Thursday, 28 January 2021

Salute delayed...again...

 So in a bit of news that will surprise no one,  Salute won't be happening in April!!  Shocking, I know...  given nothing is open and we'll in all likelihood still be locked down by then and Excel is a Nightingale Hospital site.

The details can be found here... LINK

The show has been moved again to 13th November, assuming things have opened up again (surely by then...).  I had seen some speculation that it was going to clash with the Warfare show at Reading but  it looks like this is scheduled for a couple of weeks later on 27th and 28th November in its new home at Ascot Racecourse.  Of course the big question will be how many of us return to wargames shows in the future.  I must admit I'm undecided as there are too many unknowns at present and the thought of crowded events fills me with a fair amount of anxiety.  I don't know if these are the big attraction they used to be for traders impression is that, especially for smaller traders these have incurred increasing costs, especially when compared with online sales.  But I guess the opportunity to showcase new ranges etc at the bigger shows must be tempting.  Here's hoping we're in a place where it's at least possible to hold events and shows by then!

Monday, 25 January 2021

Paper Little Wars

Some time ago (good was almost 3 years!) I was tempted at Salute by a demo game using the Paperboys paper armies designed by Peter Dennis and  published by Helion Publishing.  I  bought and built 2 Jacobite armies and (unlike some projects) they actually made it onto the table for some excellent games (they can be found HERE).  Round about the same time I'd painted up a load of 54mm Northwest Frontier figures (and again, managed to get several games in with them...links HERE).  I thought I'd scratched the paper soldier and 54mm itch and hadn't felt the urge to develop these any further.  You can see where this is going...

Late last year I was looking online and came across the Paperboys 'Little Wars' book.  Now I'm not really a fan of the toy soldier look and have no great nostalgia for these kind of introduction to wargames rules was with WRG 6th Edition... but these had an instant appeal and for some reason I was quite tempted... the figures have a real charm about them.  Then I discovered that the book includes model Martian Tripods for a War of the Worlds game and that was that!  My wife kindly bought me a set for xmas and I have started on a major cutting and sticking project.

The book contains 2 armies... Red (British) and Blue (French).  There are a good range of troops included ranging from infantry, highlanders, light and heavy cavalry, Zouaves, Algerians and artillery crews.  These are to man the large elastic band powered cannon that you can build with the rules and use to knock over your opponents figures!

Mr Wells and co. hard at play

I've started on the French and I'm very pleased with how they look

Now I need to give some thought on how to use them on the tabletop.  I love the look of 54mm figures but unless you have a very large table some compromises are needed to make them fit without the table being overcrowded.  I'm not particularly interested in using the Little Wars rules included with the book, although they make an interesting read.  The Sword and the Flame rules often get suggested for this scale and period but having played a couple of games a few years ago I'm not a fan.  I'm thinking that either The Men Who Would be Kings or Rebels and Patriots from Osprey would work well... TMWWBKs has an option to reduce units to half size for large scale which works well and I can't see why this wouldn't also work for R&P.

In terms of actual games there are a few options.  The Paperboys website has a download available for purchase for an equivalent Prussian army and that immediately opens up the potential for a Franco-Prussian War game.  The FPW is a period I find fascinating... partly because of the clash of technologies and tactics... but also because it was a war that I, rather embarrassingly,  knew nothing about it for quite some time.  I suspect it's one that has passed lots of non-wargamer/history nerds by, certainly in the UK.  I have had 2 6mm FPW armies for many years so shifting to the other end of the scale could be fun.

The Prussian army also opens up the option of a Battle of Dorking scenario with the beastly Hun battling redcoated British troops just down the road from me in Surrey.  And then of course there are the tripods....

Saturday, 23 January 2021

A painting update


So it's been a couple of weeks since my flurry of Samurai games and we haven't managed anything since then.  Things have been pretty busy... an unexpected promotion at work just before Xmas has meant that work has become very hectic and I'm now doing my original job plus a lot more on top.  I'm not complaining...I work in the charity sector and it has been hit very hard over the last year as fundraising and volunteering have understandably not been a top priority for everyone, so it's good to be as busy as I am and to see the charity growing and developing despite everything.  It does mean I'm spending hours each day staring at the laptop though, so my appetite for doing much else in the evening has taken a bit of a hit.

Despite this I've managed a bit of painting.  First up is one of 2 artillery pieces added to my Wars of the Roses army, ready for the next game (whenever that will be)...of course the gun is doomed to explode as soon as I try to fire it but it's nice to have on the table!

At Xmas I was given a set of Gripping Beast  Dark Age Cavalry by my wife, the first element of my Arthurian project and they have now been painted, apart from their shields.  These will be added once my transfers from Little Big Man Studios arrive.

I've also just a box of Late Roman Infantry thanks to a discount from Northstar Miniatures so these will be next on the painting list 

Sunday, 10 January 2021

Test of Honour - the rematch


So, having managed a win against my son in last week's game of Test of Honour he was very keen for a re-match and a chance to have a game where practically every roll wasn't a fumble.  We'd both felt that luck (or lack of it) had played a heavy role in the game.  We decided to stick to the 'encounter' scenario we'd played before with a bit of reorganising the table and a chance to re-think our troop choices.  

This time the clash took place at a farm somewhere in the Japanese countryside, although clearly the cherry blossom was still in bloom!  Last time Callum had opted for a lot of single-based figures and hadn't taken up the option of having them organised in groups of 3: this time he added in a couple of groups and some single missile troops.  I'd opted for 2 Nobles and a couple of groups of Ashigaru with only 1 individual commoner.  Both of us had also taken a Banner wielding figure: these give a bonus in defending to units with 6".  My choices meant I had fewer chances to activate but when I did I could use my more powerful groups.

This game was a much more cautious affair than last time. 

The enemy move up through the trees...

...and once again Callum's missile troops immediately climb onto the nearest roof.
This was actually a pretty sound tactic and they stayed there for most of the game

My troops advance, trampling some innocent peasant's precious crops.

Snipers on the rooftops...

The first half of the game was surprisingly bloodless.  We both advanced very cautiously with missile troops taking pot shots without much effect.  Eventually I crossed the stream and  we ended up with a clash between the 2 spear armed Ashigaru groups and our Samurai Heroes.

My Samurai leader was cut down and my spear group wiped out and at this point I thought it was pretty much all over, but my other Samurai, obviously enraged at the loss of his master, charged in and killed the enemy leader and most of the opposing spearmen.

The Samurai clash...

Unfortunately my force was now quite depleted and I fought a gradual retreat.  Apart from my Samurai I only had missile troops left and so we gradually withdrew, pursued by the enemy Ashigaru.  The musketeers and archers managed to inflict wounds on each other but eventually my single archer and then the Samurai were overtaken and cut down, leaving the Musket armed troops to surrender.

This game felt very different to the last one... I suspect both of us were thinking more about the strengths and weaknesses of the different troops after our first game and took a more thoughtful approach.  Very enjoyable and great to get another game on.  I'm stll keen to give the Ronin ruleset another try so there may be a 3rd Samurai game before long.

Tuesday, 5 January 2021

Test of Honour - duel at the bridge


Although lockdown has generally meant an end to gaming with my usual group of friends, it has prompted my son and I to dig out some figures and set a smallish game.  The dining table isn't really big enough for a larger game but can easily accommodate a skirmish level game.  As there has been a bit of a Japanese theme in our house lately (the boardgame Tokaido, my son's latest PlayStation game, Ghosts of Tsushima, and some odd oriental teas) we decided to keep this going and have a game of Test of Honour.

Digging back through the blog I discovered that I last played this over 2 years ago!  I had bought the starter set (then published by Warlord Games and now in a 2nd edition by Grey for Now Games) at a show (Salute?), mainly for the good deal on the figures that came with it, but the game itself is pretty good although we found it can be a bit dependent on chance.

We chose the opening scenario in the game: there are a series of typical scenarios (an encounter, a raid, an escort mission etc) but these can be linked into a campaign.  The 1st game pits 2 forces against each in an encounter.  Although this has pre-set forces in the scenario booklet, we decided to build our own forces.  You have to include a Samurai Hero (of course) and a third of your force has to be made up of commoners.  There is the option to deploy spear and missile Ashigaru as single figures or groups of 3 and we ended up with 2 very different forces.  I opted for my Noble, along with a 2nd Samurai and 2 groups of 3 figures.  These all activate on a single order but have to stay together as a group, meaning I wouldn't have many activations each turn.  My son opted for a single Samurai and lots of individual figures... individually weaker but with more flexibility.

Figures are activated by drawing a counter from a cup and Samurai get multiple activations per turn while the common rabble only go once.  Combat tends to be quite bloody... figures either take light wounds which impair them or are cut down.  Samurai are able to cope with multiple wounds and also have the chance to avoid a wound but take an injury card instead which may persist through a campaign.  Samurai can also behave dishonourably and gain an extra dice to attack but this comes at a morale penalty as your commoners don't approve of that sort of thing.  I'm pleased to say neither of us stooped to using this shabby tactic and risking dishonouring our houses.

So, on with the scenario...

Our 2 nobles have arrived at opposite sides of a village where a bridge is the only way across the river without getting your feet wet. Both have demanded the right to cross first and, of course, neither wants to give way to the other.  There's only one way to resolve this....

The village with some peasants happily going about their business

My forces arrive at one end of the village.  The cards in the background are for dishonour, wounds, skills etc.  One issue with the game is there is quite a bit of 'clutter' which needs to be available on the table... tokens, cards etc.  I know some people don't really like this sort of thing.

And Callum's troops arrive at the other end of the road...

Callum's Samurai Noble makes his way to the river to do a spot of taunting

And, of course I fall for this and charge my Samurai retainer across the river and into hand to hand combat.  This didn't go well... his Lord wounded my Samurai and then a cowardly archer struck him down while he was recoiling from the combat

My spear and bow Ashigaru move up to the bridge.  Missile troops are very useful as, even if they don't cause a wound they can force units to use up their activation for a turn as they defend against the bow or musket fire, effectively pinning down their opponents.

My spearmen crossed the river and there was a bloody battle at the end of the bridge which eventually went my way.  The 2 Samurai Heroes now clashed in a flurry of katanas.  

My son was managing to defy the odds and consistently roll fumbles which meant I was causing wounds on his troops even when they were attacking me (to be fair some of my spearmen managed to trip themselves up and fall in a heap at the foot of the bridge!) and his Noble was picking up growing numbers of light wounds and being driven back.  Eventually these wounds grew too much and my noble cut him down and then turned on the remaining enemy Ashigaru.  The single enemy musketman had positioned himself on a rooftop and took a few unsuccessful pot shots before he realised that his lord and most of his comrades were dead and he abandoned the battle, leaving the field to my noble

The game was enjoyable but we did find a lot the dice can have a big effect on the combats, from criticals to fumbles, which can really affect the result of the game.  Good fun but we may give Ronin by Osprey Games a go for a comparison.  It's even longer since I've played those and it would be good to see how they compare.