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.