Sunday, 30 August 2020


I've been eyeing up Gaslands...the Car Wars style game that came out a couple of years ago from Osprey.  I loved Car Wars when it first came out and still have my Ziploc bag of the 1st edition that I bought from Games Gallery in Glasgow in the very early 80s.

Car Wars Chronology - Part 1 the 1980's | BoardGameGeek

Gaslands initially came out as one of the Osprey 'blue book' rules but was fairly quickly expanded and reissued as 'Gaslands Refuelled'.  As far as I can see the rules are largely the same in both versions but there is are a lot of extra background bits in Refuelled... factions, campaign rules etc.

One of the pleasures of Gaslands is that it's cheap (you can take the boy out of Scotland...).  Although you could use any scale cars, most people use Matchbox or Hot Wheels cars which can be picked up for a song in toy shops or supermarkets  or even more cheaply on eBay or at car boots.

The other real pleasure is that you then get to distress and remodel the cars to create Mad Max style vehicles.

There seems to be a whole industry out there of people 3D printing and selling guns, armour, spiky bits etc to weaponise your cars with.   Northstar Miniatures produce a really handy set of bits to add to cars.  I bought one of these along with some plastic templates and a dice set to help with the game.  There are free card templates in the rulebook and online but my nice shiny red ones look much cooler! Like a lot of rules these days the game relies on special dice...again you can use normal d6 and convert the result (a bit fiddly) or print off the symbols on labels and then stick them a d6 (even more fiddly) so buying the dice as a deal with the templates seemed sensible.

The rules are pretty straightforward... all movement is determined by picking a template: but of course you can only use certain ones depending on your speed.  One optional rule we liked is that if you pick up a template you then have to use it, even if the results aren't what you intended.  I quickly found I was rubbish at spatial awareness and judging distance... more on this later.

You can also roll dice which have positive and negative effects.  Sometimes the negatives can actually be helpful... they might for example allow you to spin or slide your way out of trouble but will give you additional hazard tokens (which are a bad thing... get too many and you 'wipeout'))

Combat is very simple... roll to hit, roll to save and then remove hull boxes.  I was actually expecting more critical effects etc but perhaps these would have slowed the game down too much.

So in anticipation of a game later in the week my son and I decided to have a practice game this weekend.  We hastily built a course using some gate models from Blotz (gates are quite important but you don't actually need a model like these...just some kind of marked line), fences marked by coffee stirrers and rocks using some stones from the garden.  The cloth is actually a blanket the dogs sometimes use... luckily they didn't mind.  We took 3 cars each although Callum had a motorbike instead of one car and we'd selected a range of weapons so we could try them all out.  These included standard machine guns but also some extras like oil slick and napalm droppers.  Callum had also chosen a special one-shot sonic weapon which didn't cause any damage but caused the target to flip over and crash.

On the starting line...

My 1st move with my nice performance car was straight into a pile of rocks... like I said, no spatial awareness!  Luckily I wasn't going very fast....

Having got past the rock I now seem to be heading for a fence!

Crunch... Callum's truck hits me from behind with a front-mounted ram

The bike and my Landrover have a head-on crash... not a good idea if you're on a bike although somehow he survived it!  My Landrover had already been flipped onto some rocks by the nasty sonic attack.

Gaslands is  really great fun and brought back lots of memories of pushing cardboard Car Wars chits around the table but with the added fun of modelling your own cars.  The only drawback is that buying the cars is quite addictive... now I just need to get a bus and a lorry....

Saturday, 22 August 2020

Britannia - first game

After my copy of Britannia arrived a couple of days ago I'd imagined it would take at least a couple of weeks to get round to round to trying it.  Not so!  Thanks to my friend Anthony who'd also just received a copy I got to have a 1st game last night.  So, bearing in mind we only managed to get through the first couple of turns, here are some initial thoughts (on the 2 player Duel version)...

The Britons are already hemmed in the SE by invading Saxons and Angles

Firstly, never believe what a game tells you about the amount of time it takes to play.  On the box it suggests a couple  hours for a 2 player game... we managed 2 turns (out of 7) in 2 hours.  Admittedly we were fumbling our way though the rules, and we'd definitely sped up by the end but even so I think we'd need to have a bit more time to get through the whole series of turns.

I had the advantage of never having played any format of the game.  Anthony had played the Classic 4 player version son had to cope with trying to work out the differences in the formats.  There are a few and in some cases they can be significant.

The game itself felt like a combination of a Dark Age history lesson and a sophisticated version of Risk...don't get me wrong, this isn't a bad thing.  I like Risk: I spent many hours at Uni playing week long games (apparently other people went to lectures and stuff!!)... even now hearing the phrase "3 into Kamchatka" can bring on flashbacks of major tantrums and chairs being thrown.

The armies are reinforced and fight in a Risk-like method with some added complexity.  The interesting historical aspect is how armies come and go throughout the game.  For example my Roman armies were only there for the first turn before buggering off back to Rome which meant my legions transformed into a mix of Romano-british, Welsh and Rheged armies.  Arthur made an appearance in Turn 2 but only stays around during this era before disappearing into legend.

In each turn different armies gain and lose leaders and have certain rules apply to reflect that point in their history.  For example the Angles spent the first turn raiding the East coast which meant they couldn't stay on land after their raid.  By turn 2 (and a later era) they had changed tactics and had the choice of raiding or settling down in the territory they had plundered.

The Picts (in purple) face a powerful Scottii (appropriately blue) invasion force from Ireland.

We didn't get beyond the 2nd turn but later turns see the Angles and Saxons merging and the arrival of the Danes and eventually the Normans.

I really enjoyed the game... many thanks to Anthony for steering my through it and for setting it all up.  It'll be good to play through the whole 7 turns and to try out the bigger game.

Wednesday, 19 August 2020

Brittania has Landed

(nicked from Facebook!)

Just over a year ago I fell for another Kickstarter.  I know people have mixed feelings about them but I have to say I haven't had a bad experience with the few that I've backed (I've just checked and they total 8 projects over the last 6 years). Admittedly I always take the view that you will never get your game on the expected date and it may well run many, many months over the time limit but that's fine... as long as it turns up.

So last August I was tempted by the reissue of the boardgame Britannia by the Plastic Soldier Company and yesterday the nice man from UPS delivered it.  The original was designed by Lew Pulsipher back in '83 and was originally published by Gibson Games.  Different versions were then released by Avalon Hill and Fantasy Flight Games.   It's actually a game I've never played but always thought looked great.  From the box blurb...

" Britannia recreates the turbulent history of Britain from the coming of the Romans to conquest by the Normans"

Included in this edition are 210 plastic miniatures representing infantry armies, cavalry armies and leaders.  As it was a Kickstarter there is a bag of extras that were included in the deal and these include new leaders and miniatures which will distinguish each faction and miniatures to represent forts and burhs.  There is also a 2nd copy of the rulebook which is handy.

The mapboard is lovely and is double-sided.  This version of Britannia includes the 'Classic' version for up to 4 players and a faster 'Duel' version for 2 players which uses a simplified map on the reverse of the board.

Thank you Mr UPS-man

The main bag of figures

and the counters

The board...

... and the Duel version on the reverse.

The bag of extras

Some of the figures used in the game

Looking forward to this one.  I've always found the post-Roman period really fascinating and this looks like being great fun (and not overly complicated!!!).  I'll post more once I've had a chance to give it a go.

Tuesday, 18 August 2020

Tank Duel: Enemy in the Crosshairs.

I really like GMT Games.... they make interesting games with excellent, really high quality components.  But my god, some of their games are phenomenally dense and complicated!!  When I was younger I loved a rulebook with more sub-paragraphs than a set of local authority planning guidelines and that could be measured in kilograms.  I also used to love games that went on for days where you wore your opponent down by willpower and sheer lack of sleep!  These days however my stamina for lengthy games is very limited and my brain struggles to retain the simplest of rules.

A good example is Pendragon which I posted about HERE  last year.  It was a real thing of beauty but I never got beyond setting it up and playing one turn before I'd lost the will to live.  Luckily I managed to sell it on eBay for a profit so all was good.  But yet again I've been tempted back into the GMT snare and bought a copy of Tank Duel: Enemy in the Crosshairs.

This is a tank v tank game which they describe as a 'Beer and Pretzels' game... I wasn't sure what this meant in GMT terms but I was very pleasantly surprised when we finally managed a game at the weekend.  In TD each player commands one or 2 tanks but interestingly there is no board as such.  Each tank is represented by a dashboard which records crew status, damage etc and has all the data you need about your gunnery.  The tanks are fighting on an imaginary battlefield  with the dashboard recording the relative distance from the centre of the battlefield... in the pic below the tanks are both 600m from the centre

All the maneuvers and firing are determined by a deck of cards:  these determine initiative and  give the player a choice of actions such as move or fire but also allow you to determine terrain effects.  So for example I might announce that I am moving forward 200m and then finishing my move in a wood or a gully.  I can then use other cards to try and spot enemy tanks, flank hem, improve my firing, load special ammo etc.

The same deck is also used to determine whether shots hit, hit location etc although there is a separate deck of cards for damage.  Despite the lack of a board it is a surprisingly visual game... but you have to provide the visuals in your head.  Describing your actions each turn does make it very narrative driven which I liked.

My son and I very quickly found we were flying through the turns after a hesitant few opening rounds.  The designers say they were fans of World of Tanks and it does have that kind of feel.  In the opening few rounds my first T34 advanced cautiously and took up position in a wood where it fired of a couple of long range shots which missed.  My 2nd tank moved more rapidly forward towards the battlefield centre but became bogged down in the mud (you can play nasty cards like that on your opponent which my son took great delight in doing!).  Before I could get out of the deep mud a shot from a PzIV hit my tank...BOOM!  The damage deck only contains 1 card that is an instant explosion and my son managed to pull it straight away!  He did the same thing later in the game... remind me never to play poker with him!!

If your tank is destroyed a new one enters the edge of the battlefield so the action doesn't stop.  The time limit is determined by an 'end game' card which is added to the deck after an agreed number of passes through the whole deck.  As you are drawing cards for just about everything this happens pretty quickly so a game is easily playable in a couple of hours but could be longer or shorter if you agree.

There is a single QRS which isn't overly complicated and we were able to largely work off this by the end, only referring to the rules  for more complicated things.  The Play Book which comes with the rules contains an excellent and detailed description of the first few turns of a game which demonstrates the rules in action very clearly.  This also contains various scenarios etc as well as mechanics for playing solo

Great fun and a nice manageable game in a couple of hours.  Surprisingly the game only features German and Soviet tanks although a North Africa expansion is in the pipeline

Saturday, 15 August 2020

Roman Clash of the Titans

Another game at Eric the Shed's this week, and a rather special occasion as it saw the unveiling of 2 enormous Roman armies.  Eric and fellow Shed-er Mark have been building 2 ridiculously large Roman and Celt armies over the last year but their debut was obviously delayed due to Covid.

Monday saw their first deployment en masse on the table with a huge Roman vs Roman game of Hail Caesar.  There is a proper write up of the game on Eric's blog HERE and you'll also find lots of posts about the process of building and painting the armies.

My son and I were lucky enough to be the fellow players for the debut and it's fair to say Eric and I didn't come out of it with any glory....

Both armies deployed... there were even more figures that stayed off-table in their boxes!!

The 'Good' Romans...

... and the 'Bad' ones

My son's legionaries steamroll through my Auxiliary archers

One of the triumphant enemy generals
As always Hail Caesar proved fun but very bloody.  The game was great fun but there was so many figures on the table it was hard to manage everything and remember which units had which stats.  But then if you have this many figures you need to have at least one game where all the toys come out to play!   Next week's game promises to be a bit smaller and more manageable.

Tuesday, 4 August 2020

Wars of the Roses Game #1

So my Wars of the Roses troops finally made it onto the table with Lord Percy finally able to take the fight to his arch-rival Richard Neville.

This evening we tried out the embryonic rules for the planned WotR campaign game which Eric the Shed has been working on.  There are still some tweaks needed but essentially, using the boardgame Kingmaker as a starting point, players are given a selection of troops depending on which Nobles, Titles and Offices they have... not exactly the same as in the boardgame but inspired by its cards.  Once the game starts  some players are definite opponents while others are undecided and use a card system to 'bid' to support one side or the other.  The main players can also influence this.  After the 1st couple of turns this resolves itself with players committing to one side or the other.

This does mean that in a 4 player game there is a danger that 3 players will end up ganging up on the 4th which is exactly what happened in our game.  I think this would be less likely to happen in a 5 or 6 player game though.  We used Hail Caesar as the rules for the actual battle.

In our 1st game we ended up with Neville quickly being attacked on 3 sides by an alliance of nobles.  My troops led by Lord Percy and Lord Talbot took a more cautious approach than the 2 other players and stayed back exchanging bowfire at long range: I did try charging at one point but failed my command roll and stayed safely tucked behind a hedge, dodging the enemy arrows.  The other nobles took a less subtle approach and charged straight in.

Looking length ways down the table with the Nevilles on the right

The Percy forces deploy - the cards were used in selecting
 the force but weren't needed in the game

Neville's troops move up through a farm
Percy forms into a neat battle line ready to advance
The cows decide to ignore the advancing infantry...

Once Neville realised the odds against him were pretty overwhelming he threw most of his troops towards Percy in an attempt to resolve the historic feud between the 2 families but the other Nobles were able to crush his flank before he could get to me.

While the Percy's hide behind the hedge there is ferocious fighting
on the other side of the farm buildings at the top of the picture

Apart from bowfire my only actual attack was unleashing the Irish troops who were obliged to make a 'frenzied charge' if possible but by this point it was all over for Neville.

The Irish charge home...
The pre-game mechanics were interesting and mostly worked well: there is bit of fine tuning to be done but it has the basis of an interesting way of setting up games that aren't a straightforward head to head fight.  We also realised that we'd made the units too small which meant it was too easy to concentrate a lot of force against units... making units a bit bigger should balance this out.

It was very satisfying to get the figures on the table...I'm sure this will be the first of many games!

Monday, 3 August 2020

Wars of the Roses...the final straight.

Back at the beginning of the year, after a rather epic all day re-fight of 1st Newbury (details HERE) we'd discussed what the next large scale project should be and quickly settled on the Wars of the Roses.  This seemed ideal for a multiplayer game as each player could put together a few (or many) units based around a particular Noble.

Fast forward 7 months and I've just about finished my retinue.  I say 'finished' but of course there's always the temptation to add 'just one more' unit!  The figure tally now stands at over 240 figures which, while it might be small compared with some of my fellow gamers, is a huge amount for me.  It's been a long time since I've rattled so quickly through a project like this... I guess there is a small benefit to Lockdown and Furlough!

The retinue mostly comprises infantry figures with a couple of units of horse: we decided early on to work in multiples of 6 which makes it easy to use these for either Lion Rampant with 12 man units or Hail Caesar with 18s

So the final unit (for now) has been completed...a unit of Lord Clifford's mounted Men at Arms and some mounted commanders

I've also spent some time prepping a lot of movement trays which is strangely therapeutic...

The exciting news is that the Percy/Clifford Northern Powerhouse gets it's first proper outing this evening so hopefully lots more photos of their stunning victory to follow...