Another ADA Gaming Salon

Last Saturday, we hosted another gaming salon at the ADA gallery in Vienna. Under the headline ‘Hunting Humans’, the evening was dedicated to monsters. We had two games for the visitors to play. The first was a pen-and-paper RPG ran by Alex. He used D&D and had prepared a couple of characters to choose from. The twist was that this time, the players were the bad guys: As a small band of Orcs, they had to help their tribe to raid a human settlement.

I had set up Zombicide, the cooperative Zombie game we have played a couple of times lately.

ZC1

Unfortunately, we made a scheduling mistake, as we completely missed  that there were two other events on that day which drew off potential visitors. We only had a handful of attendants, but at least we got in a couple of games ourselves. And those people who came were quite enthusiastic to play. Zombicide was a smash. We played three missions, each one with different players, but only succeeded in winning one of them.

The RPG also sounded like a lot of fun. K. joined in and told me she had enjoyed herself playing a tough female Orc, the leader of the raiding party consisting of another Orc, a goblin and an Ogre called Einstein (armed with a stone in a sack).

RPG1
The RPG in full swing.

Even though it was quieter than last time, it was a fun and inspiring evening. Hopefully, we’ll have another one soon!

On the Painting Table

Just a quick update on what I’m working on at the moment. For my birthday, K. gave me a gift voucher from my favourite miniatures producer, Peter Pig. I’ve kept the card for a while, as I enjoyed browsing the webstore and pondering what to order. Recently, however, I’ve started to work on a couple of scenarios for Sharp Practice and decided I need more Confederate cavalry, so I got four packs of mounted and one pack of dismounted troopers. That still leaves me with a bit of money for another order! As always, the service from Peter Pig was exemplary.

tray

The Texas Longhorn cattle you can see on the other painting tray are from Irregular Miniatures. I’ve got two dozen of them, as I want to make an impressive herd. This is going to be yet another scenario, namely the curious naval cattle drive of 1862, where sailors from the USS Kathadin drove 1500 Longhorns through enemy territory. Doesn’t that sound like a proper outline for a game of Sharp Practice?

I’ve also recently finished scratch building two log cabins. The basic structure is made from plasticard, with shish kebab skewers glued on as logs. The chimneys are cut out of blue foam and then covered with PVA and dunked into grit – looks a bit irregular but ok enough, I think. The houses will be used for ACW as well as FIW.

Currently Reading

Summer’s coming, we’re getting settled in the new house and the whole family is working in the garden. What better time to bury oneself in books?

I’ve decided to start a small new project I’ve been thinking about for a long time now: The French and Indian War. Several of my wargaming chums have started collecting and painting FIW miniatures for Sharp Practice and, what’s even better, they are doing it in 15mm! How could I resist? So, apart from getting a couple of the nice Blue Moon figures, I bought Empires at War by William Fowler.

Fowler

Fowler aptly gives an overview of the conflict, setting it firmly into the context of European power politics while still dealing fairly detailed with the actions in North America and Canada. He outlines the quarrels between the different colonies, the role of Native Americans and even the impact of events in Europe, the Caribbean and in India. There are moments when his style almost becomes ironical, but considering some of the whimsical events of the war one can easily understand the temptation and it makes for an entertaining read. Highly recommended if you want a first overview of the FIW.

My main reading diet is still the American Civil War. Having recently finished Noah Trudeau’s excellent book on Gettysburg, I looked for other titles from the author. Trudeau writes very well, he builds up a narrative and tension without getting carried away by his subject. In Gettysburg: A Testing of Courage, he manages to tell an engaging story while still keeping an analytical distance – not something that can be said from all authors writing on battles in the ACW…

 

Trudeau has written a couple of other books, all of which look interesting and most of which can easily be found at second-hand booksellers. I’m now finishing Out of The Storm, an account of the last weeks of the Civil War. Starting with a fairly detailed retelling of the events that lead to Lee’s surrender at Appomatox Court House, he presents several episodes, among them famous events such as Lincoln’s assassination and the capture of John Wilkes Booth as well as less famous but equally dramatic affairs like the sinking of the steamboat Sultana. The book is a bit episodical as there is no real overarching story. However, Trudeau manages to capture the atmosphere of an epoch ending very well, not the least because he is very apt at chosing quotes from contemporary sources – something he also showed in Gettysburg. I’ve already ordered his book on black soldiers in the Civil War.

hess

In contrast, Earl Hess’ new study Civil War Infantry Tactics looks like a rather dry and scholarly affair. I haven’t had chance to read it yet, but my cursory browsing nevertheless left me looking forward to delving into it. Being very much interested in how small units operated, I hope to finally learn all about the intricacies of infantry drill and formations.

I read most of my science fiction books on my e-book reader. Sometimes, however, I’m in the mood for a ‘real’ book. A trip down to the bookstore got me Andrew Bannister’s debut novel Creation Machine. Although I follow forthcoming sci-fi books on the excellent tor.com blog, this one seems to have escaped my attention. At the moment, I’m about two-thirds through and like it very much. The world-building is great, with some grand and at the same time whimsical ideas, and the main protagonist is engaging.

Creation-Machine

The evil guys may be a bit too much over the top for my taste, but the story is developing nicely and I’m curious to find out what’s going on with the strange setting. In some of its ideas and in the general approach, it reminds me a bit of Charles Stross’ early space operas, which for me are still among the most imaginative of the genre. Highly recommended if you fancy a sci-fi adventure with an original background.

Sharp Practice at the Club

Shortly after we’ve moved into the new flat, I discovered that one of the few (if not the only) wargaming clubs in Vienna is right around where I now live. Naturally, I wanted to check it out. This week, I finally had the opportunity as Virago wanted to inaugurate his newly painted FIW force. He had scheduled a game of Sharp Practice against Annatar and I dropped by to watch. Sigur and several others were also there and after setting up the table, we watched the guys play the Escort scenario from the rule book.

They both used 18mm Blue Moon figures on a standard 4×6 table without modifying the distances. This looks very good and I’d like to try it out with my own 15mm miniatures.

Annatar’s British deployed in open column, with the grenadiers escorting Lady Katharine in the middle. Their provincial rangers rushed ahead to secure the right flank.

Suddenly, two groups of milice canadienne appeared in the woods in front of the British rangers. At the same time, a line of marines marched out of the woods on the other side of the river and opened fire on the column.

The British commander ordered his first two groups to wheel to the left and check the French marines. Oblivious, his grenadiers marched on only to discover that they had left the column behind. Fearing that their mitre caps might make a good target, they headed into the brush beside the road. Meanwhile, the rest of the British formed line to engage the marines, which were still firing into them. The British gave back enthusiastically – in fact, they were so caught up in the smoke and noise that their commander couldn’t make them stop. A firefight developed across the river.

The French commander feared the massed firepower of the British line and retreated his marines behind a hill. Meanwhile, two groups of Indians were rushing through the bushes to hit the British from behind. On the way, they met the rangers which they promptly massacred. The sneaked up behind the British line… but the British commander had finally managed to get his men under control. Smartly ordering them to “right about face”, they turned around and poured a volley into the noble warriors. At first they were only stunned, but then they realised that their chieftain was hit badly. In fact, he was only knocked out, but his men got panicked and decided to fight another day.

As it was getting late, we called it a day and ended the game at this moment. The French would probably have retreated and the Indian chieftain would have been picked up by the British, who could have continued on their way to wherever they were headed.

Being the person with the most experience with the game, I did some rules counselling. However, having never played with anything other than ACW forces, we had to look up some of the characteristics of FIW troops. I didn’t envy the players when four people were shouting rules interpretations and tactical advice at them!

This was a fun evening. I was impressed by the club facilities – there are lots of tables and a nice selection of terrain – and the people I met were friendly and welcoming. I’m looking forward to going there again.

And thanks again to Sigur for providing most of the images!