Archives for March 2009

Yo, Dog! Working Dogs at Iwo Jima


The extrodinary and helpful Tony Barr of East Riding Miniatures has come through to help me with expanding my range of figures for the Iwo project. One of the heroes of Iwo was the working dog (aka War Dog). These animals were trained to deliver messages, sentry duty, mine detection and of course scouting/patrolling. They were very useful in finding people hiding in bush or caves. They were very useful in the battle of Iwo Jima in helping defend against sneak attack, night infiltration and ambush. I’ve worked up rules for hidden units in the Iwo game but they needed a possible counter and putting these working animals into the game seemed like a perfect fit. But it is hard to find WWII era war dogs in 20mm (or other scales). Tony has them for Vietnam but he has a wide collection of WWII marines so he is going to substitute the Viet Nam era marines for appropriate ones in period. We looked at a bunch of photos and saw what the handler were dressed as and the need for leads and such. I think we should end up with some really good looking stands. I also think the authenticity of the game experience will be greatly enhanced.

You can find out more about East Riding Miniatures here.

Iwo Jima game design well under way

I’ve been thinking for a couple years now that I want to do a game based upon Iwo Jima. A big game. I have lots of figures but it’s a complex battle spread over nearly a month. I’ve finally got enough figured out that I am proceeding with a full write up of the game. Last week on the ride home from Cold Wars Baxter Key and I discussed the new direction. This past weekend I got to test out the formula for the tactical battles. It seems to be a winner. The Operation will be run very similar to Multiman Publishing’s “Iwo Jima: Rage Against the Marines” while the tactical battles will be a simple system derived from DBA. The idea is that for each section of the map that is contested a specific scenario is fought. These sub battles have to be over in under an hour. Hopefully 45 minutes will be typical. The ultimate idea is to run the entire campaign at a major convention.

I built some hills with caves, some bad going and did a full tactical battle on a 30×40 playing area. The Marines had an HQ, 6 infantry sections, a sniper section, an engineering section and 2 heavy weapons sections. They also had an LVT-4 for transport of up to two sections and an LVT-4a for armor support. The Japanese had an HQ, 4 infantry sections, 2 heavy weapons sections and an ATG plus two cave complexes.

The game played well and to my surprise the LVT-4a was wiped out by a Banzai! charge. The Marines beat the Japanese but took heavy casualties. The next fight was not going to be so easy. The game with all of our haggling over the rules took 45 minutes. I’m writing up the full rules this week.

I am looking forward to this game. I think if I do a good enough job it will be worthy of publishing. I certainly hope people enjoy the scenarios I create and the method I use to control the overall operation.

Zone of Interest added to blog roll

I just stumbled upon the wargaming blog Zone of Interest. I’ve added it to the blog roll because it is smartly written and a joy to read at that. It isn’t updated very often (like I should complain!) but it is full of great articles. I highly recommend it. For some reason my blog was on there as well already… small world. Anyway, this belated link back is in honor of the great work the author has done on his site.

Next up. Pictures of how things are progressing on Iwo Jima.

Cold Wars 2009

I got to go to Cold Wars this year. I was seriously in doubt I would make it but Wargames LLC needed help with the show so the thought of getting paid to attend the convention was irresistable. Off I went.

It was a good show. I half expected with the economy it would be a ghost town but it was quite a good show. I saw many friends including Jan Spoor who I haven’t personally seen in one or two decades. He was running a F&IW game that was quite attractive. I was in a game of Barbary Pirates vs. English. That one used 28mm ships (yes they were huge!)

I got to play in Howard Whitehouse’s new WWII game “Combat” that is in the playtest stage. Quite an interesting take on WWII. I think it will be a promising game.

The dealer room was excellent as usual. I picked up from Eureka Miniatures the Apeonauts to go with the boilersuit apes I got from them a year or so ago. I got a board game from Academy Games called “Conflict of Heroes” which is a WWII game set during the winter phase of Barbarosa. The game appears to be a nice mix of accurate unit representation and simple mechanics. What I don’t like about Memoir ’44 and Tide of Iron is the abstraction that was done to the units. Tanks aren’t generic like they are in the other games. I can’t wait to see how it plays. It is a very tactical game – like Advanced Squad Leader but with only a few pages of rules.

I picked up some ships to start playing Warhammer Historicals “Trafalgar” which upon my first read through is a fascinatingly easy way to play Napoleonic Age of Sail. I love “Close Action” by Mark Campbell but it is a bit onerous to play and has a bit of a steep learning curve for a pickup game. I played quite a bit of Age of Sail using Close Action for years. I like the tactical problems present in these battles. You have to think on your feet because the infamous changes in the wind can make or break your plan. The new Warhammer game looks to cover the bases quite nicely and I hope that it plays well. Initial reports are very positive. Back in the 90’s my roommate got hooked on the original game that Trafalgar was based upon (Man ‘O War I think?).

Fox Miniatures was there selling BSG resin and pewter fighters. The heavy raider was finally in! I got 20 of them! I also picked up a bunch of extra fighters and some bases. I think I should have these painted soon. I still don’t have a set of rules I will be using but I think I’ll have something figured out shortly.

Of course I bought the usual t-shirts and such. Nothing major to note there.

Overall a great time. I started a project on Saturday when I wasn’t feeling well. I started to program a damage deck simulator for Wings of War. My biggest complaint about the game is that you can’t get extra damage decks without buying the base games over again… so screw them. I am writing a software program that will allow multiple planes to be tracked, their damage and all. Data entry should be simple and I’ll even make it networkable so several computers can access the same database allowing even faster data entry. I may even come up with a mobile version of the software so that you can submit your attacks via the web browser on your phone. It’s all in an effort to re-aquaint myself with C#, to learn Silverlight and WPF and the latest web 2.0 tech.

Well that is my report – see you at Historicon.

Gamer Girth

It is no secret – gamers tend to be, well, overweight. We have a rather sendentary hobby involving sitting and reading, sitting and painting, pushing lead weights around (12-15 grams!) and so forth. About 8 years ago I was 250 lbs. on a 6′ tall frame. That was way to heavy. I was unhappy about it, I didn’t feel good and I needed change and I started to work out. I got myself down to about 230 and was happy with that and then I got the calling join the Army. That was when I really started work out and I got down to 210. However there was a ticking genetic time bomb that was waiting for me. I had a disk blow out and 3 years of physical therapy and exercise hasn’t fixed it. Last year it was a major problem. This year I am feeling better in part because I’ve stopped exercising and getting physical therapy. The real solution is surgery but in these trying times I can’t afford that – it has actually become a luxury for me.

So how are the back and losing weight related? Simply it is leverage. The more weight I have on my stomach the more leverage there is on the back as gravity pulls the forward weight down causing my back to flex right where it hurts – the lumbar section. I know I am somewhere between 210 and 220. I am going to keep track of my calories and of my weight and I’ll report on what is working and what isn’t.

Most importantly I’ll report on ways of staying healthy at gaming convenions – lets face it you are there to game and eating becomes a distant need so we all tend to go for the easy option with includes hot dogs, candy, beer/coffee and snack food. So the question is, what can I bring to conventions that is easy to transport, acceptable to eat around a gaming table, etc. I’ll also come up with some low impact exercise one can do without seriously impacting the hobby. Personally I plan on asking gamers for 5 military pushups for each critically failed die roll. Hey, why should it just be me that is doing all this work? 🙂