Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Off the Painting Table (Oct 2017), part 2


At the Colours show I saw that Black Tree Studios were having a sale of their figures. They were offering packs of 24 28mm figures for only £10; unbelievable value! Unfortunately most of their ranges were not of interest to me, but they did have some Gladiator figures that I bought.


I have hoped for some while to indulge in a light-weight Gladiatorial campaign using the ‘Jugula’ rules (Studio Tomahawk), but did not have the necessary figures. I had looked at the figures produced for the rules but felt that, although attractive, they were very over priced. The figures sold by Black Tree would fit the bill, even though not all armatures were present, and some figures do not fit the armatures listed in the rules.


I really enjoyed painting these figures; you can let your imagination run riot with colour combinations. The metallic colours were particularly challenging, so I was able to use my full range of shades; bronze, light and dark gold, gunmetal, steel and silver. The final step will be to ‘name’ each figure to enable easy identification. I plan to use the humorous and ingenious names from the Asterix series of books.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Off the Painting Table (Oct 2017)


At the Colours show I bought a naval boarding party from Newline Design as another potential opposition for my numerous pirate figures.

The figures are fairly bland in terms of pose and dress, but seem well cast and do represent good value for money (24 figures for £20). I added to the basic pack by adding some additional single figure options.


The figures painted up easily; I wanted some variation with an underlying ‘uniform’ appearance. The figures are more Napoleonic in dress rather than the earlier period I wanted to depict, but I don’t think the basic clothing for an ordinary rating changed much over time. The officer and mate dress is probably incorrect for the period I’m aiming at, but I’m not too concerned about this anomaly. The Royal Navy has always been a multi-ethnic body and wanted my force to reflect this. Forces based in the Caribbean would almost certainly have had a high proportion of different ethnicities; they could not pop back to home waters to ‘recruit’ replacement men from the slums of Britain. Actually my European figures in the force look a bit ‘pasty’, they should in fact be heavily sun-tanned. I also attempted some tattooing on the figures to help give a seafaring feel.


On the bases, I opted for a decking look rather than standard flocking. I’m not totally happy about the effect I have achieved; it looks a bit block-like. Interestingly, this block effect means the figures actually look OK on cobbled terrain areas. So rather than re-paint the bases, I will stick with it for a while.

Friday, 22 September 2017

Off the Painting Table (Sept 2017)


I have not done any painting since June! Last weekend I visited the Colours show in Newbury and bought a few figures to augment some of my armies. From Pendraken I pre-ordered some 10mm figures, mainly infantry, to add to my existing WW2 desert forces, which were particularly low on foot sloggers.


There is nothing special about these figures; they paint up very quickly and look fine on the table. I did buy 3 Matilda tanks and tried my hand at the early camo pattern. They look OK but I’m not convinced that I have achieved the look I was hoping for.


Anyway, my British and German forces are now pretty much complete. I may add more Italian tanks at a future date. As an aside, I did buy a copy of Sam Mustafa’s new ‘Rommel’ rules. I did not intend to but I stayed at the show too long and gave in. I find I know when I have been at a show long enough when I make a purchase that I did not intend. When this happens I know it is time to leave.

Monday, 18 September 2017

Boardgaming in Toulouse


Elaine and I had a short, 8 day break based in Toulouse and stayed in a studio apartment near the

city centre. We have visited this area of France many times, exploring Cathar castles etc., but we had never spent time in Toulouse itself, just flying in and out of the airport. This time we did not hire a car, but instead opted to use the excellent public transport network. We naturally took with us a few games to play in the evenings. On our first day we explored the city and tried to get our

 bearings. Down near La Garonne we spotted a shop, ‘Sabretache’, selling wargame figures and various boardgames, so we went in for a look around. The wargame figures were nearly all 54mm and beautifully painted. We ended up talking boardgames with the owner in a mix of English and French (Elaine has very good French, I have none). Elaine asked if there was a boardgame cafe in Toulouse and it turned out there was one just around the corner.








That evening we visited the cafe, ‘Les Tricheurs’ (www.lestricheurs.com). The cafe had a reasonable selection of games (all with French rules) and we pondered what to play. It was still early so we chatted with the owner and she recommended the game ‘Lost Cities’ (or ‘Les Cites Perdues’). This is a 2-player game with simple rules, where players play cards in ascending order against 5 potential expeditions. You score the face values of the cards minus 20 for each expedition you undertake. In addition there are bonus cards (x2, x3, x4) for each expedition, which must be the first cards played against that expedition. The game is played over 3 rounds, and a round ends when the deck of cards is exhausted. A very simple mechanism, but hugely enjoyable and requiring a surprising degree of tactical thinking. After a couple of games, we decided to finish the evening with a game we know and love; ‘Sushi-Go’. We had a fun time and resolved to return latter in the holiday (which we did, playing more ‘Lost Cities’, plus games of ‘Hey, That’s my fish’ and ‘Carcassonne’; which was rather appropriate considering the region of France we were staying in.


It would appear that boardgaming is very popular in Toulouse and the surrounding area, because we found 2 more games shops in Toulouse itself, ‘Tire Lire’ and ‘C’est le Jeu!’, and were told of another gaming bar in a different part of the city. There was also a ‘Carcassonne’ tournament advertised taking place in Carcassonne itself. Whilst we were in Castelneudary, we noticed another boardgame convention being held there that weekend! So, all-in-all, the South West region of France is a hot-spot for anyone who enjoys boardgaming, in addition to being a beautiful region with wonderful food and wine. Highly recommended!

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

The wargaming year 2016-17


The third year of my blog has now been completed and the number of hits continues to grow, up 76% on the previous 12 month period. The USA remains as the leading source of hits (32%), followed by the UK (19%), then France, Australia and Eire (4% each). There is a good worldwide distribution from many far flung places, and I still see bursts from Russia which accounts for 18% of the hits (I assume these are spurious ‘fishing’ hits). The most popular posts remain my reviews, with that for Pikeman’s Lament topping the list, followed by Battlegroup Kursk.

The games I have played this year are listed below:

 
Period
Rules
Type
Scale
2
Ancient
Sword & Spear (Hung v Turk)
Sword & Spear (Greek Hoplites)
Opposed (Lost)
Opposed (Lost)
15mm
15mm
2
Ancient
Basic Impetus 2 (Athns v Thrace)
                        (Sparta v Thessaly)
Opposed (Lost)
Opposed (Lost)
15mm
15mm
2
Dark Ages
SAGA
Opposed (lost; Draw)
28mm
1
Medieval
Lion Rampant (Teutonics)
Solo*
28mm
2
WoR
Bloody Barons
Solo
15mm
1
2
SYW
Maurice
Reveries on the Art of War
Solo
Solo
15mm
2
Napoleonic
Sharp Practice
Solo
28mm
2
Napoleonic
General d’Armee
Solo
28mm
3
ACW
Longstreet
Opposed (Draw)
Opposed (Win)
Opposed (Lost)
15mm
3
WW1
Square Bashing
Solo
15mm
1
RCW
Red Actions
Solo
15mm
14 est.
WW2
Bolt Action
Solo
20mm
2
WW2
Flames of War
Opposed (2x Win)
15mm
1
WW2
Battlegroup - Tobruk
Solo
10mm
2
WW2
Blitzkrieg Commander v3
Solo (France 1940)
Opposed (N.Africa)
6mm
10mm
2
WW2
Blitzkrieg Commander v2
Solo (N.Africa)
10mm
1
Modern Air
CY6 JA
Solo
6mm
2
Vietnam
MCB 2nd edition
Solo trials
20mm
47

 

I have played more games compared to last year (47 compared to 30) and have only played 12 opposed games. My win ratio is OK (4/12) but I have lost more (6/12). My best and most unexpected wins were against Graham using Flames of War, and I will constantly remind him of these victories for many years to come! Meanwhile, Ian and I managed to complete our protracted Longstreet ACW campaign. Very enjoyable (and not just because I won) but, strangely, I don’t think Longstreet will see much more tabletop action; I feel the rules fit well in a mini-campaign setting but are not suitable to one-off, pick-up games. Most of my gaming continues to be solo which is disappointing and is due to an overly packed social diary preventing me from attending club meetings. This was compounded by my regular opponent, Ian, taking a 6 month sabbatical in Kenya.

The game rules that stand out for me this year must be Bolt Action. I know they have been around for ages but I missed out on the earlier enthusiasm, only playing a couple of club games. With the release of the new version I decided to give the system a go. I like the simple streamlined mechanisms which produce a good WW2 game; not as ‘realistic’ as other rules but fast and enjoyable. I can see Bolt Action remaining as my go-to, light WW2 rules for solo play.
I really like the 2nd edition of Men of Company B Vietnam rules and I can see future games occurring next year. The big rules disappointment was Blitzkrieg Commander version 3; a publishing disaster by Pendraken, but to give them their due, they are doing all they can to rectify the situation. A new set of rules I like are General d’Armee and they may provide the solution to my never-ending search for a good set of tactical Napoleonic rules. My judgement is pending because I have yet to play any opposed games using them.
Overall, 2016-17 has been an OK wargame year for me. I really must do better at arranging opposed games. Next year I hope to play some Napoleonics and find out whether General d’Armee lives up to its promise. I am dithering over whether to get the new Sam Mustafa release, ‘Rommel’. I really like Sam’s productions and the clear mechanisms he uses, but I’m not sure I want the high level simulation these rules appear to address. Another potential project for me next year will be getting my pirates on the table (again). The problem revolves around suitable rules. Donnybrook came tantalisingly close to providing the answer, but not quite, I therefore plan to write my own rule set to cover the period and ‘feel’ that I am seeking. I have a few ideas about mechanisms etc., so this might provide a focus and challenge for the year ahead.

The boardgaming year 2016-17


Review of  boardgaming year 3 on this blog (2016-17):

A collated list of games we have played is tabulated below. The list is primarily aimed at providing me with a detailed record of my boardgaming activity, so that I can spot and understand trends and favourites. It also sparks my enthusiasm for games I overlooked and want to play more of.

No Games played
Boardgame
5
Dominion
4
Patchwork x10
3
Tsuro
Carcassonne x8
Carcassonne – Hunters & Gatherers
2
Ticket to Ride, Europe
Parade x6
Hey, that’s my Fish!
Quadropolis
Sushi Go! x5
Glory to Rome
Costa Rica
Burgle Bros
King of New York/Tokyo
1
Blueprints
Sheriff of Nottingham
Galaxy Trucker
Barking up the Wrong Tree
Mr Jack
Colt Express
Death Angel (solo) x2
Pandemic
Crossing
Welcome to the Dungeon x2
San Juan
Key to the City – London
Quatro x3
Lords of Vegas
Fresco
Legacy
Metro
Roll for the Galaxy
Five Tribes
Chinatown
(1)
Imperial Settlers
Munchkin (Cthulhu)

Some games tend to be played numerous times within a single session, these I have shown as sessions with the number of actual games played as a superscript number.

The top game was Dominion, an ever popular classic, closely followed by Patchwork, a game that Elaine enjoys beating me at. Carcassonne remains near the top, and if combined with the Hunters and Gatherers variant, would be the top game of the year in terms of play. I really enjoyed getting Glory to Rome back on the table. Two games at the bottom of the list, Imperial Settlers and Munchkin, were games that we abandoned and failed to complete.

The games that have really stood out this year for me include Sushi-Go, Quadropolis and Roll for the Galaxy; I want to play these more often. Key to the City was also good, but took longer than expected, there is hidden depth to the game that needs further exploration. My birthday prezzie game, Burgle Bros, was also a nice surprise (a tough co-op is always welcome). I am pleased to have acquired Parade, and would love to get a copy of Chinatown. I am surprised we have not played any Dungeon Petz, one of my all-time favourites.

All-in-all a busy boardgaming year. A lot of variety, and a nice mix of old and new games played. One of the best features of the gamers I play with is that no-one dominates too much; we all win/lose on a fairly even basis. I believe this to be an essential factor in a happy gaming group. I would like to introduce some new blood to the group and maybe this will happen in the coming year.

Monday, 4 September 2017

Boardgame session 3Sept17


We went to Oxford to have lunch with Gill, Paul and Erin, to celebrate Erin’s 16th Birthday. After a very nice meal we went to Thirsty Meeples to play some boardgames.
Elaine asked if they had ‘Chinatown’, a game we thoroughly enjoyed at UKGE at couple of years ago and now sadly out of print. A copy was available, so settled down to play. Essentially the game revolves around economic area control, but the key feature is the negotiating phase where deals in any form can be made. With 5 players this can be complex and fun. Everyone can see what each player has and wants, but their cash reserves (i.e. victory ‘points’) remain hidden. The first couple of rounds are fairly restrained, which allowed Gill et al. to get a feel of the game and appreciate the tactics required. By the end, I felt that Paul had a good lead, and think most others agreed. We tallied up the final scores and surprisingly Gill was the winner (order: Gill, Paul, Erin, myself, Elaine). On reflection, Gill made a lot of small but highly profitable deals, compared to Paul’s larger, more spectacular efforts.

Next we played ‘King of Tokyo’ because I wanted to compare it to our recent game of ‘King of New York’. Whereas a New York has more options for players outside the city, Tokyo is more of a take-that type of game. Both are good fun, with Tokyo easier to teach and understand. I was the first player eliminated when Paul bought a power which inflicted 3 hits to all monsters. Elaine was next out, closely followed by Erin, who stayed in Tokyo too long (but she had acquired a lot of victory points). So it boiled down to a battle between Paul and Gill, with Gill emerging as the victor. So, Gill won both games, Paul came second and Erin third. A really enjoyable afternoon in Thirsty Meeples, a venue that has a lively, friendly atmosphere and a place to play favourite games that are out of print. I would love to acquire a copy of Chinatown, and I will continue to scour B&B stalls on the off chance of finding a copy (or, ZMan could reprint - hint).