Sunday, 23 December 2007


I managed to pick up a copy of Duell, the fencing card game, which is a republishing by Ravensburger of En Garde by Reiner Knizia, from eBay. Having read the various comments on BoardGameGeek I used the En Garde rules and tried a few games with my wife, starting with the Basic Game and moving on up through the Standard Game to the Advanced rules.

The game is very simple in concept a linear track is placed between the players and pawns placed on either end of it to represent the fencers. Each player is dealt 5 cards from a deck of 25 (5 sets of values 1 to 5) and then plays the cards in turn to advance down or retreat back up the track or to attack their opponent. With the advanced rules, which include advance and attack and defensive retreats it is a really fun game that actually manages to give the feel of fencing despite its simplicity.

The production values of the Ravensburger version are fine but if you are looking for a real visual feast you might want to check out the version of En Garde being produced by Ferti (although it doesn't contain the English rules so you'd need to download those). Personally if I want to improve the look I'm going to fish out my Redoubt Musketeer figures and I'd also like to work out a way to get it into a miniatures game as it's the best fencing simulation I've found so far.

Saturday, 15 December 2007

Lardies Christmas Pudding Arrives!

The Too Fat Lardies have released their latest seasonal special just in time for Christmas. Weighing in at 133 pages it's the usual excellent mix of supplements, scenarios and articles for the Lardies various rule sets.

I haven't been through the whole thing as yet - it only arrived a couple of days ago but I've found from the previous seasonal specials that, even if you don't have the rules in question, all the articles and scenarios and an interesting read. It's sure to keep my occupied over Christmas and for only £5 for the .pdf it's not to heavy on the pocket.

Which is more Important: Your Morale or Your Troops' Morale?

We played a Late Roman skirmish last week using Pax Romana and the game raised some interesting questions for me. One related specifically to the rules, and more of that later, and the other to the issue of morale. Crazy Dave was playing the Franks raiding inland from the Medway and I was fielding the Romano-Brits defending (later ably aided by Gav and Ben when the reinforcements arrived). The game started slowly with Dave picking his way through the early morning fog and eventually spotting my settlement but not before I'd spotted him and nipped off to inform the local garrison. Dave advanced his veteran troops towards my village, which was only defended by armed farmers and it looked like it was all going to be over pretty quickly. But when my lone archer loosed a couple of shots Dave decided to retire to the woods to regroup. By the time he'd got himself organised a patrol from the garrison had arrived and the fight looked like it was going to be a little more even. Unfortunately for Dave his reputation for unpredictable dice rolling was well earned and getting into the village was pretty heavy going for him. But he'd awung some of his troops in a flanking manoeuvre which surprised us from the rear and despite the patrol it started to swing Dave's way. Then more reinforcements arrived from the garrison and we all thought it was over for Dave. But despite the odds Dave moved onto the offensive and charged into the approaching units some of which broke and Dave's vets made their morale rolls. After a lot of heavy fighting Dave was eventually beaten but at a huge cost to the locals.

This all made me think, the game would have been quite different if Dave had used his aggression when advancing on the village in the first instance and had someone else been playing his troops later when the reinforcements arrived they could have simply run for the hills (which given the odds was what we were expecting!). It really highlights that no matter the morale rules for the troops the morale of the players is just as if not more important. It also goes to show that no matter what the odds any game with dice can go either way!

As to the rules one of the things that helped Dave was his veteran troops which get more actions than the less experienced troops. On reflection we were concerned that the veterans were getting rather too much of an advantage from this which was difficult to justify logically. Ben suggested using alternatives including getting several activation cards and being able to choose the highest thus allowing them to react faster. Bronze is now pondering so there may be a revised version coming.

Monday, 3 December 2007

Chain Reaction 2.0 - Available Free!

The Chain Reaction 2.0 rules are now being offered as a free .pdf download by Two Hour Wargames! These are the basic rules upon which the majority of Two Hour Wargames other sets like Nuts! and FNG are based.

The rules cover all the reaction test mechanics and provide stats for a variety of weaponry, so they make a great set for any modern skirmish.

If you haven't tried the Two Hour Wargames style rules I'd give them a go (you can't complain about the price!). They do have a learning curve but once you're over that they are excellent.

Sunday, 2 December 2007

Out of the Box: Napoleon's Triumph

Having got my copy of Napoleon's Triumph from Simmons Games earlier this week I decided to get it out of the box and have a look at both the components and the rules. The pieces are almost identical to those from Bonaparte at Marengo (BaM) but there have been some slight printing alignment issues with the unit markings being printed slightly offset, but this doesn't affect game play. The Leaders are designated by metal flag markers which sit on top of the unit blocks, these require stickers to be affixed for both sides of the flags and the Leader's name (oh great more stickers!). These are easily done and set up the game looks something like this:

With this slightly closer view you can see the locale polygons designating the areas on the map:

There are some differences with the rules from BaM but given the subject matter that's not surprising but it looks like a development rather than a rewrite and they continue the streamlined approach. Now all I need is an opponent - this game doesn't have a high SAF (Spouse Approval Factor) and even if I could persuade her I suspect she'd consider it too "thinky"!


Given that the focus of this blog is supposed to be gaming (I know I get a little distracted at times) - decided to create a new blog to cover my other main interest, technology. WebWitter is my new blog on which I ramble on about gadgets, technology, movies, tv and such like. Have a look, assuming you can stand more of me wittering on!

Saturday, 1 December 2007

NUTS! Available at a discount

Nuts! - one of my favourite sets of rules from Two Hour Wargames is their featured game this month. Which means you can get it for US$5 less than the usual list price - so the .pdf is only US$12.

All the Chain Reaction 2.0 based rule sets have a bit of a learning curve but once you get over that The reaction test system provides a different but very effective simulation. I've yet to find another set of rules at this level which gives you the "feel" that Nuts! does. It leans more to the realistic than the hollywood version of WW2 but that is what I was looking for anyway.

Thursday, 29 November 2007

The Road to Milan, April 1522

We tried out the To the Banners rules by Partizan Press at the club last week. Bronze picked these up at SELWG last year IIRC and he umpired the game. The rules embody some interesting mechanisms, particularly around initiative and artillery which make good use of the d6. It did, however, become clear that the rules were really designed for two player games rather than multi-player ones (unless you enjoy lots of downtime) and that some of the mechanics could have done with much better explanation in the booklet. Added to that units have to take some serious punishment before being eliminated which isn't really compatible with our limited playing time.

The rules did simulate the difficulties in co-ordinating units and the effect of leaders and the artillery was ineffective but fun.

Overall they are nicely presented and gave a fun game but you need to persevere with some of the text and keep to two players. Given that we liked the rules I suspect Bronze will be trying some amendments to cater for multi-player games.

Napoleon's Triumph

Impressed by Bonaparte at Marengo (BaM), I just picked up a copy of Simmons Games latest release, Napoleon's Triumph (NT) from Gameslore. NT is a development of the BaM system for the Battle of Austerlitz. The board is nearly 3' x 4'!

As with BaM, NT divides the map into polygons with defined "approaches" which restrict combat and/or movement. It also uses a diceless combat system and hidden unit strengths but now adds leaders.

I am really looking forward to giving this one a go!

Sunday, 25 November 2007

Friedrich - A Euro/War game Hybrid?

I managed to pick up a copy of Friedrich at Orc's Nest last week. It's a boardgame about the Seven Years War for 3 or 4 players (though there are two 2 player scenarios) pitting one player (as Friedrich) against the others, although only one player can win.

On first sight it looks like a cross between a Euro game and a Wargame with the wooden pieces, control chits and point to point map, and the mechanics repeat that approach - conflict but with a pretty streamlined system (combat using cards). The historic flavour is enhanced with the use of the Fate deck which introduces real events into the game - some of these eliminate individual nations but all the allies have a fall back to work with.

I've only managed to read the rules so far but it looks very interesting - particularly as the hybrid nature of the game should give it a wider appeal than my more traditional wargames.

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Athens & Sparta Arrives!

My pre order copy of Athens & Sparta by Columbia Games finally arrived today. I've only had chance to unwrap and open the box (so I still have the unrivalled fun of the stickers ...) but the game certainly looks interesting. Obviously as a Columbia block game it has the usual step reductions and it's card driven with the map being hex based - all of which we have seen in other of their games. The productions values are the same as their other games with the same file box and sleeve arrangement with an unmounted board etc. but that's only to be expected.

I could quibble about the release delay (1 month) and the lack of any sort of communication from Columbia about that (I found out from checking their website) despite them having my email address and moving from a "Coming in September" to a "Coming Soon" message without warning. But now that I have it this seems a little churlish.

Expect my first impressions once I've got myself into the appropriate Zen state to do the stickering and run through the rules...

Saturday, 3 November 2007

Have I found Solomon Kane?

In my search for a suitable Solomon Kane figure, Lenin pointed me to Black Cat Bases who have this "Vampire Hunter" in their "Civilians, Townsfolk and Mercenaries for hire" range:

He certainly looks the part to me!

Setback in San Guano

Managed to get an AK47 game in at the club on Thursday. Set in the Republic of San Guano my "rebel" forces (I like to think of them as freedom fighters - though not exactly sure whose freedom they're fighting for - wallet fighters might be better!) were narrowly defeated by the illegitimate Government forces (only 8 points in it IIRC).

What the game did do was remind me what I do and don't like about AK47 Republic. The production values are hardly top notch - dodgy coloured pages (presumably to reduce the chance of photocopying), poor layout, pretty basic illustrations and abysmal proof-reading. There are plenty of fun ideas (and some silly ones) along with a simple set of basic mechanisms which are easy to pick up. But the random scenario generation does leave a lot to be desired (you can be defeated by a few dodgy dice rolls for unit arrival - which given my reputation for dice rolling ain't great!).

But overall the core rules give a fun game (as long as you recognise what they're for!). Reflecting back on the previous Metal Storm game it did feel similar (which is not surprising given that it's based on AK47) but AK47 is still a lot less fiddly.

Monday, 29 October 2007


I spotted that the Too Fat Lardies have managed to reprint the von Reisswitz Prussian Army Wargame Kriegsspiel so I ordered a .pdf copy of it. The book is the 1824 version of the rules with both Editor's notes and the 1828 update included. The .pdf isn't terribly printer friendly as over the first half of the book has coloured backgrounds to the pages.

The Lardies also produce scenarios and a version of the Meckel map to go with the rules and I believe Lancashire Games make the markers - so this could be yet another project (which will never get finished!).

The Savage World of Solomon Kane

I just picked up a copy of the Savage World of Solomon Kane from Orcs Nest. It's the latest Savage Worlds book and it's a beauty. The book comes in hardback, with glossy pages and lots of illustrations. It provides both the Solomon Kane background, the Savage Worlds rules, details of the Kane's world and a plot point campaign.

I really enjoyed Robert E. Howard's The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane and this book allows you to bring it to both the RPG and tabletop world with the Savage Worlds rules.

Of course now I need a figure for Kane himself...

Saturday, 20 October 2007

Quebec 1759

I managed to pick up a copy of the Columbia Games block wargame Quebec 1759 on eBay recently. It was actually an old Gamma II edition but other than a couple of very minor production differences the games are identical. The box sleeve was a little more badly damaged than I was expecting but the game was complete and the block bags still sealed and unstickered - though after C&C:A I would have been happy to get one with the stickers already fixed. I've only had a chance to read though the rules so far and it's pretty much as expected. It was one of Gamma II/Columbia's early games (first published in 1972) and so is somewhat less sophisticated than their later offerings but that's what I was looking for - I want a range of games I can play with different sets of people. My other half likes board and card games but isn't keen on wargames as they're "too thinky". I'm hoping something simpler like Quebec 1759 might allow a foot in the door. Who knows - but it's got to be worth a try!

Sunday, 7 October 2007

Wargames Weekend Update

Managed to get quite a few games in when Lenin visited last weekend including Troops, Weapons and Tactics, Metal Storm, Renaissance Raiders, Savage Worlds and Commands and Colors: Ancients Expansion #1.

Troops, Weapons and Tactics is heavily based on the Too Fat Lardies previous rules I Ain't Been Shot, Mum! (IABSM) and that is very apparent. As the rules are lower level, with the tactical unit being a fire team rather than the IABSM section, a few additional mechanics have been added. This was only the first try out but our initial impression was that, whilst they did provide an interesting game, the additional chrome didn't produce a result which was a pleasing as Nuts! in terms of the "feel". Obviously this is highly subjective but I think the additional mechanics confuse and complicate the basic IABSM approach but don't deliver proportional added value - which is a shame as I am a big fan of IABSM and use them as my preferred rules for the next level up.

Metal Storm was another first outing. The rules appear to be heavily based on Peter Pig's AK47 Republic rules with the addition of different dice sizes and rules for more modern weaponry. As with all rules which use up and downgrading using different dice sizes (d4, d6, d8, d10 etc.) the statistics are a little iffy but the overall result was a fun game (though we're reserving judgement on the realism element) and I expect these will see another outing (though possibly with some tweaks).

For oue first go at Renaissance Raiders from the Antwerp Fusiliers, we pulled out my 28mm Vendel Border Reivers, Grand Manner Bastle House and Gripping Beast livestock for a little sheep and cattle rustling on the borders. The rules are heavily influenced by the Commands and Colors system and are intended to be hex based. Since I don't have any hex terrain I chose to restructure them slightly to allow them to be used on a normal tabletop. Again they gave a fun game but in my view the card and average dice initiative mechanic was a little too involved for the type of game we were trying and the cards needed to pop up more often (and be a little more varied) to add flavour. The core approach is sound but a few changes are what's needed for it to become ideal for a Reivers game rather than a more traditional Renaissance battle.

Savage Worlds once again proved it is a versatile ruleset allowing you to meld various genres successfully. Lenin presented an excellent Pulp meets Call of Cthulhu game which was tremendous fun.

And having spent ages putting the stickers on my Greek and Eastern Kingdom expansion for Commands and Colors: Ancients (CC:A), I was determined to actually use it - so we set up and played the Gaugamela scenario. CC:A is still a favourite and the card system provides some real challenges for each commander.

Monday, 10 September 2007

The best laid plans and all that...

Given that my plans didn't include being ill things have slipped a little but such is life.

It has allowed me to make a bit more progress with Fighter Boys by Patrick Bishop which focusses on the RAF around the Battle of Britain. The book relies heavily on the author's research into the individual pilots who fought and died in that critical time. An interesting read.

I think I've also got a scenario for the Troops, Weapons and Tactics game too. Another opportunity for me to look out my 20mm bridge for an Eastern Front game!

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Back from my holidays - Time for a sort out

Just got back from a family holiday relaxed and refreshed - so just in the mood to have a complete sort out! I've decided that I need to catalogue all my unfinished projects and work out a plan to get them moving again. A cursory glance in the games room revealed quite a few stalled projects which don't need a huge amount of work to get them to the table top.

I'm also planning to create a schedule to get my unplayed rules played! First off I plan to give Troops Weapons and Tactics by the Too Fat Lardies (a lower level derivative of their I Ain't Been Shot Mum WW2 rules) and Renaissance Raiders by the Antwerp Fusiliers (a set inspired by the Commands and Colors system - although hex based I plan to convert these to traditional table top). So watch this space!

Monday, 20 August 2007

News: Athens and Sparta

If you're interested in block games the latest Columbia Games offering Athens and Sparta is due for release next month. Using a combination of traditional block mechanics and a card driven approach it looks interesting, through not revolutionary. But as it's a period I'm interested in (and one I'm not likely ever to collect enough miniatures to play on the table top) I'm probably going to pre-order it.

The game has an odd back story, this release is by Tom Dalgliesh rather than the originally touted game by Craig Besinque. There appears to have been a parting of the ways some time during the development process and Carig has taken his game to GMT Games to be published as Hellenes: Athens vs. Sparta. Superficially the games seems pretty similar with the Columbia offering seeming slightly simpler/shorter (which is what I was looking for anyway). But it will be interesting to see how they compare when the GMT game comes out (it's still on the P500 list).

Tuesday, 31 July 2007

Oh Dear - got out of the habit

If I had left this post until tomorrow it would have been an entire month with no posts - sorry about that! Real life has been intruding and I've just got out of the habit of making even small posts (which is something I really need to try to do) - I suppose as I'm only just back from holiday and, prior to that, hadn't really had much in the way of gaming going on (way way too much work) I didn't think I had much of interest to say.

Got a couple of additional games so I'll be popping first looks up if I can get my act together. Just need to pop off and fix the TV as my wife seems to have killed it - possibly in an attempt to get a new one!

Sunday, 1 July 2007

So where the heck have you been?!

Sorry folks - loads of work, a brief (very brief) holiday and a bunch of boring domestic stuff have been getting in the way of my gaming life! So not much to really blog about - but I thought I'd check in just to prove I'm still here.

I am still trying to make progress on some of my ongoing projects (but not having much success at the moment) - I've got all my Vendel and Graven Images Tudor Ireland figures out in order to finish basing them and to try to encourage me to work out the rules (not having been able to find any commercial ones that suited). At the moment they are a card based set but need some major development before they're ready for the tabletop.

I just took delivery of the balance of a Eureka order which I picked most of up at Salute. A slight ordering mix up meant they took much longer than expected. They are mostly Greek Myth figures to compliment the Foundry Greek horde I bought in their summer sale. I'll be using the Typhon rules for them - I just need to get them painted now!

I still haven't got round to taking pictures of the Brigade Games figures I got back from Lenin but I'll try to do that next weekend (no promises mind!).

Monday, 18 June 2007

XDA: eXtremely Duff Assistant

Work kindly provided me with an O2 XDA a few weeks ago so that I could get email on the go. Now me being a bit of a gadget geek thought woohoo this'll mean I can dump my palm and mobile for a single device. Unfortunately the XDA is a compromise of the worst kind - yes it's got load of features BUT and it's a big but - the battery life really sucks! If you really conserve it you might get a day and a half - compare that with my Nokia mobile and Palm Zire both of which would be well into their second week with the same usage. In addition the XDA is saddled with Windows Mobile - nice idea but oh dear is it flaky - it once crashed four times in a hour!

Hopefully I'll be swapping it for a blackberry soon and that can't be as bad - can it?

Saturday, 2 June 2007

5150: Assault on Arcturus

The 5150 game we played over the big game weekend was another trial for the rules (as we were running it wrong previously) to try them again. This was human vs human so we need another trial to check out the alien specific reaction tables though. Here's the briefing:

Location: Arcturus, the Arcturus Loop (between the Borodino and Weyland Yutani Sectors)

For years the Arcturus Loop has provided a route for trade (both legal and illegal) to bypass the Core Systems. Both the ICC and the UNSC have failed to halt or regulate this traffic and this has been a source of some tension amongst the Nation States and the Corporations. The Neu Swabian League (NSL) have finally lost patience and taken direct action to deal with this problem. They have launched an invasion force bent on taking direct control of Arcturus itself and hence the loop. The initial assault wave was formed of elite teams of Sturmtroopen who have been deployed against specific strategic targets in advance of the main invasion force. One such target was Ibn Ihmael, a key control complex for the Arcturian planetary defence and communications system. The surprise assault has left the NSL in control of the complex but the Planetary Defence Forces have planned a counter attack to retake the complex and regain control of the planetary defences, possibly their last chance to halt the main NSL invasion force.

The NSL force consisted of two 5 man squads in Hard Body Armour with a variety of weapons. They were generally Rep 4 led by Rep 5 squad leaders and had the advantage of a fortified position (albeit with a perimeter too long to properly defend). The Arcturian PDF was a squad of Rep 3s in Soft Body Armour led by Rep 5s again.

A initial probe by a PDF scout quickly revealed the NSL positions (recon by death) but the first PDF assualt was quickly routed by NSL fire and the entire squad legged it for home. A more tactical approach had the NSL pinned down by one squad whilst the other attempted a flanking manoeuvre. The NSL squad slowly lost out to the greater PDF numbers and following a quick bypass being run on the main gate the outer defences were penetrated.

A short firefight between a second NSL fire team and the PDF ended prematurely with the judicious use of an anti-air missile by the PDF. The PDF advanced towards the command bunker only to be pinned down by the remaining NSL troopers. A brave assault by a PDF trooper with a flame unit failed by concentrated fire some his buddies took out the NSL trooper.

The final assault on the bunker was quickly resolved with the NSL officer being cut down before he could destroy the comms equipment and the NSL shuttle pilot thought discretion the better part of valour and bugged out.

It was a fun game (around the two hours - as you might expect) and reinforced our view that the THW system is a winner.

Our SF universe is a melding of the Aliens RPG and GZG backgrounds - more details can be found on the Encyclopedia Galactica.

Tuesday, 29 May 2007

A whole lot of gaming goin' on...

The main reason for the latest lack of posts is I've been preparing for a big weekend of gaming and then actually playing loads of games! Lenin popped over for the weekend and we managed to get in a record number of miniatures and board/card games including 5150, Warmaster, Triumph of the Will, Afriboria, Gloire, Commands and Colors Ancients, Shogun and Pirate's Cove to name a few. I am currently working up some session reports, a couple of brief reviews and some photos. Lenin also brought over some Brigade figures he has painted for me - so expect a figure review of those soon too.

Saturday, 19 May 2007

How time flies...

I could make loads of excuses for the lack of posts but I'm sure noone would be in the slightest bit interested (indeed juding by the almost complete absence of comments I may simply be talking to myself!). Anyway most of my time has been spent at work and when I have had some free time I've been preparing for a big gaming weekend coming up over the Bank Holiday (so more of that after the event - including some reviews, or at least first impressions, of several games).

I did, however, manage to get along to my club this week and had a fun late roman skirmish game using Pax Romana. The result should have been a foregone conclusion since I had Eric (the Spawn of Satan) on my side but his usual spectacular dice rolling certainly wasn't in evidence so I can only assume that Beelzebub has deserted him for a more willing acolyte! In any event we seemed to have done enough to ensure victory when I had to leave a little early (I'm still waiting confirmation of the final result - so if we didn't win I'll blame it all on my colleagues snatching defeat from the jaws of victory!). Bronze, who was running the game, produced some lovely Gripping Beast toys and we're now giving some though to putting our collections together and running a big game - the jury's still out on which rules to use though...

Monday, 7 May 2007

Where's the post?

You'd think with all that spare time over a bank holiday weekend I'd have found some time to post something to the blog. Err...well no not really. It's amazing how much ends up getting packed into three days; however, not much actually gaming (well that's not strictly true as I did get some family boardgaming in but no wargaming I'm afraid). I've had a chance to read the various rules I bought at Salute and am now setting up some test scenarios so that I can put together a full review. I even managed to get another rule set and some other bits but more of that once I've had a proper chance to read them. So watch this space...

Sunday, 29 April 2007

First Look: Troops, Weapons & Tactics

Troops, Weapons & Tactics (TW&T) is the latest ruleset from the Too Fat Lardies. It is largely based on their previous I Ain't Been Shot, Mum! (IABSM) World War 2 Company level rules but TW&T is pitched at Platoon level. Anyone familiar with IABSM will see a whole series of concepts being ported across not just the Lardies signature card activation system. The major new addition is Tactical Initiative which are points representing the orders which Big Men can give to the troops under their command. Being at Platoon level the rules have a lot more "chrome" than was included in IABSM, whether upsets the balance between flavour and playability is yet to be seen. In addition to the main rules the second part of the booklet is devoted to a synopsis of the major players in Europe in the later part of the war.

TW&T is available from the Too Fat Lardies for £17.00 in softback or £10.00 for the .pdf (be warned that the second part of the booklet looks nice but isn't very printer friendly with plenty of full page watermark pictures and colour).

Saturday, 28 April 2007

Start Player: A Kinda Collectable Card Game

A recurring problem with various boardgames I have is that they don't specify who should start or, alternatively, they only give you a single option (i.e. youngest player, oldest player etc.) which becomes somewhat of a drag if you tend to have the same opponent. Bezier Games have come up with a solution - Start Player a kinda collectable card game. It's a deck of collectable cards each of which has different conditions to determine which player should start e.g. the shortest player, the player with the most body hair, the player who last bought a game etc. The cards are of pretty thin card stock and not all exactly the same size but they do come with different Board2Pieces cartoons on each and as a ten second distraction before the main game they work pretty well.

As with other, more conventional, CCGs Start Player has a starter deck (with 42 cards: 27 commons, 5 uncommons, at least 1 rare, 1 blank, and 8 rules etc. cards) and a series of booster decks are available. Unfortunately I believe it is only available direct from Bezier Games which, due to the postage, makes this relatively expensive circa US$21.95 with P&P to the UK. Bezier can also be a little slow posting the order - mine arrived about 4 weeks after ordering; however the post mark was only five days before it arrived!

First Look: Crusader

Crusader Historical Miniatures Rules by Crusader Miniatures is a set of miniature wargames rules designed to cover Biblical times to the Medieval period. Anyone who has read my earlier rant regarding Ancients as a period will have some idea of my views on this approach. The rules don't appear to contain anything radical or particularly innovative; however, this can be said of any number of other rule sets. They have a stand based approach which should avoid the need for rebasing and are both nicely presented and clearly laid out.

I picked up a softcover copy of the rules at Salute for their special offer price of £5 as opposed to the normal £7.50. Given that you get a 60+ page glossy booklet with nice colour pictures I thought the offer price was pretty good value. Obviously I've not tried playing them yet but will post a review once I have.

First Look: Typhon

Typhon by Alternative Armies is a set of miniature wargames rules designed to accompany their range of 50mm Greek Myth figures but can be used with other figure scales. Typhon is aimed firmly at Greek Myth and provides a synopsis of all the most well known stories. In addition to combat the rules allow the players to pray to the Gods for support either by granting special powers to various items or by bestowing skills or favours upon them. The object of the rules is to form your own adventuring band and create your own myth through a chain of scenarios.

I picked up a comb bound softcover copy of the rules at Salute for £12 but they are available direct from Alternative Armies either on its own or as part of a package deal with some of the 50mm figures (which are available both unpainted and painted).

First Look: Gloire

Gloire by Rattrap Productions is subtitled Swashbuckling Adventure in the Age of Kings and is a set of miniature wargames rules. Gloire is based on the mechanics of Rattrap's previous set of pulp rules .45 Adventure. As it says Gloire is aimed at Swashbuckling games and hence leans more toward the game rather than the simulation end of the spectrum.

I picked up a softcover copy of the rules at Salute for £10 but they are available as a .pdf download from either Rattrap or RPGnow for US$11 along with a few free scenarios, game aids and pre-generated characters. There is also a yahoo discussion group to support the rules.

Wednesday, 25 April 2007

Salute Sum Up

As always I made my annual pilgrimage to the Salute show at ExCeL in London last weekend. I arrived at around 09:30 (with doors scheduled to open at 10:00) and joined the Queuebuster Queue (an oxymoron if ever there was one as Lenin pointed out). Fortunately we were actually let in around 15 minutes early so it wasn't too long a wait. It was an expensive day out for some with the parking being a little on the steep side and with the entry price being £9 for the standard punters - along with the cost of getting there.

I must admit the new layout did go some way to reduce the feeling of wandering around an aircraft hanger but the space is still somewhat soulless. I trundled around picking up my figure pre-order and a few new rule sets (of which more in some later First Look posts) but there wasn't a huge amount that really caught my eye. There was a huge range in the games being put on from the "I'd be embarrassed to put it on in my living room" to the visually impressive but nothing that made me rush off and mortgage my house on a new project (probably fortunately). Lenin and I met up with Swiss Tony and all came to the same conclusion - we're not getting any younger and it's more difficult to generate the same excitement about a project.

Once I got home I broke out the new rules I'd purchased and they have certainly got me thinking about some new games - I've even started putting together some terrain for one of them which is a good sign. So maybe I'm not as jaded as I thought.

Friday, 13 April 2007

TotW: Spanish Civil War

Another Triumph of the Will game this week - this time the Spanish rather than the Russian Civil War. We were the Nationalists attacking a Republican held town. Things started well, that is right up until we encountered the Republicans - largely by wandering across the open ground in front of their dug in machine guns! It might not have been quite so bad had we not been facing Eric the Spy whose dice rolling prowess has led many to speculate that he has in fact sold his soul to Satan! His probability smashing rolls cut my first battalion to pieces and gave the second a darned good thrashing until eventually our return fire actually had some effect.

In the end a victory for the Republicans but a good time had by all - but your time will come Eric!

Tuesday, 10 April 2007

WTF: In the Night Garden...

My daughter has just been watching In the Night Garden... and I caught a few minutes of it. Have the Beeb been spending my license fee on a lorry load of illicit substances or what?!? I know this is aimed at very young children but it makes the Teletubbies look like serious drama! And don't get me started on the Teletubbies... I always wondered if it was a post apocalyptic nightmare with our cyborg descendants living in a reused fall out shelter in a (Logan's Run) manicured haven in the (unseen) ruins of our world. Their lives controlled 1984 style by an invisible narrator with their only access to our time via their embedded TV screens showing archive footage of a lost world. And then there's the Boohbahs.... arrghhh ... where's my tablets??!?

Monday, 9 April 2007

C&C:A - The Battle of Akragas

I broke out Commands and Colors: Ancients in order to teach myself the rules, so I gave the first scenario, the Battle of Akragas (406BC), between Syracuse and Carthage, a go solo.

The rules are very easy to pick up (especially to someone used to miniature wargames) and give a quick game. The command card system certainly gives you plenty of challenges as the commander on each side. The combat system is pretty straightforward but with a few little "exceptions" that you need to keep an eye out for.

The blocks work well and the cards are made from good stock. The game board sits reasonably flat if you back fold it but is certainly a weak point if viewed from a boardgamer perspective. All round it's fine if compared to board wargames but doesn't compare well to the higher production values of other Commands and Colors games such as Memoir '44 or Battlelore.

Victory went to Syracuse, not least due to them having one more command card than Carthage. I am looking forward to getting the game in front of a real opponent!

Friday, 6 April 2007

Commands and Colors Ancients: Custom Dice

I ordered a set of custom dice from Valley Games in Canada for my copy of GMT's Commands and Colors Ancients (C&C:A) a week last Monday and they arrived yesterday. That's not bad from across the pond.

They are lighter than the dice included in second edition C&C:A (the ones in the first edition weren't up to much I hear) but have the symbols etched into the surface rather than using stickers like the originals. Very nice and not too expensive too even accounting for the postage.

Sunday, 1 April 2007

Operation Sealion - Back on the Agenda

I have been interested in Operation Sealion (Unternehmen Seelöwe), the planned invasion of Britain in 1940, for some time. It was reinforced when I moved to Kent and was able to have a look at some of the key locations. I even ran a short lived wargames campaign using GMT Games' Britain Stands Alone for the strategic element. As with most campaigns it ran out of steam largely due to the logistics. After that my interest waned for a period but I recently bought a copy of Invasion, 1940 by Derek Robinson which has rekindled it. Whilst the book doesn't live up to its own hype and, for me, doesn't really add anything new, it did get me thinking about Sealion again. So I will be going back through my various resources and will be making posts on the blog about my thoughts. I am also wondering about working on a new game or campaign based on it. After all it's not a new project just a dormant one being restarted. Watch this space.

Saturday, 31 March 2007

First Look: Commands and Colors Ancients

Commands and Colors Ancients by GMT Games is a light board wargame recreating battles between the Romans and Carthaginians. The rules system by Richard Borg appears in his earlier ACW game Battle Cry and more recently in Battlelore by Days of Wonder. Whilst it doesn't have the production quality of the Days of Wonder product, with blocks and a rather thin board, it has been said to be the best implementation of the Commands and Colors system (BTW when will our colonial cousins learn that "color" has a "u" in it?). Not having played it I can't comment but with games taking around an hour I should be able to get a few in and post a proper review in the not too distant future. I have just finished applying the stickers to each side of each block which, whilst a bit of a chore, is strangely satisfying when you have finished. I'm not entirely convinced by the sticker approach to the battle dice but I understand they are considerably better than those supplied in the first edition. I am looking forward to giving this one some table time.

TotW: Flight From Smershk

Yet another Triumph of the Will game this week. This time a slightly less historic scenario from the Too Fat Lardies Christmas 2004 seasonal special. Quoting the Lardies:
Oh my Lord! Will evil Count Nikolai Vorskinski get the girl, or will she be saved in the nick of time by filthy oik Dimitri Urinovski. A bodice ripper for Triumph of the Will from the age of pulp.
We had a slight hiccup initially, largely due to my failure to proof read the email I sent to the chap providing the figures and hence the Reds were a little down on numbers but after a little reorganisation the game was rebalanced.
The Whites decided to dig in as close to the Red edge as possible to form a defensive line whilst the engineers fixed the damaged rails to enable the Count's armoured train to reach the ship. The Reds threw themselves at the line but took a substantial number of casualties; however, some of the cavalry managed a breakthrough on the left flank despite the intervention of the White's armour. Unfortunately the Reds didn't have enough fresh troops to exploit the move and whilst it held up that flank it didn't swing the game.
Meanwhile on the right flank the White defence crumbled before the Red onslaught with casualties minimised due to the cover reducing visibility for the MGs. More Red Cavalry broke through just in time to see the train steaming off towards Smershk. Comrade Urinovski led the advance crushing the Engineers which the Count had left behind but by now the breakthrough on the left flank had been crushed enabling the Whites to redeploy. The Reds didn't have enough troops to defeat the remaining Whites and were forced to withdraw. In his haste the Count nearly ruined it all by crashing the locomotive into the buffers and nearly into the sea! But he managed to unload his treasure and steam away with the girl thanks to his troops remaining loyal despite the fact he was abandoning them to their fate.

Saturday, 24 March 2007

Salute - Does it still provide inspiration?

Ever since I have lived within reasonable reach of London I have visited the Salute wargames show hosted by the South London Warlords. From the cramped conditions at Kensington through the variable benefits of Olympia (who can forget that first show with the lift access fiasco) through to the aircraft hanger that is Excel, I have trundled along with my "wish list" and duly tried to buy enough lead that I thought I'd saved myself the ticket price in postage. They have yet to announce the entry price for this year but I doubt it will be much shy of £10 and that's a fair amount of postage! In any event I generally do meet up with a whole bunch of reprobate gamers I haven't seen in a good while (probably since the previous Salute) and few other shows allow that. But overall I've found the show less and less inspiring. I used to do a lot of impulse buying as well as picking up stuff from my list but these days I seem to spend rather a lot of time wandering around but not buying much. Not that this is solely Salute, when I went to SELWG at Crystal Palace last year (and bear in mind I like that show a whole lot better than Salute even though it is a little smaller) I had a similar experience. Am I just getting old, have I bought it all already or is there just less to get excited about out there? I'm not sure myself but it will be something that's on my mind when I shell out the cash to get into the rather soulless space that the Warlords have taken this year.

Friday, 23 March 2007

How do they do it?

Placed an order with Shire Games yesterday for Diamant and Escalation! to play with the family. The order went in at 16:15 yesterday afternoon and the games arrived at 11am this morning. How do they do it - do they employ psychics to predict your order or what? I can't believe anyone can beat that (unless they've got a teleportation device). Anyway top marks to the folks at Shire Games!!

Saturday, 17 March 2007

Forlorn Hope

Managed to get a game of Forlorn Hope in this week at the wargames club. It has been a while since I have ventured into ECW and it has me thinking of sorting out my Redoubt Montrose and Covenanters which have been languishing in a cupboard for quite a while. It was the Umpire's first outing with the rules (and I'm not sure having one of the authors present helped his confidence level) but a fun game was had by all. Unfortunately, we (the Royalists) didn't carry the day but it was all going swimmingly when I had to leave early so I'll put it down to my fellow Royalists (OK chaps maybe it wasn't all your fault...).

Monday, 12 March 2007

Marked for dearth!

I hadn't realised how long it has been since I last posted. A nagging shoulder injury (not good for typing), work (encroaching on too many evenings) and other real life issues have left little time for gaming let alone blogging; however, this weekend has certainly started to put things back on track, gaming wise anyway.

5150, Antike, Bonaparte at Marengo (BaM) Luftwaffe 1946 and the naval rules from Rocket's Red Glare (RRG) all saw a first play along with a game of our old favourite Savage Worlds. A good mix of miniatures and boardgames along with air, naval and skirmish in historical, alternative history and SF genres!

Being from the Chain Reaction stable 5150 worked pretty much as expected with a Bug Hunt style game using random SF floorplan tiles. The Savage Worlds game was a pulp outing which owed a lot to both the Lost World and Indiana Jones with the descendants of Atlantis living on a jungle plateau inhabited with dinosaurs. Luftwaffe 1946 had B29s escorted by P51s facing off against HE162s and provided a good fun game but with little new (not that that is necessarily a bad thing!). RRG provided another use for my Wizkids Pirates CMG ships but didn't work too well (possibly not a surprise when many of the rules are based on the land game - though that works way better).

Despite losing BaM it turned out to be a great game and as the French I did only lose on the last turn after it looked like it would be a walkover for the Austrians after they got round my right flank so the game had plenty of interest. Whilst the combat mechanic is very simple the game gives you plenty of difficult decisions and a different perspective for each player. BaM will certainly be seeing some future play.

As a light civilisation game, Antike, works very well. A three player game demonstrated that conflict wasn't necessary for a win, although I'm not sure one of the players was really working to a plan (sorry dear!). With the game lasting 90 minutes, with little downtime and giving plenty of things to do I think this one will see quite a bit more table time.

Wednesday, 21 February 2007

First Look: Antike

Antike by eggertspiele and Rio Grande is a light civilisation type boardgame for 2 to 6 players. The game allows you to play various civilisations from the Babylonians to the Romans with the focus on securing various victory point cards rather than eliminating your opponents. There is combat but it is resolved very simply (and expensively!). The game has a playing time of between 90 minutes and two hours.

It is available from various sources but I managed to secure my copy at something less than the RRP on eBay. Look for a full review once I have had a chance to play it a few times.

Saturday, 17 February 2007

First Look: Bonaparte at Marengo

Bonaparte at Marengo from Simmons Games is a two player Napoleonic board wargame. It allows you to recreate the Battle of Marengo, 14 June 1800, between the French and Austrian armies. The opposing forces are represented by wooden blocks and the game utilises an innovative polygonal area to area movement system. The combat system is diceless. The game comes with two sets of, for a board wargame, deceptively simple rules but appears to present plenty of tactical challenges for both the French and Austrian players.

The game is available from Simmons Games in the US, Histogame in Germany and both Gameslore and Leisure Games in the UK. It retails for around $49.95 in the US and £42.99 in the UK (rip off Britain strikes again!).

Friday, 16 February 2007

Not a Great Week...

I managed to injure my shoulder - hence the lack of posts as work on the PC wasn't the easiest. Fortunately, I seem to be on the mend now. Things did look up as I managed to secure a couple of boardgames for very reasonable prices on eBay - Bonaparte at Marengo (you'll probably be able to guess from the title what that one's about) and Antike (a civilisation style game) - so expect some first looks and probably reviews once I've had a chance to look at them.

Saturday, 3 February 2007

Guards to Poltava

I have been running the Guards to Poltava Russian Civil War campaign for Triumph of the Will from the TooFatLardies featured in their 2006 Summer Special. The first two games went to the Whites but they took a bit of a beating to win the second game and it meant that they needed both a decent plan and good luck in order to win the third. Unfortunately they didn't fare too well with either and so the third game became the White high tide mark.

We all still like the Triumph of the Will rules, albeit they have a few rough edges which could do with smoothing, and they give a somewhat brutal but fast game. Given that we usually only have time for 2-2.5 hours gameplay we need rules that will work with multiple players on each side and allow us to reach a conclusion in the time available. TotW does both admirably.

We had a discussion after the game about the pros and cons of ladder campaigns and the difficulty of maintaining some sort of balance so they provide a challenge but don't end too rapidly. For a game to be fun it can't be dependent on one side making no mistakes whatsoever.

Whilst this campaign allowed the Whites to refight the scenario with the reinforcements they would have met up with at Poltava the conclusion was that they would still have had a tough time of it. It did provide an excellent example of the interesting aspects of the TotW rules with units being sized by their morale and determination rather than physical numbers. Also the need for control tests when a unit reaches five or less figures gave the Red Militia (starting with 6 figure units) plenty of worries. It did also show the need for proper consideration of counter battery fire too.

It looks like one of the chaps may try the rules for the Russo Finnish war next.

Sunday, 28 January 2007

Nach Paris!

Managed to get a game of Nach Paris! (a Franco Prussian Fire & Fury variant) in on Thursday as the Prussians. A great game but it did reveal the issues around modifying one rule set for another period. Some of the key mechanisms in Fire & Fury work on the basis of equivalent ranges for musketry in the American Civil War. Clearly this isn't true of the Franco Prussian war where ranges and fire power differed significantly between the opposing forces. So do you introduce differential ranges and, if so, how do you deal with the "retreat beyond enemy musket range" results? The Fire & Fury mechanics clearly have a level of abstracting and thus introducing a new variable can create some problems which aren't immediately apparent.

As it was the game was great fun and the weapons issues have been taken away for a bit of tweaking. Unfortunately the result was relatively historic with a French "victory" but I'll put that down to a lack of aggressiveness on my colleague's flank (of course a lot fewer duff dice rolls on my part might of made a difference too!)

Sunday, 21 January 2007

All Quiet on the Blogging Front

Sorry that there haven't been any posts lately - I have been down with the 'flu and hence haven't had much time for blogging or gaming. Having recovered I'm in the process of progressing a couple more reviews.

Wednesday, 10 January 2007

Review: Division Commander

Division Commander is a set of miniature wargames rules for gaming multi-day battles of World War Two from Bruce McFarlane published under his Complete Wargame Packages (CWP) banner. The rules are designed for multi-Division multiple day actions with individual stands representing a Battalion. The ground scale is 3 inches to the mile and the time scale is variable but a turn is roughly equivalent to between 90 minutes and 3 hours.
Division Commander is only available as an Adobe .pdf download comprising the main rules, quick reference sheet, three scenarios, counters and Division cards for typical German, Soviet and Allied Forces. The rules have a colour front cover and some small colour photographs of miniatures but is otherwise in black and white. Other than the contents page it is laid out in a single column format in a relatively small font. The main rules run to some 21 pages. The rules are followed by four pages of FAQs. The three scenarios included are Counterattack at Arras, El Almein (sic): Operations Lightfoot and Supercharge and Mud at Mtsensk.
The presentation is generally poor with muddled page layouts, multiple fonts being used in single sections for no apparent reason, fonts which are uncomfortably small which combined with poor proof-reading and the rules/FAQ approach does not make the rules pretty or easy to navigate. Different terminology is used to describe the same things (e.g. dispersed/decimated) and the Quick Reference Sheet actually disagrees with the main rules.
Sequence of Play
Each day turn is broken down into around 30 steps with additional steps for the first turn but night turns have only 4.
Typically these are as follows:
Corps Artillery, Air Support and Command
Initiative (an opposed modified d6 roll)
Phasing Player:
Recover from dispersed
Rally from disorder
Motivate deployed units
Change orders (optional rule)
Air strikes
Move HQ
Defensive fire from non-phasing player
Offensive fire
Close combat
Momentum test (optional rule)
Reverse Roles and Repeat
Whilst this may seem lengthy each turn actually flows relatively smoothly once the rule kinks have been ironed out.
Players are either allocated forces using a historic scenario or can select them via a random or points based approach. Not all Divisions will be present on the table at the start of the game and a mechanism is provided to determine which will be available immediately and which will arrive later. Reinforcements can be rolled for from turn 3 onwards.
Corps and Army Support
This is represented through the allocation of counters or "chits" for artillery barrages, air support and Corps command and control. These are rolled for randomly to determine the number available and then may be utilised during a player's turns.
Unit Status / Command Radius
Units can be deployed (following firing), disordered or dispersed (as combat results). Divisional HQs have a 9 inch command radius outside of which things become nasty for units (e.g. they are unable to modify units' status).
Each Division also has a "Supply and Communications Centre" (SCC) which is a fixed position on the table for each Division and the Divisional HQ must be able to link to the SCC via the road network.
The issuing of commands is one of the key rule mechanisms. As the day goes on and units become deployed, disordered and/or dispersed the number of commands available to a player will reduce until eventually units will "Go to Ground". Commands are then utilised to motivate deployed units (to enable them to move forward), rally disordered units or recover dispersed units (if successful they reappear at your SCC). Additionally commands may be used to call in air support (if any has been made available), artillery barrages or allocate additional support to units in combat (represented by die roll modifiers). Divisions that have Gone to Ground receive only a single command per turn and when all units have Gone to Ground the day is over (hence days may last differing numbers of turns).
Units have both a fast and slow movement mode (the latter when they are taking advantage of the terrain for cover) typically 6 inches and 3 inches. Even if only individual units decide to move "fast" the whole Division will be deemed as "fast" for applying the effects. Road movement is also available at double speed provided movement on road is done for the whole turn and it is not used to go into close combat.
Units which do not move may be marked as having "directed fire" for the use of 1 command which will enable them to have defensive fire in the other player's turn.
Ranged combat is simply a matter of determining if a unit can be seen, is in range and rolling a modified d6 and comparing it to the unit's Effective Fire number. Ones are always considered failures whilst sixes are always considered successes.
Close combat is resolved in a similar fashion for any units which are in base to base contact; however, multiple rounds of close combat may occur until a decisive result is acheived.
Night Turns
Night attacks are catered for but typically night turns are used for recovery, rallying, motivation, engineering, reinforcement and reallocation of support units.
Optional Rules
These are provided for paratroops, hidden deployment and movement, strategic and other movement options and Divisional orders.
I really like the concepts that Bruce McFarlane has tried to include in these rules and the ability to play games in a reasonable time at this level is very welcome. However, the presentation is frankly appalling, the rules are poorly laid out, no examples are provided and the Quick Reference Sheet is inconsistent with the main rules in a number of places and in very substantial ways. In addition, the inclusion of the roll of a 6 always being a success frequently turns combat into a "6 and you're dead" dice rolling exercise which removes some of the feel from the game. If you have the patience to persevere, rewrite the Quick Reference Sheet and add a few home brew modifications these rules could be useful, of course none of this should be necessary for a set of rules you are being asked to pay US$23 for a.pdf download in this day and age. Similarly there is no excuse for the poor presentation.
Overall there is a reasonable set of rules here but they do not compare well for presentation or value to other rules for this period (albeit for differing levels).

Monday, 8 January 2007

A Game-Filled Weekend

What with card games, board games and wargames we managed to get 18 games in over the weekend. Montjoie! got a second outing, this time at skirmish level (and much better for it), Division Commander for the first time and Rackham's AT-43 saw the tabletop.

For less serious stuff WizKids' Rocketmen: Axis of Evil got a try and so did Heroscape (it may be a toy but it's definitely fun!) plus Ticket to Ride, Cleopatra and the Society of Architects along with Shogun.

So expect some reviews shortly!

Tuesday, 2 January 2007

First Look: Hölle auf Erden (Hell on Earth)

Hölle auf Erden (Hell on Earth) is a zombie supplement for Nuts! from Two Hour Wargames. It provides a simple Weird War 2 background to explain the alternate history for late in the war to allow zombies to be fielded.

It effectively adds some of All Things Zombie to the excellent Nuts! World War 2 rules which are based on Chain Reaction 2.0 which I reviewed back at the beginning of December.

Hell on Earth allows the zombies to be controlled or un-controlled and, as with All Things Zombie, the latter works well for solo play.

Hell on Earth is available in both .pdf and hardcopy formats at $5.00 and $8.00 respectively from Two Hour Wargames.

Monday, 1 January 2007

Figure Review: Mongrel Miniatures NATO Range

Due to the number of photos rather than compile another Video Review I've simply uploaded the photos to Picasa:

Figure painting is by Lenin.

This is a superb range from Mongrel Miniatures with excellent sculpting and come highly recommended.

Happy New Year!

We welcomed the New Year in with some Days of Wonder games - Cleopatra and the Society of Architects and Pirate's Cove. I'm getting a bit long in the tooth for a booze fest anyway!

I hope 2007 is a happy and prosperous one for you.