Sunday, September 30, 2012

Ghost Stories

A friend brought this along to the Thursday club a couple of weeks ago, a place where board games are always in vogue.  This one is a collaborative rather than competitive game, with the players working together to achieve victory against the game.

The objective of the game is to protect the village from a horde of ghosts and supernatural monsters, in the style of classic Chinese fiction and Hong Kong martial arts movies.  The catch is it is really hard!

We had four players, the normal maximum for the game, each represented by one of the coloured figures and each having different skills.  As each player takes a turn you draw a card for a new ghost appearing, play it to the appropriate coloured card and then move once and take an action.  Actions may be interacting with the square - each of the nine squares of the village allow a player to do different things - or attempting to dismiss the spirits ravaging the village.

Early in the game and the ghosts are closing in.

To dismiss a ghost you must gather enough materials or roll enough successes in an exorcism to destroy the spirit.  For example a green ghost with a rating of two would need two successes rolled on dice alone, with a one in three chance on each dice of getting a pass; however you can use green materials to guarantee successes and if things seem one sided the temple and shrines in the village can further add to your power.


If you are overloaded by spooks you lose 'Chi' or health, until of course you die.  But other players can revive you at the graveyard.  Dismiss enough ghosts and you can stem the tide until the final form of the lord of the undead appears.  Defeat this particularly savage spirit - who comes with his own rules which change conditions for the players too - and you win; the village is saved.

Alas we didn't get that far, and were defeated as he finally appeared.  With only two of our monks still alive, the dark spirits gathered around the village and put site after site out of commission until the village effectively was helpless.

Beaten by the game.

Ghost Stories is a game that demands close cooperation from the start, forward planning, and a good dose of luck.  In the end we took our eye off the ball for a second and were smacked down for it, realising that our defeat had become inevitable.

There are supplements that apparently make the game even harder.  I'm not sure why that would be needed, we played at the easiest setting and still got spanked.

It should be clear from the photo's that the components are top notch, production standards are excellent throughout.

Entertaining, and definitely different.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Le Porte-Avions Français Arrivé

Reinforcements for my Dystopian Wars French navy have been completed, taking the force to a rounded thousand points.

The Aircraft Carrier 'Le Condorcet'; accompanied by three escort cruisers - 'Leon Gambetta', 'Jule Ferrer' and 'Victor Hugo':

Also painted but not shown are another six fighter tokens to go with the carrier.  Which is a huge model, dwarfing the Pocket Battleship already in the fleet.  I had fun with the aircraft and the flight deck; but to be honest all that camouflage was a bit of a chore...

Having a fleet of twenty vessels now I probably should read the rules properly!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

2/16th Portuguese Regiment

Reorganised by Wellesley in 1809, the Portuguese regiments of Lisbon were to give sterling service at a number of battles in the subsequent campaigns; including being present at Busaco, Torre Vedras and Vittoria amongst others.

Looking back, I find I haven't painted a Napoleonic unit since January.  So it is pleasing to get a battalion of infantry done:

More Portuguese allies Based on material from the excellent Osprey Armies of the Napoleonic Wars volume.

As ever, if I can't use plastics, I try to use Front Rank miniatures, as I like their sculpting, heft and the fact you can by them individually still!

The standard is hand-painted, and just slightly hypothetical.

I think that would make it time to get another Napoleonics game arranged then.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Open Fire! (Third Ed.)

I'm not a player of Flames of War, too much like Warhammer 40k in style for my tastes to actually represent WW2.  But it's a popular game system, and I am clearly a fan of Plastic historical miniatures.
Battlefront has finally gone the whole hog for it's new starter set, which misgivings about the rules aside looks pretty impressive:

Open Fire Preview

To quote their own webpage:

The Box Contains:∙ A 52 Page Full Colour Quick Start Guide. ∙ A 296 Page Full Colour Complete Rulebook. ∙ More Than 118 Finely Detailed Miniatures. ∙ V1 Flying Bomb Terrain Feature. ∙ Cardboard Terrain. ∙ Tokens. ∙ Objective Markers. ∙ Army Lists. ∙ 20 Dice.
Which for the rumoured price of $70 (So about £60?) sounds excellent.

But what really impressed me was the plastic infantry, remember these are 15mm tall, and unlike the PSC and Wargames factory 15mm WW2 these have been made from 45mm tall three-up:

Open Fire Preview

There'll be plenty more to read about this in the 300th issue of Miniature Wargames, a huge volume I had a quick preview of at the weekend.  A good hefty tome with lots to read in it, though I think the Battlefront advert for Open Fire will court controversy for some readers, and especially their wives!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Innovation and Amun Re

I had time off work and the opportunity for another boardgame day at Ross' a while back, this time with the added company of Matt.  Together we were able to try a couple of games new to me.

First up was Innovation, an ingenious card game, riffing on the theme of civilisation.

The aim of the game is to move through time developing science, cultural, military and other innovations.  It is a pure card game but with some effective mechanics that allow for you to use cards in conjunction with one another to build to one of several possible ways to win.

I developed more slowly at first than Matt or Ross, but I recognised I could dominate time periods, by gathering influence points faster than they early on;  this along with the uses of carefully chosen special cards allowed me to ultimately be victorious.

One of the nice features of the game is the way that cards from each period - it divided history and therefore the decks into ten periods - can remain useful throughout the game, and the cards used to score influence are also from those decks and so each game will feature different innovations, and so different winning strategies.

After this we move on to Amun Re:

Amun Re is a game of Pyramid building and farming, aiming to glorify your Pharaoh.  One of the interesting aspects to this game is that sme elements allow players to work together, or betray one another, whilst others are about bidding and construction.

I developed a strategy for the game to buy mid priced sites, which conformed to whatever my initial bonus card would reward, then to use my excess cash to gain favour of the gods, and to build.  I guess we all had pretty similar strategies, but I managed to get mine just right and so won again! hurrah!

Amun Re, is perhaps a little dry, but no more so than Monopoly or Cluedo, and would certainly stand as a good replacement for ne of those at Xmas.  It is easy to learn and fast to play.  Innovation would take a little longer to explain and grasp, but is a more engaging, if longer game.

Overall though, two little gems, both worth another go.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Defending the Suriexes: 80ad

Whilst numbers of the other club members re-fought Rorke's Drift, myself and Richard returned to our hypothetical series of games in Greece, with the rebelling Spartans once again lining up against the might of Rome.

The mission was a classic one, a bridgehead battle.  The Romans having seized the one good bridge for miles over the fast flowing and deep Suriexes river were now aiming to take one of the passes leading out of the valley.  If the Greeks could defeat them here, they would be able to defend the bridge and keep the Romans at bay from their territory.

The Greeks were confident as they had a trick up their sleeve, but the Romans were confident too.  This was a rare engagement for them where they had massed artillery support within an effective range of the enemy.  The Greeks were forced by the terrain to expose themselves to enemy fire on the ridges, or else surrender the passes undefended.

I was quietly surprised to see the Romans deploy to attack both passes, but he had every option to do otherwise, as the Greeks other disadvantage was the fact the Greeks had to deploy first (representing their defending the passes all night).

When the Romans finally began the attack, only one of their generals was ready to do battle; the other allowing the bathing of his courtesans to delay him at the waters edge.  Still the Greek line was in disorder after the deadly fall of shot from the Roman Onagers on the Western bank of the river.

The Greeks tried to keep the second Roman division at bay, but they were no more prepared to advance than their adversaries.  In time the Romans caught up with the first division, who were already preparing for their fisrt attack up the hill by sending auxilary archers in force against the Greek slingers facing them.

The Greeks were pressed and a general assault by both Roman divisions was to leave them with several  phalanxes in a battered state.

However the Thracian allies arrived (on turn four) after a long diversion. After racing eight miles to the south in search of the next bridge, they returned to the battlefield after their night march; right behind the Roman artillery.

It wasn't a fix!  I'd had to choose where to send my reserves on from before any deployments, and it just so happened Richard not only set up his artillery as close as possible to my entry point, but then sent their bodyguard of Auxilia off the the front line instead.  The artillery to it's credit managed to turn and fire once, ineffectually, on the Thracians; but then the barbarians fell upon them and soon they were no more than firewood.

Though oblivious to this, the Romans suffered other reverses at the same time.  The phalanxes wore them down and two of their cohorts crumbled in the face of a stiff and well supported Spartan line.  The Roman barbarian allies displayed no stomach for the fight and left their allies in grave danger.

The Romans made three more assaults on the Southern pass, and were by the end of the day within a hairs breadth of attaining it.  But unbeknownst to them the rest of the army had collapsed.  The other main division of Romans had by this stage seen three cohorts destroyed, and the retreat of their auxilia had only shown the Bridge back over the river to be in enemy hands.

Then the auxilia attached to the artillery command, and all that remained of it, were hit in the flank by a tired Greek formation.  Tired but with enough aggression to destroy the Romans.  With that two Roman commands were broken, and the surviving division had to fall in to retreat.

 As ever it was a superbly close game; if something of a slogging match.  The Greeks are a tough nut to crack!  I found that Closed order plus the Phalanx rule allowed us to weather the more aggressive attacking power of the Romans - to get all beardy, it meant I typically needed 5's to hit but 3's to save; when Richard tried the same trick he found it didn't pay off for him in the same way.  Maybe it was luck, but it worked for me.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Oglah Khan's Wolfboyz ride into Foccacia

Yet another new race, and regiment is recruited to my Dogs of War.

I was offered a handful of Hobgoblin wolf riders for the princely price of a favour in return by a club member; and practically bit their hand of to get them!  Alas only one was still boxed, an so some of the bow cases had gone missing and only one wolf was supplied.  Still, I was easily able to supply some more, and spare parts from goblin wolf rider sprues I had kicking around furnished new bows and a musician's horn for the unit:

Actually the wolves are some of the best work here.  Again I was experimenting with washes, and a deep black wash over a grey base, followed by two grey highlights produced a very pleasing result on them.

As to the hobgoblins it was a case of red leathers and decorations, paired against green silks and flesh tones; the whole making for a striking colour scheme, repeated in the sheild and banner designs.

I'm far more pleased with these than my recent attempt at Dark Elves, and would happily paint a few more if I could get em (online prices for the original models of any Hobgoblins are prohibitive).  Also this is a unit that really will fit well into how I use my Dogs of War tactically, my army being a significant user of light cavalry tactics already, and these fit that role perfectly, but with the added punch of a hero to lead them.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Rorke's Drift Refought

I wasn't involved myself, but with Andy back at the club after his Olympic Health and Safety duties, several of the club members got together to have a practice game with the Zulu Wars figures in preparation for their game at Fiasco.

Andy had brought along his Rorke's Drift set and figures, and set up a scenario based on a Wargames Illustrated scenario - offering a rather stronger defence of the drift than in truth.  The British began the game with Lancers and artillery!  Martin took command of the plucky British garrison.

It was clear that the cavalry had found the enemy!

Who lost no time in advancing upon the stockade (Most of the British being inside those huge buildings).  Mark, their commander was taking an aggressive approach.

The British were soon engaged in a desperate struggle against the native horde.

Whilst the Lancers tried to buy them time with a last valiant charge against one of the Zulu Impi.

But alas it was all to little avail, they were simply unable to stop the surging masses of natives; soon it was only Chard and Bromhead remaining to face hundreds, nay thousands, of the blighters.

Clearly history was not to be repeated this day.

The Game was palayed with the Black Poder rules and it looked as though there was little chance for the British as it stood.  But then again, perhaps they wee unlucky, I only took photo's so I cannot say.

What I can say is that spread across an eight by six foot table the battle looked spectacular.  And it will only improve in time for the display game, one expects anyway.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Fireforge Games - Foot Sergeants!

I've never really mentioned Fireforge before, though I've been aware of their mounted knights sets for some time.  However equipped for the 12-13th Century as they are, the models didn't fit with any of my favoured periods.

However, their next set is to be of 'Foot Sergeants' aka infantry, and from the look of the sprues and sample figures on their pages, I can see these will be a very different proposition:

Now the ability of these models to be used for a considerably broader period than the cavalry is obvious to me. The crossbowman would not look out of place into the early 15th century and is ideal for lighter equipped troops of the beginning of the Hundred Years war. The spearmen could be French, Flemish, Burgundian...

Details from me will have to be scant at this time, but I'm sure you can find out all you want at their website:

A tentative shipping date appears to be November.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

To Infinity, but not Beyond...

Just a couple of snaps from an Infinity game that was going on at the Headingley Club a week or two ago.  I don't really know anything about the game so there's little else to add.  But the painting here is top notch and I felt it worth sharing on its' own merit.

Monday, September 03, 2012

La Capture du Vaisseau Amiral Russe 1870

My French Dystopian Wars fleet set sail once again.  Facing our erstwhile allies the Russians in a clash through what appeared to be the straights of Constantinople.

My fleet was the same as before, but the Russians were a new threat.  Pleasingly a painted one though.

The Russian vessels had only fairly short ranged weapons, but have no end of defensive systems designed to reduce the effectiveness of enemy attacks, and support a lot of flying vessels of substantial size.

They would prove to be a challenge.

We played the battle using objectives, these are a simple facility of the DW rules to provide each player with their own mission within the battle.  We rolled off for it and the Russians, under Paul, were looking to destroy 70% of my fleet, whilst I had to try and capture his flagship for victory.

Both fleets began to advance, but the Russians stayed close together to exploit their defensive systems, and the cover of the large Island.

I was able to engage the Russians at a range they could not reply to, but their Torpedo and Missile redirection systems made it close to impossible to harm them.  Meanwhile his flying vessels advanced to attack and I began to lose smaller ships.  Luck was not favouring me at this stage and casualties soon mounted.

My plans remained to capture the Flagship however, and from the start of the game I had decided to use the smaller flotilla ships to occupy the enemy whilst the Pocket Battleship 'Voltaire' and my Cruisers, with air cover, went after his battleship.

The Voltaire proved largely immune to the weaker gunnery of the Russians and the lack of effective support from his frigates (the disc shaped vessels - apparently based on an actual experimental Russian ship design!).  We closed, and not for the first time in the game the Russians found themselves on a collision course.

We collided, and the Russians tried to seize my ships first in an effort to forestall defeat.  But close defence fire stopped him in his tracks, and with the arrival of my Cruisers he was overpowered.

The French seized their prize and the Russians were defeated.  Victoire!

That said, it did not seem like a victory.  I was elsewhere on the battlefield getting my ass kicked in every direction.  Paul's flying ships seemed immune to my attacks until late in the game, and the bunkering of all his ships around the terrain features made them impossible to target effectively.  My Frigates and destroyers were sacrificial lambs to the slaughter for his cruisers.

It was a frustrating game; and raised a certain degree of alarm, that Spartan may have allowed a degree of 'Codex Creep' to develop with the Russians; it will take more than one game to be certain of that though....