Bring Them Home

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Oberstleutnant Schuler raged at his assembled officers and NCOs. ‘Six men missing! Missing! My men!’

Six men missing and presumed dead. Their bodies lying where they fell because not one man in the garrison was willing to retrieve them. The whispered stories from the survivors were enough to check any desire for glory or fame. A thing was out there. A terrible, ghostly thing. Even threats and time in the stockade were not enough to encourage his men to leave their comfortable post and go retrieve their fallen comrades. Threats and arrests were unable to motivate the locals into assisting, either.

‘Six young Germans lay rotting under this damned French sky and none of you will go bring them home?’ Schuler shouted. ‘None of you?’

The survivors were still unable to make a proper report of what had occurred. Two were still catatonic. Unresponsive and lost to whatever horror took their friends. The Frenchman René was nowhere to be found. It was reported he had survived, but he had not been seen since that fateful afternoon. Leutnant Maarsh was one of the missing.

Leutnant Maasch was your brother, yet none of you cowards will go and find him?’ Schuler was fuming. Disgusted by the behavior of his men. Bogeymen and night-time stories. That is all this was. There were no inexplicable terrors in the world. The Maquis had killed his men, somehow fooling the rest into believing it was some phantom. They would pay. Everyone would pay. Schuler was normally a reasonable man, and did not resort to the cruelty other officers in the Heer or SS did.

Not now. His reasonableness was at an end, and the locals would pay for this embarrassment.

‘I don’t understand how experienced officers could fail their comrades so completely!’ he screamed. ‘How can you leave them behind? Even when the Russians were breathing on our necks, we took our dead with us! We never left a man behind! Alive. Wounded. Dying. Dead! We brought them all out! But now!’ He slammed his clenched fists onto his desk. Officers and NCOs flinching at the display. Glaring at the assembled men he dared any to speak.

‘Sir, begging your pardon, but these weren’t battle-hardened men’ Hauptman Lenz began, braving Schuler’s wrath. ‘They were just boys. Barely out of training. I sent Maarsh and his squad because the task seemed so simple.’ Bracing for a rebuke, Lenz stood rigidly at attention.

‘And this “phantom”?’ Schuler hissed. ‘What of these whispers? The ones who are talking are rambling about a “phantom”.’

‘I don’t know, sir.’ Lenz admitted.

‘Either we have six cowards who have fled their duties and are AWOL, or this “phantom”, or the Maquis, or rabid sheep or angry cattle have captured or killed my men!’

Muffled snickers at Schuler’s references to wild livestock enraged him further.

‘Did I make a joke?!’ he bellowed, storming from behind his desk to stomp along the row of men. ‘Did I?’

‘No sir. No sir.’ Came the replies. Officers and NCOs standing rigid, but not defiant. Finally, one man spoke.

‘Sir, with your permission, I will take the rest of the platoon to search the area, and discover what happened.’ Leutnant Klein vowed.

Schuler stared at Klein, quiet for a few long minutes.

‘Is two squads enough? Or am I sending more men to their fate?’

‘Then I will take the whole company, sir’ Hauptman Lenz said. ‘And some engineers.’

‘Engineers?’ Schuler asked.

‘Explosives and flamethrowers. If we cannot discover the threat, we will blow the bridge apart and deny it to any enemy, sir.’ Lenz replied.

‘And just what do you think is out there Hauptman?’ Schuler was standing in front of Lenz now. Carefully evaluating his subordinate.

“I don’t know, sir. But my company can handle it.’

‘Maarsh said his squad could.’

‘He had no idea what was there.’

‘The Frenchman knew.’

Frowning for a moment, Lenz finally responded.

‘This time we know there is a threat. We will be ready. Yes sir, we can handle it.’

Sighing, Schuler nodded his agreement.

‘Take your whole company Hauptman. I would request an armor platoon to accompany you, but I don’t think a panzer could get there to help.’

‘My company can use a nice hike.’

“The guide is missing.’

‘The trail should still be fresh. My scouts will find it.’

Schuler put his hand on Lenz’s shoulder.

‘Bring your men home. All of them.’

 

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Missing in action, Not missing all of the action.

It has been some time since my last post. I’m not even going to look and see how long, that will just depress me I think.  There have been a whole slew of conspiring reasons to keep me from the keyboard, some lame, some legitimate, but I digress. And here I am once more, and here is what I’ve been up to.

One of the primary reasons I’ve been away was taking my son to college.  That involved a nearly 1,700 mile trip (one way) to take him to Brigham Young University to start his collegiate career. The summer was packed with last minute games, time together and a lot “Are you packed yet?” comments. The trip was fun, though sad, and with my primary game buddy gone I have been a bit of a dark place. He was good to try pretty much anything. Any era. Any game. Silly or serious. Coupled with his love of history, and military history in particular, made for great game sessions and discussions on conflict and forces and history. I guess I need to figure out that Vassal thing once he has college figured out and is settled in. Living in a dorm didn’t leave him much space for taking minis along, though I suspect once he has an apartment I may notice a few armies are missing!

In all of that craziness, I was not completely idle.  I did not meet my painting goals, and shuffled some things around as my painting whims flitted about. I think I have pictures of most of what I have completed lately, and I just uploaded pics from Fall In! 2018.

Bolt Action

Without looking back, I believe I finished my Bolt Action armies over the summer. A reinforced platoon for both Germans and Americans, with a Panther and a Puma and (just finished last week) 3 SdKfz 251s allowing a platoon of Jerries to mobilize as Panzergrenadiers.  Those two forces got used plenty over the summer, my son introduced his friend from school to Bolt Action and they played across our table regularly.  I just built a M8/M20 armored car for the Americans, and have a new set of decals for the pair of Shermans I started painting months ago. I finally put paint on a Panzer IVJ that has been sitting on my work bench, also. Not that this is the end of Bolt Action. Nope. I’ve been gradually adding to a pile of Tommies to add another army choice. I’ll wait until i have all the unit choices I want before I jump into that painting adventure.

Along side the troops and vehicles, I painted five more of the Charlie Foxtrot buildings I bought earlier this year. I don’t have many pics of the finished buildings, so that will have to wait for another post. I finished the Terrace, the terrace back yard, two sheds, the Brassiere (restaurant) and Farmhouse. The only pics I currently have are some of the terrace back yard. Colin over at CFM deemed them worthy of inclusion in the customer gallery and they can be seen here. Or right here.

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Triumph!

After those were done I began painting models I first picked up at Fall In! 2016. 15mm Essex minis for Early Germans and Severan Middle Imperial Romans.  These were purchased to play Triumph! a fast play set of rules covering the ancient through medieval periods. We played a game of Triumph! at fall In! and enjoyed the simplicity, but tactical challenges presented. And, 15mm armies are cheap as chips, so I I have deep plans for a whole slew of interconnected opponent forces. More on that in a future post.

I painted and painted, back in 15mm for the first time in 5 years or more. The models were delightfully clean and flash free. The details are crisp and not over-exaggerated. While they wont win any competitions, I an pleased with how they look.

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15mm decals are really fiddly… Especially when there are made for shield shapes I apparently do not have! A little trimming, and some butchery made the decals usable, and add a cool visual pop to these models/

Of course, there is always a bump in the road. At Fall In! 2018 I had a chance to talk with the game designers for Triumph! and clear up some issues I was having with the army lists and rules. There is a lesson here kids. When using in-development rules, make sure you have the most up-to-date set of rules! I thought I had painted 52 points for each army, but the Romans outnumbered the Germans. Weird, right? The Germans are a horde army and should have numbers on their side. Well, when you use the right pints sheet, they do. With newest rules in hand I discovered I had 47 points of Germans and 70 points of Romans.  Back to the paint bench I go!

SAGA

After painting up the Triumph! armies I pulled out models for SAGA that have been sitting in my lead mountain for several years. So many years that SAGA version 2 came out before I played SAGA version 1…

I have 16 models cleaned, washed and on painting handles now, ready for priming and paint. The models look fantastic and were very clean, flash and mold line-wise. Unlike GW, these Gripping Beast models look like soldiers on campaign. No hour glasses hanging from belts, no extra skulls, nothing to slow painting down. With a list of historical colors in hand, I am really looking forward to painting the Vikings and Anglo-Saxons I have. If nothing else, all the models are getting cleaned and glued to bases. we ARE playing SAGA when my son is home for Christmas, even if I have to break my no-unpainted-models rule. All told, those 2 armies have about 120 models between them including banner bearers and priests. There are a handful of civilians and some livestock for scenarios. I have some scratch build materials for houses and buildings for another terrain blitz in the future.

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Fall In!

And then there was Fall IN! 2018. With my son at college, I was ready to take my daughter and introduce her to convention happiness. Unfortunately, several tests ended being scheduled the first day of the convention and she had to bail out. I continued with our plan and played in the games she had chosen so I could give her an AAR after I got home. Making the 8 hour drive solo was a bit boring, but I did get a 3 hour phone call with my son and we discussed his midterms and classes, and lots of gaming chat.

Check in was a mixed bag. HMGS Inc., the group putting on the convention tried a new check in method. They sent out via email those little scan codes and had a row of scanners and printers set up. You scanned your code, your convention badge and game  tickets printed, along with a coupon for a tee shirt if you ordered it, and your swag bag. In the dark room check in took place (all the rooms were pretty dark, the convention hotel is the midst of major renovations and much of the lighting and electrical outlets were not functioning) you had to maximize screen brightness to get the scanners to read the code off your phone. Which only took me 6-7 minutes to figure out. Then, the software was not printing the tee shirt coupon. So from one line to another…  What took me all of five minutes last year took 20+ due to that issue. But, the staff was helpful and friendly and just as frustrated with that glitch. Checked in to the convention and off to my hotel for a good sleep and an early start.

Showing up before morning check in, I was able to grab another game ticket. US game conventions are participation affairs. Show up, play games. At HMGS conventions you can preregister for 1 game a day. At the convention you can get another ticket each day. That guarantees 2 games a day at least. All the rest you go up and check prior to the game start time to see if there is space.

After grabbing a ticket for a Fall of Roman game, i headed in to one of the only 8am games to see if there was still space at the table. And, there was! It was a game of High Noon, American West gaming. Each player (there were 7) had two models. The game master, Leo, had piles to choose from, mountain men to Mexican banditos to duster-clad outlaws. Everyone picked a pair, named them, and got set up. I had The Man in Black, an outlaw in a long black duster and black had wielding a six-gun, and Winchester Jack, another outlaw holding a rifle. We started all around a small town with a couple businesses, a scattering of homes and bunk tents, and corrals. The players started mounted and could dismount any time their last movement was 6″ or less. The object was to find the booze in town. All the characters had been out working hard and had a thirst for hard liquor. with plenty of buildings to search, each player moved to different places and began to search. The first guy into a building discovered two huge barrels. Of water! He thought he had pulled it off by turn three! My models searched a bunk house and found nothing. The two Mexicans searched a empty hotel, then decided to do a little cattle rustling. Inspired, I sent one of my models across the main street to where several players had gotten into a brawl of the newly discovered liquor. They left their horses unattended outside and I helped my self to three of them. My other model got into a gun fight with an Apache on a roof top, but the shooting went on an on without much effect. Making it back to my horses, Winchester Jack took over the shooting with the Apache and Black searched a tent and found, unbeknownst to the rest of the players, a sack of gold. He hopped on his horse, grabbed the reins for two of the rustled ponies, and beat a hasty retreat. Winchester Jack took a bad hit that disarmed him for the rest of the game. He hopped on his horse and took off with the other stolen horse. It took that long for the players in the brawl to realize their horse were gone, but several models were down unconscious or dead by that point. we were 3+ hours in by then and Leo called the game. I think I tied for the win with the best found treasure, a sack of gold and three new horses. The Mexicans made off with two cows, and i think most of the booze was spilled on the floor after the long gun fight in a small space.  Great fun!

I had a class next. One of the coolest things at HMGS conventions is the Hobby University. A dedicated group of members put on classes on terrain building, modeling, painting and other aspects of the hobby. The have beginning and advanced classes, and everything in between. This year i too a  class on cheap roads. The instructor walked us through using asphalt shingles for making roads. He uses shingle for both asphalt roads and dirt roads, and showed us examples of each. He had supplies for each of us, and we went through making a 8″ stretch of road of our choice. I made an older asphalt road starting to show extensive cracks. Not bad for an hour class that was mostly talking and demonstrating. I will definitely be building some roads for Bolt Action using this method.

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After a quick lunch it was on to a game Limeys and Slimeys. Pirates versus the world in the Age of Sail. Brian was the game master and provided 7 great ships complete with crew and cannons. The rules are quick play and fairly simple. We picked up quickly and set sail. I was commanding one of the two English brigs and we were faced with 5 pirate vessels. we bought off one with the promise of pardons and gold. The other four came at us in a line and we attempted to split two and keep two others from being able to shoot at us while unleashing both broadsides as we sailed between our target vessels. I was lead in the line and the nearest pirate ship attempted a boarding that due to my typical bad dice rolling saw me lose my ship… Less than an hour in… Bummer.  Well, on to plan B right? There was a game of Full Thrust being set up next to the table I was at, so i got my name on the list to play that. I was chatting with that game master when my partner came over and announced he had retaken my ship and I was back in! So I jumped back in. With most of a ships worth of pirate crew dead or in chains, I was able to sweep the decks of the offender ship with grapeshot and boarded an empty ship. By this time, the other pirate ships were way down wind. Our pirate “ally” was in flames from too many attempts at shooting hot shot, and we had captured a pirate ship. So we sailed off into glory. being on the winning team, we diced off and I rolled a 5 to my partner’s 4. Winner! Prize was a Xebec resin ship complete with cannons and masts from Old Glory! My first win in four years!

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Of course, that means I need another ship and crew for both… But it was a fun game!

That left me a bit of time to run to the vendor hall and search out the models and terrain supplies I needed. I was rushed, but did find a few things I needed, and saw a bunch of stuff I wanted… Geez. I need a better job!

Back to gaming, I went to the Fall of roman game using the Lion rampant rules from osprey. I’ve read several AARs about these rules in Wargames Illustrated, but had never even flipped through the book.  This game was barbarians versus Rome. The Roman players were in the midst of civil war and a pretender emperor was seeking battle with the “true” emperor. There was also a Roman limitanei force on the border. Slavs, Huns, Goths x2 and Gepids were invading and a Sarmatian foederati tribe, the Ruritanii, whose allegiance passed from player to player at the roll of a dice. The three barbarians facing the limitanei also had to deal with a large river. I attacked a border tower with half my troops and used the rest to push deep into the province. By the end, I was able to scale the provincial capital walls, although for just one turn. There are pictures and a better write up here. In this game victory was determined by coins collected as loot. While several armies were tied up in battle with various Roman armies, the Slavs skipped battle and torched much of the province, winning the game. Another fantastic gamne by a great game master. We were laughing and groaning and cringing as we tossed ice for key rolls. Happy gamers all around at the end.

That ended day one. I walked around and looked at many of the amazing tables set up and took some pictures, marveling at the effort and discussing different methods with various game masters.

Day 2 started early again. I went through five choices for my second registered game before I found one that was open. 1-4 were all full, so obviously good choices!

I started out at a walk up game of Shatterlands, an hybrid war game/RPG I have played in the past. It uses colored dice from 4- to 20-sided for traits and actions, rolling low is desired.  The better skills roll d4, and it goes up. Each character has a card with scratch off bubbles for increasing (or decreasing) skills and traits. It was a French and Indian War game with four Indians battling 5 Rangers. Ineffective shooting, brutal hand-to-hand, and cover galore led to an indecisive finish. I’m not sure these rules are my thing, but I love that it’s at the conventions and available all day for walk up gaming.

My second game got cancelled due to a family emergency. That was going to be 28mm version of Triumph!.  In the pre-convention book it was listed as a Battle of Five Armies game. I met the game master on Friday and it had turned into a Battle of Pelannor Fields (complete with huge Minas Tirith). That, unfortunately got cancelled, so I played a game of Triumph!. It was Gauls versus Romans and it was a hard fought game that the Romans barely won. The latest version of the rules seem a bit more streamlined than I remember. Or maybe I am finally gaining some familiarity with the rules. Either way, I enjoyed the game, and I am looking forward to more games with the armies we have painted.

Game three, my second registered game, was Balloon Busting on the Western Front using the Wings of Glory minis and rules. This is another set of rules I have read about, but never played. I like aerial combat, and played Mustangs!, a hex based game from Avalon Hill (I think). I got into a yahoo group, and played the game via email. I sucked bad, and eventually i think they just stopped sending me links to new games. WW1 aerial seems more my speed. Ha!

There were 4 Americans versus 5 Germans. each player had one plane and recycled after getting shot down. Which happened to me 2, and very nearly a third time. I had 2 damage points to spare at the end of the game! The object was to shoot down a line of the Kaiser’s observation balloons while avoiding German fighters. It was another rousing success. The players were all old hats at WoG, and really had patience with me. John, another guy from Michigan, ended up sitting next to me and gave me a great deal of help during the game. Wings of Glory are pretty relaxed rules, but with a lot of tactical nuances. Movement is planned three moves at a time, so much guessing about your opponent’s movement is involved. The group at the table seemed to know each other, and I later found out that several played in multiple games that Peter had put on at Fall In! 2018. Peter is a fantastic game master and kept the game moving along and made snap calls for rules questions. He obviously loves WoG and his enthusiasm for the rules and mins and gaming really showed. He had a very large aerial photo printed for the game table, and it looked great.

Here is a link to his battle reports and pictures from all five games he put on. Scroll down the thread for some aerial combat glory. i will just add a couple photos of my own.

Needless to say, I have already ordered a game mat and my first set of planes. Prepainted models, cool game mats, and very elegant rules are a win-win-win for me. I hoped to not find a new era and game to buy into, but alas, Peter won me over!

The last game of the night was one of Peter Panzeri’s game extravaganzas. We played in his Sand Pebbles 4 table monster game last year and loved it.  This year only 5 players showed up… Last year it was 38. Not sure what happened. But, the 5 of us enjoyed a great game experience. It was a Braddock’s Retreat FIW game. The scattered remnants of General Braddock’s column were headed back to Virginia in a hasty retreat. Small groups were scattered about and being chased by the victorious french and harassed by hostile natives tribes. The object was to travel the length of four tables while securing supplies for the journey and minimizing casualties. Command points were diced for, and random events occurred during the first 6 actions in every turn. I had George Washington and a unit of Virginia provincials and was accompanied by a British unit and leader, along with a sutler and some mountain men carrying our meager supplies.

On our first table the French column showed up quickly and it was a race to stay ahead of them while also rounding up stray, leaderless units of British troops that showed up. AND, trying to barter with a couple traders or settlers we encountered. A bit of role-play interaction took place in each of those encounters. Peter’s son Pete ran our table and was into character. he gave us a run for our money. Literally. One settler agreed to sell us supplies for £30. After money changed hands, she came out of her cabin with a loaf of bread. needless to say, she ended up in the supply wagon as trade fodder for any hostiles we encountered! £30 for a loaf of bread….

We made it off the table with bare moments to spare. Only to encounter a thick forest table that severely limited visibility and movement. We unwisely split out column in an effort to stay ahead of the French, which led to us being ambushed all over the place… More poor interactions with roaming traders left us flustered and low on supplies. We finally secured enough to carry us through the game, but never actually made it off the table. the other team made it across 2 open tables, but just barely. So the time limit was a bit off for making 4 tables in the planned time. Nonetheless we had a cracking good time. The frustration of fighting in dense forest, the hazard of the pursuing French, the hostile settlers and natives, all of led to a great game.

Being that there were only 5 players, Peter had prizes for all, and I secured this:

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I’ll never turn down scenario books!

At the end, the convention was as good as I wanted, even though it would have been better with my son. The 7 games I got in were all fun. The people I met, or ran into from years previous were so nice to game with. This year I met three people from my home state, and it looks like I found a monthly game of Wings of Glory to get involved with. So, another win for me! I haven’t had a bad convention yet, and I wish I had time and money to attend all three of HMGS’s big conventions so I could triple up my fun.

I didn’t fail in the shopping either. Well, unless you consider I had no planned budget and went a little crazy. I didn’t buy much that wasn’t on my gaming purchase plan, unlike the last two years. The only additions were two rules sets to possibly use as a replacement for Warhammer Fantasy. A pic is worth a 1,000 words right?  Here is my haul for the vendor hall.

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The haul? SAGA version 2 rules and the Age of Vikings supplement, along with card counters for SAGA and mounted priests, Viking bow levy and more wire spears. Lion Rampant and Dragon Rampant rules. Dice. Scenery supplies. Some Warlord pikemen for my WFB Empire army. Triumph! move tools. And some Dacians to start a third faction for Triumph! Not a bad trip to the vendors.

All in all, Fall In! 2018 was fantastic. The games were great. The tables were so amazing. The people were friendly and helpful. HMGS pulled off another successful convention despite the issues with the Host. Kudos to everyone involved. I’ll end with a set of random pics of other tables and games from the convention. Enjoy!

Forgotten Heroes- Finished!

June ended up being a bit busier than I expected. And my hunt for a suitable model to represent a Jack Russel Terrier took a bit longer than I hoped. So, despite jumping the gun before June arrived, I just finished modeling and painting my two models on Thursday, the 28th.

From the beginning my plan was to model and paint Jake Cutter and his best pal Jack from the TV show Tales of the Gold Monkey. Jake the pilot was oft depicted in a Flying Tigers leather jacket. And wouldn’t you know, I found a model in a Flying Tigers jacket. Or a least a jacket with a modeled area on the back to paint the blood chit.

The before:

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This model is wearing trousers and shoes. And his hat is bit spiffy and new. Plus, there is no dog in sight. Alas, I failed to take a picture of the pre-Jack the dog model. Here is the pic from Sally 4th’s site, where i ordered him form:

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Funny thing… I ordered these from Sally 4th. I’m pretty sure Pulp Alley is in the U.S. Unnecessary international postage anyone?

Anyways, the little guy sitting down seemed like a suitable Jack.

Here is the after pics:

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And the two pals together:

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I shaved and sanded Jake’s trousers into boots. Then I shaped his cap by shaving and sanding it to flatten the cap some, and added the floppy sides of a well-used pilot’s cap. It doesn’t show well in my crummy photos, but it looks floppy up close.

Jack just need his ears sanded a bit pointier and his famous eye patch added.

Once the sculpting, the little i could manage, was done, they were painted in my usual way. Primed grey. Painted using Vallejo Model and Game colors. Army Painter Soft Tone wash was applied. A few highlights were brought back up after the wash on Jake. Jack looked fine to me.

And complete!  My first Forgotten Heroes Challenge. I appreciate the invitation from Jez and Roger. This was a fun way to stretch and add a couple minis I might never have built and painted. I think Jake and Jack might have escaped the Japanese advance in the Pacific in time to fly for the OSS in Europe. Now to find a 1:56 scale Grumman Goose…

BG out!