Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Signal Close Action first impressions

I've been lazy posting my warcon 2014 games, but now I have to catch up as the end of the year I will be quite busy lecturing, doing my next research paper, applying for funding and all that academic bliss.

My first proper naval miniatures wargame, yay! I've been wanting to get me some age of sail action for a long, long time, and the host of gave me the opportunity to participare in one of his games at Warcon. Note that all the pictures in this article are of models in his collection so do pay his blog a visit!

Signal Close Action goes a bit more in the way of realism than say.. Trafalgar does. Ships are not that easy to put out of action and manoeuvering is more complex. Where the system really shines is the command and control system. If you're commanding a squadron you have to signal all orders to the ships in the fleet using orders which would be historically plausible. Also, if there is no LOS between the flagship of the fleet and the ship it is trying to send orders to, the command will not get through unless relayed by another ship.

Playing a naval wargame such as this is very different from land based games and requires a change in the way you think. You have to consider the direction of the wind and the relative positions of the fleets to it. Ships cannot turn (unless tacking) directly into the wind and cannot move directly upwind. This means you can't just "drive around" the table as you would with tanks. Also, your speed changes with your attitude to the wind and depends on your sail setting.

We had four players in our game and we played it maybe halfway through in the few hours we had to spend. It takes a while to learn the basics and it slowed us down. Movement and firing is straightforward once you get the hang of it, but signaling takes practice. At first, the game almost resembled Roborally as ships struggled to interpret orders and try not to crash into each other.

We got the hang of it eventually and probably learned enough for our first game. We played through the approach phase and a bit into the firefight between the ships until things started getting chaotic. I didn't take any notes and the photos are sporadic so I can't really give you a blow by blow. Suffice to say, a British fleet met with a French one, and at the end, the British weren't doing all that well. Two British ships had crashed into their French counterparts and the Englishmen had lost a boarding action that ensued. 

All in all, it was a real treat of a game. Right now, I'm participating in a PBEM Kriegspiel test game hosted by, and it is proving to be an interesting experiment indeed.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

I have a new photography setup and some greeks and orcs to show you

Before resuming my Warcon report, I'll show off my new toy. I bought a Canon 1000D DSLR on the cheap and finally built that lightbox I've been meaning to make for a long time. The new camera will serve as an astrophotography tool but I can use it for my miniatures just as well. With two daylight bulbs (the third one and last at the supermarket fell on the floor and broke after I bought it) I'll also have good lighting to work with.

It'll take me a while to learn to get the best pictures possible with it, but I'm already noticing a marked improvement on the depth of field available compared to my old camera.

First, I have completed a bunch of Greek casualties and an additional pack of hoplites for my ancients project. I think I should paint up one more pack of hoplites to unlock the possibility of playing warmaster ancients with this set, but doing those shields really is getting tiresome.

Freshly painted Greek hoplite casualties. I think the whole set is pretty well in focus.

All of my 6mm Greeks still fit in one shot. Getting mighty weary of painting those shields!

Next, I'll show off the first of my "improved" warmaster orcs. I bought a half-painted army and I decided to finish them rather than remove the old paint and start from scratch. Let's say these count for a half of a painted figure apiece in my painting stats :)

Two units of Boar boyz

The models on the right before my touchup work.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Warcon 2014: Musket & Pike Edgehill

I kicked off this years' Warcon with a game of Musket & Pike Battle Series. The scenario was the battle of Edgehill from the "This accursed civil war" set. Hex & Counter games are not exactly ideal blog fodder so I'll be brief. The game series is excellent and I recommend it fully to wargamers though.

The game after the frist turn. The royalists under king Charles are advancing towards the lines of the parliamentarists. The royalist cavalry on the right engage the skirmishers sent to harry them and draw in some of the parliamentarist cavalry waiting in reserve.
Cavalry clash as the battle lines draw closer.

After the cavalry engagement, king Charles rides to the scene to rally his troops. He underestimates the speed of the parliamentarist cavalry however, and is caught by their charge. The king is slain in the ensuing mayhem, what a tragic day!
The royalists, shocked by the loss of their king lose the initiative and the parliamentarists manage to charge their line with their infantry

The situation becomes chaotic and casualties are high on both sides.

In the end, only tatters of both armies are still in fighting order, but the parliamentarists have managed to seize victory (and would have even without the massive VP score from the slain king)

It was an interesting scenario as the armies were quite symmetric and even. I think anything may happen in this scenario and it would probably work well as a tutorial game for M&P as there are virtually no deviations from the basic series rulebook. Tactically there were quite a few choices to be made. I definitely had no clue on how to use the skirmishing troops to their potential and they were easy prey for enemy cavalry. I got a lucky prey in taking out the king and managed to charge the enemy with my infantry and gain momentum bonuses. It was a close cut thing however, and I had some luck with my dice.

Stay tuned, I still have a Here I stand game to report as well as Signal Close Action!