Thursday, January 26, 2023

A Change of Scenery, If You Will


The new table layout - a change of scenery, if you will.


Last night and today I decided that it was time to take down the Nile River terrain and set up new terrain   for my Assault on Khartoum game. I was really sorry to see the Nile terrain and boats go away for awhile as I was quite taken by the look of the table, shown below:

The old terrain has been stored away

So I removed all of the boats, the British camp, the various Dervish figures, riverbank pieces, rocks and lastly, the blue felt. 

I have been taking inventory of the figures and buildings and terrain pieces that I have so far, and I figured that spreading everything out on the game table would give me a better sense of what work remains to be done. This also gives me a preview of the available table space relative to the size of the game tables that I will need at Historicon '23. Mind you, my home set up features two parallel tables (5ft by 12 ft and 6ft by 15 feet) whereas my plan is for three 6ft by 24ft tables for the Historicon '23 game. Aspire to big things so to speak.

The new table places the outer walls of Khartoum on what will be the "middle table" (#2 of 3) and the rest of the city on the "outer table" (#1 of 3). A "back table" (#3 of 3) will provide some table depth where the Dervish army can form up for the game.

My thinking is that it will be easier for the Egyptian defenders to stand in the aisle behind the outer walls of the city and face the Dervish rush towards the walls. The Dervish players will initially be on the other side of table 2 facing the Egyptians at the walls.

Previously I had placed the whole city on the Outer Table (#1 of 3), but this would result in all 10 to 12 players being jammed into the aisle between tables 1 and 2. Once the Dervish make it over the walls then they can carry on into the city on table 1.

I don't think that the scenario will work if I start the Dervish on table 2. This places them too close to the city walls, which they will likely reach in one to two turns. I would like to allow the defenders the opportunity to fire at the Dervish for at least two turns, otherwise the defenders will be overwhelmed too quickly and make a short game of it. The defenders have a tough enough go of it anyway since they will be outnumbered 3 to 1. The defenders will have some victory conditions that don't require them to repulse the escalade of the walls. Thus they have a chance of "winning" the game despite losing the city to the assault. Likewise the Dervish players will have some victory conditions that assume that they will get into the city and get into a street fight with the Egyptian defenders.

Setting up the game terrain and the troops gives me a better idea of the spacing needed to make  it a good game.

A view of Khartoum from the Dervish perspective. 

Ground scale view of the city walls.

Here are some pictures of the spacing for the city:

The interior of the city of Khartoum is laid out on Table 1 while the front walls are set up on the edge of Table 2.

My convention game table will be 6ft wide compared to the 5ft wide table shown in this picture.
This will give me an extra foot of space to work with.  I can either make the river wider or
increase the depth of the city. This would require making more walls and buildings. It is evident that I need to have
more walls on the side closest to the camera.

Once the Dervish get over the walls then the game fighting will largely switch to both sides of Table 1. I'm leaning towards using the extra foot of table width to make the Nile River 2ft wide which provides more room to use some of the boats that I made for the game. Maybe one of the Egyptian victory conditions might be coercing Gordon to escape via a boat and to rescue as many European citizens as possible.

Taking Stock of What I Have and What I Need

It looks like I will have/need more depth on Table 1 (inside the city). It looks like I will need at least four more wall sections. One 12-inch palisade for the front town wall on Table 2 and three wall sections to extend the side walls of the city. I could also make some of the building "wings" for the Governor's Palace so that the palace grounds are U-shaped. I see that I need to make some wharf sections for the riverfront.

In terms of figures for the game, I have 400 Dervish foot, 60 Dervish riflemen, and 32 Dervish cavalry. I don't think that I have to add too many more Dervish to their army.

The Egyptian defenders will man four sections of the city walls. There will be two commands on the front facing walls (one command on each side of the main town gate) and two other commands, one on each side wall of the city.

I want to scale up the game so that 12 players can participate.

To summarize then, it looks like I am in fairly good shape in the number of painted figures that I need in the game, but I need to add some more wall sections and perhaps a couple more houses to place inside the city walls.

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Getting That Painting Mojo Back?

We have all been there. We reach a point where we couldn't paint another miniature if our lives depended on it. It could be a result of hobby or painting burnout, seasonal depression or family matters being front and center (and taking up all the time that one used to spend on painting). The loss of painting or hobby mojo is evident when one has lost interest in the thing(s) that one normally likes to do. I get that "I just don't care anymore" feeling. (This can also be a sign of depression and it is something that you should take seriously. Check with your wife and ask her if she notices any changes in your demeanor and attitude).

I am there right now. 

But I think that I might have turned the corner as of today. 

How do I get out of the painting funk and getting my painting mojo back? There are three methods that I usually relay on and most of the time they work, getting me back on my horse. 

The first method is to start watching historical movies. Put a CD of Waterloo, Zulu or Gettysburg into the old machine and watch movies to get your inspiration back. 

The second method is to contact some of your gaming brothers and get them to host a wargame that you can play in. It's important to let someone else host the game and take care of all of the logistics. Remember, you don't care that much right now. I usually find that playing a game is a great tonic for curing the loss of hobby mojo. You get to play with someone else's toys, but more importantly, it is an opportunity to socialize with your friends. Getting out of the house and getting together with your friends is an important life hack.

The third method is to force yourself to paint! I know, it sounds like a hard thing to do when you are in a deep funk. If I force myself to commit to one hour of painting over the next several days then it knocks the rust off of my painting funk and I begin to remember some of the reasons why I enjoy painting figures again. If the enjoyment returns then the funk usually goes away.

These past several days I have employed Method Three, sitting at the painting table and painting a few 54mm Dervish that have been sitting around for some time just begging to be painted. I started with just two figures. Then I upped it to ten figures and also added five cavalry figures. It seems to have worked because now I am complaining that I don't have enough time to paint. Yikes!

Another sign of the old mojo returning is that I placed a new order for some more 54mm plastic Dervish from Armies In Plastic today. Maybe buying miniatures should be Method Number Four.

So I seem to be back. Huzzah!

Now if I can only get back my interest in 18th Century wargames and figures. That's probably a left over thing from my Historicon experience last summer. Give it some time. It will return one day.

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Back From Vacay


Fritz and The Flamingos
(Sarasota Jungle Gardens)

I am back home after two weeks of vacation in sunny Sarasota, Florida and as one might imagine, I have not done much in the way of hobby activities during that time span. I brought  a couple of history books with me, but I failed to crack them open, preferring to binge watch reruns of Chicago P.D. to while away the evening hours.

We were supposed to be in Sarasota for three weeks, but we had to cut the trip short by several days in order to get Lady Emma Cuddlestone-Smythe back to Illinois in time for the start of school.

Lady Emma enjoys visiting The Sarasota Jungle Garden in Sarasota and I think that she visited the park at least five times, maybe more, over the course of several weeks. I went with her maybe three times and she took an Uber to the park to make some visits on her own. SJG has a vast menagerie of flamingos, alligators, other reptiles, monkeys/lemurs and a Florida Panther or two. The best part of the visit is seeing the flamingos and letting them eat feed pellets out of your hand.

It is a rather odd sensation when a flamingo is nibbling out of your hand. They tilt their heads sideways and kind of peck away at the feed in your hand. It's an odd tactile experience, but it is fun nevertheless. I took a pass at holding various reptiles in my hands, but Lady Emma was nonplussed by the whole experience with slithering things.

Monet's water lilies perhaps?

Some of the inhabitants of the Butterfly House

It wasn't all flamingos and Key Lime Pie though. We paid a visit to the John & Mabel Ringling art museum (yes that Ringling, of circus fame) and we saw lots of Old Masters paintings from Rubens, da Vinci, Michelangelo and Rembrandt, among others. I was pleasantly surprised to stumble upon some 18th Century denizens such a The Marques of Granby and Lt. General Phillip Honeywood, both painted by Gainsborough.


Marquess of Granby

Frederick the Great's sister

Some handsome French aristocrat

A copy of Michelangelo's David

Mr. Ringling's manse

18th Century gallery with harpsichord

Ringling collected whole rooms and brought them over to the New World.

Edouard Detaille painting from the Franco-Prussian war.
I spotted this from across the room and immediately identified the artist.

We made a day trip to the Everglades

Lelia and Dad in the Everglades

A crocodile, waiting to be turned into a matching pair of shoes and a belt.

The Everglades wetlands.

The garage of the house where we stayed. I'm seeing a wargame room here.

I could live in this house. No problem. I like the colonial style architecture and the outside porch.

We made a college visit to the University of Tampa for Lelia. I liked the campus because it had some interesting architectural buildings and it was not too big of a campus.

On the trip back home, we made a short visit to the Chickamauga National Military Park. Here are some pictures of the park headquarters.

Ice skating rink on New Year's Day in 75F temperature.

Home again and ready to paint more 54mm Dervish figures.