Tuesday, February 1, 2011

33. International Solo Wargaming Day

January 11, 2011 was International Solo Wargaming Day, a day when all solo wargamers could come together and game separately.  Wait, that doesn't sound right....  A day when all solo wargamers could play together, alone.  Ahhh, nevermind.

At any rate, 1-11-11 was ISWD.  See all the ones?  Gettit?  I don't think it received much press, and the solo gamers probably didn't tell each other 'cause, you know, they're not gaming with anyone else.

I suffer from, yet embrace, solo wargaming.  I have access to a few gamer friends, but more often than not, scheduling conflicts get in the way.  Work, family, kids, outside events, school events, LIFE!  You know, the usual excuses among those folks to whom gaming is not as important as it is to others.  (And if you're taking the time to read this blog, you know exactly what I mean.)

To celebrate ISWD, I played a quick game of Pith Helmet using some very odd troops.  My traditionally-dressed French Foreign Legion versus their traditional enemies, the North Africans, represented in this case by Dark Eldar figures (because I don't have any North Africans painted)(or, at the time I played this game, even purchased).

The FFL would act "as British," and the Dark Eldar "as Pathans" (who are not actually North African, I know, but Pith Helmet doesn't precisely address the FFL or North Africa, so I fudged it).  Since I was playing solo, my opponent did not object.

The Foreign Legion garrison a small, out-of-the-way outpost.
Two squads of D.E. advance in open formation.
The view from the outpost.
D.E. squad 'B':  much desert to cross.
The battle begins with the D.E. advancing, either one or two squads at a time, depending on the card draw.  The FFL are out of rifle range, so they wait.
Turns 2 and 3 saw the D.E. out of range of the FFL.  Turn 4 had the D.E. activate first, move into rifle range and fire.  The D.E. caused one potential hit, so the FFL had to react.  No problem for these cool customers.  They merely had to roll <75 on a d100, and...
...I promptly rolled a 100.  The FFL retreated 15", directly away from their nice safe defensive position!
The D.E. advanced again.
(The fallen FFL is not actually there; per the rules he's in limbo until he either dies or returns.  That's a simplification, but I thought it made a cooler looking picture this way.)

At the end of Turn 4, the FFL were able to restore their morale to normal.  Just prior to that, they formed a supported firing line.
On Turn 5, the D.E. again seized the initiative (based on the draw of the playing cards) and advanced to within 10", where they had to stop to let the FFL react.  The FFL reacted by not reacting; no Action Points were spent.
The D.E. advanced again, inside the defenses.  Only 6 of them could see their target, but their rifle fire caused a casualty.  The FFL reacted by not reacting, again; no AP were spent.  Then it was the FFL turn to fire; their shooting caused 2 potential casualties, and the D.E. had to react.  Their coolness rating required a roll <50 on d100, so...
...naturally I rolled another 100.  Fate is funny sometimes.
The D.E. 'B' squad retreated 18", shaken, with no Action Points remaining this turn.  In the Morale Phase, they retreated yet again 11".
Turn 6 saw 'A' squad try it's hand at attacking, but not before the FFL moved up closer to their defensive bulwarks.  In the Morale Phase, 'B' squad retreated 12 more inches, coming very close to leaving the table.
I decided that the way the walls were placed meant both squads were unable to fire at the other, so the D.E. double-advanced to within 10" with the intent of charging into close combat.  At the 10" mark, the FFL reacted:  needed <80 on d100, rolled 31; their reactionary fire caused 1 potential casualty, but more importantly forced the D.E. to themselves react:  needed <55, d100=68.  They retreated 17", shaken, out of APs.

In the Morale Phase, the 'B' squad rallied, but the 'A' squad retreated 7" and remained shaken.
Turn 8 began with the forces in almost exactly their starting positions.  The FFL gained the initiative, and would move back to their defensive walls, less one man who had died.  The D.E. were down three men who had died.

I decided that the D.E. (aka Pathans) would concede defeat.  They had actually achieved a lesser objective:  probing the defenses of the hated foreigners, so they had that at least with which to console the widows.

I know that the true historical die-hards reading this are probably red in the face at my using Dark Eldar as stand-ins, but they're all I had.  I have since purchased a substantial quantity of Old Glory Arabs/Berbers to give my Foreign Legion a more suitable opponent.  (That is, if any true historical die-hards actually made it to the end of this post.)

The box they came in weighed 10.5 lbs! and the mere packs spread out quite far on the table.
There are some more Foreign Legion in there as well.
Woot!  Got a whole lotta paintin' waitin' for me.
I have been forced to turn to the dark side of painting.  I know there is no way I'll ever paint that many figures to the standard I prefer, and still be young enough to play games with them, so I am going to try "dipping" them.  They should be perfect for the technique.  I've heard/read about the Future Floor Polish method as well as the Minwax wood stain method, so I bought a container of each to try for myself.
I'll have to tint the formula myself but that allows more flexibility in color.

I decided not to use the oil-based stain, and instead bought the water-based version, which I had tinted with "Classic Black."
The Classic Black color looks like this:  Minwax Classic Black .  They also have Onyx, which looks blacker, but the Classic Black seems to have a nice brown to it, which I think will look more natural with the tans, browns and beiges my Arabs will be painted.

I'll update when I try some, but be warned:  it might be a while.  I'm still finishing other projects (can you say "Dahomey"?  I knew that you could).
Thanks for reading!


  1. So, you got lots of Arabs and some more FFL . . . well, with those Arabs you can now get British and expand into Egypt and Sudan . . . and the Old Glory Pathans are very nice figures . . . and since you'll have the Brits (and Arabs for stand-ins until you paint the Pathans), you will soon have the right troops to game the Northwest Frontier!

    Ain't this fun?

    -- Jeff

  2. It is an ever descending spiral of madness. And immensely fun!