Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Hobby Progress a Little Slow, But Steady

As work has ramped up, my hobby time has decreased greatly, being limited mostly to a little weekend work.  I've been basing and priming the Cold War infantry with, more or less, 48 company sized formations with some additional supporting stuff based, and about 30 of them primed at this point.  They don't look like much, but they take up a lot of space on my table.

Otherwise, I've been slowly painting a few figs for my post apocalypse, but nothing to really show there yet.  I also received a few figs from Black Scorpion.  My first order with them went smoothly and the resin figs are beautiful.  They are 32mm, and stand a little large among my mostly 28mm stuff, but not too bad since most of the 28mm stuff is over-sized a bit anyway.

One post-apoc fig and some old west stuff; they will all serve in my post-apoc gaming.  The old west figs will get a touch of  post-apoc-ness added to them, and will be part of a new faction.  I still need one fig crucial to the the new faction, and once found and finished, look forward to getting in a few post-apoc games.

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Cold War Infantry Arrive

I received my Cold War infantry order from Heroics & Ros a couple of days ago, and here is what 1066 (or there abouts) 6mm infantry look like (plus four aircraft):

I'm still amazed that I needed that many figs to fill out my forces.  These should allow me to complete various infantry formations for France, FRG, UK, US, USSR, and DDR across four decades.

There are a small number of older H&R WWII figs (Bazooka teams and whatnot), and a mix of both old and new H&R Cold War sculpts included.  Each formation will consist of only one type, older or newer figs, as the style and height is a little different between the two.  Most 1950s and 1960s formations will be the older sculpts, with the 1970s formations made of either old or new (not mixed within a given formation though), and 1980s all being the newer sculpts.

I do want to mention that I am particularly appreciative of H&R doing French figures with the MAS49/56 rifles.  I was originally a bit let down at the idea of either using the FAMAS equipped figs or US WWII with M1 rifles for the 1960s and 1970s French.

Along with the infantry, I picked up a couple of Yak-28, an AN-12, and a Jaguar.  I really wish that I could find a source for Mi-4 helicopters, but no luck so far.

These will probably set on the shelf for a few weeks, while I finish up some post apoc stuff that currently covers my work table.

Saturday, June 6, 2020

A Little More Post Apocalypse Junk

I finished another small batch of post-apoc bits.  After changes at work, this is all I've managed in two weeks.

The table of weapons is from Crooked Dice Arm's Dealer set, the barrels are 1/48 scale Tamiya, the blue-gray stacks of boxes are homemade, and the gray crate is from Victoria Miniatures.  At the rate I'm going, I should be done painting this stuff about 2178.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Lights, Camera, Action... and Dice?

Several years ago, I read what turned out to be a very entertaining biography, written by an actor, producer, and director movies.  The most curious thing about the book was how familiar some parts of it were.  I have never been involved in acting, theater, or movie making, so the familiarity of portions of the book took me quite by surprise.

The first instance of familiarity occurred, when the writer talked about the passion he felt as a child, while seeing his first theater presentation, a musical that captured his soul, and would impact the direction of the rest of his life.  He talked about this passion at some length, about what he felt in relation to the presentation, and his enjoyment of becoming involved in the process a little later in life.

It was curious, not in that I shared the experience related to theater or acting in any way, but that phrases he used to describe his feeling about the experience were nearly quotes of my own thoughts about my hobby.  What I was reading was so familiar to me, that it almost felt violating at times.  At the same time,  felt a particular joy in reading this, and at the thought of sharing these emotions and sensations with another person, even if it was with respect to interests that were so far apart.

As I continued through the book, and he went on about the experiences of his profession, there was a recurrence of this experience with respect to my hobby.  It was inviting, and comforting, and yet in some ways, still almost unnerving at times how familiar his emotional experience seemed to me.

Eventually, he talked about directing movies, about the joy of creating the sets, with attention to the lighting and sound, about trying to create the feel of a place and time, about injecting the sensations of "experiencing" the set, and how the character of the set, was so much a character in the movie.  And, again, I understood everything that he described.  It was sometimes like reading my own words with respect to creating the game.  His movie was my game.  At least in spirit.

When I create my games, create the settings for my game, there is a similar experience, starting with researching the setting, the period, the feel of being there.  I explore not just the military aspects of the environment, but the flora and fauna, the architecture, weather and seasonal patterns, the culture, the daily goings on, the psyche, what are the peoples daily experiences, what is their world view, etc.  And how the goings-on depicted in my games change, or might change, all of these things.

As I create the settings for my games, I try to immerse myself in the environment, feel and smell what it is like.  What are the sounds surrounding me in the environment.  I imagine the stories behind endless details, about the origins of equipment and buildings, or how the families came to be there.  I see the evolution of the land and buildings leading to the time of my game.

I feel the oppressive humidity of the triple canopy jungle, the ocean breeze sweeping into the coats of my island, the taste of the fine dust that permeates everything in the desert of Iraq and wastes of my post apocalypse. 

I feel the energy of the tanks engines rumble,  hear the car tires on the pavement, feel the rush of land racing by under the power of jet engines, and hear the call of the alien beast marking its territory.

There are of course limits to what I can present on my table top.  limits to finance, time, and skill, but in my mind, like in a movie, I see it all, action in living color, I feel the earth under my feet, smell the stink in my nose.  I experience the adventure of the game in every way that my mind permits.  Immersion.

At the same time, I realize that the entire experience is corrupted by my subjectivity.  I don't really know what it was like to live at the time of the Claudian conquest, or to be a native on the island before it was known as Ponape, or know what it is to be an Afghan resisting the Soviets.  

I can only speculate, try to understand, and hope that I don't insult the reality too much through my interpretation.  And while my games may have more similarity to a movie than I initially understood.  I understand too that they are the culmination of infinity less work and skill, than the movies that I now compare them too.

Afterall, as so many gamers say, " Its just a game."

But it feels like so much more. 

Sunday, May 31, 2020

It's About Playing Army Men

I don't know why, but I've always liked "playing army men", as my Mom called it.  I started by the time I was four years old, with Marx plastic soldiers.  Warfare and soldiering always seemed to have a presence in my life with family members and friends talking about having served in WWII, and I was always fascinated by the pictures of tanks from my Dad's time at Fort Knox and in the Korean War, and then there was Vietnam on the news every evening around dinner time.

Playing army men initially involved Marx plastic army men/knights and Vikings/Cowboys and Indians , which lead to the old 12 inch GI Joes, Marx Brave Knights, armies built of Legos, 1/72 scale models, etc.  There was also live action army playing with toy guns.  As I got older, the realism, scope, and detail increased.  Then at some point, I wanted "rules" to play army, something that would impose more "realism", retaining randomness with respect to the results, but removing the impossible and utterly arbitrary.

The transition from free play to rules took a few years, and I eventually discovered that I was not the only person that didn't want to give up playing with army men.  My first experience with published rules was with Heritage's Panzertroops, which were both wonderful and terrible.  WWII of course, played on terrain created by arranging paperback books to create the terrain, with a couple model railroad trees, and played with 1/72 scale models as they were more accessible than the game's 15mm models.

Later this year, I plan to play some 15mm World War II games using Panzertroops for the first time in 38 years.

Now, the rules are home-brew, the ongoing product of a few decades of observation, study, and research, on relatively detailed modular scale terrain, and with soldiers ranging from 6mm to 28mm in height.  The battles are fought on the table top, rather than the ground, but the play, or manner in which I play, is much the same as it was, when I was a child.

After considering it, that last sentence is the thing that maybe makes much of my hobby a little different than the mainstream of "wargaming, or at least different than "classic wargaming".  I find that what most people appear to do, or appear to look for in their games, feels different than what I am looking for in my games.  Then again, maybe we are all, more or less, this way, or feel this way.  I've never discussed that consideration before.

In my case, I've come to realize that I still just want to play army men.  I have always needed to be able to "believe" in the playing process, thus I have always tried to make my games "realistic".  And, as I've become more educated, and my understanding of the world around me has grown, adding detail to my playing process, allows me to continue to believe the "story" that plays out during my play.

Basically, I want to move toy soldiers and equipment around, have them imitate the actions of real world counterparts to some degree (as I believe them to be), and have them defeat their enemy in the process.  I want to "operate" the individual soldiers, officers, vehicles, aircraft, etc., of each army. I want to "experience" their actions on an individual level.  I also want to experience the actions of their formations to the limits of size that can be represented on my table top (ranging from fire teams to regiments).   I expect to operate an "army" of tens, hundreds, or thousands, by operating every individual soldier and weapon as a piece of the larger element, and resolving both individual and formation issues at their respective levels, but never losing either at the expense of the other.

I've repeatedly been told that this cannot be done, is too complex to do, is too tedious to be fun, and that it is not the proper way to play with toy soldiers. Okay.

Every feature on "my" battlefield  represents exactly what it appears to be, more or less,  in scale size and shape, offering cover, blocking line of site, and otherwise representing every individual aspect required of what it models in or near the scale of the models around it.

As a child, I played with individual toy soldiers in a miniature world, it was all very believable to me then.  As a much older child, I look for the same experience, while playing with my army men.  The only change, is that in order maintain the "believability", I need some sort of rules to affix realistic parameters to the soldiers, their weapons, and their formations.

These rules need to limit the playing pieces in a manner similar to their real world counterparts as individual elements bound by time, space, physics, physiology, training, psychology, etc.  The rules need not take away any elements of the "play".

Most important, and a huge part of the fun in play, is to experience the adventure.  I find that many aspects of traditional rules for wargames violate this most important thing, abstracting away too many elements of the adventure. 

Thus, I do not want abstractions removing and/or over-simplifying movement, fire resolution, orders, or reducing of the "individual-ness" of the toy soldiers and equipment.  I don't want to focus only on the experience of command at a division or corps level, nor solely on the experiences of the individual soldier or squad leader.  Multiple toy soldiers cannot be mounted to a single base, nor can terrain features and constructs on the battlefield represent other than their actual size and shape.  For me, the rules must not change how I play, they simply maintain and magnify the believability experienced during play.

Curiously, though I do play some periods and scales completely in scale with the toys, I have always been okay with range/distance compression relative to the scale of the toys.  This might seem hypocritical, but don't worry, I assure you that it is not.

Also, in 6mm, I'm okay with mounting up to three figures on one base, this may seem to contradict my comment above about individually mounting the toys, but trust me,  it doesn't.

It took me a surprisingly long time to recognize all of this.  This shouldn't surprise you.  Afterall, I still play with toy soldiers.

Also, sometime ago I came realize that the game has always really been about experiencing the adventure; winning or losing doesn't really matter that much.  Well, except maybe to the winners and losers, but I do it for the adventure.

I simply play army men, as I always have, in the way I most enjoy.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Does Anybody Actually Like The "New Blogger" ?

I hate it.  They have deleted a couple things that I use, given me a lot more junk that I don't, and make it take up more space on my screen (Meaning that I have to take more time scrolling around).  Replacing buttons having actual words, that tells you what the button does, with buttons like the big plus sign to post new posts strikes me as just plain goofy.  Why be clear, when you can make it tedious and confusing?

Oh, and I don't use a phone to blog.  That would be like eating dinner out of a thimble.  If was starving to death, I might do it out of desperation, but I'm not starving.

Sorry for all of the negative, and no gaming content, but this sort of improvement and progress drives me nuts.  If you don't like it, let Google know, because in two months we're stuck with this goofy thing.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Crawling Out of the Rubble

I guess it is somehow appropriate that my "return" to working on the hobby after my debacle last week, was to complete some debris and junk for the post apocalypse.  Not much of an accomplishment really.  But still, I got my mess in the basement sorted out, and managed to paint a few bits.

I'm continuing on more post-apoc junk today, figuring the more that I paint, the more that I can put away.  And, the sooner I put away figures and whatnot spread across my table, the sooner I can get to repairing my flood-damaged terrain.

The final toll from the water damage by the way, is that I need to do some repair work to about 150 square feet of terrain, and probably discard or completely rebuild about 80 square feet, which is much less than it looked initially.  More than a third of what was drowned, dried without any permanent damage.

The biggest loss is to my 20mm Vietnam and Victorian/colonial adventure (Pacific Island/Ponape) terrain.  So those figs will set on the shelf for awhile, but there wasn't much going on right now with those periods anyway.  So I'm painting again; things aren't in too much disarray, and I'm enjoying the Holiday.

Stay well out there.