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Updated September 27, 2006
The December meeting was well stocked with games, including two Napoleonic, one Colonial, one Civil War, and one WWI air. There just weren't quite enough gamers to go around. There was also a Blood Bowl tournament the same day.
The Shield convention (MannyCon III) is scheduled for Feburary 10 to 12 at the San Ramon Mariott (Bishop Road off of Hwy 680), so we will do what we did last year, which is hold the meeting at the convention. If you would like to run a game, contact Manny at firstname.lastname@example.org. See the end of this newsletter for the full announcement.
One member has pointed out to me that AIM and Pendraken both make 10mm fantasy figures that can be used for WarMaster battles. If anyone has played the new WarMaster Historical rules, please let me know what they are like.
Fans of the WWII board game with miniatures, Memoir '44, should be pleased to know that expansion sets have come out for the Battle Cry style game. Originally set in the Western Front, the expansion sets will allow you to fight on the Eastern Front and in North Africa. The sets include new terrain pieces, new miniatures, new rules, and new scenarios. They are not, however, grouped by front, but rather by function. All the terrain pieces (of all types) are in one box, with related rules changes.
In the last newsletter I made reference to the book The Billy Ruffian, by David Cordingly. It is a very good book that follows the life of the 74 gun ship-of-the-line the Bellorophon, from its design and construction in shipyards in a river in England to its central role in several major naval battles to its use after the Napoleonic Wars. It is best know as the ship that picked up Napoleon from France. The name of the ship is an obscure mythical figure from Greek and Roman literature. The sailors had no clue who this person was (and neither do I), and the name is not easy to pronounce, so they called the ship the Billy Ruffian.
San Antonio Hobbies closed on December 16. The final discount was 50% off. Eastern European airplane models were the last thing to sell. I guess they have a bad reputation.
Out now on DVD is The Great Raid, the movie about the commando operation into Japanese-held territory in the Philipines to rescue a POW camp of Allied prisoners before they were killed by their captors. I read the book that this movie is based on. Great stuff. Minor note - there are no battle scenes in A Long Engagement. The heroines sweetheart is convicted of cowardice (a la Paths of Glory) and gets lost going back to headquarters.
The Battle of Brunswick
The battle started out in an unexpected direction, with a very agressive Westphalian advance and a desultory Brunswick approach. After 7 turns of blazing away at skirmishers and running hussars through the woods, the Duke was wounded and carried off of the field. A subordinate general took over and immediately went on the offensive with a battered Lieb battalion (artillery bombardment for 7 turns) and reformed cavalry. The Westphalian right was broken and fled the field, taking the artillery with it, and disordering its own cavalry. As the Death's Head Hussars engaged the Westphalian center, the Westphalian cuirassiers recovered and came storming over the ridge, sweeping aside the Brunswick riflemen and threatening to destroy what little offensive strength the Brunswickers had left. Just in the nick of time the Brunswick Uhlan company returned from pursuing routers and struck the cuirassiers in the rear. After two hard turns of fighting, with heavy Uhlan losses, the cuirassiers were surrounded and surrendered. The remaining Westphalians withdrew into the town of Oelper and did nothing to interfere with the Brunswick advance north.
Warfare in February!
The third annual
This is Northern California's Premier Historical Gaming Event of the year with over 30 games and 6 tournaments covering all periods from the ancient world to modern conflicts.
Featured Tournaments this year include:
Remember, the February meeting will be at The Shield conference in San Ramon, Sat. & Sun., Feb. 11 & 12. Take Bishop Ranch Rd. East off of Hwy 650 north of Dublin. Turn left around behind the shopping center into the Marriott. Quite a full schedule and a good selection of dealers. Admission is $10, including one tournament. The first games start at 10 am. Did I mention that my Saturday evening Napoleonic game includes a substantial prize for the two best players?
The March meeting will be on March 11. I hope to run a 25mm Crusades game then.
Amarillo Design is trying to rejuvenate the Star Fleet Battle series with the release of the new Star Fleet Commander game. The first module is called Klingon Border. The key idea is that the game will play much more quickly than old SFB. You have a choice of two levels to play the game at, Fleet and Squadron. At fleet level you mark many fewer boxes on each ship. The ship charts are laminated and in color. The map has large hexes for use with large counters with colorful ship images. The components are about as upgraded as they can be without being miniatures.
Speaking of miniatures in board games, the computer games Descent and Warcraft have "migrated backwards" into board games. The boxes are enormous and expensive, but the Warcraft game features 125 very varied and colorful miniatures and Descent has 80 miniatures.
GMTs Command and Colors Ancients (AKA Battle Cry with spears) has finally arrived. It uses Columbia style wooden blocks for all of the troops. I could not sleep one night and spent it putting the adhesive graphics on all of the blocks. The rules are pretty short. The focus is on the Punic Wars, and battles with Syracuse in Sicily.
Why all the talk about board games and so little about miniatures? Well, not as much happens with board games, so it is easier to keep track of, and I stand a better chance of being able to walk into a store and fondle the box. So many miniatures are available only by mail order now. Also, check The Miniatures Page, or one of the three glossy hobby magazines. Here are some recent releases: from the Perry Brothers - 28mm colonial figures for the Sudan campaign, Dutch-Belgians for Waterloo, and Hesse-Cassel infantry for the American War of Independence. From Reviresco, a whole new line of jalopies for the 1910s and 1920s, mainly trucks and ambulances and such. Also civilians, including firemen.
Britannia Miniatures has just come out with 28mm sailing frigates. Stop and think about this. 1/35th scale sailing ships. All you need is $200 for one. Renegade Miniatures has released a complete line of 28mm figures for the Punic Wars. Check out pulpfigures.com if you are into the "between the wars" roleplaying games. Peter Pig is flogging its 15mm War of the Roses line for figures for use with its new Bloody Barons rules (Rules for the Common Man). Companion Miniatures (who!?) has come out with large Romans and Numidians for the Punic Wars. (The twits don't mention the scale in their ad.) North Star Military Figures is sellinng WWII Soviets in 35mm scale. (Whoa! I think 45mm and 32mm are still available, in case anyone wants to make the scale spread worse.) (Actually, this is just 1/48th scale, for use with certain models.)
Bless their hearts -- if you wait long enough, someone is going to make figures for that obscure period that you have always longed to replicate. Bear's Den Miniatures has come out with 28mm Koreans for the period 1494 to 1700. (1494? I didn't know that the French invasion of Italy was a turning point for Korea!) theassaultgroup.com has produced large WWII figures. (Again, no scale specified.) SHQ Miniatures is bringing out more 20mm Soviet vehicles and tanks. For Black Hat Revolutionary French and Ottomans, go to fighting15s.co.uk.
I am very enamored with the copy of the Corvus Belli rules included in the Jan. issue of Wargames Illustrated. Maybe I will pull myself together and do Actium, as I have planned to do for years.
When General Burgoyne surrendered at Saratoga in 1777, not only did the Americans capture 7 generals, they also captured 12 members of parliament. This had great social repercussions in London.
Another good book about sailing adventures is The Prize of all the Oceans, by Glyn Williams. It details Capt. Anson's foray into the Spanish-controlled Pacific in the 1740s.
Much already said about this nice little con. Just some numbers. At 10:30 on Sat. a.m., I counted 9 walk-up games, 6 tournament games, and 87 people. Although they weren't all present for both days, there were at least 6 historical vendors, including J&R Miniatures, Scenic Effects, Monday Knight Productions, Miniature Service Center, Endgame, and Games of Berkeley. Now we wait to see if people will make the trip to the convention in Sacramento in April.
Speaking of conventions, the guys up in the Pacific Northwest have moved their Enfilade convention to the second weekend of June, so you can now go to both that and KublaCon.
A Gamer's Life
To the single members of the club: Have people been coming up to you lately and asking you if you are a virgin? Well, you can blame this phenomenon on the recent movie The 40-Year Old Virgin (now out on video). In the movie we see the main character painting model soldiers (particularly a zouave). (He also collects action figures.) This is probably the most significant painting figures scene in a major motion picture since Max von Sydow painted a Chasseur of the Guard in Three Days of the Condor. But in both cases the figures were 54mm display figures.
Just a short rundown of some of the more intriguing books to come out recently. Killer Katanas II - if someone buys this, please let me know if people with KK I should get it. WAB Supplement - Vlad the Impaler. Ancient China and Its Enemies, from Cambridge University, $70 hardbound, $29 paperback, 380 pages. The Forgotten Battles series from France - $24 for each 80 page "Osprey" like book, covering all sorts of interesting battles (one per book): Bremule 1119, Anthon 1430, Varey 1325, Montlhery 1645, Chamousset Les Mollettes 1597. As you might guess, these are battles that the French won and the English were often not even present at.
The Union crew members inside the turret of the USS Monitor could not see out at all, except for the gun ports, when they opened them up to run the guns out. Someone had put white marks on the part of the deck that did not turn, so that they could tell which way was bow, stern, port, and starboard, but these marks were rubbed out during the battle with the Virginia/Merrimac. As a result, the gunners had no sense of direction. To find their target, they had to wait until the guns were loaded, run them out, then start rotating the turret until they saw the CSS Virginia through the gun ports. It was so difficult to stop the turret from rotating that they would just fire "on the fly" as the guns rotated towards and past their target.
There is an excellent article on the resurrection of the Monitor in the Feburary (?) issue of National Geographic.
Are you running a game this month?
The wargaming convention in Sacramento is scheduled to take place on the same weekend as our next club meeting, April 7 to 9. It will be held at the Red Lion Hotel on Arden Way. For a first time convention, they have a surprising array of events (including flea markets). There appear to be about as many games scheduled in all of the different categories as there will be at Kublacon. For more information, here is the web site.
As many of you may have already noticed, Kublacon will be holding its flea markets on Friday and Monday only. As the flea market is one of the main reasons I go to a convention, and attending the fringe days of this event is usually out of the question, this just makes me angry. There will be an auction on Sunday, but those are almost always focused on board games. I have seen RPG books and collectible items auctioned also.
More than one club member pointed out that a character could be observed painting a samurai miniature in the fairly recent movie Ronin. The movie is about modern mercenaries and starts Robert DeNiro and Jean Reno.
The Club Meetings
Please tell me what you would like to see that would get you to come to a meeting. What game, what scale, what rules, what era, what GM? Please let me know.
Son of San Antonio
This report from our Roving Reporter, Al Tapia. Note that the e-mail address and web site for the store are not working yet.
New figures have appeared in the 1/72 plastic section in D&J Hobbies. They are ancient Assyrian and Egyptian troops from a company called Caesar Miniatures. They certainly occupied a vacant niche in the market right now, but they want $12 for 42 figures! That is just about double the normal price for plastic figures. The figures are made in Taiwan. The company has just released Trojan and Mycenaean figures. It turns out that the ancient figures are just the tip of an iceberg. They also make Ninjas, orcs, Chinese, WWII Germans, Hittites, Crusaders, and Tolkien figures. They have a very ambitious production schedule, with Babylonians and many other figure sets on the way.
Also new at D&J, Italieri has started to produce 1/72 and 1/35 scale plastic WWII figures.
New Game Expansion
The Axis & Allies miniatures game system has added a new expansion set which has just arrived in the stores. It is called Contested Skies and it adds airplanes and anti-aircraft guns to the mix. You can get a Soviet Sturmovik or a German Me-109 or a British Bofors or a German Whirbelwind. AH/Hasbro also uses this set to add missing figures to the infantry sets, such as a Soviet mortar. For a little role-playing, there is the Japanese fanatic. Photos of all of the new figures are on a poster on the door to the store room at Paradox Playground.
AH/Hasbro will also being coming out with a Battle of the Bulge game in November which will feature 300 components. For news about Axis & Allies products, go to AxisandAllies.org, where you can find links to A&A miniatures scenarios that you can download. They are organized like Squad Leader or Panzerblitz scenarios. Finally, the company is developing a new A&A stand-alone naval game. Release date and mechanics uncertain.
The Prince of Wales and the Repulse were sunk off of Malaya when they diverted to attack a new Japanese landing site. The report of that landing was false. They diverted without telling anyone, maintaining radio silence. British air cover (Brewster Buffaloes) arrived minutes after they were called, but they were not called until both ships were in sinking condition.
The British started work on their first submarine in 1901. Admiral Sir Arthur Wilson, Controller of the Navy said: "Submarines are underhand. Unfair. And damned un-English." He ordered that any captured crews of enemy submarines should be treated as pirates and hanged.
Wargamers frequently refight the Battle of the River Platte not just
because it is an evenly matched scenario that requires only 4 ships,
but also because the
The idea of the depth charge came in World War I, after a British cruiser spotted a German submarine on the surface of the North Sea and went racing at it to ram it. The submarine dove and avoided the collision. The cruiser stopped over the submarine. The crew could look down in the water and see the submarine, but they had no way of attacking it. The captain later told his superiors that if only he had had a barrel of explosives . . .
In my ideal world every wargame scheduled to take place in this area would take place on the same day at our club meetings. Even though I would not be able to play in them all, I could at least look at them and find out about different rules and figures. The reality is that gaming is scattered around in different places. Here are a few you might be interested in.
Every Friday night a group interested in the system Babylon 5: Call to Arms plays B5 games at Paradox Playground. They are currently fighting battles from a campaign game. The one I observed was Narn versus Minbari. They play with miniatures when they can, and color cardboard counters from the game when they can't. CtA gives every nation a complete range of different space ships, including some that were intended to appear in the never-produced final TV movie Crossfire. The same guys are also interested in Full Thrust and may change systems.
If you are interested in Flames of War, there is a group that plays FoW at the Game Kastle every Wednesday night, "5 pm to late". On March 25 they had a tournament, hosted by Chris Weber. Game Kastle is on Washington St. in Santa Clara, which is what Bascom Ave. becomes after it passes north under Hwy 280. GK is behind a gas station, just north of Hwy 280.
If you are looking for a WWII game in micro scale, contact the "Bay Area microarmor" gaming group by going to www.microarmor.com. This site is run by group member Chris Barath, who mentions his Yahoo e-mail address slightly cryptically. Contact him to find out about their next game. The last one I know about was a 1943 Eastern Front battle held at Mark Singer's house in Pleasanton. If you cannot get ahold of Chris, let me know, and I will send you Mark's contact information.
Finally, there will be another playtest of the ancient version of Tactica II at the Paradox Playground on Saturday, May 20, sometime after 11 am. Players should remember something about how to play Tactica. 15mm Romans versus Celts.
Another New Hobby Store
While looking for a shoe store the other day I stumbled across a new Hobbytown USA in San Jose. By new, I mean I never knew about it, even though it is a year and a half old. It is in the 600 block of Blossom Hill Road, just west of Hwy 85, in a shopping mall anchored with a Sport Authority store. The store is a classic, but well stocked Hobbytown, with a little of everything. Arts and crafts, board games, fantasy rules and cards and miniatures, plastic models, a model railroad section, toys for small children, plastic figures, a good sized radio-controlled section, model rockets, and several brands of paint. But not a lot of any one thing. The items which caught my eye were the 1/144 scale twin engine WWII airplane models from F-toys. Already assembled and painted and quite indestructible, for $7 per airplane. Use the aircraft name printed in the strip on the TOP of the box to figure out what is inside. The aircraft mentioned on the sides and front of the boxes are frequently wrong. Previously I had only been able to get them on eBay from overseas sellers. Also there were a lot of die cast 1/100 aircraft, Can-Do 1/144 tanks and planes, and balsa wood, and balsa models, and so on.
A company (Foundry?) is coming out with a Great War line of 28mm WWI figures. GHQ is overhauling its line of 1/1200 sailing ships and lowering its prices. They have just recast the 112 gun Spanish SOL San Josef and are selling it for $10.65. In an effort to compete with Langton, which offers every sort of sail, GHQ is offering two versions of each new ship: one with battle sails and one with full sails. Dillon Browne has come out with a new set of rules for WWI land combat called Bloody Picnic. He claims to base the command and control and order systems on the Napoleonic General de Brigade system. (Huh?!) At least this is the first set of WWI rules that makes a deliberate effort to accommodate figures based for other rules.
The Blue Sky set of WWII air combat rules is about to get a lot better. The first book in the set, Squadrons, is being re-released this year as Black Cross, Blue Sky. Besides the original Battle of Britain scenarios, the book will also include scenarios and information for the invasion of Poland and the Battle for France. Discrepancies between different books (different fronts and years) will be smoothed out, and certain maneuvers will be eliminated or clarified. In the past I have extolled the virtues of fighting battles of the South American Wars of Liberation using Napoleonic troops. Now someone has come out with the ideal books for such a venture. Go to www.grenadierproductions.com to read about the first volume of Liberators! This sounds like an interesting series, with extensive uniform information and scenarios with maps and orders of battle, as well as a history section. I am actually excited that the author will be hosting games at Kublacon.
If you have always been interested in ancient naval battles, but have never had enough money to buy the fleets, or were not convinced that you could paint the ships well enough, worry no more. Roman Seas has come out with 1/300 scale ancient sailing ships printed on card stock. You buy the card stock for your printer and buy the PDF files of the ships from Eric Hotz. You then print them out, cut them out, and assemble them. No painting required, and you can use 6mm figures to fight boarding battles. The one big catch is the construction time. According to the web site, you could spent 30 - 45 minutes completing one ship! The web site is www.romanseas.com.
Brookhurst Hobbies is having a sale on B&B miniatures. These are tall, fat 20mm figures for the period 1900 - 1920. Foreign Legion and Russian Civil War figures are 50% off, WWI figures are 70% off.
Today in History May 5, 2006
Admiral Nagumo, commander of the Japanese aircraft carrier force at the Battle of Midway, used the carrier Akagi as his flagship. The American air raid damaged the Akagi so badly that in order to leave the bridge the admiral had to climb out a broken window and go down the side of the ship on a rope ladder. He and Captain Aoki of the Akagi went on board a destroyer and contacted Admiral Yamamoto (fleet commander, with the battleships), to ask permission to torpedo the burning carrier. Yamamoto, shocked by the news, refused. At this, Captain Aoki went back to the Akagi and tied himself to an anchor. He was still there when the authorized torpedoes finally sank the ship. When the carrier Soryu was hit, Chief Petty Officer Abe, a wrestling champion, was sent to rescue Captain Yanagimoto from the bridge. The captain, standing on the bridge with his sword drawn, refused the rescue and went down with the ship.
This weekend (June 3 - 5), there will be three different operational WWII bombers stationed at Moffett Field for the public to look at. A B-17, a B-24, and a B-25. $10 adults, $6 children. You can also pay $350 - $450 to take a flight up in one of the airplanes. For more information, call 800-568-8924 and look at www.collingsfoundation.org. Moffett Field is located between Sunnyvale and Mountain View. Just take the Moffett Blvd. exit off of Hwy 101.
What I Learned at KublaCon
Besides being able to play multiple new and different games in a short period of time, I have found that a game convention is a great place to get new ideas for your hobby work. If you are interested in mounting aircraft or other flying vehicles on telescoping antennae, but are seeing those antennae disappear from all of the local Radio Shack stores, then you would be interested to hear about "parts pickers". They are telescoping antennae with a magnet on the end, mounted on a swivel joint. Not only do you not have to add a magnet, your flyers can dive and bank! All you have to do is find a way to mount the handle end, which does not have screw threads. These pickers are available at most hardware stores.
Another thing you will find in hardware stores is "plumber's putty". It is a two part epoxy mixed with powdered metal for sealing holes. The guy I spoke to uses it to sculpt figure masters, for when he is making a mold to cast figures. The one catch is that you only have about 10 minutes to work the material before it hardens.
I really enjoyed Mustangs in Miniature. The "Air Pirates" group took the AH board game and converted it into miniature rules. If you have at least 2 aircraft per side and a hex grid, it is pretty fast and easy to learn. It is essentially a dogfight game, and does not address bombers, ground attack, etc., as Squadrons (Black Cross/Blue Sky) does. But you can get the rules and all needed data sheets for free from the warflag web site at: www.warflag.com/mustangs/
Flames of War
A KCon I finally got to try the notorious "Flames of War." Honestly, I like it. It was fun. Sure, there are some wacky things, like tank companies crowding behind the cover of a hill, or crews bailing out and getting back into their tanks, but it's fun, it's fast, and it mostly works. There is some sophistication in some of the rules, such as the quality of your opponent decides what your chances are of spotting and hitting him. And then there is the Soviet Kommisar rule, where you can shoot one stand in a unit and the unit gets to reroll a failed morale test. It reminded me of the WWII battles we had when I was a kid. (Something like Rapid Fire, also.)
The latest FoW news is that a 2nd edition of the rules will be coming out this summer. This will coincide with the release of the Afrika and Ostfront books. Most of the changes and updates will be small, in response to player's comments. However, there will be big changes in the areas of Assault, Aircraft, and anti-tank guns. The authors feel that the aircraft rules were too random and varied too dramatically. They will be completely overhauled. Anti-tank gun deployment will be changed so that the guns can be more easily integrated into a deployed infantry unit.
The latest Battleground figures are Finns, including a unique vehicle or two. The last release was Hungarians. You can read histories and scenarios for the Hungarians on the Battlefront web site.
I met at least two mature wargamers who have now invested in the rules and an "army set" of figures for FoW. It looks like it is really catching on. However, if you are not happy with the somewhat simpler and not always historical rules or how the game plays, first, contact me about selling me your figures! Second, consider a new set of rules from Britain: Blitzkrieg Commander. It is gaining a reputation as the system to go to for players who have moved beyond FoW. Some of its appeal seems to be: a) every army list you might need is included in the rules book; b) units will not always obey their orders; and c) vehicles can represent a platoon or a troop of vehicles or some other unit size, not just 1 to 1. To read all about it, go to http://www.blitzkrieg-commander.com/.
Kingdom of Heaven
The Crusades movie which I strongly recommended has been re-released as a 4 disc set. (You can get it for $20 at amazon.com). The new movie is now 3 hours and 19 minutes, as opposed to 2 hours and 25 minutes. More time is spent in character development, so we understand more about their life stories. It is also spread over 2 discs. In addition to the extended scenes, there is an exhaustive three-hour, six-part documentary detailing every aspect of filmmaking from the development of the "idea" through post-production and release. Also included are three feature-length commentary tracks, the best being the first with Scott, writer William Monahan, and actor Orlando Bloom. Included on the original release but missing from this set are the A&E/History Channel documentaries, the theatrical cut of the film, and "The Pilgrim's Guide," the fantastic text commentary which pointed out the historical anecdotes as the film played. So fans of the Middle Ages may want to get both versions.
Congratulations to various wargamers, including Dave Partak, for getting mentioned in a San Francisco Chronicle newspaper article about KublaCon.
Now that I have the Liberators! book, I hope to host a South American battle soon.
If you or someone you know needs or wants a very inexpensive, very portable fantasy miniatures game, then consider Battleground: Fantasy Warfare. This is actually a card game, but the cards are used physically as miniature units. They have a top-down view of the figures and equipment in the unit, with the unit specifications along the edges. As in Wings of War, you use other cards to measure distances and movement. Players who have miniatures (6, 10, or 15mm) can place them on the cards with the specs still showing and use them as movement trays. You issue orders from a command deck. Command and control is a little more advanced than Warmaster, with the opportunity to rally units. Right now there are armies of men, elves, orcs, and undead. The cards are not collectible. One army pack is $10. One reinforcement pack is $10. The maker is "Your Move Games."
PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE! Host a game at the next club meeting! Even if it is just DBA or cards, please contribute.
If you can't do that, please sign up with Dave Partak to run a game at Conquest on Labor Day weekend. It is only 3 months away. If you want to run a board game, contact Kevin Ellingson.
At the last SBGC MiniCon, during the Sortie from Ferrol, the wind turned against the British and before they could recover, the Spanish had "crossed the T" of their battleline, and in spite of their inferior gunnery, they were hurting the Brits and limiting their ability to maneuver.
I have the following board games for sale:
I rushed the first June newsletter out to get word to everyone about the bombers before they arrived. Here are a few things that did not make that issue.
Another New Hobby Store
A new Hobbytown has opened in Sunnyvale at 585 E. El Camino Real. This is just a few blocks east of Mathilda. You know the story on Hobbytowns: a little of everything.
The made-for-TV movie The Rough Riders had just come out on DVD. Here is a review from professional writer and club member Alan Sissenwein: "An excellent made-for-TV movie about Theodore Roosevelt in the Spanish-American War . . . It's directed by John Milius, of Wind and the Lion fame. Tom Berenger makes an excellent TR (far better than his Longstreet in Gettsyburg) and should have been a contender for an Emmy, in my opinon."
Also, if a favorite old movie of yours was not yet on DVD the last time you checked, check again. Movies like Tora, Tora, Tora and In Harm's Way are coming out. Also look for the third season of Samurai Jack, the first season of F Troop, and so on.
I have not played modern warfare in a while, and I sold off my modern Chinese army a long time ago because it usually seemed to be a case of "If you can see it, you can kill it." However, the recent promotion of jet fighter combat at the convention in Sacramento in April reminded me of that period. If you ever want to work yourself up into a fighting frenzy for jet fighter combat, you have to see the movie The Hunters, 1958, with Robert Mitchum and Robert Wagner. Unlike The Bridges at Toko Ri, this is fighter to fighter combat over Korea. It assumes that there is a squadron of good Chinese fighters based in China who pop over the Yalu River and cause havoc every now and then. There are dogfights and material for at least two good scenarios. Nice air-to-air footage. Check it out.
Board Games All Day
The next Games Day meeting will be Saturday, June 17 in the Program Room of the Los Altos Library at Edith and San Antonio Rd. Mostly Euro family games, but definitely some SciFi, fantasy, and historical board games as well. Get there before 1 pm to get into a game or come by just to see what the latest popular games are.
D&J Hobbies is having sales on its historical miniatures and Osprey books. ALL Osprey books are just $9.99 each. They will stay at that price until they are sold out. They will then order them by request only. Foundry miniatures are 25% off. Old Glory figures are 50% off. (Ancient, Medieval, Renaissance.) While you're their, head down Campbell Ave. to the meeting!
D&J's hard core (a la GMT) historical board wargame offering is down to just four games. The best stock of historical board games is now at the Games Kastle in Santa Clara, where they also have a more complete stock of Flames of War figures and vehicles, as well as 25mm Old West figures.
Member Poll - Please Reply!
Please e-mail me back with your responses.
Also, consider making time in your schedule for our proposed barbeque and coastside meetings. You can bring the whole family.
And please submit games to Dave Partak for ConQuest.
The results of the survey should be no surprise. About half of the members who replied said that they have not been coming to the meetings because of personal and family obligations. Some of our formerly single members have gotten married, bought houses, and had children, and as a result, have much less time for the hobby.
As far as what games people would like, there was a great variety of interests. It has not yet reached the point where every member has a unique interest that others don't have, but it is not far from it. We have to take part in what other people are interested in if we want them to play what we are interested in. There is also a snowball effect, where people don't come to the meetings, so GMs do not get enough players for their games, so they stop running games. You can break that cycle by arranging with members ahead of time to attend your game.
There are various issues with Paradox Playground. Lack of stock. Orders not being filled. Games that cannot be run on 4' x 4' tables. The crowding. About 80% of the respondents asked for a nice room like we had in Cupertino. The rest wanted a well stocked store. If we can find one close to the other, we have it all covered. I know a couple of people who specifically like being able to meet with their painter, but they weren't willing to put that down as their survey answer.
San Jose is in the process of rebuilding its libraries. I would appreciate it if those of you who live in or near San Jose could please inspect the libraries near you for meeting rooms. Please let me know what you discover. Community centers are also a possibility, but they can charge quite a lot of money for use of their rooms. If we can find something in northwestern or western San Jose, close to Game Kastle, then so much the better.
Jet Combat 2
I brought up this subject in the last newsletter when talking about the movie The Hunters. I have since been lured further into this subject and have information for anyone interested in this subject.
The allies started the war with the Lockheed F-80 Shooting Star. They were met by MiG-17s. The MiG-17 was a complete surprise to the allied forces. Intelligence had not known about it. So allied players should not be allowed to know anything about the MiG specifications. It was much more maneuverable than the allied fighters, and could climb and dive faster. So its costs for different actions should be less. Its liability was vibration and instability that disrupted the accuracy of its shooting. And the inexperience of the Communist pilots.
The Marines flew the McDonnell F-2 Banshee. Typically they were all dark blue with some white trim. The F-80s tended to be all white or bare metal. The MiGs would be pale gray or bare metal. Later in the war the North American F-86 Sabre was introduced. Note its improved specifications.
Weight to horsepower is a measure of the nimbleness of the aircraft. Lower is better. 1:1 is best. c - cannon AAR - air-to-air rocket
In Vietnam the F-105 Thunderbird ("Thud") was used as a fighter bomber. They usually carried their maximum load of bombs and were not in a good position to defend themselves. They would be escorted by F-4 Phantoms. The F-4s started out with just the missiles. It was only after having problems when the MiG came in close to dogfight that steps were taken to start outfitting the Phantoms with a belly pod that contained a minigun. So many scenarios should either exclude this gun or limit its availability.
Typically the North Vietnamese (and Russians?) would send up the MiG-17s first, forcing the escorts to fly off and deal with them first. When the Thuds were exposed, then the MiG-21s would appear and attack. Both US aircraft had substantial radar systems in the nose. One famous operation had the US flying F-4 Phantoms. But the Phantoms were flown and configured to look and act just like Thuds. The MiG-21s came in from all directions, but found themselves facing escorts instead of bombers.
MiG-21 AAR starts as AA-2 Atoll. Later they can be the AA-8 Aphid. F-4 AAR can be AIM-7 Sparrow (4-8) or the AIM-9 Sidewinder (0-4). Max. F-105 payload is 16 750 lb. bombs.
Either Row or Bail
I am asking any and all club members in Santa Clara County to please go to the library nearest them and find out if it has a meeting room that we can use. The most common obstacle is that the rooms do not have rectangular tables of a size and type that we can use. Please check for this. I have had various people tell me where I should look, but I need some of you to look also, please.
As I mentioned in my e-mail about the closure of Paradox Playground, the Santa Clara library allows only 6 reservations a year, but is close to many places to eat and is brand new. The San Jose Vineland library is brand new, but the staff is using the one community room for sorting books. I have since checked the SJ West Valley library, which is just down the street from D&J. Unfortunately it has weird little tables that are just not usable. The SJ Cambrian library is closed and being rebuilt. I hope to get to the Campbell and SJ Almaden libraries and would appreciate it if someone would check the other cities.
There are typos and then there are TYPOS In my previous article about jet fighters, the primary Communist fighter during the Korean War was the MiG-15, not the 17. All the specifications are correct for the 15. Kits for jets from the Korean War in 1/72 scale are fairly available. But if you would like to field the jet squadrons in 1/144 size, you will need to contact OzMods in Australia. They make each of the key jets for that war in that scale for $10 each.
1/144 Aircraft News
Sweet Models has just released a 1/144 scale version of the Me-109F. You can get the tropical version or the winter (Russian Front) version. The tropical version of this aircraft in this scale was already available from Eduard of the Czech Republic. The word is that the next model from Sweet will be the "razorback" version of the P-51, i.e., the P-51B, which hasn't been available since the Revell kit went out of production years ago.
Bigger news yet is the release of Warbirds set #7 from F-toys. This set includes 1/144 scale versions of a late war Japanese fighter, the Heinkel He-100, the Ilushyin Il-2 ground attack aircraft, and the Italian Macchi Mc-202 fighter. This is the first time the He-100 or the Mc-202 have been available in this scale. The Il-2 has been available from True North Miniatures in metal. The Heinkel 100 was in competition with the Me-109 to become Germany's premier fighter, and it outperformed the Me-109, but lost the competition due to Hitler's close relationship with Herr Messerschmidt. Enough were still made to equip a few squadrons. The Macchi 202 is the sleek-looking Italian fighter that was made possible when Germany agreed to let Italy have some of its production of in-line aircraft engines. Until then the Italians had only been able to produce radial engines, such as the ones used in the Mc-200.
Sometimes Metal and Resin are not Enough
There is a display of 12 wooden ship models at the Museum of American Heritage in Palo Alto. The Museum is located at 351 Homer Avenue and is open 11 to 4, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The exhibit will be there through September 24.
There will be a Tactica II battle fought in Mountain View on Saturday, August 19. Anyone interested in playing can contact me for the time and place.
There are also games occurring on Wednesday nights in western San Jose. The period changes from week to week. Again, let me know if you are interested.
I want to offer these items to club members first, before I sell them at ConQuest, or on eBay. If you know someone who may be interested in any of these items, please forward this information.
25mm Empire or Renaissance Imperial Army
Simulation Publications Inc. board wargames
New games from GMT.
Who Was That Pilot?
Seen on the license plate frame of a small silver SUV driven by a woman on Almaden Expressway: "Too close for missles. Switching to guns."
Worse Than Alexander?
A new WWI air combat movie was released this week. It is called Flyboys and the good news is that it uses computer graphics to portray very detailed dogfights involving many aircraft, and a zeppelin. The story is that of the Lafayette Escadrille. The bad news is that the writing stinks, the acting stinks, the history is fast and loose, and there is a sappy love story thrown in for the women. The Germans are all flying Fokker triplanes, one of the Americans is named "Beagle," there is a scene of a guy running across the top of an exploding Zeppelin, and the airplanes move much too fast. The actors are also too young. Very much a video game graphed onto a hip young guys and girls movie. (Still, we will watch it, won't we?)
Star Trek New Voyages
A production company has been formed to produce the television episodes that would have made up the fourth and fifth years of the orignal Star Trek series. They have already produced three, including one that premiered at the SF Museum in Seattle on Sept. 8 and featured Walter Koenig (Chekov). Nichelle Nichols and George Takei are also helping out, but the acting is being done by a completely new set of people who are the same age as the characters were in 1969. You can only watch the shows by downloading them off the Internet. (You will need LOTS of bandwidth.) Go check it out at www.startreknewvoyages.com.
Flames of Wallet
The second edition of the Flames of War rules are out. They are bound up in a hardcover book that retails for $50 plus tax. Players who bring in their first edition rule books to the store will receive an update for free. The update is a smaller paperback rule book, without any graphics and without all the material for people new to the hobby or period. I have decided not to acquire a Flames of War army, even though I will still play it, so the first person to approach me about it at the Sept. 30 meeting can have my copy for just $30.
The Next Meeting
Just a reminder that the next meeting is Sept. 30 at Game Kastle in Santa Clara, just north of the Bascom Ave., Hwy 880 intersection. The game room is separate from the store, across a small parking lot. Even if you can't stay to play, please stop by to see their well-stocked store. We need to support our local retailers, especially the ones who do it right. There is an opportunity to meet at the Campbell library in the Fall, but first we need to hear back (RIGHT AWAY) from anyone who thought he had another good spot for us.
I know that con bashing is a favorite sport among wargamers, and I want to try and not do too much of it myself. I considered the choice of games to be good and was able to put together a full schedule for myself. I was able to get my meals and visit the dealers during lulls in the games, so I literally never stopped gaming. However, I must say that the fees that were charged for the auction and the flea mariket caused me to simply not participate, even though I have another whole new set of things to unload. I figured that I might sell $100 worth of stuff, and to have 15% of that taken away was just too much.
The supply of historical miniatures in the dealer's room got a major shot in the arm with the addition of RBPLS (Royal Boiler Plate Lead Suit?). They had an extensive collection of 25/25mm Colonial and Science Fiction figures from manufacturers such as Copplestone, as well as True North's 1/144 scale metal fighter planes and 15mm WWII soldiers from minor countries. Your Move Games sent out a representative from Massachusetts to promote their Battleground: Fantasy Warfare, the miniature card game which I described in a previous newsletter. It is not collectable, and each unit card has a top view of a unit of figures, with their specifications along the edge of the card. They started with just humans, orcs, and undead, but now they have elves and dwarves.
The company who produced the remarkable War of the Ring game is preparing a WWII game called Tide of Iron that should be out around December. I was disappointed with the combination board/miniatures game War of Sail. Each player manages one ship, with a single big ship display filled with Euro-style marker cubes that the player distributes and uses up to perform actions.
A Free Wargaming Magazine
Thanks to Milton Soong for "turning me on" (geez, what an old 60s expression) to Wargames Journal. It is a FREE wargaming magazine. You can sit in front of your computer and read it or print it out and read it on the sofa. And it is a very good quality magazine, comparable to the British publications. There are many different full color articles on different periods and scales and rules, with scenarios and data. It includes SciFi and Fantasy, even though Historical dominates. The part I like is that I can pick out just the one or two articles I am interested in and print out just those pages. The web site is: www.wargamesjournal.com. Heaven knows how they will stay in business. They have almost no advertising.
I finally had a chance to play Blitzkrieg Commander, and I am somewhat disappointed. The use of the Warmaster command and control rules work well, with good and bad commanders, and the possibility that some units will do more than one thing in a single turn. But BC also copies the Warmaster combat rules, which require that you get all of the hits required to destroy a unit in a single turn or the hits go away at the end of the turn. As a result, you have to have multiple units attack a single unit all at once (like trying to assemble a 3:1 attack in a board game) in order to stand a decent chance of killing the unit that turn. This simply does not feel right to me. A good set of rules should allow one unit or stand the chance to injure an enemy unit or stand in some way in one turn.
Please reply to me about whether you would participate in a November MiniCon in Monterey. The Hobby Habitat has lots of playing space and is located in downtown Monterey, next to a hotel, and within walking distance of Fisherman's Wharf. We could call it Ottercon, and get to play with the dozen or so wargamers in Santa Cruz and Monterey counties. And I would run a game that was not Tactica. I realize that November is getting into the rainy season, but the coast should be clear and the temperatures reasonable. Let me know what you think. You can bring the wife and then cut her loose for the day.
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