Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Assorted updates


At the beginning of the year I thought about having some kind of plan to stop me going off in random directions.  So far it’s been fairly on track... the 2 main projects were going to be based around In Her Majesty’s Name: one based around a Darkest Africa theme and the other looking at a post-apocalypse adaption.

Chain of Command and Donnybrook have come along in the meantime and steered me a little bit off course but I’ve not done too badly.  Of course Salute is coming up so who knows what might tempt me there.

The Darkest Africa project is coming along well... I’m working my way through the box of Foundry explorers I mysteriously found in the loft and have nearly finished off some North Star Cannibals.

I haven’t started on the Post Apocalypse setting yet but have just picked up a couple of packs of Copplestone Future Wars figures to form the basis of the survivors.  Annoyingly I’d seen a really nice piece of scenery down at my local 'Pets at Home'... a piece of aquarium scenery bizarrely shaped like a very 50’s style atom bomb [I’m sure the fish would love it!?]  Stupidly I hummed and hawwed about buying it and it’s no longer being stocked...bugger!  I’ve checked with various branches and online and can’t source one anywhere...If anyone comes across one please let me know.


I have succumbed to a Kickstarter project for the first time!  Across the Dead Earth is a new interesting looking post-apocalypse game from Mike and Rich Chappell.  I came across references to it in various other blogs and they’ve been running regular updates here...
The plans for figures look ideal for what I’d been planning and the rules look as though they unusually have a British setting... the illustration of a ruined Tescos finally clinched it and I’ve signed up, admittedly for one of the more modest options.  The release date is planned for August.

Dust tactics might be tempting [especially the Gorillas] but I’m reserving judgement till I’ve had a game.

I have been increasingly tempted by 7TV... the  kind of hard to define game from Crooked Dice.  It’s probably best summed up by British 60s style Spy/Sci-Fi series like The Avengers, Department S etc but can also be used for James Bond style adventures, crime thrillers etc. 

There are a few additional supplements around for Zombies [boo!] and Ray Harryhausen style Sinbad type adventures [yay!].   It uses the TV theme to structure the episodes  as a TV production and has a host of gadgets and abilities to confuse the opposition.

I’ve been eyeing this up for a while and have finally given in and ordered the rule book...more on this once I’ve had a chance to peruse it.
And on a completely random note I've just started an online course via the Future Learn project linked to Kings College London on 'Causes of War'.  Future  Learn offer a whole range of courses for free, linked to uni's around the country....I've recently learned a lot about Forensic Science, handy for when I need to dispose of the bodies!!  I'm not sure the Causes of War course will help my gaming at all but it sounds interesting.  Info on Future Learn is here...

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Chain of Command again..somewhere in Russia

There’s been a bit of a lull in blogging activity for the last couple of weeks... I told you getting a dog would get in the way of everything!!

 No game last week but this week I had another game of Chain of Command with Andrew at the club.  It was his first outing with the rules and I suspect he found them quite frustrating but that may have been more to do with his rubbish dice throwing rather than the rules themselves!

 We pitted a German platoon against Soviets with the Germans trying to break through to the enemy baseline.  Despite his rubbish dice Andrew actually did a good job as the Russians holding me off despite taking horrendous casualties... fairly accurate for Russia in 1941 I suspect! 
The usual CoC pattern of troops bogging down in cover and exchanging fire at close range happened again but there was a bit of movement from each sides armour and I suspect if we’d had time the German Pz38t would have eventually made the breakthrough and forced its way across the table.  As it was we ended with a draw with the Germans still only half way across the table and the few remaining Soviets falling back into the woods to try and survive and continue delaying the enemy advance.


 Next week I’m trying out Dust Tactics for the first time...
I’ve never really got to grips with ‘Weird WW2’ type games... my son and I once tried a really boring demo game of Secrets of the Third Reich at Cavalier during which we wandered off after half an hour of nothing happening [I don’t think anyone else noticed...certainly not the people who'd put on the game who were having a great time but not exactly facilitating a good participation game...grrr...].  The last issue of Wargames Illustrated had a free rules summary/advert and of course I walked straight into their trap! 
A friend at the club has some forces so we’ve arranged a game.   I’ not a fan of zombies but I think it was the Nazi Gorillas that sold the idea to me...everything's better with Monkeys!



Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Go wild in the country...

I managed to drag Legatus along to Guildford this week for a game... it must be around a year since we last managed this!

This time we’d planned a game of In Her Majesty’s Name as he has been painting the Servants of Ra set and these match nicely against my Scotland Yard Squad.
I haven’t played this for some time and all my previous games had been set in an East End type setting using some warehouses and townhouses I’d built using the printable buildings from Stoelzels Structures [link].  When I got the box out of the loft earlier in the week I realised that these were actually crap!!  Not the fault of the printed material I hasten toadd, they’re really nicely done, but solely down to a bit of wear and tear and mainly my very poor construction skills!  When I mentioned this to my son he tactfully commented   “Yeah.. I’d always thought they were rubbish but didn’t like to say!!”... Cheers son!
A bit of head scratching ensued before I came up with scenario B... a trip to the country for the boys in blue.  The scenario presumed that the evil Egyptian cultists were hiding out in a remote country inn, using it as their headquarters for some kind of nefarious plan, and a police raid was in about to be launched on the unsuspecting Servants of Ra.

IHMN games are usually based on a 3’x3’ table so nice and compact: a few woods and hedgerows around the edge and a barn, pigsty and the Inn made up the terrain.  The cultists were skulking around the Inn amongst an assortment of boxes and barrels when the police arrived at the table edge, whistles blowing and shouting “You’re nicked sunshine, etc!”.  

It's alright...we'll be perfectly safe behind these crates....

There were also an assortment of Victorian townsfolk, taking in the country air and a refreshing pint and seeming oblivious to the strange men in robes and hoods milling about.   They moved randomly throughout the game although a few of the Gentlemen seemed strangely drawn to the scantily clad assassin!

The police split into 2 groups with one group heading for the Inn and taking cover in the woods, while the Sergeant led a squad round the back of the barn.  The Cultists formed a firing line with their handful of armed figures [most of them only have clubs] behind some crates while their leader, Akhenaton headed off to tackle the Sergeants squad.  The Chief Inspector coordinated the police firing which quickly took down most of the minor Servants of Ra and all was looking promising for the police.  

Special Branch take up position in the woods

At this point the other squad ran into Legatus’ secret weapon... a giant sword and shotgun wielding Nubian, who quickly dispatched the Sergeant with a blast from the gun!  Luckily Dr Watson was on hand to run over and apply some bandages and smelling salts and he was back on his feet next turn.... no sign of Sherlock though....


The revived Sergeant led a charge at the Nubian which descended into a mass brawl with police Constables and Cultists being drawn into the fray.  This carried on for several turns with no one gaining the upper hand until Akhenaton armed with an assortment of magical dooh dahs waded in... he’s very much the heavyweight of the Cultists with a magical sword, armour and a range of mind-bending spells that make him very hard to deal with.  He was also joined by the scantily clad assassin Zairah who is also pretty fearsome, very fast and armed with poisoned daggers.  Between them they began slicing their way through the police ranks.

Excuse me you have a licence for that sword...

That'll be a 'no' then...

At this point one of the townsfolk... a mild mannered little old lady... threw off her disguise to reveal herself to be none other that Sherlock Holmes himself, and threw her/himself  into the melee!
The game ended with a properly cinematic finish with all the bit part characters having been dispatched [and sadly Dr Watson] and a final duel between the Akhenaton and Zairah versus Holmes and the Chief Inspector.  Unfortunately the only real way to defeat the cultist leader is to gang up on him and by this point I’d lost all my PCs so didn’t really have much hope, and sure enough both of my remaining figures fell to the Servants of Ra.  I had one remaining Special Branch officer who survived by running off into the woods!
All in all a great game... the magical powers of the Chief Cultist mean he’s really hard to take down with mobbing him with figures and I couldn’t get enough people in place at the right time to do it.  Holmes is also tough but could only hold out for so long against the attacks before succumbing.

I used a couple of rules that are contained in the Heroes, Villains and Fiends supplement that came out at the end of last year.  If you’re a fan of IHMN this is a useful addition to the rules.  As well as a few additional Talents and abilities, there are a load of suggested stats for animals etc as well a wide range of new factions.  These include groups from Europe, the Americas [broadening out the scope for more Wild West based games], and Africa: the latter has a lot of potential to include wild Cannibals and brave Explorers and Jungle Lords of course.
A further supplement is due out later this year dealing with the Far East and Pacific.

 Many thanks to Stephen for an excellent game, even if the forces of Law and Order were vanquished!

On a completely unrelated note, last year my painting schedule was severely interrupted by the acquisition of a dog, Trigger.  Well... we’ve gone and done it again!  Meet Lizzie...


Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Chain of Command: Barbarossa

Our latest Chain of Command game pitched an early German force against a Soviet platoon... I guess we're somewhere in 1941...

As Russ hadn't played before [but was ably assisted by Keith] we played out a straightforward Patrol scenario with a small village in the centre of the table and a scattering of trees and wheatfields covering the table.

As is normal for CoC each side comprised a platoon with some additional support.... the Germans had a PzKpfw 38t and a Sdkfz 221 [which never actually made it onto  the  table] and the Soviets had a T26, a Maxim and crew and an anti-tank team.

CoC uses a pre-game Patrol phase in which Jump Off points are moved across the table  until the contact each other and lock in place.  In our game this resulted on 2 opposing lines with both sides making a drive towards the village in the centre.

The Germans were able to deploy first in one of the buildings, quickly opposed by a Soviet squad.  A close range firefight ensued which was eventually won when the Soviet Maxim also deployed and added it's fire.  The Germans abandoned the house and pulled back but in turn the Soviet squad was forced back by fresh German squad that had appeared in nearby woods.

The game then settled down with a bit of a lull as the Germans consistently failed to roll suitable dice to allow them to order Leaders or units [but picked up loads of Chain of Command points!].  Both of us did, however bring on our tanks.... the T26 and the 38 may lack the power of late war amour but they have a certain charm!  They arrived at the table edge and had several rounds of long range gunfire, with the T26 ignoring the nearer infantry in favour of trying to win the tank duel [possibly a mistake but there was a bit of tanky prestige at stake by this point].  Both tanks managed to damage each others gunsights before a lucky shot from the T26 knocked out the German main gun [but left the tank otherwise undamaged]...I count that as a major victory!

The Soviets had deployed most of their squads by this point but the Germans still held the village.  A flurry of successful dice allowed Russ and Keith to bring on the remainder of the Germans and they were able to concentrate fire on the Soviets, badly damaging most squads and, crucially, forcing the Maxim to run away.

It was  looking pretty grim at this point when a few lucky shots from the handful of Soviet riflemen left suddenly inflicted heavy losses on the Germans and forced the Fascist Vipers to flee!  By this point both sides had been reduced to 3 Morale points each, meaning we had few command dice left and we decided that both patrols would report back to their respective HQs... informing them that they'd encountered at least a division but held them off with heavy losses!

Another successful outing for CoC... we got a few things wrong [activating tanks on a roll of 2 rather than 3, and failing to remember to check for casualties on Leaders] but otherwise we did ok.  We did find in this game, and in previous ones, that the game has a tendency to settle down into static lines if you aren't careful with little manoeuvre happening.  The presence of off-table Mortars or Artillery would possibly help force squads out of their positions... something to remember for the next game I think.