Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Into the Maelstrom

So our little trip to Maelstrom games proved pretty successful, the site itself is about as easy to find as any anonymous shop in the middle of a business park has any right to be, and after a few last minute wrong turns and several chances to see the same roundabout from many interesting angles, we finally arrived.

Thanks to plenty of space, and a huge leaf taken out of the Games Workshop book of presentation, the site was airy and comfortable; with a large shop on the ground floor and a total of ten 12x4 foot gaming tables upstairs. Along with a licensed bar; get in.

As for the actual games on, well at first it seemed pretty quiet, though there was a painting club along too (I wasn’t hugely impressed by their work to be honest, a lot of it was done solely with army painter techniques, and to my mind that does not constitute a high level of painting technique!). We came personally for the Blackpowder demonstration, but this had already begun once we finally arrived. However we were assured there would be a second round in the afternoon, so it was a case of waiting.

Main Gaming Room

Some silly fools were playing Warhammer English Civil War, but you know, it takes all sorts to make a world. Perhaps they enjoy it, but having read the rules and considered them in the context of the period, I was unconvinced by them. Warhammer was never an ideal choice for that period.

Warmaster, by another name, and highly modified however, it seems; is. Blackpowder is based in the Warmaster game engine, but with a lot of changes. The core of the rules are very simple however, easy enough to pick up within a very short period of time.

Neil and Gav (2nd and 3rd on left) watch the earlier demonstration

The game was again English Civil War, with a simple scenario played lengthways down the table. The reason for this mainly being that as initially designed a four foot wide table really is too small for the rules. Units may move up to three times during the turn, dependent on their command roll, and this can mean that infantry move up to 36 inches in one go, cavalry 54 inches. One limit is that regardless of the result, the unit can only move and act as far as your stated orders set out. So if you tell it to advance to keep the line it will not go any further even if it’s move allows it to.

Shooting was straightforward, and so too with morale. Once a certain number of casualties are caused on a unit they have to make a test, modified by said number of casualties. The higher the result the better.; though both sides showed a proclivity for rolling low and having units quit the field after a handful of losses (except for my gloriously brave forlorn hope, which saw off two thirds of the royalist cavalry – 6 units, on it’s own more or less).

The Parliament lines stop the massed Cavalry (apologies for the rubbish camera phone photo's)

Overall Blackpowder aims to produce a fast and fluid game, with a minimum of record keeping and a style of play that favours refights and scenarios over competition play. I must admit to being impressed, and I think I will be buying a copy at some point soon.

As for Maelstrom’s set up, well I can heartily recommend a visit to that too. The gaming is good and the shop is even better, just don’t take too much money with you!

(Personally, I only spent £15, but that’s another story…)

1 comment:

  1. I definitely wont be visiting for a game 12' x 4' what a ridiculous size table! especially as BP recommends 12 x 6 ! Thats a poor use of 480sq ft of playing area. As you know our club has about 300sq ft and with all due respect 3 x 8' by 5' and a 10' by 5' and and an 18' by 6' plus some small tables seems like a much better use of space!BP are a really good fun interesting set weve played more colonials and ACW since they arrived than ever before

    Dave Tuck GWS