Watch the Skies Megagame at Birmingham.

I know I said I’d do this post earlier this week but I’ve been full of cold and snot….

 

Friday night saw me headed down to Birmingham with Paul to act as control for his version of Jim Wallman’s CLICKY ‘Watch the Skies’ which he was running through his own Story Living Games CLICKY rather than Pennine Megagames CLICKY. For those of you not in the know ‘Watch the Skies’ was the megagame that really catapulted the format into the hobby consciousness when a video was made by the you tubers ‘Shut up and Sit down’, they went to the first run through of the game that was put on by Megagame Makers CLICKY. The game spawned several sequels by Jim, getting bigger each time. The game is available to buy through gym and consequently many games of it have now been run around the world.

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Paul had altered the backstory and a few of the mechanics for his run through but having not played any of the earlier iterations, or seen and of the original game materials I can’t comment much on what the differences are. Five countries were played in the Birmingham game: Germany, Russia, China, Brazil and the USA along with a UN team, a one- man band press team and a two player Alien team. The basic story was that the Aliens had been using Earth as a testing ground for researching diseases and were coming back to see how things were progressing now that Humanity was developing space flight. They were to assess mankind to see if it was suitable for inclusion in the Star Federation, an Ofstead- ing of humanity if you will, this was to be accomplished by setting tasks for the players to do (not that they knew they were being watched in such a way). Parallel to this a demented Scientist at the WHO was trying to off a third of humanity to save it, mild mannered World Health Organisation by day, leader of the 12 Monkeys by night sort of things. In between this there were all sort of wars and confrontations between countries, shoot downs of alien saucers, trade deals and other typical megagame activities going on.

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My job in all this was to run the science game. Each country had a science player who was to research different technologies to aid their team. This was done by spending research tokens to buy playing cards then placing runs down to advance down the tech tree. Once they had got to the bottom that technology was available to the team. Every other turn the science players voted between themselves to award a Nobel prize for the best research that year (turns were 6 months long).

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After a slow start due to a lack of funds, it cost money as well as cards to progress down the tech tree, the players quickly got into the swing of things and co-operation rather than competition seemed to be the order of the day with the players swapping cards to help each other quite freely. Actual completed technologies were swapped much less frequently and co-operative researches rarer still, the joint US/German/ Brazilian space station very nearly came to fruition by the end of the game.

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The scientist had a secondary task to try and cure the diseases spread by the demented WHO scientist (played in our game by Tom). To do this Paul used the mechanism from the old logic game mastermind CLICKY; it proved to be a popular addition distracting President’s from important UN business on one occasion.

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The game ran really well, smaller ones often do- we had 25 players and 4 control, everybody seemed to really enjoy it. In the customary post game summing up the alien pair went last and delivered their damming verdict on humanity: requires improvement. They would return in 18 months with new challenges to test us again.

 

After the game it was the usual decamp to a local pub to talk through the games events and relive the highlights with the players.

 

Cheers,

 

Pete.

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More on near future combat….

This evening I’ve been catch up with my emails and blogs after a busy weekend doing megagame stuff (see tomorrow’s post for the details) and this popped up on my radar:

http://madsciblog.tradoc.army.mil/38-the-multi-domain-dragoon-squad-a-hyper-enabled-combat-system/

It is a fascinating post on how the American army is trying to cenceptualise future combat, a tricky thing to do at the best of time.

What makes the post useful is it provides a hypothetical platoon organisation which, convientently for me, features 12 soldiers, the same number I’ve just painted up.  See my previous post here. I just need to get 4 futuristic looking jeeps, 8 quadripedial robots (I’ll scour the 15mm science fiction ranges for something suitable) and make 12 drones. Given the small size of the drones I’m thinking of scratch building them from tile spacers. It would give me a strong consistent 4 armed base to build my quadcopters on. I think I trip to the hardware shop is in order.

 

Cheers,

 

Pete.

Some Dark Age* and Bronze Age figures

Not like me to do much of the ‘sharp stick’ side of wargaming but it would be dull if life didn’t havea bit of variety every now and again….

As a group we are slowly working on some Dark Age figures, everyone has some Vikings, Evanis going for Welsh and I’ve gone for Normans as my main army. We plan to use the Saga rules, in fact we had a quick game of it this evening, it showed how effective crossbows are if nothing else.

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I painted up a group of 12 Gripping Beast plastic Saxons, still trying to perfect my palette of colors for the Dark Ages.

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The leader, standard bearer and two warriors.

 

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The spearmen.

 

For reasons that are mostly explained by whim and the fact I read an interesting book on the subject a while back I bought from ebay some of the Wargames Foundry European Bronze Age figures.

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5 figures from the ‘command’ pack.

 

I’m not sure if I’ll get anymore. Whilst low level clan warfare would be interesting, there isn’t much of a figure range available so a lot of repetition of poses would creep in. Also it wouldn’t be much different at a skirmish level to the Dark Ages. I know that we are talking about very different cultures and technologies but at the man to man level the mechanics of swinging and axe into someone is pretty much the same. I happily use the same low level skirmish sets for WW1 to present day games, it is only as one widens the scope of the battle to look at how armies operated and fought that one sees the difference. The Marne was fought very differently to Op. Goodwood…

 

… I think more reading is in order.

 

Cheers,

 

Pete.

 

*I know that the term Dark Ages isn’t a particularly useful, descriptive or even accurate term and ‘early medieval period’ is preferred, typing Dark Ages is just quicker.

Some Elhiem figures.

I’ve painted up some example of Elhiem’s [clicky] work that I’ll share with you. One of the good things about Matt the guy behind Elhiem is that he is very responsive to customer requestsd and suggestions, he has a Facebook page just for to post ideas to. The first group of figures is one that I said I’d be interested in when the idea was broached an a now defunct forum.

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This are men and women in suits, ideal as bodyguards for some VIP. I painted their clothing a fairly light grey to contrast with the dark weapons; unfortunately the silver paint for the mirrorshades didn’t worth that well, I may yet got back over it with black….

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This next group is 12 near future/  SF Amerrican types. Wearing full face helmets and advanced armour, they have exo- skeletons to give them a boost. It is a nice touch that only the LMG gunners have the exo- skeleton extending down their arms.

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To distinguish the different fireteams I painted each group of four’s guns different colours: here we have the ‘greens’…

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… the ‘tans’…

 

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… and the ‘greys’. 

 

There are some suggested rules for near future tech in the recent Osprey rules Black Ops so I will dig those out to. Also revisiting the novel Ghost Fleet should provide some inspiration for games.  I found this video too that gives me some ideas. I’ve got 12 near future Russians too to paint up so they’ll have some potential opposition. 20mm science fiction figures are rather thin on the ground so these area nice addition. I wouldn’t mind some more poses for both ranges, Officer and NCO types would be useful as well as some with rocket launchers of some kind….

 

Cheers,

 

Pete.

Chile ‘ 73- Board game review.

I noticed on Saturday on Brian Train’s blog [clicky] that he has released a new game “Chile ’73” [clicky] and it was available as a print and play edition from Wargames Vault for a very reasonable $8.99 (price I bought it at) [clicky] so I bought myself a copy and got printing.

 

Unfortunately I’ve had a viral infection in my ear that effected my balance, cognitive abilities and motor skills (much better now though) so I made a bit of a hash of assembling the components, not everything is straight or wrinke free. No worry I thought: if I like the game enough I’ll print the pages out again and have a better go at it.

 

I decided to run through a quick game on Monday evening with Paul [clicky]  , as I know he is working on a coup/ Juntas inspired megagame at the moment, and see what we made of it. The game is based around the 1973 coup against President Allende, events which ultimately lead to Pinochet becoming President (spelt d- i- c- t- a- t- o- r in his case). Other than that I know nothing about the events that are being simulated so I can offer no opinion on how well the game works in simulating history.

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Chile ’73 is a game of two halves:  pre and post coup. Players, 2 or more no upper limit is specified, start by deciding which faction that they want to play and also which hidden agenda they want to follow, this matters only with 3 or more players as it determines who on the winning side claims overall victory. In the pre coup turns players  get 3 actions try to amass forces on to their side by drawing randomly from a cup (your own faction is easier to recruit), moving units on the map or collecting/ using action chits. The action chits can be used to thwart opposing player actions, spy on them or saved for later.

This continues until one player (me in our playthrough) decides the time is right to launch a coup. If there was more than just the two of us players would have to declare which side to support but in a 2 player run through Paul defaulted to the loyalist position, also in a 2 player game they have a 50/ 50 chance of getting the remaining units onto their side. From now on the game is a fast playing urban combat game that continues until only on side remains in play. In our run through my coup attempt was succesful due to superior numbers but I paid a heavy price from Paul’s air attacks. The placement of units in the pre coup phase is important as it is possible to convert some civilian units to armed units if key areas are held. Likewise keeping hold of an aiport is vital if you want some air support (something I neglected to do). In the case of two or more players on the same victorious side a victory points table is consulted to see who can claim overall victory.

All of the mechanisms are simple enough but give you enough choices and create the right thematic atmosphere. There are a few negatives though, there are a few ommissions in the rule book, stacking limits for units in a city area aren’t defined clearly but it can be inferred from a rule on staelmate that it is three. A few of the counters don’t have the correct backs on the sheets provided but it isn’t too muchof a problem. Fortunately these can be rectified and updated files posted on wargames vault. I think that we didn’t get the most out of the game with only two players, with more the pre coup phase wouyld be more interesting as you would be trying to work out other players agendas through the employment of action chits, that combined with the greater uncertainty of possible allegiances would make for more tension. Likewise competing with a ‘team’ for overall victory would add an other level of play.

EDIT- Ignore my comments onthelack of stackinglimits- I was writing bollocks- my illness addled brain missed the rules even though they are clearly marked; as the rules designers has pointed out inthe comments below.

The question is will I be printing it out again. The answer is yes, my current thining is to blow the board up twice as big and the counters one and a half times the size to facilitate a multiplayer game. I’m looking forward to a game with at least 5 of us….

 

Cheers,

 

Pete.

NormandyTrip: Back to England and Bovington Tank Museum.

The overnight ferry from La Harve to Portsmouth was uneventful, I spent it either reading or watch films on my tablet, also it was the longest I’ve ever spent on a ship. As we arrived early on Friday morning I went on deck as the boat docked to see what was moored up in Portsmouth Harbour. The two historic ships HMS Victory and HMS Warrior were visible along with a fair few contemporary RN vessels including the new HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier.

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HMS Warrior, undergoing some restortation.

 

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HMS Victory.

 

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HMS Queen Elizabeth, Britain’s biggest ever warship, I have to admit feeling a little underwhelmed by it.

 

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A Type 45 Destroyer HMS Dragon.There were at least 4 Type 45s berthed when I was there.

After docking we drove a hour and a half westwards to visit Bovington Tank Museum, a place that has been on my must visit list for a long time. The number of vehicles on display is mind boggling. Divided up into different sections it takes you through the development of the tank then we went through the Trench Experience covering WW1 and from War Horse to Horse Power and much more including the Tiger exhibit bring together a Tiger and Elefant, two Tiger IIs and a Jagdtiger. I took so many photos I can’t upload them all but I’ll put up a representative sample. If anyone has anything in particular they want to see let me know and I’ll post it.

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A view of the first hall we went in, Centurion front and centre.

 

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WW1 Mk IV ‘female’ tank.

 

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British Crusier tank from 1940.

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A Panzer III painted up in Africa Korp colours.

 

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A Sherman Firefly with Cromwell in the background.

 

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Moving on to modern stuff we have a T72 with a Patton in the background.

 

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A Saladin Armoured Car

 

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British Challenger.

 

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Another shot of the Firefly and Cromewll with the front ofa Chruchill peeking in.

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In the WW1 section we have a MkII tank.

 

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A Mk IV male with fascine.

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Austin Armoured Car of the type used in Ireland during the Anglo-Irish war.

 

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Tiger II with Porsche turret and Jagdtiger.

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Tiger II with Henschel turret.

 

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Elefant (all the way from the US) and Tiger 131.

 

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Hetzer SPG in front of a Jagdpanther.

 

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Protype of the Tortoise SPG- a British proposal to attack the Siegfried line.

 

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A T34/76 in Finnish colours.

 

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The ridiculous TOG II- a British failure from WW2, very cool all the same though.

 

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British heavy metal.

 

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The Sherman used in the recent Brad Pitt film ‘Fury’ still with its sfx weathering.

 

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Not all of the vehicles that are in the Bovington Collection are on public display- this is a view of part of the storage shed.

Going round Bovington took all day; all that was left was a long drag on a journey North back to Yorkshire to end Dad and I’s holiday.

 

Cheers,

 

Pete.