Wednesday, 28 November 2012

The Masterplan

I thought it might be a good idea to try and quantify some of the wargaming ideas that have been germinating for several years but steadily going nowhere... I always knew going on the Project Management course would pay off!

 Category 1 [actually doing something about these!]
  • Samurai ... 6mm Baccus figures
  • Franco-Prussian/Risorgimento/Franco-Austrian... 6mm again with Baccus minis
  • Zulus/British.... and once again, Baccus
               ....been using Black Powder for all of these
  • SAGA...  28mm Gripping Beast figures
  • Musket and Tomahawk... 15mm Blue Moon/Peter Pig
  • Force on Force – Afghanistan... 15mm Peter Pig
  • Ottomans/Hungarians... 15mm Essex.  Part of a plan to build up Renaissance armies, initially using DBA or Maximillian but eventually [if we get round to it] expanding to something bigger....maybe Pike and Shotte?

Category 2 [kind of started but not really got very far]

  • WW2 in 28mm using Warlord miniatures.  Probably going to use Bolt Action rules for this but I also picked up a set of Normandy Firefight earlier this year which I still haven’t played.
  • WW2... assorted 6mm figures.  In theory my son and I are going to use Kampgruppe Normandy for these.
  • Aztec/Conquistador... I have some 20mm figures and acquired a load more on Ebay... one day I’ll get round to doing something with them!

Category  3 [not played for a while and could do with some attention...]

  • Spanish Civil War... 15mm with Peter Pig figures.  Still trying to find a good set of rules.  So far I’ve tried I Ain’t Been Shot Mum and Blitzkrieg Commander both of which I like but I’m still not sure I’ve found the right set.
  • AK47 with 15mm Peter Pig figures

  • Russian Civil War... 20mm figures...mainly HaT.  Played several games of Red Actions with these but haven’t given them an outing for a while
  • Back of Beyond Russian and Chinese armies ... Copplestone 28mm.  Used Contemptible Little Armies for these but looking for another ruleset.

  • WW2 Naval... coastal forces in 1:600...Action Stations rules
  • Modern [1980s NATO/Warpac] in 6mm... Cold War Commander
  • WW2 Air in 1:300 using Bag the Hun
  • WW1 Air... Wings of War
  • ACW Ironclads in 1:1200.  Not sure what make the models are as I acquired them on Ebay.  Peter Pig’s Hammering Iron are a great set of rules for this period.
  • DBM... I don’t really like DBM [although I really like DBA!] and have Italian Condotta and Swiss armies.  Really need to find a better set of rules.
There are also assorted boardgames etc that I haven't counted and I do have a nagging feeling that I've missed something!

 So... what does all this tell me???  I clearly have no attention span whatsoever and am far too tempted to dabble.  There are also lots of projects that get moved on to a playable stage but then don’t expand much more and don’t get played with often enough.  I need to try and remember this next time I see something shiny at a wargames show!!!!

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Black Truck Down....

A year or so ago my son convinced me to get a copy of Force on Force... apart from Warhammer/40k etc and a bit of dabbling it was the first time that he's shown a real interest in a specific period or set of rules.  My theory is that FoF is probably the closest tabletop game to an XBox session of Call of Duty and combined with his unhealthy obsession with old episodes of Ultimate Force was the driver behind this!

We've built up forces of US Marines and assorted Insurgents using Peter Pig's excellent AK47 range and acquired a load of Middle Eastern style buildings.  Combined with some B&Q sandstone coloured floor tiles it all looks very effective.

We've played a few games at home and at Guildford and last week Andrew and I tried out the 'Contracting Trouble' scenario.  I've played this through a few times now and it makes for a very difficult mission for the US player as they only have 6 turns to complete the mission... I'd like to say it's impossible but my son has proved me wrong on this one by this by defeating me several times [and as both sides!]

The scenario has a pair of contractors trapped in a town centre with their broken down vehicle [in our case a truck] as hordes of Insurgents close in.  The US player has to move in, rescue the contractors and get back off the table in one piece. 

Andrew took the US side and began moving through the town, using the buildings as cover.  A lone Insurgent armed with an RPG popped up and attempted to ambush the Americans but then lost his nerve and failed to fire in time.  A brief hail of gunfire later and the Marines stormed the building he was in and claimed first blood.  The Marines were split into 2 fireteams and the 2nd group ran into heavier opposition and became bogged down... their fire was effective at putting down the insurgent group opposite them but failed to actually cause any casualties. 

The USMC advance towards the contractors

Fireteam 2 remained stuck for several turns slugging it out with the enemy while team1 made steady but slow progress on the right, creeping towards the contractors.  Andrew's frustration was growing with each turn as the US failed to make much progress and the number of insurgent units grew every turn.  RPG fire from the buildings above the contractors kept the Marines back until a series of very effective rounds of fire knocked out most of the Insurgents and allowed Fireteam 1 to reach the contractors and move them into the cover of a nearby building.  Somehow this team had made it across the table unscathed but Fireteam 2 were taking quite a battering with casualties beginning to mount.  They also finally managed to suppress the opposition but at this point we'd reached the end of turn 6.  There weren't many Insurgents left [although presumably more were on their way] but the US troops were now cut off, injured and the situation finished looking pretty bleak. 

On a points basis the US actually won but only just... they had managed to reach the contractors and caused a lot of casualties to the enemy [although this wasn't a factor in calculating the points]... the dead and injured they'd suffered however gave a strong propaganda boost to the Insurgents so overall probably a draw.
The Fireteam comes under fire from an RPG team

As a set of rules FoF works well.  The mechanics are relatively simple with everything [more or less] succeeding on a roll of 4+.  The deciding factor is the dice that each unit uses... the US rolled a d8 while the Insurgents used a d6 which makes a major difference in quality.  The rules aren't the best laid out and I always find them very confusing but others seem to cope ok with this so perhaps its just me!  The reaction process by which units can interrupt  each other also has the potential to be confusing and could easily lead to disputes but providing you can reach a reasonable and sensible agreement with your opponent this shouldn't be too much of an obstacle.

I've been eyeing up the card scenery produced by Scalescenes as a possible source of buildings for an alternative setting for these rules using their industrial and dock buildings and I'll post an update if I ever manage to get round to this!

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Log Cabins and Postman B****y Pat!

A tale of great products and not so good customer service...

My Musket and Tomahawk games have been suffering from a lack of buildings for the settlers to hide in when the rampaging Indians/French/British come calling so I was very tempted by some log cabins I came across produced by 4Ground.    4Ground's website
Technically these are listed under their Europe at War range and I guess are designed for use in Russia and Eastern Europe.  I’m sure there are some architectural experts out there who will point out discrepancies in the roof design but I figured a shack is a shack and no one would really notice. 

At £20 for 3 pre-painted cabins these represent really good value: they come in a flat pack assembly style and the main problem I had putting them together was that several pieces fell out of the frame before I could work out which was part A and which was part B!  Luckily I had my son on hand who was  after a favour and within an hour he’d built all three and assembled the pack of fences I’d also bought.  The models look great and are shown here with some Blue Moon 18mm figures for comparison.  They also smell really nice!!!  There’s more than a hint of woodsmoke presumably thanks to the laser-cutting which certainly adds to the atmosphere when your Indians are trying to roast the settlers hiding inside!

Actually getting my hands on the cabins was a lot more complicated than building them though!  I’d ordered them in mid-October and duly received confirmation from 4Ground that they’d received my order and then that it had been despatched.  I was away for a week in Scotland and assumed they’d be waiting from me [or at the post office] when  I got back.  On my return there were some parcels to collect but sadly nothing from 4Ground. 

Here’s where the customer service part went wrong.  I’d discovered the T&Cs which let me know that if I’d spent £2 more I would have had it sent via courier but as I’d spent £28 I only qualified for normal Royal Mail post and a proof of posting certificate: not 4Grounds fault as it was clearly on their site although I was a bit gutted as it looked as though my parcel had gone astray and there would be little I could do.  As we were now approaching a month from placing the order I emailed 4Ground... nothing.  I called... they’d have a look and get back to me... then nothing.  I called again asking for some kind of response... nothing [and nothing for the last week].  At this point my wife, out in the back garden with the dog discovered a parcel lying in a puddle by the back gate... the b***y postman had obviously lobbed it over the fence rather than leave it with a  neighbour or taking it back.  The packaging pretty much disintegrated when I brought it in but luckily the contents were sealed well inside and were intact.

All in all I’ve been left with pretty mixed feelings... the cabins are really great... some of the nicest I’ve seen and are really affordable .  For the sake of a call or an email though 4Ground could have made me a much happier punter.  As for the Post Office, I’ve logged a complaint but don’t really expect to hear back.  Would I buy more... definitely... but I’ll try and make sure I’m around when they’re delivered!

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

The Raid on Ste. Lorraine

We played another game of Muskets and Tomahawks at the club last night.  In previous games we’ve both fielded a mix of regulars, irregulars of various quality and Indians but I was keen to see how the game played when a regular line army was faced with a more mobile but less drilled force.

As usual Anthony took on the role of the British while Martin and I played the French and Indians.  The British had 3 Line units supported by some Rangers, defending a small hamlet deep in the Canadian woods.  The Indian raiding party, backed up by some Canadians and Coureur du Bois were intent on slaughtering the civilians cowering in one of the log cabins.
The British line up in front of the Village...but where are the Indians??

The British were faced with a mass of Hidden movement markers which caused widespread confusion, especially amongst my Indians as I kept forgetting which were real and which were dummies!

At the start of the game only half the British troops were on the table and Martin’s Canadians tried to take advantage of this by pushing forward through the trees towards the village on the British right, while the Indians took a slightly less direct route, trying to find a way through the woods and over the river onto the flanks of the British troops.  The British responded by sending the Rangers  into the woods to drive off the Canadians and after an exchange of fire the Coureur du Bois recoiled back under a hail of rifle fire.

The remaining British troops now arrived with one unit moving into the village while the other got bogged down on the wrong side of the river trying to work out which Indian markers were real and which were bogus.

The Canadians advance on the rather battered Rangers
Over on the British right the Coureur du Bois pushed back and combining their fire with the ordinary Canadian Irregulars inflicted heavy casualties on the Rangers who were still trying to work out how to reload these new-fangled rifles.  The Canadians then charged home and after a brief and bloody fight forced the Rangers to flee.  Unfortunately for the British this left one of their officers sat on his own in the path of a horde of angry French-Canadians...after a brief flurry of tomahawks and knives it was all over.  They followed up and also finished off what was left of the Rangers and opened up the path to the village.

Meanwhile the Indians were slowly picking their way towards the village and tying up 2 of the 3 British Line units who couldn’t decide which way to head.  The Indians revealed themselves by firing into the flanks of one of the units, slowly whittling it down while other pesky Indians advanced through the cover of a wheat field, doubtless sharpening their tomahawks as they went.

The Indians reveal themselves with a surprisingly effect volley
The continuous fire from the remarkably accurate Indians polished off one of the regular units and at this point, as the evening was drawing on, Anthony conceded the game.  The Indians and Canadians had both managed to get within 4” of the village which the British had been trying to prevent and although we hadn’t actually managed to slaughter any civilians [who’d remained safely tucked away in a cabin] it was only a matter of time.

The game felt very different to previous games of Musket and Tomahawk that we’ve played.  In these the line troops had been very effective and were able to put down heavy fire with devastating results but this time the regulars were much less effective.  Anthony had to continually try to readjust the units to maintain his facing opposite the Indians whose faster movement through the woods really came into its own.  There was a palpable feeling of growing claustrophobia and the Ambush markers crept closer and closer to the enemy and a real frustration for the British at not having the mobility to counter this.  The Rangers may have been able to have countered this but had met a bloody demise by this point.

Another excellent outing for these rules which had proved really impressive so far!

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Knock, knock...who's there... Cthul...

Waaay back in time when I were a lad, Role Playing Games were the strange new thing, not even on the block but somewhere down the road on a different block altogether.  I first came across them some time in the late 70's  in an advert in a short-lived UK scifi magazine, Ad Astra. 

Having nagged my parents for some cash I duly sent away and received my first set of Dungeons and Dragons.  I have to confess at this point that I get very confused about which edition is which.  Mine looked like this...

My mate David and I then spent the best of our teenage years shut away in a fetid teenage boys bedroom exploring dungeons and caves.  We progressed to the heady heights of Advanced Dungeons and Dragons and more complex adventures.  The one big limitation was that we were the only people who were either aware of RPGs or showed any interest.  There's a certain art to running a 1 player campaign! 

Our university years introduced us to a whole new range of games and even other people who wanted to play them [and most scarily of all...girls!!] ... luckily we both went to the same uni [Strathclyde].  There followed several years of good, bad and downright bizarre gaming with a whole host of games... Space Opera, Bushido, Traveller, Chivalry and Sorcery, Call of Cthulhu and lots that I can't remember [alcohol may have been involved at this point!]

I'd also been going to the Glasgow and District Wargames Club for my fix of 'proper' wargaming... mainly WRG 6th and after uni I dropped out of the whole RPG thing apart from a brief flirtation again in the 90s.  My gaming life continued with more historical games and boardgames.

What has spawned all this rambling???

My son discovered my copies of D&D and GURPS lurking in the loft  and decided that this sounded like a good thing.  I tried to dissuade him but, no luck.  We played our way through a rather 'on the hoof' scenario or 2 with me largely winging it and trying to avoid too many rules pitfalls.  At this point I realised that I'd never really got to grips with 2nd edition.  A bit of hunting on Ebay produced a couple of other games that we've since tried...

First to arrive was Middle Earth Role Playing [MERP]... seemed like a good idea at the time but I'd forgotten who complicated it could be!   Has to be one of the most confusing rule books as well.  Generating a character took ages and neither of us could really face rolling up another one!

Next to arrive [and the point of this whole post... finally!!] was Call of Cthulhu.  Again I've no real idea what version of the rules I have but it looks like this...

I'd forgotten what a really enjoyable game this was.  Of all the games we played at Uni or back home as a teen, this was the one with real atmosphere and a great background.  At the time none of us had actually read any Lovecraft [which may have been a blessing!] but that didn't really matter.

So far we've planned a bit of the background setting and my son has created a central character who we can base the scenarios around.  As he's the only player it'll be yet another 1 player campaign with one main 'hero' and a host of supporting bit parts who may expand as the story goes on [or as the hero dies/gets maimed/goes mad etc].  The setting seems to have gripped him as well and we'll see how things develop.  I'll add some postings on the storyline as it all unfolds....

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Stabilize your rear deflectors... Watch for enemy fighters.

I succumbed to temptation [again!] and bought the new Fantasy Flight Games X Wing set.  I've been a long time fan of Wings of War and on the face of it this appears very similar.

The game is relatively pricey although the components are nice and give you a basic starting force of 2 TIE fighters and 1 X wing and offer the tempting promise of being able to blast Luke Skywalker out of the sky.  With additional ships available and the promise of forthcoming releases including the Millenium Falcon the game seemed worth a punt.  Amazon is definitely your friend here as it can be several pounds cheaper online.  I gather people [ which I mean people with more money than sense!] are also buying several starter sets as this is a more cost effective way to build up a larger force of core ships and components.

Having finally gotten round to playing it, it seems it's not really that much like WoW after all.  The game uses a rather chunky dial to plan moves and has some cardboard  templates rather than the little WoW cards that inevitably slip around the table and lead to swearing and arguments.  There is a simple but effective mechanism for handling the effects of complex manoeuvres [causing 'stress' which does generate an image of TIE pilots having some aromatherapy while tracking down Rebel Scum].  Ships are neatly distinguished by having different manoeuvre capabilities and individual pilots bring unique abilities... and of course there's always the simple pleasure of trying to shoot the R2 unit!  Like a number of other games at the moment [SAGA, Bolt Action etc] it uses some game specific dice which come with the starter set but can of course be bought separately.

Luke's X wing is neatly caught in the crossfire of 2 TIE fighters... of course he survives!!!
We played an introductory game involving the forces of law and order trying to crush the pesky rebel ship piloted by Mr Skywalker himself.  Andrew took the role of LS and Chris and I were plucky Imperial pilots.  Despite some frankly brilliant flying on the part of the Empire, Luke was able to weather the attack and eventually destroyed both TIE fighters.  All of us felt it was a nicely simple but effective system which gives a good flavour of the films and is ideal for a club night.  We didn't add anything more complex such as asteroids but will do next time.

Highly recommended!!

Dipping the toe....

Having read various blogs over the years I've been increasingly tempted to put something together and see how easy/difficult this blogging lark really is.  How knows?... this may turn out to be a one week wonder but hopefully will be somewhere I can set out some game reports and musings about projects that I'm dabbling with.

Most of my gaming takes place at Guildford Wargames Club... a fairly loose collective of gamers rather than a structured club with a really wide range of games going on amongst a core of FoG/DB-something.  Occasionally I'm given a damn good beating by my son at home but mostly I lose at Guildford.

My wargaming tastes...?  Eclectic just about covers it!  Current faves include the mid 19th Century shenanigans of the Franco-Prussian/Austro-Prussian/Franco-Austrian wars, etc. using Black Powder, modern Afghanistan with Force on Force and the French Indian Wars with current rules du jour... Musket and Tomahawk.  I've also just discovered the FFG X Wing game of which more later. 

There's a lot of others bubbling away in the lead vats in the loft and I guess this blog is an attempt to try and get these into some kind of order.

Anyway enough of the waffle... post no. 2 coming up!!