Saturday, 22 October 2016

The 'new' Miniature Wargames

This afternoon I found myself haunting the streets of Epsom, rattling a tin on behalf of a local dog charity.

Trigger practising his 'sad' face to get more money out of the public

We have 2 rescue dogs which came from Celia Cross Greyhound Trust, and occasionally I get roped into street collections to raise funds for them.  They tend to be an interesting experience and I often end up bumping into someone I this case somebody I worked with 15 years ago and it looks like a reunion lunch date with some other ex-colleagues may well be on the cards.

miniature-wargames-november-2016-issue-403(on sale 21/10/2016)

I popped into WH Smiths to pick up the latest issue of Miniature Wargames... no longer with Battlegames. I'm old enough to remember picking up issue #1 of MW although admittedly I was at school at the time: under various editorship it has been great/terrible/mediocre at times.

Image result for miniature wargames magazine number 1

 I haven't really kept up with all the ins and outs of recent events but it seems that Henry Hyde, most recently editor of Battlegames and then the combined title,  has been ousted/resigned and the editorship has fallen to John my head I like to think there was some kind of Game of Thrones style power struggle going on which was settled by a bloody editorial skirmish but I suspect it was all disappointingly mundane.

Already in various forums (I know it should be fora but that sounds weird) the usual comments of "I'm never buying another issue" etc have begun to appear.  The fact that the publishers have decided to add a 16 page Fantasy and Sci-Fi section in the middle has also sealed it's fate in some people's eyes,  despite the fact that this appears to be in addition to the normal page count.  What's more interesting is what this means for Tabletop Gaming magazine which comes from the same publisher.  I've liked TTG since it first appeared (although I thought the last issue was a bit flat) but it does seem to be too close a match with the 16 page supplement...will they both be able to survive??

So what's the first issue like?  There's definitely been some tinkering with the layout and at first glance it seems like there's still a bit of work to do before they settle on a new House Style.  Different articles use different fonts, some have 2 columns to a page while others have 3 etc.  None of this is a particular problem but it does make it look a little disjointed.  There are some columns which have survived the putsch such as Conrad Kinch's excellent 'Send Three and Fourpence' and (for me at least) the less interesting 'Wargamers Widow' terrain building regular... it's never held much interest for me but that's mainly because I know I'm rubbish at scratchbuilding stuff.  The contents (bearing in mind I haven't actually read them properly yet) are...

  • Editorial... a very brief hello from John Treadaway.
  • Forward etc as before
  • Wargaming My of the regular navel-gazing articles which can either be interesting or rather dull depending on the contributor.  I haven't read this one yet so can't say where it lies.
  • Send Three and Fourpence...I've always really enjoyed Conrad's articles and this looks particularly interesting, looking at Little Cold Wars: rules for the Cold War era inspired by Little Wars.
  • Dreadnought Battle fleet...WW1 large fleet actions
  • The Battle of Crete...a potted history of the WW2 encounter with some thoughts on gaming
  • Back to Back article by Jim Webster on, erm, back to back wargaming
  • Competition - prizes are books from Osprey and the 'new' Escape from Colditz  game.  My original set is still at my parents house in Glasgow!  I used to enjoy the competitions in the 'old' MWwBG which were quite challenging and had several questions and required a little bit of thought and research (at least on my part anyway).  The new style of competition is the more typical 1 question with the answer in the accompanying blurb so hardly much of a challenge.
  • Critical Hits.  This is new 16 page Sci-Fi/Fantasy supplement which they have put in the centre presumably so you can pull it out and burn it if you are offended by this subject.  I've never understood the antipathy that some gamers seem to have to certain genres contaminating their magazines.  The section includes reviews of figures and rules by John Treadaway (as before in 'old' MWwBG), an article on Infinity: Operation Red Veil, an interview with Joseph McCullough about Frostgrave (wasn't there something very similar in Tabletop Gaming?), an article about Panzerfauste (wasn't there something very similar in Tabletop Gaming?), and  review of Bushido...the skirmish game, not the old FGU roleplaying game.
  • Belli Minimi - A set of fast play Ancients rules from Harry Pearson
  • of books and rules
  • Painting Toy Tanks... a lengthy but interesting-looking article from John Treadaway about painting AFVs.  I always switched off whenever Hammers Slammers was mentioned in the old MW magazine and still have no interest but the techniques may be useful
  • Wargames I said I'm not particularly a fan but there is the odd interesting snippet in these articles,  This one looks at improving MDF this case the Rorke's Drift set from Warlord Games.
  • article about Wargames Assoc of Reading
  • And finally a Club Directory...I'm never sure how accurate of up to date these things are as they are dependent on clubs being organised and actually wanting to be listed
So not a huge difference from the last few issues which isn't really a great surprise and definitely some interesting stuff in there.  A few regulars have carried on contributing but I don't know whether that's because there were articles already 'in the can' or if they will continue and the general tone seems similar so far.  They have obviously been tinkering with layout and design but don't seem to have worked out what they want yet.  Certainly there's nothing for the naysayers to be worried about on first glance.  I would imagine things will begin to change over the next few issues as the new editor and the publishers begin to make the changes that they want and it'll be interesting to see what happens with the Critical Hits section and the future of Tabletop Gaming.

Monday, 17 October 2016

What is best in life?

Having 2 great big boxes full of Conan goodies arrive finally, that's what!

Way back in Feb 15 Monolith games' kickstarter for Conan was funded with an expected arrival date of October 15.  It was my first Kickstarter but even so it was pretty obvious that, because of the hugely successful campaign for funding and the never ending stream of Stretch goals, it would take a bit longer.  So, a year later it has finally arrived....and there's a lot of it.

Both boxes

The stretch goals box

...and the main game

I went with the Barbarian level pledge which was the 'standard' level.  Today a huge box containing the game arrived,  along with another large box just for the extras.   So far I've just peaked inside but what I've seen looks excellent.  More to follow when I get a chance to go through both boxes....

Thursday, 29 September 2016

In which Work gets in the way of gaming...

I put my heart and my soul into my work, and have lost my mind in the process.
Vincent Van Gogh

Another lull in blogging I'm afraid as urgent reports for work mean long days sat staring at the laptop which, in turn, means I'm less inclined to then sit down and do more stuff on the laptop later in the evening.  The plans and reports are all done now so hopefully there will be a bit of a break...of course there's always the danger that they'll expect me to actually do something with the plans I've written!

I'm off to Edinburgh for work in a couple of weeks which will also give me a chance to pop over to Glasgow to see family briefly...a nice perk of a long trip for a meeting.

The last couple of weeks have also seen the departure of my son to Uni in the wilds of Wales which has been hard and has meant a bit of readjusting at home.  Last week he was at the Societies Fair to join some clubs...I asked about the Uni wargames club and all he would say was that there was no mistaking who they were (but not in a good way!)...I don't think he'll be joining.  When I was at uni the Wargames club effectively ran the overarching Societies Committee which gave us our own office and storage in the Students Union and funded a few Cheese and Wine evenings through creative (and absolutely legal) use of the Clubs & Societies system ! 

Never, ever (and I can't stress this highly enough) ever, watch Toy Story 3 when your son has just left for uni...sob.....

Image result for toy story 3 andy so long partner

I have squeezed in a bit of painting, or at least undercoating, and have based and sprayed my next force for Congo.

I have also managed a couple of games however.  At Guildford I played Black Ops for the 2nd time, effectively re-running a variant of the scenario I'd played a little while ago ( link ).  This time the special forces were tasked with setting explosives on the at the oil plant and escaping.  They successfully managed this and wiped out the rebel forces and reinforcements before the 2nd wave of reinforcements managed to inflict serious casualties on the last turn of the game.  A Special Forces victory but I think serious questions would be asked in the debrief.  Again the rules worked well and the game flowed really well.

Last week saw the debut of Eric the Shed's fantastic Zulu collection and I'm sure a post will appear on his blog soon.  A great game and very bloody...

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Slaughter on the North West Frontier

Off to Guildford last night for a game of The Sword and the of those rulesets that everyone seems to have played but which have always passed me by.  We were using Mike and Anthony's very nice Armies in Plastic 54mm figures which has prompted me to get back to painting the ones I bought earlier this year.  Of course there are some outstanding Congo natives to paint... and some Aztecs to rebase.... and some ACW ships to paint...

The game pitted our brave boys in khaki against some doubtlessly unscrupulous Pathans as we tried to relieve a  small force holding out in a fort.  TSATF is card activated and thanks to the frequent appearance of the 'HALT' card, which ends the turn sequence, I spent quite a while holding behind a small wood drinking tea and watching Anthony's cavalry gallantly charging the Pathan Horse.  To be honest it was probably the safest place to be...over on the other flank Anthony's troops were mauled by the Pathans and eventually when I did advance I also took a hammering from Andrew's tribesmen who had been skulking in the rocks waiting for their chance to pounce.  The only troops that were happy and undisturbed were the ones in the fort.

It all looked quite rosy at this a couple of turns there were
bloody scraps of khaki in the dust and the survivors had run away...

The rules were fun and intuitive, although it helped that Mike and Anthony have played them quite a bit previously.  Definitely 'old school' skirmish style and very entertaining.

Incidentally Mike has set up a rather spiffy Forum for all things 54mm....

There's also a write up on Mike's blog...

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Colours 2016

I haven't been to Colours or a couple of  years so yesterday I headed off down a very wet M4 to Newbury. The show changed last year (I think) from a 2 day to a 1 day show...I'm not sure what affect this has had on the dynamics of the show but it seemed to be pretty busy when I arrived at lunchtime and was still going strong when I left at 3.

I hadn't gone with a shopping list in mind...I think my parting words to my wife were 'no, there's nothing I'm gong to buy'.  Fatal really...

So the eventual haul included...

The Starter set for the Tanks game from GF9 with some extra tanks (because you can never have enough...)
Some MDF bases
A copy of Michael Howard's 'The Franco-Prussian War'
Some basing stuff from Vallejo and some tufty bits of grass
A copy of Sharp Practice 2 + cards
The last issue of Wargames Illustrated as well as the October issue nothing at all really.... honest dear...

The show was good fun... some excellent looking games on display as always.  Here is a selection of photos.  As usual I haven't always noted what they were or who they were by so apologies to people who put on excellent games and have gone uncredited...

WW2 Russo-Finnish game by Loughton Strike Force...loved the iced-in ship.

Frostgrave (Maidstone & District)

Dux Bellorum?

Excellent 54mm modern Africa game

Really interesting looking Siege of Portsmouth game by Solent Wargames 2mm

Invasion of Fishguard - Tring Wargames Club

Boshin Wars game  - Solent Wargames Club.  Using Sharp Practice

Kut...Adrian Shepherd.  Looked fantastic and was using 'Setting the East Ablaze' rules

Kut again

...and can tell I liked this one!

Naval Wargames Society's excellent RCW Dvina River game

Achtung Gringo by Crush the Kaiser games
Crawley Wargames Club - Operation Overlord strategic level game...looked great.

Something Warhammery by the South London Warlords...looked very impressive but I
always find these games are so full of figures I can't make sense of what's going on

There were lots more games which I failed to snap including an interesting looking Franco-Prussian War game, a modern Black Ops game and many more.  It was nice to see some participation games of Heroes of Normandie going on which I think is an excellent game.  A great day out marred only by annoying traffic jams on the M25 (just for a change) on the way back.

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Congo - first game and first thoughts...

So last night I managed to play a first game of Congo, kindly hosted by Eric the Shed.  We'd planned a 4-handed game which I was going to umpire as most of the others didn't have a copy of the rules.  Sadly one of our players (and the only other one who had read the rules), Legatus, had a bit of a problem when his car packed in so we were down to 3. 

We were going to play one of the scenarios included with the rules, 'The Treasure of Makoko Mbe' which is suitable for more than 2 players, so with a bit of tweaking we had columns from a European force , an African Kingdom group and a Forest Tribe column all heading for the fabled lost treasure in the centre of the table.  The players knew that the treasure was guarded by Fanatical Warriors and that there were areas of Dangerous Terrain around it.  The terrain contained counters which would indicate which corner of the table the players could exit from which incentivised entering the deadly jungle..

It proved to be a very bloody affair, not surprisingly, with the 2 African armies scrapping away with each other while the Europeans sat back and let them weaken each other before moving up and blazing away with their rifles...and if that doesn't sum up European Imperialism I don't know what else could!

An angry gorilla...

Without going into all the scenario details, Rolf's Scouts managed to flush out a very angry gorilla which proved very tricky to deal with, despatching the Scouts before eventually falling to a group of Warriors who at least had the satisfaction of carting it off as loot.  Mark's Forest Tribe Witchdoctor tried casting a spell very early on which immediately went badly wrong and he disappeared in a cloud of evil spirits.  The Europeans advanced at a very steady, civilised pace, pausing for tea and popping off the odd round at a Native.  Rolf had actually done the hard part and killed the defenders of the treasure but was largely wiped out afterwards but did rack up a decent amount of Victory Points in the process.  In the end the Europeans claimed the treasure by default as everyone else was dead or had run off.

We got a few things wrong... I forgot that muskets need to be reloaded and it took me a while to work out exactly which Totem card did what.  I also couldn't find the rules on the Red coloured Actions and what they meant...if the symbol is Red there are some restrictions on what it can be used for.  I also made some errors in the combat results which led to some extra casualties early in the game but at least this was spread equally.  The game was also only meant to last for 7 turns but we ignored this as it was our first outing with the rules.  I'm not sure we'd have got very far if we'd kept strictly to time.

The menagerie is growing...

I think everyone enjoyed the rules...there are some things to think about such as table size and characters vulnerability.  Shooting also doesn't appear to cause any Stress to groups, unlike melee which seemed a little odd.  On the whole though an excellent game and one which I suspect will get quite a few outings...if nothing else we need to rearrange a game when Legatus is mobile again!

No photos I'm afraid as I was too busy trying to cope with umpiring and making sense of the rules (not the rules fault but entirely down to my brain!) but there are some pics and a write up on Eric the Shed's excellent blog...  Shed Wars.  Now to paint up my newly arrived African Kingdoms column from Northstar Miniatures...

Friday, 26 August 2016

Glittering Prizes....

Over in Big Lee's blog, he has recently passed the incredible of 2 000 000 views!  It's a huge number and I'm certainly a long way from reaching those dizzy heights.

To celebrate he is holding a very generous give away of £100 in vouchers.  All the details are here...

Big Lee's Blog