Sunday, November 19, 2017

The Year of Living Rampantly


The year isn't over yet, but looking back at this point, it's clearly been the Year of Living Rampantly. I tend to be pretty eclectic in my gaming, but 2017 (and going back into 2016) has been predominantly devoted to playing—and painting minis for—the various flavors and variants of Dan Mersey's Lion Rampant rules.

That this should be so is a testament to the enjoyability and versatility of the system. Lion Rampant offers players tactical choices and challenges that don't require arcane rules, but instead focus on the excitement of the game. That may be a complimentary way to say that they abstract a lot of detail, but abstraction is crucial to any playable system. Many miniatures rules forget this and we soon forget them. (Who plays Empire anymore? Or, sadly, WRG Ancients.)

With Lion Rampant, you're free to focus on building retinues, terrain, and scenarios. The system is simple enough to accommodate tweaks and additions without breaking anything—though some regression testing is required (I, for example, can break anything). The retinue lists are pretty free-form, allowing you to try multiple combinations of unit types to build the retinue that best matches your style of play. In Lion Rampant and Dragon Rampant, you can't have more that 12 points or four units of the same type (whichever is less). On the other hand, The Pikeman's Lament doesn't have that restriction. You could, for example, create a 24-point company that consisted of three units of veteran Forlorn Hope at 8 points each. You're only limited to one regimental gun per company and you have to have between 3 and 10 units. Within those rather broad confines, you're free to create whatever force your research or imagination takes you.

Because units require few figures (all units are 6 or 12 figures), you can easily build well beyond a 24-point retinue and provide many more options. My eventually-to-be-completed El Cid Spanish have a pretty full compliment of units, really enough for 2+ retinues, so I can have a lot of variety.

It's rare that a set of rules comes along that strikes a chord with so many players. It's rare, too, that a system opens itself to so many variants that keep the simplicity of the rules and yet express the character of the variant period covered.

The "Rampant" family of rules fall into what I've described elsewhere as "false skirmish" rules. That's not a pejorative, but a means of comparison with what I call "true skirmish" rules in which each figure moves, shoots, fights, runs away, etc. as a single entity. Even though the "Rampant" rules use a 1:1 figure scale, the way they work doesn't really require that scale. The basic maneuver element (that thing that moves, shoots, fights, runs away, etc.) is a multi-figure unit.

It's pretty easy to "bathtub" larger battles with the "Rampant" rules. A unit that ostensibly represents 6 or 12 men, could stand in for a troop, squadron, company, or regiment.


Lion Rampant (LR)

I first played Lion Rampant right after it was released in 2014. Kevin Smyth was eager to get right to it and give 'em a try with his massive collection of 100 Years War figures. Kevin, Dave Schueler, and I played a game at Meeples Games in West Seattle. We played subsequent games at other venues and I was pretty much hooked, but I didn't have painted figures for a retinue.

First game and I'm already facing death by arrows

Back in 2000, Kevin and I were hot to trot about the 100 Years War using a Late Medieval variant I wrote for Todd Kershner's Pig Wars, which which Todd has added into the Pig Wars 4th edition that's available as a PDF from Wargame Vault. The precursor to that project was buying a lot of Old Glory 28mm Medieval minis. I had a lot of them still unpainted when Lion Rampant came on the scene 14 years later (who could've predicted that?). They're still unpainted three years later.

I almost nearly triumphed in a Lion Rampant tournament last year—except that I didn't attend because I didn't finish painting my retinue (the aforementioned Spanish) because of Grendel's sickness and death. I'd blame him out of habit, but de mortuis nihil nisi bonum and all that. The retinue had been going along pretty well with the handy Miracle Dip method. It never got started again, however, and I played in a Lion Rampant game day this summer with a borrowed retinue.

Chasing away the oiks

Note to self: Finish the freaking' Spanish!

Postscript to note to self: Then get on with the 100 Years War figures!

The Pikeman's Lament (TPL)

These rules came out in January this year. They're a collaboration with Michael Leck of the excellent Dalauppror blog. I'd been waiting eagerly—OK, impatiently—for them since their publication was announced a year earlier. Reading several posts on Michael's blog about them, kept whetting my desire. I think I'd rather be surprised by the serendipitous release of a rules set than to endure a year of anticipation, but once they were in my hot little hands, I wasn't disappointed.

I wrote my review of them earlier this year. I include a link to a nifty Quick Reference Sheet in PDF (8.5 x 11").

I played my first game of TPL at our Drumbeat game day in February. I even had figures painted for it! (Although most of the figures in the game were Bill Stewart's, freshly rebased to the 3-2-1 system.)

Pikemen cross the bridge of doom (Bills minis)

I've been a sucker for pike 'n' shot gaming since the 1970s when I played SPI's Musket & Pike, WRG's War Games Rules Sixteenth and early Seventeenth Century (1490-1660), and Bill Protz' Wargamer's Guide to the English Civil War.

My first project for these rules was to be English Civil War and I have a pile of Renegade (who appear to be on haitus again until 2018) and Bicorne minis for the era--enough to make multiple companies for Roundheads, Royalists, and Scots. However, the ECW got sidetracked by The Irish Project, which is going so well that I may run out of minis to paint for it. It's interesting that the only two projects for which I've painted (or will potentially paint) every single figure involve Jim Bowen figures. The other project is my prehistoricalistic Europeanoids (more of these are en route to me as I type this, so I'll have unpainted minis soon).

Irish pike ca. 1600
English pikes (better commissary)

Dragon Rampant (DR)

I bought my copy of Dragon Rampant as soon as it came out in 2015. I'm not really a fantasy gamer, but I couldn't resist. I have more to say about these (and my project with them) in an upcoming blog post. It's coming soon-ish, but don't hold your breath. I can be suddenly and unexpectedly lackadaisical about posting.

This variant primarily adds magical/fantastical options that change the complexion of the game without being overwhelming. Basically, you can add dragons, were-beasts, unicorns, leprechauns—whatever—to your game. This makes for gaming scenarios that come from the vast realm of fantasy fiction, like Robert E. Howard's world of Conan the Barbarian, etc. I have FGU's venerable rules Royal Armies of the Hyborean Age (another blast from the 70s, but still available as a PDF.). Dragon Rampant addresses the battles of that world better, I think, than RAOTHA—at least they play faster and require fewer minis and Thugra Khotan can still do nasty magic things to hapless Khorajan noble cavalry.

I haven't played Dragon Rampant yet, but I have started a warband for it...

WIP: Centauress archers (NSFW)
WIP: Heavy centauresses

The fact that I'm painting a warband is really a testament to the system because in 40+ years of miniature gaming, this is the first time I've ever painted fantasy minis. No orcs, goblins, mages, elves, etc. at any point before this. It's kind of an earth-shattering event. My only other foray outside of historical minis has been sci-fi (Silent Death and Beyond the Gates of Antares), which also shattered the earth at the time.



I'm working on a post for this and the warband has come along pretty well so far. I have hopes of completing it by the end of Thanksgiving weekend—but I just picked up a Reaper hydra to use as a Great Warbeast, so my timetable may be extended.

We've got a Dragon Rampant game day scheduled for January. I'll be a bit gobsmacked if I actually have minis to play a game completed well before the event rather than setting them up on the table still reeking of dullcote.

Variants

The Rampant year actually started last year when Kevin Smyth and I collaborated on a variant of Lion Rampant for Cortes' conquest of Mexico (Quetzalcoatl Rampant). We played several playtests leading up to hosting two games of it at our local Enfilade! convention in May.

Rodeleros emerge from the corn
Men in feathers are no match for us!
Dog & pony show - Mexico 1518

Chariots Rampant is a variant for the Bronze Age. I'd given some thought to making a variant for this, but Pat Lowinger (from 'round these parts) published a version in Issue 80 of Wargames, Soldiers & Strategy (WSS).


The (for now) silver spearmen

Soon to be one of Pharaoh's mighty chariots

Also appearing in an issue of WSS (Issue 82) is a variant created by Nathan Ward for the Punic Wars called Eagle Rampant in Sicily. It's focused on the First Punic War in Sicily, but could be adapted to the second or third wars also. This is a promising variant and will give me something to do with the piles of Crusader Carthaginians and Spanish that I collected in an abortive attempt to do Fields of Glory in 28mm scale.

I also have to mention my first variant to these rules, Crepusculum Imperii, covering the Late Roman period. I have, alas, sold my 3rd c. Romans rather than rebase them (I hate rebasing). However, I've got an eye for revisiting the period. I don't know if anyone is actually playing them, but they get a lot of hits on my blog. Also, Nathan Ward gave them a shout-out in his WSS article:



Honorable mention: The Men Who Would Be Kings (TMWWBK)
I give these rules honorable mention because they're not strictly a variant of Lion Rampant, but they are written by Dan Mersey and have many "Rampant" tendencies to them. I've played TMWWBK only once at our game day at Ft. Steilacoom. Kevin Smyth ran a game of "America Rampant" that was a what-if of Spanish and American forces clashing along the Mississippi ca. 1800-ish.

About to be overrun

These rules may be perfect for rescuing my pile of still-unpainted-after-all-these-years Dixon American Civil War figures from undeserved neglect. I bought a lot of these minis back in the 90s with the intention to play I don't recall what. (Truly I don't. I blame age or feline-induced feeble-mindedness.) I think maybe I just liked the figures and thought that something would come together once they were finished. As if.

I talked up using TMWWBK for ACW with Kevin at the game day and the idea met with approbation. Though much more focused than I, Kevin's interest in this project may get sidetracked for something shinier. (Note the comparative adjective "shinier." In my case, I can get sidetracked by anything of equal, or even lesser, lustre. Such is the working of my lizard brain: "Oh look! A shinier  shiny  thing.") In any case, even if I manage some discipline, ACW will be a project I won't start until after our Enfilade! convention is over in May. I'm making admirable progress on The Irish Project and have some smaller "Rampant" projects in the works that consist only of 24-point forces. Points-wise, The Irish Project will require about 4 to 5 24-point TPL companies' worth of minis.

Forward!

Lion Rampant and its spawn have had a revolutionary impact on the hobby, IMO. They've opened up niche periods of gaming that a lot of people eschewed before that. For example, Medieval gaming never had much popularity in my neck of the woods (Kevin notwithstanding) until Lion Rampant. I would never have imagined doing Cortes in Mexico if I didn't have Lion Rampant as a system to create a variant from.



I've done a lot of painting for "Rampant" projects so far and I have a lot of painting yet to do. So many possibilities for new retinues...

I expect that my rampant living will continue throughout 2018. I don't see myself starting any new projects (stop laughing) in the near future—other than the possibilities aforementioned.

I wonder if I can get Sigourney Weaver to play?



Saturday, November 11, 2017

I paint with cats


Do you know how it is when you get your coffee just right, the perfect blend of cream, sugar, and life-giving liquid caffeine—and then the waitress comes to top it off and obliterates your perfect mix? (I don't myself, I drink my coffee black, but it's an illustrative point, so just go with it.) That's what it's like for me to have broken in one generation of cats to respect my painting space only to get a new cat who respects not the tradition, like the "new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph" (Exodus 1:8).

Such is life now with Bogart, a.k.a. Destructo-Cat, the new feline pharaoh of Casa de Los Gatos in beautiful, bucolic Lynnwood, WA. Behold the mighty works of Destructo-Cat:

A former paper towel roll, now Bogart fodder
Like someone went at it with an electric hedge trimmer

He's also sociopath cat. He's really sweet with me, but his attitude towards his "girlfriends" is decidedly offputting. Maebh hates him with a passion and fears him like the devil. He's chased her upstairs, downstairs, and all about too many times. I'll be surprised if they're ever friends. Rhiannon seems somewhat indifferent to him—at least she doesn't have the extreme negative reactions that Maebh has—but she would likely hate him once he got access to her.

Which he doesn't have.

For the last year, I've had to keep Bogart and the girls separated. They have the run of the house alternately in a kind of time-share.

Gotta keep 'em separated

Typically, Bogart has the run of the house from 11:00 a.m. to about 8:00 or 9:00 p.m. During this time the girls are ensconced in my bedroom. Otherwise, the girls are out from around 8:00 or 9:00 p.m. until 11:00 a.m. the next day. During that time, Bogart is holed up in my den.

Where I paint.

He being no respecter of anything, I have to keep him at bay lest he jump up on my painting table to rummage about my partially painted minis like Godzilla taking on Tokyo. It isn't conducive to productivity.

I paint in a cramped space in my den closet. It gives me the ability to close off the painting table when I'm not working at it.

The painting cave

The closet runs the width of the room, but has two openings. When I sit and paint in the right side opening, the closed left side of the closet is dark, mysterious, cave-like.

And the allure of the cave beckons. The urge to spelunk is too much for Bogart's primitive brain to resist. He has to explore. He crawls in past me and disappears back behind the shelving where he rustles about getting into who knows what (and destroying who knows what).

"And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places" (Isaiah 45:3)

Bogart's activity stops all my activity and I have to root him out from the recesses of the closet. I consider this a nuisance. Bogart considers it wonderful fun. And so it goes.

Most of his destruction is an attempt to get my attention—or get my goat, since he often has my attention.

There is some respite. When he's out and about the house, he will eventually settle on the back of the couch where Grendel wore in his permanent dimple over the course of 10 years.

Respecting the dimple tradition

Once he's zonked out there, I can sneak upstairs and paint uninterruptedly for a while. However, the thought will eventually occur to him that somewhere I may be doing productive work and he'll spring to action to impede that.

But I can foil him by shooing him out of the den and shutting the door. The girls are holed up in the bedroom, I am holed up in the den, and Bogart "as a roaring lion, goeth about seeking whom he may devour" (1 Peter 5:8). It's good for a couple hours painting time as long as there are no loud crashes I need to investigate.

Despite all feline-related hazards, I have actually managed pretty good output this last year. I chalk that up to the quicker method of The Dip. And, if I'm unproductive, it's more often than not my own dilatoriness. Nevertheless, it's easier to blame a cat for my own failings. They're convenient that way.

"The slothful man saith, There is a lion in the way; a lion is in the streets" (Proverbs 26:13)

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Redoubtable resin


Arriving at my door last week was a wee package from Paul's Modelling Workshop in the UK. I first saw Paul's work when Troy Wold set up a line of breastworks for a Pike & Shotte game using Paul's models, which are sold fully painted through Warlord Games. (Troy: They're £28 cheaper if you buy the fully painted ones directly from Paul.)

Last month, I finally got around to thinking that I wanted some kind of field fortification to use in The Pikeman's Lament games. I crawled the 'Net and found Paul's products sold through his own site.

I instantly wanted all of it, but limited myself to a ravelin and a lunette. Both will make handy standalone field works that are ideal for skirmish games.

In my correspondence with Paul, I found that he was a Seattle Seahawks fan. Who knew there were American football fans in the wilds of Hampshire? Though, to be fair, there are plenty of European football (i.e., soccer) fans in the wilds of Seattle.

Go Hawks!

Paul sells the fully painted pieces through his website, but he also sells the unpainted resin too. I opted for the latter because I can paint and flock to match other terrain I've done.

The pieces are large and sturdy. The lunette measures 9 5/8 inches from end to end (or 24.5 cm for those who can't manage fractions) and will easily provide cover for one or two TPL sized units. The ravelin  is 5 1/2 inches deep and 5 inches wide. It's great for a gun  and crew, but any unit could fit.

The raw ravelin

The pieces cleaned up nicely, there wasn't any kind of flash that needed trimming and no assembly required. I just gave 'em a wash with hot water and dish soap and they were ready to rock.

I used white primer on them. I've used Rust-oleum brown primer on some terrain pieces in the past, but with all the wood bits. I thought I'd stick to my standard substrate.

The wood bits on the pieces were painted with a  base coat of Vallejo Light Brown (Marron Claro) 70.929. This is my go-to wood color. I use it for pike/spear shafts, gunstocks, peg legs, etc.

Base wood coat — kinda orangey

I then went over that with a scrub of  Vallejo Cork Brown (Marron Corcho) 70843, which is a bit lighter in color. Then, to get a weathered look, I drybrushed it with Vallejo Deck Tan (Marron Cubierta) 986. Finally, I went over it all with a wash using a matte varnish with Vallejo Game Ink Sepia 72091 added, then watered down.

Wood bits complete — less orangey

Once the wood bits were done, I gave it a spray of Krylon Matte Finish, and then on to the dirt bits.

I used my standard coat of Vallejo Model Air Mud Brown (Marron Lodo) 71.037. I use this color as the base color for all my basing. After that, I did a drybrush of Vallejo Yellow Ochre (Ocre Amarillo) 70.913, which is also standard for most of the basing, namely for figures that aren't desert types.

I then pondered the question to flock or not to flock? The completed models that Paul does have a flocking that runs raggedly across the bottom. I like the look, but I also liked the plain dirt. In the end, I flocked. I am not sorry.

Murderin' Meg protected by dirt

These little lovelies turned out well and I'm eager to put them to use in a game. They're good for pretty much anything from the Renaissance through 19th c.

Lunette manned by ECW dragoons

Until someone comes to take it away

Of course, I'm also ideating on other Pauline purchases. There's a very nice Large Gun Bastion I have my eye on...

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Bronze is brilliant!


I pulled out my beloved 40mm Prehistoricalistical Europeanoids (a.k.a. North European Bronze Age) minis for a game on Saturday. My last game with them was in 2016 with Kevin Smyth and Phil Bardsley, when we adapted Osprey's En Garde rules to ca. 1800 BC. It worked OK, but rules for dashing swordsmen ca. 1650 aren't exactly suited for bronze age warriors going at it with axes, spears, swords, slings, and arrows. So, I went back to Ganesha Games' Song of Blades and Heroes, which is the rules set I used when I started with them almost four years ago. There's an advanced version, which I purchased after our game (see below).

So off we went in the Wayback Machine to the Bronze Age. Why? Because bronze is brilliant!



The players were Mike Lombardy, Troy Wold, Ralph Holloway, and I. Troy and I were the defenders keeping the forces of Mike and Ralph from disturbing the religious rites being celebrated at the stonehenge-ish site. It gave me my first opportunity to use the mini stonehenge I bought from Daryl Nichols at Enfilade! earlier this year.

Protecting the shameless naked cavorting at the megaliths
The forces were all roughly equal and I used pretty generic characters. Each warband had a leader figure with the values Q2:C5, plus special rules "leader," "Hero," and "tough." Our leaders all got into combat, but no one got killed. The rest of the forces were swordsmen (Q3:C4), spearmen (Q3:C3), Slingers (Q4:C3, medium shooter), and bowmen (Q4:C3, long shooter). Troy and I also had standard bearers who were like swordsmen (Q3:C4), but had the "tough" special rule. Each warband numbered 13 figures.

Separating our warbands was a mostly dry river, whose wet bits were impassible (but bridged). On one end of the table, Troy and Mike squared off, while Ralph and I went at it on the other end.

The field of battle, Mike and Troy at one end
Mike started out with his figures in two groups and used his leader's "leader" rule to move them forward. Troy and Ralph did similiar.

Ralph's boys start off in neat groups
I was just scattered all over and came at Ralph piecemeal. Why be methodical in my mayhem?

Dave's boys running higgeldy-piggeldy across the terrain
My initial clashes against Ralph did not go well. I was down three swordsmen before he'd lost anyone. He was able to get 2:1 and 3:1 against some of my figures. Being on the ropes, I started concentrating my forces and finally got methodical with my mayhem.

Mike started initially getting badly hurt by Troy's forces, but the worm eventually turned. Both of them fought in tight opposing lines. Ralph and I were more scattered with little clumps fighting in various places.

Ralph's initial successes left him a bit scattered and vulnerable for counterattack. A few good activations later and I was on him in force.

The axeman cometh
The first tough clash is known in my tribe's lore as the "battle by the tree near the swampy bit." It was here that I took my initial losses, but by bringing more warriors to bear—and my hero leader—I turned the tide. My leader exerted only moral force by the tree; when it came time to kick some Bronze Age butt, I rolled two failed activations with him. I just repositioned him with my one action and the battle by the tree near the swampy bit resolved itself when I brought my standard bearer into it.

My leader weighs whether to join the fray (he didn't)
My standard bearer shouting his enemies to death
The fighting was pretty hairy for a bit. Two of my swordsmen held off four of Ralph's spears. It started with just one.

2:1 in my favor and no luck
My failure to kill the lone spearman, however, drew in the rest of Ralph's spears. Another swordsman came to my help and I was then 1:2.

Suddenly a wall of spears!
I got one of my swordsmen killed (and one of Ralph's spears), which left the odds still decidedly against me.

Now 1:3...
However, the lone swordsman prevailed. I'd like to claim skill, but it was just lucky dice. Try as he might, Ralph's attacks were foiled by low scores which left us tied (no result) or had me pushing him back or knocking him down. Once down, a figure is pretty vulnerable to kills or the dreaded GRUESOME KILL (of which we had none this game).

Whittled 'em down to two and soon to none
I lost several chances to kill Ralph's leader. I engaged him with my leader and managed to have him at 2:1 and fallen, but only managed to wound because of the leader's "tough" special rule.

So close...
The "tough" rule helped Troy also, whose standard bearer (a.k.a. "Penis Man" due to the ithyphallic deity totem he carried) was knocked down and wounded multiple times, but survived the game and was standing proud by the megaliths at the end.

I get knocked down, but I get up again...
On the periphery, the missile troops plugged away at each other. I tried a long shot at Ralph's hero, but the odds are so far out the best I could hope for would be a "fallen" result, which I didn't get. However, Ralph and I each took out two opposing missile figures.

Bronze Age firefight
Both Troy and Ralph had to make morale checks for losing more than half their initial force (more dead than alive). For Ralph, this affected only his leader, who scurried back one move. The rest of his force stood their ground.

By game's end, Ralph had four survivors: His wounded leader/hero, one intrepid swordsman, a slinger, and a bowman. I had my leader/hero, my standard bearer, three swordsmen, a slinger, and a bowman.

My men glower menacingly at Ralph's survivors
Troy was on the ropes, pretty much a mirror image of Ralph's situation, but Mike was almost as badly beat up. We called the game for the defenders. The henge ceremony went on without further interruption.

And there was much rejoicing (and gratuitous nudity) at the megaliths
It was a good time despite the pain (see postscript below). I really like my 40mm figures and need to get more—although they're not really available right now, but there is hope...


Final thoughts: Song of Blades and Heroes (SBH)

I like SBH as a system. The game moves along quickly and the back-and-forth can be tense. They're also great for limited numbers of figures. We each had 13 figures in a warbands. We could easily have handled more—if I had more.

They are, however, not quite what I want for the period.

SBH was created for fantasy skirmish battles. I use about 40% of the rules for what I do with them. They don't take into account weapons and armor and there are no rules for my big 40mm scale chariot. The other 60% of the rules cover fantasy rules staples like monsters and magic.

There was once some development on a set of rules to be called Song of Spear and Shield (SSS). I had some correspondence with Andrea Sfiligoi about them going back to 2014. They seemed to be always just on the cusp of being released, but other projects kept getting precedence and they're not even listed in the Work in Progress section anymore. As recently as a few days ago, Andrea confirmed that they will be released, just no indication when. Needless to say, I'm a bit flustered. Patience has never been a virtue I was overly supplied with.

However, I just got the PDF download of the Advanced Song of Blades and Heroes (ASBH). It has a bit more of what I want (and a bit more of what I don't). The only armor rule is the same as what was in the standard SBH, i.e., "heavily armored," which adds +1 to your combat score if you're beaten, i.e., it can be decisive in turning a kill into a pushback. It's kind of moot for the Bronze Age, though. I have figures in cuirass and helmet, I have figures with bronze chest discs, I have figures with just shields (small and large), I have figures with nada but a weapon. It would be nice to have varying degrees of armoredness.

ASBH adds "reaction" to the options for players. It basically works that when a player rolls dice for activation, any failures can be rerolled for an activation attempt by the opposing player before the first player conducts his actions (if any) or rolls his next activation. If two dice fail in an activation attempt, which normally ends a player's activations, the opposing player can choose to have the normal turnover or re-roll the two failed dice as a reaction, which keeps the first player the active player. I can see a lot of advantage in this.

Weapons have been added in some way. Long spears, for example, can benefit from the "long reach" rule, basically letting you attack through/over a friendly figure. I'd give this to my spear figures. There are also rules for heavy weapons like two-handed axes (I only have one figure with that).

All in all, ASBH looks promising—but I'm still eager to see SSS released!

Postscript: Ouch!

I tweaked my back as I was loading my car to head out to The Panzer Depot. By the time I got there and was unloading, I was suffering. I made it through the game, but was only able to load up for the return trip with the help of Mike, Troy, and Ralph. It's Sunday afternoon now and I haven't unpacked yet. In fact, I've been resting since I got home yesterday, groaning every time I have to move.

I've been downing ibuprofen and applying heat and cold alternately. I'm barely mobile, but still able to sit and bash this post out. I'm about to go back to resting with the hope that by tomorrow, my back will be better. It's not spinal, it's a muscle spasm of some kind, just on my lower right.

Post-postscript: Grrr!

I went to work on this blog only to find that all the pics I took with my iPhone came out as HEIC files (i.e., Live photo). This is what the iPhone camera keeps defaulting to. Photoshop can't read that format, so I had to monkey about with a conversion utility just to get everything to work.

Apparently you can set the iPhone camera not to default to Live, which I thought I'd done, but it still defaults to Live. I wish I could just disable it.