Battle at the Crossroads 2013

Apparently I’m about a month behind on posting event reports.

This year’s Battle at the Crossroads was on February 22nd. There were only 6 players for DBA, so instead of running a pyramid event, we ran a normal 3-round tournament, and ended with a 3-on-3 game “for fun” with the top two players as C-in-C of each side.  The games were played with DBA using the 2.2+ extensions, and I had a new set of MU sticks made for the occasion.

3-on-3 Battle at the Crossroads; John Loy and Larry Chaban.

I won my first two games, against Daryl and then John Loy.  In the last round of standard play, Larry finally broke his 2-year losing streak against me, and beat me.  I’m officially no longer his nemesis.  Sooner or later he’s going to have to find JM and beat him, since apparently Larry has never beaten him…

For the final 3-on-3 game, Larry and I were commanders-in-chief. My allies were the two players Larry beat: Mike Kaizar and Bob.  Larry commanded John Loy and Daryl.

Everything was going well overall, but then Mike’s command broke on our right flank.  Soon after that, Daryl’s command broke opposite Mike.  Unfortunately, Bob broke before we could break the enemy, and it was all downhill from there.

The army selection was fun this year, with a biblical theme.  The games were over quickly due to the low combat factors, which allowed us to fit in 3 single games and the triple game, and still get home at a reasonable hour.

This was a good event, but we need more players!  What happened to the days of bringing 4 or more players from Pittsburgh?

Malifaux: Terrain

We finally made time to play another game of Malifaux.  Frank, Andy, JM, and I played two games side-by-side on a 4×6′ board set up with terrain set up for two adjacent 3×3′ boards.  This was a good showcase for my Malifaux terrain, so I took some pictures.

A Ronin attacked by mechanical spiders in the woods

Frank played his Viktoria crew against my arachnid-heavy Ramos crew.  Andy’s Colette box set tried to fend off JM’s Freikorps.  Frank crushed me utterly in 4 turns, while JM destroyed Andy’s dancers in 6 turns.

After trying and failing to enjoy the Terraclips terrain, we’ve fallen back to using area terrain pieces on a Terrainguy map.

The terrain here is an amalgam of pieces from a variety of sources that I’ve collected over the last decade or so.

Malifaux terrain: city and outskirts

Some of the buildings are Mordheim terrain from the box set. Others are completely scratch built and hand painted by Frank.  Some are made from inkjet printed walls glued to foam core. The hobo village around the swamp is plastic O scale railroad terrain.

The grave stones and piles of skulls are from Michael’s craft store during Halloween season.  The graveyard was scratch built by Frank.  There are railroad trees, cast resin stumps, and strips of cloth for roads.  The barrels were store bought pre-painted terrain.

Colette versus the Freikorps in the streets of Malifaux

I scratch built the swamps and rough ground area for dual use with DBA and Malifaux.  They’re made of thin plastic with rocky sand glued on, followed by paint and flock.  The water areas are done with glossy varnish slopped on over the paint.

Frank scratch built the board fences for Warhammer Fantasy, and I built the stone walls using Hirst Arts plaster molds.

Overall, I like the way this terrain looks, works, and stores better than Terraclips.  I could see adding a few standalone Terraclip buildings to this kind of game board, but I don’t think I’ll be trying to lay out an entire board of Terraclips terrain again any time soon.

Playing Malifaux reminded us all how much we enjoy the game, and we plan to play again soon.  Unfortunately the game seems to be changing faster than we can keep up with, since we don’t play regularly.  Luckily it’s still enjoyable with older models.

Fall-In 2012

Last weekend was Fall In! in Lancaster, PA.  I drove out with Rich and Larry as usual, but unfortunately JM couldn’t attend this time.

Fall In 2012: Maureen Reddington-Wilde
playing Gauls in the Warbandia event.

This was an unusual convention for me.  For the entire weekend, I didn’t use any army that fought after 50AD, but my chosen army dates were even earlier: no later than about 250BC.

Thursday

Thursday night, Larry ran Warbandia. Eligible armies need at least 6 warbands, and I didn’t have many choices.  I brought my Celtiberians, since I painted them fairly recently. In the first game, I beat Maureen Reddington-Wilde and her Gauls 4-0.  The second game against Mike Guth’s Visigoths was worthy of an epic poem, but unfortunately I’m no poet, so all it gets is a compound sentence.  In one turn both of our generals were killed, tying the game at 3g-3g; but unfortunately it was Mike’s turn next,  and he was able to kill one of my elements without me killing any of his, so he won 4g-3g.  In the final round, I lost to Paul Georgian and his gauls, 0-4g.

Friday

The Stooges telling us we did it wrong.

Friday was BBDBA doubles.  Since JM wasn’t around, I found an alternate partner: Chris Brantley.  We played triple Hittites, the later list with heavy chariots instead of all light chariots.

Our first matchup was against the Stooges and their Patrician Romans (East). We were doing okay for a while, but then we started rolling combat dice. Chris’s command lost 3 chariots in one bound, punching a big hole in the center of our line.  We were able to regain some ground, but not enough; we lost 6-94 after our C-in-C command broke.  We made a few mistakes in the center, such as missing an opportunity to close the door on the enemy’s general.

Bill Brown and Will Michael run forward with their pikes.

In the second round, we faced Will Michael and Bill Brown with their Scots Common army.  This was the most interesting Pike army I’ve ever faced, mainly because they decided to split their pike into each command and use it on the attack rather than holding it back and using it as a huge static defense.  They deployed away from their camp, which pulled us into their trap.  We deployed heavily in front of their camp, to encourage them to deploy their third command there to defend it.  Unfortunately, our C-in-C wasn’t on that side of the board, so they smartly decided to give up their camp, and concentrate all their forces on our C-in-C.  We won their camp, but we weren’t fast enough to kill 4 more elements in their C-in-C command before they broke ours and won the game.  It ended 14-86 in their favor.

Unfortunately, for the Nth time in a row there were 9 teams for BBDBA, which is just the completely wrong number to have.  In the third round we got a bye, which just sucks.  I’m there to play, not to win a free 80 points without playing a game.  I had a good time playing in the other two games, and I’m not sorry we lost.

In the evening, Chris Brantley ran Ars Militaria: a Book II event using double blind deployment.  This ended up being very interesting, but it’s not how I’d prefer to play DBA every time.

David Kuijt built stands to hold curtain-like screens across the center of the board.  After placing terrain and choosing our board edges, the curtain was put into place and we each deployed our armies based on knowing only the terrain and not the enemy’s deployment.

I brought Later Achaemenid Persians.  In the first round I lost to Dave Schlanger and his Early Gordyenes.  In the second round I beat Alex Bostwick’s Seleucids despite his attempt to force-push the terrain when I wasn’t looking.  In the last round, David Kuijt beat me with Greco-Bactrians.

The blind deployment worked fairly well without any cheesy moves taking place.  Nobody had time to find any obvious ways to break things, and the armies were matched well enough that there weren’t any problems.

However, I do think the screens affected the metagame and deployment choices somewhat.  Maneuver is more important if you aren’t sure where your enemy is going to be, which affects both army selection and deployment.

Saturday

On Saturday morning, I ran DBA Matched Pairs.  As at Historicon, we only had 15mm armies show up, which was a good thing, because the 25mm boards weren’t available yet this time either.  We had some inexperienced players joining in, so we took our time to teach them well and only got 3 rounds in before time ran out.

In the afternoon, I played in the Two Davids sci-fi event, 61 Cygni: Blood, Dirt, Plasma-bolts.  This event use a ruleset inspired by HOTT, written by David Kuijt with the goal of implementing Mechwarrior/Battletech themed battles a bit better than HOTT manages.  There were 8 players on a huge board, the map of Rio de Janeiro that they used for Monsterpocalypse HOTT at Historicon.

The main problem with using HOTT for large scale sci-fi battles is that the guns are huge, but the HOTT shooting ranges are tiny to nonexistent.  David’s rules implement direct and indirect ranged fire at much more plausible ranges, while maintaining most of the feel and rules of HOTT under the surface.  Overall, the rules worked fairly well; but I think they need a bit more polish to really handle the feel of Mech battles effectively.

Unfortunately I didn’t get any pictures of this visually impressive event.

David Mitchell’s Skythians kicked butt.

On Saturday night was the Two Davids campaign event: Death To Assyrian Oppression!  This event pitted a half dozen Neo-Assyrian Later Sargonid armies against a gamut of historical enemies.  I played Skythians.

My 5 rounds:

  • Dave Schlanger attacked, I lost and lost my general.
  • Rich Gause attacked, and I lost
  • Jack Sheriff attacked, and I lost; but I killed his general.
  • I attacked David Mitchell and his Skythians, and lost again.
  • Maureen Reddington-Wilde attacked with her Skythians, and I beat her.

I ended up with only 2 points, but at least it wasn’t negative!  In other news, Alex Bostwick was taken over 6 times in 5 rounds (with one suck-up tile) and came in last place with -1.

Thanks to everyone for another great convention!  I hope to see you at Cold Wars 2013.

DBA Army III/62b: Early Polish

I painted this Early Polish army to be an ally of Early Russians in BBDBA.  Unfortunately, JM didn’t make it to Fall-In, so we haven’t had a chance to use it yet.

DBA army III/62b: Early Polish; Essex miniatures.

The figures are all Essex Miniatures except for the sword-wielding knights with crests, and the musician; those are Black Hat (Gladiator), I believe.  This was not an army pack; JM chose all the Essex figures during the early part of the Wargames Miniatures Essex clearance sale.

For the heraldry, I spent a lot of time perusing a wonderful Polish heraldry web site.  I especially like this easily browsable scan of a Polish heraldry catalog.

Although there are a lot of wonderful designs there, I like to tie the look of my army together so it’s not too garish.  I decided to divide the army into three houses, each with an element of knight, bow, and spear.  The remaining elements used red highlights but otherwise didn’t use any specific heraldry

I had to make an attempt at the Polish national Dr. Seuss birds.  Fo the others, I chose designs primarily for the way they looked, without any consideration for when they were used historically.  I tried to choose designs different from designs I might use on my Serbian, Hungarian or other Eastern European armies. I left the red caparisons plain, but mirrored the triple rose heraldry on the blue caparisons.

This army painted up fairly quickly since it doesn’t have any optional elements.  I’m not sure when I’ll use it.  Lately, every army I paint up has been used less and less.  I almost need to have a specific event to paint for, in order to ensure that every new army is used in at least 3 games.

HOTT: Red vs. Blue part II

HOTT: Mechwarrior Red army.

 So, I was playing in Hordes of the Things matched pairs with my Red vs. Blue armies, and David Schlanger got another chance to see them once they were based up.  It just so happened that the flea market was open at that time… and that one of the vendors had a large stock of Mechwarrior figures available for sale.

Dave visited the flea market, and shortly came back to show off his purchase.  “Look, I got an entire army for only $17!  You should get some more foot bases, they’re only 4 for $1!”  And so it begins: Tag Team Enabling.

After my game was finished, I went to the flea market and ended up with an entire army, instead of only a few more bases.  During the next game, Dave came back to show off his second complete army.

At that point, we had to drag David Kuijt into the mix if we were going to keep up our momentum.  Unfortunately, it turned out we had already bought all 5 main factions.  The solution was obvious: I sold my new army to David.   Then, he and I both bought more figures for our own armies.

HOTT: Mechwarrior Blue army.

By the time the flea market was about to close, we had bought enough figures that the vendor started giving us mechs for free.

In the end, I now have over 48 points of both Red and Blue.  There are still a few more figures I’d like to pick up: an airboat for the Blue army, and a few more aerial or anti-aerial units for Red.  But I can find those from Internet sources without too much difficulty.

We’re keeping track of our HOTT troop classifications on a wiki page.  We’ll update it as we discuss possible changes.

A summary of basing conventions: All vehicles are mounted, and infantry are foot.  Tanks are knights; mechs can be behemoths, heroes, aerial heroes, or magicians as appropriate. Untracked vehicles are typically Riders, and ground based large guns are Shooters.  Foot is either Blade or Warband.

I’m already enjoying teaching HOTT to Ezra as well as a friend and his son.  For teaching a young player, I’ve limited element selection to only mounted elements to start with.  Behemoths, Knights, Riders, and Heroes provide sufficiently interesting troop interactions.  Since they’re all mounted, it’s a lot easier to remember all of the troop factors.  As Ezra improves his abilities, I’ll introduce more troop types.

I expect we’ll see some Mechwarrior HOTT events at a future HMGS convention.  In the mean time, I enjoy the opportunity to play more games with a new generation of opponents.

DBA Army II/39b: Ancient Spanish Celtiberians

On my family vacation in New Hampshire over Fourth of July week, I brought a painting project: DBA army II/39b, Ancient Spanish Celtiberians.  Thanks for trading me this army, Jeff!   I needed it for the Two Davids campaign theme at Historicon, for the Punic Wars theme.

Corvus Belli Celtiberians: 3Cv(gen), 2LH.

These are all Corvus Belli figures.  The pack I got from Jeff Franz came with only round shields.  I didn’t think this was appropriate, so I ordered a pack of oval Spanish shields. Unfortunately they didn’t arrive before I left town, so all of these figures were painted without shields while I was on vacation, and then the shields were added and painted after the fact.

Corvus Belli Celtiberians: 6x3Ax,
or Raiders in the campaign.

Corvus Belli Celtiberians: 4x2Ps, 1 camp follower.

The figures are painted with simple flat colors, followed by a wash of Army Painter Strong Tone over the entire army.  This is quick and effective, and when your army’s shields are its focal point, you don’t need much more anyway.

The shields were primed black and then their patterns were painted, preserving enough of the black primer to define lines between the shield segments.  Also simple, but effective.

Unfortunately, during the campaign, the army was utterly slaughtered 4 games in a row.  It was a fun army to play, but rolling 1’s doesn’t get you very far.

HOTT: Red vs. Blue, part I

HOTT Mechwarrior: Foot based as hordes, obsolete.

At Cold Wars 2012, I purchased enough prepainted Mechwarrior miniatures to build a matched pair of HOTT armies: Red vs. Blue.  I based them up for HOTT Matched Pairs at Historicon, using 25mm basing.

Initially, I based all foot as Hordes.  After discussion with the Davids, we’ve decided this isn’t the best troop categorization, so I rebased everything.  Here are images of a few of the bases before I ripped the figures up and started over.

HOTT Mechwarrior: Knights are now on square bases.

At HOTT Matched Pairs, I took this matched pair:

Red:

  • Tanks: 3xKnight (gen)
  • Mechs: 3xBehemoth
  • Helicopter: 1xFlyer
  • Foot: 2xShooter
Blue:
  • Mechs: 2xBehemoth (gen)
  • Tanks: 2xKnight
  • GEVs: 3xRider
  • Helicopters: 2xFlyer
  • Mech: 1xSpear
HOTT Mechwarrior: Knights are now on square bases.

In three games, we used these armies twice.  Both times, my opponent chose Red, and I ended up with Blue.

With these compositions, Red looks like it should be able to gain air superiority, due to its shooters and flyers outnumbering Blue’s flyers. In practice, this didn’t happen.  In both games, the Red general put their shooters together, and I was able to attack somewhere else with my Flyers. I was able to destroy the enemy Flyer and avoid their shooters.
I won both games, and also the third, taking first place in the HOTT matched pairs tournament.

DBA Army I/2a: Early Egyptians

Apparently it has been a while since I posted last. I finished my Early Egyptian army shortly after my previous post, but haven’t had a chance to get pictures up until now.

DBA Army I/2a: Early Egyptians.  Essex Miniatures.
Early Egyptian horde and Pharoah. Essex Miniatures.

As seen in my previous installment, the archers were all painted identically, and different ink washes were applied for comparison purposes.  Everything else was flat-painted with Army Painter strong tone dip applied.  This provides a passable look for the army without a lot of effort, which is just about right for my current level of painting inspiration (low).

Early Egyptian blades and raiders. Essex Miniatures.

Nobody makes an Early/Middle Kingdom Egyptian Pharoah on a litter in 15mm, as far as I can tell.  So I had to settle with the 4Bd option instead.  I used the Pharoah on Mule figure from Essex, but I had to use a deeper base to fit everything.

I used a different basing technique than I’ve used in the past for dry armies.  This time I painted the laser-cut masonite bases with sand colored paint, glued sandbox sand directly to the base, and left it unpainted.  It gives a “good enough” look without as much effort as painting and drybrushing the sand as I have with some other armies.

There isn’t much else interesting to say about this army, so I’ll just let the pictures speak for themselves.

Early Egyptian Archers. Essex Miniatures.

Early Egyptian psiloi. Essex Miniatures.

Ink Wash Comparison

Devlan Mud is Dead! Long Live Devlan Mud!

Games Workshop’s Devlan Mud wash has been a commonly used weapon in my painting arsenal since I got back into painting miniatures 3 years ago.  It works well straight out of the bottle, and produces reasonable results in areas where I’m not that interested in painting in highlights and shadows, but when I also don’t want to dip the whole figure.

Unfortuantely, Devlan Mud is no longer available, since Games Workshop recently completely revamped their paint line.  When I was at Legions for Stoogecon, I picked up 3 possible replacements to try out:

  • Games Workshop’s Agrax Earthshade wash, which seems to be their replacement for Devlan Mud
  • Army Painter Dark Tone Ink (not the Quickshade dip)
  • Reaper Master Series Paints Brown Wash

I meant to get Army Painter’s Strong Tone Ink for a better direct comparison with the Quickshade.  Oops! That will have to wait for now.

I was painting a DBA Early Egyptian army, so on one stick of archers, I painted all of the figures identically but applied different washes to each.  On another stick, I used Army Painter Strong Tone Quickshade.  These figures are almost entirely flesh and white.  I liked this for comparison purposes because white is notoriously difficult to shade well, and it doesn’t disguise the color of the ink wash at all.

I also used these inks and washes that I had on hand for more comparison:

  • Didi’s Magic Ink, Brown
  • Games Workshop Gryphone Sepia wash
  • Games Workshop Ogryn Flesh wash
  • An old Reaper flesh ink with water added

Here is a comparison shot detailing the results.

Ink Wasy Comparison: Essex Early Egyptians. Army Painter Strong Quickshade on top, washes below.

And here are the results, left to right.

First, a comparison between Devlan Mud and Agrax Earthshade.  I think Devlan Mud is a bit less red/orange than Agrax Earthshade, but they’re both very neutral.  My Devlan Mud was old, and probably doesn’t work as well as it did when it was new, but the Agrax is doing a better job of staying in the cracks and not coloring the high spots and flat surfaces as much.  As seen on the red feathers, the overall tone of the Agrax-shaded figure is lighter than the Devlan-shaded figure.

Agrax Earthshade is also a much better direct replacement for the Army Painter Strong Tone Quickshade dip.  Overall, if it were my only choice, I’d be happy to replace Devlan Mud with Agrax.

Unfortunately, some of Devlan Mud’s flaws are still apparent in Agrax Earthshade.  It still smells like a combination of distilled bong water and moldy coffee grounds.  It’s still really expensive and comes in tiny bottles that let the liquid evaporate too much.  I’ve also found that all of the GW washes behave badly if they either dry out, or if you add water or just about anything else to them to thin them out.  This shortens their effective shelf life even further.

The new bottles prevent your local store’s in-house painters from using the wash and then putting it back on the shelf, but I didn’t find the new “keep your lid open” feature any better than their previous attempt several bottle designs ago.

Army Painter’s Dark Tone Ink seems to work as well as their Quickshade does, but I bought the wrong color so I can’t effectively compare colors with the Agrax.

The Reaper Brown Wash seems closer to the old Reaper inks than to GW’s washes.  It looks more opaque in the bottle, and doesn’t stay in the cracks as well as the other modern Wash products do.

I’ve been using Didi’s Magic Ink for almost as long as the GW washes. It has two major benefits over the GW products: it comes in much larger, less expensive dropper bottles, and it smells nice.  Brown is a very good direct replacement for GW’s Gryphone Sepia, but it’s too light to replace Devlan/Agrax.  Didi’s ink is much thinner than the GW washes, more of the consistency of water.  It stays in the cracks well, but it is hard to get it to darken things as much as you might like to.

Games Workshop’s Gryphone Sepia and Ogryn Flesh wash are also no longer available in GW’s new paint line.  They work just like Devlan Mud and Agrax Earthshade, but they’re different colors.  I would be interested in testing their new replacement versions, but I haven’t had a chance to do this yet, and I might not since I don’t run out of these colors as quickly.

The old Reaper Flesh Ink is not a modern wash.  My bottle is probably about 10 years old, and may not be available anymore, I’m not sure.  It requires thinning with water and your favorite additives to flow properly and fill in the cracks.  Here, I applied it using only water to thin it out, and it worked fairly well.  However, at this point I wouldn’t bother using this product unless I was doing something like airbrushing.

Overall, Agrax Earthshade is the clear winner of this exercise, with one caveat.  If Army Painter Strong Tone Ink works as well as the Dark Tone, I would probably prefer it due to its superior dropper bottle and price point.

I hope this helps someone else in the market for a replacement for their precious supply of Devlan Mud.  In the future, I’ll try to do some more comparisons including Army Painter Strong Tone, as well as various black/almost-black washes.

Tournament Report: Stoogecon 2012

Stoogecon was last month, but I haven’t found time to post a report until now.  I didn’t bring my camera this year, so I only have results and no pictures.

The first event was a DBA 2.2 Open tournament, with 8 players.  I brought my Italian Condotta, IV/61.  I plan to use it at the NICT at Historicon, but I had never used it in straight 2.2, so I thought I’d give it a try.  Overall, I really enjoy playing this army a lot more than I think I ought to.

In the first round, I faced Mike Naughton, who fielded the only other Medieval knight army in the tournament: Teutonic Orders (IV/30).  I beat him 2G-1.

The second game was a tight contest against Jim Naughton’s Middle Imperial Romans (East).  I ended up losing 3-4 after we each had several opportunities to break the 3-3 stalemate with a good combat roll.  This was the first loss for my previously undefeated Condotta.

In the last round, I faced Rob Torres and his Later Pre-Islamic Arabs.  I beat him 4-2.

Jim Naughton won the tournament with no losses.

The second event was Matched Pairs, using the February 14th DBA 2.2+ Beta rules.  We hoped to play 4 rounds, but unfortunately some players dropped out to play DBM, so we only ended up with 6 players and 3 rounds.

Just like last year, I brought Later Achaemenid Persians with the Auxilia and Psiloi options, and Early Bedouin.  After last year’s experience with these armies, I decided the pair wasn’t actually very well matched.  However, I think DBA 2.2+ has improved the matchup in several ways.

In 2.2, the Bedouin camels suffered against the Persian foot, but was a bit better against its cavalry.  Their ability to play in the dunes was minimized by their high aggression, and not very useful because of the camel’s deficit against enemy foot.

In 2.2+, Camels are now 3/2 and don’t recoil against Cavalry (but quick-flee them).  This gives them at least even odds against Persian Auxilia, and works fairly well against enemy Cavalry.  Also, the Bedouin’s greater number of Psiloi benefit from 2.2+’s Psiloi group move through bad going.

Overall, I expected the matchup to be much closer than it was in 2.2.  In practice, I only really played one game with this army, and it didn’t provide any corroborating evidence.

In the first round, I faced Mike Naughton again, using a Matched Pair I’ve seen him play before: Scots Irish versus Picts.  I chose the Picts with their new Light Spears, and lost 3-4.  Mike went on to win the tournament.

Next, Frank Popecki chose to use my Persians against my Bedouins.  He beat me 1G-0 in the first few turns of combat, so we decided to play it out for fun.  In the rest of the play through, he beat me 4-1.  So, score one more for Persians against my Bedouins.  I won’t believe the Persians are truly better in this matchup for several more games.  With this many low-factor troops, a few winning combats early on can cascade into a quick win.

In the final round, I fought Rob Torres again.  I chose his Palmyrians, with lots of Cataphracts, against his Later Pre-Islamic Arabs.  I beat him 4-0.  I remember really liking the look of the Palmyrians and enjoying playing with Cataphracts.  Since I don’t have a Cataphract army yet, I may have to look into picking up the figures for these guys.

Over the course of the day I won as many games as I lost, which is pretty good for me across multiple events.  More importantly, I enjoyed playing DBA.  I still prefer 2.2+ over 2.2, which is good since it’s the future.