Tuesday, October 17, 2017

One Day Fly-By to GeekGirlCon 2017



A few weeks ago, I managed to zip up to Seattle on my one day off and attend the first afternoon of this year's GeekGirlCon.

This two-day event was held at the Washington State Convention Center.

I arrived at noon, even though I wanted to be there when the front doors opened at 9 AM.  So I managed to take about a dozen photos of roaming cosplayers, and about 65 usable pictures of the Cosplay Contest.

These will be the subjects of upcoming posts.  In the meantime, here are some of the crowd scenes I snapped:

(The Gaming Room)

(The Do-It-Yourself Science Zone)

(The Ticket Line)

(The Photo Booth)


(The Merchandise Sales Desk)

I attended one panel discussion listed on the Saturday Schedule:  Creating a Webcomic from the Ground Up.



This was hosted by the creators of The Unadoptables.


Talk about "herding cats."

As I was making my way down to the Cosplay Contest, I snapped a picture of the Let's Play Overwatch, featuring Lucie Pohl.


Since I don't play Overwatch, or any other video/computer game for that matter, I pressed on to the Cosplay Contest.

So "stay tuned!"

Sunday, October 15, 2017

WAB Corner Collection Correction

(Image: Bavarian Infantry at Borodino by Alexandr Yezhov, found on Pintrest)
Okay, I know the title is a tongue-twister.

But alliterations aside, I received enough feedback from my previous post, that I needed to redeem myself among my fellow gamers thought a correction was in order.

Among my newfound collection of Napoleonic miniatures, I assumed the handful of miscellaneous troops were Austrian.

Some of them are, like the figures in the middle (maybe)...


...but not all of them.

For instance in the picture above, the figures in the yellow coats are from the Canton of Neuchatel, while the white coated figures on the opposite end are from the Kingdom of Italy.

[Update, 0930 hours, 15 October] Correction II:

The troops on the right end are, in-fact Austrian while the figures in the middle are their Hungarian comrades-in-arms.

As for this picture...


...I'm not sure who the mixed unit on the right belongs to, but several people reminded me the troops on the left are part of the Bavarian Army.

All of these are from Wargames Foundry Miniatures.


Saturday, October 7, 2017

WAB Corner Collection #4: Napoleonic War Figures

(Image:  28th Regiment at Quatre Bras by Elizabeth Thompson)

Nothing evokes the image of WAR IS GLORIOUS like the Napoleonic Wars:  Soldiers in splendid uniforms marching to the beat of the drums, dashing cavalry troopers riding noble steeds, and regimental banners fluttering in the breeze.

Of course, such impressions are safely viewed from more than 202 years, after the last blast of canister mowed down the defiant Imperial Guardsmen hunkered down in their square formation during the final moments of the Battle of Waterloo.

"Merde!" indeed.

Heroic fantasies aside, the Napoleonic Wars have been, and still are, my favorite era.

However, despite my love for this period in history and fiction, I've never amassed a collection of Napoleonic miniatures.  Painting such ornate uniforms requires talent and patience--both of which I lack.

Instead, I settled for buying GDW's System 7 Napoleonics.  While I'm happy to have assembled the entire collection, I've always yearned to own some actual painted miniatures.

Thanks to my gaming buddy, Dean, author of the popular WAB Corner blog, my tabletop heart's desire has finally been fulfilled.  Last year, he offered to sell me his collection of Napoleonic figures, all based on the rules Black Powder.

(Image by Warlord Games)
As with all his previous offers, I jumped at the chance to buy them, and I'm happy I did so.

Now without further ado, here's the latest batch of figures from my WAB Corner Collection...

The Forces of France:

The vast bulk of Napoleon's Grande Armee consisted of line infantry, which were organized into regiments consisting of several battalions.

The Black Powder rules simply refer to a group of figures as a "unit," which, for the French I'll call a battalion based on the units' flags and the typical composition of 4 x fusilier companies, 1 x grenadier company and 1 x voltigeur company.

I can now muster three battalions, the first from the 19e Regiment d'Infanterie de Ligne.


In the above picture, the grenadier company is next to the 1st company with the battalion standard, while the voltigeur company is to the right of the grenadiers, and the remaining fusilier companies are formed-up next to the voltigeurs.

My second battalion is--well--the second battalion of the 2e Regiment d'Infanterie d'Ligne.


For this picture, I used the same arrangement as I did with the 19th.

Now this last battalion surprised me. 

Here we have the 4th battalion of the 9e Regiment d'Infanterie d'Ligne--in red uniforms.  Meaning they're actually Swiss troops.


I didn't know Swiss troops wore red uniforms--until now.  I thought they were outfitted similar, if not identical to their French counterparts.

I guess the British didn't have a monopoly on red dye during the wars.

Unlike the masses of infantry, cavalry units were much smaller, and based on the regiment.  For the French I can field two regiments, the first being chasseur a cheval...



...and the second being the famous Dutch Lancers.


Based on scrolling back through our message traffic on Facebook, the French infantry came from Old Glory Miniatures, while the cavalry were made by Front Rank Figurines.

The Forces of Austria:

One of the leading antagonists against France was the Austrian Empire.

As a bonus to the French, and British figures (which follows this short section), Dean gave me his smattering of troops from the Imperial/Royal Army.

Here are a few similarly attired line infantry units with a mix of headgear.  The shako replaced the helmet in 1806, but many units still sported the helmet.  (Personally, I think the helmet look cooler).


Next, from left-to-right, is a stand of line infantry next to what looks like a stand of grenadiers.  The figures in blue could be jaegers (light infantry).


Finally, here are two small cavalry forces.  The one on the left is a small unit of cuirassiers, and the one on the right is a detachment of Hungarian hussars.



The Forces of Britain:

I have to admit when it comes to the Napoleonic Wars, I'm an Anglophile.  Reading all of Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe novels only reinforced my appreciation for the Perfidious Albion's army.

Dean mustered some of the best of what Britain had to offer.

British infantry regiments were organized quite differently from their French counterparts.  I regiment usually consisted of only two battalions, which often didn't serve in the same theater.  Some regiments were only one-battalion strong. 

This battalion-sized regiment was divided into 8 line companies, with a company of grenadiers and a company of light infantry.  While these companies were smaller than their French counterparts, the British battalion/regiment had almost as many soldiers as a French battalion.

So I'll refer to my British infantry units as "regiments," starting with the first:

 The Coldstream Guards, now Britain's oldest regiment.


Then there's the 71st (Highland) Regiment of Foot


To back up these two regiments, is a detachment of about three companies from the Royal Welch Fusiliers.


Here's a closer look at the Welshmen.  I wonder if they're singing Men of Halrech?


And finally, no British collection would be complete without a representative from the noblest cavalry in Europe (and the worst led):  In this case, the Household Cavalry.



Once again trying to piece together our year-old message traffic on Facebook, I believe the following figures came from these manufacturers:

The Household Cavalry, Royal Welch Fusiliers and the Coldstream Guards were made by Perry Miniatures, while the 71st Highlanders were from Old Glory Miniatures.


Conclusion

Well folks this wraps up my WAB Corner Collection--unless Dean sells me any more of his fine figures.

Now that I think of it, I do need some artillery to support all my troops...

Friday, September 15, 2017

WAB Corner Collection #3: French and Indian War Figures

(Image from the National Park Service lesson plan:  Who were the people involved?)

I grew up in Upstate New York, and part of our K-12 education was learning state history.  But it wasn't all boring book learning. One memorable family trip was to Lake George, which of course included tours of Fort Ticonderoga and Fort William Henry.

I must admit though, I've never read the original work The Last of the Mohicans.  Instead, I settled for it in the form of a Classics Illustrated comic.  And I absolutely love the 1992 film.  In fact, the movie's soundtrack got me hooked on collecting soundtracks to other movies I like.

Anyway, despite my lack of literary cred, I've always been interested in the French and Indian War (F&IW).  I wouldn't consider this my favorite era in military history.  However, it's intriguing to me how this conflict took place in the region where I grew up, and that other nations--both European and Indian--were vying for control of what was once the western wilderness.

Five years ago, I was lucky enough to attend Fright Night Gaming at Ft. Steilacoom and play a game of Muskets & Tomahawks.

(Image from:  Boardgame Geek)

I liked the rules so much, I bought them shortly after Fright Night 2012.

Now fast forward to 2016.

My gaming buddy Dean, painter extraordinaire and author of the popular WAB Corner gaming blog, offered to sell me his F&IW miniatures collection.

To say that I jumped at this chance would be an understatement.

So here it is folks, Issue #3 of my WAB Corner Collection.

The French:

Since you can't have a French and Indian War without the French, I'll start off with the soldiers of France.  Most, if not all these figures are from Redoubt Enterprises.


First, here's a squad of irregulars known as Coureur des Bois ("Runners of the Woods"):



Next, are a squad from the Compagnies Franches de la Marine (French Marines):



Now to the more standard units.

Here are some grenadiers along with their pike-wielding sergeant and a drummer from La Sarre Infantrie Regiment...


...followed by a squad of run-of-the-mill musketeers:


Finally, here's another squad of grenadiers, this time from La Reine Infantrie Regiment...



...and their accompanying musketeers:



Indians

I know I said you can't have a French and Indian War game without French, and the same goes double for Indians.  Unfortunately, I don't have any--yet.

So on to...

The British:


This squad of Rogers' Rangers came from Front Rank Figurines.



While these grenadiers from the 78th Highlander Regiment, sometimes referred to as Fraser's Highlanders are from Redoubt Enterprises.


I liked the way I posed these guys so much I did a series of close-ups:



Next are some non-Highland grenadiers from Wargames Foundry Seven Years War Collection.  This squad is ready to lob their grenades:



Grenadiers were often detached from their parent regiments, and formed into ad-hoc assault units.  Dean divided his grenadiers into two groups.  The first is possibly from the 35th Regiment of Foot (Royal Sussex)...



...while this second squad with green facings could be from the 45th Regiment of Foot (the Sherwood Foresters):


In both pictures, I used the same drummer and officer from Foundry's Grenadier Command Set.

Speaking of commanders, I used the rest of the Grenadier Command Set to act as bodyguards for Major General James Wolfe who's figure is the leading personality in Front Rank's Wolfe Army Collection.



I wonder if any of them are "...the johnny who knelt beside Wolfe at Quebec..."?

Well, there you have it, my French and Indian War collection--minus the Indians.

Now I just need to buy lots of some Woodland Indians, and some appropriate buildings, oh, and some more trees...

Note:  Attributing figures to their correct manufacturer was something of a challenge.  I had to scroll through my Facebook message traffic with Dean to figure out what companies made what figures.  So I hope I got it right.


For further reading--including Last of the Mohicans--here's a Top Ten List of F&IW books:

(Image from History of MA:  Best Books About the F&IW)

Monday, September 11, 2017

Honoring 9-11-01

(Image by Tom Stiglich)
Part of my inspiration for making wargame-related webcomics comes from reading the daily funnies.  Since I moved to the Pacific Northwest, my "default site" for the funnies has been the Seattle Times.

I was touched to find a couple comic strips that paid tribute to 9/11.

My favorite was from Dick Tracy by Joe Staton and Mike Curtis:





Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Book Review: Hammer & Anvil

(Image from Goodreads)
Sometimes all it takes is a few scenes to turn a good book into a great book.

That's the case with Hammer & Anvil, the sequel to Faith & Fire and the subject of my previous book review.

In this story, Miriya and Verity are looking for peace and closure after the events of their initial adventure.  Instead, they find anything but.  Both wind up on the barren rock known as Sanctuary_101, ten years after the massacre at an Adepta Sororitas fortress-convent, in effort to reconsecrate the site.

Or so they're told.

As with all things Warhammer 40,000 (WH40K):  Factions within the Imperium of Man, in this case the Inquisition, the Adeptus Mechanicus, have their own hidden agendas.   Even Canoness Sepherina isn't completely forthcoming about full scope of their mission.

The book starts off as something of a mystery, and on page 55 of this 410 page book, the Sisters of Battle learn it was Necrons who were the mysterious attackers that wiped out their original convent (WH40K's "robot zombies").

(Image by Nicholas Kay)
The mystery continues to unfold, and by page 194 they learned the extent of the Necron threat to the Imperium. Although for WH40K fans who've already read the Fluff, this reveal isn't so revealing. What is finally disclosed on page 259 is the item Canoness Sepharina has been searching for:  An artifact known as the Hammer and Anvil, believed to have been lost in the initial Necron attack. Which makes Hammer & Anvil something of a MacGuffinTitled book.

Even as the Second Battle of Sanctuary-101 got underway, I was about to give Hammer & Anvil a 3-star rating, like it's predecessor.  However, the story took off with a "Hell Yes!" Moment on page 334, where--spoiler alert--a tormented survivor of the original massacre exorcises her personal demon while fighting a Deathmark (an assassin android).

A few more "Hell Yes!" scenes followed close on the heels of the Deathmark's death:  There is something of a "Men of Harlech" scene as the Necrons silently closed-in on the beleaguered Battle Sisters; when the treacherous Techpriest Tegas finds the Hammer and Anvil, hoping it's an ultimate weapon, but turns out to be merely a Memento MacGuffin; and finally the often-overlooked Verity helps bring down the Nemesor leading the current assault.

Among these high points of the last 76 pages are split action scenes of Verity assisting in battle at the fortress-convent, first as a healer, then as a combatant; and Miriya with a commando team infiltrating the Necron lair in Sanctuary-101's moon.

What I also found amusing was how the machine logic of both the Necrons and the techpriests were constantly confounded--and ultimately thwarted--by human illogical behavior and raw emotions.

All this was enough to bump Hammer & Anvil to a 4-star read.  Average reviews on both Amazon.com and Goodreads are almost as good with 3.80 and 3.79-stars, respectively.

While Ciaphas Cain is still my favorite WH40K character, (because he's Harry FlashmanIN SPACE!), Miriya and Verity come in at #2 and #3 for me.

Sisters of Battle Omnibus is due to hit the shelves next month.  This tome will contain "... Faith & Fire and Hammer & Anvil, along with the prose version of the audio drama Red & Black and a new short story 'Heart & Soul', available in print for the first time." 


(Image from Amazon.com)

Thursday, July 27, 2017

PNWA 2017 Summer Conference Overview


(Image:  My conference badge illustrating what genres I like to write in--Historical Fiction, Sci-fi, and Fantasy)
This past weekend, I attended PNWA's Summer conference, after a year-long hiatus. A different theme is chosen every year, and this one was:
 


 However, due to my work schedule, I had to put off writing for the first, and final days of the conference.  While I enjoyed the event itself, and the new home at SeaTac's DoubleTree Hotel itself, I felt rushed commuting back and forth to it each day.  I'm thinking about reserving a room at the hotel the next time I'm able to attend.

In the past, I've written extensive posts on the details of each workshop, and panel discussions I attended.  I'm not going to do that anymore.  Such posts took a lot of time to write, occupied a lot of cyberspace that I want to devote to gaming, and the webcomics I concoct as a result of the games I manage to play.

So from now on, my writing conference reports will be overviews with plenty of name dropping of links to the authors I know, or recently met.  

Friday

Because I was getting off night shift, and didn't have anything ready to pester literary agents, and publishing editors about, I skipped the Agents and Editors Forums that morning.

I arrived at the DoubleTree with less than 15 minutes to spare, giving me barely enough time to pick-up my attendance packet, and scurry-off to the first workshop on my To-Attend List.  

This was the Craft of Writing Backstory by Cherry Adair, who loves writing action-romances.  Or as she put it:  "Stories about running, chasing, shooting and wild monkey sex." A one-sentence synopsis of her workshop would be:  Don't bore readers with infodumps--instead, entertain them with vivid accounts of running, chasing, shooting and wild monkey sex.

While the second workshop Panster vs. Plotter, made no references to wild monkey sex, it was hosted by the delightful duet of Deborah Schneider (a.k.a. Sibelle Stone) and SaraLynn Hoyt.  In this yin-yang couple, Deborah's the Plotter (a meticulous planner and outliner), while Saralynn's the Panster (as in writing by the seat of your pants).  Both writing techniques have their benefits and pitfalls.  The trick is to write in a way that utilizes the best of both techniques.

After these workshops, I hung around for the Featured Speaker Dinner, which should have been called "Featured Speakers Dinner," because instead of one individual giving a stirring speech; this was a panel discussion with Cherry Adair, Deb Caletti, Gregg Hurwitz, Donald Maass, Christopher Vogler, singer/songwriter Donn-T, and hosted by PNWA's perennial emcee, Robert Dugoni.

While this was a new concept that promised to be entertaining, me and 30 other individuals ended up at the "Kids' Tables."  Apparently, there was a misunderstanding/miscommunication on how many conference attendees would be attending The Featured Speakers Dinner.  The staff ended up scrambling to literally roll-out additional round tables, flip on table cloths, and fling down some silverware.  Then we had to wait for them to cook-up our meals.  

I, along with several hungry victims-of-circumstance dinner companions were at furthest, and most forward "Kid's Table," and couldn't see any of the Featured Guests, beyond where Bob Dugoni was sitting.  So I hardly remember any of the amusing Q&A entertainment.

The Autograph Party afterwards turned out to have some pleasant surprises.  First, the gentlemen I sat next to turned out to be local author Matt T. Ryan.  So I bought his first book, Revenge of the Banker's Daughter

(Image by Kitsap Publishing)
I initially thought the woman next to Matt was his daughter.  Instead, she was Sonya Rhen, author of Space Tripping with the Shredded Orphans.


Her and Matt were placed so close together I felt compelled to buy her first book, "Trip 1." The front cove reminded me of a whacked-out, dystopian version of Josie and the Pussycats.

The one thing I did remember from the Featured Speakers Dinner was the response Christopher Vogler made when asked what he likes to do in his non-writing spare time:  Create scenes with toy soldiers.

Oh?

With that in mind, I set out to stalk ask him about his hobby.  It turned out he's not a gamer, but uses playsets as a creative free-form exercise.  I told him about my webcomics, which he thought was neat.  I lied was wrong when I told him I already had a copy of his seminal work, The Writer''s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers. So I bought his book Memo From the Story Department, based on my false assumption.

(Image from: Amazon.com)   
 

In my defense, I have another writing book with a similar-colored cover.

After my purchases, I spent the rest the time catching up with Chris (C.C.) Humphreys and meeting his lovely wife Aletha. 

I would have loved to have stayed longer, but I had a long drive back and an early morning workshop I wanted to attend the next morning.

Saturday

After another Hell-for-Leather drive, the workshop I barely arrived in time for was Intersection of World Building and Character Development, by Nicole Persun.  In the past, Nicole usually ran workshops with her dad, Terry Persun. But this was the first time I attended one of her solo performances.  She did a wonderful job instilling in us that character and setting are inseparable. 

And speaking of settings, the next workshop was Location as Character (a.k.a. "Location! Location! Location!") hosted by C.C. Humphries, Joe Beernink, and moderated by PNWA President Pam Binder.  Considering a locale as a character is often critical in writing, because since real people are affected by their environment, imaginary ones should be too.

After lunch, as I entered the Speculative Fiction Short Stories workshop, one of my classmates from Pam Binder's Popular Fiction class was chatting moderator Cat Rambo about disasters.  After our "hellos" she told Cat about my job in Washington State Emergency Management, and I ended up talking a bit about my job.  Cat was an engaging and concise instructor, briefing the few of us attendees on the mechanics of what makes story telling work.  

During last workshop intermission, I ran into Jeff Ayers, the PNWA Board Secretary, who introduced me Gregg Hurwitz.  He commented on the Punisher shaker bottle I was carrying, and I discovered:


(Image from iHerb)

a.  Gregg wrote several Punisher comics #69-95, 75 (2008-2009).
b. He dresses up in a Punisher costume similar to mine. 

Then we had to end things abruptly because the last workshop of the day was about to begin.

By this time I wasn't in the mood to an extensive note-taking seminar.  So the final workshop I chose was Kay Kenyon's Landscapes of Fantasy, from Mythic...

(Image found on Pinterest's Arthurian Legends)
 ...to Dieselpunk
(Image of Jet City Comic Show's Bomber Girl by Shane White)

This was an overview of the 15 or so sub-genres of fantasy that has been, and is currently being written.  I never knew there was such a thing as New Weird.  I thought the run-of-the-mill weird was weird enough.

As my epic two-day workshop quest came to an end, it was time for the Literary Contest and Nancy Pearl Book Awards Celebration and Dinner.

Every year, in conjunction with the conference, PNWA hosts a Literary Contest.  By my count there were 103 finalists in a dozen categories, along with 7 finalists for the Nancy Pearl Book Award.  Fortunately, there was no "Kids Table Crisis," which I'd attribute to a grown-pain hiccup with the conference's new home.  However, I didn't take any notes, so I couldn't tell you who won what.

So my congratulations best wishes go out to the winners--you rock!--whoever you are.

And with that, PNWA's Summer Conference 2017 came to a close for me.  

The dates for next year's conference are already being reserved at DoubleTree for sometime next September.

Until I know what my 2018 work schedule will be, I'll pencil myself in as "Interested" when PNWA creates an event on Facebook.

See you next year!  Maybe.