Saturday, 25 August 2012

Wargaming Weekend: The Last Stand at Red Ridge

For our final tabletop game of the weekend we decided to revisit Tomorrow's War.  This time we selected the second scenario from the rulebook using Lenin's GZG power armoured troops versus my Denizen Mid Tech troopers.

The scenario took place in Brazil in 2289 with a US operation going a little awry.  US Special Forces were to be dropped into the Brazilian jungle to take out a ballistic missile platform.  Unfortunately the dropship hit a mine and so only six men hit anywhere near the intended drop zone.  Given that there wasn't actually a missile platform (it was actually a mining vehicle - faulty intel) the reception from the Brazilian Home Defence Battalion was somewhat hostile!

The game began with Lenin deploying this six operatives in three groups and me deploying the six Brazilian fire teams on three table edges and their APC support on the fourth.

Unfortunately for the Americans, the operative with the missile launcher (the only ordnance they had which could take out the Brazilian APC was on the wrong side of the ridge!

Faced with troops on all sides the US troops chose to open fire and then withdraw to the rocky ground on top of the ridge which provided some rudimentary cover.

The Brazilians use fire and movement to advance which, along with the heavy covering fire from the APC, put the Americans under real pressure.

The Brazilian numbers eventually began to tell and the US operatives were knocked down one by one. Whilst they were recovering some of the Brazilians (the others thought better of it!) took the chance and rushed them.  Fearing capture the US troops chose to take some of their captors with them.

The repeated APC fire allowed the other Brazilian groups to close with similar results.  In the end the US force was neutralised and three of them taken prisoner.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Wargaming Weekend: The Chronicles of the Dux Britanniarum

In the 477th year of our Lord the Saxons came to the Kingdom of Rhegin.  Theomund, known in their tongue as the Devout, and his followers Eadlyn the Thrifty and Halig led their pagan horde to raid our lands.

Thanks be to the Lord that Albanus the Righteous answered the call in out time of need.  Along with his Comanipulares, he gathered to him that man mountain, Ursus the Hairy, and the noble Philippus along with their Milites.  Together they raised the local Numeri and raced to meet the pagan foe.

Theomund had consulted their pagan gods but despite the bad omens pressed on.  Albanus chose to fortify the men with ale before the fight.

The heathen force approached the village from the east whilst our valiant men came from through the woods to the north.  Both knew that whilst the river was crossable, the bridge was the key.

The Saxons are coming!

The Saxons advanced across the moorland and part of their force marched straight for the river bridge and the village beyond.

The pagan horde advances

Our forces advanced through the woods towards the village, hoping to reach it before the enemy.

Albanus and his Comanipulares

The Saxons reach the bridge

The Saxons gained the bridge and advanced into the village just as Albanus reached it.
The Saxons enter the village

The Saxons charged into the Comanipulares and battle was joined.  The British held the charge and pushed the Saxons back.  Then Albanus decided to Carpe Diem and ordered A Strong Arm and missiles were thrown before the charge.  It was at this moment that Marcus the Champion became a Hero of the Age as he cut down the foe left and right.  The Saxons were thrown back in disarray and the British advanced across the corpse strewn ground.

Then Theomund rallied the Saxons and combat commenced anew.  But Ursus and his men had now arrived and reinforced the British line.

The Thick of Battle

The battle was bravely fought and many men fell but the weight of the British numbers carried the day. The Saxons tried to cross the river and outflank the main British force but Philippus blocked their way and with the main Saxon force defeated in the village their moral broke and the fled the field.

The Saxons cross the river (the hard way!)

The British pursued the fleeing Saxons and the land was made safe once again.

This was our first game of Dux Britanniarum and it played extremely well.  The campaign system seems to deliver what was promised and the tabletop game is easy to pick up and overall it delivers a nice narrative.  I think the card play can have a larger impact than some of the other of the Lardy rules - as can be seen from my playing of the Carpe Diem card and a run of other Dragon suit cards which combined gave me quite a punch in the combat.  These are definitely going to be hitting the table again.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Wargaming Weekend: From Russia with Love

Our next game was a chance for some more Cold War action but with my new Mongrel Soviet and BAOR figures.  To make things simple I adapted one of the scenarios from the Cold War Gone Hot supplement to suit the figures available and we used the Force on Force rules.

The scenario three fire teams and a sniper team from the BAOR holed up in a West German village behind the Soviet lines.  The Soviets have deployed two squads to winkle them out of the village.

The BAOR objective was to withdraw without taking many casualties whilst the Soviets' was to eliminate the threat.

The Soviets advanced from the south and the east towards the village.  The southern group were spotted by one of the BAOR fire teams who attempted to engage them; however, the Soviets got the drop on them and a firefight ensued.  A another group then emerged further along the woods and were spotted by the sniper team, who opened up.  Unfortunately this drew a hail of fire in which the observer went down.

Meanwhile the eastern group were advancing under cover of some woods.  But one of their fire teams was spotted by another BAOR group (with a GPMG) and engaged - taking them out of action.

With the Soviets keeping the initiative they kept the British under pressure.  One Soviet group emerged from the woods to the east and, with covering fire from the group to the south charged toward one of the BAOR positions.  Having already taken some casualties they were in a desperate state and decided to use the Karl Gustav!  This made the Soviets reconsider and the charge faltered at the edge of the woods.

With three of the British positions under attack the remaining fire team decided to move to help the south eastern position withdraw given then casualties.  They moved rapidly across the crossroads into the buildings despite coming under some Soviet fire.  The position was then evacuated under more fire and the withdrawal began.

With the Soviets advancing more cautiously now, it took them a little time to realise that the pigeons had flown the coup and this gave the BAOR the change to slip away.  However, as a result of the considerable casualties they had taken the victory was really the Soviets'. 

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Wargaming Weekend: Battle at the Ford

So last weekend was another opportunity for Lenin to visit and for us to break out a few games.  First up was a playtest of the new Pike & Shotte rulesusing my Tudor Ireland figures.

As with our previous game Lenin took command of the English and I took the Irish.  The English force consisted of three battalia, two of foot and one of horse.  Each foot battalia consisted of two units of pike, two of muskets and one each of swordsmen and billmen.  The horse contained two units of Border Horse.   The Irish also had three battalia, again two foot and one horse.  The foot were a mixture of Gallowglass, New Scots muskets, Bonnachts, Kern (including a unit of arquebus) and a bow armed unit of the Rising Out.  The horse were a mix of Irish and Scots.

The English was a relief force whose mission was to advance down the valley, across the ford and off the table.  Whilst the Irish simply had to stop them.

The English began their advance and their horse quickly spotted the units of Kern and Rising Out holding my right flank.  They obviously decided that these were going to be easy meat.  Our bow fire was desultory and the English horse charged home smashing my flank with only the Rising Out managing to avoid the onslaught.

Meanwhile the English foot had continued to march forward.  I advanced my Irish horse to their front and sent the Scots in skirmish order around their flank.  With the impact of their own horse on my foot in mind the English musketeers rushed to the protection of their pike.  With the main body of the English in hedgehog their advance had been nicely slowed I waited for their next move.

It wasn't long in coming.  Rather than move across the front of my foot to engage my horse, the English decided to move to attack my foot defending the river bank.  Unfortunately for them, the river was deeper where they chose to cross and their advance was considerably slowed.  This gave my New Scots enough time to loose a volley of musket fire into them and one of the English units was destroyed.  The other successfully crossed the stream and charged into my foot, who collapsed and routed off the table - followed by the English horse!

With the English cavalry threat neutralised I could concentrate on their foot.  My Scots horse advanced through the wood to the left of the English and emerged behind them - maintaining their need to stay in their hedgehogs.  However, the English were having none of it and their swordsmen and billmen were continuing to advance.

The English mad a beeline for the ford and charged my Gallowglass.  At first this looked like it would work well for the English with the Gallowglass falling back; however, the Irish rallied and the flanking Gallowglass units made a ferocious charge into the English swords and routed them.  They made similarly short work of the English bills.

My other New Scots fired a volley into the leading English pike formation and then the Bonnachts and Gallowglass charged in - at which point the English army's morale broke and the day was ours.

Overall, we were quite pleased with the rules.  Having played Black Powder previously certainly helped.  Although Pike & Shotte do differ is certain areas, it was clear they are derived from Black Powder.  Lenin had more recently read Hail Caesar and commented how different these rules were from those in a number of respects.  I'm certainly going to give these another go once my Montrose figures are all based.

Climb Aboard the Bandwagon!

So Ray from Don't Throw a One and The Angry Lurker seem to have created a minor blogosphere meme with their 20 Questions - so I thought I really ought to jump aboard before the bandwagon left town...

1. Favourite Wargaming period and why?
Ah, start with the tricky ones eh?  I have such a wide ranging and, some might say, eclectic set of interests that picking a favourite is going to be rather challenging.  I suppose if I have so plump for one it would be 1937-1942 (so Interwar / Early WW2) - which probably doesn't quite fit any of the traditional classifications!

Why?  Well there's the short answer and the long answer.  The short one is:  No Tiger tanks - I just find that games are so much more interesting without armour dominating the table.  The long one:  Really? I doubt you really want to hear me drone on about it ... but I find it an endlessly fascinating period both from a general and military historical point of view.

2. Next period, money no object?
Er, where do I start?  I have so many ideas and plans I could make a massive list but if I had to choose then the "money no object" element makes it a bit easier: Big Battle Napoleonics - I've always wanted to get into it but every time I work out what I would need I shy away due to the "investment" required. I have dabbled with skirmish level stuff but proper battles are a different thing altogether.

Why not get into it in instalments? I hear you ask.  I suspect that's due to my butterfly tendencies and I doubt I could keep focussed on it and commit my wargaming budget for long enough at the expense of the myriad of other ideas filling my head!

3. Favourite 5 films?
Blimey, another tricky one!  Well, if I had to give you a list, right now (by which I mean it will have changed by the time I finish typing it) then it would be: Aliens, Terminator, Highlander, The Apartment and the Raiders of the Lost Ark (Ok, so it's not the most critically acclaimed set but they are ones I return to time and time again).

4. Favourite 5 TV series?
Ok, so the caveats for the last question apply equally well here...but the 5 would be: Alias, Justified, Band of Brothers, the Big Bang Theory and Battlestar Galactica (the new one - duh!).

5. Favourite book and author?
This one is another challenge as I love to read.  For fiction I think I would have to say Legend by David Gemmell who was my favourite fantasy author.  For non-fiction, I'm not sure I really have a favourite but if I was pushed to pick one it would probably be The French Foreign Legion by Douglas Porch.

6. Greatest General? Can’t count yourself!!
I just have to go with John Churchill, the first Duke of Marlborough whose combination of diplomacy, strategy and battlefield tactics would be hard to equal.

7. Favourite Wargames rules?
Nuts! (2nd edition) by Two Hour Wargames.

8. Favourite Sport and team?
I'm afraid I've never really been interested in sport so I'm not sure how to answer this one.

9. If you had a only use once time machine, when and where would you go?
I'm presuming this is a return trip and not one way (as I wouldn't be using it!).   I think I would probably use it to go back and meet my grandfathers who both passed away before I was born.

10. Last meal on Death Row?
Without thinking too carefully as to why I might be on Death Row, I suspect I would probably go for roast beef, roast potatoes and yorkshire pudding - of course the potatoes would have to be beautifully crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside!

11. Fantasy relationship and why?
I really fancied this gorgeous girl at work and used to wonder what it would be like if we got together - then I asked her out and we did (we've been married a while now too!).

12. If your life were a movie, who would play you?
If you asked my wife I suspect she would say Richard Wilson!

13. Favourite Comic Superhero?
As I like my superheroes to be on the darker side it would have to be Batman (without the slightly dubious sidekick).

14. Favourite Military quote?
Given the same amount of intelligence, timidity will do a thousand times more damage than audacity”  - Karl von Clausewitz.

15. Historical destination to visit?
I would love to tour the sites of Marlborough's great victories - Blenheim, Ramillies, Oudenarde and Malplaquet; however, battlefield tours aren't usually an option on family holidays!  The closest I've got so far is the tapestries at Blenheim Palace.

16. Biggest Wargaming regret?
Probably not getting into the hobby earlier.  I really only got involved in my early 20's and didn't start collecting figures seriously for some years after that.

17. Favourite Fantasy job?
Eccentric billionaire?

18. Favourite Song Top 5?
I used to listen to music a lot but got out of the habit and now I don't really do it that much.  My taste in music is like my wargaming interests - wide ranging and regularly changing - so picking a top five is really rather difficult.  I suspect most of my favourite songs come from the past as they are the ones with the most memories attached - from bands such as the Alan Parsons Project, Barclay James Harvest, the Electric Light Orchestra and Queen.

19. Favourite Wargaming Moment?
There have been so many - one of the reasons I like the hobby so much - if I had to pick one, it would be the WW2 game I ran.  It was based around Arnhem and one of the aircraft had gone off course and dropped some paras away from the target.  As the players advanced across the table they spotted a German army patrol and so decided to sneak through some woods - the look on the players faces when they discovered the woods concealed elements of a refitting SS Panzer Division was an absolute corker!

20. The miserable Git question, what upsets you?
Everything in some way or other!  Joking aside I think the thing that upsets me the most is people being inconsiderate of others.  

Sunday, 19 August 2012

First Look: A World Aflame

Osprey have launched a series of wargames rules booklets, the first two being Dux Bellorum (Dark Ages) and A World Aflame (1918-39).  Given my interest in all things interwar I decided to pick up a copy of the latter.

The book is produced in the standard Osprey style used for their Men-At-Arms series and the like.  It's in a single column format (but only taking up two thirds of the page width) with black text on a white background with various colour tables, illustrations and photographs to provide interest.  It's 64 pages in length including the three pages of sample cards and the unit sheet at the rear.

Following the contents and introduction, the rules are broken into six main sections after which there are sample unit lists, a scenario, a list of the artwork references and the sample cards.  There's no quick reference sheet included, however.  The rule sections are Pre-Game Considerations, Let the Games Begin, Movement, Firing, Melee and finally Morale.

In the introduction the author clears states that they are "written in what is nowadays often called a retro style, and pay homage to rulesets written by such wargaming legends as Charles Grant and Don Featherstone".  This is quite evident, not only in the writing style but also in the mechanisms - mainly D6 with modifiers - even average dice are utilised.

Units are typically 8-10 figures representing a section; however, the author says there isn't a figure scale, nor for that matter is there a ground scale or time scale for turns - all of which places this firmly at the game end of the spectrum in my view.  Units are graded for initiative (2-5) and morale (2-6); officers are graded from 1 to 3.  The rules then outline the structure for Company, Battalion, Brigade and Army levels, although I assume (as is indicated in the scenario) since it is not explicitly stated as far as I can see that individual figures would be representing more than a single man for the larger scale games.

The rules include ammunition supply, weather, snipers, tank hunters, artillery and the like but the key to game flavour appears to be the chance cards.  These are intended to be produced for the specific theatre and some examples are provided at the back of the booklet.  Essentially these are to represent external factors, random events and to control the dominance of certain troop types or weapons.

Each turn the players select a unit and then dice for initiative to see which acts first.  Initiative is a D6 modified by the unit's initiative rating, the officer's grade and whether the unit is Confused or Demoralised.  Officers have a command radius - 15" for unit officers but only 5" for higher command levels.

Movement is variable with a base distance plus the roll of one or more average dice unless you are crawling when you lose the base movement.  This can be done by figure or by unit as long as you specify beforehand (the latter would be my preference I have to say).

Firing is determined by weapon type, with each having a number of dice to roll, three range bands (which vary by weapon) and a target number for a hit at that range.  There is also a small number of modifiers largely to address firer and target states.  If you score a hit then the target becomes as casualty.  Rules are also included for firing at vehicles, grenades, artillery and mortars (including smoke) and for anti-tank combat.  This latter section has some interesting elements to cover the various improvised approaches common in the period - petrol bombs, crowbars, dynamite and so forth - as well as more regular methods.  There are also rules for flamethrowers, gas, mines, aircraft and trains.

Melee is conducted by the attacking unit taking a morale test, then the defending unit and then rolling a modified D6 for the units who actually get into hand to hand.  Each figure who loses (i.e. rolls lower) becomes a casualty.

Morale is a combination of the unit morale, officer grade, an average dice and some modifiers aiming for a target number and the comparing with a table if the unit fails - the table distinguishes between advancing and defending, and first and subsequent failures.

Sample units are provided for the Spanish Civil War, Russian Civil War, Warlord China and the fictional British Civil War.

The included scenario covers three days of fighting in the Battle of Jarama in 1937 during the Spanish Civil War and has 10 figures representing each company.

Overall the rules have some interesting features; however, I am a little concerned they may be rather fiddly (particularly with the variable movement) - of course only a real game will tell.  Production is generally typical of Osprey but the layout could have been better adapted to the short paragraphs of a set of wargames rules and better proof reading could have eliminated the few more obvious errors.  I think more explanations and examples would also have been beneficial but I suspect the page count will have limited the opportunity for including these.

I will report further once I've been able to test them in action.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Lardies Summer Special Arrives

The Too Fat Lardies' summer special has just been released. If you like the Lardies' rules these are always worth a look and this time it's 118 pages long and is available from their website as a pdf for £6.

This time around there are a couple of extras for Dux Britannarium and a sneak peak of the teased Sci Fi rules - Quadrant 13 - along with the usual brace of articles for the various other Lardy rules.

The special contains:
  • Introduction – Fat Nick says hello
  • Migrating Dux - Using Dux Britanniarum in other settings
  • St Barthelemy – A classic I Ain't Been Shot Mum (IABSM) historical double-scenario set in Normandy 1944
  • Random Events in IABSM - Geoff Bond adds random events to IABSM
  • Just the Right Sort of Chap - Sidney Roundwood looks at characters in Through the Mud and the Blood (TTM&TB)
  • A Conversation with DZ - Richard Clarke in conversation with Major General John Drewienkiewicz about his Wargames in History books
  • Bull Run – An 1861 scenario for They Couldn't Hit and Elephant
  • Bagging the Hex - Graham Riddle presents his ideas for Bag the Hun without a hex mat
  • Wrong Side of the Fleche - Mark Luther deploys his jaeger on the outskirts of Charleston in this scenario for Sharp Practice from the AWI
  • Glorious First of June - Admiral A large fleet actions scenario for Kiss Me Hardy
  • Quadrant 13 Designer's Notes - Robert Avery beams down to tell us all about his forthcoming Sci-Fi rules
  • Battle in the Orchard - The PLO, the Southern Lebanese Army and the Israeli Defence force battle it out in this modern scenario for IABSM
  • BTH: The Italian Job – A scenario for Bag The Hun
  • Them that Ain't Cowards, Follow Me! - A scenario for Sharpe Practice and La Longue Carabine for the American War of Independence from the pen of James Schmidt
  • An Encounter for Alpha Company - A Charlie Don't Surf (CDS) scenario from Ross Bowrage 
  • A Lesson in Lard – Ross tells us about his experiences on the show circuit with CDS
  • On a Saxon Shore - A bonus raid scenario for Dux Britanniarum 
  • The Last Stand of the Baron – A back end of nowhere scenario for TTM&TB from the pen of Allan Coleman
  • August Storm - Charles Ekhart takes a look at the Soviet conquest of Manchuria in 1945
  • Decisions, Decisions: Applying the OODA loop - Fat Nick explains the decision making process and how it impacts on wargames rules.
  • BTH: Zero 2 Hero - A scenario for Bag the Hun
  • Meaty Dux – Adding some extra meat to the bones of Dux Britanniarum campaign system. 
  • The Roundwood Report - Sir Sidney Roundwood takes his regular look at the world of Lard
Plenty for everyone it seems!

More Highlanders

It seems like Montrose has attracted some more support!  Here are some more 28mm Redoubt figures to join my previous batch:

The excellent flag is from The Inevitable Spark and is a speculative banner for the Macphersons.

First Look: Dux Britanniarum

Dux Britanniarum is the latest addition to the Too Fat Lardies range.  The sub-title "Wargames Rules for Dark Age Warfare in the Age of Arthur" clearly places these in the early Dark Age period after the Romans had gone and when Britain was threatened by the Saxons.

Similar to their other recent publication - IABSM3 - this is a full colour perfect bound book accompanied by a set of printed cards (normal playing card size this time) and, in this case, an A3 colour map.  The rules are 92 pages which, following the introduction, are broken into five main sections, or "books".

Book One covers setting things up in four sections:

  • Setting Up Your Campaign
  • Selecting Your Kingdom
  • Assembling Your Forces
  • Creating Your Characters
The rules are intended to be driven by a simple to manage campaign system which provides a context for each game and an opportunity to develop your leader characters and forces.  This allows a variety of games to be played which have more meaningful objectives.  This is an approach I really like as it will avoid that "last two minutes of the superbowl" style play where everything is thrown in recklessly near the end of the game with no thought to the consequences!

Your initial force will contain a Lord, two other leaders, a champion and a number of units.  Units are Levy, Warriors or Elite troops (6 figures) or Harassing troops (4 figures with missile weapons).  Tabletop games can then affect the size and composition of your force, for example, cavalry may become available later in a campaign.  An initial British force will have one Elite unit, two warriors, three Levy and one of missile troops; whilst a Saxon raiding force will have two Elite, three warrior units and one of missile troops.

Book Two goes on to explain the campaign, development and the like in 7 sections:

  • Beginning Your Campaign
  • Career Paths
  • Filthy Lucre
  • Objectives
  • Force Deployment
  • Campaign Structure
  • Raids & Battles
Book Three then covers the actual tabletop rules, which have a number of similarities to other Lardies sets.  The rules are card driven (although with no equivalent of the "Tea Break" card - which means everything activates each turn).  They also have units receiving "shock" as a result of combat which can be removed by leader actions (IABSM, Sharp Practice, Through the Mud & the Blood).  They have a separate tactical card deck and also allow formations (like shieldwall) to be formed from multiple units (similar to Sharp Practice).  But these have been combined with enough specific elements to make these play differently from those other sets.

Each game is broken down into three phases, the first covers events before the game, the second the game itself and the third after the game.  Games may either be raids or battles - which operate slightly differently.

Phase One helps you set your initial morale level and the opportunity to prepare your men for the fight through speeches, drink, consulting the gods or having a single combat between each sides' champions.  Then the initial Fate Cards (tactical cards) are dealt.

The Fate Cards have three characteristics, they may have a suit (Saxon Boars or British Dragons or neither), they may be Pursuit or Retreat cards and they have their primary function as described by the main text.  Cards with suits may only be played when a leader is activated where as the ones without a suit may be played at any time; additionally they may provide bonuses to the player whose suit they belong to.  Cards with Pursuit or Retreat printed on them may be retained for use in the third, post game, phase.  The other cards generally provide a bonus to fighting, movement, activation or have an effect on your troops or your opponent's.

Phase Two covers the actual tabletop action.  As with some other Lardies' rules activation is driven by the main card deck.  Each leader and group of missile troops has a card in the deck.  When a leader's card is drawn they may activate a number of units or formations at a distance determined by their status (1-4) to move, join a formation or remove shock, or they can spend an initiative "buying" a card from the Fate Deck.  His troops then carry out their actions and a Fate Card may be played.  Once complete he may draw a further Fate Card (unless he has his maximum already) and then the next activation card is drawn.  Un-commanded troops may only activate after all the cards have been drawn; however, they cannot move into combat or join formations on their own.  One little wrinkle to this sequence is the Carpe Diem card which, if played, allows a player to play multiple Fate Cards at one time - which can be very useful - however, you still only get to replenish your hand one card per activation.

Movement is variable, usually 3D6, with modifiers for terrain, interpenetrating other units etc.  Combat is typically 1D6 per figure fighting to hit with a separate roll for effect.  Shock is accumulated as a combat result and ultimately will lead to the unit withdrawing unless removed by a leader.

The game is ended either by a force's morale collapsing or by them achieving their scenario objectives.

Phase Three, the post game part, allows you to resolve whether a withdrawing side will be pursued or can evade their pursuers - this is where those Pursuit and Retreat Fate Cards come in - which then affects the scale of the victory.  The the results of the game are calculated and the appropriate table consulted to see the effects - generally, how long it takes to recover losses, whether you get reinforcements and how much loot you may have got away with.  This then gives you options as to how you can develop your leaders, forces and the campaign as a whole.

The first three books are followed by The Book of Battles which contains the rules for terrain and scenario generation and The Book of Kingdoms which provides a map and brief background on the British Kingdoms of the time to allow you to anchor your campaign.

The rules are available in hard copy (£20), pdf and tablet-enabled pdf (with lots of easy to tap link buttons) for £15 each.  You can download and print the cards or buy the professionally produced set either separately for £8 on in combination with the rules.  The Lardies also sell starter armies for the rules containing figures from Gripping Beast.

As I was lucky enough to be one of the first 800 to ordered the rules I also received a 28mm "Arthur" figure:

All in all I think the production is very good with a nice graphical style, clear layout and the cards, in particular, are very pleasing.  I am hoping to get them to the table in a couple of weeks to try them out in anger and will report back on how they work in action.