Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Oh Flip...

Life moves on and situations change.  Toomuchlead towers is having to relocate, once again, and this reflects a sad change of circumstances personally; but one I am dealing with as best I can.  In the short term it means gaming opportunities are limited to those of the board and card orientation whilst I get a new apartment, broadband service and everything else arranged.  

Still, no point moping.

On a note I'm told is not as selfish as it sounds in my head, I've been able to reconnect with a lot of friends, both gaming and non-gaming and my social life by necessity and as an unexpected benefit has exploded.  In the last couple of weeks I've played numerous games, including Splendor, Five Tribes, Spyfall, Magic: The Gathering, Eight Minute Empire and others.

Two stood to getting Photo's at the time and so I guess get a little more discussion.  Firstly Carcassone: Wheel of Fortune. 

Let's Spin that Wheel!...
Basically it is standard Carcassonne (you can see my 'review' of the game Here if you are not familiar with it), but with a mid game bonus scoring mechanic inserted thanks to the massive central wheel tile that starts the game.  You can play meeples to tiles as normal or to the wheel as a sort of bet on outcomes.  when tles with a wheel number are drawn the spin marker moves that number of places and the resultant wheel position is scored.

This added a very random element, but one I was fortunate to reap the rewards of.  In game I found myself with three large unfinished cities full of bonus points and ordinarily these would have got me very little, but thanks to good fortune on the wheel they scored me mid-game bonus points repeatedly, and so I ended up a runaway winner having achieved very little in real terms.  Is this a good expansion? I don't know, I think it took a lot of planning away from the game in favour of luck.  But it could be a good option for less skilful players to even up the scores.

Secondly I came across a solo game that feels like a modern day Patience-killer.

Flip City is a simple little card game that uses just 6 different cards.  However each card is double sided with the opposite face being an upgraded version of the top face.  You play cards from your hand to a 'Push your Luck' mechanism, whereby you can stop at any time, unless a card says otherwise looking to earn money to buy more cards or to accrue points or cards in front of you in a turn to win.  You play from the deck rather than a hand of cards so the choice is rather like a version of Blackjack; yes you can see what is coming, but if you draw that card and under it is negative card you have to play you can still go bust easily.

Flipping cards is an option instead of buying new ones, and this allows more victory points of better special rules to come into play.  Although the game works as a 2-4 player game, my one play in that format seemed a little slow, whereas the solo variant I've already had five or six games of, with only one win, and in this context it becomes a thirty card game which you could tuck in a pocket for train journeys or other downtime moments.  I think it shines in solo mode (and is pretty tough to win).

With no internet at home for the next two weeks, I'm sure it'll see more play.

In the mean time, apologies if it's a bit thin on content over here; back to normal soon.

Yet again...

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Zombies and Stormtroopers

Saturday I had a long standing appointment for a day of gaming with Jim and John, the second part of our Imperial Assault campaign and other games were arranged.  At various points beforehand the timing had looked to be inconvenient bordering on the impossible - as much in the way of gaming has been of late, again - but somehow it came to pass and a tonic it was indeed.

Doing fun, stimulating, challenging or plain silly things with board games and toy soldiers is truly good for my soul.

As I arrived early we cracked out a favourite filler of mine before digging in to the big stuff.  Guilds of Cadwallon:
I thrashed him, it was embarrassing really...
 It's a game with simple elements that hark back to noughts and crosses/tic tac toe and yet offer far more decision process and engagement with the game.  Not simply chance.  Plus it takes two minutes to explain and 15 to play.  A nice warm up.

Given the next few hours would be devoted to a couple of games of Zombicide.


Zombicide takes all the elements of an old skool dungeon crawler and sets it to a Zombie movie backdrop.  We each took two characters and began with a simple scenario to contain radioactive zombies.  Ideal to learn the rules, which essentially boil down to move on or two sectors on the board, search if you're in rooms to find equipment and or fight; rolling D6 to hit.  There is nothing rocket science in the game but for some simple zombie themed fun it doesn't need it.

There are some smart mechanics regarding the upgrading of characters and the heightening of threat in the game, in effect as characters go up a level over the course of a few rounds of play this also triggers increased volumes of undead appearing.  It works well and encourages team play to make sure that the more powerful characters don't increase the risk levels to fatal proportions.

Having wrapped up the opening scenario we went on to one of the larger maps and a task of making it from one side of the board to the other.  By the end things were getting rather busy:

Players top right, Zombies everywhere else...  
 Still we managed to coordinate, despite getting stuck on a zombie spawn point for a number of turns, and everyone survived.  Hoorah!

Next up in our epic session was Smallworld.  Which I forgot to photograph, but saw me get sterling service from my civilisations of Alchemical Skeletons and Diplomatic Halflings.  Timing is everything in Smallworld, and I think mine was as good as it could be leading to a close result at the last.  (Full disclosure, I can't recall if I actually won or was second.)

Finally, we wound up with our feature presentation; Star Wars Imperial Assault.  Today's was a side mission and the one that came up was rescuing Luke from the clutches of the Empire.

 I sense his Presence.
Escorting Luke through a procession of readily killed Stormtroopers was easy enough for the guys, and their newly painted character models certainly motivated them to do better than in the first mission.  But when lord Vader appeared at the end of the scenario they thought their number was up!  Fortunately for them I went easy on them and let Vader's anger get the better of him, he went straight for the heroes, permitting Luke to sneak around the back of the garage and blast his way through to the T-16 and get away.

A real success for the players.  They made a decent amount of cash, gained new skills and perhaps riled the empire more than their first encounter.

A nice day away from present stresses and strains, and I look forward to the next one.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

More Plastic Crack Incoming for Frostgrave

It's a set of Rules I've yet to buy, but fear I will very soon.  And now I spot new plastic models are on their way:

Chaos?  Anyone...
Information is scarce but seems to be a November release...

Monday, August 10, 2015

Age of Sigmar - Round II

Age of Sigmar is bedding in, but still proving divisive.  There are those who like it for what it is, and by GW standards of the last decade or two it certainly is a breath of fresh air*, whilst others despise it with a passion for not being their cherished flawed monstrosity of a game and for committing the cardinal sin of killing its' parents.  Personally I lean towards the former group, but doubt I would play a game unless someone specifically asked me to.  Well the other week long-time opponent Ross asked to give it a try, so I guess it was time for game two of AoS.

Due to a little lack of communication (that and the fact my life is all over the place at the minute**) I only brought one army, Ross' armies not yet being unpacked after a recent move.  Still with the small forces required to get AoS going I was easily able to split my Dogs of War into two modest 'Empire' armies.  We laid out some terrain on the table and deployed.

The battlefield for the evening
 Ross took the force to the top left in White and Red liveries, with a unit of Knights, some Crossbowmen, some Swordsmen a Wizard and a General on a (rather Small) Griffon (AKA Cecil the flying lion).  My host was in Greens and Blues mostly and featured Halfling (AKA Empire) Hunters, Crossbowmen, a dozen Spearmen, a cannon, a wizard and a Karl Franz on his warhorse (looking suspiciously Bretonnian, but you know, proxies).

So essentially it was a shooty list against a hitty list.  Would Ross be able to hit hard enough, or would fire-power prove victorious.

Ross tries to smile through the pain
 Ross got first turn and tried to approach my lines, using the cover as best he could.  As every piece of scenery was in some way special Ross found the approach offered both advantages and challenges.

Time to start shooting...
For my part I had all the scary terrain to defend, including arcane areas where sacrificing my men could've helped in battle.  Probably a bad idea with units of a minimum size though.  My plan was quickly to shoot down as many of my enemies as possible before their inevitable charge.

I began by concentrating fire on the knights who were covering the advance of Ross' crossbows.  I got two turns on the bounce, so knowing rules permitted such dirty tricks as shooting up a target with one unit, then charging another into combat with another I pumped all I could into the knights in the hope of softening them up enough for my weedy spearmen to tackle..

Get em there's only two left
 This proved easy for them, as the knights had already endured two bursts of cannon fire as well as a hail of bolts and arrows.  At the same time the concentration of spell fire from my wizard and a follow up charge from Karl did for the swordsmen on Ross' left.  At this stage Ross was ready to throw in the towel,
Team red on the back foot
 Ross moved his crossbows towards the centre, hoping to get away from the cannon.  Cecil charged the spears and wolfed down five or six of them with ease.  The rest soon fled.

By now I was having to divide my fire with the heavy stuff focusing on Cecil, and the lighter stuff clearing away the infantry.  Ross' wizard hung back in the graveyard, out of range and sight.  A wounded Cecil nevertheless landed in the trees on the flank of the Halfling hunters; clearly hungry...

This wall can't save us from flying beasties.
 Cecil attacked the nasty 'obbitses and gobbled up a whole bunch of them, battle shock saw to the rest.

 For the next couple of turns it was a case of laying as much fire as possible into the Griffonoid in the hope if finishing it off first.  But Ross' wizard did a grand task of bolstering it with healing spells from the safety of the graveyard. Cecil picked off my General and then the last of the crossbowmen.  Leaving me just with an artilleryman and a wizard.  Ross was able to use the generic wizard magic to finish off my cannon, and then Cecil did what Cecil liked most of all to do....

Omm nom nom nom.
And that is how I lose.

For the second outing 'Sigmar many of my first impressions were confirmed.  The game is enjoyable if played in an informal, non-competitive, narrative fashion. Most of our fun in play was derived from the natural storytelling deriving from the incidents on board.  Tactically it was shallow compared to Warhammer, but unit cooperation and interplay is stronger than it first appears on paper.
But again, for a game with only 30 or so models per side, it was slow.  Even if you excluded the general chit-chat and the learning of the rules, it took some ninety minutes to play the game.  Two and a half hours in effect as we played.  Really, far too long for such a small skirmish.  It makes little sense in a way.  I remain bemused by how simple a set of rules can play so slowly; I can only conclude it is the Warscroll special rules slowing things down.

With a few more games it could well get swifter, but if this was at the loss of the narrative aspects of play that injected a lot of enjoyment into the game, I doubt there'd be enough of the game left to either challenge or entertain.  I don't envisage playing these rules in any other way than as a casual system for friendly, laid back gaming.

This second battle was fun, but also showed how powerful large monsters and heroes can be. Ross though the game over when the bulk of his army died in two turns, but perhaps forgot the over 33% of the wounds of his force resided in his last two models.  The Griffon proved, enormously powerful, and with nothing to match it toe-to-toe I was utterly dependent on taking it down with artillery.

Build matching lists, or at least those of the same general composition and this would be fine, but for 'Comp' this could lead to chalk and cheese lists.  I suppose the intention is that scenarios and 'Sudden Death' rules would compensate for this, but that is not a guarantee.

Still, in and of itself, this was a nice way to pass the time, and although it is still a long way from my favourite game I would continue to play AoS if people wanted to.

Just not too often.

*Note:  Your health may be at risk by prolonged exposure to 'Games Workshop Air(TM)', may contain traces of Chaos and price gouging.

**Not a topic for the blog folks

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Dungeon Dwellers

During my hiatus of the blog last year, I did initially do some painting still, but I left wargaming subjects largely behind.  What little I did was mostly from my big box of Reaper Bones miniatures, acquired back in 2013.  I've subsequently opted to pick up some of series III via a mate, and will see these at some point next year!

I digress.  The intention was to put together the makings of a classic dungeon delve - retro styled adventuring using a clone of D&D called Swords and Wizardry; which I could've saved for a Friday Freebie, as you can download the rules for nothing HERE.

(C) Mythmere Games
Of course any dungeon needs populating with monsters and critters, not to forget some NPC's and of course the heroes.  More on the latter in another post, but here at least is the start of my menagerie of evil:

Come into my dungeon please
 You know, I wouldn't trust this lady.  After a cameo some months back, this model's finally finished.

A Flesh Golem and Giant Rats

Classically styled Goblins

Their boss, a huge Orc

He get's two shots, lucky fella!

A pair of Lizardmen guard an altar

My Mummy and two Zombies

A Demonic Hound and a Giant Scorpion

Lovely, harmless Kobolds

Harryhausen-esque Skeletons
Not a bad start, though I certainly need a foul necromancer to go with this lot, and maybe a Troll or similar.  That should be plenty to keep some fresh faced heroes busy shouldn't it.

I've opted for a detailed paint job but with retro touches like not basing to speak of and as it turned out a slightly satiny varnish.  I had a blast painting these, even if some did take rather a long time to finish.  

But who will face these denizens of the world's darker recesses?

Friday, July 31, 2015

The 10,000

Plodding onward

Well! I've now had my first occasion of 10,000 hits/page views in a single month.

Next year I'll have been writing this gibberish for ten years, can you imagine?  Finally the readers are 'flocking in'...

Cheers folks.  It's gratifying, even if some of that traffic is inevitably browser bots and gawd knows what else, the core is a readership of some size.  I appreciate it.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Out with the new, in with the Old(hammer)

Uh Oh...

I'll just leave this here...
So I sold my near perfect copy of 2nd ed. about a decade ago, now I've gone and got someone's battered copy of 3rd instead.  Next up, a copy of Warhammer Armies for a reasonable price.

For nostalgia if noting else.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Ombakane - 30 May 1879

Gav doesn't get to the club all that often, so it was flattering that when he did, he got in touch with me beforehand to arrange a game,  I offered to get my Zulu Wars troops organised for a game and he gamely agreed.  Gav plays Black Powder so it was an easy sell.

Our battle was to be a hypothetical set late in the war, based on Woods column heading south to support Chelmsford.  To this end the British, played by Gav, were tasked with two objectives for the battle: one; control the Thukela river crossing by placing artillery on the Ombakane hill covering it, and two; cross infantry to the far side of the river to secure passage.

 The British were divided into three commands, with some free ranging ammunition supplies.  Brevet Col. Wood led four companies of the 90th Foot, Whilst Lt. Col. Buller commanded the Frontier Light Horse.  Lastly Major Tremlett commanded a half battery of 7lb guns and a company of 13th Foot to guard the guns.  They deployed on the march.

 For the Zulus' part the Scenario gave them four entry points in the battlefield and their objective was simply to destroy the British force.  To this end they had for amabutho (regiments) formed of three Ibutho and in some cases some scouts.  The Zulu were also permitted a number of decoys - goats as it turned out.

See Zulu a mile away - scatter! 
Each Zulu unit was represented by a hidden marker until a British unit could draw line of sight to it at a range of less than 50cm (for the game we simply switched all measurements to centimetres).  At the start of the game Buller took his horse forward to reconnoitre the hills, and drew the attention of a hundred or so Zulu scouts.  Hearing of these, Wood responded (by rolling a blunder) retiring his battalion in panic, thinking the enemy numbers far greater than in truth they were.

This embarrassing lack of composure was to set the tone for both sides' generalship throughout the battle.
 Buller carried on up the hill and discovered some 6-700 Zulu behind it.

 Buller drove of the scouts, with support from the 13th Light Infantry, and then went on to charge the Zulu infantry beyond.  On the left the men of Wood regained their composure and marched over the long ridge before them, discovering a thousand more Zulu in the process.

 The light horse made short work of the first Ibutho encountered, and their charged continued on to crash into a third body of men discovered behind the hill.  But by this time it appeared they were a spent force and the Zulu were easily able to drive them off,

Run away!
 Wood meanwhile had hastily had to form a firing line to keep the enemy at bay.  The Zulu had used the cover in the hills to approach fiendishly close - within 30 yards or less; Wood must lay down considerable fire swiftly, lest his men be overwhelmed.

 By this point, another thousand natives had crossed the river and ominous sounds of the march were coming from the direction of Ombakane hill.

 Tremlett's artillery was finding its progress hampered at every turn by poor quality trails in the valley.  It also looked rather deserted by the 13th Light, who were now wholly engaged in supporting Bullers' fight with the natives on the hill.

Steady lads, make every shot count
Woods line laid a heavy fusillade down upon the Zulus, and managed to disorder the entire line, buying valuable time.  However 'C' company on the end of the line ran low on ammunition n the process and had to await resupply.

Cannister, 200yards, FIRE!
Tremlett saw Zulu scouts approaching, and rapidly unlimbered his guns. Just in the nick of time as it happened, for moments later the scouts tried to charge the guns; had the not had cannister ready the guns would surely have been lost.

Rather the Zulu were forced to retire.

Wood's men began to envelop the Zulu, enfilading the mass from both sides.  The Ambutho begins a slow collapse, but Wood is aware of a second Ambutho moving up from the farmstead by the river.

Additionally, Buller is being kept in check by the Ambutho on the right, and a fourth formation had appeared on the hill at the heart of the British plans.

As one falls back another wave advances
Fresh Zulu now threatened the British, who at least had suffered only slight casualties thus far.  By this point there were some 4000 Zulu in the field, to the British forces of around 600 men.

The Zulu closed the line, bringing a great mass of me from the loin of the bull into the centre of the field.  The Zulu were under no illusion that the British were still in command, all their efforts to this point had only contained the advance of the enemy, but they had yet to close with the hated British infantry, and all attempts to do so had been fought off by a hail of Martini Henry rounds.

Finally though, they were able to catch the 13th Light in the open and drive them away in disarray.  Badly mauled and with significant losses the 13th retreated past their guns, who wisely decided to limber up and withdraw.

Time to retire chaps
Wisely too, for Zulu pursued it (though not wholeheartedly) and came within an ace of capturing the guns.  By this stage the British were becoming encircled, but Tremlett managed to rally the 13th, and set upon a bold - if rash - plan.

Seeing a gap in the enemy lines, Tremlett took personal command of the guns and dashed them to the hill; their objective.  Alas the bluffs surrounding the top proved steeper and more difficult than he had first percieved, and the guns became firmly stuck.

Dammit Sirs, move the guns!
The Zulu watched in amazement as the guns flew through the lines, but they then hollered with joy as they became stuck, horses bucking and limbers sliding from the trail.  They saw a chance to cut off the feared cannon and charged.

The valiant artillery men held the first attack, and were within an ace of being supported by elements of the 90th.  But the Zulu climbed the rocky slopes like men possessed and put the crew to flight or the blade.

Add caption
With the light fading and time against them, Wood called off the attack, the loss of the artillery would make his plan difficult to execute to say the least.  Rather he await the rest of his column to move up and hopefully brush the Zulu aside.  A tally of the casualties indicated Wood had 53 Dead, mostly amongst the Artillery and cavalry, and a similar number of wounded.

For the Zulu part it was a Pyrrhic victory at best.  They left behind some 400 dead on the field and of their wounded another 500 would either succumb to their injuries or remain absent for the duration of the campaign, perhaps blighted by injury for the rest of their days.  Certainly the present force as it stood would be in no position to oppose Wood's column for a second day of action, but at least as this day closed the British would view the river from afar, out of reach, and lit by the glow of the burning artillery train.

A great little game, that swung both ways during the course of play.  Both our lead generals proved to be Unwilling or incompetent at times with both of us managing a couple of blunders during the games.  In the end it was a failed 'Follow Me' left the artillery stuck on the hill.  Passing it would have deployed them to the top of the hill, ready to fire case into the onrushing horde.  The balance of my forces seems about right, and historically the battle seemed credible.  The Zulu could use terrain to approach the redcoats with ease, but the British firing line could hold them at bay with steady fire.  Overall a grand little game.

Maybe I'll get another one in soon.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

501st Legion - Vader's Own

Even poorly painted miniatures put unpainted metal or plastic to shame, and our recent game of Imperial Assault made this point all too clearly.

I'd been intending to paint the models in my copy anyway but this put the spur to that aim, and so I've made a start.

Imperial Officer
 I kicked off with this chap mainly to make sure I was happy with a simple technique, as they are board game pieces for heavy use I've opted for a simple shaded glaze job.  On this Imperial Officer it's not terribly obvious, what with his dark green uniform.  The base edge is to identify his unit/activation card in gameplay.

This took no time and so I decided I could dig into one of the biggest tasks in the box; the Stormtroopers.
Blue Squad try to aim at the same target
Painting these fellows was simplicity itself, being a grey undercoat followed by several coats of white.  Once this looked even a 3 parts Vallejo glaze medium to 1 part Strong-tone Quick Shade wash mix was applied to the models.  Thinning down the tone with glaze ensured that all the detail wasn't swamped, whilst using a dark shade of tone guaranteed definition.

After that a relatively thin coat of black was applied with a fine brush to all the relevant areas.  Next a little white was retouched and added as highlights to the helmets and limbs, then various vents on the helmet had a touch of dark grey added. Finally, the same was lightly dry-brushed to the guns and gloves for some definition.  Job done.

In fact I was able to do all nine of the troopers as a batch quite quickly:

All three squads try to aim where their officer is pointing
Now to apply a couple of layers of varnish (I often take photos before applying varnish to models).

Really pleased with how nice the Stormtroopers have come out, it isn't until you add the black definition that the models come to life.  Next up I shall start on some of the models specifically required for the next campaign scenario.  I get to do a couple of corkers for that one...