Life is short, break the rules. Forgive quickly, kiss slowly. Love truly, laugh uncontrollably and never regret anything that makes you smile. - Samuel Longhorne Clemens (Mark Twain)

Monday, January 30, 2012

Wargaming? Are you some kind of warmonger?

I have at various times been accused of being a warmonger because I like to play wargames or perhaps more politically correct military simulations. I really think liking or disliking war itself has nothing to do with my enjoyment of playing these types of games. I don’t like war, I’m not a veteran, I have not had someone shoot at me. I don’t know what’s like to hear the scream of an artillery shell coming, followed by an explosion that rocks the ground around me. I may not agree with my government’s decision to go to war but I will always support the brave men and women who have volunteered to do just that when so commanded. None of that has anything to do playing wargames, whether it’s a board game or with miniatures.

I play because I like history, I like the challenge of seeing whether I can do better or something different that brings me a victory on our cloth covered fields of battle. There is no noise, there is no blood spilled, at the end of the game counters go back in the box or troops go back into their storage trays ready for my next foray into the desert of North Africa, the fields of France or the islands of the Pacific. Mostly it’s the history that I enjoy, researching uniforms and orders of battle. I like to dive deep, to discern the causes of a given conflict or action to give a bit more meaning to the actions I have chosen to recreate. I love to paint miniatures and the research that goes along with that. At times there is frustration with that kind of research like trying to get any information on the flags used by Denmark during their period of heavy involvement in the thirty years war (at which time I found out that the best information on Danish flags from that period was in Swedish museums). I can’t even count the numbers of troops I have painted over the course of 30 years but it has to be pushing close to 10,000 when I think about the armies that I have bought, painted, sold and started over again.

Although I have not served myself, I am a Marine Corps brat and probably spent more time in the base hospital at Camp Pendleton than your average Marine. My father was a Marine Corps Officer and I was but a signature away at one point of joining. My oldest son’s best friend is a Marine, my girlfriend’s oldest son is a Marine. I have friends and acquaintances that were in the Marines, the Army, the Navy and the Airforce (the one that served in a boomer is a little weird though ;-) ). A number of them served in Vietnam, Panama, the Gulf War, Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq. I have not lost a friend in combat though and I hope not to. I have three great uncles that served in WWII, one in the First Armored Division in North Africa and Italy. Another was in the 8th Air Force, 390th Heavy Bombardment Group flying into Germany in the nose of a B-17 as a bombardier. The youngest was in an infantry division in the Pacific and fought and died during the re-invasion of the Philippines. Obviously I only knew two of those uncles, but I have Uncle Stanley’s Wings and Uncle Donald’s purple heart. Those are things that remind me that what I do is just a game and will never be more than a game. I fully appreciate that at times real people have to put their lives on the line so that I can continue to do what I do. I’m pretty sure that does not make me a warmonger.

Friday, January 27, 2012

New Book! - "F.A.Q. 2"

Mig Jimenez's newest book found its way to my door yesterday! Fortunately it is the English version so I can read it. I haven't actually read it yet, but I have flipped through it and looked at all the pretty pictures, stunning! There are a lot of new techniques and variations on old techniques and I'm pretty excited by trying to make some of this stuff work on my 15mm tanks. Not everything translates well from the bigger scales down but I should be able to make enough of it work to improve the looks of all my armor. I think I'm going to strip down a unit of my DAK force just to try them out (not the Pz IIIs, I'm thinking a platoon of my Aufklarungs that are mounted in 7 SdKfz 250/1). I would really like to get my hands on F.A.Q.1 but those just go for outrageous sums on eBay right now. Oh, and the cool bit. I guess because I pre-ordered mine (and long enough ago that I couldn't figure out why I had received a package from AK Interactive) my copy is signed. This is going to go along just great with my copy of "Imperial Armour Model Masterclass Vol 1" (will there ever be a Vol 2?).
I found a really good review of the book over at Armorama: FAQ 2 Review

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Genghis Con XXXIII Painting Competitions

One of my convention activities at Genghis Con is coordinating the Painting Conference and Competition. Through a bit of mis-communication an old version of the event went into the program. So I figured I would at least get the record straight on one place. The CMPA is actually running two competitions but you only need to enter once and qualifying entries will be considered for the appropriate awards in both.

First is our standard medal competition. In this five judges review your entries in a category. They decide which piece they consider to be the best (so if you enter 3 figures in Single Historical/Modern only one will be judged, if you also enter a miniature in another category then it would be considered for that category) and then it will be scored from 0-4 by edge judge. We throw out the high and the low score and add the other three to determine what medal you will get; Gold, Silver or Bronze, or didn't place. This allows us to reward all the entries not just the top three. This is done for each category. Then using a trophy judging style the best miniature is selected from each category and from there a Best of Show is determined.

The second competition is exclusively for 15mm WWII miniatures and is called the Silver Star. Similar to Battlefront's Iron Cross but you can enter miniatures by any manufacturer.

There is a third competition being handled by LEG just for armies. Minimum of 30 "stands" and six "units" will get you into this competition. You must enter this separately though and it is being held in a different room.

Here are your categories for the main competition:

Fantasy Single Figure
Science Fiction Single Figure
Historical/Modern Single Figure
Machine of War
Large Figure/Large Monster (54mm+, includes busts)
Vehicle Unit
Non-Vehicle Unit
Juniors (Under 16)
Masterclass (painters that have won previous Best of Show awards)

The Big Awards
Best Competition (awarded to the best non-masterclass miniature, may also win Best in Show)
Best Mongol Miniature Theme (may also win Best in Show)
Best of Show

The Silver Star 15mm WWII competition
Best Tank
Best Objective Marker
Best Gun Team/Stand
Best Infantry Team/Stand
Best Platoon (vehicle, artillery, or infantry, minimum three vehicles or stands)
Best Hero

The Big Award
Best of Show 15mm WWII

WWI US Marines - Painting Sessions 4 & 5

I worked at home last night on these Marines and they traveled with me to Troll Country Games tonight. I painted while the rest of the group played Flames of War (Finns vs Americans). These are getting close to being done, just some small details to pick out and then the inevitable touch ups. I discovered that I'm out of the style of bases that I want to use so I'm going to have to order some tomorrow. That will probably set me back a bit on getting to that ready to play with toy soldiers point. So here is a group shot and the rest are in the WWI gallery (which is getting quite full at this point).

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

"Fix Bayonets!" - John William Thomason

A career Marine who started off as a second lieutenant in WWI, Thomason used his own experiences in Europe and China to really bring this collection of short stories to life. It was a great escape after reading all the hard core non-fiction that has occupied my time lately. Despite being written over 80 years ago this book still stands up to anything being written today. Filled with Thomason’s own fantastic illustrations, this is one of those books I had a hard time putting down. It is going to be one of those books that I read over and over again. You really can’t go wrong with this one. I’m not sure if there is an addition still in print but I had no problem finding a used copy.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

"Fortifications of the Western Front 1914-1918" - Paddy Griffith

I just finished reading my newly arrived copy of “Fortifications of the Western Front 1914-1918” by Osprey, part of their Fortress series. This one got into the detail I was really looking for as far as how and why trenches were constructed and what their role on the battlefield was during this period. Well written and with pictures, original diagrams and drawings this one will give me a good start on building trench terrain for my foray into the Great War period. If you are giving thought on building a trench system for any period from WWI up this is an excellent resource.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The League of Extraordinary Gamers and Genghis Con XXXIII

Genghis Con will take place February 16th – 19th at the Red Lion Hotel in Aurora Colorado. This convention is run by the Denver Gamers Association (DGA) a not-for-profit group established in 1978 to host game conventions in the Denver Metro area. Genghis Con is the oldest of the two conventions, the other being Tacticon which was established in 1987. Genghis Con attracts 1600 – 1700 individual gamers over Presidents’ Day  weekend, Tacticon attracts 800 – 900 individual gamers over the Labor Day weekend. You can find the DGA website here: Genghis Con
LEG members will be running 8 separate events this year and we are looking forward to a fine turnout of folks. Here are the games that we are running for this convention:

3018 Tyrant’s End Game – GW Man ‘o War hosted by Ian Darley
Saturday 2pm – 6pm

4001 Here Kitty, Kitty – Street Pigs Historical (Homebrew) by Bill Kehrman
Friday 7pm – 11pm

4005 Dark Age Siege – Modified The Sword and The Flame by Jeff Kohnke and John Rames
Sun 9am – 1pm

4006 Utrinque Paratus Ready for Anything pt 1 – Force on Force by Nick Johnson
Friday 7pm – 9pm
Saturday 2pm – 4pm
Saturday 4pm – 6pm
Saturday 7pm – 9pm

4007 Utrinque Paratus Ready for Anything pt 2 – Force on Force by Nick Johnson
Sunday 11am – 1pm
Sunday 2pm – 4pm

4011 LaSalle 15mm Tournament – LaSalle Napoleonics – Lee Schultz and Rob Graham
Saturday 8:30am – 5:30pm

4031 Historical Army Painting Competition – Patrick Synnott, Scott Merrifield, John Rames
Saturday Entries Accepted 9am – 5:30pm, Judging at 5:30pm (Minimum 30 stands and 6 units)

4035 Vietnam 15mm Tournament – Flames of War Vietnam – Robert Farallo and Drew Sizemore
Sunday 9am – 6pm

I look forward to seeing miniature games surrounded by happy gamers!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

WWI US Marines - Painting Session 3

So with one competition mini going for a stripping bath I figured I could work on the other two. I promptly found mold lines on both of those. Since the skin work was basically done at this point I didn't want to strip them so I carefully cleaned them up and will re-prime by hand when I get home. That means the Marines got a lot more attention today than they normally would have. So basic uniforms and coats are finished and I have laid in the dark layer for the webbing and other gear, which is fortunately all the same color. The first wash shade was applied as well and I'll build up to the lighter color from there. So one shot here and the rest in the gallery.

Paint Transport for the Pack Rat

I am a self acknowledged pack rat and I like to have my stuff with me. I regular pack up my paints 2 or 3 times a week and paint at the local FLGS or at friends' houses. Although I have a container that holds my "ready" paints. I hate to be in a situation where I don't have something that I need. I have tried various snap tite containers over the last couple of years and overall they are pretty good. But they haven't held up to the constant transport abuse like I hoped they would. To that end I keep an eye out for something to supplement them with. Hobby Lobby, Michaels, Lowes and Home Dept are the usually culprits and the scrap booking and tool box sections are usually where I end up. Back in November I struck gold at Hobby Lobby. A transport designed for scrapbooking that was twice as wide as the ones I usually find. The interior compartment was deep and was sectioned off with compartments but closer examination showed that these were velcroed in place and could be removed. Three compartments on the outside and wheels with a collapsible handle sealed the deal. The price tag $130.00. Pretty rich for my blood, but then if you sign up for Hobby Lobby email alerts you get coupons for 40% off on a regular basis right to your email. So one month later this baby was mine. It has served very well and I have it packed full. Since its designed for a hobby that deals with paper its pretty sturdy and it looks like its going to hold up to my abuse for a long time. So here are the pics of the thing loaded down, including a shot of everything I'm currently carrying in the main compartment. It will be doubling as a troop transport when that need arises.
Yes, I know, the palette needs to be cleaned.
Here is the bag of holding shot. Three of the large snap tite cases, three of the medium snap tite cases, my Ott Light, a box of Vallejo Washes, a ziplock bag full of steel wool, six bags of Old Glory WWI Miniatures, one little box of Brigade Games WWI Miniatures, two Osprey Reference books and three Battlefront Flames of War books (because I keep forgetting they are in there). Not inside the box were the two sets of keys, the sunglasses, the newspapers or the dining room table. 

There is always one

So I'm working on three competition miniatures for Genghis Con XXXIII coming up in mid February (16-19th). One of the three is already being stripped back to the bare pewter. There always seems to be one that I have to do this to before a competition.

Friday, January 20, 2012

And if that wasn't enough - Marine reinforcements arrive

I finally got the heavy weapons from Old Glory. 75mm French Gun (x2), Lt Trench Mortars, Hvy Trench Mortars and 37mm Guns. Right now that should wrap up all the purchases I need to make for the Marines. With the con only a few weeks away though I have set all of this to the side so I can get moving on my competition pieces.

World War I titles that I "Need"

I was going through the scuttlebutt website last night and jotting down books that I would like to acquire. Mostly because I am a bit obsessive about a subject when I really get into it. Most of these focus on the US Marines but a fair number are about the 2nd Division as a whole. It would be nice to get my hands on one or two issues of the "Indian" the 2nd Division's newsletter as well.
Some of these I'm not likely to ever acquire as they are rare, out of print books although some have been reprinted in various forms over the years. Anyway onward we go:

Through the Wheat – Boyd, Thomas
When the Tide Turned – Kahn, Otto H 
With the Help of God and a Few Marines – Catlin, A.W. 
Devil Dogs; Fighting Marines of WWI – Clark, George B 
And They Thought We Wouldn’t Fight – Gibbons, Floyd
Belleau Wood and the American Army – Andrait, R (Captain)
At Belleau Wood with Rifle and Sketchpad – Linn, Louis C 
Suddenly We Didn’t want to Die - Mackin, Elton E
Company K – March (Campbell), William 
One Man’s War; the Diary of a Leatherneck – Rendinell, JF  & George Pattullo
God have Mercy on Us – Canlon, William 
2nd Division Summary of Operations in the World War
The Second Infantry Division in WWI – Clark, George B
The Second Division  - Harradan, C Gordon  & Raymond Stedman
The Second Division – Spaulding, Oliver Lyman  & John Womack Wright

Thursday, January 19, 2012

WWI US Marines - Painting Session 2

Well getting to paint two days in a row is quite a treat although there will be a lot more of that as the convention draws nearer. Today I finished the skin (for the most part), painted in the eyes (apparently I'm a bit out of practice) and got the mid tone down for the uniform. I have seen uniforms online and of course have several Osprey references and nothing really looked right. I have heard that the USMC Forest Green was quite close to the German Feldgrau so I mixed 50/50 Feldgrau with a Dark Olive. Its not as dark as I have seen it in photographs (although the film processing can account for that) but I think it will do. It will change a bit anyway as I add the shadows and highlights. One shot here and the rest in the gallery.

"The Devil Dogs at Belleau Wood"

The Devil Dogs at Belleau Wood; Us Marines in World War I by Dick Camp
This book falls somewhere in between “At Belleau Wood” and a “His Time in Hell”. A shorter larger format book concentrating more on the company level and sprinkled with many personal observations by the men that fought there. Unlike the other two books this one deals only with the actions leading up to and going through the action at Belleau Wood. It is packed with photographs and maps of Belleau Wood, exactly the kind of information that I have been looking for. It’s a very good quick read that covers the battle succinctly without wandering into the issues of command or going to deep into the personal experience. Another good one for the collection! This will be my main reference when I starting building a section of modular terrain boards to represent the difficult terrain at Belleau Wood, not an exact replica but something that will give the right feel to play a game over.

Lord of the Rings - Rangers of the North

So here is the beginning of my Lord of the Rings Army; a bunch of old metal Rangers of the North. They were nearby when I took pictures of the Marines so I figured I may as well get them up in their own gallery. Right now I'm unhappy with the sculpts, and unhappy with the paint work. It could be that they are just in that ugly stage but I think the greenish grey tunics are just not working out for me at all. Anyway, one shot here and the rest in the gallery.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Finally Started the WWI US Marines - Painting Session 1

Was out at the FLGS tonight painting while the rest of the group was playing the old GW Man of War game. I was working on these Marines as well as my competition pieces. To my chagrin the primer fuzzed on one of the competition pieces so I was done from three to two for the evening and figured I would just practice on the Marines instead. The Marines are a mix of the Brigade Games miniatures and the Great War Miniatures. I'm thinking that the size difference is to much and they will have to be in separate units. The competition piece will need to be stripped down and re-primed, hopefully I will do a better job the next time around. So here is a shot of the Marines and the rest are in the new WWI gallery.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Another Boxcar Ready

I managed to get a little bit done tonight. My competition pieces for Genghis Con are ready for primer now. One of them gave me a bit of trouble tonight, but a little green stuff went along way tonight. Since they are competition pieces though I won't be putting them up on the blog just yet. The Marines are also ready to be primed as they will be my "let's relax" stuff. What I really got done was another freight car for the railroad. Again I think I'm going to go back and add some more weathering, it just feels like to light a hand again. Maybe once I get track up and running and a structure or two I'll feel better about how they look.

"At Belleau Wood" - Robert B Asprey

I finished this one up at lunch today. Definitely a different perspective on the battle as this is told more from the battalion and regimental level rather than the single man perspective. Definitely pinpoints the confusion created by the inability of the commanding officers to directly observe or get information on what is happening to the units under their command. An excellent book that does not pull punches when talking about mistakes made by those in charge, in fact some information is referenced from another book "Second Division Northwest of Chateau Thierry, 1 June - 10 July, 1918" by John Thomason. Thomason, called the Rudyard Kipling of the Marine Corps, had written about those issues and faults and the army refused to publish his manuscript after the war. His manuscript was published  after "At Belleau Wood" was published by Robert B Asprey. Asprey's work is well documented and well written. It touches a bit on the issues of the common soldier in the battle but is definitely geared towards how the battle was handled at the battalion and regimental level with glimpses down to the company level. An most excellent book for those wanting to learn more about this battle. This is another one you can find used all of the place; Amazon, Alibris and Abebooks to name just a few online sources.

Monday, January 16, 2012

"His Time in Hell: A Texas Marine in France" - Warren R Jackson

I finished this book off on the train ride home on Friday (1/13/2012). Its a very interesting first hand description of life in the Marine Corps during WWI. They believe that Jackson wrote the manuscript in the 20s and it some how found its way into a special collection of American History at the University of Texas in Austin. There it was found by Marine Corps Historian George B Clark who edited it for publication. His editing hand is pretty light so you really are getting the story as told by Warren Jackson. An excellent example of a man that volunteered in the first rush to join the war and his journey through the armistice. This is a great book for getting a feel of what it was like to fight in the Great War, the ceaseless artillery bombardments, the machinegun fire, the hunger and the seemingly endless marching from one spot to another without knowing where you were or why you were there. Jackson may have been unique, he participated in every major action that was fought by the 4th Brigade, 6th Marine Regiment as part of the 2nd US division. I found a used copy at Amazon for a very good price and highly recommend this book.

Bitter Taste of Defeat - Packers Lose

All I can say at this point is hats off to the Giants for a good game plan and that the Packers seriously need to fix their defense for next season. Now on to hockey and the Avalanche.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Dogs - Here are the Pyrs

Babe and Porthos 1996 - 2008
Babe was very good with cats, as she chooses to let the kitten "steal" part of her dog biscuit

 In their favorite element Snow! This picture its may be 10 degrees (F) out there and I couldn't coax them inside

Friday, January 13, 2012

Go Packers!

 If the background on my blog here didn't make it obvious let me tell you that I am a Packer fan, I bleed green and gold. Today lunch featured a rather heated discussion today about the upcoming playoff games this weekend. As any diehard football fan knows the Green Bay Packers will be facing off against the NY Giants this weekend. My company's main office is in NY so there has been some good natured trash talk all week. Maybe even more so since I live in the Denver area and the Denver Broncos are not my team (so don't ask me about Tim Tebow, I don't know and I don't care). So why the Packers? Family tradition certainly plays a big part, my family is from Wisconsin. Just as was done with me, I indoctrinated my boys into the Packer fan fraternity at an early age and at one point we could put four generations of Packer fans in front of the TV (sadly we have been down to 3 generations for some time now). It is a franchise with a proud history and expects the members of its organization to be professional at all times, on and off the field. They do not tolerate the inflated egos you see on so many other NFL teams, you play for the team, you represent the team and you win as a team. Perhaps most of all though this is a team that truly belongs to the fans, the proof hangs on the wall in my room, one share of stock in the Green Bay Packers, yes I am part owner of an NFL franchise. So while the players of the Giants trash talk, the Packers are quietly working away on winning the game on Sunday. And they will do it the same way they have all season, throwing the ball, running the ball, and taking advantage of every turnover. I would like to welcome the Giants to playoff football in the Frozen Tundra.


There are days when I just really miss my dogs and for what ever reason this morning was one those times. They both passed away in 2008 within about six months of each other. Right at the top end of the normal lifespan for Great Pyrenees. Babe was a little on the small side, just under 100 pounds and Porthos was kind of in the middle for a male right around 120 pounds. Babe was the bright one, smart as a whip and as willfully definite about things as a Pyr can be. Porthos, well he lived up to his namesake, strong and lovable but a little slow (you can tell because he would instantly obey commands). I had Babe from puppyhood and Porthos was about 18 months when we rescued him. Pyrs are fantastic dogs much longer lived than other larger breeds and I know there will be another but that time just isn't now. They need more attention than I can give right now. So in the meantime there is Sadie, my oldest son's dog. A sweetheart, eager to please, smart, obedient and very loyal. She's a great Frisbee dog but prefers balls and those dumbbell shaped toys. More than anything else she is Calvin's dog. When he is gone from the house she lays down right in the middle of the stairs so she can watch for him through the big bay window.She is a mix; Catahoula Hound (also known as a Leopard dog because of the spots) and Australian Shepherd (I think Blue Heeler). She has light blue eyes and her left eye is marbled with a bit of brown on the top. I'll post  pictures of the Pyrs later but here is Sadie:

Carousel Horses and other Creatures

I know, this looks a little odd when viewed with the other things I do but its fun and definitely not what you would call a mainstream hobby. Basically my Dad carves full size carousel horses as a hobby. Although he is a pretty good carver, his painting skills (and color choices) are a bit lacking. I have painted four of his carvings over the years, the last one was done while they were on vacation somewhere and it was a surprise Father's Day gift waiting for him when they got back. So here is the teaser shot, this is the smallest of the bunch and stands about 18" tall at the shoulder. Check the gallery for the horses.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Painting Competition Selection - Genghis Con

So while at the FLGS tonight, I was able to go through the box of miniatures that I had been throwing to one side the last month or so. I'm down to three miniatures to work on for the painting competition. This year I'll hit three categories; Single Fantasy (all ways the toughest), Single Historical and Single Figure Vignette. With a little concentrated effort I should be ready to go by the convention in February. A little nose the grindstone work which means other things are going to fall by the wayside for a bit. If I do well with these they may well end up as entries at one other con that I go to that would allow winning entries from another convention to be entered in there. Not something usually allowed by trophy/podium judging competitions but not unusual at all for medal competitions where they want to see your very best work. So its prep time. I'll pick out a unit of my Marines to do as well, I need something that doesn't require the same concentration to relax with after working on the competition pieces.

New Stuff - 1-48 Combat - Baueda Wargames

I got intrigued by these miniatures over the weekend, mostly because of the release of their new buildings so I decided that I would take a look at them. Decided to order both buildings, the two starter packs and two individuals. I'm on my way to the FLGS to paint tonight so I won't open them till I get there. I'll tease you with pictures for now.