Sunday, 31 December 2006
If you have a google account you can see stills of these in my Picasa albums.
Monday, 25 December 2006
Monday, 18 December 2006
This morning I saw not one, not two, but five ... five drivers run red lights! Now maybe I'm old fashioned (and it wouldn't be the first time someone has said that!) but I always thought a red light meant stop. OK so maybe you get some latitude with amber but red? So maybe you could train monkeys to drive better than most people on the road (they might even use their indicators once in a while!) but I though people had enough sense to know to stop at red lights. Is it like speeding now ... you only obey the speed limit where there are speed cameras? So you only stop at red lights where there are cameras? Doh!
Maybe I'll keep a sharp look out when I come up to a green light - there might be one of these cretins coming the other way!
Saturday, 16 December 2006
The Festive Sack Full is available in .pdf form from the Lardies for £5.00.
As with Wallenstein, the game is card driven with combat resolution using a nice dice tower based mechanic. The game has been designed with language independent components and is provided with rules booklets in English, French, German, Spanish and Japanese.
The game is for 3 to 5 players and is available from Games Lore amongst other outlets for £29.99 or less.
Wednesday, 6 December 2006
TotW is available in both hard copy and Adobe .pdf download forms. The rules are clearly layed out in sections with a table of contents and some examples. There are no graphics and, other than the front cover, the rules are in black and white. This obviously has benefits if your are buying the .pdf option and printing it yourself. A few more examples would certainly be beneficial but overall the presentation is good.
The turn structure is as follows:
- Cavalry/infantry/MG fire
- All movement
- Artillery & AFV fire/Air attacks
- Close combat
- Command Actions
Two options are provided for turn sequence a traditional I go you go system (albeit with a reserved fire mechanism) or a card driven system (but with all cards being drawn each turn).
A system of blinds is utilised to enable hidden unit movement. Spotting is effected by selecting the relevant blind and rolling on a table with modifications for range, terrain types and weather.
All firing in TotW is based on a rifle unit equivalency system with a unit of five infantry figures being the basic standard. A d6 is rolled for each unit of 5 figures or equivalent with modifiers for troop quality, situation, cover etc. and if the result is less than the firing group’s strength then a hit is achieved. Fire may be reserved to be used in the opponent’s turn.
Firing at extreme range does not cause casualties but rather reduces the unit’s movement in the following turn.
The deployment of the (rectangular) blinds indicates the unit formation (e.g. column, line) and this determines the distance the blind may move. Once spotted, infantry units move their unit strength in inches with vehicles moving on dAv rolls.
Given the limited development of the AFV during this period the AFV combat rules are simple with weapons categorised into MG/light/medium/heavy and armour into heavy or light. AFVs have strength ratings which are lost as they suffer hits and this is also factored into their firing capability.
Close combat is a pretty brutal affair with units rolling a d6 per figure with the number of dice being modified for unit type, status and the like. This is then resolved on a “six and you’re dead” basis with the casualty levels inflicted being compared and the overall combat result being derived from a table.
The use of a six in this instance is a little inconsistent as elsewhere in the game a low roll is good – we have a house rule where we use a 1 rather than a 6 to avoid this.
Units are given one of 5 orders – Attack/Engage/Hold/Retire/Consolidate. The quality of the CinC determines the number of order changes which they can instruct in any turn (although units can attempt to change their own orders by rolling against their initiative rating which will depend on the period and unit type); however, the type of commander affects which orders he may issue. For example an aggressive commander will find it more difficult to issue Retire orders than Attack orders.
Period Specific Rules / Information
Period specific notes are provided for Revolutionary Germany, the Spanish Civil War and the Russian Civil War (RCW). These include supporting information for the relevant forces and additional rules for specific tactics and equipment. For example there is a whole section on armoured trains for the RCW.
TotW also provides appropriate guidance on the use of battlefield features such as trenches, wire and the like.
Having used these rules for both Russian Civil War and Spanish Civil War scenarios I have found they give a good quick game with plenty of period flavour. The period specific elements help greatly here and whilst the basic mechanisms remain unchanged they add a lot to the feel of the game.
These rules aren’t as well developed or supported as I Ain’t Been Shot, Mum the Lardies main offering, and consequently questions will arise during play. However, the Lardies’ Yahoo discussion group is a good source of information and the author is will usually respond to questions quickly.
Saturday, 2 December 2006
The rules are laid out in sections in a two column format with both contents and index but with not interior illustrations. Each section has a summary “The Least You Need to Know” box highlighting key points from that element of the rules.
The rules are available as either hard copy or Adobe .pdf download. Whilst the latter is convenient the cover art work is very dark and thus very ink hungry!
A brief introduction is provided and followed by an outline of equipment required including an explanation of the dice mechanism and figure basing. The dice mechanism requires explanation as almost exclusively the rules use the concept of “passing dice” where individual dice are compared separately to a target number and where the result is lower than (or in some cases equal to) the target the dice is deemed to have “passed”.
Stars, Grunts and Rep
Figures in Chain Reaction are divided into two categories, “Stars” and “Grunts”. The former are the key figures acting as Leaders of groups of “Grunts”. Stars are allowed special characteristics to provide them with greater longevity and the player with greater control. For example, they can be “Larger than Life” (avoid being killed by figures with a lower Rep), able to “Cheat Death” (removed from play to reappear in a subsequent game) and have “Free Will” (choose Reaction Test results).
Reputation (Rep) is a key element within the game which reflects the skills, training and abilities of the individual. It ranges from 1 to 6 and is a critical factor in the majority of the game mechanisms. All figures are allocated a Rep.
Weapons, equipment and points values are provided in the next sections. One key weapons concept is that of being “outgunned”. Each weapon type is given an outgun rating and anyone with a weapon with a lower rating is considered outgunned by someone firing with a higher rated weapon. This is then incorporated into the Reaction Test mechanism and forces the outgunned figure to duck back when they might otherwise be able to react.
Initiative is determined by throwing a d6 for each side. The higher roll will go first but is only allowed to move figures, or groups lead by a figure with a Rep equal to or higher than the roll. This provides an interesting dynamic as a high roll will give the initiative but restrict the figures able to take advantage of it. This reinforces the need for effective positioning and use of “Stars” when leading groups.
The player with initiative then moves his figures which may initiate Reaction Tests, the results of which must then be resolved, before moving his next figures. Once the first player has completed his actions initiative transfers to the other player.
Figures move standard distances but may attempt to “Fast Move” by testing against their Rep. The quality of the result allows them to move further or only move the standard distance but in both cases they will count as fast moving with the consequential impact on firing or being targeted.
Firing weapons is a simple matter of selecting a target, establishing line of sight and rolling to hit. All weapons have a target rating which determines their arc of fire and the number of bursts which can be fired. A d6 is rolled for each burst, the firer’s Rep added and then compared to the To Hit table. The To Hit table includes for target and firer status and the result will be a hit or a miss. Any time a figure is hit an “Obviously Dead” test is taken by rolling a d6 versus the impact of the weapon. Assuming the figure isn’t obviously dead each hit is then rolled against the Rep of the target on the Damage Table to determine whether the target is Knocked Down or Out of the Fight. The former means no actions until next activated the latter means out of the action until medical attention arrives. When this happens the “How Bad is it Doc?” table comes in to play to determine whether the figure can rejoin the fight or is out of the game.
Tables are also provided to address mounted target situations. The rules also encompass pursuing by fire and grenades.
A section is also provided covering mortars, air and off board fire support.
During hand to hand combat each figure rolls 2d6 (with modifiers for impact, multiple enemies etc.) and compares these to their Rep. The number of passes is then compared to determine the results. An “Obviously Dead” test is taken and then each hit is rolled on the damage table as with ranged combat.
Vehicles and Buildings
Rules are provided for generic armoured and non-armoured vehicles and buildings to enable these to be included in the skirmish. The armour rules include various levels of armour and armour piercing weaponry along with rules for infantry attacking vehicles.
The heart of the game is the concept of reaction tests. During any player’s turn the actions of their figures may trigger a reaction test either for them or an opponent which will dictate further actions. This may trigger the chain reaction of the title, for example a fire fight. Reaction tests are taken when figures come “in sight”, when they “receive fire”, “want to charge” into melee or are “being charged”, are “overrun” by armour or are “surprised”. Reaction tests are generally rolling 2d6 and comparing each of these to the figure’s Rep with the more “passes” the better.
An example could be that a player moves a figure into sight of another’s. The opponent takes an “in sight” test which results in them opening fire. Assuming the target isn’t hit they will take a “received fire” test and may return fire (unless they are outgunned in which case they will take cover), the other figure will take a “received fire” test and so on until the reactions end. The original player may then resume their turn.
Campaign / Army Lists
A section is provided to support a variety of genres including army lists, special and scenario rules covering open battles, encounters, ambush, raids, escape, pursuit and RPG like skills and task test rules. The genres covered include military operations, dark future gang warfare, “B” movies and alien encounters.
Because these rules contain a number of novel concepts there can be a bit of a learning curve for new players. Whilst there are examples in the rules these could be more extensive but the support for questions on the Yahoo group is good.
It can take a little while to determine what happens in each situation, remembering to take the appropriate reaction tests etc. However, after a few plays these become second nature and the true nature of the system shines through. Simply said it is one of the best modern skirmish systems I have encountered. Fire and movement tactics, the correct placement of troops and support weapons and the good use of leaders are all rewarded appropriately and “feels” right. The rules work well for two or multi player scenarios and I would highly recommend them.
The rules are available from Two Hour Wargames in both hard copy and Adobe .pdf download for $15 and $14 respectively.
A number of period specific variants of the system are also available including Nuts! (WW2), FNG (
Sunday, 26 November 2006
Sunday, 19 November 2006
Saturday, 18 November 2006
The rules bear a passing resemblence in some areas to Bruce McFarlane's previous Second World War offering Great Battles of World War II (GBoWW2). In this case a Battalion, rather than a Company, is the smallest manoeuver unit and hence the rules operate at that higher (and more abstract) level.
As with GBoWW2 the rules are designed to play large multi-day operations and include all the appropriate mechanisms to enable this. The layout and presentation somewhat detract from the rules but they do contain the rules (with a FAQ section), army lists and three scenarios (Counterattack at Arras, El Almein (sic): Operations Lightfoot and Supercharge, and Mud at Mtsensk).
The rules are available as a Adobe .pdf download from Saber's Edge Hobbies & Games at $24.99 CDN.
Nuts! from Two Hour Wargames is the WW2 variant of their Chain Reaction 2 skirmish rules.
The chain reaction concept takes a little while to get your head around but once mastered I find it provides the best modern skirmish games I have ever played. It neatly represents the feeling of a fire fight and the effect of troop quality and leadership very well. The rules provide both the basic game mechanics for infantry, armour and artillery along with army lists (though focussed on mid to late war) and a campaign system. It's a great package based on an excellent series of mechanics that give a great skirmish game.
I Ain't Been Shot, Mum from the Too Fat Lardies has been reviewed by me before and whilst also at a 1:1 ratio uses the section as the basic manouevre unit.
The use of an interrupted card based initiative system and reducing action dice generates a series of challenges for the player acting at a Company commander level or higher. It works as both a two player and multi-player level and the rules are easy to pick up and play.
The fact that not every unit can act every turn can be a little frustrating at first but it does present a very interesting series of challenges to the player. Obviously for multi-player games it is essential that the distribution of units is properly thought through to avoid prolonged downtime.
My final selection is Great Battles of World War II by Bruce McFarlane (originally published by The Canadian Wargamers Group). These rules use a company as their smallest manouevre unit and allow the player to operate at a Brigade or Division commander level.
The rules are designed around fighting large multi-day actions as units gradually grind to a halt during combat and have to be reorganised overnight. A Divisional Centre of Operations and Forming Up Place are represented and provide reference points for deployment and lines of communication and supply.
The CWG rules sets include background, rules and scenarios as a complete package and the original two volumes were The Canadians in Europe and Dropzone which dealt with major airbourne campaigns (Crete and Market Garden). A third early war volume (Invasion '40) has also been released and is available, along with a .pdf version of the rules as part of the CWP offering at Saber's Edge Hobbies & Games (whose website appears to be down at the moment).
The obvious omission from this list is a set of rules at Regimental level. I have used Spearhead for this but, whilst a decent set of rules, I'm afraid they don't float my boat.
Wednesday, 15 November 2006
The rules are based on a 1:1 figure:man ratio, with the smallest manoeuvre unit being the section and placing the player at Company commander level or above.
The turn sequence is dictated through a card system with each platoon, each "Big Man" having a card combined with various special cards. In addition there is the "Tea Break" card which, when drawn, indicated the end of the turn; however, units which have not yet fired and have a target in short range may then fire. The Tea Break card means that not every unit will be able to act each turn.
You will have noticed the reference to Big Man this is Lardies shorthand for the natural leaders within a company who are able to galvanise their fellow soldiers into action. Their inate command ability is represented by having their own card so a unit with a Big Man attached doubles their opportunity to activate during any turn.
The special cards include bonus moves, bonus firing, ammunition shortages, national characteristics (e.g. human wave attacks) etc. These cards are theatre and scenario specific.
Once active a unit may utilise their "Initiative Dice" in order to perform actions (spotting, movement, firing etc.). The number of Initiative Dice (d6) is determined by the quality of the troops and is gradually reduced as a unit takes casualties.
The rules system provides for the use of "Blinds" where units have not yet been spotted. These are card templates which can conceal one or more or, indeed, no units and must be the subject of a successful spotting roll or activate in order to be revealed. Any cover may also be treated as a blind and hence be hiding troops deplayed in concealment.
A separate Blinds Move card is used in the deck and the cards for the units concealed are kept to one side and only inserted into the pack when the unit is revealed. This system enables some greater co-ordination of units before they fully deploy and maintains an element of the fog of war. Additionally Blinds may perform any action that a unit can do other than firing (in which case they must be revealed).
Spotting is achieved by sacrificing one Initiative Dice in order to make each spotting roll. The target number for the spotting roll is an example of the Lardies approach to these issues. Rather than provide a prescriptive list of modifiers they provide examples of factors which may make spotting easier or more difficult alogn with typical target numbers (e.g. a particularly easy spot will require a 3 or 4 on a 2d6, with ahard spot around 11). The players or umpire then need to determine the number and thus whether the units revealed or the blind removed. This may no appeal to all gamers but I have found it provides a much more flexible approach than a precriptive list.
Movement is determined by allocating a number of Initiative Dice, rolling them and then moving that number of inches. Units who have take sufficient casualties to lose their Initiative Dice may make a Guts Test to see if they may move or must rely on a Big Man (who has an Initiative Dice of his own) to help them. Modifiers are provided to allow for different terrain types.
Firing is determined by the number of Initiative Dice allocated to it. It does not need to take place when a unit's card turns up as the dice may be reserved for use later in the turn when the attached Big Man's card turns up or on the Tea Break card.
As with spotting th system is not prescriptive it requires the players to agree as to whether the situation provides a Good, OK or Poor shot and different columns on the firing table are applied. Range bands are also included. The result is specified as a number of potential casualties and may also make the unit pinned (no move but may fire) or suppressed (no move or firing) for the remainder of the turn. Potential casualties are the diced for to determine whether they were a near miss, wound or indeed dead. "Wounds" is more Lardies shorthand and actually means loss of unit cohesion and is a negative modifier to the unit's Initiative Dice. These "Wounds" may be removed by a Big Man.
This is achieved by each side rolling 1d6 per figure with the total number of dice for each unit being modified for troop quality, Big Men, heavy weapons, wounds, suppression etc. A "six and you're dead" approach is then used with the overall result being determined by the difference in casualties.
For the most part morale is built into the system through the Initiative Dice being reduced as casualties are suffered; however, where the players agree a specific morale test is required due to the particular circumstances a specific roll of 2d6 versus the number of casualties suffered may be made. Again a flexible approach is provided with the players agreeing any positive or negative factors which should be taken into account (examples are provided) and ultimately agreeing the effect of the result.
Various optional rules are provided to address Tank Quirks, MG Sustained Fire, National Characteristics etc.
Vehicles, Artillery etc.
Rules are provided for all these but I have concentrated on the infantry to better communicate the basic mechanisms as armour, artillery etc. all follow similar principles.
The rules are clearly layed out in sections with a table of contents and some examples. There are no graphics and, other than the covers, the rules are in black and white. This obviously has benefits if your are buying the .pdf option and printing it yourself. A few more examples might be beneficial but overall the presentation is good.
The Lardies strapline is "playing the period, not the rules" and these rules are an excellent example of this approach in that they provide a framework for play rather than having a prescriptive approach thus meaning that player should win through the use of appropriate tactics rather than relying on obscure references to or inappropriate application of rules. I believe these rules achieve the aim.
IABSM are not rules for everyone. If you like to have total control with every unit moving on every turn then the initiative system will not be for you. If you like a prescriptive set of modifiers for spotting, firing or morale rather than the common sense/by agreement approach adopted by IABSM then you will probably not like these rules. But if you want a good set of World War 2 rules for this level of combat then I highly recommend IABSM. With the unpredictability of unit movement the best use of Big Men becomes a real challenge along with the need for a more complex level of planning which is appropriate for the level of command being represented. They have become firm favourites of mine and work equally well in two or multi-player games. The rules are available in both hard copy and .pdf format from the Too Fat Lardies for £11.25 and £6.00 respectively. A wide range of theatre specific supplements are available along with scenario booklets.
Tuesday, 14 November 2006
Saturday, 11 November 2006
The rules have similarities to other Two Hour Wargame sets in both format and mechanisms but obviously do not rely on the In Sight test of their modern counterparts like Chain Reaction 2. So the concepts of “Rep” as the main measures of a figure’s effectiveness and “passing dice” are retained along with elements of the ranged and melee combat tables; however, the rules are more geared around groups and encompass the necessary features relating to armour and the focus on hand to hand combat.
A campaign system is included allowing your “Stars” to progress to command greater numbers of troops and attributes have also been included. There are even rules for sieges. Army lists are provided for most of the main medieval wars and forces.
The rules are available from Two Hour Wargames as a 40 page .pdf for $14.00.
As an aside aren't ParcelForce utterly useless? They tried to deliver a package to us on Monday when we were out, left a note saying we could pick it up from the local post office after 3pm on Tuesday, then left after driving over the lawn! To pick stuff up from the post office requires going into town and paying for parking - so not exactly convenient - but did it anyway and low and behold they don't know anything about any parcel. Of course the parcel reference on the note looked like it had been written by a barely literate drunked chimp so tracking the parcel on the web wasn't possible. Tried ringing ParcelFarce and after several attempts actually managed to speak to a human being rather than their labyrinthine automatic menu system. Apparently the parcel was actually at the depot (about 30 miles away) and marked as "return to sender". This is somewhat at odds with ParcelFarce's policy to try to deliver twice (they hadn't) and to keep packages for three weeks (they'd had it a whole 3 days). Maybe there's somesort of wormhole in Tonbridge and time passes differently there? Anyway we agreed they would redeliver (but not before 8:30 to make sure someone was in) and to avoid driving on the lawn. So they did redeliver (at 8:10! Possibly that wormhold effect again) and drove even further over the lawn! I suppose we did actually get the parcel (yup we'd guessed they'd not be able to tell the time and had someone house sitting in case - it does indeed pay to be paranoid).
Monday, 6 November 2006
Anyway, so it's hats off to The Perfect Captain who have taken the time to produce Hoplomachia, a set of rules specifically created for the wars between the Greek City States. It has a campaign system too. OK, its not for everyone but it simply oozes period flavour.
So lets have less Ancients and more period specific stuff which reflect the weapons, strategy and tactics of the times!
Sunday, 5 November 2006
The rules are derived from their Bag the Hun Second World War air rules. They are hex based but reference is made to adapting them to avoid the need for a hex cloth. The rules include the two usual Lardies' staples, card based initiative and blinds. The cards include multiple cards for the better pilots but all appear each turn (i.e. without the Tea Break mechanism from I Ain't Been Shot Mum!). All the usual manoeuvres, tailing and the like are catered for, and anti aircraft fire, bombing and balloon busting also make an appearance. Stats for almost 50 aircraft are present (including all the usual suspects).
The rules are available from the Too Fat Lardies as a 35 page Adobe .pdf for £6.00 (which will be emailed to you) or on a CD for £7.50.
Saturday, 4 November 2006
Sunday, 29 October 2006
To evaluate anyone’s opinion you need to know something about them so I’d better tell you something about myself. I’ve been gaming for over 20 years in a variety of scales and periods, I prefer period specific rules and my favourite period changes on a regular basis. I really dislike people who try to win games using the rules rather than the proper tactics and try to do some research for any period in order to get into the game.
I can’t promise that I’ll put entries onto the blog every day and I have a habit of starting new projects and not finishing them – so who knows. But I have a lot of stuff to review and I’ll try to get some of it on the blog over the next couple of weeks. By which time you can make up your own mind whether I’m worth wasting your time on!