Monday, 11 February 2019

Off the Painting Table (Feb 2019)

I have been struck down for a week with man-flu, so it took longer than expected to complete my Italian allied forces for the Roman Punic war army.

I have completed 4 units if light-medium (FL) foot, 1 unit of heavy foot, and 2 units of cavalry. I wanted the Italians to look similar but different to my more regular Roman troops. I painted the plumes and shields in uniform colours within each unit, but did introduce some patterning on the shields and varied the tunic colours. I also did not use a maniple style of basing, and I added a couple of velite figures to the bases to distinguish the light-medium foot from the heavies.

Next up are the hordes of Celtic warriors. I have been dreading these, but they can no longer be ignored!

Boardgame session 10Feb19

Our small group met at a neutral venue, Thirsty Meeples in Oxford, for a change. This would enable us to try some games we currently don’t possess but are of interest to us.

We started with a small ‘Roll’n’Write’ game called Railroad Ink. In this game players are trying to utilise common dice rolls to form the ‘best’ rail and road networks over 7 rounds. This more of a puzzle game rather than a competitive game; you are focussed solely on your own developing map and only at the end are the relative scores worked out. I enjoyed the puzzle aspect, but the theme and game play did not grab my interest, so I was not enthusiastic about playing a second game. I think both Elaine and I did score highly (which is surprising for this type of game) but for me the game was forgettable.

Next we tried Quacks of Quedlinburg, a game that has received much praise and nominations for various gaming awards. This is a bag-building, push-your-luck game in which players are medieval alchemists concocting potions. The more varied and developed the potion, the more it scores in victory points and the more money earned. The problem lies in the pesky white berries, which if present in too high amount causes the potion to explode, thereby losing the player either the money or victory points for the turn! So, do you dip into your bag again and risk disaster? Everyone seemed to pick up the rules quickly, and as more ingredients are bought, the better scoring potions result. I really like the way the different ingredients give different benefits, and the ‘rats-tails’ provide a nice catch-up mechanism to keep all players in contention. I also like the variations for the ingredients which can improve game replayability. The game looks good and is one of the better push-your-luck games I have played, the simultaneous drawing of chits from the bags speeds play considerably. Elaine was the winner of our game. Overall this game was a hit with us, and Val/Chris would have bought a copy immediately except Thirsty Meeples were out of stock.

We only had 45 minutes of gaming time left, so we finished with a game we know well and which is always fun to play, Roll for the Galaxy. Finally I would like to thank Thirsty Meeples for continuing to provide a nice environment for gamers in the Oxford area.

Monday, 28 January 2019

AAR: Persian v Indian (S&S) 27Jan19

Ian has been away ‘down-under’ over the festive period and this was our first opportunity to play a game of Sword and Spear. Ian provided the armies, both beautifully painted, and I simply had to turn up. We diced to see who played what; I got the Late Achaemenid Persians whilst Ian had the Classical Indians. The terrain was open, but Ian reduced the potential frontage by choosing a river on one flank.

I deployed my mercenary Hoplites near the river and thought these would vanquish the opposing large body of Indian foot, maybe suffering damage from the bow fire on the way in. On the other flank I was convinced my better cavalry would prevail against the supposed poorer Indian mounted troops. My major concern was in the centre where the enemy Elephants and chariots were located. I was unclear about how to counter this threat, so I planned for my lighter Persian troops to slow the Indians and avoid direct conflict.
View from the Persian side of the table

In many ways my hopes for the Hoplite flank were proved correct; they cut through the Indians like a ‘hot knife-though-butter’ with little damage, but it took so long to get them into action that they could not exploit their success fully. On the other flank my plans went astray and essentially lost me the battle. I’m not entirely sure why my cavalry failed. I think I could have strengthen the flank with another unit; I feel I made one poor decision by opting for a tempting flank attack rather than engaging another unit; and I had not accounted for the intervention of an Indian light chariot unit. Whatever the reason, the losses on this flank mounted at a rapid rate. In the centre my plans to counter the Elephants went well for most of the game, but I finally made a simple error and they got me!
Indian elephants keep trundling forward!

So, victory went to Ian in a close fought battle. This was a game I really enjoyed and it reminded me of how good Sword and Spear is. The rules keep both players constantly engaged, and tough decisions need to be made when allocating dice. The luck element is not overpowering but you can never take things for granted. I think Sword and Spear is my favourite Ancient rule set for club games that are time-limited. Impetus is a close second (plan to get v2 soon), and To the Strongest in third place. I look forward to many more games in the future.

Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Off the Painting Table (Jan 2019) part 2

Well, the second Roman legion did not take long to paint, I think the uniform character helped the production line. This time I went for a simple blue shield colour, and I plan to leave the more ornate designs for use by the Italian allied forces.

There is now light at the end of the tunnel in relation to my Punic War armies. Next up is the Italian foot, followed by Roman cavalry, then a horde of Gallic types. Finally, I plan to paint the elephants and general figures. I hope to get the painting finished by the end of February, and the basing done in March.

Friday, 11 January 2019

Off the Painting Table; Jan 2019

Over the festive period I have continued painting units for my Punic Wars armies. I have completed the Spanish contingent made up of Lancashire Games figures. I have 4 units each of Scutarii and Caetrati, plus 2 units of cavalry. The figures wear white tunics with a purple border and the shield designs are fairly Gallic in appearance (I took my inspiration and ideas from looking at 28mm decal designs on the Victorix website.).

It should be noted I have also finished the Numidian forces, but I have not photographed these because they are dull and boring.

I have a horde of Gallic figures to paint, but I don’t think I can face them immediately. Instead I think I will focus on my next Roman legion using Xyston figures. The better sculpts make these a pleasure to work on.

Wednesday, 2 January 2019

Review of the painting year; 2018

The year of 2018 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 2018 list:

WW1 French
Lancashire Games
WW2 French S-35 tanks
ACW Naval
Peter Pig
Plus Medium fort
Col. Bills
Town Militia
Farmyard animals
Warlord Games
Black Tree
Spanish Guerrillas
Eagle Figures
WW2 building
Medieval Levy Archers
Gripping Beast
Lancashire Games
Lancashire Games
Republic Romans
Xyston Figures


Actually, 2018 was a quiet year in terms of painting. The only major projects completed were my WW1 French army, and my ACW riverine fleets for use with RFCM Hammerin’ Iron rules. Otherwise it has been a bit ‘bitty’ and lacking focus. I’m currently in the middle of my 15mm Punic Wars forces, which should be completed in early 2019. I’m really searching for inspiration at the moment but have enough to keep me occupied until Salute in Spring.

Monday, 31 December 2018

Boardgame session; Xmas 2018

Christmas is a time for families to get together and play boardgames. Gill, Paul and my niece Erin visited and we played a wide range of games, which I’m not going to detail. I think Paul emerged as the clear champion, with strong performances in logic games such as Onitama and Ganz Schon Clever.
As there were 5 players I introduced a social deduction game I picked up second-hand at a show; Deception, Murder in Hong Kong. In the first game I took the role of Forensic Scientist. Everyone soon understood the game mechanics, but trying to enforce an uninterrupted 30 seconds of analysis for each player proved difficult, so we were more free-form, but I ensured all players had a say in each round. A good indicator for a game is the enthusiasm which players show for an immediate replay, and Deception did well in this regard because we played 6 games back-to-back! We found a fairly even split between the investigators uncovering the murderer, and the murderer getting away with it. The game worked well with 5-players and I think a few players more would be even better. A larger player count would also allow for the introduction of other roles (accomplice and witness), which would be interesting. I don’t think Deception will be played frequently, but it will come out in ‘party’ situations, even with non-gamers.

The other ‘new’ game played was the 2-player game, Targi (which I received as a prezzie). I have only played this game once with Elaine, and I think it may quickly become one of my favourites. The decision making aspect is tense, with a nice degree of player interaction. The rules and mechanics are easy to pick up, and I like the 30-45 minute timescale. Anyway, that’s 2018 done with; roll on 2019.