Monday, October 31, 2011

Another Fiasco!

One bizarre feature to this year's Fiasco, was its' unexpected sharing of space with the Leeds book of Remembrance for Sir Jimmy Saville; whether this had any effect on attendance, I wouldn't begin to imagine, but in some ways it was hard to tell who was there for what.

Once inside it was just another wargames show.  The space as you can see from above, is big and spacious, with a refreshingly high ceiling making it quite airy despite a lack of natural lighting.  It's the same room as last year, and despite the ongoing gloomy climate there seemed to be plenty of traders around.

What did not feel as plentiful in my opinion was decent games, there were a good few games as pictures will attest to, but other than a couple of Crusades games, little with a real visual impact.  Too many games on a small scale for me!  Still Diving in, first to catch the eye through the door was Pultaneys 13th Regiment of Foot with a Culloden game:

Striking uniforms compensated for the little models lost on a big board.

Leeds Nightowls was represented well, with Mark's representation of the Battle of Delphinium:

Although the felt cloth looked a little plain, I think the simple terrain was remarkably effective, and Mark's figures (virtually all Immortal and Wargames Factory plastics) looked excellent.

Moving on, for spectacle it was as mentioned, to the crusades one had to go to.  One game was part of a rules launch, about which I know, or enquired for, no information.

Still, its simple terrain was well presented and the models were excellent eye candy.  The Crusades are one of those periods I've never pretended to be interested in, but I always go for pretty at shows...

A runner up for spectacle, was this six mil Gettysburg what if from 'Bart Fegg's Club for Naughty Boyd and Girls' (go figure).

Beautiful scenery.  I'm pretty sure this was at Triples earlier this year, and it still looks good, the only problem is again, the size of the models.  6mm gives great scope but I am not a fan of the visual appeal at a show.  But then I do very little gaming in this scale, so it is a personal judgement.

If you wanted to see a crowd, you could do worse than combine cult TV, wargames, shiny toys, and a young woman in a suggestive t-shirt!  This was the winning formula for attention on the Crooked Dice stand, for their 7TV system.

I've heard a  little about these before, they essentially aim to allow the replaying, or fighting of battles as staged in cult tv and movies.  Think Doctor Who (for whom they have a proper license, impressive), Bond, The Avengers, etc.  How popular it was is anyone's guess, put it is certainly a polished product.

More humble, Wakefield's entry, a smugglers game of some sort I believe:

By comparison Barnsley put on a 10mm WW2 game, that looked quite nice, but again pretty small stuff.

The Lance and Longbow society and the Pike and Shot society combined efforts to put on a DBA Aztecs versus Conquistadores game.  To be honest, with the combined efforts of two societies, I would have hoped they could have made it look a bit more attractive.  The camouflage sheeting as a base is an offence unto the god of wargaming!

By contrast, and beack to spectacle, 28mm and the Crusades, the Ilkley Lads put on a refight of Harran in 1104 ad.

Great terrain, great figures.

Out front Legendary Wargames put on a WW1 dogfight participation game.  Nice enough, but lacking in their usual impact, I would have hoped for another big 28mm game here...

On a final pass one more game caught my eye.  I'm not sure who put it on, but it was clearly a zombie game, making I would suggest ingenious use of a set of Gulf  War terrain.

Now that's a zombie horde!

So, I'm sorry to say, I was a bit disappointed by the games on display.  No big epic flintlock period games, only one ancient game and the prettiest items on show were either periods or scales I'm not bothered by.

As for shopping, our club splurged £200 on terrain, which was pleasing, but for myself it was less than £20 on a couple of 20mm Stuart tanks and two Books on the Napoleonic Wars.  The best aspect of the day was as ever at shows, the catching up with friends, and in this case, going to the pub afterwards for a few hours of chat and a couple of beers.

A good day out, by association; but Fiasco still struggles to impress; if it wasn't on my doorstep, I wouldn't lose any sleep over missing it.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Another "Gotta Go" Moment

I'm actually kinda sad about this one, as my AK47 armies were at one time a great love of mine, but as I've used them three times or so in the last ten years, and have no opponents for them, I can't really justify keeping four separate armies for them.

And so on eBay you'll find these:

My, used once, United Nations Intervention force.  20 vehicles and 60 figures is here.  Whilst for those on a more modest budget, or with an eye to the contemporary, there are these:

Seven vehicles and 18 figures, representing a mercenary contingent.  These can be found here.  Obviously given recent events I can imagine a number of uses for them...

Lovely 15mm models, some  of which I've customised myself, and several of which I made the masters for!  Still you have to know when to say farewell, and having lumped these models through seven house moves in the last ten years with nary a game.  It's time to let them go to a better place.

Sensible bids welcome!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Of Blood Knights and Comets

I was back to Jason's place for another bigger game of Warhammer.  4000 points each, with me fielding my Vampire Counts against his Dogs of War.  On an unnaturally sunny day the Undead hordes lined up against the might of the Border Princes

Jason's left was covered by artillery and a small unit of crossbowmen, next to them, a horde of Norse with flails and a mighty giant.

To my right to face them, was a swarm of bats, some dire wolves, a unit of Black Knights led by a Vampire and a Wight and a unit of Ghouls.  Just out of sight, a small unit of Grave Guard with the army general; another Vampire.

On Jason's right  a forest split his command.  On one side of it Beorn's Bearmen, to the other a horde of Dwarven crossbows were flanked by Leopold's Leopard company and Ricco's Republican guard.  Another cannon and a wizard or two finished the job.

For me it was another couple of Ghoul units, a large force of Blood Knights led by a vampire, a horde of 40 skeleton spears and lastly a Black Coach.

With battle joined I rushed to engage the living on my own terms, I tried to close the distance and get some big kicker spells off, but it didn't go too well.  In particular on his first turn, Jason sniped out the Black coach with a cannon and ended up scoring some 350 points of casualties on my side, for no loss in return.

The only things at this stage in my favour, were the composition and deployment of Jason's force.  His large units meant there was a lot of empty space on the battlefield, moreover, putting three of the units on the extreme flank meant I could delay them with a minimal force and concentrate on beating the rest in detail before they could engage.  I hastily amended my battle plans thus...

Jason, in my opinion, obliged me by charging his Bearmen into a wood to attack threatening Ghouls.  This allowed me to tie them up  for a turn to allow the Blood knights to inflict a devastating flank charge.

Elsewhere it wasn't all going so well,   Jason summoned repeated Comets of Cassandora to blast my centre.  Also my Black Knights being slaughtered for minimal reward, and the Dire wolves with them.  But the bats had engaged the artillery park, and after suffering heavy losses, the Norse Marauders were destroyed by the Grave Guard.  Jason sent his Giant into the fray, but it succumbed to the vile savagery of my Vampire lord...

And by this stage things were turning the Undead's way, despite losing out to gunfire and magic on every turn, I was beating Jason in combat everywhere.  In particular he was suffering from the Vampires and the Blood Knights.

One in particular.

Having destroyed Beorn, the Blood knights followed up into an idling wizard, who quickly fell.  Then they pursued onwards into the Dwarves.  The start of the turn looked like this:

And this was the end of it:

And very nearly the end of the game.  A Vampire with the lore of Death had used Purple Suns to keep the units of Pike at bay.  Whilst a final threat of a comet cleared the centre of the battlefield.  I summoned a few zombies to tie up Jason's remaining artillery and looked to disengage, hoping we'd done enough damage.

And as it turned out, we'd both done enough for a respectable draw, each with around 1800 points left. It's fair to reiterate that Jason's deployment let him down, as he admitted himself, once he'd deployed his Dwarves in the wrong place he felt obliged to support them.  Whereas I could ignore them.  However, in his favour, he out shot me and ruled the magic phase; so overall it was pretty close.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Kampfgruppe Normandy

Spurred by their present sale and the opportunity I had to look at a copy of the rules a week or so ago, I succumbed to buying a copy of the Warhammer Historical World War Two rules.

Now, had I not had any chance to look at the rules before I would have presumed them to simply be another reworking of the Warhammer 40k game engine, as used for The Great War rules.  I've dabbled with Warhammer World War two in the past, and whilst they worked adequately, they were not especially distinct or innovative.  I would have passed on a £24 version of them (never mind a £48 version!)

But I can happily report that these rules are nothing of the sort. Although based on a purely D6 system, it is far more thought out than Warhammer and contains a number of features to reflect the fog of war and the reality of battle at a relatively small scale.

The rules are for combined actions in the Normandy theatre specifically, dealing typically with engagements of platoon to company scales, though for those with the time and space, Battalion scaled battles can be accommodated.  It is early, and I haven't yet read the rules in full, or played them, but items I like based on first reviewing include:

  • Although the rules are IgoUgo, a player can set up his units to interrupt the opponent's turn.
  • You can only activate as many elements of your force per turn as you get randomised command points for, plus the value of command assets you've purchased for your order of battle.
  • You can always fire for suppression at a target, but aimed fire requires observation.
  • Hitting a target is much the same for any firer at a given range, it is down to the concealment of an enemy as to how effective those hits are.  Units running around under the enemies guns, in the open, will get slaughtered by fire.
  • Similarly anti tank fire is effected very clearly by armour.  If a tank's armour is too thick and the firers gun too weak, there is no chance of destroying the target, though on a double six you do get lucky and immobilise it.
  • Suppression stops units acting until the commander uses morale chips to remove them.
  • Artillery cover can be dedicated or limited, so there is no guarantee of getting it when you need it.
  • Air cover is even less certain.
  • Several actions require the use of morale chips, and when you use a morale chip it reduces your overall morale by a random value.  Your force morale is based on mainline units in your order of battle.  Run out of morale points and your force is broken and the game ends.
In short I like a lot of the core mechanics and they are nothing like 40k!

Also they are only the first quarter of a 360 page, full colour rule book.  Also included are 8 army lists (4  German and two each for the Americans and British), 2 campaigns, a tonne of background and no end of scenarios.  Given the production values, one can see why the book was priced originally at the astronomical price of nigh on fifty quid; but at half that it represents a veritable bargain!

The rules talk throughout about 20mm scale gaming, my first love, and lean towards, but don't depend on single based miniatures.  I think those with flames of war armies would have no difficulty using these rules instead, though I feel the game will be slower and more realistic by comparison.  Additionally small games with 28mm models will probably work well enough.

Given the apparent situation at Warhammer Historical/Forgeworld*, I wonder what future these rules really have, but if they play as well as they look I'm sure internet support will develop for them.  Hopefully other theatres will be covered in the event of such success.

I certainly look forward to giving them a try, and if nothing else they are a rich seam of material to mine for any WW2 gamer.

*Incidentally, indicative of FW's mindset, and part of the problem with my copy of a historical set of rules, I received catalogues for their ranges of resin models for GW's premier fantasy and Sci-Fi gaming systems.  No use to me, or many other of the buyers of these rules I think, and straight into the recycling.  FW does not seem to understand its new subsidiaries audience and so is wasting money marketing wrongly at them.  Yes, they have nothing to offer that audience, making no historical models; better to say nothing at all therefore than to annoy your customers with 'junk mail'.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Kings of War Double Header

One of the Nightowls is running a small tourney of Kings of War on the 13th of November.  In the run up to that a lot of the club would need introducing to the game of course, and so we ran a couple of intro games at the Headingley club the other week.

I had a game against Andy, who took on the role of the Orcs and Goblins, versus my Kingdom of Men:

Thousand point Kings of War armies are about the size of Warhammer armies of 1500-2000 points.  My units of Pike were supported by cavalry on the flanks, against Orcish hordes flanked by goblin masses.

The Orcs came on forcefully, but the key to KOW in my experience (more than other players at the club, at nearly a half dozen games!) is not to expose your flanks.  Andy found my heavy attacking force of Cavalry and Ogres rather too effective.

Whilst in the Centre, the small units of crossbows drew in the Orcs to be outflanked by Pikemen and Heroes.

And it turns out that the second key to a strong attack is sequencing.  Attack first when fresh, expect to bounce off, but also expect to survive the response of the enemy, then finish him with the second round of attacks.  \ideally with flank support.  In the end the Orcs fell to experience of the rules more than anything!  All over in less than an hour, we even played timed turns and I think I stopped the clock on 25 minutes!

Besides my victory, Mark and Amric had a game with Men fighting the Undead:

I have a feeling it was two nil for the Humans on the night, suggesting that the new army list for them is very potent, or that Kings of War has suffered army creep just like certain other games before it!

Or it could be, that me and Mark knew the rules better than our opponents.  Ha ha ha!  Anyway, there is a bigger trial of the games due for this weekend, so we shall see...

But at £5 for a complete set of rules and 8 army lists, as a game you can learn fully in the course of your first time playing and play in under an hour; what's not to like?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Thracians for Sale

With a heavy heart but a light wallet, another of my armies that I've not used in the last five or more years has to go to the great online auction site in the sky:

 Just over a 150 Thracians, featuring infantry and cavalry.

Painted and based to my standard style of a few years back, using a shaded varnish to bring up the detail and protection.

Sadly there just isn't justification for keeping them any more, and I could do with the money, sad to say.

It's all 20mm plastic, mostly Hat and Zvezda models and as you can see in good nick.  If you are interested in owning them yourself, the auction is here:  Linky

Monday, October 17, 2011

Anima - Raziel NK-X

Having made some wargaming money on a couple of big sales, I treated myself to a pair of big figures for my Anima Tactics collection.  The first to get completed being a centrepiece for my Black Sun force:

An undead knight and supposedly the most powerful necromantic creation to date of Black Sun, the Raziel NK-X is a seemingly unstoppable primal force.  In game terms they seem staggeringly powerful, especially as I've equipped mine with two huge weapons.

The painting of this model was a breeze, as it is really only a mass of dark armour, a little undead flesh and a few touches of black.  This hides the fact that the construction of the model was an epic however; being a kit, without instructions, of around twenty parts.  A lot of dry fitting, reference to illustrations and the pinning of virtually every joint was required to assemble this figure.  And even then, I suspect those barbed metal whips won't survive very long.  In short, it is not one for beginners; confident modellers only need apply!

Nor is it particularly cheap, but on the table it is likely to be an imposing presence, as you can see from the size comparison against a regular Type 005 above.

For now this is my Black Sun force complete, with some 300 levels available to me.  Next up for Anima is an addition to my Azur Alliance forces to build them up in a similar fashion.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Village of the Damned

I had my first game of Warhammer Fantasy in what seems like ages a couple of weeks ago, in fact it was probably more like a month or so.  However it is fair to say that I've being playing a wider variety of games over the summer, and trying to get more historical games in to the mix.  Still it was nice to dust off the troops once again.

I was playing Neil's revitalised Tomb King army at 1500 points, when I say revitalised, it is fairer to point out that at this point they looked an awful lot more like Skaven than the ancient dead reanimated.  Still they are a work in progress, whereas my Orcs and Goblins have essentially been finished for many a year.

With a village occupying the centre of the battlefield, it was little surprise that we both leaned towards the more open flank of the table, and true to form, the Tomb Kings castled all their forces into one corner of the table anyway.  This seems to maximise their tactical advantages, though it does have it's downsides too.  A ripe target for template spells, war machines and the like, not to mention reducing the ability of the army to manoeuvre or retire safely.

For my part it was a large block of Orc Big un's, a couple of small units of goblin bowmen (with a single fanatic each) and two units of goblin fast cavalry.  With three lords to bolster my key units and a little magic, I was undecided as to how I would do, but the tactics were to outflank and pick off novelty units before the Big un's went in to smash his big blocks.

The fast cavalry were to prove pre-eminent in this stated task, not least as Neil was not used to their flexibility.  Early in the game my wolf riders wrapped round his flank, to respond Neil turned two heavy infantry units to face, assuming I would have to attack one of those head on.  But instead I was able to declare a charge on his exposed Casket of Souls, rolling it over and hitting the flank of the unit next to it.  He hadn't allowed for fast cavalry's ability to change formation any number of times, or for the nine inch move speediness of Goblin cavalry.

Meanwhile the Spider riders took on the forces he thought would tie up the Wolves, with poison.

The other thing making life difficult for Neil at this stage was my Goblin wizard, a mere level two, but thanks to  Mushrooms, pumping out his topline spell with staggering frequency.  Much like a released fanatic, even if it didn't hit the enemy, it was enough of a threat to their front that most of his army now remained tied into the corner.

Eventually Neil destroyed the Wolves, but by this point the Spider riders were in to him instead, and having swapped positions the Orcs were bearing down on his Undead phalanx, whilst valiant Goblin bows covered their rear.  Neil was certainly trapped, but fighting hard.

But luck was on my side, the Forest Goblin Warlord surviving everything thrown at him, and few things being able to stand in the way of a horde of angry - armed to the teeth - eight foot tall Orcs.

A final sweeping charge and it was all over for the Tomb Kings.  A game that probably felt closer than the outcome actually was, Neil is a cagey player, but I completely blind-sided him with my well practised use of light troops and mobility.  And so, an army list that failed dismally on it's first outing, with a few tweaks proved rather effective.

One should also add that this was my last game at the LWC.  Not that I realised this at the time...