Tuesday, 24 August 2021

Gunfight at Calton Creek

Time for another Wild West shoot out and a game of Fistful of Lead.  In this week's thrilling episode the villains have just robbed the bank and are escaping town laden with gold bars.  The Sheriff and his men have conveniently arrived at the other end of town, blocking their escape. 

Each marker is a gold bar, slowing the bandits down

But look...there's a convenient wagon...

For some unexplained reason Calton Creek is festooned with random wooden crates, providing convenient cover...

The gunfight was particularly bloody.  By the end of the game 4 out of 5 gunfighters on each side were lying wounded or dead with only 2 left standing.  As one was the Sheriff and mine was my least effective Greenhorn I decided to abandon the gold and run for it... sorry... hightail it out of town!

Grab the wagon!

I tried grabbing the wagon and getting a couple of gunfighters on board.  I'd worked out some ad hoc rules for stampeding horses and random movement, all of which proved  unnecessary when Andrew cruelly shot the horse and scuppered my plans.. PETA will be furious...

My Wild West town is now officially renamed Calton Creek in honour of the Glaswegian comic strip created by Bud Neill.  This was very popular in the Daily Record (a Glasgow newspaper) in the 50s and featured Sheriff Lobby Dosser and his arch enemy Rank Bajin.  Although it was set in Arizona all the characters were Glaswegian (Calton is in the East End of Glasgow) and a lot of the dialogue is very Glaswegian.

The strips have been republished and have a bit of a cult following.  It was well before my time but my dad was a big fan and always used to talk about it whenever a Western was on TV.

Lobby and his 2 legged horse El Fideldo

There's a statue of Lobby, Elfie and Rank Bajin in the West End of Glasgow

Friday, 20 August 2021

Space Fleet


Another week and another bit of retro-gaming (does 1991 count as retro?  I mean it's only...oh god...30 years ago!).  This time is an adaption of the Games Workshop space combat game Space Fleet.

I've never really played any of the GW games apart from Lord of the Rings and Legends of the High Seas so this was a new one for me.

I used to be a fan of Starfleet Battles but found it overwhelmingly fiddly and clunky when I tried playing it a couple.of years ago...this is a much simpler space combat game with a limited range of manoeuvres and options for shields etc all displayed on the ship cards.  Weapons are also very simplified with ships having forward firing guns that are better at long ranges and side firing ones which are better close up, so getting in a good position to get the drop on a facing with weakened shields is key.  There's no faffing about with repairs or changing shields although I gather more rules and variations between factions in the GW universe were introduced in expansions

Our game took a Star Trek slant instead of 40K with 2 Federation Cruisers facing off against 2 Klingon D7s.  Moves are pre-plotted and there's an art in second guessing where your opponent is going to move to which neither of were very good at!

One of my D7s was quickly battered and destroyed but I did manage to take out a Cruiser before my remaining ship, now full of holes and without shields was finished off by the evil Federation.  Nice and simple and ideal for a quick game... I can see it would be easy to add in some extra flavour and options without over-complicating things.

Wednesday, 18 August 2021



"The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese."
Willie Nelson

I picked up a couple of boardgame bargains this week via eBay and Boardgamegeek...both were games that have been on my 'want' list for quite a while.  One was Western Legends which I haven't played yet but we managed a family boardgame night  with the other one this evening... Wingspan.

I've always been keen on birdwatching...when I was young I used to regularly go on trips with the RSPB and while I've always enjoyed spotting birds, but I got a but more into birdwatching when I started working from home a few years ago... my desk looks out on the garden and some bird feeders and it's been a welcome distraction from work!  So Wingspan sounded really interesting...

The game came out in 2019 and is an engine-building game.  The aim is to build an collection of birds, gaining points for specific objectives, having the highest scoring birds, eggs, cached food etc.

It's a lovely looking game with really nice components including 170 bird cards.  In the main game these are mainly North American birds but there are some that are also found in Europe.  There are expansions for specifically European or Australasian birds.

It's a relatively simple game and reminded me a lot of a less complex version of Terraforming Mars.  Each turn you only have 4 actions to think about... playing a bird, gathering food (which you'll need to play a bird), collecting eggs (again, you need these to add birds) or adding a card to your hand.  

Of course there's a bit more to it than that...as you activate habitats to gather food etc, the birds you've played activate and some have additional 'powers'.  So for example a Peregrine can try and catch smaller birds (which will ad VPs) or some birds will store food away which again adds to the VP count at the end of the game.  Like Terraforming Mars careful playing of the right cards can build up a powerful sequence of actions, gathering more resources or racking up the VPs.

I'm not usually a fan of dice towers but who could resist one that looks like a birdhouse...

A lovely game... not too complicated and playable in 40-70 minutes (both increasingly important these days I find) and really good fun.  

Oh, and as usual in our family boardgame evenings I was soundly beaten by everyone else!!

Thursday, 12 August 2021

¡Arriba Espana! - first game


Since I'd bought a copy of Bob Cordrey's Arriba Espana rules recently it was a good excuse to get the SCW armies out for a change

The newly reissued rulebook actually contains 2 sets of rules...the original Arriba Espana from the 80s and an updated version for using the Portable Wargames Rules model.  Since I didn't have a hex or gridded mat handy I decided to go with the originals.

We played one of the scenarios in the book... some Nationalist militia troops are holed up in a ruined monastery, under attack from the Republicans.  A Nationalist relief force is on its way...will it get there in time?

The besieged Fascists

There were a few bits we were unclear about in the rules (more to do with me than the rules I think!)... for example we weren't sure what happens after the 1st turn of combat... does it continue in subsequent rounds (and can units break off?) or should it be fought to a conclusion.  We decided on the latter... mainly to speed things up.

The Republicans have an advantage in numbers but are hampered by a lack of cooperation if the units come from different factions to to Commander.  In this the game the overall Commander was an Anarchist so the Socialist and Communist battalions were less likely to obey orders which hampered the Republican advance

The Moroccans and Foreign
Legion arrive in the nick of

Interestingly in these rules firing doesn't actually cause casualties but adds 'Will to Combat' markers which can result in units becoming pinned or retiring.  The only way to actually destroy an enemy unit is in Close Combat

The best tactic is to soften up your opponent with firing until he becomes pinned and then charge home which is exactly what happened here...

The Communists charge in against the Regulares

Commanders have a limited number of orders they can place each turn.  The white markers are orders that haven't been revealed yet.  Each unit also has a rating from Green to Elite so, along with the Will to Combat markers (in red) there is some amount of table clutter which some people can find off-putting.  I don't really mind...I'd never have kept track of unit ratings without them.  We were having a hard enough time distinguishing between Anarchists, Socialists and Communists!

Each side may have a limited number of air attacks.  This depends on who has air superiority and this is affected in turn by which year of the war we are in.  Both of us had 3 attacks which didn't always arrive and weren't hugely effective which felt about right for this period of the war. 

By the end of the evening the Republicans had seized the monastery but were struggling to coordinate their attacks.  The Nationalists were now outnumbered and very much on the back foot.

A good set of rules I think... I need to read them again to see what I missed/got wrong and it would be interesting to try the updated version at some point.