Saturday, 27 February 2021

Samurai #3... Ronin


So the final game of our Samurai trilogy unfolded last week (current score son 2, me 0).  Having played a couple of games of Test of Honour we decided to dig out the Osprey rules, Ronin...

I haven't played these for ages but had good memories of them so we decided it would be interesting to compare and contrast with ToH.  In many ways these are a more straightforward set of rules with alternate figure activation and nice straightforward dice (plus modifiers)... no fancy dice required!

The USP for these rules is that each figure has a number of counters in their Combat Pool each turn. At the start of each round you secretly select some for attack and defence, so you could, for example, fight an entire round on the defensive... hoping to hold off your opponent until reinforcements arrive.  Alternatively you could throw everything into multiple attacks and hope to finish your opponent off, but risk being injured in the process.  Counters can also be used to enhance attack or defence rolls or to boost your chance of gaining the initiative in the round.  I believe a similar system is used in Osprey's En Garde rules which I own but which are still in the great 'unplayed rules' pile.

I used some beads for attack and defence counters: I picked these up at a local Hobbycraft and they have a suitable 'Go' style about them...

Some figures also have additional bonuses and skills in certain weapons to add to the list of things to forget each round.  Our game pitted a band on Bushi (or regular warriors) against some Sohei monks who were defending their temple.

The quiet temple...

The monks rush out to defend the temple...

The Bushi arrive, determined to loot the temple

Ashigaru armed with Teppo (or arquebus) take some
long range shots across the river...

The melee concentrates around a rice store.

Neither of us made any attempts at subtlety.  I had split my troops and one of my Samurai and an Ashigaru armed with a spear made a brave rush towards the river but were quickly driven back by Bow and Teppo-fire, leaving the Samurai badly wounded and out of the fight.

Everyone else was drawn into an increasingly brutal melee which I really ought to have won.  At one stage I had a 2:1 advantage in numbers but my son fought a defensive couple of rounds, holding me off long enough for some extra monks to arrive to balance the odds.

more Teppo-fire rings out but with little effect...

The markers in the picture above indicate light or grievous wounds so you can see how bloody the fight was!  Despite my early advantage, the battle slipped away from me and my troops were cut down, leaving the monks victorious and me conceding a 3-0 defeat in our latest round of games.

On reflection we decided that we preferred these to Test of Honour... nothing wrong with ToH but these felt less chance driven and had more elements of tactics and skill in choosing where and how to balance attack and defence. That's enough Samurai for now though... time for them to retire to the loft to lick their wounds and find something else for our next game.

Saturday, 13 February 2021

No one would have believed, in the last years of the 19th century...

 "No one would have believed, in the last years of the 19th century, that human affairs were being watched from the timeless worlds of space. No one could have dreamed we were being scrutinized, as someone with a microscope studies creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water. Few men even considered the possibility of life on other planets and yet, across the gulf of space, minds immeasurably superior to ours regarded this Earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely, they drew their plans against us..."

I've always loved the Jeff Wayne version of War of the Worlds, and the original book.  Less so the recent BBC tv adaptation, and let's not talk about the Tom Cruise film.  I saw the stage version of the Jeff Wayne musical back in 2014 at the O2 which quite a spectacle.

My 54mm Little Wars project continues with an attempt at building one of the Martian Tripods that come with the Paperboys book.  Many mistakes were made... many fingers spread glue on things that shouldn't have been glued... several pieces were glued on upside down... a lot of patience was lost...

The first thing you realise when building these is that 54mm is big!  I know that's kind of obvious but I hadn't really thought about just how big the tripods are.  To illustrate this the figure underneath the tripod is a 54mm figure so you can get a sense of the height.

The models are designed to represent the descriptions in the book and look really good... very evocative of the period...

The building process is relatively straightforward.  The body rests on a central support...

Each leg is built up from 3 sections: the end of each one slides into the next.  Getting the shape is a bit fiddly but the book suggests using a knitting needle (or in my case a skewer) as a shaper when rolling the paper.  Somehow I ended up with a tripod with one leg shorter than the others!

The main body is made up of 2 sections which are then glued together...

...and the roof is then shaped and stuck on...

The machine then has some tentacle-like grabbers 

Even though the upper body is quite light I was worried about whether the legs could support it so these were reinforced with bamboo skewers.  As I was building it I realised that the biggest problem with the tripod was going to be storage so I haven't permanently attached the legs.  For the photos they were blutacked on which meant it was all a bit precarious and shoogly!  The legs gave way several times as I was taking the photos,  Ideally they would need to be permanently glued on but where on earth would I keep the giant model!!?

I also realised that I'm very impatient when it comes to building things like this.  It obviously takes time for the glue to dry and I kept being tempted to try and move onto the next stage too quickly, spreading PVA and Prittstick glue around everywhere like a stroppy 5 year-old in nursery!

So that's another itch scratched.   I was pleased to have built it but I don't think I'll be building anymore as they are just too big and unwieldy, although the thought of several of these facing down a massed 54mm army is quite tempting but I think I'd definitely need a much, much bigger table and a lot more patience!!!  This has reminded me that after seeing the stage version of WotW back in 2014 I had a notion to do this in 6mm which is a much more practical idea.  My 6mm redcoated Zulu Wars British could just about pass muster (if you ignore the helmets) and it would all take up a lot less space... one to add to the "to-do someday list" I think.

Thursday, 11 February 2021

Guards Guards


Another family boardgame night and this time it's Guards Guards, one of the Terry Pratchett themed games that came out a few years ago.  These are out of print and can be found for silly money on eBay (or at least people are asking for silly money...I assume no-one actually pays it!).  I managed to source this one on BGG for a very reasonable price.  The seller had even kindly printed out and bound all the FAQs and errata and included a Moist Von Lipwig miniature.

We have already played the Discworld: Ankh Morpork game which is a popular one in our house.  Guards Guards  appears a bit more complicated at first glance but was actually quite simple.

The premise is that spells have escaped from the Unseen University and need to be rounded up and returned.  Each player represents one of four Guilds (Alchemists, Assassins, Thieves and Fools) and recruits a band of volunteers to help catch the spells and make it back to the University on a "spell run".  These volunteers can also be placed as sabatoeurs to spoil other players Spell Runs and generally interfere.

To add to the confusion dragons can sometimes be summoned (if you've read Guards Guards this will make sense)...we didn't get round to this.  Other hazards include The Luggage (which runs around the city as each new volunteer is recruited, trampling players) and The Pox which is caught by touching a card marked with the Pox or getting too close to an infected player.  Both of these can be fixed (for a price) at a hospital.

Each Guild also has a specific ability which can be used if another player gets too close but we never risked getting near each other.

The runaway Luggage

The game was quick to pick up and really good fun...lots of opportunities to trip up your opponents and spoil their plans.  It came down to the wire with all 3 of us within touching distance of a win but my son was able to complete his final run first and, despite our best efforts to stop him, won the game.

As you'd expect the components are lovely with some really nicely illustrated cards for a host of Discworld characters (with a reference to which book they're from), all presented in a suitable Pratchett style.

A few of the character cards