Sunday, January 12, 2014

A Review of Chainmail Bikini

I can hardly believe it has been more than a month since I have posted but the holiday season really flew by this year and ate into my hobby time. That is not to say I did not take a few nights for Pathfinder games or to find a little time to paint. I've now added a WWII 28mm project to my workbench to give both Bolt Action and Chain of Command a try but that's a post for another day.

A Cunning (& Sexy) Barbarian Adventure of (Dim)Wits!

I've been bugging Howard Whitehouse to give his new Chainmail Bikini rules a try. Like everything Howard does, it promises to be hours of hilarious fun with simple rules that anyone from the ages of 8 to 180 can understand. As the title of the rules implies, it is a game of adventure that feels like a cross between tales from Robert E. Howard's Hyborea and the humor of a Monty Python sketch. What these rules are not, are high fantasy adventure with elves or dwarves as you might find in D&D or Pathfinder. There are some low fantasy elements though like lumbering ogres and ghostly wraiths (as I'll explain later).

The Enigmatic & Very British Howard Whitehouse
Our adventure began with Howard questioning as to who had the largest feet in the group and, of course, it just so happened that I won with a whopping size 16. After all, you know what they say about a man with large feet? He has large socks! This was his way of deciding who would get to choose their figures first and without hesitation I chose the Sisters of the Sword. A group of six, scantily clad warrior women who were tasked with entering the dungeon in search of a golden belly ring that was stolen by the barbarians and affixed to "Eric the Idol." It was likely my ladies would have to throttle some barbarians for answers.

The dungeon layout.
The dungeon of course had a back story (something about barbarians taking their sweet time in clearing it out because they are too busy getting wasted) and so did our groups. Each group (4 in total including mine) had a specific mission in the dungeon depending on where we started. I already told you mine but the others included searching for a book, stealing lots of valuables, and stealing some magic candlesticks.

Sisters of the Sword!
The sisters enter the dungeon.
The Sisters entered the dungeon where they encountered a drunken, groggy guard that they quickly dispatched with a swift blow to the...arm....using the barbarian's own mug. While the combat was simple, fun, and easy as it utilizes both dice and cards, it can be a bit foolish when you somehow manage to knock a guard unconcious by striking a blow on his arm. Remember though, this is like a Hollywood film. It doesn't have to make sense, it just has to be entertaining and it was! 

A Throne of Hammered Barbarians!
Creeping into the throne room, the Sisters encountered a mass of sleeping and hungover barbarians lying in their own filth. With some lucky rolls, my Sisters managed to slip by without so much as a sound (well...they did make a little sound but not enough to wake the barbarians). Meanwhile, elsewhere in the dungeon the Irish barbarians played by John were being viciously mauled by lions. Assassins played by Barry were desecrating the dead in search of valuables. And Pete (playing Middle Eastern looking warriors) was battling two lumbering ogres who had been trying to play dice but didn't quite know the rules.

The Irish family of Barbarians really opened the wrong door.
Those goth kids have no respect for the dead.
My girls went back into action, this time waking and throttling a barbarian to find the idol before seeing that those goth like assassins were hanging out in the hallway and busily trying to con a guard into letting them steal some jewels. The ogres and Middle Eastern warriors in the next hall were causing quite the racket though and began to wake the barbarians in the throne room where I was! So, what were my girls to do? Scream and tell the barbarians, "Those bad men in the hallway are trying to steal all your gold! We're just helpless dancers!" The barbarians, with the combined IQ of a squirrel, agreed that this was a truthful story and took off after the assassins while my girls snuck past into the corridor for the idol.

Eric the Idol surrounded by sleeping pussy cats.
The Sisters finally (after a hilarious meeting and diplomatic negotiating with the Irish family) made it to the door where Eric the Idol was but realized that the recently fattened cats were now in there sleeping with the odor of potatoes and dark ale on their breath. The most nimble of the Sisters, utilizing her acrobatic skills, snuck in and...of course stepped on a tail! All I had to do was not roll a 6 but of course, I got a 6. Thus, the lions woke and quickly the ladies broke out into a song of "Soft Kitty" to lull them back to sleep. Howard the GM deemed this a fitting feat and on a successful roll, the lions were fast asleep and I was on my way to victory with the ring in hand.

In the end, all parties were successful. If there was a loser, it was the Irish family as they lost one of their members to the hungry lions and another kicked a magical chest and was quickly transported into another dimension and never seen again....EVER!

The Review
Let's get down to it and rate these rules. I'm a bit biased because I have always made it a point to participate in at least one of Howard's games at Historicon in the past. They are the most fun I will have all weekend and provide the most laughs. Even my father, who is definitely not a wargamer, looks forward to Howard's games. I like to take a break from sending regiments of men to their deaths on vast plains of green felt and this type of game is the best way to do that.

Like Howard's other rules, the combat system is easy to understand and fun. It is not over complicated and utilizes a handy chart that tells you where a blow has landed. Each player had both blue and red cards. The blue cards were your defense and red were offensive. These cards, according to who was the attacker and who was the defender, would have to be drawn at random and when drawn, it was possible you might draw a blunder type card. This meant your character suddenly did something idiotic like drop his sword or trip. There was also a "Taunt" card which you assuredly did not want to draw when on the defense lest your sudden mooning of the enemy result in a spear up your rear.

As for the game play, I was speaking to my friend Craig prior to the game and he was pointing out how much D&D, Pathfinder, and other more traditional role play games have slowly been moving towards more of a combat focus rather than the actual role playing. I tend to agree with him on this and when we were playing Chainmail Bikini, I saw more role playing in those 3-4 hours than I have in any other traditional role playing. It was even more enjoyable to see some of the non-role players get into it and do their character voices,

Chainmail Bikini won't be for everyone but I don't think it ever intends to be. It's going to be a game for those who want to create a great Hollywood style adventure with their friends and have a ton of laughs doing it. I am going to refrain from giving these rules a hard number out of 10 like I might usually do just because I don't own a hard copy of them to really review and test. Also, it was my first and only game. I will definitely be adding these rules to my shelf though because I think they will make for a fun time with the guys after a long week of work.

At the end of your first game of Chainmal Bikini, you will only wish to drive your enemy before you and hear the lamentations of his women! For that is what is best in life! If you are interested in buying Chainmail Bikini when it is released, keep an eye on Howard's website, Pulp Action Library.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A Quick Conversion Piece

I've seen a lot of wargamers lately taking those Christmas villages that pop up every season in Walmart and converting them to useful battlefield terrain. They are inexpensive, pretty solid, and easy to find in any Walmart, K-Mart, or even a dollar store. I wanted to give one a shot so I headed over to eBay and began browsing some of the cheaper ones that could really fit into any 28mm game from medieval up to perhaps even modern. The "2004 Cobblestone Corners Windham Heights Angel Domed Gazebo" fit the bill exactly and right away I was picturing how to convert it to something useful.

As purchased from eBay.
The seller packaged it in order to survive just about any scenario including a nuclear holocaust as it took me well over 6 hours to cut through the packaging and requiring me to sharpen my knife at least 10 times in between layers. (Okay, that's a bit of an exaggeration, it was more like 5 hours and 8 times to sharpen.) I started by applying a layer of black primer and paint in one.

Reaper Bones figures for size comparison.
I was afraid the 'glittering snow' would be a pain to cover but in actuality the glitter added a more graveled look to the steps. I then used a layer of craft store dark grey for the stone work and the dome in a German grey-green. I was originally thinking of doing an oxidized copper jade over the grey-green but I really liked the way it turned out so I kept it.

The last step was to dry brush on some light grey and then a mixture of olive drab green, dirt brown, and mustard yellow on the spots that looked like they could be a good source of moss and dirt. Finally, I flocked where necessary to cover up the clumps of snow.

The final product.
I couldn't be happier with the way it turned out in the end. I truly love how it looks and I am looking forward to utilizing it on a 28mm game. I could see this on an early war Belgian battlefield or at the heart of a battle between orcs and elves.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Pathfinder: or How I Learned to Stop Grimacing and Love "Big Bang Theory"

After watching a recent episode of "The Big Bang Theory" with my wife (her favorite show), I noticed that the guys on the show seem to really enjoy Dungeons & Dragons. The show was never my favorite as I always thought it gave a negative stereotype of geeks but I see it does have its moments and I think it makes my wife appreciate my nerdiness at times. D&D is one of those tabletop games that I just never tried because, as a history geek, I always have my plate full with thousands of years worth of warfare. In idle boredom, I began to read about the D&D rules but found a lot of people were more satisfied with a game called "Pathfinder" which is essentially a modified version of D&D. I then ended up spending an hour and twenty minutes on YouTube watching The Dice Stormers from Britain play a full game of it...

I was hooked!

The laughter alone from watching them play was worth it. I grew up with the old school MUDs, AOL Role Play, and then the later MMOs like Asheron's Call so role play is not a foreign concept to me. (Though when I first told my wife that I used to role play she thought I was into some kind of kinky costume stuff.) The only difference seems to be is that there are a hell of a lot more rules to learn, the math is all on you, and the role play is done in person with a lot more humor rolled in.

After doing my research, I headed over to Paizo and purchased the PDF version of the Core Rules as well as the Beginner Box. I already had taken advantage of some Black Friday sales and purchased some Reaper Bones figures. At, I found a local group that games Pathfinder every 2 weeks and attended my first game on Monday night. Funny thing was I ran into someone I met through mutual friends in historical wargaming years ago. He made my transition from historical gaming to Pathfinder very easy as he helped me create my first character: Thorvald, an Ulfen Ranger. Though I couldn't play Thorvald that night, I played a pregenerated Dwarf Ranger for a Pathfinder Society game.


The scenario (is that the correct term?) was called "Amongst the Gods." We (a Dwarf Ranger, Elven rogue, Human Paladin, and Human Mage) adventured into the land known as Taldor where we were tasked with seeking out a magical scepter in the mountains. After narrowly avoiding a few poorly placed traps, we began to bed down for the night at an abandoned camp site only to be attacked by a vicious manticore! Our 4 adventurers narrowly defeated the manticore and after much healing, headed to bed. In the morning, my dwarf successfully woke up his fellowship with an apparently magnificent dwarven song with backup from the elf. (I rolled a 20 and he a 19!) In traveling higher up into the mountains, a rock slide nearly killed my compatriots but my dwarf's axe warded off any of those blasted stones that tried to crush him.

Then, at a corrupted temple, we were attacked by ghasts which infected me, disabled the Elf and mage, and left only the Paladin to battle them. He did his job and bravely defeated them thankfully or our journey would had come to an end right there. Sadly, my dwarf was infected and had to fight off becoming a ghast for another day. Finally, we reached the summit and entered the Crypt of House Tulwin. A flesh golem stood no chance against us as my dwarf brutally hacked away at the ugly creature with the assistance of the elf rogue and some fire from our paladin. The scepter was ours!

Outside the crypt, we were met by an evil cleric wearing a skull mask named Harvestmaster Quint as well as his minions. A battle ensued and victory came at great effort! (Actually, it was getting late and we needed to wrap up the game.) For my efforts in this game, my character was richly rewarded with 500 gold, 1 xp (it seems Society games only give 1 xp per mission but 3 xp raises a level?) as well as 1 Prestige point. I still haven't figured everything out in the game but I have a list of questions for the guys on the next Monday that we meet.

There you have it! My first adventure in the Pathfinder universe. I'll let you know if the next game is as interesting as this one was. I also have a few Reaper figures to get painted up!


An awesome wizard and female paladin.
Fighter, alchemist and dwarf.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

My Prussian Army Grows & Happy Turkey Day!

Continuing with my 1860s - 1870s Prussians, I just painted a unit of Württembergers and added them to my growing collection. It has become my realization that I need more standard bearers for each unit so I will be adding another to the Prussian Line Infantry as well as another for the Württembergers. The Württemberg command figures are on order as I did not have any.

A stroll in the French countryside perhaps?
Württemberg Line Infantry
Prussian Dragoons
Prussian Line Regiment
Prussian Line Regiment
Prussian Artillery
Bavarian Line Regiment
Saxon Jager
There you have it, my work so far. I have been wanting to add some color to my Prussian Army but very few units (even amongst their allies) offer anything different than the usual pickelhaube and dark blue jacket. In my research, I found that Anhalt's uniforms of the period were quite different. They wore a medium green jacket with their regimental colors on their cuffs, collars and epaulets. The pants were in a dark grey with their regimental color running down their leg. The majority of sources show their pickelhaube with a silver spike and badge but a few others do show them both as gold. I will be painting the 93rd Anhalt Infantry Regiment with its pink regimental colors.

Anhaltisches Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 93
My next phase of the project is going to be to complete some Prussian Hussars, a couple more Prussian officers and standard bearers, as well as the Württemberg command base. Afterwards, I will begin painting some French for the period to give myself an opposing army. Thanks for looking and for all my fellow Americans, Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Reality of War: A Memoir of the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71)

It's been a while since I had an update but rest assured that I have not put down my brush. While simultaneously painting my Wurttemburg infantry and Prussian Hussars for the Franco-Prussian War, I have also been re-reading an excellent first hand account of the war by Leonce Patry called "The Reality of War: A Memoir of the Franco-Prussian War." It has been almost 8 years since I last read this book and I can say I did so back then with much more skimming for details on Metz rather than for enjoyment as it was for my military history class.

This memoir is an almost painful look into how inept the French officers were as it follows Leonce's adventures at part of the 6th Line Infantry Regiment. Leonce is a tricky Lieutenant recounting how he was just about to be placed into a rear echelon job but, through his wit, he ends up marching to the front to fight. While much of the start of the war is spent in tedium and dodging his pesky colonel, he provides rich detail of what the French encountered in their fighting. You might almost think the French would have had a shot had it not been for their terrible chain of command. Though I disagree with Leonce on this, I can certainly empathize with him and his youthful fervor.

The book is rich in historical significance as Leonce is an eyewitness to historical events such as Bazaine's surrender at Metz, the formation of Faidherbe's Army of the North, and even the retaking of Paris from the Communards. If you are as enthusiastic about the Franco-Prussian War as I am, this is a must for your bookshelf!

In other news, I have decided to take the Zedcember Pledge over at The Quick and the Zed Blog to paint 1 zombie or survivor figure per week for the month of December. I have nearly 1,000 unpainted zombies and survivors in 15mm so finding four that I want to paint is no problem. Stay tuned for Wurttemburgers, Hussars and ZOMBIES!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

1862: A Dark Year (Longstreet AAR)

Continuing on with our Longstreet Campaign, we entered 1862 where I was soundly beaten by my friend Phil at his house. We rolled for meeting engagement and, unfortunately, the dice were heavily against me that night. My troops took a licking and met their breaking point.

My force after the first defeat in 1862.
Afterward, I scheduled a game at my place with our resident Master of Horse, DJ. I expected him to have lots of cavalry and I was not disappointed. He came into the battle with plenty of mounted troops and when it came time to roll for a scenario we were given another meeting engagement style map with some crops obscuring my artillery.

My Rebels (bottom) move up to entrench along the corn.
My first move was to sent up my troops to entrench along the corn and create a solid defensive position. My artillery was positioned along two corridors where they would get some possible shots on his advancing yankees. His cavalry immediately moved toward my flanks in hopes of drawing off some of my units to guard them. The maneuver was a good one as I indeed fell for the feint. With my Zouaves and cavalry tied up on the wings, his Heavy Rifles absolutely ripped my exposed artillery and cavalry to shreds.

Attempting to secure the flank only to be chewed by shell.
DJ, never one to turn down the gift of cavalry combat, received my Confederate charge on his men well. I defeated him just barely and forced him to remove a base and take 3 steps back.

The 4th Louisiana takes a bite out of the damned yankee cavalry!
Things were looking okay for me as I began to pull in my artillery after they took some losses and consolidated my defense. My well entrenched men in the cornfields made some successful volleys on the enemy while one of DJ's cavalry units got mired down on the left flank, allowing my Zouaves to chip away at them up for 3 straight turns. But then DJ played the "Confusion" card and forced my 1st Tennessee "Memphis" Regiment to advance from their dug in position and into the midst of a 2 larger regiments of blue devils. The entire regiment was destroyed in a single turn. How I hate that damn card!

The center cornfield is where the 1st TN got confused and rushed headlong into the yanks.
The battle was all but over at that point. We traded a few more punches and with a lucky roll of 6 by DJ, the game was over as I reached the breaking point. While I earned another Epic Point for my cavalry's heroic charge, it will take a victory to ensure a total Confederate victory in the campaign.

Force Roster after the completed battle and campaign cards.
Post Battle: I was lucky to finally get some rifled artillery as well as a new cavalry unit and some replacement infantry on the card draw. I was forced to take a second personality which turned out to be a personal physician. The physician card gives me immunity from "They Couldn't Hit An..." as well as another benefit which escapes me at the moment. The last card, "See the Elephant," allowed me to make my Zouaves into Veterans.

As for DJ, he was the real unlucky one in post battle. His largest and best unit was struck heavily with typhoid and reduced in half (I believe it went from 8 bases to 4 and then up another one to 5 with replacements). 

I'm not completely happy with my roster as I despise cavalry but the replacement artillery was desperately needed. Here's to hoping 1863 is a better year and, in the words of my figures, the south shall rise again!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Bavarians & Saxons in 15mm

My compatriot's secret project is coming along well as I have submitted to him all the necessary research. At this point, it is all about the rules so we are going back and forth in emails on that subject to make sure they will fit the armies of the late 19th century. Inspired by the project, I have decided to finish painting up some 1870 Bavarians in 15mm I had started as well as painting up a Saxon Jäger.

LtoR: Bavarian Command (FPW36), Saxon Jäger (FPW50), & Bavarian Line Infantry
Old Glory Bavarians Skirmishing (FPW38)
I used a slightly darker Bavarian blue color to catch the faded look.
As I mentioned in the captions, these are all Old Glory figures that I have had sitting around for close to 3 or 4 years now. The only issue I have with the OG Bavarians is that the Command have epaulets on their shoulders and according to all the pictures I have seen of Bavarians in 1870, they did not have epaulets. Warfare in the Age of Steam, one of my favorite blogs, has some great plates showing Bavarian infantry in 1870. The Osprey on the Franco-Prussian War units of Prussia is also useful.

"Get up you fools! They are sculpting me with epaulets!"
The OG figures I did will be joining some unknown (UPDATE: Figures made by Minifigs. Info thanks to John Leahy over at TMP) 1870 Bavarians I had bought off eBay a while back that I stripped and repainted. The sculpts on those are far more accurate as they come with full kit and I wish I knew who made them. Downside of the eBay figures is that they only come in 1 pose (advancing). The OG figures come in several different poses.

Old Glory Bavarians (15mm)
  • Historical Accuracy: 7/10
  • Pose Quality: 8/10
  • Pose Number: 8/10
  • Sculpting: 8/10
  • Mould: 8/10
Overall, I am happy with the figures and how they painted up but there are some issues with them. The biggest issue is the sculpting around the shoulders. It almost seems as if the sculptor was unsure as to what to put there so on some poses you see hints of an epaulet while others have shoulder wings that are more like a single dot. This could be from the mould needing to be redone or even possibly just an awkward sculpt. The mysterious epaulets can be fixed with a hobby knife or file. I also like the look of full kit, which these figures lack. Some of the figures don't even have bayonet sheaths.

The Minifigs Bavarians from eBay.
As for the Saxon Jägers (FPW50), it doesn't look like OG15s carry them anymore sadly but you can get them from other distributors who have packs laying around. They are good sculpts and easy to paint as their uniforms were dark green jackets with black trousers (which is also a downside as any detail gets lost anyway). Next up are some Württemberg infantry, a mounted officer, some General Staff and another regiment of Prussians. Also a ton of basing!