Wednesday, 12 June 2019

General Gaming; June 2019

The weeks seem to have passed and my diary has prevented me from playing any competitive wargames etc. I thought I would write a short post on what I have been doing recently. The painting table has been fairly busy as I plough my way through my Han Chinese army. I am not reporting on this as I progress and will just present the finished article in a future post.  My gaming has been solo, and I have focused on rules from Too Fat Lardies. I find solo gaming a useful exercise to refresh my memory of rules and mechanisms. Firstly I played a couple of games of ‘Chain of Command’; a rules system I enjoy and gives a good (?) representation of platoon-level combat. I played using my British Para forces for the first time and they pack quite a punch, the German opponents need to work hard to get a result from such a match up. Next I moved on to the Lardies ‘Sharp Practice’ rule set, playing Napoleonic Peninsular skirmishes. I really like these rules and think they give an even better game than Chain of Command. The games always seem to tell a story and yield memorable moments. The last game (shown below) revolved around 2 lines firing volleys at each other until one side gave way, but the flanks were more fluid; British Light Dragoons bouncing a charge from the heavier French, whilst on the other flank some Voltigeurs ejected the 95th Rifles from a village.

On the boardgame front, Elaine and I have played some 2-player games. We enjoyed ‘7 Wonders – Duel’ (borrowed from Val and Chris). The designers have nicely kept the original theme and most of the mechanisms from the basic ‘7 Wonders’ game, but added a real ‘take-that’ element to the city building. I like the balance achieved with the Military and Science aspects, so that neither dominate the game, and the linkages between cards works and is not too fussy.

We have also managed to get ‘Western Legends’ to the table as a 2-player game. I was worried when I bought the game that Elaine would not be keen to play. The game is clearly a theme-driven, Wild West Ameritrash game involving player conflict and multiple paths to victory; not Elaine’s normal ‘cup of tea’! To my great surprise (and relief) she likes the game, and we have now played 3 times in a week. Game play is quick and the rules simple. Actions are varied, but not overly complex, and fit well with the thematic story. The conflict aspect is again thematic and fast to resolve, and there is no player elimination. The objectives are clear and, in our games, the results were tight. The board and components are attractive and easy to understand. The 2-player version includes a good dummy player, ‘The Man in Black’, which works well but seems to have a tendency to hunt down Elaine’s character in most turns! I look forward to trying the game in a 4-player mode, where more player interaction is bound to occur. I also think the model figures would benefit from a paint job.

Monday, 3 June 2019

Show Report; UKGE 2019 (NEC, Birmingham)

We went for our annual visit to UKGE at Birmingham NEC, but this year we stayed off site and located ourselves in Coventry. The hotel prices were much more reasonable and it was only a 10-15 minutes train ride into the NEC, with 4/5 trains per hour and costing less than £3 for a return trip. Yet again the drive up on Friday was bad and we arrived more than an hour later than planned.

The show was basically the same as last year, with a huge array of traders, games, punters and events. There seemed to be fewer cos-players than previous years whilst the competitive gaming looked more crowded. One aspect of UKGE that I’m not sure about is its inclusion of competitive wagaming, there are enough dedicated wargaming shows out there and I cannot see what this inclusion brings to the table. UKGE should be about boardgame (and RPG?) related subjects and not miniature wargaming. The catering at the NEC remains poor but this year there was beer available in the evenings. We spent our time alternating between shopping, gaming, talking to traders and occasionally trying new kickstarter games. We did not visit the Bring and Buy (again); the queues were horrendous, but Chris did manage to sell his excess games and generate much needed dosh! My shopping haul is shown below:

We did not spend too much, and there was not an ‘outstanding’ game of the show to dominate peoples spending. Last year everyone appeared to have bought or were playing  ‘Photosynthesis’, whereas the mix of games this year was much more varied. We had to have the new ‘Clever’ game and from a hurried play, it seems interesting. I also wanted the ‘classic’ bidding game of High Society, which did not cost much. Ominoes was an impulse buy and demonstrates the importance of good customer interaction on a trade stall! I also bought ‘Western Legends’, a game I have wanted for some time, and I can say it weighs a ton!

Much of our time at the show was spent gaming in the ‘Open Gaming’ area and a list of the games played (plus my personal rating for each game) is given below:

Tiny Towns (bought by Val & Chris)
Apotheca (Thisty Meeples game library)
8-Minute Empire (Thisty Meeples library)
Arboretum (Thisty Meeples game library)
Ominoe’s (our purchase)
Unexpected Treasures ((Thisty Meeples)
Welcome To... (Thisty Meeples game library)
Doppelt So Clever (our purchase)
Wingspan (bought by Val & Chris)


The best game played was easily Wingspan; a beautiful game with great artwork and components, combined with nice mechanics. I would buy a copy myself if a UK/European bird version came out, but until then we will content ourselves by playing Val and Chris’s copy. Tint Towns was also excellent as a game, but its price-tag seemed too high considering the rather average components. This year all the games we played were worth the time spent. I was not particularly enthused by ‘Welcome To...’, and ‘Arboretum’ needs more game time to fully appreciate the game play and scoring system.

Elaine and I left Coventry on Sunday morning feeling tired and not too overspent. We did not attend the final day but I think a full 3 days at UKGE would prove too much. We were gamed-out and I think a few days will be needed before we sit down to play any further boardgames.

Monday, 20 May 2019

Show Report; Partizan 2019

Unfortunately, due to illness, I missed this year’s Salute show. As compensation I decided to attend Partizan in Newark, a show I have never visited before. Elaine decided to come with me and have an extended w/e by exploring Newark itself, and visiting friends in Nottingham. We drove up on Saturday and wandered around the small, but interesting, town centre. We visited the English Civil War museum (which was OK) and castle area. In the late afternoon we discovered a boardgame cafe  (Letsxcape2together) and decided to spend a couple of hours playing games before finding a restaurant for dinner. The cafe has a reasonable range of games available and provided a very friendly and welcoming atmosphere. We spend much time chatting to the owner about games in general and wargaming activity in the area. I recommend others to call in if they are in Newark.

On the Sunday we went to the Partizan show at the Newark showground.  Parking was free and extensive, and the hall was large, well laid out, with good natural light and room to move around. As well as the usual traders, there were large numbers of well presented participation and demonstration games covering a wide range of genres and historical periods. It was interesting that Elaine came to the show because I could get an opinion of a non-wargaming participant rather than just seeing things with my own perspective. She was very impressed by the modelling skills presented, both in terms of the beauty of the figures and the scenic terrain they were situated on. She also praised the friendly enthusiasm of many organisers who were happy to discuss what they were doing to a complete novice like Elaine. I actually think she enjoyed the couple of hours she spent at the show, but not enough to take up the hobby!

There were many games that took my eye. WW2 was well represented (as usual) and the game that stood out for me was a ‘Malaya, 1942’ Chain of Command game by TooFatLardies – lovely! I was also most impressed by the GNW game by the Grimsby Wargamer Society. Other notable games included a Turk v Moldovan game; a large Indian Mutiny battle; a Boxer Rebellion skirmish game; a Napoleonic Egypt battle, plus some Sharp Practice skirmishes (sorry, I did not note who put these games on). Overall I think the standard of games was very high, far better than a lot of shows I have attended, where I think the quality levels have dropped recently. Interestingly, there was no ‘new’ wargame period, genre, rules or feature that stood out as the must see or must buy item. May be Partizan is too close to Salute for this to be the case? I did manage to get most of the paints, bases and figures that I wanted to buy plus, of course, a few unplanned purchases (e.g. orange trees for a small orchard). These will feature in future posts on this blog.

To conclude, I really enjoyed and was impressed by Partizan. I can see myself attending future Partizan shows (The Other Partizan in August?), and would recommend the show to wargamers wherever you are based in the UK.

Monday, 13 May 2019

AAR: Normans v Scots (Saga v2) 12May2019

In this SAGAv2 game I played a new opponent, Dan, who fielded a Dark Age Scots army. As I’ve never faced Scots before I was interested in what they would bring to the table. Interestingly, I have never played using my own Normans; in fact they have only got to the table once and then were used by my opponent. They were the last Dark Age SAGA force I painted, and this was as my interest in SAGAv1 faded. So, this would be a game played by novices, using unfamiliar forces. I should also thank Dave from the club for his help and advice to both of us during the game.

We played the vanilla ‘Clash of Warlords’ scenario and used a random, generic terrain set up (a few gentle hills and woods). Also for purely curiosity reasons, I decided to field my bow levy troops as 2 weak, 6-man units, rather than the normal 12-man unit. I had an 8-man unit of mounted knights and another 8-man mounted sergeants unit, plus an 8-man crossbow unit and 8-man spear unit. After a cursory reading of the Norman battle-board, I decided the best plan was to take some ranged pot-shots at any exposed Scots, before unleashing my mounted troops a.s.a.p. Nothing fancy here!

The first turn proceeded as expected, my left-hand levy’s using ‘volley’ fire to increase their range and killed a couple of Scots. I foolishly advanced my right-hand levy into some woods, and these were promptly attacked and thrown out by some Scots warriors. I was now concerned that these warriors were in a good position to continue their attack and hit my rather exposed crossbowmen.
Normans at the bottom (on a very sunny day)

Next turn I charged on some other Scots warriors with my mounted sergeants; the warriors closed ranks but were narrowly beaten back. Dan then moved his woodland warriors back to threaten the rear of the mounted sergeants, who looked doomed (but, my crossbows breathed a sigh of relief!). Next turn I went ‘all-in’ charging with the mounted sergeants (again) and my knights on the other flank. I boosted the Sergeants as much as possible and again gained a narrow win. Now it was the turn of my strong unit of knights and I soon discovered the power of the Scots. I had no extra modifiers to my basic 16d6 allocation, but Dan played ‘Long Spears’ converting 4 attack dice to defence dice, and then ‘Counter-Attack’ which gained him 8 additional attack dice! I received 6 hits and save none! My glorious knights had been mauled by some measly Scots with spears!
Norman left flank, where the levy not only survived but actually did some damage.

For the following couple of turns I could not throw a single ‘flag’ symbol, and the remaining dice were either all ‘helmets’ or all ‘shields’ (bizarre). My mounted sergeants made a valiant effort to try and killed the Scots warlord, but failed and were wiped out. My 2 remaining knights tried to KO a 3-man unit of Scots levy, and failed also.
The Norman crossbows about to get their prime target, the mounted Scots warlord.

In the final turns I did manage to clear the Scots levy and this opened a path for my crossbowmen to fire on the Scots warlord himself. I used the ‘Wounded’ ability to gain 2 auto-hits and diced for 1 more. The warlord failed to save any of the 3 hits, and perished. This seemed to anger his mounted Thanes, who moved from behind some woods and charged my crossbows. My Normans survived and shot the last Scots Thane next turn.

The game ended and we tallied the ‘massacre’ points. The Normans won by 23 v 15. This was a really enjoyable game and the margin was larger than I expected (I thought the loss of those 6 knights would have hurt more). The Norman strategy basically focussed on their mounted attacks, but it was the crossbowmen who really won the game. I think the Scots missed a trick by turning back with the warriors in the woods. Dan really used his battleboard well; the ‘No Respite’ ability is really annoying to the opponent, as is ‘Reach’ whereby suddenly most Scots become armed with javelins! The Normans are a powerful, if one dimensional, force and if (!) you roll ‘flags’ then I think they can be a tough nut to crack. As a final note, I fielded my Norman warlord on foot, not mounted, because I wanted to a play a SAGA game where my leader survives for once.

Monday, 29 April 2019

AAR: Punic Wars (Impetus 2nd edition), 28Apr2019

This was the first outing for my 15mm Punic Wars armies, and the first use of the newly released Impetus 2nd edition rules. Ian randomly was assigned the Carthaginians whilst I got the Roman army that basically comprised 2 standard legions with minimal Italian allies. The terrain was pretty open but I did manage to add a river on which I could secure my right flank. The most obvious problem I faced was how to deal with the Carthaginian cavalry command. I had little choice but the use one legion to hopefully hold out against the mounted threat, whilst the other legion pushed on to take out the enemy infantry/elephant command.

Carthage to the left and Rome on the right

The battle developed pretty much as I expected. My right hand legion held and then prevailed against the Carthaginian infantry, destroying some Libyans, Spanish and Campanian foot units. The elephants were also close to death. The large unit of Gauls were tough and prevented a quick Roman victory on this flank. On my left flank the Carthaginian cavalry, especially the excellent Numidians, ran rings around the plodding Romans, quickly destroying the small Roman cavalry detachment. Ian was helped by rolling double 6 on his first initiative, which upgraded his general to Expert (Hannibal?). Incidentally on the other flank I rolled double 1, which downgraded my General to Poor (though this had little effect on the game). I did manage to kill some enemy, particularly when one Roman maniple made multiple moves in good order to kill some Spanish and box in one unit of Numidians. The end of the Roman command came with the destruction of a unit of Triarii, dying surrounded by a swarm of enemy horse. The collapse of this Legion signalled the end of the game and a win for Ian and Carthaginians.
The Roman right flank about to take on the elephants
View from the Carthaginian perspective

Overall a good game and deserved win. I think the Romans will always struggle against the Carthaginian cavalry, and I need to give some thought to how to overcome this inherent problem facing Rome.
The Roman left flank and the Legion is about to die

The original Impetus rules did require a 2nd edition; there were so many additional rules and modifications scattered through the various supplements that needed bringing together and clarification. But the 2nd edition is not simply a compilation exercise, there are significant changes as well. This did slow our first game down because we needed to refer to the rule book many times to check different situations. Generally I think the 2nd edition is good, beautifully produced with good graphics and nice binding that allows the rules to be open on the table. The type of game is essentially the same as that produced by the original Impetus rules, which I think is a good thing. I don’t intend to give a detailed review of the rules themselves (I have not played enough yet) but instead just raise a few points based on this single game and my quick read through of the rules.

Terrain selection seems too basic and will always result in an open battlefield. This will favour some armies and disadvantage others. I would have liked to see more options available to cater for different army types and theatres of conflict. I really like the improved range of options available when being charged (in our game I forgot to use Close Ranks when my Triarii were charged), and the Evade rules are much clearer now. The Roman Pilum is now an effective weapon, especially when first charged. I like the variable Retreat and Pursuit tables which make things much less predictable. I like the more gradual reduction in unit status by becoming Worn then Exhausted. I still think ‘Large’ units are overly powerful (I am considering trying a ‘house rule’ whereby loses are inflicted on the front element of a large unit, and only transferred to the back element at the very end of the turn). I also noticed that the rules for Impetuous units have largely been removed from the 2nd edition, and replaced with a single Frenzy Test to potentially break up group charges. I have yet to play using my Roman versus Early German armies, but I suspect the problems for the Romans have got much tougher. Previously I could manoeuvre my more disciplined Romans to force the impetuous barbarians in to uncoordinated charges. Now I don’t think that option is available, and if the enemy has ‘large’ units, then I don’t hold out much hope for victory with the Romans. We will wait and see. I am sure both Ian and I made some rules errors during the game; for example, in melee when both participants cause no potential hits, then both should take a disorder (7.7.1), which may result in a loss to VBU.

To conclude Impetus 2nd edition has a tentative thumbs up from me and will remain one of my favourite rule systems for Ancient/Renaissance gaming, but more games need to be played before I come to a firm conclusion.

Monday, 22 April 2019

Boardgame session: 21Apr19

Elaine and I have been playing a range of 2-player games during the last few months. This has allowed us to get some under-played games off the shelf. One game I contemplated playing was ‘Key to the City of London’ but I (surprisingly) found in a charity shop a mint condition copy of the original ‘Keyflower’ game for only £2.50! So, I bought it and found it to be an excellent game (better than ‘Key to the City’). This Sunday Val and Chris came over, so I decided to give it a try using a higher player count. It works just as well with more players, the nasty plays are more spread out, and the play time is still fast. Both Val and Chris took a bit of time to get into the game the rules and structure (probably my poor explanation), but they managed to come in 1st and 2nd, so they clearly got the gist of the game. There is a surprising amount of thought required with each play you make, and I struggled because I could never get the number of meeples I required to make things happen. I think I prefer Keyflower to Key to the City, but I am motivated to try the London game soon.

Elaine and I visited Thirsty Meeples in Oxford recently and bought the ‘Herb Witches’ extension for Quacks of Quedlinberg, and have played a number of 2-player games using it. We could now try out the extension with Val and Chris. The new ingredient books are fine, the addition of the locoweed is OK, the Herb Witches are good, but my favourite addition is the orange ‘6’ tile. I seem to be lucky with this expensive tile, it always seems to come out of the bag each round! Now we have 6 books for each ingredient, it allows a simple D6 roll to be used to randomise the ingredient books, and this nicely improves the game replay ability. Overall I am happy with the extension; the price (£15) was OK and it does add some nice options for the game without slowing it down. The 5th player board will also be convenient when Gill, Erin and Paul visit.

Monday, 8 April 2019

New Project

As I have now completed (?) my Punic Wars armies, I am again faced with the “Next Project” dilemma. I sat down and evaluated what I most enjoy about the hobby, and this basically breaks down to 3 major considerations: (1) The gaming itself. I like the interaction with other players. I am not especially competitive, so I enjoy a smooth, thought provoking game where winning is a bonus, not a driving force behind my game play. I like trying new rules and finding new (to me) mechanisms that can improve either the historical simulation or the flow of a game. (2) Painting. The whole process of planning, purchasing and painting new armies and units is very rewarding and enjoyable. The time I spend on this aspect of the hobby dwarves that spent actually gaming with the toys on the table. I have even devoted some large chunks of my life to producing a beautiful army, and have yet to get to use these figures on the table! I do feel a certain guilt (?) about this, especially considering the money locked away in my ‘unused’ toys, but the pleasure the process gives me makes the whole thing worthwhile. (3) History. Wargaming encourages me to read and research the periods I am aiming to model and game. As a result, I think my knowledge of British and Western European history is pretty good. As the geographic net spreads out, my depth of knowledge reduces. The purchase of Ottoman and Hungarian armies allowed me to explore the some of the history of Eastern Europe and characters like Janos Hunyadi. My Samurai armies gave me an insight into Japanese history (and geography), and I would love to visit Japan to see the places myself. I am aware of huge gaps in my historical knowledge base. I know little about the history of the Indian sub-continent, and nothing of pre-colonial sub-Saharan African history. The one gap I am most aware of is China. I don’t know when the Ming or Tang dynasties were, and how different periods of Chinese history relate to each other. I am very ignorant about the geography of China; there are major cities whose location I could not place on a map. The locations of mountains, rivers, deserts, flood-plains, forests, jungles etc.,  are a mystery to me. So, for my next project I am going to build up a Han Chinese army and immerse myself in all things Chinese. Why choose the Han dynasty? Well, Lancashire Games produce a number of battlepacks for this period, which is both convenient and cheap. So for only ~£100 I now have enough figures to put together ~800 points for Impetus (using a beta-list Han Chinese list on their website). Also, as I’ve since found out, the Han dynasty was concurrent with the rise of the Romans, so offers an interesting comparison. Additionally in my attic I found an old second-hand Warhammer Ancients book on this period of Chinese history (part of a job-lot bought years ago) called Art of War, which provides a nice guide to painting etc. I’m set to go, but I am aware that a Games Workshop booklet is not the best foundation for my project, so I would welcome any advice from readers out there.
Finally, I missed Salute this year. I was all set to go until a bug struck me down on the Friday. Typically I’m fine now, but disappointed to miss the show which marks the start of the wargaming year for me.

Monday, 11 March 2019

AAR: Successor v Greek (S&S); 10Mar19

It was Ian’s turn to arrange a game and provide the troops. We used his Early Macedonian Successors versus Later Greek Hoplites, in a game of Sword & Spear. I played the Greeks whilst Ian took the smaller, more professional Macedonians. I was slightly worried because I hate fighting pikes and/or elephants; I never know how to tackle these troop types.

The battlefield was fairly open and Ian narrowed the frontage by placing a river on my left flank. I was out-scouted so had to deploy first, and I opted for a fairly conventional approach; hoplite centre with light troops out front, and cavalry and peltasts on the flanks. Ian had a pike juggernaut with elephants in the centre and a strong cavalry flank force facing my right.

The game proved to be a very close fought, tight affair. My hoplite centre remained stationary to avoid early contact with Ian’s pikes. My skirmishers won the conflict with their opposing skirmishers. On my right flank, my peltasts gained the high ground and held off Ian’s cavalry and a unit of my light cavalry actually managed to attack the Macedonian Companions in the rear (they died in the attempt!). The Companions then tried to smash my peltasts and, due to some poor dice rolling, the cream of the Macedonians were eliminated. On the opposite left flank, my undrilled hoplites did manage to advance, turn and threaten the enemy pikes, but were held off by some more Macedonian cavalry. The fact these cavalry were tied down, allowed another unit of Greek light cavalry to move around the left flank and attack the Macedonian camp.
Early dispositions with Greeks at the bottom of picture

Meanwhile in the centre the Macedonian leviathan trudged on. The elephants squashed some Greek skirmishers and pursued into my Greek heavy cavalry, who also died. Then the pike blocks hit home. One unit of hoplites died, but the others just about held on. My single unit of Spartan hoplites plugged the gap and took out Ian’s elephants (hooray!). On the left, I did manage to engage one pike block in the flank with some hoplites, but they could not push home their advantage.
The pikes move forward, elephants about to crush my cavalry, my hoplites
start to swing around on the left flank.

Both armies were now within a single point of breaking, but time was pressing on and I had commitments in the evening, so I offered Ian an honourable draw, which he accepted. I think this was a fair result, but on the drive home I wondered if I had done the right thing? If another turn had been played, I could not envisage Ian destroying another of my units, whereas I still could destroy his camp with my light cavalry (only 1 more hit required). But, if I had failed then further play would have seen my forces in trouble against Ian’s pikes; so maybe I did make the right decision.

This was one of most enjoyable games of Sword and Spear we have played. It was close, competitive and required careful thought by both players. Neither side was too plagued by bad dice, so the luck element was not a major factor.

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Off the Painting Table (March 2019)

I have done it! My Punic Wars armies are complete as far as figure painting is concerned. First I finished the 4 units of Gallic cavalry (more stripes etc.), then a few Roman velites, next assorted generals, and finally 2 excellent Xyston elephants.
Gallic Cavalry
Velites and assorted Generals
One of my Elephants

Ahead lies a few weeks of intensive basing before the armies can finally take to the table. I have still to buy some base camps (which can wait until Salute) and some slingers would be nice.

Monday, 25 February 2019

AAR: Viking v Saxon (Saga 2) 24Feb19

This game was a bit of a spur-of-the-moment affair, Ian and I were available but had not planned a particular game. So, I suggested Saga using my Teutonic forces, but on the day I opted to use my Vikings and Anglo-Danish forces instead. Neither of us are fully familiar with the new version of Saga nor with the characteristics of the armies, so we were both winging-it a bit. This week I did receive my copy of ‘Saga Book of Battles’ but had yet to read it, so we played the standard scenario from the main rule book. Ian took the Vikings and I played the Anglo-Danish.
View from Anglo-Danish side

Rather than describe the skirmish in detail, I will simply pick the highlights as I saw them. Ian could not throw any Y-symbols on his Saga dice for the whole game (!), which prevented him expanding his dice pool. He mainly utilised the ‘Ullr’ and ‘Loki’ characteristics of the Vikings, which are pretty strong. At a couple of points in the game his dice rolling let him down (a common feature of Saga games), especially when his 4-figure Berserker unit charged and bounced off one of my warrior units. I tried using a wider range of Anglo-Danish characteristics; I particularly liked the ‘Crush the Weak’ ability to annihilate Ian’s Levy missile unit. Most of my efforts were spreading fatigue on key Viking units. Neither of use risked our Warlords in the game, instead using them for their ‘We Obey’ ability.
Viking Berserkers about to attack my unit of Warriors

After 6 turns we totted-up the Massacre Points and my Anglo-Danes led 17 v 14, which gave me the win (just!). We both enjoyed the game and played at a good pace. I look forward to future games using scenarios provided in the Battle Book. For me Saga remains a nice pick-up style game that requires little forward planning.
Anglo-Danish Hearthguard (left) in a tricky situation

Friday, 22 February 2019

Off the Painting Table (Feb 2019); part 2

I have painted the horde of Celtic warriors that I have been dreading. Friends have asked why I dislike painting the Gauls? Firstly, both their shields and fabrics are multicoloured with a variety of stripes, cheques, plaids and borders; a real pain to paint. Secondly, based on my experience of Lancashire Games Spanish foot, the range of figure poses and variants may be limited.

I discounted the second reason immediately I opened the package; there were at least 12 different figure sculpts and Lancashire Games supplied 80 figures instead of the expected 60! I was well chuffed! Painting did prove a strain. I decided to paint them as a single batch and by halfway I was regretting the decision. Once completed, I think  I am happy with their appearance and would highly recommend others to consider Lancashire Games if interested in building a Gallic army.

The end is in sight for my Punic War armies. Next a batch of Gallic cavalry, then Generals and elephants!

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.