Monday, 19 February 2018

Boardgame Session: 18Feb18

Visited Val and Chris on Sunday and took them a prezzie: 7 Wonders. Surprisingly they did not have their own copy of the game and I recently found a cheap copy on sale in a local charity shop. Only £3-50 (!), counters unpunched and cards still in the wrappers. We sat down and played a quick couple of games. I had forgotten how good a game 7 Wonders is; it flows well, some room for aggressive play, interesting combos, and multiple routes to victory. I think focussing on adjacent players is a key to the game. Also after watching a Rahdo video it is clear the 2 player mode works well – Elaine and I will have to give this a try. I have considered buying the ‘Duel’ 2 player version, but have not played it (or really researched the game).

After lunch we tried Cash ‘n’ Guns for the first time (Val and Chris have played before). This is not my sort of game; too simple, too aggressive. I can see this working with a sizable group (6+) of non-gamers who are looking for a light-hearted party game, preferably after a few drinks.

Next we tried NMBR9, which Chris had got for his birthday. A deceptively puzzling spacial awareness game that is unique in my experience. Elaine was most impressed. I did not expect to particularly enjoy the game but after 2 plays, I would be happy to give it more outings.
We finished the afternoon with a game of Quadropolis, a clear favourite of ours at the moment. I lost badly; I just could not seem to get my town planning mojo going.

Monday, 12 February 2018

Off the Painting Table (Feb 2018)

A bit of light relief following the massed WW1 French army, just a few wild west figures. These are from Artisan and allow me to create two half-size (12 point) gangs for Dead Man’s Hand i.e. Bandito’s and Pinkerton Agents.

The sculpts are good and crisp. The Mexicans are nicely animated; I particularly like the man fanning his pistol, and the rifle armed figure. The Pinkerton figures are less animated and, disappointingly, I got a duplicate (twin) figure. For identification purposes, I name each figure (label on rear of base), and the ‘twinned’ Pinkerton figure inspired me to name the agents:- Hugh, Pugh, Barney McGrew, Cuthbert, Dibble and Grubb. Any British reader of a certain age will quickly recognise the names! (NB/ I realise that it should strictly be “Pugh, Pugh,..”; i.e. the twins).

Anyway, I’m pleased with the painting. The colours etc. are a bit ‘clean’, especially the Agents dust-coats, but I will leave them a while. In future, if the crisp colours bother me, I can go back and give the figures a brown-wash to dull things down a little.

I’m back to a limited lead-pile again, so I’m starting to think about my next project. Currently pondering about getting some ACW ironclad riverine models to use with RFCM “Hammerin’ Iron” rules – Any thoughts out there? I might get to the Overlord show in March, otherwise I will have to wait until Salute in late April.

Monday, 5 February 2018

AAR: France 1914 (Square Bashing); 4Feb18

I finally have managed to get a game, this time using my new 1914 French army using the RFCM rules ‘Square Bashing’. Ian got command of the French whilst I took the Germans. The pre-game process resulted in a French attack across all sectors, which meant my Germans would be pushed hard! Ian gained some good advantages, especially one which allowed his troops to be graded as Professional for a single turn (this really hurt me!). Ian also gained 7 extra Point Affect Barrage assets, plus improved shooting on my turn 2. I was also concerned about his field artillery which outnumbered mine and was of better quality (QRF guns). My depletions were OK (better than expected), but I was rather stretched. Interestingly, Ian choose ‘Movement’ as his command focus, whilst I choose ‘Morale’; I have never seen the ‘Movement’ option used before, and now I see its strengths, it allowed Ian to make repeated co-ordinated attacks from difficult terrain (very useful).
Start of turn 2; before the decisive French attack

As for the game itself: My Germans were on the back-foot from the start, but this was inevitable. Ian cleverly massed his field artillery rather than spread it out, which meant my forces faced concentrated attacks and this ploy took out my valuable MG and artillery units (I lost 75% of both types in the game; unusual). Turn 2 was the decisive turn; Ian used his Professional upgrade bonus combined with his Movement command focus, and a Point Affect barrage, to take 2 of the 4 objectives. My counter-attack options were limited and were heavily hit by his Improved shooting on my turn. I never recovered from this blow and never had enough troops to mount an effective counter punch, or prevent some French troops breaking through to the green fields behind my position. The Germans did successfully hold the other 2 objectives, and my choice of the ‘Morale’ command focus helped greatly. Ian made only one significant mistake and he saw the folly of rashly charging his cavalry against a position that contained MGs. The game ended after 5 or 6 turns due to the countdown clock, and it was time to add up the points: German 80 versus French 97. This gave the French a ‘Minor Victory’, but Ian was only 2 points away from a ‘Decisive Victory’. Ian did roll poorly for 1 objective and could have easily acquired these extra points, but this is one of the strengths of Square Bashing; you never accurately know the final value of some victory conditions.

Overall the game took 3 hours to play. The rules are clear and the QRS worked well. The pre-game sequence is fun and generates a nice, variable Attack/Defence game required for this period; a balanced ‘Encounter’ type game would somehow feel wrong. The ‘Asset’ management works well, as do the different artillery barrages. The different armies each have their own ‘feel’: The Germans are well balanced; the French are slightly poorer in quality but have good field artillery; the British are excellent in terms of quality but small in numbers; and the Russians are low quality but have vast numbers. I should stress I’m only interested in the opening actions of WW1 in 1914. I have never played latter actions involving trench systems, gas, or armoured vehicles so I cannot comment on how these rules work covering such environments. For me, Square Bashing works very well when playing the Autumn 1914 clashes.

As a side note, my French army looks good on the table. Interestingly the Lancashire Games figures are significantly larger than Peter Pig; this is fine when opposing each other, but within the same army the difference would stand out. Therefore I recommend choosing one or other manufacturer, and do not try to mix the two together.

Monday, 22 January 2018

Off the Painting Table (Jan 2018)

I have managed to finish my 1914 French army, in possibly record time. I really got into a production line system for painting these figures, but I must admit they are fairly boring to do. The photo shows them just before completion of the basing, because the white base shows the figures better. They are also on my painting ‘trays’ which I find useful to keep my various projects manageable and easy to pack away. The Lancashire figures are fine, not the best but cheap compared to my favourite Peter Pig figures. Anyway, I’m looking forward to getting them on the table soon.

Monday, 15 January 2018

Boardgame session: 14Jan18

A very quick report. We started with a couple of games of Azul, and as expected the game scales well from our previous 2 player games to a 4 player count. All the challenges remain, the game play is still fast, the only change is that tiles re-circulate more often. Interestingly, we did manage to get the +10 point bonus for having 5 identical tiles a number of times, which did not seem likely when only 2 players are playing.


We went on to play 2 games of Citadels. This is a classic game which I had never played before, but I found a copy in a charity shop and this was its first outing. The rules are so simple and the objectives equally simple. The ‘twist’ is the character selection phase when you need to plan for your turn. The highest ranked character is the Assassin, which is a mean card potentially eliminating another player from the round. I seemed to be hit with this many times! The Robber also seems mean, but players rarely held significant money for it to be effective. I don’t think any of us fully utilised the Warlord card, paying hard earned cash to remove another players property with no benefit to the Warlord himself does not feel like value. The King can be useful, and I was always seemed to be to the right of the player choosing this role, which meant that when my character choice came round, I only had 2 to choose from (a bad situation). The games flowed well, we did not find it slow, and the results were close. We did not use the expansions which swop characters and add special buildings. I think all players enjoyed the game and character selection mechanism. We all felt there were further un-explored depths to this game. Maybe it deserves further outings, and it was certainly worth the couple of pounds I paid for it.

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Review of the painting year, 2017

The year of 2017 has come to an end and I can look back on what I have managed to paint. I am a ‘sad’ gamer who logs all the items painted, generally in chronological order, so here is my 2017 list:

WW2 Japanese
WW2 Pacific AFVs
Chi-Ha, Buffalo, Higgins
WW2 Pacific USMC
GZG Figures
C19: Prus,French,Aust
WW2 Italians
Sudan British Colonials
Salute freebies
WW2 French Infantry
Peter Pig
WW2 French Tanks
Peter Pig
WW2 German Infantry
Peter Pig
WW2 German Tanks
Peter Pig
WW2 Desert Troops
Naval (Napoleonic)
Newline Design
Black Tree Studio
Battlelore Undead
Fantasy Flight
WW1 French
Lancashire Games


The year started with my WW2 Pacific Bolt Action forces. They have seen some action on the table, but not as much as I would have liked. My 10mm late 19th century armies were boosted and I consider them now to be complete. I next returned to WW2 by selling my 6mm 1940 armies and replacing them with 15mm versions, at this scale I can actually see the detail and recognise different tank variants! I intend using these with BKC rules (I still use the older 2nd edition, rather than the problematic new 3rd edition). I really like the quirky early war period, particularly the French, and I think they provide good opposition (tactically) for the blitzkrieg Germans. For the same rules, I boosted my WW2 desert forces by adding more infantry figures, plus some Italians.

I have not painted many 28mm figures this year. The naval figures provided another force to use in potential pirate themed games, whilst the gladiators were too good a bargain not to buy!

A major project was the completion of my Battlelore armies with the painting of the purple, undead force. I really enjoyed doing this because it allowed me to use different wash techniques, plus the figures are nicely sculpted. Additionally this painting project encouraged me to get the game on the table again.

Finally I have just started my 1914 French army, and there will be many more to come next year.

Saturday, 30 December 2017

Boardgame session: Christmas period 2017

We played various boardgames with different people over the festive period, and I’m only going to report on the new games received a presents.

Val and Chris kindly bought Azul for us. This game has been attracting a lot of favourable comments amongst gamers recently, so I was keen to try it on the table. Essentially this is an abstract style game, the theme of making a tile mosaic is OK but not strong. The tile pieces are very nice, tactile and work well. The tile selection mechanism is also clean, quick and effective. As the rounds progress, the choices become ever more tough and restricted; you are not simply focussed on your own tile mosaic but also on your opponents. You can see bad tiles mounting up until a player is forced to take them (in one of our games Elaine got the maximum -14 point score for these excess ‘broken’ tiles). So far we have only played the 2 player version, which is very enjoyable and I can see the game will scale up nicely to 3 or 4 players. Play is fast (30-40 min.) and scoring easy. Neither Elaine or I have achieved the +10 point bonus for a full set of 5 tiles, and I think this will remain a rare occurrence. My only criticism of Azul is the point scoring tracks; moving the small cube on a number track is OK but it is so, so easy to inadvertently knock the cube, and you cannot go back and reassess the scores. One of our games had to be abandoned in the final round because of such an accident; very annoying! Also, we have only played the ‘basic’ game and have not tried the free-form ‘gray’ grid yet. I am looking forward to playing this with Val and Chris when they visit in January.

Next, I bought Elaine a copy of Colt Express because it was such a bargain in a local charity shop! Only £3-50 and the game was still unpunched and cellophane wrapped! I spent a happy Boxing Day morning assembling the loco and carriages, and all was ready to go. Now I have played this game before but the opportunity to play a 5 player game arose when my sister, Gill, together with Paul and Erin visited. This is game that benefits from a higher player count, and is most enjoyable if the players do not take it too seriously. I was surprised how quickly everyone picked up the ‘programming’ action sequence and the only problem was remembering what you planned and trying to keep track of other player moves. The flow of the game produced lots of laughs and clever movement of the Marshal meeple caused havoc. Paul proved to be the most clear-headed and easily won the first game. In the second game there was a three-way tie between Paul, Erin and Elaine with $1,950 each (I suspect this does not happen often). Anyway, I’m very glad to have bought Colt Express. I don’t think it will be a regular on the table, but when we have non-gamers visiting who would enjoy a light hearted evening, then this is a game to turn to.


Finally, my sister gave me a copy of Metro. Elaine and I lasted played this at Games Expo 2017, and were very impressed, so I am most grateful to own a copy. I spent this afternoon punching out the counters and organising them in zip-bags (I’m a true Geek) and I hope to play this in the next few days.

I would like to wish all my readers a very Happy New Year. I hope you all got the prezzies you asked Father Christmas for, and I hope you continue reading this blog in 2018.