28mm Rhodesian SAS

Bill of Under Fire Miniatures asked me to paint up some of his recent 28mm Bush War RhSAS for him.

 

I cleaned up the figures and got crking. Painting using my usual technique went OK until I completly over did the highlights and made the figures look far too white and chalky. I was on the verge of stripping them when I remembered that I’d bought a new green wash from Army Painter. I bathed it on and let it dry overnight. Fortunately it did the trick… so much so that I’m really plesed with how this quartet look.

RhSAS

They have been painted in plain green fatigures to represent the sort worn on external operations into Mozambique.

 

I left the base unfinished as per Bill’s request.

You can by the figures here .

 

Cheers,

 

Pete.

 

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Megagames Round up and next year’s calendar.

Megagames Round- up.

 

Now that is all my megagames done and dusted for the year it is time to take stock I guess. With the games this year so far it means I’ve been to 32 games in total (designed/run 2, played 12 and controlled 18). I really need to play more I think- it is always fun to do so, just a shame that the operational games that I prefer are few and far between these days. I should really try to get to another groups’ game as a player next year….

 

On the subject of next year: Pennine Megagames have announced the calendar for 2019:

23rd March sees Buccaneer link being run in Sheffield. Set in the War of Spanish Succession it is a prequel to John’s popular game from last year. I hope to reprise my control role from last time as I enjoyed it so much.

On the 18th May Becky put on Trope High link in Leeds. Think every high school film mashed together… so lot of roleplaying possibilities there at the school where everyone has a secret. I’m very interested to see how this one develops as it is something very different to our previous games and should bring in a different crowd of gamers.

22nd June will be a chance to refight the whole of WW1 in Cubespiel link from Tom. This will be run in Manchester- I’m looking forward to this one. An ambitious design but with Tom’s background I’m sure it will make for an interesting game.

At the end of the summer, 14th September, Paul will run Hold the Line ’39 link in Sheffield. Will the Polish mange to stop the German juggernaut this time around? Given how well the full-scale test of the rules worked with Czech mate this is another game that I’m wanting to play in.

Flying, Trading, Misbehaving link is a new game from a new designer Sam inspired by the Firefly universe being run in Manchester 12th October. This should be a good game for all the SF fans out there. Plenty to do whether you want to roleplay or just fight out space battles or even trading.

Pickles rounds off the year on the 16th November in Manchester again with Who Will Watch Them link , a negotiation game of super power limitation talks that could well be disrupted by super villains. Given the popularity of the Marvel/ DC franchises this one could go down well too. Superheroes and me don’t get on but Pickles’ design skills mean this will be a good game.

 

For more details see the Pennine Megagames website or look on facebook for us.

 

Cheers,

 

Pete.

Serious Gaming: Entrusted 2.


Back in the middle of this year I got the chance to act as control in Paul Howarth and Ben Green’s hospital simulator game intrusted. See past blog report  here. Fund had been secured to run the game again for a different group of healthcare professionals and again I got the chance to help deliver it.

 

The format of the game was to be slightly different this time. It was intended that all the players would be part of a single hospital; although the narrative was continued from the last game in that the participants were now running the old hospital post- merger, otherwise the basic premise and three levels of players was retained. I went over early with Paul to Manchester to help sort things out before the game and go through the changes that had been made to the game since last time. It was nice to get a better grasp on the mechanisms of the game as last time my control role wasn’t really focused on them.

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The plenary Briefing.

After the attendees had arrived and the plenary briefing delivered we set up the room for the next day and retired to the bar. A pleasant couple of hours was spent with the control team drinking, chatting and playing a board game. In our case a run through of a the rather good Black Orchestrawhere you attempt to assassinate Hitler, we did with a briefcase bomb… There is a serious point to this, I’m of the opinion that gaming together, regardless of the game, can only improve a person’s and group’s skill level when acting as part of a control team.

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The evening’s recreational game.

After breakfast at the hotel we started early with the game and watched the players try to organise the hospital. A failure on their part to stock take what staff cards they had available at the start meant that they had plenty in turn one but then struggled in the second and subsequent turns. There were insufficient resources at the scenario start to deal with everything perfectly, this was meant to engender a discussion from the bottom- up to the board level players to get more resources this didn’t really happen for a good few hours. As this time, I was supervising the admissions/ Intensive Care unit and surgical wards I saw that the players worked incredibly hard to process the patients through the hospital and to a degree I start to empathise with them. This became apparent when the board level players came into the main room to describe their latest social media campaign. I sensed a degree of annoyance go through some of the players that they had been working hard whilst the board had been coming up with new hashtags for a twitter campaign. It was very interesting to see that as in the last game I saw how hard that the board/ directorate were working and I know full well that social media presence and public perception is of utmost importance in today’s media saturated landscape so I would not want to do the board a disservice and suggest that they were having an easier time of it than those in the main room running the basic hospital functions. One of the points of contentions was a refusal to hire the extra nurse, of non- British nationality, that were needed to man the wards. The staffing crisis got so severe that the intensive care unit was not used for a couple of turns.

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A pair of the wards staffed and with paitents.

Whilst the new mechanics are improved I think that a few player aids to speed up the learning of the game could be utilised in and subsequent run of the game.  I’d suggest that the quicker that the players understand and are comfortable with the basic mechanics the sooner that they can be different problem and scenarios can be injected in the game to generate the inter- department and inter- hierarchy discussions that will provide the greatest learning experience for the attendees.

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Discussions around anesthetist’s staffing level in the surgical theatres.

In the debrief there were some great comments by the attendees which showed that they got a lot from the game and again it was great to see gaming being used for something so beneficial.

Cheers,

Pete.

Megagame Report: Juntas.

Taking inspiration from the classic old board game of the same name (which I still haven’t played yet) Paul put on this megagame in Manchester on the 24th November. The scenario was expanded beyond the premise of the board game to have players taking on the role of the ruling politicos/ families of four fictional 1960/ 1970s South American countries, all of which were centred around the Anaconda basin. Also, there were players representing various multinational corporations trying to exploit the countries natural resources; four 2- person ambassador teams from the major powers (USA/ UK/ France/ USSR), five single player roles were given over to intelligence operators (all with bland names starting with ‘J’) and finally there were two players taking the roles of writers floating about looking for the story of the century. These final two roles were based on Ernest Hemmingway and Paul Theroux.

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The network figures on the abstracted board.

My job on the day was to run the intelligence game, something that I always enjoy doing. The game was a mixture of open and closed maps. There was a map that everyone could see that showed the info that everyone would know but a large amount of the info about the actual state of a country was kept hidden by control. This design philosophy was reflected in the intelligence game. The players had an abstracted map of the area upon which coloured figures were moved that represented local and transnational networks that could be hired to do the intelligence officers bidding. Whilst the players could negotiate and talk to other players in the game pretty freely the only way that they could mechanically interact with the game was through the networks. The hidden information came from the fact that they invested money into each network and only I as intelligence control knew who had invested what and who had ultimate control of each network. The five players were all experienced megagamers and kept me busy all day with some excellent ideas. Of the five roles four were American, and the final one was Soviet. Three of the US players worked quite closely together whilst John, playing a National Security Agency player, acted to type and kept a distance. Daniel as the Soviet was up against it from the start as the others instantly were suspicious of him, furthermore he invested heavily in the worst network in the game meaning that their loyalty to him was only matched by their incompetence in the field. Networks could be tested to see how good they were but that was not really done by many of the players.

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A general view of the hall with the screened off umpires’ section, the open map (bottom right) and the country tables round the edge of the room.

I could tell from turn one that I was going to be in for a busy game as Matt had been planning on the train down to the game, as he told me after the game’s conclusion, for his opening gambit. He wanted to buy a large quantity of heroin to have it at hand to potentially use to destabilise any of the four played countries if it looked like that they were going to move towards socialism/ communism… very CIA. His networks spent a few early turns locating and the purchasing said drugs. Ed was seemingly unhappy with his budget allocation and rather than deal with the paperwork to increase it (which was an in- game option) decided to raise his own slush fund by having his network rob some banks for him. This did wind up the counties no end as it got docked out of their budgets, as Ed’s networks were pretty good he never had an agent captured that might’ve given him away. A couple did go out in a hail of gunshots on the steps of a bank.

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The common knowledge map of the Anaconda basin.

Within the structure of the turn I was busy all the time as I needed to keep my paperwork regarding the networks up to date, thanks are due here to Becky W for helping my out with  cash counting duities. Collate the pieces of information that the intel players were asking for, resolve any other actions then relaying any pertinent info to the relevant country controls. As such I didn’t see much of the game other than that which was through the spy’s lens. John played the slow and steady game, sticking to his brief by infiltrating and bugging each countries’ radio network. This was spotted by the other three American intel players and they did try to spy on John to find out his loyalties. I just told them that they didn’t have a high enough security clearance to have the answer. At this stage of the cold war even the acronym ‘NSA’ was classified, hence its occasional nickname of ‘No Such Agency’.

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A glimpse behind the umpire’s screen where the countries’ actual data was tracked.

Daniels lowly network was nothing but not persistent taking several turns to finally blow up a dam as an act of economic warfare. As he was about to be hunted down to the others as the game drew to a close Daniel did the sensible thing and negotiated for himself a French passport. The heroin did make its way into the game as it was infiltrated, by the troika of US players when a country went over to communism, into a player’s food to make him unwell when it was withdrawn to limit his efficiency. It may have sounded far- fetched but one only has to remember the CIA plots against Cuba’s Castro during this time frame.

All in all it was a busy but very fun day and another solid political- military game by Paul to finish off Pennine Megagames 2018 calendar. The only thing that I would think about changing from my corner of the game would be to have an intel player tied to each ambassador team as it was difficult for the USSR player to do much and the US got a bigger advantage than the others as there were four players supporting that side.

 

Cheers,

 

Pete.

https://www.penninemegagames.co.uk/

Megagame Report: Czech mate ’38.

Czechmate ’38 was an operational megagame put on by Paul Howarth in October.  As can be guess from the name it is a what if? Exploration of what could of happened had the Czechoslovaks militarily resisted the attended annexation of the Sudetenland.  It was designed to test out some mechanics before they were used in other, bigger, games; as such this game was run as a small affair through Paul’s Story Living Games.

I got the chance to be the overall commander of the Czechoslovak forces. I came up with a simple plan. A crust of defences that would be held doggedly and the reserves held centrally to respond to the inevitable breakthrough. With only one good mobile division I kept it near the capital as I figured that this would be the main target for the Germans on the day to try and force the Czechs out of the game. I did know that the Germans only had about a fortnight’s worth of supplies, so it was a question of just holding on and trying to not give up any more real estate than I could.

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The plan forms.

On the day because of the small numbers of players I would also be running the air forces for my side. I had helped Paul with playtesting this part of the game quite a bit, so I was confident that I could do both jobs easily.

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A close up view of the air game board.

What really made my day go so well was the sterling work gone by Nick who was my aide de camp who kept me up to date with what was happening on the map, relaying messages and generally keeping things going along.

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My reserves looked impressive stacked up until I saw all the German cubes….

The previous playtesting of the air game had given me a slight advantage even though the Czechoslovak Air Force was greatly outnumbered by the Luftwaffe: I knew I could go toe to toe so put very little up in the early turns conceding air superiority on the basis that I’d never be in a position to seriously contest it anyway. I fully expected a massive German offensive, so my plan was to only fly 50% of my force at any one time, keep stuff cycled through quickly and concentrate on targeting the command and control links of the Wehrmacht.

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General shot of the room: the two smaller tables are for the air game.

The main game was played on an open map with 5cm polystyrene blocks. Each block represented a regiment with the face uppermost indicating that regiment’s current status. The blocks also showed the combat value in each state. Players were given and then had to spend command points to activate their units. It was my responsibility to assign from my pool of points allocations to each player.

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See what I mean about all the red German cubes…? Good job they took so long to clear the border fortifications.

In the plenary briefing of the game I got a little worried when Paul said that if the Czechoslovaks got wiped out and defeated by half past 12 would could just reset, swap sides and go again… it got me expecting a whitewashing. Fortunately, the bunkers that most of my troops started in were pretty tough and the fact that the German Heer was trying to advance whole Corps along a single mountainous road in October meant that they struggled to get the command points to activate.

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Fall back positions were organised.

When the Germans made their first breakthrough I called a tea break to sort out the allocation of reserves and to speak to each commander to see how likely they were to hold out and for how long. At this point I assigned some fall-back positions trying to make the best use of natural obstacles. I was prepared to give up some areas rather than risk having any forces encircled.

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An army marches on its stomach so I brought tea lof to sustain my Czech team.

In the end the reserves, at least those that were rifle divisions, were parcelled out quite early. Hindsight has made me consider if a bolder strategy would have been to have released them to players at the start to make the initial crust of defences very strong indeed. It would have left me with only the Fast Division to act as a reserve which wouldn’t have been very much at all…

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Towards the end of the game the Germans did start breaking through.

I got the chance to do a little roleplaying/ politicking to try and appeal to the French to apply diplomatic pressure. I knew a full-scale invasion of Germany wouldn’t be possible (and outside the scope of the game) but when it was announced that the Poles were mobilizing to take advantage of our misfortunes I appealed to the French to call them off. I knew that this would be easier if we managed to put in a decent counter attack. I knew that I couldn’t turn back the German tide, but I could definitely put a dint into the main thrust. It is worth remembering that the German tanks at this stage were quite poor, mostly Panzer I and Panzer IIs with the better Panzer IIIs and IVs being quite rare. Easy prey for the LT 35 and LT 38 tanks with their 37mm guns I could field. The attack went in as I planned and managed to stall the main German thrust to Prague. It wasn’t a game winning manoeuvre, but it should that will still had fight left in us and saved the capital for a few more days. In the end the game ended after ten days/ turns; certainly, much of the country was occupied but we still had units in the field and a functional government. The Germans had paid a heavy cost to get this far, especially in materiel. So much that a further invasion of Poland the following year would have been doubtful.

The game system seemed pretty solid and I’m looking forward to it being used in next year’s Poland game. The only thing that needs to be added would be a better fog of war mechanism so the location of my reserves would of have to have been discovered in the game by the Germans but that is a minor thing. The only down side of the day is that I now want to raise a 20mm collection to fight out some of the battles the game generated with toy soldiers.

 

Cheers,

 

Pete.

Megagames Report: Everybody Dies 3: Playing with Fire.

I’m a bit behind with putting up my megagame reports so expect a glut of them over the next few days… They might not be as long as previous game write- ups but I’m keen to get as much down on each of them.

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The very evocative map was back- new were dragon miniatures.

The first of September saw Pennine Megagames put on Becky Ladley’s Everybody Dies 3: Playing with Fire. This was a return to the Game of Thrones world; this time set a good 150 years before the novels/ TV series. The big feature of this game is that it featured large numbers of dragons flying around and getting involved in the narrative. As I’m, seemingly, one of the few people that have still not read the books or watched the TV show I volunteered to control. I was put in charge of running the map where those players commanding armies would be.

Keeping the players on track proved to be hard work and I’m sorry to say that it was my first experience of players purposely bending the rules. I’m sure it happens in many games, but it was a first to see it first- hand…

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The busiest part of the map for the whole game.

The game was very much focused around the events in King’s Landing where the King died in the first turn sparking a civil war between the Greens and Blacks. There were only a few battles on the map so most of the day I was regulating movement and calling players on it to keep them on the straight and narrow… some not liking that.

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Becky had won a competion to get an ice sculpture- got to be a first in a megagame.

As the third run of the game it was very slick in terms of the mechanics. Becky had done a great job simplifying and clarifying both the map movement and the combat. Using the same basic mechanisms for both land and naval combat was a good idea and the game handbook was well produced.

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Daniel lays down the law with a two hand point during a combat.

For an excellent reflective piece by Becky on her game look to her blog here.

 

Cheers,

 

Pete.

The latest additions to my 6mm (1/300th) Cold War forces.

I’ve been busy in the shed expanding my Cold War micro armour collection in preparation for a multiplayer game of 5core: Brigade Commander that I am planning.

6mm US

First up with have a mix of US Army vehicles: A Command stand and a company of M1A1s plus extra ATGM, mortars and Vulcan AA cannons mounted on the ubiquitous M113 chassis.

6mm Warthog

To give the US some air support I painted up a A10 Thunderbolt II aka The Warthog. Probably THE close air support aircraft for the Cold War period.

6mm Harrier

For the Brits I have done a Harrier GR3, for a change I decided to do it in the winter camo scheme often seen sported during deployments to Norway.

6mm jaguar

Also for the Brits I’ve painted up a SEPECAT Jaguar, one of my favourite Cold War era jets.

All the models are from Heroics and Ros apart from the infantry that are from Irregular.

 

Cheers,

 

Pete.