Friday, 18 August 2017

AAR; Greek Hoplites (Basic Impetus 2)

This is a brief report on a couple of games with Ian’s 15mm Greek Hoplites using the new version of Basic Impetus (Dadi e Piombo, 2017). Ian has just returned to the UK following a sabbatical in Kenya. Unfortunately he contracted Malaria out there. He is now on the mend, but not yet fit enough to get about, so I visited him at home. Although we are both familiar with the standard Impetus rules, this would be the first attempt with Basic Impetus 2. I forgot my camera, so the photo simply shows my own Greek Hoplite forces.

The first game pitted me, using Athenians, against Ian’s Thracians. Surprisingly my sole cavalry unit got the jump on the Thracian cavalry, destroying both Thracian light cavalry units, before succumbing to a counter-attack by Thracian Nobles. Still, the flanking move by the mobile Thracians had been blunted. Meanwhile my hoplite line trudged across the whole width of the table to strike the Thracian peltasts. When I made contact everything seemed to go well, and both of us thought an Athenian victory was in the bag. Big mistake! The Thracian Noble cavalry finally made it back from the flank and hit my hoplites from the rear. Athenians were falling in numbers and the losses passed 50%, so a narrow Thracian win resulted. If I had Just one more turn before this disaster then I believe the Athenians would have emerged on top.
Note the Pittsburgh Steeler fan in the centre of the photo!

For the next game Sparta (me) was matched against Thessaly (Ian). I thought I had a strong position with both flanks of my hoplite line anchored on woods. I did send some hoplites on a flank move (mistake, too slow), but Ian decided to match up against my hoplites whilst moving his cavalry through the flanking woods (!). I did manage to hold up the cavalry but I must have really upset the ‘Dice Gods’ because the Spartan hoplites went down to the mixed bag of Thessalian hoplites and peltasts. I don’t think my forces could have been ‘real’ Spartans, they were just imposters!

So, two defeats but it was an enjoyable afternoon of wargaming. It is great to see Ian back and I hope these victories will help him to get better more quickly. Regarding the rules; the mechanics will be familiar to any who have used the Impetus rules family. We really like the new elements e.g. the charge/pursuit move bonus, the variable retreat move, and the reduced shooting effectiveness. All worked well. I hope these additions are included in the next version of Impetus, which I believe is due to be released at the end of the year.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Boardgame session; 11Aug2017

We visited Val and Chris for a rare mid-week evening gaming session (Snowy-dog was in the kennels).
The first game we tried was ‘Costa Rica’; a 20-30 minute, push-your-luck, tile revealing, set-collection, expedition game. The board comprises a large hexagon made up of mini-hex’s showing 3 different terrain types, with 6 different animals on the reverse side of the hex’s. Six expeditions enter from the corners of the large hexagon, revealing the animal faces as each progress. Players in turn decide whether to remain with an expedition, or whether to bottle-out and take the revealed tiles, but this does eliminate that player from future moves with that particular expedition. Players score points for set collection, with bonus points awarded if all animal types have been collected. Some tiles have a mosquito symbol, and the second mosquito revealed ends the expedition early. As tiles are removed other expeditions can become trapped or isolated, so there is an aggressive element to the game. Anyway, each game resulted in run-away victories for Chris and Elaine. I think this is a nice, quick, simple game which is ideal to either start or finish a games session, but would not be the core game of a session. It is more than just a filler game.


Next we played a couple of games of ‘Dominion’; firstly using just the base set, then a game using the ‘Dark Ages’ expansion (which was new to me). Chris won both games and realised I had come last in all the games played (I must have seriously upset the ‘Dice Gods’ somehow!). The Dark Ages game had a few additional/different cards (as you would expect) and it did drag a bit; all of us struggled to get enough money to buy the more expensive cards. Dominion remains one of our all-time most popular games but I do feel there are a couple of issues that need to be raised: There are too many expansions; the base game, plus possibly one expansion, provides more than enough variation to enable repeated playing. I enjoy trying each different expansion, but I do not feel the urge to buy each one, and I don’t think they add enough to justify purchasing the full set. Secondly, most games end when the last Province card is bought; rarely do 3 of the other card sets get exhausted. I think a good house rule is to reduce the number of each action card down from 10 to a number that is double the number of players (e.g. 8 when there are 4 players). I have trialled this rule and it does produce a faster game with a less predictable end-game.

The next morning we travelled to visit my sister for a few days and took a couple of games with us. We played a couple of games of ‘Sushi Go - Party’ which is easy to teach and fast to play. Elaine won the first game by dominating the puddings! Erin won the second game, demonstrating how easily the game can be taught. No wins for me, but I did improve on last place. The other game we played was ‘Parade’, a card game I have previously greatly enjoyed and which I received as a recent birthday prezzie! The artwork is beautiful, the rules very simple, the game-play devilish! We played 4 or 5 games, and the highlight was Elaine’s victory scoring only 4 points in total; a record low score that I’m sure will stand for a long time. Finally, I was given my birthday present from Gill; a co-op game called ‘Burgle Bros.’, which looks good and will get on the table soon.

Monday, 24 July 2017

Off the Painting Table (July 2017)

I have finally completed my 15mm France 1940 German forces.

The tanks and vehicles are fairly standard fair; just Panzer grey with no fancy camo or markings. The main point of interest are the Pz38(t) which are 3D-printed models. They painted up very well and mix nicely with the other metal Peter Pig models. I also have 3D-printed trucks and a kubelwagon, which are satisfactory but less detailed. For my French army I still need some S-35 tanks, and I now intend buying the 3D-printed versions to fill this hole in the army.

The German infantry are again fairly standard, but I did paint the German flag and arm insignia on the helmets which makes a nice (but small) change from mid or late war Germans. In addition, I have painted a few bases of civilian refugees (not shown) to add some period flavour.

My forces are now complete and nicely add up to 2,000 points a side using the Blitzkrieg Commander version 2 rules. Notice I have reverted back to version 2. Further reading of the new version 3 rules continues to throw up problems e.g. the lists as written show a Pz38(t) gun is the same as that found in a Tiger-I tank! Both have an AT rating of 5/100! Looking online it is clear that others have found similar issues, so until the problems are fully addressed by the publisher, my copy of version 3 will be consigned to the attic! I suspect the problem lies in the fact that Pendraken wanted to release at the Salute show and therefore rushed the final stages of proof-reading and publication to meet this deadline. Major mistakes were not picked up and a sub-standard set of rules was released. I think the number of errors cannot be solved by a simple pdf correction file, and the version 3 rules should be withdrawn from sale. A revised set of rules should be published at a future date, with a sizable discount for those customers who have already bought the existing version 3 publication. Rant over! I think the BKC debacle provides a valuable lesion to all rule writers/publishers i.e. get it right and don’t rush the printing.

Monday, 17 July 2017

Show Report - Attack 2017

This weekend, my local club (Devizes) held its annual show, ‘Attack’. I feel this is the quintessential ‘old school’ type of show; a good but limited range of traders, plus a decent number of demo/participation games that are not too flashy and, on the whole, are achievable by many gamers, both at home and at club meetings. In addition there were a range of friendly, well attended competition games and the overall attendance was not too crowded, so getting to see and speak to traders was not a chore.

On the purchasing front I managed to buy most of what I planned, plus a few impulse buys. I was surprised that there was not a dedicated Flames of War supplier considering the sizable competition being held. Luckily the early war models I wanted were available on a stand selling 3D-printed models (Vector Designer Maker) at a fraction of the Battlefront prices. They looked surprisingly detailed and the range was extensive. I have no previous experience of 3D-printed figures so was keen to try them out. The base model looks rather garish (red plastic), and needs some trimming and tidying up with a sharp modelling knife. I next washed with detergent, dried and under-coated with black primer, which covered OK. I look forward to painting them up and comparing them to other resin and metal models. My first impressions suggest that 3D-printing has a bright future in the hobby, and as technology improves and costs fall I can see gamers purchasing files and printing at home!

The B&B at Attack is always excellent, not too crowded with a good range of objects for sale. This year I managed to sell a few odds and ends, and the money raised covered all my purchases. In fact at the end of the show I was slightly in profit! I managed to chat and catch up with many friends, including Graham, who was over from Belgium and playing in the FoW competition (he came 6th, a bit disappointing for him). Most of my time was spend viewing the games on display. The games that stood out for me at the show included:

A large 28mm WW2 Sword beach assault using Rapid Fire rules (Exceterford Wargamers(?)). This not a set of rules I particularly like, but the landing craft and DD tanks etc. were a joy to see. There was a FIW skirmish game using 42mm ‘toy soldier’ style figures (DDWG, Clive). This was a truly ‘old school’ game and the extraneous vignettes (e.g. pumpkin field, fish eagle, moose etc.) really bought life to the game. In addition, the large WW1 Wings of War game that is a regular feature at the show was impressive, as was a 54mm NW Frontier game, which was also nicely modelled. The was a nice 28mm ECW game (Last Chance Wargamers) and a demo game for a set of ECW rules (Bicorne Miniatures).

At the end of the weekend I spent a couple of hours helping to clear up. I think attending gamers should more appreciate the amount of effort the organising clubs put into holding such a show; it is not simply a money raising endeavour but requires an enormous amount of planning and work by club volunteers. So, my thanks go to all fellow DDWG members and I look forward to next years show!

Monday, 10 July 2017

Boardgame session 9July2017

It has been a while since my last post. Our diary has been pretty packed for most of 2017 so far, and gaming (especially wargaming) has therefore taken a back seat. On Sunday, our friends Val and Chris came for a boardgame session, and I was keen to revive an old favourite ‘Glory to Rome’. Elaine and I played a practice game on the Saturday to re-familiarise ourselves with the rules, which seem simple but hide the complex underlying strategy of the multi-use card deck. Elaine won convincingly by getting off to a fast start in terms of buildings and good combinations of their special abilities, and I spent my time trying to catch up with her.

The 4 player game on Sunday flowed well, both Val and Chris picked up the rules quickly, and the result was a clear win for myself. I think the higher player count improves the game and certainly increases to use of the attacking ‘Legionary’ role. I also think the ‘Merchant’ role is under appreciated and I gained significant points by doing this role at key moments in the game. I have the early version of the game (with the 4 card decks in a plastic flip-box) and really like the cartoon style of the artwork. I know many prefer the ‘Black Box’ edition, but I think the more abstract, line drawing artwork lacks theme and is not appealing. In conclusion, ‘Glory to Rome’ remains one of my favourite games and deserves to be played more frequently.