Thursday, November 29, 2012

How not to play in the Little Leagues

Ordinarily, wargames have to defer to my more conventional social life - as a result Friday and Saturday nights are not  gaming nights for me.  The overlap of these can mean that Sunday mornings at the club can sometimes be a struggle.

Such was the case for the Leeds Nightowls inaugural 'Kings of War' League.

I'd been on the demon drink the night before, German Market + Girls was a recipe for disaster; nonetheless I started the day after a healthy 6 hours sleep feeling fairly chipper, and so made my way to the club in the blissful ignorance that alcohol promotes.  Oh it knew it'd get me later, but for now it was happy to let me think I had got away with drinking...

The league would involve three games at 1250 points against random opponents using any single race army, Fan Lists being acceptable.

My first game was against Darren, using a Ratmen list.  Frankly this was always going to be a gentle introduction to the day, Darren is a nice enough guy but only has one tactic - forwards.

This meant he was easy to outflank and easy to catch off guard, the two things my Human army was always going to thank him for.

It wasn't exactly a swift game, I was gradually slowing down, but it was an easy and emphatic win.

Between the first and second Game I had a look around some of the other armies on display.  There was a definite leaning towards Humanoid armies with five of the 11 armies present being from their lists, aside mine these included an all Ogre list, a 'Brettonian' army, one based on Richard's War of The Roses army, and one below - made all of cavalry and mounted on terrain bases to show the whole army charging downhill:

Sadly they looked rather the worse for wear.  Three of the other armies were Undead, including two leaning heavily on Werewolves.  In fact Mark's army was all Werebeasts.

That left George's Orcs, who looked superb, but for some reason I failed to take pictures of, Darren's Rats and Paul's Pygmies - aka Goblins.

Back to the games, and I was drawn in the winners circle for round two, against a visitor to the Club, Neil, and his undead army.  I got a photograph of initial deployments: 

And that was about it, Over the course of the next hour or so my Hangover arrived, a devastating flank attack from my own side!  I gradually sunk beneath the table, and my opponents amiability fell on stony ground as my head came under such an assault of self inflicted discomfort that I was only able to respond in monosyllabic grunts until such as stage as I could legitimately concede the defeat.

I demanded a 'By' for the final round and shakily put my models away; between bouts of lying down and trips to the bathroom to check I didn't need to throw up (thankfully I was spared that one humiliation) that kept the other players far more entertained than I was.

I'm afraid I couldn't tell you much about the rest of the games:

A sandwich (my first food for 24 hours I realised), a Lucozade and two Ibuprofen, along with a half hour nap saw me fit and able in time to watch the last few turns in the final games.  But not bother with any more photo's.

So I can't really comment on the event, but only provide sage advice for my younger readers.

Don't drink and roll dice!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Beer and Pretzels and Tokyo...

Ending up at the club without a game, I let myself be roped in to a couple of board games; always an easy option on a Thursday night.

We began with simplicity itself:

No Thanks is a gambling game essentially.  Kind of like a draft version of blackjack.  Players have a stash of coin with which to pass on cards as they are played, each card being scored from 1 to 36. If you don't want to pass you can take the card, and any coins on it, these then become part of your stash of coin and the card part of your score.

Have a sequence of cards and you only score for the lowest one, but break the chain and you score each set or individual card separately.  At the end the lowest score of cards, less coins still in your hand wins.

It's a simple game, made more complex by the fact that you only play with part of the 36 card deck each round.  It would be so easy to bet on this game...

After that we jumped in to King Tokyo, a fiendishly simple dice game of monster rampaging.  Each player takes control of a monster looking to be the first to accumulate 20 destruction points in Tokyo, either by damaging the city itself or by taking on the other players, whilst surviving.  Each beast begins without special powers and ten life points, but both of these can be augmented as the game progresses.

All of which is managed by the use of 6 special dice.  To be fair they are just D6 with special symbols on the higher three sides, but the mechanic is simple and ingenious.  For example, roll an energy symbol and you get an energy cube, accumulate enough and you can use them to buy one of three upgrade cards available at any time - allowing you to develop extra powers such as firebreath, x-ray vision, flight or a radioactive bite.

Quick and lightweight, it's a game with attractive production standards, but only enough depth to sustain it as a casual experience.  If you like dice-rolling it'll keep you going for a while.

Red Dragon Inn was up next and is another light hearted game.  Centred around the favoured activities of role-playing game archetypes when not down the dungeons, i.e drinking and gambling, Red Dragon Inn is a card based game of winner takes all survival.

Each turn your character can play an action card, buy another player a drink, and have a drink yourself.  Actions may include starting a round of gambling, forcing other players to drink more, give away money or other actions.  As you gamble your funds may go up or down, as you drink your sobriety inevitably goes down; if your sobriety and health trackers meet, well you are officially under the table and not only out the game, but thanks to your friends, penniless too!

Apparently this is a game well suited to real drinking, I just can't imagine why!  As it was without alcohol it was still an entertaining diversion.  Not the cheapest of games for what it is, but certainly a bit of fun, maybe ideal for a less conventional Christmas after-dinner activity.  Doubtless a great one for D&D and Warcraft players, especially if they wish real pubs and bars were more like this.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

More Cavalry

November is proving to be a month for men on horseback, I even found myself watching some showjumping to get ideas on horse colouration.

Next out of the blocks are some Helot horsemen for my Spartans:

Lowly troops for sure, but cavalry were until now unrepresented in my Spartan army.  For good reason in a sense as they were always a very minor part of the Spartan military system; rare and only poorly equipped.

These are Magister Militum mini's, not particularly flashy but cheap and accurate enough.  The horses are rather small, but that is for the good as there were no thoroughbreds in the fifth century BC!

A quick little job then, and so on to the next painting task...

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Garde Chasseurs au Cheval

"The regiment was in Madrid when the populace rose on 2 May and eight of the officers, including Major Pierre Daumesnil, were wounded as well as five officers of the Mamluks. The regiment took part in General Montbrun's charge up the road at Somosierra (30 November) but lost no officers for the Spanish gunners only managed to get off one salvo before the Polish and French cavalry got amongst them with the sabre."

Good grief,  I'm resorting to Wikipedia for my research

So proof at least that Napoleon's consular guard did see limited service in the Peninsular.  But really this is a unit that's place is more properly where the Emperor is.  No matter, they look great.

Now the first three of these models were done two years ago for a participation game, but that still left the command group and 6 other models to do.  I'm really pleased with the results:

(I'm indebted to Jason for these models, I hope he's impressed with the results.)

So now I have two units of cavalry for my French, and feel the urge to do more.  Who'll be next I wonder...

Monday, November 19, 2012

Saga - A Bridge Too Far?

Car-less, I made a lengthy journey to the Nightowls on a foggy Sunday morn for a game or two of saga.  On other days I may not have bothered but I was also hoping to sell on a few of my spare Dark Ages figures.  I was successful in that endeavour, and with pockets filled with change I hung on for the games of the day.

Andy had organised the game and set up an excellent, rather large table of attractive scenery.  Five of us assembled to play, with Laurie and Richard initially as the Vikings (above) whilst myself and Mark played Anglo Danish, and Andy umpired.

My New Viking models took on the role of Settled Danes and got ready to defend their village.

Unfortunately the table was rather too large for a speedy game, and although it allowed Laurie and Richard to learn the basics of the rules, and how to use the battle boards, it meant we spent several turns in the first game just approaching one another.  Getting to the bridge in the centre took more or less all of the game!  Once we finally met, my new Vikings faced my old Vikings - under a new command...

The eventual engagement was bloody, with New Model Syndrome working against us both but favouring me slightly, after all, I had painted both sides!  Sadly my ally Mark got pasted so the battle was inconclusive.

With some time left we decided to reset, starting closer to one another in a more tightly dispersed village.  Andy played this time whilst Mark umpired.  This time it was three forces of Vikings and one of Jomsvikings in battle for the loot of the village Church.

This time I faced Laurie, and gave his Vikings a proper beating, out manoeuvring them in the side streets.

So a couple of good games, but it does make it much less likely that I will sell my new Vikings!  I guess I means I'll have more old ones to sell on.

Better get n with it!

Blog Housekeeping

Sorry folks, due to infuriating amounts of spam of late, only posters with an ID will be able to post comments to the blog from now on. 

That generally shouldn't be an issue for most civilised people, but if I have to delete many more comments claiming in garbled english to find my least informative posts 'most clearly written and informational', and then trying to sneak adverts and dodgy links onto my blog; I may sack off comments entirely!

Proper posts will resume later...

Friday, November 16, 2012

Recon 2012 upcoming

This year, I'm not putting on a game at Recon.

Just as well really, I realised I'd double booked myself to some extent - I'm at a dubstep all nighter the evening before (desperate to be trendy, me!); so any game I might've put on would have been characterised by my being sleep deprived, grumpy and hungover.  At least.

Still I will probably stagger along at some stage to take snaps and indulge a little light shopping.  Besides, the various clubs I attend are well covered by games from Fiasco, so my efforts aren't needed.  Thankfully.

For all the details of the show, it's in the usual venue, see here:

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Remembrance Sunday


The darkness crumbles away. It is the same old Druid Time as ever. Only a live thing leaps my hand, A queer sardonic rat, As I pull the parapet's poppy To stick behind my ear. Droll rat, they would shoot you if they knew Your cosmopolitan sympathies. Now you have touched this English hand You will do the same to a German Soon, no doubt, if it be your pleasure To cross the sleeping green between. It seems, odd thing, you grin as you pass Strong eyes, fine limbs, haughty athletes, Less chanced than you for life, Bonds to the whims of murder, Sprawled in the bowels of the earth, The torn fields of France. What do you see in our eyes At the shrieking iron and flame Hurl'd through still heavens? What quaver---what heart aghast? Poppies whose roots are in man's veins Drop, and are ever dropping, But mine in my ear is safe--- Just a little white with the dust.

Isaac Rosenberg (1890-1918)

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Saga - New Vikings

Don't you hate it when this happens?

I paint things to sell on eBay to fund most of my gaming projects; that plus selling on the stuff I don't want any more covers the expense of my hobby, which otherwise I'd have much less to spend on.

Unfortunately, there is always a possibility when you paint something, that you'll like them too much to sell.

Such is the case with this set of Vikings, ostensibly for Saga:

24 Gripping Beast plastic figures and one Foundry metal to lead them.  I used 25mm metal bases (AKA 2p pieces!) to ensure Saga was their first port of call, colour coded shields made sure each unit was easy to identified; lastly the bases were given a nice textured and grassed finish.

Obviously, the problem is now I don't want to sell them, their just so much nicer than my old models.

Thankfully, I should be able to sell my old figures for a reasonable sum.  Indeed I've already managed to get rid of 90 or so of them..  This just means I'll need to get rid of another 40 or so on top of the ones I still intend selling.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Warhammer - Orcs versus Dwarves

Well it seems an eternity ago, but I aught to at least post the photo's of my game of Warhammer Fantasy against Jason.

We played 4000 points, with my Orcs against Jason's Dwarves.  He surprised me by bringing... No artillery!  This meant my Giant might prove useful.

Initial deployments
 I had Skarsnik, in a unit of 80 goblins, and his sneaky tricks and traps kept nearly half of Jason's troops in reserve on the first turn.

As a result the Dwarven deployment was rather small:

Skarsnik's unit nearly outnumbered his whole initial force!

The Orcs and goblins as ever swept forward with the iron discipline that only mine ever seem to muster.  Except for my Chariots, who spent the entire game debating who had the fastest wagon, rather than testing them in battle!

My Giant actually made it into contact with the enemy, whilst my masses bottled in the Dwarves:

Hand of Gork was cast at one stage, and my Orcs were suddenly behind the Dwarven lines, rather catching them by surprise.  Similarly my Wolf Riders ducked around the Dwarven miners and lined up a flank charge.

The Dwarves weren't all passive, but they did have terrible luck, what should have been an easy charge on a unit of bows was hampered by two fanatics from another Goblin unit.  They ended up filling the gap and the Dwarves then had to close the door through them, resulting in 4d6 of Fanatic losses before the melee commenced!

In the centre a huge battle broke out with most of the Orc units attacking one of the remaining Dwarven units.  It held out for a couple of turns but couldn't weather the sheer volume of attacks it faced in the end.

By this stage Skarsnik had cleared his flank of beardies, the chariots had a drag race to prove who was fastest, and then stopped to argue the toss of who actually won, and the Giant was still hanging in there.

Heroically he made it to the last turn, but then tragically fell in combat, onto the Dwarves!  With this final act a handful of little men slunk off the field as darkenss fell, and the game ended.

The result on the table seemed pretty clear, but we ran up the victory points to check.  Although Jason scored about 1,000, I totted mine up to over 3,000 points - a thrashing in any terms.

A very one-sided game, in which all the luck ran for the Orcs and Goblins and virtually none for the Dwarves; but Jason is pretty much my favourite opponent for warhammer, so any game is a good game.

Besides, next time I'm sure he'll thrash me instead!

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Normandy Firefight: 54mm Germans

Earlier in the year I got hold of a copy of Warwick Kinrade's skirmish rules, but other than reading them and thinking 'oh, these look like they might work' theye'd idled on a shelf.

However, Gaz at the club posted that he was in the process of painting some old Aifix 1/32nd scale British infantry, and wondered what he could do with them.  Which encouraged me to get the rules back out and think about painting some figures.

Not however wanting to use the slightly uninspiring Airfix figures myself, I looked around for alternatives.  Initially I toyed with using Dragon or Tamiya infantry kits, but I did feel for wargaming they would prove a little delicate, unless stored with the greatest of care and handled more delicately than I could expect of players.  Obviously on price and weight, metal miniatures were out; so it was back to plastic.

Fortunately, the toy soldier collector market in 1/32-35th scales is almost as vibrant as that for 1/72nd (20mm) and several specialists in the scale exist, who were completely new to me.

A little searching on the net, and some eBay action later, secured me a half pack of German infantry from Toy Soldiers of San Diego (TSSD):

What I liked about these models was the depth and dynamism of the models compared to the flat posing of most older toy soldiers.  My favourite being this chap and his ready standing pose:

The figures were well sculpted and cast in some sort of '3D' block mould - akin to the type Caesar Miniatures uses for it's 20mm plastic figures.  Sure at £1.50 each they were kind of expensive, about three times the price of Airfix models; but the jump in quality is surely worth it.

Painting at this scale led me to go for a super detailed style of my 28mm models.  Using up to 5 layers of highlighting.  To begin with I painted just half of the models:

There is you can see a little bending in a couple of the weapons, but this is after correction of worse.  Admittedly in soft plastic taken hot out of the moulds, the parts can set in unpleasant bends.  Dipping in hot water, straightening and then dipping in cold water is an effective remedial; but it has limits.

I like the overall look of the models, and their appearance is suitable for a wide period of time.  Although they wear jackboots, the rest of their uniform implying winter allows for use right to the end of the War.  I imaging they are intended for Stalingrad, but they would equally suit the Gothic Line, the Ardennes or Berlin.

Returning to the submachine gunner again, you can see how crisp the models are here, and how much detail can be put in to them.

It's all layering, except for the MP40, which had a black was added to lower the shine.  I rejected washes in general, as pooling at this scale would be a real issue...

These, despite being yet more Germans for WW2 - a topic I seem to perennially find myself painting in all manner of scales - were a great change of pace and style.

Now to get them on a table!

Monday, November 05, 2012

Board Game Victories

I've become quite adept of late at winning one of my favourite games, 7 Wonders, but a couple of weeks ago I racked up a couple of victories at other games.  First up was Ghost Stories, about which I've written before and noted the near impossibility of winning.  So naturally on my second try of the game, we won!

To be fair, we had tough choices to do so, having to decide to kill off one of the players (sorry James!) to ensure we could concentrate on what after was agreed to be a very weak incarnation of the lord of the undead.  Had we not let James die we'd have missed our chance, but I guess that's what makes it a lot like a film, comic or book, rather than a simple game.

Time allowed for another game and the one chosen was 'Chaos Marauders'.

This is a reprint of an old card game from Games Workshop's most creative period.  It has precious little to do with chaos - other than one namesake card - however, and is all about assembling your Orcish horde, and it's allies of beastmen, skaven and Chaos chaps.

Do so successfully and you can assemble a mighty array, but at any stage the other players can steal from your battle line or ravage one that is incomplete.

Anyway, like many games of it's period, before GW went all dark and gothic, it's good silly, skull-free fun.  After a few reverses, I suddenly found myself with three complete battle lines, which ended the game.

Counting up the victory points I'd four times as many as anyone else and more than the other three players combined.  Heh, heh, heh.

Chaos Marauders is now produced by Fantasy Flight Games, and well worth looking for.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

First Victrix Spartans

Many readers will have assembled and painted some of these already by now, so I am not going to fully review the models.  Safe to say that they are in the Victrix style, with slightly more caricatured features and bold details than Perry or the former Immortal miniatures.  Personally I prefer these to the figures now made by Warlord Games:

Perhaps a little less dynamic, but undoubtedly attrective.  Painting wise it was mostly the usual, but I tried a wasy on the inside of the sheilds to speed up a fiddly area of the model, did it make a difference?  Not much really, but it felt easier...

The whole unit is 16 men, previously I've built units of 20-24 for my Spartans, but for Hail Caesar our default unit sizes have been 16's so this seems like the way to go.

It also made sense as a result to try basing them on 40mm square stands.  I like the results not least as it allowed me to stand back the front rank to reduce the overhang of the spears.

I think this should encourage me to finish the rest of the box.  With talk of a club campaign for this period I'm sure I can get plenty of use from these chaps.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

The Action at Sabugal: 3 April 1811

So finally, after much delay I write about the engagement at Sabugal - as refought between myself James, and Martin as the fiendish French.  First of all a wide shot of the battlefield and the initial deployments of the French of Reyniers Division:

Reynier/Martin's orders were to delay any attack by Wellington across the river Coa, which was known to be fordable to their front.  He held the high ground in some force, but knew he only needed to buy time.

The orders for James, controlling Beckwith and Drummond's brigades, were to attack the rear of the enemy line simultaneously with the assault be Picton/myself across the river.  However, as in the actual battle, the weather resulted in an ill coordinated and badly placed attack by the British; Beckwith's brigade arrived alone and out of position in some fields below the wooded hills.

In the early mists only the rifle company identified targets, of a dispersed battalion of Leger, and a small firefight ensued.  At this stage the French seemed to see the attack as a minor diversion and initially were satisfied that their skirmishers could deal with the problem.  But when Drummond turned up with two more battallions and two squadrons of cavalry, he quite reasonably felt his flank was under considerable threat, and began to move both his infantry regiments and artillery to the left.

Even with Drummonds arrival the British were heavily outnumbered, and despite the weather they could have easily thrown the Allies back by exerting their full force against them.

The British began to advance across their front, hoping to catch the french before they were ready, but the cavalry failed to catch the French square on the edga of the woods off guard, and skirmishers held the infantry in the centre.  The French were no less confused, but managed to bring forward their cavalry, even if their guns seemed mired atop the hill.

In the woods, Martin - true to form - issued orders to throw the British back, but blundered (with an 11 - due to the fog) instead.  The result of the blunder saw them dash forward rashly, and although making contact with the thin red line, it delivered a savage volley at point blank range in the fog; splintering man and tree alike.  The British issued the hussar and bayonet finished the French resolve.

Elsewhere the British cavalry rashly approched the French cavalry, who outnmbered them somewhat.  Coming up short the French were able to counter charge and use their full force against only the Kings German Legion, destroying it as a fighting force.

At about this stage Picton finally arrived with the 3rd Division main force:

The Allied plan to this stage had worked, for having seen no other attack develop for an hour Reynier had assumed now that the flank attack was the main thrust, and had begun to move his other brigade to the left.  Some revision would be needed to block the larger frontal assault.

Covered by the French cavalry the line infantry attacked the Portuguese troops and sent them packing. But the Cavalry failed to achieve similar results and were not able to finish off the British.

Picton, either through difficulty with the river or reticence, failed to show any urgency in his attack, and the French were able reform, including bringing up their guns to a new position covering the woods and the river.  Beckwith and Drummond were less and less capable of delivering more than feints to the enemy.

After some loitering however, and with the weather finally dry and clear, the British marched up the hill and began to isolate the defenders, laying fire into their right flank.

This was enough to allow them to close and try to deliver the coup de grace.  The French on their part tried to bring reserves from the left.  The largest engagemet of the battle featuring three Allied battalions against one began for control of the main ridge and the route to the soft underbelly of the French army.

Viewed from the British lines the final situation was clear.  Limited success in the belated attack over the river had not secured enough of a hold on the ridge for Picton's force to brush aside Reynier.  Seeing that Beckwith and Drummond were spent fighting forces, the troops of the Left were being rapidly redployed to the right.  Although the French were bruised they were not knocked out.

And this the refight replicated the results of the historical engagement.  Although tactically indecisive, the French had bought enough time for themselves to allow an orderly withdrawal of the rest of the army, thus earning them a strategic victory.

The special rules made this game (see the previous post for details), plus the fact that Martin and James didn't know which engagement they were fighting until after the battle concluded.  I took the passive role of Picton, to allow for minimum interference, and he tried to adhere to that rather too literally to give the British a realistic prospect of a victory.  Even against better odds than history presented the British struggled.

Overall a great refight.  And one that's rekindled my interest in Napoleonics.