Wednesday, 30 October 2019

Galactic Heroes #2 - Escape from Mos Eisley

So you wait ages for a game of Galactic Heroes and then 2 come along at once!  Since all the figures were still handy after my 1st game last week I re-ran the same scenario again, but this time as a 4 player game (rather than 2) and with a lot of changes to the scenery.   The game was very kindly hosted by Eric the Shed who supplied the fabulous Mos Eisley buildings and scenics... the buildings are actually from his Sudan collection but really look the part, especially when he added in some decorative-only gun turrets and vehicles.

Thanks to a post on the excellent Jim's Wargames Workbench blog, I was also able to use some rather nice Star Wars themed playing cards for the game.  The only confusion came when the rules call for bonuses for One-Eyed Jacks...R2D2 doesn't have eyes!

As before, the scenario ( see my previous post for more info) involves our heroes crossing a desert town to get to a ship with a trusty droid containing half of the vital Death Star plans while also interrogating some random Jawas who have the other half of the plans 

Eric the Shed's fantastic terrain

Since there were 4 players I'd changed the characters round a bit.  We now have a group led by Luke and Princess Leia and a 2nd group of heroes with Han Solo and Chewbacca.  As before the Imperials have Darth Vader and a bunch of stormtroopers but their 2nd squad consisted of some bounty hunters led by Boba Fett and the robot IG-88.

That's a Reek in the background which luckily didn't break loose
(although that was one of the random events)

The city was a suitably complicated maze of alleys and streets and the rebels quickly made their way into town, questioning Jawas as they went.  The Bounty Hunters were doing the same although I get the impression that their techniques were a bit more brutal!  While the stormtroopers cautiously made their way towards the rebels, Darth Vader strode briskly through the streets quickly cutting down 2 of the Rebels and then taking on Chewbacca in a fight.  This was pretty one sided and Chewie was quickly turned into a furry rug...

A running gunfight broke out in the centre of town between Han and the stormtroopers but the Rebels had now secured the 2nd half of the data they required and now needed to get across town to the waiting ship.

Han takes on the Stormtroopers

...while Luke and Leia head for the ship with the droid

Han managed to blast his way past the stormtroopers and Bounty Hunters and made it to the ship (we decided he really ought to be the pilot). The only chance we had of stopping Darth Vader from carving up the rest of the rebels was for Luke to hold him off so, in true Episode 6 style, they faced off with lightsabers.  Luke managed to wound his father (presumably cutting his hand off... DV seems very careless with hands...) and left him in the dust, rushing back to the waiting ship.

Boba Fett had been skulking by the ship but was gunned down in a blaze of surprisingly accurate Blaster fire, leaving IG-88 as the last hope for the Imperials.  Some of the Rebels had boarded the ship but the robot then tried to board too and a point-blank fight took place in the doorway, preventing take off.  He was eventually pushed back, allowing the remaining rebels to board and the ship to blast off from Mos Eisley, with Darth Vader shaking his (remaining) fist in fury, and IG-88 dangling from the undercarriage!

I think with rules like Galactic Heroes/Fistful of Lead, you need to make sure the traits each figure gets are thought out carefully and reflect the setting, otherwise it runs the risk of being a bit generic. The rulebook suggestions (and especially the ones in the GH Codex Galactica supplement help get the traits and design right.

The other really important factor in a setting like Star Wars (or in the Sharpe FFOL games we've played) is that there needs to be a degree of role-playing: everyone plays the characters to suit the story...Luke needs to be heroic, Darth Vader needs to be ruthless etc. Another really fun game with a nail-biting last minute victory for the Rebels... just how it ought to be!

Thursday, 24 October 2019

Galactic Heroes: Skirmish on Tatooine

I've played quite a few games of Fistful of Lead although never actually the original Cowboy version...most of my games have been using the Horse and Musket variant for games featuring Sharpe or set in colonial Afghanistan.  It's a great system which is easily adaptable to just about any setting and Wiley Games have produced several supplements including Horror and Post-Apocalypse settings as well as a generic rulebook.  The version which caught my eye was Galactic Heroes which covers everything from Flash Gordon to  Star Trek and, of course, Star Wars...

So last night I dusted off my son's old collection of the Collectible Star Wars Miniatures which were all the rage a few years ago and set up a game for my friend Andrew and I to try out.  The rules are really easy to pick up... proof of this was apparent early on when I realised I'd forgotten to bring a spare QRS for Andrew but we found within a turn or 2 he had a really good grasp of the mechanics.  The game uses a deck of cards to activate characters (usually around 5 or 6 figures per player) with certain cards giving an extra bonus such as  a +1 to shooting or combat, allowing a re-roll  or removing wounds, shock etc.  Each figure has a special trait, usually positive although we each had a figure with a penalty, and the squads are led by a Hero or Villain who has extra traits and sometimes extra actions.

Mos Eisley... a random desert town...

So on to tonight's main feature...  We used one of the scenarios from the book: our heroes, led by Luke Skywalker and Chewbacca have to get a droid containing vital plans across a hive of scum and villainy to a waiting Speeder (I didn't have a large enough space ship).  Unfortunately the droid only has half the vital plans...the rest are in the possession of a Jawa who is hanging around the town. Unfortunately there are several Jawas in town and they all look very similar so some running around questioning them has to take place before our Heroes can leave.

Of course our Heroes don't get it all their own way.  The Imperials have learned about their plans and sent some Stormtroopers to intercept them.   Darth Vader has decided not to leave things to chance and decided to take charge of the operation himself.  Both squads have a Hero/Villain, a 'Specialist' (not quite as good as a Hero) and a couple of Regular figures. A 5th figure on each side has been replaced with a group of 3 Grunts... think Redshirts who are likely to die quickly but at least there are 3 of them.

There were also a selection of random events that may or may not happen.  We did get a 'Disturbance in the Force' result which meant Luke and Vader couldn't use their Force powers for a turn but sadly my rampaging Bantha didn't get to put in an appearance this time,

The waiting Speeder, parked next to a convenient Cantina...

A perfectly innocent Jawa...

Lord Vader gives a pre-match team talk to the Grunts...

The Grunts decide that climbing up onto the gantry is a great tactic... funnily enough they get shot almost immediately, but not before killing Greedo (he didn't get to fire first this time...) 
who had been looking after the important Droid.  Andrew's dice rolling for wounds was quite spectacular and generally resulted in people being immediately Out of Action (ie dead) rather than Wounded or Shocked...

The Rebel Scum huddle behind a building...their blasters weren't proving very effective at hitting the Stormtroopers who had sensibly taken cover behind a wall...

Chewbacca was hit by a blaster bolt and wounded and spent several turns trying to recover
 before Luke ran over and used some of his Jedi mind tricks and healed him

The Stormtroopers are gradually whittled down... Lord Vader cunningly calls for reinforcements and a fresh trio of Grunts arrive...

...but they don't last long.

One of the few remaining Stormtroopers takes refuge in the Cantina and decides that a quiet life farming on Tatooine is definitely preferable  to fighting the Rebellion...and removes his point of Shock by the liberal use of alcohol...

As you'd expect from a game like this, the end result was always going to come down to a fight between Luke and Darth.  Before young Skywalker could take on his dad Chewie decided to get involved.  Not only did Chewbacca manage to wound Darth but I managed to roll a 1 in combat which meant I was disarmed...Chewie's axe had smashed Lord Vader's lightsaber!  As Vader was lying on the ground wounded I'd hoped Andrew would see the opportunity for Luke to reason with his father and turn him back to the Light Side of the Force but no, he ran up and ruthlessly killed his father in a flurry of Sword blows!

A definite victory for the Rebel Scum but I'm taking comfort that in Luke's merciless killing of his father he has taken a step towards the Dark Side...

Great fun and a properly cinematic game.  The rules are well worth looking out for.  They can be bought direct from Wiley Games and in the UK Oshiro Model Terrain stock them.

Tuesday, 22 October 2019

Black F@!#ing Seas!!...or why sailors swear.

It's a well known fact that throughout the ages sailors have been particularly good at swearing and now I know the reason why...rigging!

To be fair, the sailor I knew best was my father who was that classic stereotype... a Scottish ship's engineer.  I always hope that at some point while he was cruising up and down the coast of South America and the Caribbean, he got to tell the Captain that " the engines cannae take it!".  My dad never swore (maybe the odd 'flaming' or 'bloody' in a very heated moment) so maybe it's not all sailors that are especially fruity with their vocabulary but having spent some time rigging the Warlord Games Frigate and Brigs that came free with a recent Wargames Illustrated I've certainly developed a nautical turn of phrase.

I guess you don't have to add the rigging but it seems a shame not to add this as it's such as key feature of sailing ships.  Warlord Games helpfully have an online guide to rigging a frigate which runs to 7 steps and is actually pretty straightforward as long as you work through it methodically. You definitely need some tweezers and superglue to dab onto the knots or around the thread to secure it in place and a lot of patience.

This was a task that was definitely out of my comfort zone...I've never rigged up a model ship before and I'm not known for my patience with fiddly jobs like this.  I've also got a bit of a mental block when it comes to knots (one of many reasons why I was never in the Scouts)  My main difficulty (apart from getting glue in the wrong place or all over your fingers, or cutting the thread too short, or tying the thread in completely the wrong place!) is keeping the thread taut as it runs from mast to mast.  As you tighten one line it can pull the mast, slackening off another thread, and no one wants a saggy line (or is that a sheet?).  My efforts aren't perfect by any means, and there are a few lines in places where they probably shouldn't be but I was pleasantly surprised by the end result

The Frigate:

And the Brigs:

The models have reefed sails but I've seen photos of people playing games with these and it doesn't look right... I know ships tended to reduce sails in battle but i wanted the full dramatic effect. The starter set comes complete with sails, but as these were the freebies from WI I had to download a set of sails from the WI website.  I've read online about people struggling to get the 2 sides to align so I decided not to try and print it double sided but to cut the 2 sides out and stick them together (my experience with the Paper Soldiers armies came in handy!).  This also gave the advantage of making the sails a little thicker and more robust.

I applied these with PVA which seems to hold them in place pretty securely

Spot the saggy rigging!

I think the models would definitely need basing as the chances of the rigging or sails being damaged even when handled carefully are pretty high.  Black Seas uses a wake marker (same system as Cruel Seas which seems a little odd for an Age of Sail game) so some thought would need to be given to how this works with a base.  Some people also seem to be opting for a clear perspex base which might be a better idea,

Despite all my moaning and swearing over the last few days I'm pleased with how these turned out.  The rigging and sails definitely add a lot to the model and it's very satisfying once it's all done.  

Thursday, 17 October 2019

Painting update: Tanks and boats and infantry ...

It's been a very busy few weeks at work which is my excuse for the lack of blog posts over the last 2 or 3 weeks... lots of weekend and evening meetings and pretty long days.  Despite this I've managed a few games and bit of painting.

I played a game of 'Tanks' a couple of weeks ago.  This is a fairly light tanky skirmish game which I'd actually bought a couple of years ago in a moment of weakness after playing in a demo game at a show somewhere.  I don't think I've actually taken it out of the box and had been contemplating sticking it on eBay but my friend Anthony also has a set and tempted me to give it a go.  Tanks has a WW2 version (which I have) and a modern game which is the one we played.  I say modern but 1980 is almost 4 years ago as my son likes to remind me!!

Image result for tanks gale force 9

The game was good fun...not hugely deep but ideal for squeezing 2 or 3 games in an evening.   There are lots of upgrades and bonuses which can be applied to the tanks to give a bit more flavour.  in our first game we found that, with 1 tank per side, there is very little movement.... the tanks tend to take up a good position and sit there trading shots until one is destroyed.  I was gradually losing this attritional game so decided to recklessly charge across the table sacrificing cover for speed with the end result that I still died but also blew up the enemy tank with my last shot. 

Our second game should have been a bit more tactical with 2 Soviet tanks against 1 beefed up Abrams.  In the event the US tank was immobilised by a lucky shot and failed to move for several turns leaving it an easy target for the Russians.  It would have been good to have seen a bit more movement but the game has some promise as a lightweight bit of fun and it would be interesting to see how it compares with 'What a Tanker' from Too Fat Lardies (yet another game I own but haven't played!)

I've also managed to keep up my painting mojo and have completed a box of British AWI infantry

I used GW contrast paints again for the red coats on a white undercoat.   I find a white base very un-nerving as I worry about it showing through but actually it worked ok and made the red stand out quite brightly.

I've been in 2 minds about the new Black Seas Napoleonic naval game from Warlord but was tempted enough to pick up some of the freebie ships on the most recent issue of Wargames Illustrated.  I bought a couple of issues so I have a Frigate and 2 Brigs.  They are very nice models and pretty easy to assemble.  I think there are definitely some right ways and some wrong ways to assemble and paint these.  It definitely makes sens to build and paint the hulls before attaching the masts.  I painted the masts on the sprue which was a first for me but it seemed to make sense.

I think I need to give more thought about the order I paint the detail as well...trying to pick out the guns  while not spoiling the neat lines on the side of the hull or the deck colour was quite tricky and I might need to do these in a different order

The hulls assembled and undercoated

A generic Frigate

...and the Brigs
In the starter set these models come with sails and thread for rigging as well as some printed ratlines. As these are freebies the sails can be downloaded from the WI website.  I'm still in 2 minds about whether to add these or not but  I'm going to attempt some rigging...wish me luck!!!