Been a while since I’ve done one of these. I’ve finished the module work on my MA for the time being (just got some reading to catch up on) so I’ve got a bit more time to myself.
Accordingly I’ve been getting some work done in the shed- mostly focussing on my 6mm 1980s Cold War forces. A bit tricky to paint as they are rather small but I’m going for effect when they are massed together rather than individual masterpieces. There will be photos in due course. Also started on some 20mm Commandos for the Guild Forum’s group build.
Managed to get a few games in- well umpiring them at any rate. Funny how much of the rules we had forgotten.
I ran a Normandy game:
A Stalingrad game:
This evenings game wasa tank fest seeing hordes (well 8) of T34/85s facing off against a pair of Tigers. Sadly I didn’t take any pictures.
With regards to boardgaming I got in a game of ‘Fire in the Lake’ the Vietnam COIN game published by GMT. Their series has quickly become my favourite board game series and this Vietnam game is my preferred installment.
Its belend of Euro game style mechanics with a strong military/political theme makes for great game play.
Additionally I backed the ‘This War of Mine’ kickstarter. Based on the powerful and moving PC game I’m looking forward to early next year when I should get my copy.
Megagaming is going from strength to strength too which is very encouraging. The next one is Jena 1806 wher I’m stepping into to Boney’s shoes, should be an interesting experience and one I’ll do a full report on.
That’s all for now.
Today my copy of Richard Borg’s new boardgame arrived.
I backed the kickstarter and am really pleased that it arrived in the time frame stated. The game came with the stretch goals that formed part of the funding campaign- namely an extra two scenarios, plastic artillery pieces and white metal command figures.
I haven’t had the time to have a proper look in the box but all the parts seem to be a decent quality and plenty of figures too. As they are in 15mm I’m tempted to swap them out for 20mm versions so they match the rest of my collection (and flog the 15s) though this may well depend if Plastic Soldier Company upscale the sprues as they have done with their other releases.
Either way I’m looking forward to giving the game a go- hopefully it will be easy enough for younger members of the family to play it too.
Things have been quieter than I’ve wanted on the blogging/painting front… been rather busy with postgrad work and trying to keep the black dog in his kennel… still due to various reasons (if you ever see me in person I can moan to you about it) I’m taking a break from the former for a few months, calling it a leave of absence makes it sound rather formal ….
Still with the unexcepted free time I will try to do a bit more painting and hopefully have something to show here. Though I have been painting Easter eggs for my nephews (apparently my Sister has a tree with them hung on in their house- new to me too).
The oldest wanted a footballer so I did this:
The poor quality phone camera photo reminds me of noseybonk’s terrifying visage (look on youtube if you didn’t have your childhood in 80s Britain) but it looks better in real life.
The middle one wanted a ninja turtle so I came up with this:
Both were really pleased with them- in fact they found it hard to believe they were hand painted. Nice to put my limited brush skills to something else, and shows I have been painting something. The good news is the youngest nephew is too young to request one the bad news is I’m taking delivery of another dozen polystyrene eggs tomorrow and a list to work through… will keep me busy for a while.
On the plus side I am keeping up with gaming, managing one or two a week. In fact I’ve been playing through some old classic boardgames that I missed the first time round.
I enjoyed a 4 player game of ‘Fury of Dracula’ which plays really well- the hidden movement works nicely and from what I’ve read on the net the 80’s version I played is better than the latest reworked incarnation.
Also I played (and lost) a 3 player game of block/Mega Mania. A fun little game, looking forward to a rerun of it.
A rival block after my vigilante carefully placed a demo charge…
Other than all this gaming on my PC is keeping my mind off things, no doubt playing Wargame: European Escalation and Air Land Battle will spur me back into cold war gaming… watch this space.
This afternoon I went into town to pick up a parcel that was waiting for me; it was either text books or a new board game… Fortunately for this blog it was the latter.
Fire in the Lake: the latest installment in GMT Games COIN series had arrived (great price and service from IGUK). This one is the fourth that they have produced- see my earlier post on the Afghan and Colombian games. I was quite excited to see what was in side so I ripped off the cellophane and rummaged through the rather heavy box.
The game is up to the usual high standards the GMT Games always seems to achieve- great heavy duty board, solid pieces and plenty of reference sheets too. The four game able factions are: ARVN, US, VC and PAVN. It will be interesting to see how the rivalry between the latter two factions plays out given that they are ostensibly on the same side. One of the notable features of the game is that any of the factions can be gamed via the mechanics if there are not four players in the game. A rather detail;ed flow chart system is used, though it is quickly picked up in game. It does provide a tough game too so nothing is lost in the game experience if you don’t have a full set of players.
For those that have not played any of the games in the series they all use a card driven mechanism to determine player order in each turn, this can lead to a player either taking the event on the card or taking another action. All of the cards have been drawn from the history of each war, though they will often come out in an ahistoric order; Fire in the Lake for the first time introduces a mechanism that classifies the cards by year so that they event better fit the scenarios in question (so no references to Linebacker 2 when game time is 1966 I’d imagine) again something else that I’m looking forward to exploring when I get round to playing it.
I’ll probably get Brian round to run through the games introduction first before I jump into a full game… watch this space for a fuller report.
Last night Brian and Chris came round to give the new game a quick run through.
We decided to play the “short” 2009- 2013 scenario so set up the board and deck accordingly. Unusually the first card of the deck was a Propaganda card (1 in 13 chance) which gave us all a bit of a resources boost and a bit of population control too. This resolved we moved into playing the game properly.
I took the role of the Taliban, Chris the Afghan Government and Brian the Coalition, the non-aligned Warlords were run as a NPC faction by the game mechanics.
The board mid game- the Taliban (me) are strong in Pakistan, bombing these bases led to unfortunate political consequences for the Coalition.
Sadly we didn’t manage a full game- mostly because the set up took a while, and we chatted a bit when Bill popped by so it was getting late. Also the game is much more difficult than it’s predecessor ‘Andean Abyss’, not in terms of the game mechanics, which remain unchanged but the interplay between the factions is more entwined and labyrinthian.
Hopefully next game we’ll remember to set aside more time to explore it properly (and get a fourth person to run the Warlords), I think in the long run I’ll prefer it to ‘Andean Abyss’- mainly because have much more of a background knowledge of the recent history of Afghanistan than that of Colombia and the interplay between the players is more complicated, though time will tell of course.
My favourite boardgame of last year was the superlative ‘Andean Abyss’, when I found out that the series was being expanded I was happy, when an Afghan game was announced I was very happy.
For the uninitiated ‘A Distant Plain’ is a high level game of the Afghanistan Counter- insurgency war post 2002. So think after the special forces toppled the taliban and after Operation Anaconda.
What makes the game interesting to be is that it uses ‘Euro’ game mechanics (area movement not hexes, abstract unit representation, political factors, random events governed by cards) to model a conflict that most people game on the table top of with chit and hex games (talking of Operation Anaconda there is a rather nice little game of the published by the Strategy and Tactics magazine which I’ve got).
The game is produced to the high standard that I have come to expect from GMT Games with quality components and extensive supporting literature.
Brian and I set the game up- as seen above- and worked through the tutorial to see what had changed from ‘Andean Abyss’. As far as we can tell the basic mechanics are the same, something that will allows us to get playing quicker; the differences lie in the subtle relationships between the four playable factions – Afghan Government, Coalition, Taliban and non- aligned Warlords (with less than four players there are sufficient rules mechanisms for those factions to be run effectively as NPCs). The beauty of the systems allows for the possibility of more than one side claiming a victory at once (although probably not the Taliban and Government) this makes for dealing, double-dealing and bribes to feature- making great fun for the gamers.
Volko Ruhnke, the main designer of the series, was responsible for the modern classic of Labyrinth which cover the Global War on Terror as a whole- a game that Brian and I have played repeatedly. Hopefully playing this smaller slice of the GWOT won’t cover too much of the same ground, in the same way- either way I’m looking forward to playing it (with a new blog post too naturally)
Over the past few weeks I’ve managed to have three games of Andean Abyss, which I mentioned a few posts back.
Initial impressions were of a complicated game to that wasn’t subsequently borne out. Brian and I went through the very well written and comprehensive tutorial and we found a card driven game that is actually very easy to play. Like the best games its challenge is working out which strategy to employ in a session. It is easy to form a plan but different card driven events can offer a different path, and that’s before you try to counter the machinations of the other players. The game can be played with between 1 and 4 players, one player is always the Colombian government, the other player fores are the FARC (and other left wing guerrillas such as the ELM), the AUC (right wing paramilitaries) and the Drug Cartels (even though they are many in the country they are all lumped together for ease of play). Game play resolves around gaining forces and conducting operations against the other players, building bases, controlling areas and resources as well as general scheming; this is countered by the variable turn order sequence and any events that might be played from each turns card.. That is one thing I like about the game- there are no rules for diplomacy, players make make and break deals as they see fit.
The board as it is initially set up.
Each side has its own set of victory conditions meaning it is possible that one or more sides might win at the same time, accordingly the Government player has the hardest job trying to thwart 3 other players simultaneously; they are manily playing for themselves….
Mid way through a game: discs are bases, cubes are police or army, cylinders are guerrillas.
In our three games the first went to a quick victory to the FARC, the second was to the AUC, and the third was a joint victory to the Government and the Cartels (some sort of deal with one playing off the other not to attack at a crucial juncture).
The board is divided up into areas and cities each of which can only hold 2 bases. There are also vital pipeline that run through the country, control of which is very important for the government.
The game is amply supported with designer’s notes, strategy tips and an explanation of each event card in the game, plenty to give you enough info to play the game. I did however find an bibliography that got me scurrying off to Amazon for some more reading material. I can definitely recommend M. A. Murillo’s ‘Colombia and the United States: War Unrest and Destabilization’.
The game is the first in a planned series of COIN games, with Cuba and Afghanistan being lined up as pre orders already. Given the quality of this game I’ll be picking the others up in due course.