Friday 17 November 2023

Strength & Honour

This week's game was a catch up with my friend Andrew and a chance to let him try Strength and Honour with my 10mm paper Romans and Germans.

It's been a while since I'd played these but I remembered that I need to cut down the forces on the table... it's always tempting to get everything out but it slowed us down too much last time.  For this game the Romans had 2 Legions and 2 Auxilia and a single unit of cavalry.  The Germans had 6 warbands, some of which were upgraded to Elite or Stubborn which I hoped would help.

There wasn't a lot of subtlety to this game.  The Germans charged forward with the right flank leading the way and pulling ahead of the other warbands.  The Romans decided to sit tight and let the warbands come to them, especially as one of the legions had the advantage of a hill to sit on.  The warbands have the advantage of gaining a bonus for charging and for rear support, which was largely cancelled by the Romans being uphill and there followed a tight tussle with legions and warbands being pushed back and forth... gradually the Setback cards were beginning to mount on the German side.  The Romans were proving a bit too robust and able to hold off the charges. 

Once enough cards have been acquired (without knowing the values on them) each player can call "Homunculus Est" and ask for the total to be counted.  If it has reached the army breakpoint then the game is over or the army may become fatigued (calling it at the wrong time can be a bad thing for the challenging player though).  Andrew was becoming very tempted to call, but decided to go for one more round of combat.  A wise move as my Elite Bodyguard was charged in the flank by the Roman cavalry  and then driven back by the stalwart legion on the hill, and more seriously, my Commander was badly injured and had to leave the field resulting in a Disaster card which added even more points to my tally.  Sure enough the Germans decided that they'd had enough, leaving the Romans a little battered but very definitely in command of the field.

S&H is quite abstracted... units don't become weakened by combat but become disordered or rout and the effect of combat is felt at an army level rather than by individual units.  For me this feels right when each unit is a massive warband or a Legion but I think Andrew found it a little too abstracted. 

I have my recent order of cavalry to build my Parthian/Sassanid army in 2mm which should give quite a different experience I think.

Sunday 12 November 2023

Warfare 2023

Off to Warfare yesterday afternoon.  Since it relocated to Farnborough, it's a much easier drive to get there despite the challenges of roadworks.

The show is spread over 2 days and hosts a lot of competition games as well as a decent spread of traders and demo/participation games.  I didn't arrive till the afternoon and it didn't feel overly busy but that might be a reflection of the space and timing.

I picked up an order of more 2mm figures from Warbases and have succumbed to the power of a freebie and picked up some of the Warlord Games 'Epic' ECW range.  I got my free on in a copy of WI and some friends have kindly given me their sprues that they weren't going to use, so I've been caught, hook, line and sinker by the Warlord Games marketing strategy!

The games on display ranged from ok (it was interesting to see a few that opted for a much simpler terrain set up than the usual show standard) to some really excellent games.. a special mention for the Guildford Wargames Club's 1940 game with some very accurate local terrain (admittedly I'm a bit biased as they're my old club and it was nice to see some of the guys from the club)

Some photos... I didn't take a huge amount and apologies to the clubs where I haven't remembered who was who!

Excellent Isandlwana game by "Combined Oppos"

Dornier Down by Shepway Wargamers

Hex-Wing... ECW witches on broomsticks.  Sorry, I don't know who out this on but it seemed popular

The excellent Guildford 1940 game... really nice terrain

Something Vietnamy

Palestine 1938 by Deal Wargames society (I think)

Delhi 1803 by Crawley Wargames Club

Ulundi by The Three Musketeers

Sunday 5 November 2023

Battlesuit-solo play

Off on a very short trip back home, up and down to Glasgow to visit family

Since I was mostly on my own I decided to try out my recent purchase of the old Metagame Battlesuit which I'd picked up at Colours

It's an interesting skirmish game... not too complex but with some interesting reaction fire rules.  Since it was a first playthrough I made a few mistakes (misreading the CRT in a couple of places) but I can see the game has some good potential.  Definitely worth a replay, perhaps using my 15mm Laserburn figures which would look the part and wouldn't be out of scale on the map

I also had a chance to look through my latest Metagame nostalgia-acquisition, Olympica.  This isn't one I'd come across before but has some interesting mechanics with one side being able to use tunnels for shelter/movement and being able to 'compel' the enemy and reposition them.  I find the compact format and design of these games makes for some interesting design features... they don't always work but the success rate is pretty good.

Saturday 28 October 2023

More 2mm Romans

 I've completed my 2mm Roman army.  I say completed... I still need to add some skirmishers and it'll be tempting to add more infantry but there are enough here for a decent force in Strength & Honour:  3 Legions, 2 Auxilia and 2 Cavalry.

The figures look really effective en masse and have been really nice to paint.  Next, on to the Parthians...

Friday 20 October 2023

First attempts at 2mm

I've been increasingly tempted to have a go at painting up some 2mm armies... not sure why but there's something impressive about seeing an army that looks like an army.  I blame seeing Mark Backhouse's demo games for Strength and Honour.

Last month I picked up an order from Warbases when I was at Colours.  These are from the excellent Antonine Miniatures range.  I'd also looked at Irregular Miniatures... their figures are based on smaller stands whereas the AM figures come in blocks.  I'll probably get some Irregular at some point to see how they compare.

Since I already had some 10mm paper Romans and Celts, I decided to go for a different theatre and have headed out East.  My plan is to build Roman and Sassanid/Parthian armies... can you tell I've been reading the excellent Harry Sidebottom books!!

Anyway, here are my first couple of efforts...



I've enjoyed painting these and they look impressive en masse.  A handy tip on the 2mm wargames FB group (and from Mr Backhouse) was to invest in some paint pens and these have been really useful, especially on the infantry.  I have some Auxilia to paint next and then it's on to the Eastern Horsies

Saturday 7 October 2023

Star Trek Away Missions

 A chance to try out a new game last week... Star Trek Away Missions.  

This pits small squads against each other inside a spaceship after the Battle of Wolf 359 (I have to confess I had no idea what this was!).  There are various expansions but we had Federation vs Borg.  Each side has different objectives which felt very Trek... the Borg were attempting to take control of various systems in the ship, and of course assimilating enemy crew members.  The Federation were (I think) trying to repair various systems.  It felt like it would be possible for both sides to score points without necessarily coming into lots of conflict.

Visually it reminded me a lot of games like Imperial Assault or the Wizards of the Coast collectible Star Wars game.  There were 2 different decks of cards to keep track of, some of which allowed interrupt actions and some giving upgrades and weapons.  These also contained scoring opportunities.  It was a bit tricky keeping track of all of these but that was more to do with my simple brain than the game itself.

Good fun and a close result.  My only reservation is the limited range of scenario settings.  Although the victory conditions and the configuration of the map vary, the games are all set on the same ship which felt a little limiting and maybe a missed opportunity (unless, of course, there are future expansions on the way for this)

Thursday 21 September 2023

Black Seas: first try out

 I had a long overdue game with my friend Andrew last week and we decided to dig out my Napoleonic ships.  A while ago... actually nearly 4 years ago!!  I painted and rigged some of the Warlord Games ships that they produced for Black Seas.  These were mainly the freebie Frigates and Brigs that came with Wargames Illustrated but I'd added a few 3rd rate ships to bolster my fleet

Their last outing was about 3 years ago (I'm always amazed how time flies by... I'd assumed it was much more recent) when we tried out Post Captain.  These are a very detailed set of rules from ODGW who produce General Quarters.  I liked the rules but they are very detailed and not to everyone's taste.  A while ago I managed to pick up a very cheap starter set of Black Seas but hadn't had a chance to try them out.  So, it was time to hoist the sails, splice the mainbrace and swab a deck or 2.

I think naval rules are difficult to get right... either you go for a very detailed, granular approach like Post Captain, or a simplified but playable approach (and risk oversimplifying things and losing the flavour of the period).  A simpler approach is very much what Black Seas does.  It's very like the WW2 game Cruel Seas with ships making 1, 2 or 3 moves depending on their speed with simple turning and tacking rules.  Speed  is dependent on your angle to the wind and is indicated by a wake marker that sits under the model in a simple but effective way.

We went for an easy starter game with a Frigate and a Brig each and didn't add in the range of optional rules which are included... apart from fire, because setting a ship on fire is always fun!

In the first couple of turns I was able to concentrate both my ships fire on Andrew's unlucky Brig which took a battering and quickly struck its colours.  We made a mistake about when to test for morale here so it surrendered more quickly than it should have but we kept this consistent for the rest of the game so it didn't make a huge difference.

Damage in Black.Seas is handled very simply... heavy and light guns cause a fixed amount of damage while carronades cause a bit more but only at shorter ranges.  There are rules for different types of shot etc.  There's always the chance of a critical as well.  Despite losing his Brig, Andrew had been slowly causing hits on my Frigate, managing to cross my T at one point and inflicting extra raking damage.  In exchange I'd managed to cause a fire on his ship but annoyingly he quickly doused this.

Perfect raking fire

A lucky shot starts a fire on the French ship

Both of us were becoming increasingly damaged and some poor steering on my part led to a collision, and both ships struck their colours leaving my Brig to claim the honours.


A good game and I was very impressed with the rules... I think the strike a good balance between detail and playability