Thursday, August 15, 2013

Happy Birthday Blog

Hey all!

Sorry for the eerie quiet around this place during the last few weeks. I´ve been off to holiday (technically, still am, but returning tomorrow) and didn´t have much opportunity or reason to update the blog. However, noticing that it is the middle of August already, I´ve realized that my Blog has now been around for more than a year - so, time to say happy birthday with this entry, even though I´m late. I guess the blog won´t mind.

So, time to recap - what´s happened during the last year and what lies ahead?
If you look back to my very first entries, you´ll notice that I started my comeback into the world of wargaming with very limited means, focusing on a playable playing field, ready to add the eye-candy later. I had to paint a lot of figures to start off at all, and almost no time and budget for terrain, so that part looked utterly terrible:

Terrain, a year ago...

I´ve since managed to upgrade the most crucial parts, though I´m still in need of a proper desert-mat to play...

...and Terrain today
Yeah, things look decent now ;)

I´ve also painted a lot more minis, adding to my arsenal of available figures for Afghanistan, and some more for urban operations, with metropolitan insurgents. The campaign system is still work in progress and some things didn´t work out as planned. We had a long break, and we´re in a long break again with stuff in need to be implemented. Once the most important mechanisms are implemented and tested, we´ll probably restart the campaign to start from a clean sheet and look if there´s need for more adjustments.
For those interested: We need to rework Unit depletion (what happens to units who suffer from too many losses in combat), develop a suitable scenario generator (what we have right now is basic and has caused some trouble), we need to adress supply issues and finish implementing our Fog of War-mechanism.

Furthermore, I stumbled upon an opportunity to purchase some African soldiers, which lead to my little Christmas Calendar, with one Mini painted per day. The troops where supposed to be a present for my best friend, who has tasked me to store and use them until he is ready with his own little project. As he is still lagging behind, I still administer his Africans and use them once in a while as ANA/ANP-Proxies and to play an African Scenario once in a while...

After Christmas, where I got the Fallujah-supplement for FoF, things took a strange turn...
My original intention was to build up an urban insurgency and additional US troops to play some Fallujah-esque scenarios, using some heavier vehicles and more irregular troops (as in FoF-irregularity). However, due to the limited set of available poses, I decided to convert some of them to add some diversity. For this, I ordered some sculpting putty and started experimenting with it, which lead to me experimenting with the putty, building my own stuff - I said to myself: Hey, if you can paint stuff, why can´t you sculpt stuff?
Quite happy with the first results and encouraged by the positive feedback on the forums and this blog, I delved deeper into this matter, bought better tools and spent more time pursuing this part of the hobby... which caused my to drift away from the Urban Insurgency I had originally planned for this year. But that´s the way of things, you never know where your next steps take you ;)

Speaking of drifting away...  This blog still carries the name "Rifles and Muskets" - well, the rifles part is well covered, but if you followed from the start, you might have noticed that the original intention was to built up a renaissance army in parallel. There are two distinct reasons why I didn´t proceed much:
1.) I focused on the modern stuff
2.) I moved to my new place last fall and have been playing with our local club, which has a group very dedicated to playing Field of Glory-Renaissance, who have a collection of stuff to bring and play - which means I get to play renaissance stuff once a month without the need of building up my own collection. Instead, I´ve used my time and money to built up on the modern part of the blog.

That covers pretty much what has happened during the last year, as I spent most of this year commited to sculpting, trying to improve my skill there.

So, what´s ahead from that point? I´ve sent off my first few sculpts to be cast before going into holiday and the casts should be waiting for me at home when I come back tomorrow. My plan is to paint some of them very soon and post some pics of the final looks for you. I will also continue working on sculpting some new minis, using the supplies that will arrive with the cast stuff (you´ll see very soon...)

 I´ll probably also take a look on Chain of Command, as I´m becoming more critical regarding Force on Force the more I read and research about the nature of modern combat. You somehow notice that FoF was designed with Actions like those in Black Hawk Down (Ambush Alley), with lots of absolutely incapable insurgents pitted against first rate troops in very very close quarters. From this basis, the rest of the system was developed, leading to some distortions that I´ve grown to dislike. FoF lacks a proper suppression mechanic to depict the nature of firefights in better cover or over longer distance. The rules on suppressive fire are not thought through and the tendency to explain things away with the system being "outcome oriented" and abstracted are not helpful either - Using FoF in a symmetric engagement usually leads to way more casualties by infantry fire than appropriate, which reduces the need for realistic use of tactics. Also, the defense mechanic is skewed in favour of larger units. I´ve been on the fence on this matter for a long time, but it is true that larger troops pack a lot more punch combined with a larger resilience that make them much harder to kill than smaller units. It also leads to some strange situations where airstrikes are more deadly against two small (dispersed) units than one large combined mass.
 Initiative is determined in a very strange way and often has nothing to do with what happens on the tabletop - it´s determined not by the game, but used as an input factor that has dramatic outcome for the other elements of the game!
This does not necessarily mean that its a bad system or bad game, but I´ll probably be using it for more assymmetric engagements, the stuff it was designed for, while looking for alternatives for similar force size. Chain of Command is one of these alternatives and looks like it could be worth a try, even if its designed for WW2 and symmetric engagements, not so much for modern combat. However, as the principles are still the same as back then, an adaption for modern combat should be possible. I don´t know if I´ll dabble more into WW2 wargaming as a result of these rules or convert them straight away... we´ll see.

Think that´s it for now...

Cheers and happy birthday to my blog! ;)

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