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.

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.


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.


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.


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.

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About Me

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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").