determined, but before the next turn's initiative is drawn, one structural point is removed from each building per fire.

A building is considered destroyed when five structural points are removed.

Playtest

My main concern with the playtest was getting Justo's opinion on the modified combat system and secondarily how the scenario played. Although I recorded the action through drawings, there were a number of mistakes made that sort of invalidated the game. But he got a feel for the combat system and I added a few refinements here and there to both the variant and the scenario. Our mistakes were:

  • Somebody forgot to put their two Jokers into their deck, making for an extremely long turn 2 with 8 rounds. (My second Joker was the third to the last card in my deck.)
  • I messed up on the movement speed of foot troops, so everyone was moving in slow motion.
  • I did not specify that the attacker's had to specify where there troops were deployed, which led to some painful flank charges that absolutely crushed my defenders.

Nonetheless, my defenders won a narrow victory. I am proud to say that I saved 7 of the 10 cows, defended 2, and only lost 1 to the roasting spit of the attackers. This was largely because Justo did not read the scenario victory scoring system and brought no one with torches (figures with only one handed weapons). But he did kill all but 1 of my defenders!

Overall the combat played very well. Again, I liked the movement stemming from the combat results, the interplay between forces around protecting downed friends, and their being sufficient variety between weapons and armor. The scenario also played out very well, with the Livestock rules in particular producing some interesting results as I was trying to drive cows into other cows to cause a chain reaction of retreats to safety.

Definitely something Justo and I will try again.

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Huachuca City, Arizona, United States
I am 58 yrs old now. I bought a house in Huachuca City, AZ working for a software company for the last three years. To while away the hours I like to wargame -- with wooden, lead, and sometimes paper miniatures -- usually solo. Although I am a 'rules junkie', I almost always use rules of my own (I like to build upon others' ideas, but it seems like there is always something "missing" or "wrong").