Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Brazen Biscuits: Enfilade! 2018

Enfilade! 2018 is over. I had one of the best times in years. One great factor was that I stayed over now that I have the bigger car that can haul more stuff. I didn't have to make trips back and forth 80 miles to get everything I needed for the games I hosted.

I only hosted two games this year: My Bronze Age Skirmish game using Advanced Song of Blades and Heroes from Ganesha Games and The Battle of the Ford of the Biscuits using The Pikeman's Lament. Both games went very well and the players were great.

The crowd at the convention still showed a lot of familiar faces, but fewer of the old guard were on hand and a lot of newer faces (the young guard) were there—or newer to me; I'm sure they've had their faces for a long time. It's funny and a bit poignant to reflect that we've been doing Enfilade! for 28 years now, more than a quarter century. The children I recall coming with their dads ages ago are now full-on adults. Many of the spry (or spryer) young men of that time are grizzled old men now or have passed away.

But we go on and the hobby goes on with us. For all the remembered glory of gaming past, now is the best time to be in the hobby. There is so much that is new and exciting coming out from figure manufacturers, terrain pieces, etc. Nostalgia addict though I may be, I wouldn't go back to the old days. I saw a pack of old, old 25mm MiniFigs amidst a lot of recycled/used gaming bits on vendor had. They were some mounted Napoleonics. They were way dinky compared with current "25s" and minimally detailed. I remember when they were the cutting edge. Times change.

Enfilade! is just on the cusp of outgrowing the space we've had at the Red Lion Hotel Olympia. This year's attendees numbered 410. That's nothing compared to Historicon or Fall In, but a lot for what was once a wee convocation of local gamers. Our first Enfilade! was held in Lynnwood, where I live now. We outgrew that space long ago (and the convention rooms have been demolished, so there's that) and have been at RLHO for 16 years with two more years to go on our current contract with them. It's a great space, even though it's an 85-mile drive for me—and much farther for the Canadians who come down. It's hard to imagine anywhere in this area with a larger convention room attached to or very near a hotel—certainly not something affordable.

Games I ran

As I mentioned above, I ran two games over the weekend.

Bronze Age Heroes

Mayhem beneath the megaliths
I'm kind of an old hand hosting this game. I have my beloved 40mm Bronze Age minis from Monolith Designs/Graven Images, sculpted by the late Jim Bowen. I've augmented the ones I painted years ago with some new, as yet unpainted, reinforcements. I hoped to have some to add for Enfilade!, but the other game took all my effort to prepare.

I was happy to bring back to Enfilade! the megaliths that I bought from Darryl Nichols, who used them in his game last year. They're the perfect size for the 40mm minis and add a great look to the game board. I don't suppose I can use them in every game I play...

I love the Advanced Song of Blades and Heroes rules. For skirmish gaming they really flow well and leave a lot of tactical choice. I cut out some of the advanced bits because it's difficult managing them in a multiplayer game with a lot of newbies. The reaction rules are very nice, but only suitable for a smaller number of experienced players. Otherwise, a turn bogs down as multiple players keep reacting.

The scenario had two sides rushing in to capture and drag off the 4-figure cult group, who of course scattered as soon as their potential abductors showed up. One escaped, one side captured one and the other side captured the remaining two.

There was also a lot of hacking and slashing between the rival sides, with several gruesome kills and heroes/leaders lost.

The Battle of the Ford of the Biscuits

This is the culmination of the year and a half of The Irish Project. I'm quite pleased with myself. Large projects have always been my undoing before this. I have 120 English and 132 Irish minis painted for this now. I have only six Irish cavalry unpainted, and I just finally ordered some English horse—two units of demilancers and two of petronels. I didn't need any mounted English to do the game, so I didn't bother getting or painting any before this. Going ahead, I'll want mounted for both sides. My hope is that after all my effort, I'll be able to get a lot of gaming out of the 250+ minis I have.

Irish Pike crossing a stream
The game scenario was an attack on an English column marching to relieve the beleaguered garrison of Enniskillen. I didn't have a chance to playtest the scenario. If I had, I would have made some tweaks. Even then, the game went well and the players enjoyed themselves.

English on the march
The English got some units across the ford, but fell victim to the fire of the Irish calivermen manning the demilune.

Defending the ford
The English did, however, manage to shoot up the Irish horse and at the end of the game, the English general (Sir Henry Duke) with his body guard of armored billmen managed to kill the Irish leader (Hugh McGuire) and his bodyguard of gallowglass.

The growing dead pile
The Irish won, even though there was a lot of loss on both sides, so a very historical outcome. The main factor was the loss of the supply wagons and all those biscuits (i.e., 16th c. hard tack). I'll play it again soon at The Panzer Depot and get the tweaks in that will make it a bit more competitive for the English.

Games I played

I managed to get into a few games as a participant as well. This is rare for me at Enfilade! I'm either hosting a game or kibitzing or eating or shopping. I rarely play in other people's games, but the new event sign-up system we have enables online event sign-up, so I don't have to content with the huge line of people signing up for events at the con (which we've now done away with).

One game I had to drop out of, which was a shame. Spencer Fisher ran a The Pikeman's Lament game of the Battle of Fornovo. It looked very nice. I preregistered for it online, but it was being played in the first period on Friday and I started out from home too late and the traffic was too bad that I didn't arrive at the con until the game had started. C'est la guerre. Spencer was one of the Irish players in my Ford of the Biscuits game.

What a Tanker!

I managed to get into a game of the new Too Fat Lardies game What a Tanker! I wasn't sure what to think of it, but it played very well after  a few learning turns. There were six of us playing. I ran a Russian IS-2. The other Russian players had a T-34c and and SU-85. We faces a StuG III, Pz IVh, and a Panther G.

Setup and terrain
Dean Motoyama, playing the T-34, got a hit on the StuG, but failed to do any serious damage. I managed a couple shots at it and blowed it up.

However, trading shots with the Panther, I managed one hit that did little damage, then failed spectacularly (rolled snake-eyes) on my next shot. Alas, the Panther took me out. Then, off to bed rather than mount another iron steed.

Doomed IS-2
I liked the game so much I ordered a copy from TFL and have been scouring my boxes to see what I have in painted/partially painted/unpainted tanks in 15mm. I have a lot, despite selling off most of my WW2.

Mad Wet Max

Some years ago Dave Schueler and Kevin Smyth made variants of the Formula Dé racing game for air racing and hydroplane racing. These have been crowd favorites at Enfilade! conventions in the past. They sent a copy of the hydroplane rules to David Manley in the UK. His group played them, but decided they needed some weapons fire to really make them work. Thus was Mad Wet Max born.

Tigershark: Armed and dangerous
The game is a lot of fun and very unlike a real race. For one thing there is no general direction. Players go (mostly) full throttle in any direction to drive past hexes containing one of three numbered buoys. After passing all three three times, you exit past the finish buoy. However, there is much danger from collisions, getting upset by going through another player's rooster tail—and weapons fire from other players and aggressive spectators (with RPGs, stinger missiles, shotguns, etc.).

Ornery spectators
Most games come down to a couple—or one—survivor. To my own surprise, I managed to be one of the last two boats afloat, but was still trying to get my last buoy while the winner raced past the finish buoy.

I took hits from other boats and spectators, but I gave better than I got. I had a few turns where my gunner was doing much damage, until he was killed by shotgun fire from a crowd of rural Americans in the bleachers.

Stuff I bought

I can't escape Enfilade! without getting some new toys. Though not much this year. I didn't sell much either, but did get $200.00 for a pile of 28mm Dixon ACW figures.


Bob Murch of Pulp Figures came down from Kelowna, B.C. with toys to sell—including some of the excellent Flint & Feather minis from Crucible Crush. I got a boxed set of the Iroqouis warband, but Bob brought some yet unreleased packs of Iroquois great warriors, striplings, and musket-armed warriors, which I promptly snagged. I've spent some time this morning cleaning several of these. They are very, very nice minis.

WIP—straight to the painting table from Enfilade!
The range covers Native Americans (for now Hurons and Iroquois) in the period just before or just after contact with Europeans. The warriors are mostly armed with bows and some kind of close combat weapon. However, most have one or the other. Some also have wooden shields and/or wooden body armor. Then there are the musket armed figures who have 17th c. matchlocks. Very cool.

I've had my eye on the range for a while, but was waiting for the great warriors and muskets to be available before I ordered any. I'm glad Bob showed up with them in tow.

Getting up close and personal while cleaning them, I can see just how beautiful the minis are. They'll be pretty simple to paint. The color palette is mostly tans and browns with some more colorful highlights for feathers. They'll be singly based, but I'm not sure whether to go with Litko bases, round metal washers, or my plastic cut-outs.

I plan to use them for Song of Drums and Tomahawks. These rules are an official variant of Andrea Sfilogis' Song of Blades and Heroes (the rules I use for my Bronze Age games). The rules are for the French and Indian War, but can be used for any North American conflicts involving Native Americans, whether inter-tribal warfare or clashes with Europeans. I have several 30 Years War minis from The Assault Group that I think will work for early colonial French, Dutch, English.

I've lured Kevin Smyth into the event horizon of this project and he's gone and ordered some Hurons from Crucible Crush (he wasn't sure about buying some at the convention until it was too late). This is really a perfect project for him since he's already done so much with early America and the clashes between the various native and colonial peoples (and post-colonial 'Mericans of course).

The home front

I had a cat sitter mind the munchkins while I was at the convention. I've done this before. It's a comfort that a professional will be taking care of them. This is especially true because of the cat v. cat situation at Stately Chez Dave. Bogart is still a pariah to the girls, especially Maebh.

When I came home on Sunday afternoon, Bogart was out and about the house and the girls were shut in the bedroom. After I played with Bogey for a bit, I went upstairs. The girls don't like strangers and I figured they'd hide from the sitter, as they have done in the past. No change from this year.

I found Rhiannon under the bed, but no sign of Maebh. I checked every nook and cranny, called out her name, but nothing. I started to get worried. I texted the sitter and asked, "Where is Maebh?" She texted back that when she left that morning Maebh had crawled under the covers of my bed. I didn't see a lump, but I pulled back the covers and out she popped like a jack in the box. She was snuggled right up against the pillow. Perfect concealment.

All the cats were glad to see me. Bogart couldn't stop nuzzling me with his face. Maebh sat on my chest purring loudly as I relaxed on the couch and later in my recliner. Rhiannon head-butted me and snuggled up to me on the couch. It's nice to be missed.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Enfilade ho! (the mad dash to the finish)

Enfilade! is a week away and I'm painting and working on terrain like crazy.

I don't think I've ever had the kind of productivity I've had in the last couple years. The Miracle Dip™ deserves all the credited for this.

It's a good thing, too, that I'm being productive because I'm moving into Enfilade Death March mode. I'm hosting two Enfilade! events. One, a Bronze Age skirmish game that I've run before and I can do it without any further effort (though it would be nice to get some of my 40mm mounted Prehistoricalistic Europeanoids completed). The other, the Irish Project, has been an undertaking. I've made steady progress on it, even though I've turned off the straight and narrow a few times to work on some other "Rampant" projects—and let's be honest, I'm also lazy.


All of the figures/models I need for the Irish Project event are either (1) completely painted and based, (2) completely painted but unbased, (3) nearly completely painted. That says a lot, but the final bit will be a mad dash since there's a very large number in the (2) and (3) categories, though mostly (2).

For me the big hurdle in painting minis is getting them past the dipped (i.e., glopped) phase. It's smooth sailing after that. However, the way I do most things requires waiting time. I have a multi-stage process that works very well openendedly (is that a word?), but can be tough when dealing with an unforgivingly hard deadline.

Assuming I get all the minis completely painted and dipped by this weekend, that leaves a lot of basing to do in the remaining four days till Enfilade. I'm taking the week off work, so I'll have a lot of time, but some things take a few days "curing" time; for example, I tend to wait at least 48 hours after dipping before I brush on a coat of matte varnish, which protects the Minwax stain from curling when the dullcote hits it (it's been a problem). I also tend to wait at least 24 hours for the pumice gel medium I use for basing to dry. I expect to be dullcoting final based minis Thursday night before the convention.

Bases ready to load

I've made marvelous progress this week. I've had to revise this post several times since starting it last weekend because I outstripped my reported progress.

Pikes leveled, ready for the gel medium

At this point, I'll have all my minis based and glopped with MinWax by tonight, or early tomorrow.

Various stages of preparation

All along, the process of completing nearly 200 minis—with no two painted alike—seemed like chaos, but it all eventually came together. I can still do a kind of batch painting by applying a single color to a small group of minis, then another color, etc.

I would certainly have accomplished more sooner if I were more disciplined in painting—as if that were possible. I got a lot done in hours-long sessions, but then wouldn't paint for days. Nevertheless, my painting table went from crowded,

To nearly clear,

To completely clear.

All that remains now is dipping and basing, and I have six work-free days to do that.


I'm near finished with terrain for the event. I've built up a lot of it over the years, so I can rest and reuse most of it. However, there were a few new/revived pieces.

The Hudson and Allan buildings I got from Michigan Toy Soldier company are done! They really didn't take much effort at all.

The long house
The not so long house
I liked them so much, I ordered another two Hudson and Allan buildings, but they're out of stock and won't arrive by Enfilade. But I'll be able to get them into later games—of which I hope there will be many after all the work I've put into this project.

I've had some wonderful Armorcast stone walls that I bought 20+ years ago. They got a bit knackered over the years and I'd been meaning to redo them. I also thought I'd like to add to them, so a recent order to Armorcast got me twice what I used to have. I completed/redid them all in a new way and I'm quite happy with the result.

Don't fence me in
That ought to be enough to get on with, but I couldn't resist ordering another four of the 9" long pieces. They arrived on Monday and I'm already well along to finishing them. With these last pieces, I'll have 180" of stone walls. That's surely enough to be getting on with.

Finally, I wanted to do something fancy-schmanzy with my woods. I've used felt in times past to demarcate the footprint of a wood. It's easy to do and quite common. Years ago, I made some rough terrain pieces for DBM that I found useful for other things after I stopped playing DBM. They're very flat. I used an .030 plastic sheet with a layer of fine pumice gel medium as a base with a blotchy layer of coarse pumice gel medium on top. Painted and flocked, they make a nice base—but I only have two of them and I need many more for my games at Enfilade!

I got two very large sheets of .030 plastic from Plastruct and cut out several more, including shapes that will interlock with wall angles. These have already been schmeered with the pumice medium, so I only need to let them dry a few days and I can paint and flock them.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.

Then there's the trees. I have several already completed. I did a quick job on them last Enfilade! when I completed about 30 trees almost overnight in the middle of the convention for the Queztalcoatl Rampant game I ran with Kevin Smyth. I did a more thorough job on the bases after the convention and started another 30+ that still need work. I'll get to them after the weekend I expect.