Case Blue 42: The maps.

The maps have arrived for Case Blue 🙂

They are fantastic- my friend Simon, his blog here , did a superb job, Matt and I have got him a very fine bottle of Scotch for his troubles.

They are also very big, after checking them to make sure they were correct (they were packaged rather oddly I had to take them outside to photograph as I don’t have enough room in my front room with out moving all the furniature around…

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Each of the 4 above maps are approx 6 foot by 8 foot.

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The Stalingrad area map is 6 foot by 4 foot.

Can’t wait to see them all laid out with the counters on on game day.

Cheers,

 

Pete.

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A Shot Heard Around the Universe- the megagame.

A couple of weekends ago I was in Leeds for the most recent Pennine Megagame offering ‘A Shot Heard Around the Universe.’ This was an original offereing by Tim set in a universe of his own creation. Imagine a series of inhabited systems at the edge of a galaxy owned by a distant but powerful empire, the systems are feeling hard pressed due to increasing taxes and feel a little forgotten… the whiff of rebellion and secession is in the air.

Being a space game I decided to volunteer my services and provide some 3D props to the game. I thoughht if every team had a model planet it would not just add to the visual element of the day but a physical representation to identify with would help team immersion in the game.

The models were surprisingly simple to do. Once I found some polysterne balls (and one ping pong ball) of the right size I mounted them upon bamboo skewers and primed them with a tick coat of PVA. This was to give the balls a bit of rigidity and well as give the paint something to stick to. Expanded polystyrene can be difficult to get paint to adhere to at times.

I got a list of the descriptions of the planets from Tim and put the base colour and basic continents on with a brush. After that it wasa simple job to shade the planets by dabbing on various complimentary colours with a bit of sponge, blending it all together whilst wet. The final touch was bit of white sponged on those planets with seas to represents clouds. I didn’t go to excess here to keep the underlying detail.

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After another coat of PVA to seal them I made some stands for them with cut down pens and air drying clay.

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Once all set up on the large game map I thought they looked pretty good and added to the day.

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My role on the day of the game was being kept very busy running the espionage map on a side table. The board represented a mixture of physical and conceptual areas on each of the planets and the security agents moved around the nodal map conducting operations. It certainly through up some interesting situations in the game, the system worked fine but some of the values need reworking. One player did out manoeuvre the rest with skillful play- can’t remember the last time I had a player so successfully Machiavellian.

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Cheers,

 

Pete.

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.

Cockroaches, Copper and Cows: A Mexican Revolution megagame.

This Saturday saw the first game of the year for Pennine Megagame. Jonathon Pickles gave us ’Cockroaches, Copper and Cows’ based on the Mexican Revolution of 1913. Set in the world of Pancho Villa and the film ‘The Wild Bunch’, I have to admit it is something I know nothing about.

 

Unlike most megagames that I have seen that have the players, representing different historical characters, organised into teams in advance CCC only had a few players in a single team at the start of play. The remainder were free agents who could form join or leave as many teams (representing different competing political parties) as they wanted over the course of the day, this was one part of the game I was a bit unsure of as I’d not seen it done before. The individual briefings that each player got outlined their characters background and political orientations; the onus was on the players to get out there and talk to each other and find common goals and form parties/ teams around that. To facilitate this the half hour turn was split into two parts: the first fifteen minutes was the time that players could act on the map. Moving their guerrilla base, attacking and capturing facilities, making money and fighting each other, the second half of the turn was where the players could move about and talk to each other and hold conventions where they were assumed to be meeting up face to face. It was at these conventions that players could help each other build up support (a logarithmic scale that represented a mixture of political following and military might that was the key statistic for the players and also try sneaky things like assassination.

 

My role for the day was to run one of the 7 maps that made up Mexico, mine was the very north east of the country up by the Texan border. It was a simple role really. I had to monitor the actions of the players as they took their turns. In the early stages of the game the players were finding their feet and expanding their territory on the map trying to get the best resources nailed down under their control whilst sounding out nearby players for their character’s political leanings.  Some of the resources were oil plants or other industrial/ economic sites that were run by American companies. Trying to take these over had the potential to cause a minor diplomatic incident, taking them over completely and kicking out the Americans altogether had the potential to really anger the Americans. In fact, the first invasion of Mexico was at Vera Cruz to secure American interest. Those players who had angered the American had to pay reparations and make a public apology.

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North East Mexico at the start of the game.

The players on my map were quite civil, they were happy to fight the federales for territories to capture but were reticent to fight each other early on. This changed towards the second half of the game as they joined parties and coordinated their activity with what was going on other tables. Rail road links to border towns and ports being vital to generate large amounts of income as goods sold there were worth double.

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Pickles had a very nice and simple mechanism to limit the number of actions at the map that each player could make. Apart from a few free actions, anything major that the players did gained them a fatigue marker, to take any action after the first they had to pay $10 per fatigue marker that they had. Consequently, taking more than four actions was very rare.

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To keep the players informed on what was going wrong Becky bravely took and the role of three different papers, one revolutionary, one reactionary, one American and published an A4 page a turn. Some of which I’ve reproduced here with her permission; go check out here rather good blog here: http://www.beckybeckyblogs.com/ it has loads of megagame material on there and much more besides including some great recipes. This became especially important as elections were being held to put up a president and stabilse the country towards the end of the game.

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About to look for arms on a cross border raid- what could go wrong?

In a bold display of obstinance and nationalism one of the players on my table, Tes, decided to raid across the border to the American town of Laredo in search of arms. This brought Tim over to my table, he was plumpiring all the different American interests in the game and accordingly was wearing four character cards pinned to him. This time he was ‘Black Jack Pershing’ leading a punitive expedition to get the guns back. Combat between players was done by a card-based system, both player put down a card with a numerical value and the added it to their support rating, highest winning; the cards had different suits and they could cancel out some or none of the other suits. In such cases it was an instant victory. Given the might of the US army Tes was lucky to get this result with her first combat. At this point I mentioned to Tim that he needs to do enough in the raid to get a tank named after him… Although after this Tes wasn’t so lucky losing heavily. The US advanced just into Mexico and occupied Nuevo Laredo. A couple of turns later Tes decided to push her luck and appropriate an American run oil field. This time the US forces launched a big raid deep into Mexico to bring her to justice.

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The results of America’s punitive raid after the seizure of an American oil field.

Whilst this was going on a vicious back and forth battle erupted between a Zapatist player and a Constitutionalist for control of a couple of key road junctions, both were needed by the players respective parties to get goods out of the country. Using all manner of artillery, machine guns and even armoured trains; the fighting went on for a couple of turns.

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The game was wound up with an election, often a bad way to end a game as it produces a clear “winner”, something that megagames usually try to avoid, partly as there would be nothing to argue about in the pub afterwards. However, in this situation if seemed right. The constitutionalists were put in office and the American observers declared it free and fair so the result stuck. This wound up a great days gaming, it was a good game to umpire and the players seemed to really engage with it putting paid to my early reservations.

 

As always look at Pennine Megagames on both the web and on Facebook:

 

http://www.penninemegagames.co.uk/

 

 

Cheers,

 

Pete.

A busy few days: Recon show, Necromunda, The Great War and Wargames magazines.

Last weekend I, with Paul, flew the flag for Pennine Megagames by taking the demo version of ‘Harrying of the North’; it is a simple map movement and battle board participation game.

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The Normans have to hoover up supplies whilst Saxons under Edgar the Etheling try to stop them. It is mainly to show off the combat mechanisms I plan to use in the future megagame. Be honest about it, whilst the game works, it take too long for what would be available in a megagame turn so it needs streamlining more. However, with Fall Blau on the horizon I am devoting my energies into that. I plan to take a demo version of it to the Hammerhead show at Newark and possibly Chillcon in Sheffield. Pleasingly the paper figures that I cut out seemed to be very popular with the punters at Pudsey. Given how little time they took to construct I’m really pleased with how they turned out.

A couple of posts ago I mentioned that my sense of nostalgia had been tweaked by Games Workshop’s reissue of Necromunda. Well my friend Jonathon has a copy so I popped round to have a game.

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Having got such fond memories of the original and gaming in my teenage years I was hoping that it lived up to the hype.

I quickly came up with a Goliath gang and got on with it, I’m pretty sure a few of the subtleties of the rules were missed but it was good to get a feel of the new version.

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The production quality is outstanding, as it should be for such a company, and the new figures are miniature works of art. My choices for the gang weren’t ideal and as the Escher were so very good at ranged combat I took heavy casualties until I got into close combat. Still it was a learning experience and I know what I’d do differently next time.

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I’m really tempted to get the game- sadly running out of space means I may not. I’d love to make a detailed vertical board for it but the question is where to put it… I guess I really should sort out my shed. It may be the impetus I need. Either way I may start with a Goliath gang of my own for a starter; it shouldn’t be too hard to find space for ten figures.

I also played a quick game of PSC’s The Great War with Evan. Given the kickstarter I mentioned has been funded it was good to get it on the table again. The scenario we chose to play was based on the famous action of a tank named ‘Fray Bentos’ at Passchendaele:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/history/world-war-one/10358335/WW1-The-siege-of-Fray-Bentos-at-the-Battle-of-Passchendaele.html

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My Germans, despite getting off to a good start, failed to achieve much. Aggressive infantry backed up by the immobile but still shooting tank completely outclassed me. Another game I’ll do better at next time….

I also picked up two of the three big wargaming magazines, it is not something I often do but they both had articles that looked interesting, the differences between the two are quite marked though.

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Wargames Illustrated has by far the better production but the depth of the articles left something to be desired: the Russo-Japanese one, whilst featuring some lovely photos was a bit shallow so to speak. The campaign on the fighting in Prussia in WW2 was interesting but could have done with some better editing. Great eye candy though but little in I’d refer back to later beyond the campaign.

Miniature Wargames has undergone a few changed from when I used to buy it; it looks far more professional now. It always had the best articles in but was often let down by poor photos. Under new owners and editorship that has changed. The reason I bought the magazine was that it featured an article on the Warsaw battle 1944 by Jim Webster, he is much under rated as a games writer in my opinion. I’ve always found his writing to be worth the price of admission alone. His ideas on gaming urban warfare are no exception and something I’ll try out on my own table top soon hopefully.

 

Cheers,

 

Pete.