Tuesday, 29 June 2021

Gunfight at Stodge City


Since I'd assembled a set of buildings for the newly-revived Wild West project, it seemed a shame not to have a game with them (even if they are still unpainted).  So, inspired by the classic of the genre, Carry on Cowboy, let's mosey over to the streets (well... street if we're being picky) of Stodge City.

The forces of Law and Order, led by Marshall P. Knutt, have just emerged from the Jailhouse ready to face down Johnny Finger, aka the Rumpo Kid, whose gang has been drinking at the other end of town, in the Saloon (of course).

Carry on Cowboy is one of the better Carry On films which range from classics to terrible as the series progresses.  As a died in the wool 'woke (as the young people say) lefty I ought to disapprove but I am a fan of some of the series (although as I said, some are terrible and have no redeeming features).  

Both sides quickly sent people onto the roofs to try and pick off some of the opposition.  I came of worse in this exchange, quickly losing 2 out of my 5 starting characters...Kenneth Williams/Judge Burke biting the dust.

Everyone seemed to be running out of ammo or dropping their guns in melee  (by rolling a 1), leading to  

A brutal hand to hand broke out behind the Smithy when Little Heap sneaked round the building before charging out, attacking with his dagger.  Luckily I was able to gang up on him and he fell to a flurry of punches and kicks (mainly because we'd run out of bullets again)

I'd managed to level the scores but then the Marshall was hit by a shotgun blast while he was on the roof of the Jailhouse and I was left with one remaining character, Buck: he had no redeeming skills or traits and was a 'lousy shot' so I didn't fancy his chances.  He managed to wound another opponent before taking shelter in the store.

Proving just how despicable the baddies were, they decided to set fire to the Storehouse...in a panic Buck was forced out into the street to get away from the flames and was gunned down as he tried to recover from the smoke... booo!

We used the excellent Fistful of Lead rules which are ideal for games like this... easy to pick up and they really encourage 'cinematic play.  I'd like to have a look at Dead Man's Hand at some point though as they seem very popular 

Tuesday, 22 June 2021



A different game last night... Dogfight.  This is a WW1 air game  originally published by Milton Bradley back in the 60's.  The Boardgamegeek details are HERE.

The game is designed for age 10+ which puts it just about at my level!  Each player has 3 planes which move on a gridded board with some really nice artwork.  Movement is by dice and you have to move the full amount so a bit of thought is required to get into position to attack your opponent.  

Combat is also very simple... each player has a hand of cards with a Burst rating (from 1-5)... highest one wins and shoots down the opposing plane.  If you manage to attack from the side or rear the only way the opposition can survive is by playing a barrel roll or loop card which negate the attack, and in the case of a loop allow the attacked plane to become the attacker.  In order to replenish your hand of cards you need to return back to your airfield

Planes on the ground can be attacked but you have to cross the line of defending AA guns and risk the 'Archie'.  Each player has 6 planes but you can only have 2 in the air at any one time

This game was played using a specially made extra-large printed mat from Deepcut Studios with the boardgame printed onto it and my friend Anthony's lovely collection of Corgi biplanes and triplanes.  It's fair to say I was soundly beaten (maybe age 10+ was a bit ambitious!).  I only managed to shoot down one British plane at the cost of all 6 of my aircraft!.  Great fun though and it shows that a game doesn't have to be complex to be really entertaining 

Monday, 21 June 2021

Carry on Cowboy


I've hit a bit of a painting block recently, not for the first time.  Last year was a really good spell for me with lots of figures painted (mainly Wars of the Roses) and I started this year with 2 or 3 new things in the go.  I find I need more than one project or In get easily bored.

I've assembled and painted my Roman-British/Arthurian infantry, painted (but not based) some models for Gamma Wolves (although I'm now not sure these are the right models for this project) and started on some.of the 54mm Paper Soldiers.  But over the last month or so I've kind of run out of steam.

I know when this happens I need to find something different to distract me and, after a bit of thinking, I remembered the mdf Wild West buildings I'd bought over a lengthy period of time a couple of years ago.  Assembling buildings felt like a bit of a break from painting and would hopefully be understanding, although I'm notoriously impatient and cack-handed when it comes to this sort of thing.

I dug out the Wild West box from the loft and found that I had quite a few more buildings than I remembered.  I'd also painted up a dozen or so cowboys from Artizan... I was shocked to discover I painted these 3 years ago and they still haven't made it onto the table!  

I got to it with PVA and a lack of patience and after a couple of, at times, very frustrating evenings (I need to learn to leave pieces to dry properly and not to fiddle with them!) I have a nice collection of buildings ready for painting.

So, first up is the enormous Warehouse and extension set from TT Combat.  I was given this a few years ago (I think in a giveaway another blogger was doing and embarrassingly I can't remember who!). Although this is listed in their Wild West range it would do for any game set in the 19thC or later.  I'd always been slightly intimidated by this kit so outsourced the assembly to my son who is much better as this sort of thing.

It's a huge model, especially with the extension added.  Unfortunately you need to have it either permanently built on to the side of the main warehouse or not at all, and it seemed a shame not to use it.  It dwarfs the other buildings so would really need to be used in a  different set up... perhaps as part of a mine or in a  more industrial setting. Storage is the biggest issue although it's big enough that I can store other buildings inside it!

The next building is my only 4Ground building.  These are very nice and obviously have the advantage of being pre-painted but are also quite pricey.

The rest of the buildings. The fencing for the corral and the boardwalks are mainly from TT Combat.  The Jailhouse and blacksmith are by Sarissa.  These are definitely nicer than the TT Combat models but again are a bit more expensive.

Of course you have to have a gallows...

The inside of the Jailhouse.

Every town needs a saloon

...and a general store.

 By a stroke of coincidence my pre-order of the new plastic Gunfighters from Great Escape Games turned up as I was building the houses.  And then to provide the final bit of inspiration I needed, Carry on Cowboy was on tv!  Welcome to Stodge City!

So now to do a bit of painting, but already I have the makings of a decent sized town.  Of course I'm now thinking of all the extra bits that I will need to add....

Saturday, 19 June 2021

Battle on Endor


This week saw the first game with my friend Andrew for about 15 or 16 months.  We decided to go for a Star Wars game and I'd decided Galactic Heroes would be a good rule set and one that Andrew hadn't played before.  It was only on the day of the game that I noticed that we'd actually played GH back in 2019, using the exact same scenario I'd been planning!  Some hasty rethinking was called for so we switched to one from the book with a very familiar plot.

The Rebels, led by Han Solo and Chewbacca are trying to destroy a force field generator on a forest moon to allow the Rebels to destroy the 'Doom Moon' (as it's referred to in the rules, for copyright and comedy reasons).  Opposing them are Boba Fett and IG-88 and a squad of Stormtroopers.

Top Secret Imperial base....

The problem for the Rebels is they have a tight time limit to get the bomb to the generator and 2 figures need to accompany it across the table.  This is where I made my 1st mistake... I'd assumed the table was going to be 3' x 3' but for this scenario it should have been 2' x 2', meaning I was very unlikely to ever get there on time!  I only realised this part way through but never mind!  Han and Chewbacca led the advance, quickly wounding Boba Fett and dodging several shots from the Stormtroopers.  Chewbacca recklessly charged into hand to hand (paw) combat with a Stormtrooper and embarrassingly came of worst, being driven back to the ground and then cruelly shot and killed.

Han continued to trade shots and somehow survived being blasted by Boba's flames which promptly ran out of ammo.  This led to a flurry of 1's on the dice rolling which led to half the figures being out of ammo at one point.  In fact Boba's flames ran out 3 separate times and should probably go back to the shop under warranty.

IG88 hadn't done very much and before he could head off to the battle he suddenly came under now fire from small furry marketing products (note - I didn't have enough Ewoks so had to use Jawas as a less cuddly substitute) 

Jawas Ewoks emerge from
 the undergrowth 

The Ewoks may only have been armed with bows but they were very effective...probably more than the Stormtroopers.  IG88 went down under a hail of arrows and had to crawlmoff into cover to recover.

 Han continued to hold off the Stormtroopers and survive Boba's repeated attempts to toast everyone with his flames.  More Ewoks appeared (these turned up when a Joker was drawn but we decided to limit them to 2 groups as they were proving too powerful).  Andrew then changed tactics and ignored Han, turning his attention to the poor rebels carrying the bomb...if they were despatched the base would be safe.

One Rebel was gunned down and we realised that even if Han and the surviving rebel did nothing but march to the base they would only just get there at the time limit with no time to actually set it off so we called it a night.  The Empires Death Star remained intact and the rebellion was crushed.

Good fun, despite the cock up with the table size... it might have made a difference but I suspect the Heroes would have been gunned down anyway.

Saturday, 5 June 2021

7th Cavalry skirmish and some moral angst

A great game at Eric the Shed's this week with a skirmish between a US cavalry patrol and some rampaging Native Americans.  All the figures and terrain courtesy of Eric.  There's a great write up on his blog here

It was a close run thing with the Cavalry just holding off the attacks by the braves.  We used Black Powder v2 with a random activation system for the Native Americans which worked really well.

'A' Troop, pinned down by a creek

Cavalry ride to the rescue

Forming a defensive firing line...

Just in time as the Braves charge in.

If you read Eric's blog post (and you really should!) You'll see he mentions that one of the players had expressed some moral qualms about the setting... that would be me!  Morality in wargames is a tricky thing and can often lead to too much navel-gazing.  I've met players with some very particular ideas about periods or settings that they won't play.  For example, not using SS troops, not playing any 'Colonial' period games, not playing the Confederates, being uncomfortable with anything where there are still living participants etc.  Some of their arguments make sense and others can be a bit random... to be honest though I'd rather play with someone who has thought about it than the kind of player who is very... erm... 'enthusiastic' about certain unsavoury groups (and I've met a few of those too!)

Generally I'm happy to play most things and most sides... I can happily condemn the CSA as a bunch of slave-owning racists while still playing a game with them.  I have a pair of Zulu and British armies (which I really ought to get out more) and have played a lot of Zulu and Dervish games at the Shed without blinking an eye.  But Cavalry vs Native Americans is one period that has always felt uncomfortable to me. Cowboy games are fine, but most Cavalry encounters with Native Americans tended to be pretty squalid massacres (I know there are of course exceptions).  

I realise as I write this, that it makes little sense to have qualms about this but not about for example, the Sudan or South Africa.  Funnily enough playing the game this week didn't cause me any worries once we got going... I guess it's about respecting the bravery of both sides and balancing the game while keeping as much historical accuracy as you can.  I was quite happy to play A Troop, desperately defending the wagons against ferocious Comanches and my concerns disappeared like so much passing tumbleweed.

Up in the loft I have some Darkest Africa figures which I've used with 'Congo' rules and I must admit they do raise some troubling questions and may not make a reappearance.

Wednesday, 2 June 2021

Brittania - 9 months later

Back  in August last  year I recieved my Kickstarter copy of the PSC boardgame Brittania and quickly managed to play a game with my good friend Anthony (who also had a copy).  And that was it.  It was a game definitely designed for my gaming group to play during the winter months when we tend to retreat to a warmer room and concentrate on boardgames... but of course 2020 happened and we never managed any of that.  There's a post about that 1st game here

So finally I've managed to get the game out of the box and give the 2 player version (Duel Brittania) a proper outing (we only managed a couple of turns first time round).  I'd never played the game when it was 1st published but it strikes me as a sophisticated version of Risk with Dark Age armies.  What's intriguing is that kingdoms rise and fall as the eras progress with players racing ahead in victory points in some periods before falling behind  in others.  In the 2 player game one player controls various Angles and Saxons, along with the Scots and Irish.  The other player has the initial British kingdoms such as Reghed, the Welsh, the Picts etc and later take command of the invading Norse and Danes.

The full game starts with the Roman Invasion and goes all the way through to the arrival of the Normans.  In the quicker Duel version the game begins in 350CE and ends before the Normans show up.  The Duel map is also simplified and there are some rule changes compared to the full game, although I still haven't worked out how major these are.  

The main difference is that during turn #1 the Romans defend until their turn when they disappear, being replaced with a mix of smaller kingdoms.  In each turn nations receive new armies if they have enough territory to maintain them,  before adding any specific troops and leaders for that era.  So for example the Scots may receive some extra troops and Macbeth in a late turn.  Specific events also happen at appropriate points so Reghed,  for example, were able to construct a Burh or fort at Dumbarton Rock.  Annoyingly for me, Arthur put in an appearance for several nations (I guess everyone thinks they have a claim on Arthur!) and can cause brief mayhem with his powerful cavalry.  Thankfully he disappeared as quickly as he appeared!

I was playing the Anglo Saxon side so began the game as an invader, initially raiding from the sea or from Ireland.  As the game progressed my armies stop raiding and occupy regions and in turn are attacked by new invaders in the form of the Norse and Danes as well as any surviving British kingdoms.  Success ebbs and flows and while it can feel like one player is racing ahead, that can all change in the next turn as the historical dynamics change to suit the next era.

The authors reckon 1.5 to 2 hours for the Duel version but we took a lot longer...to be fair we were rattling through the latter turns though so I reckon we'd be a lot faster next time.

In our game I was very lucky with dice rolls (and Callum was equally unlucky) and I built up a pretty unassailable lead, helped by destroying a lot of the Saxon Shore forts early in the game and gaining extra points.  The map on the final turn actually looked pretty historical with the Saxons holding central and SE England with the Danes in the North.  The Welsh pretty much held all of Wales and there were a scattering of minor kingdoms left although not all necessarily where you'd expect to find them!

The end of the game...
I was red/blue and
Callum was purple/black

The game definitely lived up to my expectations...we both came away with definite ideas about things we'd do differently next time, and its one we'd both replay.