Monday, May 15, 2017

Scum of the Earth Review


I recently purchased Nordic Weasel's Scum of the Earth by Ivan Sorensen and finally had a chance to test it out – albeit with bare plastic models (at least they were the correct color plastic).

The game is intended to use just a handful of miniatures so that you can break out some of your figures that have been collecting dust or explore a period without having to invest large amounts of time and money. For example, an infantry unit consists of six individually-based figures.

The rules only take up about 24 of the rule's 67 pages. The rest are optional rules including campaign rules and some tools/inspiration for developing scenarios. The rules are straight forward. It is generally an I-Go-You-Go turn sequence, but there are opportunities for the passive side to interrupt the active side. Shooting and hand-to-hand combat use opposed rolls. The results of these rolls incorporate disorder and units breaking as well as casualties. This makes for a quick game and one that is visually appealing – Shaken units can be shown by a staggered line while broken units are represented by a mob of figures skulking at the rear.

Having read the rules over, I grabbed some American Civil War miniatures that had been collecting dust, and gave the rules a test drive...

Below is the field after turn three. The forces have come together. Each side has one unit broken (indicated by the stands at odd angles) and one or two units shaken  (indicated by slightly staggered stands). The Union force seems to have things well in hand – The North controls the hilltop, two of the Confederate units are shaken, and one other is broken.


However, things took a turn for the worse for the Northern troops. A series a successful volleys devastated the Union troops. At the end of turn six, the Union had only one unit that was not broken (and that one was shaken). Moreover, as the picture below shows, the Rebels' battle line was still intact. This highlights one of the features of the rules. Namely, units will tend to fall back, but if they are left alone, they can rally and return to the fight. To win you really have to keep the pressure up on the enemy.


Overall, I enjoyed the game. It was quick to learn the basics, but there are definitely some tactics that will increase your chances of success – like shooting at a unit twice in the same turn. If you don't concentrate your fire, it is hard to drive enemy troops from the field (The target unit only loses a figure if it rolls a 1 or is broken, so attrition can be slow compared to some other games). However, all things being equal, that is probably a realistic result and actually models a black powder firefight pretty well.

Another thing that became clear by the end of the game was that two forces simply marching forward and exchanging volleys until one side breaks would become stale fairly quickly. That is, the rules are so straight forward there is little "rules-gamesmanship" to engage in. But this is a good thing as it encourages players to have the proper historical mindset. Real life soldiers would not have been thing about maximizing modifiers. Moreover, it makes scenarios and campaigns worthwhile – almost a necessity. And to his credit, Ivan has included some nice scenario generating tables and campaign rules.

The only area that seemed a little off to me was that units could move and fire in the same turn without any ill effects (This is probably because I'm so used to that type of mechanic and not because of any particular knowledge of black powder warfare). And I don't think is would break the game to have units give up their movement to "reload." Indeed, I think it might add to the tactical challenge. I will definitely be trying this house rule out.

The Rebels watch the Union troops skedaddle


Saturday, April 29, 2017

Renaissance Reinforments Arrive

Received some reinforcements for my Renaissance project, and am happy with them. The detail is clear but simple. I think the smaller the figure, the less detail the better – especially from three feet away. I've found if I paint a lot of detail on a figure they may look good close up, but tend to look "muddy" at a distance. These boxes should be enough to provide two forces for an Irregular Wars game.

The Boxes...


Dark Dream Studios' European Knights/Gendarms



Command figures from RedBox's Osman Eyalet set...



...and the soldiers



Redbox's Turkish Artillery crew




Sunday, March 26, 2017

Rules and Basing for Renaissance Project

So now that I had some figures, I had to decide on rules and basing. I read up on several sets – Basic Impetus 2, Pike & Shotte, The Pikeman's Lament, and Irregular Wars: Conflict at the World's End. All of the rules have their own advantages and disadvantages, and I think all could give an enjoyable game.

My original intent was to wargame the Italian Wars. But after reading Irregular Wars I fell down a rabbit hole and came across the 1529 Siege of Vienna with Landsknechts facing off against Suleiman the Magnificent's Ottomans.

Irregular Wars seems to fit what I'm looking for – mid-sized battles played with a modest number figures on a small table. But in case I wanted to use another set of rules in the future, I decide on a flexible set of basing – stands 50mm by 25mm. I'd use four of these stands for a Pikeman's Lament unit.


 Four stands together on a movement try will give me a unit for Pike & Shotte or Basic Impetus 2.


And two stands on a tray will form a unit for Irregular Wars.



One final picture of the compulsory units for an Imperialist force for Irregular Wars – two units of mercenary pike and two units of mercenary shot.






Thursday, March 23, 2017

Finally...Fontenoy



I've been waiting for years for this battle to get the Osprey Campaign treatment. This battle, and the role of the Wild Geese in it, are really what cemented my interest in the horse and musket period. Can't wait!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Armets and Arquebuses Project

I got these two books awhile back, and I finally got around to reading them. And I'm afraid I've succumbed to yet another historical period. The 16th-Century Italian Wars sucked me in with its plumed French Gendarmes, blocks of Swiss Pikes, and colorfully-clad Landsknechts. It's that weird place in time that is both medieval and modern. A place were knight in full plate armor existed along side black powder firearms.


So, of course, I did what any gamer would do. I went out and purchased a bunch of new figures. I went with Red Box 1/72 as they have an incredibly wide selection of 16th-Century troops, and, as with all plastic 1/72 figures, they are reasonable priced (so I can justify to myself starting a completely new historical period). Stay tuned.






Saturday, April 16, 2016

Miniatures ~ French Napoleonics

Some more Napoleonics. This time late French from Perry Miniatures.


I painted some without greatcoats...




And some with greatcoats...


Overall I'm pretty happy with how these turned out. I need to add some static grass to the bases, but otherwise I feel they're complete. One thing I might repaint are the grey greatcoats. They aren't quite as flat looking in person, but I think they need some shading. I don't want to make them too dark so I think I'll paint the coats white and then put a black wash over top. That's how I painted the blanket/coat rolls on top six, and it provided a good shading and a good grey.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Miniatures ~ Russian Napoleonics

I got some very nice Russian Napoleonics for Christmas. They're 28mm from Warlord Games...



They painted up pretty easily, and I'm happy with the results – I just need to add some static grass to the base. I got these to provide an opponent (in plastic) for my Victrix French 1804-07 infantry. Now, I know these Russians are from the Line Infantry (1809-1815) set, but they'll do in a pinch.

Although I'd love to play a huge battle with these guys, given my ridiculously slow rate of painting, I'll have to stick with Song of Drums & Shakos for the near future which is a very fine and fun game – it's just not Austerlitz :)