Assorted games from recent weeks.

As much as I’ve been busy beavering away in the shed making kits and painting I have been getting quite a few games in too. I’ve not done a battle report in a while for the simple reason that trying to take photos at meaningful points in the game comes third to a) playing the game and b) having a laugh with my mates, the latter is the best reason for gaming imo.

Nonetheless I have taken some ‘happy snaps’ as it were of a few recents evening’s gaming so thought I’d put them up here:

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First up we have the old Milton Bradley game Battlemasters from 1992. Done in conjunction with Games Workshop as an entry level game it comes with a rather nice printed plastic mat.

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Paul had found a cheap copy in a charity shop so he took it up to the games club and gave it a run through that evening. It plays quick so we managed to get two full games in. The above photo gives you some idea of how the random card cannon mechanisms works.

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The second scenario saw the ‘evil/ chaos’ army attempting to force a river crossing to take out a fortified tower. It seemed to be a quite a tall order for them to do that given that the ‘Empire’ army was at full strength.

Cold war game

I ran a nice little 6mm 5core: Brigade Commander game for Evan and Bill that saw Bill’s 1980s British defend a section of the German countryside from Evan attacking Soviets. You can’t beat a bit of 1980s Cold War what if? gaming to stir nostalgic memories of the 1980s. I really should get a CD of 80s music to go with these games.

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The twist in the scenario was that the Soviets faced a large flanking counter attack that they weren’t ecpecting. Here Evan tries to reposition his troops in the face of approaching British armour.

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Here a MIG 23 from the VVS tries to halt the encroaching Chieftans threatening to overrun the Soviet HQ. The game ended in a bloody draw.

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I have managed to get a couple of games of the French expansion of The Great War board game. The op[ening games are based around the battles for Verdun. The first game seemed a tough ask for the defending French. I played the game twice in an evening with Paul swopping side: on both occasions the French were decisively beaten.

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I played the second of the new scenarios with Evan. Again we played it twice, again the French were beaten both times. Evan played as the Germans the first time. Veteran gamer that he is he quickly indentified the the weakpoint in my defences and went for it winning comfortably. After we swopped sides I looked at the board and couldn’t come up with a better plan so copied his shamelessly for much the same result.

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I dug out my modest fleets of Russo- Japanese War ships for a naval battle with Paul. We could have probably done with a bigger table as this turned out to be the naval equivalent of a knife fight in a telephone box.

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Here Paul’s Russian battleship is trying to ram my battleship squadron, having crossed his ‘T’ I gave him little option. Fortunately he bounced off my side armour and a lucky critical hit roll sunk him. A fun game, I need to add to my collection though before I can play the war as a campaign as I intend to do at some point.

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Finally with have the recent Too Fat Lardies’ tank skirmish ruleset What a Tanker. Evan ran the game for Bill and I, I had three BT7s and a T28 facing off against a STUGIII, Pz38t and a PzII. After a lot of to-ing and fro-ing around the table Bill whittled me down for the win. I’ve mixed views on the game (I think the games set in the early war don’t work, for boring mathematical reason, due to the game design) but that aside it was one of the most enjoyable evening gaming I had had in a long time.

 

Cheers,

 

Pete.

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Bargain price game mats.

Given the quality job Pix Art Printing clicky did with the game maps for my recent Case Blue megagame I decide that I put some more business their way. Several years ago I bought a few game maps from Wargames Vault clicky with the intention of printing them out onto paper and assembling them as a jigsaw. This didn’t work so well for various reason… but now there is Pix Art I decided to send them there to be printed. Using MS Publisher I added all the images together into one massive file and then waited for a special offer to be on to maximise my savings.

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In the End I got a 130cm by 350cm vinyl at printed for £30 including delivery from Italy.

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I got a 120cm square wasteland mat that will be ideal for any game set in the Middle East/ North Africa, as a point of comparison the going rate for a comparable sized mat by itself seems to be about £25.

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This 120cm by 60cm costal strip will be great for ampibious landing be it in WW2 or the Dark Ages, the textures should work for both 20 and 28mm sized figures.

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I added a few maps from my Print and Play board game collection- here we have maps for the Russo- Japanese War, WW1, fictional WW3 and right up to date with the War in Donbass.

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A slightly smaller urban mat- should be useful for some of the 40K figures I’ve painting recently.

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Finally I printed the map for use in Brian Train’s free urban COIN game: Maracas clicky

 

All in all I’m really pleased with this. They should last for ages and as they are easy to roll storage isn’t a problem either.

 

Cheers,

 

Pete.

 

 

Great customer/ rules support from A and A Game Engineering.

This past year I have been getting into Russo- Japanese War naval gaming using the 1/2400th ships from Tumbling Dice and the Tsushima rules from A and A Game Engineering that came with the starter pack that I bought. I during the New Years Eve Gameathon that I would speed things up to have a ship record card pre-printed and laminated for every ship that I own. Granted that isn’t very many at the moment but it saves printing off record sheets and filling them in by hand every game. I fired off an email to Andrew (one of the ‘A’s in A and A) to see if he could share the template that was in the rulebook. It is fair to say that he has gone above and beyond that. Over a course of a few emails he has created a set of editable PDFs that allow you to fill in stats for any ship you desire. The rules page is here and the support page with the download link to the editable PDFs here .

It goes without saying that this level of customer support is fantastic and come with a very big thank you from me.

I made up the sheets for the ships I own and printed them out.

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Ran them through the laminator.

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Then cut them out.

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This way I can quickly set up a game. In fact I think I’ll have one next week….

 

Cheers,

 

Pete.

New Years Eve game-athon.

Last weekend for NYE my friend Simon came up for a weekend of gaming. We tried to fit as many in as possible and in that regard we did pretty well.

Starting things off on Saturday we played a ‘Cold War goes Hot’ game of 5core: Brigade Commander. Bill had an early finish from work so he brought round a late 1980s British armoured  brigade which he has been working on recently. I decided to umpire so I gave Simon a reinforced Soviet Tank regiment and a pair of Mi24 Hinds. The game went back and forth, with heavy losses on both sides.

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An overview of the table.

The battle swung back and forth with heavy casualties on both side although all of the helicopters survived until the end of the game which is unusual in itself. The brace of Hinds found their role as a QRF. Simon used them to plug the gap when ever Bill’s Challenger tanks opened up a hole in his lines.

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Russian tanks and mech infantry take cover in a wood.

Brigade Commander is a great game imo. It plays really well and is easy to pick up with everyone I’ve shown it too being really favourable to it. I’ve plans to try a large multiplayer game of it soon -ish so watch this space….

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A pair of Hinds covering the tank company in the wood.

Later on that evening Simon and I looked at Nuts! publishing’s Urban Operation boardgame. It started off life being developed as training aid by a serving French Officer before being released as a commercial project. Being a block game it adds a nice bit of fog of war combined with nice chunky playing pieces. The use of generic blocks combined with unit cards allows a large range of scenarios and campaigns to be included. We decided to look at a one off game based around the Russian attack into Grozny in 1996.

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My initial defending positions as the Chechen player.

 

The game handbook suffers a little in its translation and the jargon heavy military style of the rule books could also be looked at for the civilian market but it does provide a good playable modern warfare simulation. It can be frustrating to platy as the rules punish mistakes quite harsly but I suppose that is the point. FIBUA  has never been described as easy. However, the forces in a scenario do provide you with the tools you need to win… as long as you use them wisely.

The next morning, suitable fortified with a fry up we looked at ‘War Plan Orange’, a C3i magazine game that takes GMT’s Empire of the Sun board game of WW2’s pacific war, trims it down and sets it 10 years earlier. It is quite a heavy game requiring a lot of careful planning to get your fleets in the right position.

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Simon’s IJN fleet spreading across the pacific, with suitable reading material to hand.

My luck was not with me. I won the unimportant encounters but 5 of my 6 attempts to take central pacific islands were rebuffed. In the end I ran out of time in the game to either retake territory of inflict an attritional victory. That said I really enjoyed the card driven mechanics and look forward to a second game. Also I’ll keep an eye out for Empire of the Sun too.

Following a trip to WW2 in the pacific we went right up to date and looked at a print and play game that I had made from Yaah! magazine (it was the one I featured in my tutorial a bit back). The game is set around the Russian separatist attempts to take Donetsk airport from the Ukrainians in 2014. For a magazine game the rules were very well laid out and played nicely without the errors that tend to creep into these things.

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The separatists force their way into the airport buildings.

About halfway through the game I had to break off and get some food on te go. Fortunately Chris had turned up so I delegated the defence of the airport to him. With beginners luck and a few judicious decisions he completely pulled around the course of the defeat I had been staring into and won the game. Finding my carefully placed ATGM that I had forgotten about and using it effectively seemed to turn the tide, that and rather aggressive moves with BTR80s. Another game to revisit soon.

After tea and with some beer/cider/whisky we set up another GMT game: Andean Abyss. The first and in some ways the simplest entry into the popular COIN series. Four factions battle for control of Colombia in the late 90s/ early 00s.

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Mid game, FARC are ascendant with two areas designated as FARC zone so no-go areas for the government. 

Playing as a threesome Simon took the government forces, Chris the AUC and myself the FARC. The drug cartels themselves were run through the games flow charts- something that always provides a tough game. Mid game we all called a truce to beat them so we wouldn’t be beaten by a game mechanic. In the end both Simon and I were over our victory conditions but as he was over by the bigger margin the victory went to him.

As the night was still young we dragged out my favourite ‘fun’ game then a laugh: Twilight Creation’s Innsmouth Escape.

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Trying to rescue trapped students from hordes of deep ones.

The human player, me in this instance, has to navigate the board trying to rescue the requisite number of students before escaping the board. The game uses a nice hidden movement mechanic and the waves of re-spawning deep ones generate a tension as you always seem to lose more health than you can heal. In the end I had rescued enough people but was killed before I could exit the board.

On Monday Simon and I had enough time for one final game. We decided upon returning to the naval theme and getting my 1/2400th Russo Japanese ships out. Taking the Japanese I had 2 battleships with 3 cruisers and 3 destroyers to Simon’s 3 battleships and the same number of cruisers and destroyers. My collection is pretty small still so rather than fight out a particular historical battle I just pulled together what I thought would make an interesting game.

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Destroyers may get a lucky hit with their torpedoes but they don’t last long when under the guns of bigger ships.

The rules we used were ‘Tsushima’ from A and A game engineering. Fast playing bckets of dice style rules that give a nice fast game. The opening stages of the game where you move by counters provides a nice tense mini game where you try to jostle for position.

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Right at the end of the game Simon got a critical hit on the bridge of my flagship… even though the battle had gone in my favour the fate of my avatar had to be determined. We gave me a 50% chance of death and a 50% chance of heroic scarring… the dice were kind and after a painful recovery I have some impressive battle damage to show off around Tokyo.

 

On the subject of the Russo- Japanese Naval War I picked up White Bear and Red Sun rules/ campaign system in the Wargames Vault sale, so when I’ve got more ships in my collection I’ll look at running a campaign on the conflict.

All in all a cracking few days gaming- we managed to get seven different games in.

Simon has put his thoughts on four of the games over on his blog, have a look here:

http://lestradesgame.blogspot.co.uk/

Cheers,

 

Pete.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio files from the Connections Conference.

A few weeks ago King’s College in London hosted the Connections professional wargames conference. They have released slides and audio recording of the presentations here:

http://www.professionalwargaming.co.uk/2017.html

A few highlights that are worth your time following up on…#

Pennine Megagames’ own Paul Howarth amusing talk on games in schools- hearing how the games cut through gender and social boundaries and gets children enthused is really great.

Dr. Nick Bradbeer and David Manley’s talk on improving Maritime engineers’ design through game play is interesting- especially as David Manley has blogged on his involvement with the games here:

http://dtbsam.blogspot.co.uk/search?q=ucl

I was surprised at the lack of military knowledge that was alluded to of the students on the course but given that we are a maritime nation dependent on sea trade and our Navy it is something that takes a very low profile in our modern world.

Finally Paul Strong’s talk on the Western Approaches Tactical Unit gives a great insight into how wargaming helped to win the Battle of the Atlantic, including a rare example of wargaming being conducted mid- battle and influencing its outcome.

I’d have loved to attended- and played in the megagame as well as the other games sessions but I was on a bit of a road trip with my father (a post on that will be forthcoming) so missed it, will look into attending next year.

 

Cheers,

 

Pete.

 

 

 

 

Russo- Japanese Naval- a new project.

There is nothing as much fun as a new project is there?

 

This time I’ve decided to start a naval project based around the Russo- Japanese War. Simon ( http://lestradesgame.blogspot.co.uk/ ) has gone for the slightly earlier Sino- Japanese War so there should be some crossover potential for our model collections. We both bought the appropriate starter packs from Tumbling Dice’s relatively new 1/2400th Battleships range. With the aim of fighting out the bigger actions of both wars as well as running campaign games. Simon has done some work already on the Sino- Japanese one.

I was really impressed with the little model ships. A bit tricky to assemble with regards to what goes where as it is a new period to me but fortunately I had a book in my library that had some good line drawing of the major ships. The contents of the RJW war Japanese starter pack looks like this:

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The corresponding Russian one looks like this:

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The ships were based on plasticard textured with a thick acrylic paste stippled on to look like water. Drybrushed up I think it looks quite effective. Finding the right colour schemes for the ships has proved to be somewhat difficult as a lot of the information is contradictory. In the end, I decided to base my paint selections on the information from this site:

 

http://www.wtj.com/store/index_paint_guide_hist-paint.html

 

I have two sets of rules for the period, both from A and A Game Engineering, Tsushima and Fire When Ready. Tsushima seems the simpler of the two and will allow for the large actions that we want to game to be played out quickly so with have decided to go with that set for the time being. Fire When Ready does have some excellent scenarios in its back pages which I intend to work through.

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We have had a few games now and seem to be getting the hang of the rules. With all naval games, I’ve played there is an element of book keeping but it is kept to a minimum with only hull hits and weapons mount losses being recorded. Combat resolutions is mainly by D10 but a variety of different sided Dice are used to determine gun damage dependant on range. The Japanese vessels are qualitatively better than the Russian equivalents but the Russian ships pack more torpedoes on which can allow for a lucky shot and getting a disabling critical hit. Cruisers are pretty tough until they get hit by a battleships’ main 12” guns at which point they look like they are made of tinfoil. In the games that we have played they have been the only actual sinkings, although the battleships have usual mutually damaged each other by game’s end.

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I got Evan to play a game too and he seemed pretty taken with them so that is good.

 

To move the project forward I intend to get the Battleships and Cruisers at least and maybe the destroyers too for the Battle of the Yellow Sea and Tsushima. A lot of the Japanese ships can be used for both which is handy. It should give me something to work towards for the rest of the year. I’ll add a few islands to the list too to give the table a bit of character (the ones in the photos are Evan’s).

 

Cheers,

 

Pete.

Works in Progress from the Shed: Buildings, Ships and Conversions.

A few pics of things that I am working on…

An Airfix resin building  based up.

An Airfix resin building based up.

Back view of the same, the extra rubble was made up of budgie grit, cat litter (clean of course) and Linka casting in plaster.

Back view of the same, the extra rubble was made up of budgie grit, cat litter (clean of course) and Linka casting in plaster.

A pair of Dutch styled buildings based together.

A pair of Dutch styled buildings based together.

Back view: I've tried to find a compromise between putting on a realistic amount of rubble and keeping areas clear for game-ability.

Back view: I’ve tried to find a compromise between putting on a realistic amount of rubble and keeping areas clear for game-ability.

Given that I got all three building at 50% of RRP I’m quite pleased with them. They paint up well and I don’t think you can have too many building in an Urban Skirmish set up.

The Italian Impero, a Littorio class Battleship (never completed in WW2 though). 1/200th kit by Revell.

The Italian Impero, a Littorio class Battleship (never completed in WW2 though). 1/200th kit by Revell.

45 minutes later I had finished it. I find ship kits to be quite enjoyable to build.

45 minutes later I had finished it. I find ship kits to be quite enjoyable to build.

I’m slowly working through my ship collection, I’m aiming to use them for both Fletcher- Pratt style games as well as Air to Surafce attack games with 1/600th planes.

I decided to try my hand at a quick conversion: I wanted to make some US SOF figures with the short lived XM25 grenade launcher (see the wiki page for a quick overview of its developmental history: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/XM25_CDTE ). To try and keep some sort of continuity I used parts from the same sculptor but 3 different companies: Figures by Under Fire Miniatures, heads by Vepa Miniatures and the backpacks were left overs I had from the TDQ/ CP Miniatures Falklands range.

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Tools of the trade, pretty simple really IO don't know why I put off trying it before for so long.

Tools of the trade, pretty simple really IO don’t know why I put off trying it before for so long.

The end result: pretty pleased with it for a first try.

The end result: pretty pleased with it for a first try.

One figure will be painted in Multi- Cam the other in the slightly older ACU scheme.

Cheers,

Pete.