Tuesday, March 30, 2010

40K terrain - stage one

Personally I'm 99% sure I'm selling up my Warhammer 40k collection; at the weekend I retrieved it from storage and looking at the amount of unfinished stuff and associated clutter just filled me with despair. The first act was to pass the terrain from my collection on to the club.

Independently of that though I had been given some of the recent terrain sets to assemble as I saw fit, and prepare for the club. Potentially an onerous task, but the models went together well and you can't argue with them for a sense of scale:

The larger ruin is fully 30cm tall, whilst the almost intact building is more than 15x20cm in footprint. The smaller building moreover was built from a mix of spare panels and walkways.

Both importantly will block lines of sight, which in the present rules are a major problem. Any line of sight allows a unit/figure to be targeted, and there is no area terrain for visibility. So solid walls are good.

The plan next is to paint these with the minimum of fuss; so the club is paying for a nice can of black spray paint; over that I'm thinking some blue and metallic dry-brushing, some dust and job done...

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Up on ebay now:

OK, so after considerable delay and a fair bit of inactivity on the blog and gaming front (haven't even painted a thing this month so far) I've finally got as far as banging my little BE W@W army on eBay.
At the time of writing the blog entry you I can't add a link to the blog for it directly; but you can look up the seller dean_AKI_UK and it should be there if you are interested in them.
Normal service, may be resumed soon, I have a contract, and some club painting to be getting on with, and a game (gasp) of Napoleon arranged for next week...
[Update - They sold to a regular customer within the day!]

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…)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

In praise of the 'Daddy'

Compared to my rant about 40k the other month, of Warhammer I can only say, "Oh, how do I love thee, let me count the ways..."

Possibly a bit overwrought, but by comparison to 40k, it remains a peach of a game. Not least as it works well across all sizes of game, and makes a much better fist of applying tactical doctrines.

Like all wargames, it isn't perfect of course, and as with it's Sci-Fi bast**d (and I use that in the truest sense) offspring, it can suffer from endless rule tinkering and an arms race special rule mentality. But the core of the system is far more predictable and the armies are not nearly so unbalanced; they can be made to be, but also it is easy to exercise some restraint. Play a 40k Space Marine army and you are already bringing a gun to a knife fight!

Last week I had a small 500 point game against a fun little Dwarf army, for example. The dwarf copter ruined any chance I had of a win, but at no point did it feel like it was robbing me of the joy of a game. To be fair, when you mainly play Dogs of War, losing is second nature.

I just know in a 40k context, it would have firstly took twice as long to play out, secondly involved endless rule book referrals, and thirdly, felt utterly joyless - to me anyway. With Warhammer, I at least know the rules well, even if I regularly transpose WAB rules to WFB, and vice-versa, and there are elements of each turn that involve both players, helping keep you involved.

As an aside, there is a lot more activity in terms of painting in our club with WFB armies. And I do like a nicely painted force, whether to play against or just photograph.

An attractive little 500 point Empire army above, and two shots of elements from a Beasts of Chaos army below.

So the up shot of this musing? Well I think at least one of my two remaining 40k armies is for the chop, which remains to be seen, but not for the first time in the last twenty years I've fallen out of love with that particular game, and it may be time to let them find a natural home.

And I suppose the space it would free up would at least allow me to get my other two WFB armies out of storage...

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

It's that 'BE' Feeling Again

Definitely my favourite set of rules at present, it's been a long time since I've played a game so frequently. A couple of weeks back it was a match up against Marks Germans. Another river crossing thanks to a random choice of tables.

The Germans had limited resources on table, whilst my Americans lined up in force on the launch point.
Nearby Bob and Steve clashed with Brits and Germans too. A radio controlled Tiger tank harasses a Die-Cast Churchill tank...

Marks Germans are done with the 'Army Painter' shading system; and it certainly produces reasonable results easily enough:

As for the game itself, well the Germans in the village proved impossible to extract, but their limited reserves allowed the Americans time to do some damage. However the restraint the American armour showed compromised any real chance of winning.

The German Brumbaer tank flattered to deceive with a short ranged and weak gun and only average armour, it looked a lot more fearsome than it was, both Shermans could have taken it in short order.

The other trump card Mark had was a Henschel 139 ground attack aircraft, but in three turns on table it managed only to kill two men and made a very poor account of itself. Mark's best weapon was his mortar which did modest, but well targeted work all evening.

And that was enough to stop the American attack and secure a Phyrric victory of sorts.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

February Pledge

As mentioned, I've not painted in quite a while (though tonight may be a quiet one so who knows), but my out put for February was a good high volume, thanks to choices of easy or small subject matter.

The ACW figure have already appeared on the blog, and they were followed by a commission job for a club member: The 92nd highlanders in 15mm:

Lots of base coat and highlight to give them some depth, but not at the expense of a long paint job; I think they look really nice.

The only other product for the month was a fairly ambitious one; a full 1500 point Battlefield Evolution - World @ War Russian army, complete with armour.

The biggest beef with this lot was the terrible difficulty I had getting the acrylic paint to adhere to the Italieri infantry; even after a soaking in soapy water they fought long and hard. Some needed three coats of paint. Next time I'll spray undercoat first (not black though, unsuitable).

The tanks and the rest of the infantry are Pegasus Hobbies models and delightful stuff. The tanks are supposedly easy-build wargames models, but with thirty parts each are in fact very realistic little models. The running gear in particular is nicely done.

So in total I scored 86 painting points for the month. Well over the target of sixty, but it'll have to be to compensate for the fact I've not even bothered to start a project this month.

Still, it's a marathon, not a sprint.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Quick updates

The blog has been ticking over on old posts of late, with very little current news. Those who know me on a more personal level will have a good idea why, suffice to say real life has been getting in the way of toy soldiery in an often pleasing fashion.

As a consequence I haven't so much as put brush to paint in the last week, an eternity for me. However after a Shaky start Pledge targets were met for February, though mostly on commission and sales work. More details at the weekend.

In other news, myself and a few of the lads from the Club are going to drive down to the 'Eye of the Storm' in Nottingham for the BlackPowder gaming day on 13th March, anyone interested can find out more from their website:


Click on the Events Forum.

Given I will have had maybe four hours sleep before driving down it should be a fine day of Red Bull consumption, fatigue-skewed humour and bad dice rolling. I'll be the skinny guy dressed like a new raver in a lurid orange t-shirt...