Monday, 4 December 2017

Been a while...

Not that I haven't been gaming... far from it, 6mm Desert War FOW, Age of Sigmar, 40k and Shadespire have all featured heavily. But not really had anything exciting to right about. BUT then two games have peaked my interest. Firstly there is Fourth Quarter Football which is due to be kickstarted at the end of December. Being an American Football game it was always going to jingle my bells (seasonal reference thrown in considering I have just had the first carol singers of the year pounding on the door) and after tracking (or is that stalking) the designer down for a while I got a demo in at Dragon Meet the other day.

I say demo I actually had a demo, watched quite a few demos and then had a full game with Chris (the afore mentioned designer). Well, what can I say apart from, "Hurry up with the KS for goodness sake... I want it and I want it NOW!"

I have worked on Gridiron games for years and years - had a decent game down at one stage, in fact Shaun and I loved playing it and it worked well (used a cross of Two Hour Wargame and my Flying Lead rules). But then we realised it was taking us a night to play a QUARTER - oops. Now while we were enjoying a four night game it was debatable if many other folks would. But by then we were playtesting a 2Hour Wargame sci-fi Gridiron game (think Galactic Football League books) which was good fun and basically used 7 players on a grid and you called the plays and matched up the relevant stats etc. Again loved playing the game but it lacked real movement of figures as a game mechanic - it was more like a slightly figured up Statis Pro game. Which in itself wasn't a bad think but it wasn't a figures game. Fourth Quarter is!

An excellent solution to the problem of depicting the sport on the table top - you are basically only playing the 4th Quarter. Plays are made using a playbook (cards) that eventually in the game will be tailored to your play style. You can go OFF play but there are very strong penalties to the rolls for doing so - meaning you only adlib when absolutely necessary, like in the game. This gets rid of the 'old'  constant reaction to what the opponent is moving to do. You have to drop the QB back a set number of steps, the WRs have to run a certain route etc - if you are to have a decent hope of pulling the play off. Cleverly the play is done in two stages - firstly you have the automatic responses drilled into the team. Basically this means that your offensive line will do whats needed for that play, the QB drops back and receivers set off. The defence have a limited reply to this. BUT things can go pair shaped early. After this phase the coaches then move a player at a time to resolve the play. Basically this results in what you see on game day on TV - the scrimmage is shown and then they hone down to the important action... This is why the game feels right with only actually 7 players on the field - think of them as the seven players that MAKE a difference to that play.

I will not go into it in too much detail but it WORKS and bloody well indeed. Simple enough rules but everything is there - you can audible (basically you choose two plays and can change before the snap) you can fake pump the old throwing arm, you can play action etc etc... BUT it plays in around an hour!!!!

If you have even a passing interest in the game you need to back this when it hits KS... Oh and the figures are LOVELY !

I kinda avoided this as I enjoyed Wings of Glory for Battle of Britain action. But a couple of games I saw being played made me think it may be the vessel for larger dogfights with less book keeping (or so it looked). So I preordered and as it got closer the predicted late December date began to get a bit frothy over it - I do love Battle of Britain as a games setting. Then the bad news that release had been delayed... DAMN all frothed up and no game to play, or was there?

The base rules are available and a quick scour of the videos, demo games etc have filled in a lot of the rest (even the deck building of the cards for the advanced game). SO test games are very doable - especially if you (like me) already had WoW planes (same scale) on magnets which allow the 'advantage state' to be shown as in the Warlord's game!

More later - but it is proving to be an awesomely enjoyable game - not as instantly bloody as I imagined on read through (most games so far have been more about giving the BOOM chits out so the opposing squadron pull back) but we are not playing the scenarios as they are one thing I can't hunt down - so basic dog fights it has been.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

It's not wise to upset the wolfie...

(60 Power Level, Patrol Detachment Match Play  - Tactical Escalation scenario)

Fenris never really made it as a holiday destination, even at the height of the Imperium it was the last place anyone really wanted to go. Forbidding terrain, cold that would freeze one's knackers off and snow blizzards that could swamp your transport in seconds were, to be fair, the least of a visitors worries. Unless you could drink a wolfie boy under the table, or more unlikely still, beat the canines out of him in a fight - you probably were not getting off the planet intact - either physically or mentally.

So it was with some accompanying locker and transporter room moans and groans that Cpt. McTague informed a detachment of his ultra marines that they had to head to an outpost of Ragnar Blackmane's company to make sure that Librarian Murrius took possession of a Holy Relic that had been uncovered during the Wolves building works. Murrius was concerned that the soft parchment paper contained within the skull adorned gold box may be used for purposes that it certainly wasn't intended for. Certainly the uncouth marines at the base would not appreciate the relic for its holy worthiness.

A simple mission surely - transport  a few squads down to liaise with the garrisoned troops, set up the meeting and wait for Librarian Murrius to transport down, get the 'thing' and then they could all be back on there way before any important bits froze off.

Indeed the first night was going swimmingly well, a feast was laid out to honour the guests, mead was supplied in the bucket load and battle stories were swapped... Two little things were to turn this endearing scene into a situation that ended, as the acronym attests, FUBAR. One contributing factor was the mead was wolf mead, The human Ultras probably were not used to the strength of 'Old Fang XXX' and in particular the way it kind of snuck up on you, smacked the section of the brain which controlled 'sensible behaviour' around a bit and filled you with a sense of invincibility. Secondly the base contained around 30 Space Wolf marines who had been cooked up with only themselves to interact with (read fight with) for 3 months.

Still the Lts present from both factions should have been able to keep a lid on it... except for the mead. So there had been a little fracas. Still nothing too serious and nothing the medical bay back in the ship couldn't sort out.

Private Dickus woke up with a very sore head, not a hangover - indeed he was still very drunk - but from a blow with a stool from behind. He vaguely remembered skimming  a plas-steel plate across the room and shouting 'Catch...' but, everything else was a blur.

Wandering into the canteen the place was filled with hungry soldiers, most of the Ultras looking like their heads were still somewhat... what's the appropriate word ? Oh yeh... FUBAR. Dickus looked around and then locked eyes with his assailant from the night before. He noticed a snarl and an upturned lip, then the private leaping across the table... However, before Dikus could react, a big, somewhat hairy,  hand  grabbed the leaping figure by the scruff of the neck, shook him and then pushed him back into his seat, a deep guttural growl making the private put his head down. When sober the mind of Pvt. Dickus would have given a sigh of relief and probably uttered, "TF for that." But his mind wasn't sober, in fact the Old Fang was still doing the fandango with his frontal lobe and instead he shouted,
" That's a good boy.... Sitttttt !"

So that's how the two patrol detachments came to be lined up across the compound from each other...

He said what? Let's have them...

Another great game of Newhammer 40k in the bag, basically this was new versus old marines as most of my force were Primus while Shaun was using my old Ultra squads with the Librarian and terminator squad.

Shaun's tactics seemed to be sit back and shoot the snot out of me while I poured across the board in a rage and the to deep strike the termies in behind as a hammer and anvil type 'thang'.  A number of games into 40K now and I was learning... This time I staggered my line out with my Hellblaster squad strung out behind which denied most of the middle of the board for the deepstrike - indeed they had to appear right on the flank. Although I lacked heavy hitting weapons in my squads the Primus weapons extra range was to pay dividends and the Razorback frost weapon being heavy d12 proved its worth.

The tactical objective cards generation added a lot to the game... in this scenario you increase the number of cards generated as the game turn increases, which, in theory, adds to the tension and is the 'increasing escalation'.

Wolves to the left of you, wolves to right... Here they come

All in all I have to concede that Shaun's dice took the whole 'playing the role of a hung-over group of marines' far to literally. From exploding on reroll plasma guns, to Terminators being unable to make the short charge and being stranded in front of Hellblasters Shaun's Ultras did not have a night to write home about.

Librarian Murrius (top right) was surrounded by Terminators until the Hellblaster squad opened up !
In the end it didn't last until the end of Turn 5 as the Ultras were dispatched on my Turn 5 - it would have been 14-3 Victory Point wise as well but hey, who is counting. Main thing was it was still heaps of fun to play and I was just lucky that the dice gods were definitely favouring me... Must have been the sacrifices being made!  Even at 60 Power Level and a 4' table the rules give a good game... add a bit of narration and BANG we have a winner !

Murrius ran round the corner, only to be backed into by a Razorback and leapt on by a squad of
Primus Wolfies and Floki (my psyker) 

Nothing beats a bit of fisticuffs. 

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Revenge is a dish best wolfed down...

Welcome to my first real foray into 8th Ed Warhammer 40000 or 40k as it is known. I'd dabbled before but some of the rules (and the people who bent... ups I mean played them) had put me off bigtime - basically for the feel I got out of it it was way too convoluted with seemingly layer upon layer of rule mechanics which basically didn't flow. GW to their credit (or diminishing credit rating perhaps) listened and REBUILT - this is not just a new edition, it is a new streamlined game... SO with the promise of a decent sci-fi game and the lure of having a VIKINGS IN SPACE army in the Space Wolves I was in....

Bjorn took a deep breath and looked at the grotesque figure spread out over the stone... So it was true, the Seer had been right all along. But at least now they knew it was so, the confession had taken a while, in fact Bjorn was impressed with the man's bravery, but in the end no-one resists the blood angel, it had been when Bjorn cracked and pulled his 3rd and 4th rib out of his back that the captive had blurted out the truth.

Bjorn and his fellow wolf packs had waited long for this day, the day the stories of the skalds ended and the day action began. A figure burst through the hall door,
"So it is true Brother, it is really so... the Spireguard live!" blurted out Ubba, his younger brother, "At last the Old Gods have given us a chance to avenge our Father..."

Bjorn nodded, then snapped his head back and HOWWLlllled, "Gather the packs Brother, it is time, it is time."

For an age the Wolves had thought the Spireguard of Prospero to be perished, perished at their claws on the field of battle. But then three years ago the Seer had had a vision, red coated men training for war, training to continue the advance of abomination... Now the pack knew where their hated enemy were building... Now they would strike.

Bjorn bent down, fresh tracks, the Spireguard were sloppy, not knowing that vengeance was about to pounce...

Today sees my wolves take on Richard's  (Shado's) Guard army who are the Spireguard. In reality I have little faith, even the levelling of the playing field with the new field will be hard to undo the years of experience Shado has... that and the guard are reportedly very strong in this edition... BUT hey this will be the start of my Packs revenge on the traitors of Prospero, the OLD GODS know it !

This is how it all went down in a small mining colony... We are planning on a series of games building up in Power (easy unit costing) as we go along. Today the two forces were 50 POWER - around 800 points worth, played on a 4x4. The mission was 'No Mercy' which doesn't use tactical objectives and the deployment zones we rolled saw us using opposite corners with a 9" no go zone in the middle of the board. I finished setting out first having only five units and chose to go first - Shado challenged but failed to seize the initiative.... Game on!

Bjorn surveyed the small planet shown on the holo-board in front of him. A small mining colony which had seemingly been abandoned a year ago, now it seemed it was the training world of the Spireguard. Scanners blipped, the holo-map zoomed to show a detachment, possibly on patrol, possibly holding some important ground. Bjorn knew that the Battalion Detachment shown in front of him outnumbered his Vanguard by 3 or 4 to 1. But he also knew the pack was a match for anyone, and any numbers. Twenty minutes later his pack members had 'ported' onto the planet the only wolves staying back were the FNG - the Primaris marines sent to bolster the packs numbers. Bjorn spat, they may have Wolf coloured armour, but they weren't Wolves and never would be. Refusal to join the hunt was given to all but one unit of the Primaris, even Bjorn thought the HALO ability of the Inceptors may be useful.

At the first sight of the Wolves the Spireguard had reacted quickly, forming up around a hill. Intefi, the Company Commander smiled, the appearance of the 'puppies' was a surprise but he had been on a heavy weapons firing practice mission, Ratling snipers were covering the flanks to snipe the indigenous animals as they ran from the fire. Now the pack of mangy wolves had landed right in his firing range... His grandfather would be pleased at the revenge that would be gained this fine day.

Bjorn knew the only way was to sweep into glorious battle, run head first up the slope towards the Spireguard, Darul, his trusty thunderwolf, slavered and growled his half canine half tech mind conjured up the feast to come.

 Arne had long been Bjorn's friend, now he was leader of the Wulfen berserkers, they needed not combat drugs, just the promise of a glorious death and passage to the Allfather's banquet table. He saw the Spireguard hiding on the grav trains tunnel, hoping they were safe...

Bjorn felt danger, snapping his vision to the rock formation to his left he caught a glimpse of light... snipers!  Flicking his wrist communicator into action he called down the Primaris.

Sigmand signalled his two team members - time to drop, he had to show Bjorn and the pack him and his new gene seed kind were worthy of being pack members...  Tufeti looked up, what was that noise? Like a Terran mammal caught in bright lights he couldn't take his eyes off the blur of light, then the bright explosion of colour in front of him, and then the red explosion, that was a micro-second ago his brother, then pain, then nothing....  Sigmand grinned, that would show his squad were worthy.

BEFORE AND AFTER THE DROP- spot the difference!

A cacophony of howls cast the air asunder, the Spire guard on the hill glanced nervously at each other, in the distance they could see the Wulfen charge their brethren in the valley.
"Load and lock!" the order spread along the line...

The guards couldn't believe the speed the rabid pack had covered the ground between them, they opened fire wildly as their foe literally pounced upon them, but their lasguns shots seemingly bounced off the force shields of the pack. Suddenly there were claws and hammers tearing and striking at them. Begging for mercy they were snarled and laughed (if you could call it a laugh) at...

Thunderwolves bore their riders across the field of battle... Floki invoked the help of the Old Gods, an aura shone around the units around him, shimmering the air making them indistinct, the guards squinted and the nozzles of their weapons wavered.

My turn ONE had been more successful than I could have ever have imagined. I must admit I had come into the game with an air of trepidation around me, the sheer fire power of the guards coupled with the mission meaning that they could basically just defend the hill seemed unsurmountable. What surprised me was the charge threat of the Wulfen... they can advance (adding a d6 inch) and then charge which is coupled with a re-roll if they fail. Their 3 up invulnerable save courtesy of their storm shield was amazing all game. Dropping infront of the ratling sniper squad (which I was very scared of because of the threat of mortal wounds and their proximity to my Warlord) was awesome (for me at least). By the end of turn one I had received 3 victory points - one for a cheeky first blood and two for taking 2 units out the game).  However, I suspected that my inner jubilance was about to be shattered. 

Spireguard units prepared to fire, emerging from cover, a walker strode its long legs over the ground, its targeting computer homing in on the Thunderwolf riders in-front of it. Grenades were loaded into their launchers... All hell was to be unleashed on the enemy. Echoing around the valley floor the might of the Spireguard armoury ignited... Intefi smiled, perhaps a medal would be put his way when he presented the pelts of the hated Wolf packs to his superiors... When the noise, heat and haze disappeared he surveyed the results... A tight knot formed in his stomach, blood drained from his face while a metalic taste formed in his mouth. He shook his head believing that when he looked again he would see the true reality. But no, his eyes were not deceived, on rushed the packs - no one had fallen.

Between what to be fair was way below the odds rolling on Shado's part and the ability of my thunder shields of taking the 'invulnerable' part of invulnerable save far too literally the shooting had caused no casualties... Indeed I think only one wound was caused by an incredible amount of dice. While his luck did change later it would be remiss of me not to say how shocking some of the Spireguard rolling was. For instance this roll from later on in the game :

Bjorn rejoiced in the song of battle ringing around him, his bloodlust was up, his pack were tearing through the ranks of the hated enemy. Everywhere he looked his brothers were literally ripping the red uniformed enemy apart. The walker charged Floki, who survived, denting the metal monster then moving back - summoning the Old Gods to smite the foe. Flames erupted from the Wolf Hunter squad, the red hot liquid seeping into joints, the pilot tried to open the escape hatch but was engulfed as the walker blew up. Sveneric reeled back from the blast, his comrade screaming as flames engulfed him.

Meanwhile the Thunderwolf riders charged into battle while Bjorn and the Wulfen dispatched more squads of traitors.

By now it was Shado's turn 4 of a possible 5 and things were still going swimmingly well, the victory points were up to 9-0 in my favour. But things could quickly change. After destroying yet another unit my Wulfen and Bjorn were in danger of getting swamped. 

Intefi knew he had to do something, and do it quick. Barking out orders into the local comms network he got all available units to shoot and charge the Wulfen, they were taking out too many of his troopers... He allowed himself a slight shudder of relief as two of the foe fell to overwhelming fire and then the pack was surrounded.

Arne and his remaining pack member stood back to back, their fallen pack members lying at their feet -  his storm claws shimmered. Both of them let out a blood curdling howl and the troopers charged in to be met by swirling claws and fangs dripping with blood.

Unbelievably they survived and tore a hole in the troopers... it was nearing the possible end of the game. 

Bjorn howled in triumph and turned Darul back, while his loyal pack members covered his path, Arne finally fell as the troopers pulled back and grenades rained in... Many a skald will be singing songs of his journey to the Allfather.

At the end of turn 5 I was well set, miles ahead on VPs and with a lot of my small force intact. But oh the nuances of 40K the game randomly went on, Shado saw a shimmer of hope, if only he could wipe me out completely. But again the close combat ability of the Wolves and the 3 up saves; saved the day. 

Bjorn sat at the long table in the ship orbiting the planet, drinking to the pack members who had made the journey to the Allfather and were now feasting and fighting in his great hall. Next time they would take more than a vanguard and aim to wipe the Spireguard traitors from the face of history.

Entfi waited outside the supreme commander's office, sweat running down his back, possible excuses coursed through his brain. But in reality there could be no excuse, his next command was likely to be a squad rather than a platoon.... But whatever it was he would not forget the face of Bjorn; one day revenge would be his, one day... Just not today.

What can I say - I loved the game, there was lots of looking things up, I think Shado was surprised how 'different' but the 'same' the game was. A lot of the time in the game was spent looking stats up - definitely worth copying the index pages and making up cards of the units used in the force. can't believe how smoothly the mechanics went though, gone are the clunky seemingly different mechanics used for each different 'type'. 

Can't wait for the next installment !

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Sports Entertainment in miniature Part 2 - RUMBLESLAM in other words.


Rumbleslam - a game of wrestling in a fantasy world... Or as I see it the game that:

a) Broke my 'going to concentrate on the games I have got' pledge IN A BIG WAY.
b) Got me into Pro-wrestling (firstly WWE and then others) which I had successfully managed to either avoid or deride for 55 years IN A BIG WAY.

There are plenty of 'what's in the box' unboxing videos flying around and Beasts of War did a play through which is on their site I think. So this is a more - 'what I love about it' type post not really a review as such, yes I am a fanboy!

Pictured above is what a typical game layout will look like. You have a 'team' of wrestlers from various stables (casinos in the game) which you can play as a 'team' or mix and match with other characters from the same casino, superstars or even other casinos (although you will not get the little sponsorship buff if they are not from the same casino). Wrestlers are hired up to a certain 'dosh' level for the game 1000K being the base short game (40 minutes or less) although I think once you have played a few and are using superstars and event cards most people will be playing 1500K games and the time is around 50-60 mins.

Each wrestler has a stat card with, amongst other things, how many squares they can move over the course of their activation and how many actions they can do, and how many and what type of the special dice they roll for doing what they are doing (copper, silver and gold with the possible amount of hits increasing with the die colour). Different actions take up differing amounts of action points - a normal slap, stomp, punch, knee or whatever other 'brawl' action you want is a point, bouncing off the ropes is a point, climbing on the turnbuckle a point, trying to lift a wrestler a point - you get the idea.

Specialised attacks cost more but do more damage or an 'effect' - so a grapple like a head lock will cause your opponent to have no defence dice against your brawls to come - grab them round the head and smash the shit out of them kid !   Signature moves normally cost the most and are the most devastating the better the wrestler is.

Basically to attack you roll the requisite dice, they roll the requisite defence dice depending on how they are defending and the one with most fists wins. Win by 4 or more and you do a beatdown which gives them extra damage and maybe an effect. Lose by 4 or more and they reverse your attack stopping your go and maybe even causing damage.

After an initial start of round (there are six of them) dexterity roll to see who starts the players alternate activating their wrestlers - when the wrestler runs out of actions or the player wants then the next wrestler goes - no getting bored in this game mister! All the action of the squared circle is there in all its glory - high flyers soar from the turnbuckles, big boys beat down their opponent, wrestlers bounce of the ropes to attack and clothesline, grapples, head slams, pile drivers, joint wrecking holds - IT'S ALL THERE. There is a clever mechanic for being groggy bought on by some attacks or being 'dazed' as a beatdown where the injured wrestler will get minus action or movement points (kept track of by tokens on the cards) on their next activation. Conversely there is a clever mechanic for getting the crowd riled up and cheering for you (or booing if you are a heel) and that can give you extra action points or activate your 'crowd pleaser' ability (which are wide and varied but always useful).

After a few rounds players fly through their activations and the action is quick and smooth. You win 'royal rumble' style when all your opponents are thrown out the ring - or if the bout ends you win by having more 'dosh' worth of conscious wrestlers in the ring. There are already fan based house rules for movement out the ring, special 'bouts', covers and pins etc and rumour has it official ones will add to the game play even more.

Star wrestlers are, well, as the name suggests STARS and the shouts of 'THIS IS AWESOME' is often heard ringside... Yet like in reality the booker can be against them and a lucky roll or pure strength of numbers can see there lesser locker room bros being put over! Even if you are a big shot that little psyched up hafling grappler can cause a shock when the popcorn hits the fan!

SO all in all a perfect game really - quick, fun and fairly easy to pick up and very easy to play when you have got the rules down (which is normally a few rounds). Non wrestling mates have enjoyed playing and wrestling fans LOVE it...  The only down side is the printed dice (which is all that could be funded) which the crowd would be shouting 'You fucked up' or 'Delete' at - basically the fists rub off QUICK. Solved by a spray coat of varnish and hopefully people find that out before its too late. There are etched dice on the way hopefully. WOO WOO WOOOO

All in all though it's BRILLIANT = 'And you can't teach that !'

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Saturday, 20 May 2017

Sports Entertainment hits the blog...

I blame Rumbleslam for certain - wasn't going to get it but get drawn, all to easily, towards sports games. Wrestling to me meant Mick Mcmanus, Joe Royale, Big Daddy, Les Kellet and Kendo Nagasaki on ITV Saturday tea-time. Cups of tea, biccies and the occasional hot roll and peanut butter, advert time wrestling with my dad (until I began to hurt him). Missed the whole WWF revival in the 90s by surfing my brains out in Tasmania and then UFC seemed the thing to watch. But BANG suddenly Rumbleslam has pulled me into a world of 'real fakism' - the world of Sports Entertainment, and pulled me in with a vengeance.

In this, the first of a two part blog entry, I look at the world Rumbleslam parodies - the world of Pro Wrestling...

 Over the top reality escapism is how I would describe pro-wrestling, a world where reality meets fake... yes the blows and matches are fake, all set up to entertain, to let the audience suspend their belief to enjoy booing at the baddie (or HEEL in wrestling terms) or cheer the goodie (Blue Eye or Baby Face in wrestling terms) and forget about the real life shit that is happening. SO, much the same as watching a good adventure or martial arts film - it seems strange that people will watch the Last Samurai and say how good it is without feeling the need to inform me that the actor didn't actually get sliced with a katana, shot with the rifle or speared by the arrow while a wrestling bout will soon have people telling me - that drop to the head from 10' up was fake - COURSE IF WAS FUCKING FAKE - if it wasn't the dude would be DEAD !

They are actors, on the whole pretty bad, cheesey, actors - BUT they are incredible sports people., Anyone who has done any kind of contact based self defense martial art will know how hard the breakfalls these guys and gals do - UKEMI the way you receive an attack, whether that's fading out, breaking your fall, making them think they have hit to suck them in is an important part of budo - and the pro-wrestlers are freakin brilliant at it (which is what I like about it the most I think) what they do is a martial art no doubt, just as realistic as karate sparring, judo matches etc yet they combine it with story telling. I know that will rankle a fair few people who say karate isn't fake - when's the last time you saw someone break someones face or arm in a karate match then folks? UFC (or whatever cage fighting you are into), Thai boxing etc are different obviously. But Brock Lesnar went from the fake of the wrestling world to the top of the UFC world by basically doing the same thing (only leaving when it was obvious he was a little too dangerous in the cage - oooo drug scandal anyone?).

So, take it for what it is people - an entertaining, skillful and violent STORY ! And then there is Rumbleslam...

A Wrestling game set in a fantasy world setting...

Friday, 17 February 2017

A close run thing...

No guessing what this little ramble is about then... A quite uninspiring box holding a game which is well worth a look at, promise.

Napoleonics, Naps or whatever you may wish to call it, an intriguing time in history, possibly seeing the first real 'world war' with battles on most continents. Overly large characters and perhaps the last real effective 'sweeping armies' - fast firing weapons was to put an end to the 'effective' nomincular, although obviously didn't stop Commanders trying it. Naps - my first real wargaming love...

I was in mid to late primary school when I got friendly with one of our teacher's sons (who didn't go to our school). His older brother (at Uni doing history) was a wargamer and his bedroom and attic was a treasure trove of 30mm Hinton/Hunt figures all painted in the time honoured dip in red, dry, turn, dip in white technique - but to us they were masterpieces, lead figures in lead paint, but we survived. One holidays he showed us how to play, I presume they were wargames research rules but no real idea. But I was hooked. Couple this with Airfix bringing out their plastics range, a wargame book found in the library (along side 'A hundred days which shook the world') and a mate with a massive bare attic room to play on and we were away. Plastic figures on bar mat bases and books and blankets for hills... what more could we want?

Over the years the fantasy of the Scots Greys' charge and the march of the Old Guard have never been far away, numerous rules, scales etc have been and gone, including my own sets (most notable of which were a FoW derivative called 'Balls of Iron' which apparently had a big following with the Kiwi staff  of Battlefront and was close to being used for something exciting - that never came). But nothing ever really satiated the itch. Probably not helped by my insistence that the Peninsular War was basically 'Early War' and as Shaun, my long suffering mate, says I see May 44 in Italy as 'Early War' - anyway you get the idea. Naps to me is the Hundred Days with the Peninsular as Wellington's pre season warm up.

So, being easy to please (the game has to feature squares which have an outside chance of breaking in some circumstances - bring up the horse arty boys! -  cav charges, fierce close quarter shooting and melee and over exaggerated national characteristics) rams head to head with a want for it to 'feel right' - and for me that feel is basically the feel you get in the epic film 'Waterloo'. I am not bothered in the wheeling rate of xx troops in xxx campaign on xxxx weather affected ground - I want to be cheering and hollering as my Scots Greys ride to glory or doom !

And after alienating myself to a majority of Napoleonic wargamers over the last two paragraphs those unfortunate souls who have persevered must be wondering what this has to do with Command & Colours Naps...

C&C is a popular hex based system which has been used for a variety of games, probably the most widely known one being the 'Memoir '44' game concentrating on D-Day onwards in WWII. Over the years I have played this quite a bit, the ACW version for a while and other non C&C derivatives such as Battle Lore and the Games of Thrones Westeros games. Apparently we did have the Naps version for a while until it got lent out never to be seen again but I can't really remember it.

Naps was out of print by the time the Meeples crew got me interested again a few years back - but that has now changed and version 3 is available and I got one...

I'm not going to labour on the STICKER sticking saga - to be honest it was a pain for an afternoon but a bit like a smack on the thumb with an errant hammer it is now forgotten about, never to be bought up in conversation, ever again!

Here is what the game looks like, in fact this is Waterloo from the Brit perspective. People do swap the bricks out for models but I actually quite like them, it gives a kind of weird 1800s feel. Besides I spent 4 hours sticking the freekin stickers on .... oops wasn't going to mention that was I?

Plenty of other places on the web can tell you about the game play etc etc so I will not labour on it. However, this are some of the aspects I really like:

Fog of War - prevalent in any account of warfare of the age you read, limited visibility, messengers getting killed or lost, erratic generals - you name it, things were not going to go as planned. C&C models this with the card activation/reaction system, and it does it damn well.

Squares - form square boys - yep it works, yes they are hard, if not impossible, to break without combining arty or infantry with your cav charge and yes you can arrange the blocks to look like the chequered squares in the film!

Mine are different from yours - Yep national characteristics abound, love them or hate them, argue they didn't really exist, I don't care the game has them and makes the player play like the Commanders they are pretending to be - love it !

Easy and Quick - from a gamers perspective, will be interesting to see what non gamers think of the simple rules though. But quickish set up and quick play means no getting bored and more than one game a night. What's not to love. 

I could go on of course but no one is probably still reading. So all I have to say is that this avoided me for too long it seems. If you have similar Nap leanings as myself than it is a must to play. If you are interested in the period but don't want to fork out hundreds on figures and painting etc then this is a must. If you hate sticking things to blocks of wood - this is a must so long as you can palm the job off to a mate!

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

On the way home... Ambush, Gangs of Commorragh style...

GW's newest boxed game hit my senses shortly after I found out I loved Blood Bowl. True, I knew nothing about Dark Eldar, very little about 4oK as a whole and, if the truth be known, I was just thinking landspeeder through the forest. Also the Stand Up Paddleboard type skyboards sort of sealed the deal.

There was lots tingling about on the net about how good a deal the game was model wise. 30 odd quid for 16 'bikes' and 'skyboards' apparently worked out around 55% off the actual retail. So a quick visit to the local store and I returned with the game. An afternoon of plastic gluing and a quick spray and I was ready for when Shaun came round to give it a whirl.

Premise wise the game is set in the sky above the choking smog of Commorragh where rival gangs come across each other amongst the spires of the buildings poking through the smog. GW promised fast, furious action, great for single games but apparently with an excellent campaign system. We set off on an evenings action to see if they were right.

Mechanics and rules wise the game is very solid, players alternate activating characters and they move, after all characters have moved then you take it in turns to shoot. Vehicles have a built in turning allowance per move activation, skyboards up to 90 degrees and bikes up to 45 degrees - this has to be made at the start or end of movement. Also they have a minimum and maximum movement. However, each type of vehicle gets access to manoeuvres that can alter your speed, path or alignment (side slip, brake turn which is an extra in move turn, barrel roll etc). Also each type of vehicle has access to specialist maneuverers such as grabs and hook turns for the skyboard and the bikes being able to use the baneblades on their bikes to tear opponents vehicles down.  This leads to crazy action all at a hectic pace.

Combat is pretty easy - agility of the target vehicle is the number on 2d6 you need to equal or beat to give a hit marker, then a kill roll is made which is determined by the kill rating of the weapon used. Cover gives a saving throw to avoid hit, Jinking stops you attacking that round but adds your pilot skill to the hit target number. Lots of choices to be made all round long - and believe me the rounds are quick once you get the hang of it.

Set up is interesting as one side will always be ambushed - one gang starts in the middle, all pointing in the same direction, and the other on the table edge in a random direction from the center. Depending on how well the ambush was planned (ie how much difference between the rolls was) determines if the ambushed gang manage to get in a quick emergency turn before the game starts.

If this was all there was to the game then it would still be worth the money by a long way! But it isn't - the campaign system is elegant, quick and great fun. Starting with having a fight type (as in what you have to do to get extra income or victory points) each player then gets a 'side plot' which can help or hinder one or other player. These also add other terrain/play features to the game - toxid gas clouds, groups of scourgers and the bane of a players life - low battery life on your vehicles !

Another thing I like about the system is your gang is split pre-game into murder packs - the more packs you send out for the day doing 'jobs' the more income you get at the end. BUT the pack that ends up fighting is determined at random! So even before the game begins you have some important choices to make. Members have to be paid, income spent on new members or upgrades from 'deals' that may be offered. 'Killed' vehicles during the game are really just spiralling out of control out of the fight area. After the game they are rolled for - a 1 means they perished amongst the spires - other results may see them miss the next days jobs and fights etc.

All in all it is a great game... Can't praise it enough for a quick (anything up to 35 minutes when playing the campaign) miniature based, campaign driven game!

Well done GW - and that's something I rarely say!

Sunday, 8 January 2017

END BOWL - coach pack

The END BOWL - proudly bought to you by Ponders End Blood Bowl Club and the

All teams must be chosen from the newly released “Bloodbowl Death Zone season 1 handbook” or the official GW Teams of Legend PDF.

Players are able to spend 1,100,000 Gold Pieces on their team but must not include star players.

Before the day you may add TWO skills to add to your team for free, however, these are not allowed to be added to the same player.

Injuries will NOT carry over to the next game.

Each player should bring a timing device and each player will have a three minutes per turn. After three minutes the player has 3 ‘Time Outs’ per half – these can be used to add one minute to a turn when needed. When the time for a turn runs out the player must finish the player they are on and then the opposition takes their next turn.

The “illegal Procedures” rule will not be in effect for the movement of turn counters.

Inducements will not be used.

After each game your opponent must pick one of your players as the MVP that play will get to roll on the skill table. If you won the game you may modify the result by 1 if they wish.

Players will be required to bring the following:
At least, Two Team Rosters – One to hand in, one to let your opponent see during the game and one for you.

1 Painted Team

If possible please bring a new size pitch just incase.

All score points will be cumulative throughout the day.

Win – 3pts

Draw – 1pt

Loss – 0

Winning a game by 4 or more touchdowns – Bonus 1pt
Only losing by a margin of 1 touchdown, so long as both sides score – Bonus 1pt

Bombard Trophy - Winning Coach – Head Coach with most points at the end of 4 games – ties will be decided by number of touchdowns and kills added together. Bought to you by:

Trophy and voucher.

Galtihay Trophy- Best Uniform – best painted team, everyone will vote during the lunch break on the teams nominated by opponents during the day.

Oberwald’s Protégé `Award – Coach with most touchdowns during the day.

Northern Wall Award – Coach with least touchdowns scored against them.

CABAL VISION Award – For the top two stunning plays of the day – jot them down as they happen and hand them in to be judged.

Apoc’s Favourite – Coach causing the most injuries (on the field, not the hall) during the day. Bought to you by the Apoc's special...