Saturday, November 25, 2023

Where it all began...

I was walking my dogs at a local park this morning. It's a very nice park, one that both my dogs and I like very much. For whatever reason, my mind always goes to the hobby when I am there. 

This morning, I was thinking about the beginnings of my love for wargaming and toy soldiers. It all began when I was about 4 or 5 when I saw some very small painted soldiers being sold at a local flea market. This was the early 80s and my memory tells me they were someplace between 6mm and 10mm. They were horse and musket era infantry in shakos, red tunics and sky blue trousers. Someone's effort at Napoleonic British? Perhaps 19th century Danes? Who knows but I loved them. 


(These aren't Brunswickers but you get the idea)

The next purchase I remember was a pack of Minifigs 15mm Brunswick infantry. These would be my first foray into painting toy soldiers. I found a uniform book (probably from the local library) and did my best effort to paint them in their black and sky blue uniforms. I used Testor's gloss paints and I can only imagine how sloppy and shiny they turned out. As a boy of 6 or so, I was fairly proud of my efforts. 

I spent a good amount of my childhood summers at my father's house and the local library had an excellent collection of military history and wargaming books. The one that I cherished above all else was Paul Hague's Sea Battles in Miniature. I read every word and poured over every picture hundreds of times. 

During those Summer days, I made my own ancient galleys out of balsa and card and even attempted to use the guide in the book to assemble an Italian Duilio-class ironclad out of balsa. 

Many years later I purchased my own copy of Sea Battles in Miniature and it remains a hobby inspiration to this day. 

It was in high school that I was introduced to formalized wargaming with proper rules. My friends stumbled into Games Workshop's Warhammer Fantasy Battle 4th edition. I purchased a discounted box set from the Walden Bookstore at my local mall. I swapped the elves in my set with a friend to get his goblins. My painting was crude, slapping on black, olive green, red and yellow to those simple plastic miniatures. 

Over the years we would have many epic and massive battles in the Warhammer world...we even branched out into 40k and other GW sets. My best friend Rob is still painting and collecting GW stuff, however my collection these days is limited to vintage green skins, Man o' War and some unpainted box sets.

It was in college that I returned back to my historical roots and never really turned back. Projects were started from 6mm to 28mm from biblical to 20th century. I tried, and failed, to make sense of DBA and DBR.

It has been over 4 decades since I first laid eyes on those tiny red and blue clad tin soldiers and I still love the hobby very much. 

Friday, November 17, 2023

Ace of (re)Base

As I grind away on my 10mm Crimean War project, my mind goes to some possible re-basing projects. I have several collections that I think should be rebased: 15mm IDF/PLO, 10mm Dux Bellorum and 10mm Blucher

For all of these I'm thinking of going thinner (from 3mm to 1.5mm to be precise) and for two of the three, slightly bigger. I'd like to get my IDF/PLO collection based compatible to my Krapistan project since both are for AK-47. For Dux Bellorum and Blucher, I want thinner bases with a little more space for the miniatures and the addition of dice trays. 

I have plenty of figures to paint and it feels s but of a waste of time and resources to rebase but I think it would make me happy...I will keep you posted. 

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Fall In 2023

I managed to make it up to Lancaster and HMGS Fall In. I've been attending HMGS conventions for over two decades and it's always nice to return to the The Host (now known as Wyndham). 

This year, I refrained from purchasing too much although I made a significant "donation" in the form of raffle tickets although I didn't manage to win anything (probably all for the better since I have enough hobby clutter). 

I didnt see much in Wally's flea market that piqued my interest, I feel like it's always the same group of fellas who are selling the same stuff I've seen year after year. Rarely do I find something that strikes my eye, although I admit my hobby interests are a bit "niche".

Managed to play in a game of To The Strongest, and every time I play I'm reminded why I enjoy that ruleset so much. I really need to paint up my Macedonian, Indian and Persian armies this coming year. 

Also managed to get in a game of Frostgrave  with my longtime friend and gaming buddy Rob. The brilliant scenery is all Rob's and it really evokes the feeling of a cold, barren abandoned city. , my necromancer (who doesn't have a name yet) and his yellow-clad cultist minions managed some success in this scenario. Here are a few photos of that game:

Krapistan: Battle of Mirhadan

I had the opportunity to fight the first battle of the Krapistan project, the battle of Mirhadan. In the south of Kaput province, sit the twin villages of Mirhadan. Al Kebab felt the time was right to launch their offensive against these villages in an effort to establish a proper base of operations. The Nawab of Kaput was well informed of these plans and brought several of his clans and a detachment of Krapistani regulars to Mirhadan to thwart the fundamentalist assault. 

A view from the left side of the Nawab's position. In the center foreground is "Little Mirhadan" and in the upper right hand corner is "Big Mirhadan". In the center is a palm grove. 

"Little" Mirhadan sitting on the left flank of the Nawab's position. The Nawab placed clan fighters of his henchman Babak (8 infantry bases and 2 RPG bases) to defend this position. The Nawab decided to place himself with Babak's men  (which probably was a bad idea).

Uncertain of al Kebab's intentions, the Nawab placed his best and most mobile units (his personal armor and a detachment of Krapistani regulars in BTRs) in the center where they can provide support to either village of Mirhadan or the palm grove.  

The two aforementioned Krapistani army BTR-60s with lots of souvenirs strapped to the vehicles to bring back after their tour of duty in Kaput The Nawab placed his lieutenant Abdul and his clan fighters (8 militia infantry with an RPG team and a mortar with two trucks) in front of  "Big Mirhadan". 

Like the rest of the Nawab's army (with the exception of the Krapistani regulars), Abdul's clan fighters are rated as militia in AK-47 Republic. Abu Kebab's fundamentalist host is a bit more devoted to the cause and are comprised of hardened militia and clan militia.

Al Kebab's fundamentalist fighters approaching the Nawab's positions. To the left are the elite black-clad Bashi-Bazooka Brigade with the Martyr-Cycles and the Samaka Brigade in the center. To the right is the Hamal Brigade. The Samaka and Hamal Brigades were armed to the teeth with AKs, RPGs, HMGs, mortars and were supported by BMP IFVs.

The Nawab wasn't sure if Abu Kebab wanted either of the villages, the palm grove (which has succulent dates), the Nawab's head or all of the above!

The Bashi-Bazookas prior to mounting up in their Toyotas for their drive on Little Mirhadan. 

Close up of the Martyr-Cycles advancing on Little Mirhadan with the Bashi-Bazookas following in the background in  their Toyotas. AK-47 Republic doesn't have rules for motorcycles so I just basically made them infantry with wheeled vehicle movement and charged them army points as if they were in trucks.

Al Kebab's Hamal Brigade suffered heavy casualties at the hands of Clan Abdul  on the right flank. Despite heavy losses, the Hamal Brigade routed Clan Abdul, leaving the road to Big Mirhadan unopposed. In a desperate move, the Nawab ordered the Krapistani regulars to stop the Hamal Brigade. This was a mistake as it pulled his most competent unit further away from the crucial fight on the left flank

Al Kebab received timely reinforcements when the Farkha Brigade arrived. It became apparent to the Nawab that Al Kebab wanted to take Little Mirhadan. The Bashi-Bazookas, Martyr-Cycles and Farkha Brigades violently assaulted the village and after desperate house to house fighting, it appeared Little Mirhadan would fall. The Nawab chose to remain in the desperate hope that his friend Khan would arrive with his clan followers. 

View from the Al Kebab right as they launch their assault on the village. The fundamentalists may have lacked proper tanks but they had speed and firepower with multiple AA guns on technicals.

The Nawab's tanks, the pride of his warlord army, snuffed out a flanking attempt on Little Mirhadan by the Samaka Brigade and were attempting the relive the pressure of al Kebab's assault on the Nawab's left.

Meanwhile, on the right flank, the Krapistani regulars took time from picking dates in the palm grove to mop up the last remaining remnants of the Hamal Brigade.

With the Hamal Brigade in flames, the residents of  Big Mirhadan were safe from the repressive recipes of Al Kebab....for now.

Abu Kebab and his followers attempt their encirclement of the smaller village.

In the end, Clan Khan never arrived on the table to save the Warlord of Kaput province, as the Nawab fell with his men to the last as Al Kabab captured Little Mirhadan. Al Kebab was victorious having achieved two of their three goals (Little Mirhadan and the Nawab's head on a skewer). 

Abu Kebab secured his base of operations and destabilized the province. Rumor has it that the skewers of meat were slow-cooked on the smoldering ruins of the village buildings.  Meanwhile, back in the capital, the Krapistani government pulled the Nawab's eldest son from his harem and informed him that his father had fallen and it was now his time to become the new Nawab. Will Al Kebab continue their advance? Surely the (new) Nawab call for a counter-offensive and seek revenge? Only time (and my chaotic schedule) will tell...


Thursday, November 2, 2023

Krapistan and it's Al Kebab Problem

On the eve of HMGS Fall In, I am preparing for my first battle of Krapistan, my AK-47 Republic imagination. Let me introduce you to the primary principals of this fantasy land:

Krapistan: a poor, backwater country plagued by tribal factionalism. The corrupt central government is at the mercy of corrupt tribal warlords. 

Kaput: Our campaign follows one of the more volatile provinces of Krapistan, Kaput. The province of Kaput is run by it's not so friendly local Warlord, the Nawab. The Nawab of Kaput enjoys the backing of the national government. 

Al Kebab: a fundamentalist religious movement centered around the preferred ways of cooking various meats on skewers. Al Kebab does not tolerate blasphemous methods of grilling skewered proteins and veggies. The mysterious leader of Al Kebab goes by his not so original "nom de Guerrero", Abu Kebab Al Kebab. 

Everyone likes flags so they know who and what to rally behind. Symbols mean so much in the world and Krapistan is no different. For the flag of Krapistan, the reds represent the meats to be enjoyed, whereas the green represents the veggies and the brown represents something entirely different in the process. This flag means little to the Nawab of Kaput, or any other Warlord, but they fly the flag nonetheless to ensure that they receive the support of the central government.

Above you will find the flag of Al Kebab. For the followers of all Kebab, all of those who refuse to honor the time-old cooking traditions will be smited...for them these grilling blasphemies are a black and white issue, thus the colors of their flag. 

Rumor has it, as a young boy growing up in the dusty back alleys of Kaput, Abu Kebab was horrified by the improper seasoning and cooking methods of grilling meats and veggies. These traumas pushed him to form a movement and that movement now threatens the establishment. The Nawab of Kaput has vowed to snuff out Abu Kebab's growing insurrection and thus we have war once again in Krapistan.