Monday, April 15, 2024

Game Slots Available For Saturday's Game


Union artillery battery on Cemetery Ridge

It looks like tickets for my Pickett's Charge games for Thursday and Friday are sold out, however there are plenty of openings available for my Saturday game on April 20th at 10AM. If you would like to play in the game then click on the link below which takes you to the Little Wars event sign up web site. Search for Saturday games at 10AM and my event number is 118.

Little Wars Event Sign Up

For added inspiration, here are a few photos of the collection for your viewing pleasure. Click the pix to enlarge the view.

I am looking forward to meeting all of the people who have signed up for my games. Your participation and support are very much appreciated.

Friday, April 12, 2024

Getting Ready For Little Wars Next Week


A few slackers congregate at the Codori barn next to the Emmitsburg Road.

Well, it is six more days until Little Wars game convention begins on April 18th to April 21st, 2024 and I think that I am in fairly good shape as far as having all of the things that I will need for my game(s). I am running games on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

The scenario and the rules have been play tested five times and I really feel that the rules work and will allow for a fast playing game with lots of D6 dice rolling across the table top.

I still need (want) to add more post and rail fences for the Emmitsburg Road, but I have plenty of stone wall and rail fence sections and a huge number of snake rail fence pieces. Were the game to start tomorrow, I would have all of the fences that I need. I have 24 feet of road sections for the Emmitsburg Road, so that bit of terrain is completed.

I have set up a 12 feet long section of the game table.
The actual table will be twice the length shown in this picture.
Pickett's and Pettygrew's divisions are deployed on the right in this photo.

A close up view of the Emmitsburg Road. Pettygrew's division can be
seen in the back righthand area waiting to advance through the corn field.

The troops are painted and ready to fight. The Union army has six brigades of infantry as does the Confederate army. However, I have started a seventh Confederate brigade and have completed two of the three regiments that comprise a brigade in my game. I should be able to finish that final Confederate 30-figure regiment within the next couple of days. Trust me, these 54mm figures paint fast.

Here are a few pictures of some of the terrain enhancements that I am working on. With three 6ft by 24ft tables covered by Cigar Box Battles mats there is a lot of wide open green fields to work with and these need to be visually broken up with some terrain bits. The Codori barn and orchard will be at the end of my tables in the game, so they probably won't get involved in the action to any degree. I like to set up buildings or towns in the corners of my games so that they do not interfere with the troop movements.

Confederate artillery take up position around the Codori barn. The artillerists
are there for the "show" to make for better photo composition. 

My experiment of adding more bits of terrain around the Codori barn.
A orchard (peaches, cherries or Apples?) on the left to break up the vast canvas
of wide open fields on the game table.

Confederate artillery deploys next to the small peach orchard next to 
the Emmitsburg Road. I will have to refight the Battle of the Peach Orchard
sometime after the Little Wars convention.

Last week I brought all of the figures and terrain back home after their extended encampment at Keith L.'s house (he of the three 6ft by 32ft game tables) and have set them up on my 6ft by 15ft and 5ft by 15ft game tables. They are organized by brigades, of course, and the regiments are undergoing inspection to see if any paint touching up is required. So far I have not found any damage to the paint from handling. General Kemper did fall on the floor and was unhorsed as a result, however, he has been glued back onto his steed with epoxy glue and he should be ready to return to the battle.

Meanwhile, back to the painting table. I still have some work to do.

Saturday, April 6, 2024

Iconic Gettysburg Photo Recreated with new 54mm figures


The picture above is probably one of two of the most commonly known photographs of the battle of Gettysburg, the other being the posed picture of the dead Confederate sniper in Devil's Den.

Well guess what? I recently commissioned a company to reproduce the three figures in this photo for 3D printing in 1/32 scale (54mm). The figures were made by Speira in Sweden. These figures will comprised a vignette that I will have on my game table at Historicon, where I am hosting Pickett's Charge in 54mm.

Here are the renderings of the three figures. 

Eventually I assume that this vignette set will be made available by the company on its web store. You can order Speira figures in almost any size or scale and they will print the figures for you and then send them off in the mail to you.

I am very pleased with how the commission turned out and I look forward to getting the chance to paint them and mount them on a base with a pile of fence rails.



Yesterday Keith L. and I did our fifth and final play test of the Pickett's Charge game at his house. There were a couple of minor tweaks that we had made and we wanted to see how they played out. We also created several "situations" that are likely to pop up in a game, so we set up some figures for the situation (infantry charging into an artillery battery, among others), rolled some dice, and played out the moment.

I am very confident that we have ironed out all of the bugs and loop holes in my rules and that they are ready for the big stage. I expect some of my game players will find a thing or two though that are head scratchers.

Here are several pictures from yesterday's play test. I have already posted many pictures from earlier games so I only snapped four photos this time.

Armistead's brigade moves across the Emmitsburg Road

Garnett's brigade climbs over the post and rail fences. Another unit on the 
road has seen enough and is skedaddling to the rear.

The Rebs attempt to charge home into the stone wall. The casualty figure represents 
the spot on the table where the regiment lost a stand. The red D6 indicates the
number if casualties in the remaining stands of the regiment. I plan on replacing the 
D6s with wooden dial counters that will have terrain atop of them.

Looking down the Emmitsburg Road (facing south) as it runs to the Codori farm.

I am finished with the painting of figures and combatants for the game. The only remaining task is to make more post and rail fences for the Emmitsburg Road, the casualty counter dials, and a couple of vignettes.

Thursday, April 4, 2024

Some Conversion Officer Figures


Actor John Patrick Stuart portraying Colonel Porter Alexander,
Longstreet's corps artillery commander at Gettysburg.
(image from the film "Gettysburg")

Artillery played an important role during Pickett's Charge on Day Three of the Battle of Gettysburg, as it will in my 54mm Pickett's Charge war game at the upcoming Little Wars convention (April 18-21, 2024). I thought that it would be a good idea to have an overall commander of the Confederate artillery in my game so I endeavored to make my own version of Colonel Porter Alexander.

Longstreet: how old are you son?

Alexander: I am 28 years old, sir.

Longstreet: uh huh

I like the color of the Confederate artillery soldiers with their red kepis and facings as the uniform adds a bit of color to the otherwise drab grey and butternut uniforms of the Confederate army. I wanted Alexander to be looking through his binoculars, as he does frequently in the movie "Gettysburg" (1993), however, I could not find a suitable 54mm figure of a mounted officer with binoculars, so I would have to convert some figures and make my own Porter Alexander figure.

Colonel Porte Alexander (left) and Brigadier General James Kemper (left).
Standing figure is a generic Confederate officer.

Colonel Alexander and Brigadier General James Kemper figures were made from one particular Americana brand figure. The picture below shows the figures used to make the conversions of Alexander and Kemper. The officer standing figure from Armies In Plastic donated his arms and binoculars to Colonel Alexander, for which the latter is no doubt grateful to have.

Basic Americana mounted officer (left); Kemper figure (middle) and Alexander figure (right)
Armies In Plastic Union artillery officer shown standing.

As you can see, I made both commander figures from the same Americana officer and did some head swaps from other figures that I had. To start, I lopped off the head of the Americana officer and also decapitated the head of a Confederate soldier wearing a brimmed hat and I put the brimmed hat head onto the Americana torso to make Kemper. I also carved off the reins of the horse and made new ones out of florists' wire and put the reins in Kemper's hands.

Colonel Alexander conversion work in progress

Porter Alexander proved to be a more difficult conversion operation to perform. Doctor Fritz started by beheading the Americana officer and removing his arms. I took another Americana figure wearing a kepi and put his head on the officer's torso, using a pin to connect the head to the torso. Some green epoxy putty was used to fill in the gap around the neck of the figure.

Next step was to carve off some of the torso below the arms to thin the piece down and make it ready to attach the arms. The Armies In Plastic officer had removable arms to I did not have to do any surgery to remove his arms. Then I drilled holes into the shoulders of the mounted officer and fit in the set of arms with the binoculars. I made sure that the binoculars fit in at eye level for the kepi head and then I glued the arms onto the torso using Super Glue. Then I used more green putty to fill in the gaps around the arms and to smooth out some of the cuts that I had made to the lower torso of the officer figure.

At this point the converted figure is finished but it looks rather rough. I knew that the figure would look fine after it was painted. I would have liked to have put Alexander on a standing horse, and I have no doubt that I could have done this work on the horse shown in the pictures, but I didn't think that it was worth the time spent, so I left him on a walking horse.

Here are some pictures of the converted figures from various angles. The officer on foot is merely a head swap conversion.

So now all that is left to do is to glue the officer figures to bases, using epoxy glue, and then terraining the bases with my usual mix of spackle, paint and fine ballast material. I have another, final, play test game tomorrow so the bases will likely not get the usual static grass and tufts to finish them off. This will be done on another day.

Sunday, March 31, 2024

A New ACW Video From Der Alte Fritz Productions


Pickett's Charge play test game on Keith L.'s huge tables.
We used three tables measuring 6ft wide by 24ft long.

I made a new American Civil War video (1 minute and 40 seconds long) yesterday and posted copies all over Facebook and so far it has been very well received. I employed the Ken Burns method of showing a series of still photos that are accompanied by music. It can be very effective. Since many of my viewers don't have access to Facebook I have posted the video here on my blog. Click below to watch. I hope that you like it, especially the bit of razzle dazzle in the last frame.

The Little Wars convention is fast approaching: April 18 through April 21, 2024 in the Chicago area. I will be running my Pickett's Charge game three times, once each on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. If you happen to be at the show, please feel free to walk up to me and introduce yourself. Better yet, sign up to play in the game.


Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Play Test #4 - Pickett's Charge Scenario

Click on the pictures to enlarge

or Double Click to make them humongous

Yesterday we conducted our fourth play test of the rules for my Pickett's Charge game scenario for the upcoming Little Wars convention in April. With respect to the rules, we are down to making a few minor tweaks here and there that really don't have much impact on the way that the rules work. So we are mainly just running more iterations of the game to see what types of outcomes the rules produce.

On the terrain side of things, this was the first time that we had enough game mats from Cigar Box Battle Mats to cover the entire surface of three 6ft by 24ft tables. The difference in the look of the ground before and after using the mats is remarkable.

The two pictures below provide a "Before" and "After" view of the Union position on Cemetery Ridge with and without the Cigar Box mats.

Union position on Cemetery Ridge shown without the use of game mats.

Union position on Cemetery Ridge shown with the game mats from 
Cigar Box Battle Mats.

Here is a view of one of the back tables showing the starting deployment position of the Confederate army.

Joe Davis's Brigade of Mississippi and North Carolina regiments.
This is the starting back table for the Confederate advance.

Davis's brigade shown on a bare green painted table surface.

I'm kicking myself for not taking many "long distance" photos that show all three of the tables with the new game mats. As you may recall, we are using three 6ft by 24ft tables, arranged parallel to one another and with aisles running on each side of the center table. The aisle space does not exist in terms of table top distances. For example, if a Confederate regiment is on the back table and has 20-inches of movement and starts only 8-inches away from the edge of the back table, then the player measures the 6-inches up to the edge of the table, and then hops across the aisle to the center table, and then measures out the remaining 14-inches of movement that his regiment has. In other words, the aisle area effectively doesn't exist.

This can create some interesting moments in a game when, say, two opposing units are on opposite tables and the players do not realize how close they are to each other because their eyes have been fooled by the three feet of aisle space between the center table and one of the back tables.

Here are few more random views of the game tables with the new mats:

The Confederate back table showing the starting point of the Confederate advance.
The tree line represents Seminary Ridge. The Confederates will be moving from left to right.
This table is 6ft wide and has a length of 24ft.

Confederate's starting point on the back righthand table.

The Confederates "jump across" the aisle between the back righthand table onto the center table.

A move or two later, the Confederates approach the Emmitsburg Road while
maintaining rather orderly lines and formation.

A Confederate brigade attempts to cross the Emmitsburg Road. It takes one full turn to 
cross each post and rail fence on the road. Thus Turn 1 the regiment crosses the fence
but then that is the end of its movement for the turn. On Turn 2 the regiment can
now cross the second fence and resume its movement for up to half of its allowed movement.

And now a look at the Union deployment on Cemetery Ridge:

A Union artillery battery supports troops located in The Angle.
The famous Copse of Trees can be seen in the background.

Front view of The Angle

A Union regiment deployed behind the stone walls.

Union regiments defending The Copse of Trees which was the directional
focal point or landmark of the Confederates in Pickett's Charge.

We had to cut short the play test around 3PM because it is a one hour drive from Keith's house to my house, plus we needed about 30 minutes of post game discussion time to go over some of the things that we saw in the game. We plan on resuming the game this coming Friday, on Good Friday. After that there will be one final Dress Rehearsal play test game in early April and then it is time to pack everything up and get ready to take the show to Little Wars.

On Friday, I will make a point of taking some long view photos that include all three game tables and try to see if I can do something about the lighting so that I can produce some better looking photographs.

I am pretty much done with painting figures needed for the game so now I will be turning my efforts towards terrain pieces such as more post and rail fences for the Emmitsburg Road and perhaps a couple of 2-ft square fields using Teddy Bear Fur

Saturday, March 23, 2024

It's Time To Base My Figures - Ick!


Pettigrew's North Carolina brigade (recently based)

Click on the pictures to enlarge the view

It happens to all of us, we accumulate our painted figures but we do not get around to putting them on bases and adding all of the terrain, static grass and tufts, etc. The unhappy consequence is that we finally reach the point where the dreaded basing of figures task can no longer be ignored so we just have to pitch in and do it. This happens to me frequently.

So this time I had accumulated 49 stands of figures that needed to be based and I knew that I couldn't put the task off any longer. It helped that I have another play test of my Pickett's Charge game coming up, so I wanted the newest units off of the assembly line to get their terrained bases.

I had finished painting 6 Confederate regiments of 30 figures each (5 stands per regiment), 2 Union regiments, 7 skirmisher stands of U.S Sharpshooters, and 2 brigadier general command stands. The amount of figures painted was done over the past month or so, although I had painted two Union regiments and the sharpshooters this past week in anticipation of the play test game. The play test game was originally scheduled for last Friday (yesterday in blog time), but the weather forecast was for six inches of snow at Keith's home town so we thought it prudent to reschedule the game for this coming Monday.

A week's worth of figure basing.

The US Sharpshooters:

US Sharpshooters have been attached to bases, the bases have been terrained,
but still require static grass and tufts to finish them. These figures are made
by Armies In Plastic.

I received another batch of seven Cigar Box Battle Mats a couple of weeks ago and I am keen to lay these out on top of Keith's three 6ft by 32ft tables (although we are "only" using 24ft of table length on the three tables) and get a better idea of what the terrain will look like for my convention games this year. Here is a link to the web store of Cigar Box Battle Mats. Highly recommended!

Cigar Box Battles

Here is a picture of a Confederate brigade (3 regiments) treading across a game mat by Cigar Box Battle Mats. I like the way that the mat and the figure bases blend in together.

A North Carolina regiment in Pettygrew's Brigade

So let's see what Old Fritz based this past week. First the two new Union regiments:

The 14th Brooklyn Regiment of the First Corps

A Union regiment. I forget which one, but they all look the same. It's probably 
a unit from the First Corps, which was shattered during the battle of Day One
on July 1, 1863. Some elements of the First Corps were deployed on
Cemetery Ridge at the time of Pickett's Charge on Day Three.

Buster Kilrain figure. You just know that some company would make a figure of the fictional character in the movie "Gettysburg". Buster reminds me of the Black Knight in "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" in that in each scene of the movie, Buster gets wounded in a different part of his body and then he doesn't have the good sense to hurry up and die so that we don't have to hear him called Colonel Chamberlain "Colonel Darlin' " one more time.

Oh no, it's Buster Kilrain!

Buster Kilrain, as played by Kevin Conway in the movie "Gettysburg" which 
was based on the book "The Killer Angles".

Now before I get skewered with criticism, yes, I do know that the 14th Brooklyn regiment was not on Cemetery Ridge during Pickett's Charge on Day Three of the battle of Gettysburg. However, it is such a colorful looking unit that I just had to paint the regiment and add it to my Union forces. No company makes such a figure in 1/32 scale (54mm) as far as I know so I simply took some ordinary Union figures and painted them with red trousers and red kepis. I'm assuming that my version of the 14th Brooklyn is not wearing its gaiters. 

And now for some of the Confederates:

I really like the animation of these plastic toy soldiers from Classic Toy Soldier Company,
or "CTS" figures. That running/right shoulder shift pose is simply Fab.

Pettygrew's North Carolina brigade. They did not carry the state flag, but I 
wanted a little bit of variety in my Confederate regiments and I didn't 
want to have all of them carrying ANV Confederate battle flags.

Project Update

I believe that I am nearly finished with the painting of regiments for my Pickett's Charge war game. I have six Confederate brigades of three regiments each; and six Union brigades of three regiments each. That works out to 1,080 painted figures. This doesn't include the various mounted officer figures and extra artillery crewmen that I have painted thus far.

Upcoming Little Wars Convention

The lads will get their first "official" workout at this year's Little Wars convention April 18 - 21. 2024 at the Weston Lombard Hotel in Lombard, Illinois. See link below:

Figures that I have commissioned from Speira

I have commissioned Speira Miniatures in Sweden to make these three Confederate prisoners in the iconic photograph after the battle of Gettysburg. I don't think that they will be ready in time to appear at Little Wars, but they should be ready and painted and on my game table at Historicon in July 2024. Presumably, the figures will be made available to the public on the company's web store in the near future. You can order Speira figures printed in almost any scale or size, including 15mm, 28mm, Perry scale, 1/32 scale and more.

Play testing the scenario

We have been play testing the Pickett's Charge scenario and purpose-made rules at the expansive man cave of Keith L. A lot of progress has been made on the rules that I will use at the conventions. The rules will be on one sheet (both sides) of a standard letter size paper and are designed to be easy to learn and fast to play in a convention setting. I don't like to have complicated rules for convention games because I want the players to be able to understand them quickly and get on to the task of moving figures and rolling dice. This way the players can focus on their tactics rather than trying to figure out the rules.

Our next play test on March 25th will have all 18 of my Cigar Box Battle Mats laid out on the tables so that I can get a better feel of what the game will look like at the conventions. I will post pictures of the game probably several days after the play test game.