Thursday 29 December 2011

U-Boat Leader

I was lucky enough to receive a few games this Christmas, amongst these was my first solo boardgame from Dan Verssen Games - U-Boat Leader.  Having long been fascinated by WW2 submarine warfare and Das Boot this was an excellent choice.

The game  includes four campaigns covering different stages of the Battle of the Atlantic:

  • The Battle Begins: covering operations at the start of World War II to about mid-1940.
  • The Happy Time: covering the period from mid-1940 to mid-1941 when the U-boats and wolfpacks dominated the seas.
  • Operation Drumbeat: covering operations off the American coast and in the Caribbean in early 1942.
  • The Hunted: covering the time period when the tide starts to turn against the U-boats in mid 1942.
Each of these can be played as a short, medium of long game depending on the number of patrols you wish to play.  It also includes the following U-Boats:

  • Type IIB/C coastal submarines
  • Type VII A/B/C Atlantic submarines
  • Type IX A/B/C long-range submarines
  • Type XXI Elektro-boat
Each of which can be selected from (or developed through) various experience levels (Green, Trained, Veteran and Ace).
The game is split between the campaign map, where you direct several U-Boats:
and the Tactical Display where the actual combat occurs:
Each campaign provides you with a pool of Special Option points which you can spend on your U-Boat flotilla and other special missions and actions.  Movement across the campaign map triggers events (which can include contacts) and when the U-Boat reaches its patrol area it can check for contacts.  If a contact is made then things transfer to the Tactical Display with the target vessels represented by generic counters until they are identified (which is managed through a card deck) - sometimes revealing some nasty surprises!

A U-Boat can try to form a Wolfpack by contacting other boats in the same patrol area but with the chance of alerting the target.  The combat consists of relative movement, detection and combat phases with the U-Boat finally having to exit the display - which can be tricky if you have been detected.

I have only played the game once so far but really enjoyed the experience.  I am sure this is not a game for everyone but I will be breaking this out plenty more times in the future.

Friday 23 December 2011

Merry Christmas!

Here's wishing you a very merry Christmas!  Thank you to all of you who have stopped by and a particularly big thank you to those who have taken the time to leave comments (thus proving I am not just talking to myself!).  I hope that you're on the nice list and Santa (or the Hogfather) brings you lots of gaming goodness this Christmas (Hogswatch)!

Lardies Xmas Special - Out Now!

After a little longer a wait than normal (but it looks like it was worth it!) the TooFatLardies have released their Christmas special.

The price has gone up slightly to £6 but with the pdf weighing in at 122 pages I think it's still pretty good value if you are into Lardies games.  The run down this year is:

  • The sinking of the Konigsberg - A scenario for Bag the Hun
  • On Patrol- A complete pre-game patrol system for I Ain’t Been Shot Mum
  • A Brief Affair - An Australian attack on a German held Pacific Island in 1914 with Through the Mud and the Blood
  • An A to Z of Umpiring - The dos and don’ts of running games
  • One off Battles for Le Feu Sacre - Some pick up Napoleonics games
  • Green Hill Moonshine - A scenario for Terrible Sharp Sword ACW rules
  • Deadly Pairs - A Bag the Hun scenario for Normandy 1944.
  • Passchendaele, The Bitter Victory - Sidney Roundwood looks at this epic battle and how it shaped the face of warfare
  • In the Salient - Three Scenarios for gaming Passchendaele
  • 6mm LOVES IABSM - Why 6mm is the perfect scale for IABSM?
  • Across the Nemen - A Barbarossa scenario
  • Messing Around with Boats - Rating ships for Kiss Me Hardy
  • Operation Charnwood - The background to this remarkably little gamed operation to capture Caen
  • A Fresh and Highly Trained Instrument - A complete Operation Charnwood mini-campaign for I Ain’t Been Shot Mum
  • The Capture of Akhalkalak Fortress - A scenario for Sharp Practice set on the borders of Russia and the Ottoman Empire
  • Sniper! - Some alternative sniper rules for IABSM
  • Bridge over the River Urk - A Partisan scenario for IABSM
  • The Roundwood Report - An interview with Richard Clarke on the future for TooFatLardies
  • Get Fondler - A gritty Sharp Practice scenario set in Gateshead?
  • May Madness - A scenario for Bag the Hun above the Dunkirk perimeter in 1940

Quite a packed issue as usual and certainly worth a look!

Tuesday 20 December 2011

Extending the Gaming Table - Part 2

I managed to get the second part of the extension completed this afternoon.  After yesterday's experience I made sure I wore an extra pair of socks when working the garage as it was pretty cold again.  This part of the table doubles as my workbench and so I will now be able to get back to my basing with better lighting.

Next up I need to unpack and sort the remaining boxes from the move as I now have somewhere to put the stuff!  Of course if I am lucky next weekend I may have more things to have to think about storing!

The main challenge will be coming up with a managable labelling system so I can actually find things when I need them.  

Monday 19 December 2011

Extending the Gaming Table

Today I have mostly been designing and building an additional 2 foot section for my gaming table.  I have only completed the first of the two sections and am now feeling rather old as I'm completely knackered now!

The reason it's a little more complicated than the main table is this part needs to perform double duty - as a workbench and a storage unit.  This allows me to keep some spare space in the games room when I don't need thr larger table - plus it allows me to put the workspace in the window alcove so I can get some proper daylight when I am working.

The design is basic and functional rather than pretty (largely due to my complete lack of woodworking skills - I did German at school instead - not much use when making basic furniture!).  But once it's all finished I can finally get the last boxes unpacked and the games room organised.

Saturday 17 December 2011

Eastern Front Action

In keeping with the season I thought I would post a few photos from a WW2 Eastern Front game I put on recently:

John and the Buttocks of Buddha

I managed to get down to the club again last week and had an interesting game of Italian Wars using Impetus.  I had some cavalry, mounted crossbow and some arquebusiers and my orders were to hold the left flank whilst Crazy Dave punched through on the right and rolled up their flank.  It sounded like a good plan until Ben arrived and took command of the troops in the village right in Dave's way.  Needless to say the attack got somewhat bogged down and, whilst I whittled away at the troops over the river, my cavalry took plenty of casualties and when the enemy reinforcements arrived things took a turn for the worse.  It was at this point that John revealed that he has the buttocks of a god ...

... unfortunately they're Buddha's ...

no idea when he's going to let him have them back!

Sunday 4 December 2011

Mahdist War: RMLI

And now some Royal Marine Light Infantry to add to my Sudan collection (Perry 28mm figures again):

Sunday 27 November 2011

Mahdist War: KRRC

Here are some more of my 28mm Perry Sudan figures - this time from the 3rd Battalion of the King's Royal Rifle Corps - for the Suakin Campaign:

Tuesday 22 November 2011

Quick Project Update

What with the house move and a rather nasty surprise from HMRC I have had to revisit my project plans and do a little trimming and rescheduling.  So here's a quick overview:

Indian Mutiny: With the Sikhs and Highlanders currently away for painting I am just sorting out the next batch of figures.  These are some Mutineer cavalry, light infantry, artillery for both sides and the civilians and personalities from Mutineer miniatures.  I suspect I will close this project after these have been done and I have found an appropriate source for some suitable flags.

Sudan: SELWG saw me purchase some more figures for my Sudan project.  These represent the last I need to complete Phase 1 - the Suakin campaign - including the Yorks & Lancs, Black Watch, 10th Hussars and some Naval Brigade. I may get the additional figures I need for Phase 2 - Khartoum - at Salute next year.

WW2 NW Europe: I just need to base up my Foundry Paras and this can be counted as complete (always assuming any wargaming project ever reaches that stage!).

Cold War: Lenin has my additional BAOR and the additional Soviets I need are off with Roger so it is just down to me to assemble and paint the BTR (and possibly get a couple more vehicles - I've always fancied a Scorpion - but that will have to wait a while unfortunately).

Falklands: No real progress on this one since the last update - although it would be nice to have this progressed given next year is (believe it or not) the 30th anniversary.

Russian Civil War/WW1 Eastern Front:  I keep get the figures out and then popping them back on the shelf as I don't have any desperate need to move this project along (which is handy as I'm not sure I can afford it with the other ones planned!).

Montrose: Still being rebased (or if you really want to know the truth - about to start being rebased - i.e. I haven't actually done anything yet...)

Scarlet Pimpernel: I still need to decide on what finish I am going to do on the bases for these and then assemble and paint the guillotine. 

Marlburian: These are next on the list for cleaning up; however, I still need decide which units I want them to be and which rules to use in order to get this moving along.

Maximilian in Mexico: No actual progress here.

Vietnam: Lenin tells me these are on the workbench - so I am hoping to get a game to the table in the new year.

Greek Myth: This is still a bit on the back burner; however, the new figures from Foundry are rather nice ... (must resist!)

WW2 Polish: This was one project I had intended to reschedule but with North Star having some of the Bolt Action Poles on sale (and the sale coming to an end) I thought I'd better secure the saving!  Not much of an excuse but I will be popping them on the shelf as I will need to supplement them with some figures that North Star didn't have on offer.

Everything Else: is being delayed/rescheduled as there is plenty to be getting on with without starting something new (always assuming I can get treatment for the "ooohhh shiny" syndrome I seem to have contracted!

Sunday 20 November 2011

Mahdist War: 19th Hussars

I didn't get much time this weekend to devote to gaming stuff but did manage to base up a few more of my Perry Sudan figures.  This time it's the 19th Hussars:

Friday 18 November 2011

First Look: Cold War Gone Hot

Hot on the heels of Ambush Valley comes the fourth source book for Force on Force but the first covering an conflict that never actually happened.

Unlike Ambush Valley, Cold War Gone Hot is focussed more on scenarios.  In its case there are 22 of them.  They are split into three groupings, Col War Fears, Cold War Realities and Cold War Fantasies to suit the approach you wish to take to this alternative history.

Cold War Fears is based on the views held at the time (irrespective of whether these were based on fact rather than speculation).  So you get a Soviet and Warsaw Pact with significantly superior numbers of forces and worryingly similar capabilities to the West.

Cold War Realities is based in the real world following the release of hard facts after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the break up of the Soviet bloc.  The scenarios in this section also focus on a somewhat more aggressive NATO in order to spice things up.

Cold War Fantasies is based more in the world of Holywood than the real one, taking its inspiration from films and fiction set in the period.

The balance of the 120 odd page book contains special rules, unit and vehicle information etc.  It is a useful reference work if you are interested in a counter factual conflict in the 1980s that's for sure.

Currently at Amazon for only £9.71: Cold War Gone Hot: World War II 1986 (Force on Force)

First Look: Ambush Valley

Ambush Valley is the third source book for the Force on Force rules and covers the Vietnam War.   The book is over 180 pages packed with useful information on a wide variety of units which were involved in the conflict.

There are around 20 pages of the book taken up with new or modified rules for Force on Force (including special rules for civilians and for boats) but the remainder of the book is full of data which aren't FoF specific.

This is a great resource for anyone interested in information on the forces involved in Vietnam and given the volume of data is great value.  It is much lighter on scenarios though, with only six being included, and so is more useful as a reference work rather than for game ideas.

Available from Amazon for only £9.71: Ambush Valley: Vietnam 1965-1975 (Force on Force)

Friday 11 November 2011

Lest we forget

Photo courtesy of dougbelshaw

They went with songs to the battle, they were young. 
Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow. 
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted, 
They fell with their faces to the foe. 

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: 
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. 
At the going down of the sun and in the morning, 
We will remember them.

Saturday 5 November 2011

First Look: I Ain't Been Shot Mum III

I never thought it would happen but the Too Fat Lardies have actually produced a full colour professionally bound rule book!  It's the new (3rd) edition of their I Ain't Been Shot Mum company size WW2 rules in fact.  So I felt compelled to buy it.

The rules are now beautifully presented in over 100 pages interspersed with diagrams, examples and some nice photos.  But what else has changed?

If you weren't familiar with the previous edition of the rules, you can find my overview here.

The core rules are pretty much unchanged but with lots of improvement in layout, explanation and the introduction of some concepts from some of the other Lardies rules (e.g. Command Initiative).  Some of the terminology has been improved - particularly "wounds" (which was confusing) which have become shock.  The main change for infantry has been with the Big Men who are no longer rated by dice but rather with a Command Initiative rating.  This is supplemented by Command Initiative cards within the deck which may only be used by Big Men of that rating or above.  The rating and the cards provide a number of actions that the Big Man may perform, activating a unit for example.  The rating also determines the Big Man's command radius.

The armour rules have been overhauled too which was a rather weak area for the previous edition and the concept of "Aces" has been introduced to allow for those really exceptional individuals who crop up in various accounts.

There are six generic and four historical scenarios included along with a "handbook" section covering the organisation of forces for Normandy.  This shows the model the Lardies will be using as they update their theatre specific supplements for the new edition.  Fortunately the changes aren't substantial so the old supplements can still be used with some easy tweaks (as outlined in the Lard Island News blog).

In addition to the new rules the Lardies have also produced an official printed set of cards to use with them.  There are 104 cards, which are larger than normal playing cards, which allow you to field two companies of infantry, five platoons of armour and eight Big Men per side along with three off-table support units and all the bonus characteristic cards you will need.
There is also an official set of tokens to accompany the rules which include low ammo, artillery aiming point,  pinned/suppressed, reduced actions, AFV reduced movement, AFV immobilised, AFV main gun damaged and AFV main gun disabled markers as you can see below:
The rules are available in softback, pdf or tablet enabled pdf and also in bundles with the cards and tokens.

I am glad I bought them as I have now got my 15mm WW2 figures out of the boxes and am starting to plan a game with them!

Wargames Week - The Photos

First Look: Tomorrow's War

Having enjoyed reading Force on Force (FoF) and been in search of a set of rules suitable for my collection of 25mm Denizen and GZG figures I decided to take the plunge and picked up a copy of Tomorrow's War (TW) - the science fiction rules based on FoF.

TW is presented in a very similar way to FoF but at 260 pages is even thicker.  The rules are clearly based on FoF but provide a series of additional concepts to allow to deal with different technology levels, robots and the like.  As with FoF the rules concentrate on the capability of the troops rather than the individual weapon types.

It is clear that these rules are intended to be used for hard science fiction rather than science fantasy with little provision for alien races and the like (although there is some guidance as to how you might add them).  Which suits me as hard SF is my preference.

In addition to the rules themselves, which are organised in almost exactly the same way as FoF, provides a backstory with a mix of Nation states and major Corporations vying for control of various colonies and resources.

Having recently played FoF and enjoyed them I am really looking forward to getting TW to the table.

First Play: Force on Force

Our final tabletop miniatures game of the week was a chance to get the new edition of Force on Force to the table along with my Mongrel Soviets and Afghans.  I decided to try a asymmetric engagement as I thought this suited the forces better so we still need to try a kinetic game in order to properly try the rules out.

The scenario was adapted from one kindly published by [insert] (the adaptations were largely due to the fact I didn't have the vehicles).  Lenin, as Soviet commander, was required to identify, isolate and neutralise the Mujahideen forces in the compounds.

The basic concepts behind the rules are fairly straight forward; however, the way they have decided to cover all the aspects in each section of the rule book makes them a little daunting at first.  We weren't phased by the reaction based approach as we are both very familiar with the Two Hour Wargames rules which use a similar approach.

The scenario did not start well for the Soviets.  Their first fire team advanced cautiously from behind a field of crops into sight of a group of Mujahideen concealed within one of the compounds.  This resulted in my group opening fire and causing enough casualties to effectively eliminate the Soviet fire team.  The other half of the Soviet squad then advanced to try and extract the casualties and a similar thing happened.  This rather gave us pause as, if this was going to be repeated each time the Soviets came into sight there was no way for them to get a team onto overwatch and hence be able to make any headway at all.  In fact I had rolled rather well for all the tests and firing rolls on both occasions (which happens some times despite my reputation!) so we decided to reset the game and try it again.
 The second time I rolled somewhat more normal dice which gave the Soviets the chance to fire first and get a team into position.  This completely changed the situation and we both breathed a sigh of relief that it was simple chance and not any failure of the rules themselves (although it is something to bear in mind with small groups vs large ones when designing scenarios!).

With the Soviet left flank engaged they also began to advance on the right.
 When they came into sight of the main compound another fire fight broke out, with the Soviets getting the drop on the Afghans again.

With things going well for the Soviets some Afghan reinforcements arrived.  This gave the Soviets pause but didn't prevent them from rushing and taking the first compound on the left flank.  The Afghans now concentrated in the larger central compound.  The Soviets brought up some reinforcements for an assault.
The Soviet launched their attack and quickly secured a foothold in the buildings on the edge of the compound.  A firefight broke out between the Afghans reinforcements and the Soviet ones but the Soviets quickly got the upper hand.

Even with more reinforcements arriving directly in the compound, the Soviets, now in position, make quick work of them and secured the entire compound.

The game was a lot of fun and so we will be giving the rules some outings in order to test the other aspects of them, particularly the kinetic (regular vs regular) engagements.

Wargames Week: Up the Arsenal

Next up was a first outing for my Indian Mutiny figures from Mutineer Miniatures.  For easy I decided to use the supplement and scenario for Sharp Practice from the Too Fat Lardies 2008 Christmas Special.  The scenario adopts the usual Lardies Carry On style humour (as you can probably tell from the title) with Lenin playing the part of the ubiquitous Flashman and me as the Mutineer leader Ram Dittin.  Flashman's mission was simply to raid the old arsenal and bring back much needed ammunition and supplies all under the noses of the Mutineers!

Flashman decided to split their forces with Lieutenants Jarce and St James leading the assault on the arsenal whilst he protected their rear.  The attack didn't start too well with the allegedly stealthy Sepoy sent to take care of the gate house guard altered him instead.  The British decided to try rushing the gate before the Mutineers reacted.  This went rather better with the British quickly taking the yard and stables.
Unfortunately for Flashy the rear of the arsenal wasn't quite as safe as he was hoping as some Badmashes from the bazaar heard the firing and began rushing to reinforce the arsenal.
 Flashman formed his men into a firing line and let loose a volley into the advancing Mutineers which gave them a little pause; however, another unit appeared on their right flank.
Meanwhile the arsenal garrison had eventually organised themselves and counter attacked.  After some fierce and bloody fighting the tables were turned on the British and Lieutenant St James was forced to make a last stand against the arsenal wall where they paid the ultimate price.

Arriving too late to save St James, Lieutenant Jarce led his furious men in a vicious assault which put paid to the Mutineer garrison.  With the arsenal secured, Jarce organised his men to load mules from the stables with supplies.

Behind the arsenal Flashman ordered a few more volleys and then had his men fall back in good order.  Some Mutineers who slipped past Flashman managed to run to the front of the arsenal where they came under murderous fire from the remaining unit of the Madras Fusiliers and made a hasty retreat.

With the flanks covered the British made a organised withdrawal with the necessary supplies.

Wednesday 26 October 2011

Wargames Week: War Against Japan

Our next game was another outing for Nuts!  - this time in the pacific using the War Against Japan supplement.  This time out we decided to take a US squad each and have the game run the Japanese.

The terrain was set up using the random generation tables in the supplement and our objective was simply to land on the beach and then clear it of the enemy.  We thought this might not be a simple as it sounds, particularly as the village just behind the beach counted as a potential contact!

Fortunately our landing went without a hitch.  My squad hit the beach and immediately advanced to clear the village.  It was all going well until one of my men tripped a booby trap in the doorway to one of the huts and blew himself up!
Lenin's squad was having a little more luck advancing through the jungle toward a gully; however, this was all about to change as when they spotted a couple of potential contacts they turned out to be almost a platoon of Japs between them!  Lenin came under some heavy fire and so fell back into the jungle.
Having cleared the village I advanced on his flank and engaged one of the enemy squads to allow Lenin's squad to try an outflanking manoeuvre.  The firefight was favouring the japanese as they had a better LMG than my BARs so I pulled back to regroup.

I pushed one team forward to try to outflank the japanese and then launched a co-ordinated assault with grenades.  This effectively eliminated the japs and allowed me to advance on their position.  This is when it gets a little tricky as they have a habit of just playing dead or trying to take you with them when they go!  One of them took a shot at my men but fortunately wasn't successful.

Lenin tried a similar approach on the unit facing him and had similar initial success but when he advanced to investigate the japanese position he found one of them holding a grenade and lost most of his team.

Regrouping once again I decided to continue the advance.  Almost immediately we spotted a potential enemy force which, unfortunately, turned out to be a tank!
The tank spotted us and opened fire and a rather vicious engagement began.  My bazooka team were utterly useless and despite surviving the HE fire from the tank managed to miss it no less than three times!  Clearly frustrated by this ineptitude one of the NCOs decided to have a go himself and charged the tank armed only with grenades and a bad attitude.  It looked like a risky strategy but incredibly he managed to blow the tank up.

In the interim Lenin's men had come under fire from a sniper in a spider hole behind them and once dealt with we both had taken so many casualties that continuing with the mission was simply not an option and so we withdrew to the landing craft.

Tuesday 25 October 2011

First Play: Saga

Our second game of the week was our first chance to try out the new Dark Ages rules from Gripping Beast, Saga.  We decided on the first scenario and Lenin took command of the Welsh with me taking the Vikings.

The rules suggest starting with a 4 point force rather than the typical 6, so that's what we did.  We took slightly differing approaches to the construction of our warbands with Lenin deciding to include some levy, something I decided to avoid.
It took a little while to learn the different abilities on each of the faction battle boards and I am sure it will take a few games to really master any one faction.  But we managed to get into the game fairly quickly nonetheless.

The Welsh decided to take the hill in the centre straight away and I, somewhat unwisely, decided to rush in a push them off it.  The fatigue I gained from the multiple actions really gave the Welsh the edge in the fight and my Vikings were thrown back with some serious casualties.

I decided to regroup and attack again.
This time the combination of a couple of abilities and some lucky dice rolling carried the day.

The melding of modern boardgame mechanisms and traditional wargame rules might seem a little odd at first but we found it provided a fun game with the right feel for the period.  As a result I can see these rules coming out again!

Saturday 22 October 2011

Wargames Week: Sicily 1943

Our first tabletop miniatures game was an opportunity for me to get my new Artizan US figures to the table.  This was a fictional scenario set against the historical background of Operation Husky, the Allied invasion of Sicily in July 1943 using the Two Hour Wargames' Nuts! rules.  Lenin took command of the two squads of American troops and their supporting Sherman whose objective was to clear the village of San Carlos.
Defending the village were five PEFs (Potential Enemy Forces) which would be determined when the GIs came into line of sight of them.  The first couple turned out to be false alarms, from the Americans being a little jumpy, and so the Allies made their way into the outskirts of the village.  Then the Sherman trundled down the road and it turned out that the Germans had, perhaps rather too stereotypically, posted an MG34 crew in the church tower.
The MG team promptly opened up on the Sherman and the tank commander slumped out of the turret.  The tank's driver was clearly spooked and promptly threw the tank behind a nearby house to get out of the line of fire.  Meanwhile one of the accompanying US squads had discovered that one of the village houses wasn't as unoccupied as it first appeared when they came under a hail of automatic weapons fire.  However, their Sergeant's quick reactions resulted in his Thompson and the squad BAR returning fire, killing a couple of the German section and forcing them to keep their heads down.
A fire firefight ensued with the US squad eventually victorious which allowed them to advance.

With the Sherman crew having had a chance to recover their senses they once again began their advance down the main street.  The MG34 once again opened fire but with the tank buttoned up this time it had little effect.  An HE shell from the tank's main gun promptly ended the danger from the MG position.

Another US squad had discovered some more Germans occupying another dwelling and a short fire fight ensued resulting in most of the Germans being killed and the two survivors cowering behind the stonework.

With everything looking good for the Americans they heard a rather loud and disturbing noise approaching.  This turned out to be a Tiger!
The Sherman, loaded with HE, opened fire on the Tiger but to little effect (the German tank commander having seen the remnants of the church tower and deciding that a cautious approach might be appropriate).  The Tiger returned fire, promptly brewing up the Sherman.

Under cover of this fire the two German survivors decided to withdraw but, unfortunately, one was spotted and brought down by some US fire.  One GI decided to see what had engaged the Sherman but ducked back as soon as he spotted the Tiger and just as they opened up with their MG!

The lone German sprinted through a hail of American bullets and reached the tank, which then decided to withdraw.

Week of Gaming

After the house move and a fairly stressful time at work I decided I needed a week off.  After discussing it with Lenin, who had been having a worse time at work, we decided to use the week as our next meet up.

We scheduled things to allow us to go to the SELWG show at Crystal Palace as well as having a relaxed week with plenty of gaming both tabletop and board and card games.

SELWG was worth a visit as I managed to pick up the next batch of Perry Sudan figures to finish phase 1 of that project.  It was good meeting up with a few people but overall the show was a little disappointing.  The range of traders seemed a little reduced and the revised layout didn't quite work for me (although that could just be me getting old and not liking change!).  I had seen quite a few of the games before; however, a couple were worth seeing again and there were some nice ideas on show.  Unfortunately due to a bit of a senior moment I forgot to take my camera and so haven't got any photos to post.

Over the rest of the week we played a mix of games.  I'll be writing separate posts around the individual miniatures games but we also managed to give some of our new board and card game purchases a go.

World at War: Blood and Bridges is one of Lenin's latest acquisitions.  It's a hex and counter game from Lock 'n' Load covering a Soviet invasion of West Germany.  The system is pretty easy to grasp and the scenario was fun to play.  We tried out the first scenario with me as the Soviets and Lenin taking the West Germans with our forces rather mixed up which mad things very interesting!

We have found it difficult to find a set of miniature rules which we both like for this period and so Lenin is seriously thinking of converting this to use his 3mm and/or 6mm micro armour.

Dungeons & Dragons: Wrath of Ashardalon is the second in a series of D&D boardgames which Wizards of the Coast are releasing.  I thought this might allow me to recapture a little of the feel of the D&D games I used to play all that time ago.  Unlike some of the other games of this genre this one is fully co-operative with the game running the dungeon rather than needing a separate DM.  The dungeon itself is built using interlocking tiles and the characters and monsters are represented by some nice plastic miniatures.  Our first adventure proved to be a disaster, probably because we chose to split up!  But it was an enjoyable experience overall.

Sentinels of the Multiverse is a super hero card game from newcomers Greater than Games.  They have created 10 hero characters, 4 villains and 4 locations which can all be mixed to create quite a variety of different games.  You can see some of the inspiration for the heros and villains but they are a lot more than slavish copies of well known comic book characters.  The artwork is great and combined with the rule booklet and flavour text creates just the right atmosphere.  The game system is simple enough for my daughter to play with some appropriate advice on card choices but is really challenging.  With each hero and villain having their own separate deck and playing quite differently, this is a game which needs quite a few plays in order to learn how best to work them.  Unfortunately there isn't any balancing mechanism for 2 player games and so these are extremely challenging and the correct selection of character combinations is crucial in any game.  We played both 2 and 3 player games and had a lot of fun - so I can see this one getting a few more outings!

Imperial is another in the rondel series from designer Mac Gerdts (I also have Antike).  In this game you play the financiers behind the major european powers at the start of the 20th Century.  The player with the largest investment in a particular country gets to determine its actions.  Despite using the rondel mechanism like Antike, this game has a very different feel (as I had hoped it would).  We only played a two player game, and thought it would be a quite different experience with more players, but had plenty of fun with it.

We also managed to get in a game of Marvel Heroscape and quite a few two player card games too finishing off the week with a visit to Dover castle.

Saturday 8 October 2011

First Look: Saga

I happened by Orcs Nest the other day and noticed that they had Saga the new Gripping Beast / Studio Tomahawk Dark Ages rules in stock.  I was wondering whether to pick up a copy, and hesitating at the £25 price tag, but having heard good things about them I decided to take the plunge.

The rules are softback, in full colour and run to 75 pages.  You also get four battle boards, one for each of the four factions within the rules - Vikings, Normans, Anglo-Danes and Welsh - which are single sided colour card.  There are special sets of dice you can also buy for each of the factions which look nice but at £12 a set could make the total package a little pricey; however, you don't need the special dice to play the rules as they do provide a translation table for standard d6.

After a brief introduction there is an overview of the basics and then the rules are covered in sections.  This is followed by a complete turn example which takes you to about 35 pages in total.  The remainder of the book covers mustering your warband, an overview of each of the factions and abilities.  Then there are 6 generic scenarios plus a section on how to play with four players as opposed to the usual two, often overlooked rules and sections for you to photocopy with the measuring sticks, fatigue markers and the QRS.

The rules are clear, explained well and accompanied by diagrams and summaries.  There are a sprinkling of photos of some nicely painted miniatures and I only spotted a couple of typos and the inclusion of some designer's notes is always a nice touch.

Saga is clearly aimed more at the game rather than simulation end of the spectrum.  The dice and battle boards provide what feels like a modern boardgame approach with combinations of dice allowing you to take various actions or gain certain advantages in the turn.  Movement has been simplified with everything being referred to in Very Short, Short, Medium and Long terminology which allows easy conversion to different scales/table sizes if needs be.

Troops are of four types (although each faction refers to these by different thematic names) - the warlord, the hearthguards, the warriors and the levies or peasants.  Obviously the warlord is your leader and the others represent the different levels of capability of the fighting men combined with their experience.

My first impression of these is they look like they should give a good, thematic game.  I am hoping to try them on the table next week and will report back.

Sunday 25 September 2011

A quick update

Things have been very quiet on the gaming front as all my spare time is being spent decorating and the like.  I now have most of my gaming kit in the new room in the attic but I am now waiting for some shelving to get it all organised - at which time I will be able to make some more progress.

Lenin is due to visit next month which provides a target date to get everything in order.  I am hoping to get Force on Force to the table (using my Mongrel Soviets and Afghans) along with some Indian Mutiny and my WW2 US figures.  With any luck I should also be able to get some boardgames tried out - so that should provide plenty of material for some future posts...

Thursday 8 September 2011

Back Online!

Following a rather stressful house move and despite the best efforts of BT I am now back on-line.  I'm not sure there will be too many posts until I actually have everything unboxed though.  The new games room is much larger and a larger table is in the offing although I do need to sort out lots of shelving for all my stuff.  More soon...

Sunday 14 August 2011

First Play: Wars of the Roses

I was lucky enough to be given a copy of the Z-Man Games Wars of the Roses: Lancaster vs York boardgame for my birthday and thought I would report back on my first game.

Wars of the Roses, designed by Peter Hawes, is a 2-4 player game lasting around 3 hours.  The first thing that struck me was the weight of the box.  Not only is it stuffed with components, they are all really nice quality.  There is a large board depicting England divided into six regions each with their own royal castle, large and small towns and port. There are four thick player screens with castle artwork to conceal the players' planning charts each with useful historical and game related information printed on the inside.  There are an assortment of wooden cylinders and cubes in each of the player colours and some black and white cubes (for bribing the nobles).  Then there are the thick tokens and cards representing troops, money, nobles and the like.  Finally there are the cards representing the locations, nobles etc.  The boards, screens, tokens and cards are pretty clearly laid out and very nicely illustrated.

At its core this is an area control game played out over five turns, each representing a number of years.  The objective of the game is to amass victory points through controlling the various regions.  Each turn is broken down into eight phases:
  1. Determine Turn Order
  2. Draw Cards
  3. Collect Income
  4. Planning
  5. Deployment
  6. Bribery
  7. Combat
  8. Parliament
Turn order is determined by reversing the players' positions on the victory point track, thus the player with the least points will go first.  Then a number of cards are drawn and placed face up next to the board,  These represent the castles, towns, ports, bishops, nobles, ship captains and mercenaries.  The players take it in turn to choose a card which will become theirs to control.  Income is determined by totalling up the income generated by the cards that the player controls.  Play then moves on to the planning phase which is the meat of the game.

Players need to determine whether to move their nobles and ships, raise troops, bribe their own nobles to stay loyal or opposing noble to swap sides and spend money to influence the King to make them the Captain of Calais.  Other than movement these actions all cost money!  Once all the players have finished planning then the screens are removed and the remaining phases are played out based on what they have planned to do.

Attacks on castles, towns and ports can only be made when a player has a presence in the relevant region, which is where the nobles become important.  Combat is based on a simple majority approach but does deplete your forces dramatically, which is where player order becomes important as locations can change hands more than once in a turn.  Parliament is dependent on the balance of control in each of the areas influencing which house is in the ascendancy.

I have only had a single two player game so far but really enjoyed it.  I suspect that the addition of further players will only make the game more interesting and I am looking forward to getting this back to the table as soon as I can.

Sunday 7 August 2011

First Look: The Devil's Wind

The Devil's Wind are a new set of Indian Mutiny wargames rules by David Bickley. The rules a 43 pages long in full colour and have photographs on almost every page of figures in action on the tabletop.

They are intended for multi-figure bases and can be used with a variety of figure scales. Suggested base sizes are 40 x 50mm for infantry and 80 x 50mm for cavalry and artillery. Units are typically 4-5 bases each and the number of figures per bases is suggested but each takes 4 hits before removal (which will mean either using trays and removing figures, marking the bases or some other form of bookkeeping).

The rules do not have a figure, time or terrain scale and take up the majority of the booklet with only a single sample scenario. They use a mix of d6 and d10 and follow a pretty traditional movement, firing and melee  sequence. The Imperial troops move and fire first and in various situations troops will have to take "pluck" (morale) tests.

I haven't had a chance to play the rules themselves as yet so I can't comment on how they feel but I was rather disappointed with the general layout and editing. The text is generally black on a biege texture background interspersed with brown and uses a variety of fonts and point sizes.  The photographs could have done with either better selection or editing as some are dark or poorly focussed. Whilst all the elements seem to be present the explanations could be clearer and could have done with a good proof read and edit (for example the pluck rules are duplicated in two places entirely word for word).  I can understand the desire for a glossy look but the quality needs to be more than skin deep and a little more time on the layout could have made a huge difference here.

So, in summary, my first impression was that these are a little disappointing for their £12.50 cover price. I am hoping they will change that initial impression when I get a chance to have a couple games with them.

Sunday 24 July 2011

WW2 Med: GIs

Here are a couple of photos of my Artizan US troops for my WW2 Mediterranean project: