Sengoku- A Samurai Megagame.

Yesterday saw the inaugural megagame put on by Pennine Megagames. Given the explosion of interest after the Watch the Skies video done by Shut up and Sit Down there has been many more groups being set up running games both in the UK and further afield other than Jim Wallman’s Megagame Makers.

Talking of Jim, Paul the driving force behind Pennine Megagames chose one of his designs to rework as the first game: Sengoku being a game of warring clans in late medieval Japan. This version had fewer played teams and an open map combat system.


Being set in Sheffield it meant I had to catch a rather early train to get down there- no problem as it allowed me to catch up with some reading.

The venue was light and airy with plenty of space for the 6 played clans (3-4 players per clan) and the large map (very nicely realized by Simon).

I was down for a control/ umpire role and true to form to most non operation megagames what you are down to do and what you end up doing on the day tend to be rather different. Obstensibly I was there to control and sneak underhand plots that the players might try to spring on each other- spies, assasinations – the fun stuff really. But the players didn’t seem to want to try any of that on each other… I only knew of one bribe being played. In the end I mainly checked to see that correct etiquette was being observed. It was great to see that this side of the game being embraced by the players… kimonos, respectful bows, exchanging of gifts and very formal tea ceremonies were all ther in abundance. This was not mere set dressing either as the cultural worth and honour of each clan was being monitered not just their military prowess. In this way there was a game for everybody there, those with a military bent could enjoy the manouvering of forces on the large map, the schemers had allainces and treaties to make.


As far as my control role went it was fairly light- the players quickly got a grasp of the rules and by lunchtime was effectively running itself. Simon on map control was busy up to the final moments of the game as everybody jockeyed for position. Tim did a sterling job running 17 non played faction simultaneously, often adopting 5 different roles in as many minutes….


Pennine Megagames are looking to run several games next year in the M62 corridor area. First up will be a Very British Civil War themed interwar bash in Manchester in February, along with a Napoleonic Jena game and a 1950 Korean War game being developed by Simon and myself (more detail on this later) as well as a non military/ operational game being discussed too.


For more detail see their website here:

There is also a facebook page for those of you who do such things.

There is a reddit page that lists all upcoming games that is well worth keeping an eye on:






20mm Civilian emergency planners

Fresh from the painting bench is this collection of useful figures.


They are from Elhiem miniatures and have been designed to go with the board game Pandemic but I’m always on the look out for useful civie figures. I had bought them before I got the Black Ops rules but they will be ideal for taking part in my future games. Standing in as scientist to be rescued/ abducted of innocent bystanders to be protected each one will be used at somepoint. I can see them also being used when we restart our Zombie games.

Enough waffle- more pics:



The yellow suited hazmat figure is my personal favourite.




Black Ops rules review and playtest.

Whilst I attended the recent Fiasco show (great to meet up with a few people but the show wasn’t great- not a good look when a third of your demo/ participation tables are no shows…) I picked up a few bits including the new Black Ops rules from Osprey.

Written by Guy Bowers and subtitled ‘Tactical Espionage Wargaming’ it is in the common ‘Men at Arms’ sized format and is clearly designed to bring the feel and flavour or many FPS PC games to the table top.

By the Tuesday following the show I had read through the rules and decided to run a couple of quick games to test the rules.

I’m not a fan of points in games; there is nothing wrong with in principle but their mere inclusion in a set of rules brings out the worst in a significant minority of gamers who represent the antithesis of my preferred gaming style. Still I created two roughly equal sides from the extensive faction lists: One a conscript squad the other a 4 man SOF team and got the table set up.



The first game was a quick encounter game to get the basics of activation, movement and firing worked out.



The game is run using a deck of cards- much like the old Arc of Fire rules that I’ve played lots of but with types of figure activated on each card rather than discreet units. Movement and activations are simple and firing is just rolling over the required hit number.


As a basic skirmish game the rules work well enough, not better or worse than other comparable sets really though I would have preferred a bit more friction in the activation system. However that is not the rule sets raison d’etre so I reset the table to run a stealth mission.



Here the rules really came into their own with wandering guards and noise token which had to be minimised by the raiding player to avoid raising the alarm- though I’d like to see the noise list extended. This style of game is great fun and I can see it being played a lot in the coming months here, especially as I’ve plenty of figures and terrain that are suitable and ready to be used.

My only real criticism of the rules is that I thought the close combat system is a bit weak and breaks down quickly when you have a large melee. I will say however that I’ve yet to find a close combat system in any set of skirmish rules that I’ve really thought was good.

The rules seem to be marketed as a Science Fiction set but in reality they are really decent set of modern i.e. 21st century skirmish rules, the SF parts only really amount to one small table of extra equipment. Equipment that in the most part can be found in prototype form currently.