Game Report: Zone Alfa.

Been rather busy recently with uni work so not had much time to do as much hobby stuff but I know where my priorities lie. As such I’ve not bneen gaming much. There was a brief window where people from 2 different households could meet inside before my  area was subject to a localised lockdown… in that gap I managed to get a small game of Zone Alfa (Osprey Games) in with Joe. I painted up some more minis for it which I’ll put up soon.

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We had planned to get a Zone Alfa campaign up and running at the club, but Covid put paid to that. I had, however, started to get a few bits and pieces for it in 28mm so that is the scale I played against Joe with. I know I was planning to do 20mm Zone Alfa at home, and I still am, but we were being sensible and socially distanced; so we only touched our own toys, tape measures and dice and so on.

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My previous game of Zone Alfa degenerated into a rather bloody gun fight as the factions we both played were mutally atagonistic. This time as we both ran military teams so were cautiously allied. We could have rolled to shoot at each other but neither of us decided to.

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In the end this worked in our favour as it was a good refresher on how the exploration,  anomalies and zone hostiles worked.

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We weren’t using the game as part of a campaign- where Zone Alfa shines- more as a rules refresher. I think in the end Joe’s forces would have looted more stuff than me but I’d have got mnore experience for my team as I killed more.

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It was really good to get to roll some dice again and get new figures on the table. Shame that the new lockdown has already got in the way of 2 games that I had planned. It was also nice to have some of my 3D printed terrain on the table too. Hopefully I won’t have to wait too long until my next game now.

 

Cheers,

 

Pete.

 

 

Game Report: Falklands War Matrix game.

Last week I got the chance to play in another Matrix game- this time a rerun of the Falklands War of 1982. Again it was with the group from the Sheffield Wargames club but with a suitable socially distanced format through Skype.

 

Matrix games are really all about structured discussion- state and action and an effect with three reasons why it will happen and then the umpire adjudicates and in this case tells you if you have succeded or not. You are not limited to just yourself and your forces you can try and have an effect on anything.

 

The game was for seven players, Thatcher and Admiral Woodward for the UK, President Reagan and General Haig for the US, Galtieri for the Argentinians, As well as Pinochet and the UN being played. Each player was given their own briefing in advance. I was given the role of President Reagan with the basic tasks of ensuring that the islands were returned to the UK and offering some support too.

 

I played quite aggressively; with the US as the preminent economic power house I made sure to funnel supplies to the Brits (I knew they’d need them) as well as trying to distract the Soviets with naval exercises in the Med, hopefully to stop them meddling. I also gave Pinochet some cash to run month long exercises with his armed forces to make sure the Argentines were distracted there too. Am pleased to say that the game followed the history fairly well with the Black Buck raids, Exocets and the eventual recapture of the Islands all happening in more or less the right order.

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The game was great fun to play- a good chance to do a bit of roleplaying too. Can’t thank Tim enough for running the game and the other players for making it so much fun. The format of the game worked really well over Skype too. Tim just set the camera up at the representationmal map whilst we presented our arguements.

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With a couple of matrix games under my belt I’mm eager to play another one.

 

You can find Tim’s reports on the game here and here. The scenario is considered a matrix game classic and has been well recieved by a wide vareity of players and organisations, it is available in this book.

Cheers,

Pete.

Game Report: Aeronautica Imperialis.

Just before the social distancing and lockdown came into effect here in the UK Evan and I tried the Aeronautica Imperialis stater box that I got for xmas. Having painted up all the aircraft in it I was keen to give it a go, Evan is always keen on any sort of air war game too.

 

We started off with simply one aircraft each; I took the Ork Dakka jet whilst Evan went with the Imperials. Getting the hang of the movement rules was easy enough and the shooting is simple to resolve. That said the Ork plane was shot down pretty quickly.

We then upped the numbers with Evan having both Imperial fighters whilst I took three Dakka jets. Whilst they can dish it out the Dakka jets have a glass jaw so it was another Imperial victory.

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For the third game Evan took one bomber, with the mission to cross the table and escape, whilst I retained the three Dakka jets (I couldn’t help but reference the WW2 dogfight between a Sunderland and 3 JU88s in the Bay of Biscay here). With the last possible chance I managed to get the bomber shot down having whittled its hit points away one by one.

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We managed all three small games in about 2 hours, just shows how quick to pick up the game is. Both of us really enjoyed it, I’ve picked up the expanded rules/ campaign book so wer’ll definiately be playing it again.

 

Cheers,

 

Pete.

Megagame Report: Outbreak.

Paul’s Story Living Games company was approached by a couple who wanted a game run as part of their wedding celebrations. Being keen board gamers they fancied something that could involve their party of 30 so Paul came up with a game set in the not too distant future where nation states/ regional power blocks battled each other and tried to contain an outbreak of an unknown virus.

The two of us headed up to the North Yorkshire venue a bit unsure what to expect- given the party was made up of all first time megagamers and possibly hungover.

We set up the main world map on the snooker table in the country house and I commandeered the dining table to run the science game. The wedding party were mulling around snacking and drinking already- some had got into the spirit of things and had got into costume.

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Given all of the constraints of the game and the inexperience of the players the game went fantastically. After a rather polite start they got the hang of things and were playing against each others. An ill advised attack by Russia on the US blew up in the face of Europe who supported Russia rather than the actual aggressors. Guess it comes down what can be proved by the UN player.

Later on in the game the US did take a massive hit and had most of its population wiped out, I wasn’t quite sure what happened here as I was busy trying to help the science players eradicate the virus and stop the bioterrorists that had been revealed.

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All in all it was really refreshing and motivating to see so much enthusiasm of these first timers. The way they approached the game was great to see and it showed that you don’t need that many control to keep a game moving. Both Paul and I were made very welcome and Paul’s game must have gone down well as they have book him again for next year and their first year anniversary.

On the way home I did ponder whether there are too many controls in some games given how well it ran with just two of us. Perhaps the more control present the less that players, either consciously or otherwise, are prepared to do for themselves.

Cheers,

Pete.

Megagame Report: Hold the Line, Poland 1939.

Due to illness I had managed to miss two games in a row that I was due to attend… I was really hoping it wasn’t going to be three in a row as the next one on my calendar was Paul Howarth’s Hold the Line ’39. Based on the invasion of Poland that kickstarted the war in Europe, it was to be played using the block based rules set that he had developed last year for Czech mate ’38 (see previous blog post). For a bit of a change I decided to sign myself up as a tactical player at the map. Usually I prefer command roles in these types of games but I fancied a change.

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As a lowly German player I was assigned my sector and given my order: advance through the mountains from the south then sweep round the back of Warsaw to apply pressure on the capital. This was to be the diversionary attack with the main effort coming in from the west to trap and defeat the majority of the Polish forces whilst a push down from East Prussia would take the capital. At least that was the plan that the high command team had come up with. They had also opted for a longer build up and mobilization. This gave us more units and resources to start with but gave away our intentions to the Polish players: quite what bonus that gave them we were unsure. Still, for once, such decisions were above my pay grade.

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The setting for the game was once again the wonderful, and fitting, Encliffe Hall in Sheffield. Paul had done a great job with the blocks and maps, shame our deployment onto the maps was a bit hamfisted… due to the Poles taking too long then some of the blocks being ‘tidied’- as such my deployment ended up being suboptimal with ramifications for the rest of the game.

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As you can imagine it was slow work trying to force the mountain passes. Whilst they were lightly defended it did take much for the combat modifiers to stack against me, also my mountain troops weren’t where they should be due to the botched deployment.

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The game system is now fully mature and was very nice to play. Given I was on a side map I didn’t see much of the rest of the game other than watching the growing amount of blocks being committed in the centre, that and the shouts of either joy or despair coming from the other side of the ballroom where the attack from East Prussia was going in.

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By the end of the game the Germans had managed to get units into the capital of Warsaw; but with much heavier casualties and in a longer time span than what the Germans achieved in 1939. Nice to be rolling dice at the table for a change but on balance I prefer the command roles. As such I request one for when the next version of the game system is rolled out next year for the invasion of France.

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I did take Nicola along as an observer- she was really interested in the idea but felt she lacked enough game experience to take part. I explained that the higher command roles are more about decision making rather than game rules; she seemed more taken with that. Hopefully I’ll persuade her to take part in the France game.

Thanks to Paul for putting the game on, and extra thanks as always to the control team who helped out.

Cheers,

Pete.

Necromunda Campaign Round up.

I’ve been very remiss (black dog issues) with posting up my Necromunda campaign so I’ll do a post with a thumbnail sketch of each game and a few pics to catch up but I’ll do a big post on the last game which we are all planning to finish off the campaign with.

Necromunda Campaign 2: Game 4

Games Workshop have just released another supplement to Necromunda bringing in hazardous environments to the game, as well as some other thing. This was eagerly awaited by us all and the new rules are to be added in.

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The scenario that was chosen to try and force a crossing along a narrow bridge. Between the weather and the lights going out in the underhive James, playing his Delaque, and I struggled to make much of an impact against each other so we were both happy calling it a no score draw.

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Necromunda Campaign 2: Game 5

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This game saw Van Saar on Van Saar violence as Marcus and I fought over the possession of some lost loot whilst trying to avoid three large chasms in the floor. Again random environment effects were in play with a large body of water draining through the hive, I managed to avoid most of it but Marcus suffered quite badly due to it giving me the win.

Necromunda Campaign 2: Game 6

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This cycle saw me as the arbitrator – I game up with a fungus hunting scenario* where they were being used as ingredients for drugs. Everyone seemed to enjoy it.

*See the bottom of the post for the scenario.

Part of my role as Arbitrator was to field any challenge matches as such I went up against James and his Delaque on the more restricted board. It was the first game in which I fielded an Ambot- it worked a treat as it kept half of James’ gangers on the run or engaged; either way away from the loot crates. So I got the win.

Necromunda Campaign 2: Game 7

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The roster for the campaign changed as Scott had to drop out, Richard stepped up to fill in with a Venators gang. I ended up fighting Richard in my own scenario which was good fun. As he had a starting gang I was massively more points than him so to balance things James joined forces with him his Delaques. Another fun game and a win, also one that gave me a better insight in how to write Necromunda scenarios.

Necromunda Campaign 2: Game 8

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This cycle Niall had come up with a great scenario to fight past carnivorous plants that a gang was using to guard its drug stash. My gang with 2 Ambots this time, the winning streak I was on had been proving very profitable, took on Richard’s Venators again. Sadly for him my gang had got too powerful and he had to concede. To be fair to him he fought hard and the carnivorous plants did more damage to him than I did. Marcus and J were playing the same game at the same time on a different board, Marcus brought along some cider which made the whole evening very civilised.

Necromunda Campaign 2: Game 9

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My penultimate game of the campaign was to be against Simon and his gang of Genestealer cultists. We were to investigate a dark corner of the hive in Joe’s scenario to try and locate an on the run escaped Ork. I was hoping to simply blast him when he revealed himself but Simon put his men in a better position than I for when the Ork was revealed. I had a cunning plan involving my flamer but I played it a turn too early and it wasn’t as effective as it should have been. A rare loss for my usual firepower heavy approach.

Looking forward to the final game now.

Cheers,

 

Pete.

 

*My scenario:

No low hanging fruit in the Underhive….

Introduction:

An Escher gang has been pushing a new drug throughout the hive and the noble houses are not happy as production in the factorium levels is dropping to the point that quotas may not be met. The drug is made from a fungus Psilocybinus that grows on the undersides of high walkways by the hive walls. There has been speculation by Necromundan scholars that the fungus has beewn brought in by the last storm, other look to a more malign xenos influence. The noble houses have been buying up any collected fungus to stop it being processed into the drug whilst the Escher gangs pay handsomely for it too. Gangs have been trying to collect as much as possible before deciding who to sell it to….

Set up:

Gangs start with 6 random gangers, the rest enter as reinforcements as usual. After picking table edges, the player with priority nominates a point on their edge- starting gangers must be placed within 8 inches of this point. Their opponent then does the same.

The howling winds Badzone event starts in play: at the end of a turn roll a D6 it will stop/ start on a roll of 5 or 6. No other environment or event card is used.

Objective:

Collect as many fungal spores from walkways as possible. When a ganger is at least 4 inches off the table surface they may make a basic action to look for fungus. On a 5+ on a D6 they have found some (a failed result means that the figure will have to move at least 6” before trying again), for every 2” above 4” the die roll gets easier by one. There is no limit as to how much a ganger may carry. If the fighter goes out of action all spores are lost.

Ending the game:

Game lasts for 6 turns. The gang that has collected the most spores is deemed the winner.

Experience:

All fighters who take part in the battle get 1 xp. All fighters who end the game in possession of at least 1 spore gain 1 xp. Xp for kills is earned as normal.

Reputation:

The Winning gang gains 1 REP, If this is the first battle between each gang then both gangs gain 1 REP. If a gang bottles the lose 1 REP. If a gang collects more than 6 spores in total they gain 1 REP.

Reward:

Each spore is worth D6 credits. After the battle each gang must decide if they are going to sell them to the Escher gangs or the Noble houses.

If the gang chooses to sell to Escher any Needle Weapons or Choke grenades bought at the Trading Post (assuming a high enough roll has been made) cost 5 credits less or halve the number of spores collected to get 1 drug of that rarity for free.

If the gang sells the spores to the Noble Houses when rolling for income from territories add one to all dice rolls. The authorities look they other way on the criminal activities of the gang for a short while… quidus pro quous….

Kill Team Tournament @ Star Stores, Scunthorpe.

A couple of Saturdays ago around lunch time a small group of us met up in the back room of Star Stores for the inaugural Kill Team Tournament… 4 of us were regular players against each other, myself (Plague Marines), Nicola (Death Watch), Adam (Necrons) and Andy (Tau); joining us was Dave (Plague Marines too).

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My Kill Team for the tournament.

Given the odd numbers one of us got a pass through the first round- luckily that was me, so I settled down to watch the first round. My gf Nicola took on Adam, the winner then taking on me.. The Death Watch put up a good fight but the close combat specialists of the Necrons proved too tough.

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Nicola’s Death Watch versus Adam’s Necrons.

The second watch up was Dave versus Andy, this time the Tau suffered badly against the toughness of the Plague Marines giving Dave the win. That meant Dave went on to fight in the final and Andy would play the loser of mine and Adam’s game.

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The Kill Zone for my first game.

When it came to my game against Adam we had to fight for control of 4 objectives. Here my lack of numbers proved to be my undoing, I had the smallest team in the tournament… I couldn’t taken enough ground and put fire down where it was needed so whilst I was trading shots with the ranged Necron models their close combat specialists whittled me down.

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Adam’s Necrons move up.

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My plague Marines locked in combat and doing badly out of it.

This meant I was to face Andy in the battle for Bronze. We played on the dungeon board and had to break through to the opposing board edge. A slow and steady advance played into my hands; this added to some very lucky dice rolls meant I shot away the Tau pretty easily. Deciding to concentrate on the better models first helped too. A fun game that gave me the Bronze.

Meanwhile Dave battled Adam for the win, a brutal game saw Adam scrape a win; this was thoroughly well deserved as he had won three games in a row.

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Adam’s Necrons (Gold).

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Nicola’s Death Watch (5th)

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Dave’s Plague Marines (Silver).

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Andy’s Tau (4th)

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My team and my bronze medal.

A very big thanks too for Adam for being the driving force behind the organisation of the tournament and providing all the Kill Zones we fought over.

The medals were really nice- hefty bits of metal… looking forward to the next competition already.

Cheers,

Pete.

Kill Team

Several years ago I played through the PC game ‘Dawn of War 2’ (2009, Relic Entertainment) and said to my friend at the time that ‘if Warhammer 40,000 was this much fun I’d still be playing it’ as it featured the low level infantry battles rather than the bloated, win at all costs, 100s of troops crammed onto a tiny table mess it became as it moved further away from its ‘Rogue Trader’ days…

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… Roll on a few years and I get back into Necromunda on something of a nostaligia trip and to fulfil my love of skirmish games. GW then go and release ‘Kill Team’ allowing skirmish games to be played in the wider 40,000 universe, Brian bought the starter set and we played a few games. Whilst it share some similarities with Necromunda it is a different game but has delivered on a version of 40k that I want to play.

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As a result I’ve assembled a few kill teams and got some scenery together. Given a team is 6-15 models it appeals to the fickle collector in me (I currently have 4 different teams in various stages of construction…)

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Games are nice and short and have a small footprint allowing them to be easily fitted in an evening, even allowing a couple to be played in an evening. With this in mind I’ve plans for a narrative campaign brewing. The online tool Battle Scribe makes creating and managing your Kill Teams a breeze too.

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Better still everyone seems to have been getting involved too- either digging out old models or buying new ones. My girl friend has been collecting some teams too, it has been really nice helping her with her painting. The local to her games shop ran a tournament that we both entered a bit back too.

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Next: my tournament kill team.

Cheers,

Pete.

My First Matrix game. The Peninsular War 1808-1809.

Although I’ve read about them since the 1990s, and have reviewed books on them here I hadn’t managed to actually play one until quite recently.

Fortunately Tim invited me down to Sheffield to play in a game he was running, naturally I jumped at the chance. Although the period in question, Napoleonics, isn’t one I’m quite clue up on I thought I should be able to manage OK- besides my friend Jerry said he’d support me and team up.

For the uninitiated a matrix game is a game where by the players make arguments on the likely hood of how successful what they want to do will be (the original iteration of the game had a matrix of prompts to choose from hence the name). An umpire then decides the odds and you roll to see if it it is successful or not. The system, invented by Chris Engle, has been much developed over the years and is a go to tool for professional gamers. The scenario Tim had decided to run was an old one dating back to 1992, as such the system relied on the player stating and action with an intended outcome and three supporting reasons why it should happen, players were given prompt cards to help them think up supporting argument, we had to use one a turn ideally.

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I was given the role of Gen. Moore, who started in England and basically had to stop Arthur Wellesley (the future Duke of Wellington) doing well. With a full set of players, 2 British, 2 Spanish, 3 French, and month long turns we covered a big chunk of game time.

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As I was familiar with the basic concepts I flatter myself that I picked it up fairly quickly. Most of my arguments consisted of trying to stymie Wellesley rather than doing much fighting of my own and carefully trying to manoeuvre my forces to walk in at the last moment to take Madrid. This would have worked apart from an abysmal dice throw which resulted in me getting lost on the way….

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All in all I really enjoyed the game- I can see the potential of the concept but also I can see how some people that I had spoken to previously didn’t like it. The game relies entirely on the skill, knowledge and judgement of the umpire; in this regard it is more akin to a tabletop RPG rather than a standard wargame. This means someone like me who only really has a rudimentary knowledge of the Peninsular War can take part in a way that I’d find difficult in a more conventional wargame. There are other versions of the game and more info can be found herehere and here.

Tim has done his own write up of the game here and Martin, another of the players has done his here.

I left the game thinking up my own scenarios and I hope to be able to have another crack at a Matrix game soon.

Cheers,

Pete.

More beating around the Bush (Horizons)

A bit ago Bill and I went to see his friend Nick to playtest the latest army lists developed for Nick’s ruleset ‘Bush Horizons’. See the earlier game here.

There was a new amphibious assault army list as well as an air assault list; Bill went for the naval options whilst I was left with the helicopters. We both generated our forces and then got Nick’s wonderful toys organised.

We didn’t bother with any of the campaign systems as we wanted to just test the combat.

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The helicopters allowed me the sieze the airfield objective in a coup de main assault very early. After that I just used my helicopters and aircraft to try and whilttle down Bill’s units as he approached… to be fair there wasn’t that much he could do be slowly approach and weather the storm, opposed beach landings are never good for the attacking troops.

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A bit more cover on the table would have helped but Bill was unlucky not to down anything with his AA as I pushed my attacks quite aggresively.

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As usual it wasa pleasure to use Nick’s models and i look forward to getting another chance to play.

 

Cheers,

 

Pete.