Tuesday, 31 May 2016

My Wargaming Week 10

For the second week in a row I've ended up having to have time off work, and off painting! The gastro bug had no sooner passed than I got a cold that managed to remove my voice. It is really hard to teach when you can't talk, although I did try!
Anyway, I did manage to get some stuff finished. First up:
A dozen German dragoons for John's WWI armies.
A bit of a close up with the officers
And the troopers. All of these guys were painted to 'high wargaming' standard to fit with the existing collection - that is with 2 tones of paint and some ink washes.
I did some painting for myself as well. This is The King, or as I like to call him, Evil Elvis - he's a gang leader and one of Captain Kiwi's bad guys.
Speaking of the Captain - he had a make-over. He is no longer looking at the sky and he now has some clubs to beat people around with. Just like Daredevil, except he has a utility belt like Batman. He could be called Bat-Devil. Except he has a Kiwi  emblem on his chest. Whatever - he's kick-ass! Watch out Evil Elvis.
 In other news, My collection of Practical Wargamer magazines nears completion with the arrival of these five from Caliver Books. I only need a few more issues and I'll have the whole set, but if Caliver doesn't have them in stock, who would?
1993 is completed!
In the same parcel, a Zvezda Lee for my 1944 14th Army turned up. I only ordered one to see what it would be like. It is simply the best Zvezda tank I've ever put together. Recommended!
And 3 Battlefront Honey Stuarts for the Japanese. I had to order a whole box of five, but I only need 3. The Japanese tank commander was kindly donated by Craig.
 I also lost a machine gun from my Japanese MG platoon. I picked up the element and forgot that it wasn't glued down. The Machine Gun fell off and after pulling out the stuff in the cupboards and searching all around, I think it went down the inside of a metal pipe which is bolted to the floor. I emailed Battlefront about a replacement, but they don't have any in stock, so if anyone out there has a spare 15mm Japanese MG, or knows a good place to buy one, please let me know.

The Punic Wars DBA armies arrived back, in exchange for painting John's cavalry.
Also showing up today, an order of random Heroclix figures from Troll and Toad. The figures on the bottom right will join the Marvel/DC collections; the figures at back right will join the random civilians that are kidnapped/rescued/endangered in scenarios; and the figures on the left are for conversions into NDC characters (that stands for Nate Dan Comics).
My time off has given me plenty of time for reflection, and I've come to the conclusion that less is certainly more. As a bit of a Wargames Butterfly I've looked at dabbling here and there, and rules like DBA and One Hour Wargames only encourage this. But I've been reading through the old Practical Wargamer Magazines and decided that maybe what I really want is to do a few periods and do them well. To that end, I've narrowed down my wargaming focus to the following periods/games:

1. Punic Wars, using Big Battle DBA.
2. The Great Northern War using an adaptation of Neil Thomas' Introduction to Wargaming rules for Pike and Shot. (I can still pull out a few units for OHW games as well). It will have about 15 - 20 units a side.
3. The French and Indian War using Muskets and Tomahawks. The only historical period in 28mm. This is the project where I want to spend lots of time on making the figures and terrain pretty.
4. World War I using the rules featured here for 1914, and Flames of War for 1918.
5. World War II using Flames of War - both the Eastern Front mid war and Pacific.
6. Superheroes using Clobberin' Time.

For most of these periods, I actually need to buy more figures, but not a huge deal more. If I can focus, the goal is to have them all painted and ready for the end of next year.


Sunday, 22 May 2016

My Wargaming Week 9

This week has not featured any new packages arriving on the doorstep, unfortunately. It has involved some solid painting, a bad bug, and the first play of Clobberin' Time with Delta Wave.

The bug at the beginning of the week was awful, and I am not alone in having contracted it. It seems to have passed now, and I was able to catch up on my painting (by and large thanks to ignoring my job). Craig needs these figures and guns for NICon, so I was in a hurry to get them complete for him:

I enjoyed painting that lot.
Today I found a few minutes of garage time and put together some 1/144 planes that geoff sent me for my Pacific War project:
I haven't put all the decals on yet. I have to say, I've always loved the look of the P-38. Now, where is Yamamoto?
I also took advantage of some blue skies this morning to undercoat the 1588 figures. yes, 1588 - remember that from late last year? It started with a hiss and a roar, but fizzled when I decided that this would be accumulation year. Still, there might be a week when I just feel like something different to paint...
Finally, a shot of the painting tray for the upcoming week. I have a dozen Renegade German cavalry to do for john, and if I get the chance, I'm going to slip the last unit of Great Nortehrn War Russian infantry in there somewhere.
After that, I have some WWI British to paint for Geoff that will be interrupted by some mortars that Craig also needs painted, before painting some more Samurai for Geoff. And somewhere in there I will have to mark mid-year exams. Well, it keeps the winter's evenings busy!


Saturday, 21 May 2016

The anarcho-bomb - A Clobberin' Time battle report

Mr Anarchy skulked in the shadows of the old tower. Here, in the wilds of Wales two ley-lines converged. By his calculations, a warp bomb would be able to suck up the combined magical energy and unleash a chaos wave throughout the world. The warp bomb would take time to calibrate, and he was fairly certain that Delta Wave were aware of what was happening and on their way - one of his punks had turned out to be a traitor - she would have to be dealt with. Right now, the important thing was to get the bomb set. A signal was beaming through time and space. Soon some of his punks would be showing up and they should eb able to deal with the superheroes long enough for his plan to work...

Such was the scenario set-up for this first full run through of Kaptain Kobold's Clobberin' Time rules. I was playing them pretty much as they are with just a couple of modifications - the first was a couple of new powers for my Delta Wave characters, the second was that after receiving a hit a character would recoil and fall - 1" per hit for a normal attack and 3" per hit for a super attack. This was to appease my vision of super battles sending people flying through walls etc.

My stats were as follows:
Powers, abilities, weapons
Hero – 3d6
Resilient – all defence dice red.
Medium Range attack – 1 red attack die, 2 weak dice – 6”
Strength attack – 1 red attack die
Hero – 3d6
Super strength attack – 3 red attack dice
Block – 1 red defence die
Amphibious – performs an extra action when in contact with water
Hero – 3d6
Block – 1 red defence die
Hinder – Medium range – 6”
Extra Movement (rock slide) – 3”
Super leap (rock elevator)
Medium Range attack – 3 weak attack dice - 6”
Hero – 3d6
Long range power blast – 2 red attack dice, 1 normal die – 12”
Block (blinding flash) – 1 red defence die
Hero – 3d6
Speedster – extra move or extra action

Mr Anarchy
Villain – 3d6
Force Field – May reroll all defence dice
Outwit – pre-empt initiative sequence
Medium Range Power blast – 1 red attack die, 2 normal dice - 6”
Leader – can activate up to 6 Punks within 6”
Gadgets – pool of 3 extra dice to be added to attack/defence throughout  game
Henchmen – 1d6
Long range power blast – Pluggers: futuristic fire arms – 12”

Every turn 5 d6 were rolled. For every roll of 5 or 6 a punk would turn up within 1"of a terrain feature.

Apologies for the poor lighting in the pictures - I was playing in the lounge where it is warm and I can sit on a nice comfy couch. I think it is atmospheric...
Delta Wave enter the area. I rolled a d6 for random deployment
Mister Anarchy inside the keep calibrating the warp bomb. He needed 6 undisturbed turns to set it off.
Ore goes around the pond - Speed runs over it. His mission is to occupy Mr Anarchy until the rest of Delta Wave can arrive.
The first punk shows up and has a shot at Speed, but he is too fast and she misses.
In Turn 3 Mr Anarchy is distracted by the arrival of Speed, who is otherwise unable to penetrate Anarchy's force field.
A picture showing the activation mechanism. I'm going to invest in some mini-cards, like the ones you get in  Christmas crackers. because when you have a large number of figures in a small area it gets a bit crowded!
Spectra takes down a punk. She ended up on the receiving end of their attention for most of the game. 
Aphid takes down a punk in hand to hand.
Ore manages to hinder Anarchy with a rock-straightjacket so Speed can get in a double shot in the following turn.
Aphid takes down another punk.
As does Spectra.
I won't even dirty my knuckles this time!
Aquaria takes out a punk as she moves to attack Mr Anarchy from the rear.
Mr Anarchy's force field breaks the rocks apart and in the following turn Speed is belted with a power blast. He is knocked out of the fight for the rest of the game.
Aquaria arrives behind Mr Anarchy while he is still gloating over defeating Speed, and smashes him out of the keep and away from the bomb.
Aphid has to keep dealing with new punks that pop up.
Mr Anarchy is back up, but his power blast on Aquaria is completely ineffective, despite using a gadget.
Ore hinders Mr Anarchy again and Aquaria gets an early turn in the sequence.
POW! A roundhouse right and Mr Anarchy is out for the count. He automatically fades back through time-space to his own dimension, his punks doing the same. The warp bomb is destroyed and Delta Wave celebrate with nachos (except Speed who has to drink a milkshake instead).
Rules review:
I've tried to play Supersystem and Power Legion as miniature games, and I've struggled with both. I find them too slow for solo gaming, and too finicky in terms of the number of different rules I have to get my head around. I know that there are a lot of people who would disagree with my opinion, but there are probably quite a few out there that feel the same way as me.
Clobberin' Time is the first set of Superhero rules that I've played that have just enough detail to be interesting but are simple enough to give a good fast moving game. The key is the fact that the number of dice you roll for each character never changes, regardless of what power you are using. You always hit or block on a 4, unless your attack is weak (most ranged attacks) in which case it is a 5. If the power says you get red dice that means that any roll of a 6 is two hits/blocks. That is it - really simple. You don't have to worry about whether your power blast is a laser or heat ray, it is the effect that is important and the narrative can come afterwards. For instance, in this game Ore tried to cover Mr Anarchy in a rock straight-jacket about 6 times. It worked twice. Now those other times did he use a power blast to destroy the rock, or his force field, or did he dodge? The rules don't tell me which he did, I can make it up. Clobberin' Time gives me the ability to write the script while the game is played. I often feel that superhero rules bog down because the writers try to put the narrative into the rules, rather than letting the rules facilitate the narrative. Clobberin' Time does the latter.
If you haven't worked it out, I like these rules, and I'll be sticking with them.

Thoughts on this game:
The first thing was that the punks are level 1 and are pretty much useless. They provided distractions, but that was me playing to the game more than the rules. Even recycling them got pretty pointless. I have a choice of either making them level 2 characters, which would enhance their survivability as well as their lethality, or giving the pluggers a red die when firing. This would mean that lucky shots might have two chance s to get past the superhero defences. They'd still get bowled over as easy as ever.
The second thing is that Aquaria is very, very powerful. Potentially she can roll 6 hits, and although she didn't this game, 4 hits were rolled in the last punch against Mr Anarchy which was enough to KO him. I need another game to see whether the opposition, once aware of her, can weaken her before she gets into combat. Her defence isn't that great with only one of her dice being red, and it never really got tested in this game. She will be unstoppable in the water though - a potential 12 hits in combat? Just as well the Anarchy crew stayed away from the pond!
Speed. Maybe rather than his powers giving him a second round of attacks, he could roll 6 attacks in one go. This would make him much more formidable.

All in all, a pleasing and enjoyable hour's gaming. Lock them in as my Superhero rules of choice.


Wednesday, 18 May 2016

So where are they now? 9 Years War edition.

Last seen without a stand to stand on, do you ever wonder what became of those lovely Front Rank commissions I painted for Geoff? Well, wonder no longer, as by the magic of the interwebz, they have shared some of their most recent selfies!
First up - Hastings' regiment:

 Followed by the stalwart boys in grey - the De La Meloniere Regiment!

Geoff has done a fantastic job of flagging them, and I believe it was Rodger that based them - so well done Team-Nine-Years-War! I really look forward to seeing them get into action. A few more figures to paint first though I believe.


Monday, 16 May 2016

WWI rules borne from the sickbed

The quack gave me the green light to take a day at home from work, and so I have used it wisely, reading through some old back issues of Practical Wargamer. And yes, I realise the purpose of a day off is to rest, but I have been stirred to action away from my sick bed and into the computer chair. You see, I was re-reading the very first wargames magazine that I ever bought, Practical Wargamer Vol.11 No.1 from 1997 and within a few seconds came across David Ruck's article, Hold the bridge. 
Ahhh... nostalgia. I really regret ripping the cover when I pulled off the free game that came with this issue.
I remember reading this article 19 years ago and being completely entranced with the Foundry figures that illustrated the article. Remember that this was pre-internet, and so it was really a window onto another world. My wargaming had been all 1/72 plastics, and while as of 1996 I had begun to play Warhammer 40,000, I had very little knowledge of what was available on the other side of the world when it came to historics.

So when I reread the article it was with an overwhelming sense of nostalgia. Then I re-read the rules. They seemed very simple when I first read them, and as a result were a bit confusing. 19 years later I realise the confusion comes from the fact that some of the factors were transcribed wrong, and that with experience it was possible to fill in the blanks. They actually looked perfect for my 18mm 1914 project. So I sat down this morning and reworked them, changing a few things here and there (there is no evidence that German machine guns should be inherently superior to any other, for instance, which was reflected in the rules), making them suit my collection as it stands. I'm really happy with the result and look forward to a playtest, although this will have to be with unpainted figures because 1914 isn't on the painting radar until 2017!

I've put them up on their own page. Have a look and see what you think.

'This way boys! We have our own rules now! Urrah!'

Sunday, 15 May 2016

My Wargaming Week 8

I managed to pick up some sort of gastro-bug this week, and it has progressively worsened. A trip to the quack today confirmed my worst fears - it is a virus and can't be fixed with antibiotics! I just have to take anti-nausea tablets and wait until it decides it is more sick of me than I am of it. Needless to say that as a result my output has been greatly reduced this week. I did however, manage to finish off Mr Anarchy's punks:

The Punks are the henchmen for Mr Anarchy, and I've used the Warlord Games Judge Dredd juve gang as the source of the figures. I tried to keep to a theme with Mr Anarchy's colours, while making sure they were all still individuals. I'm looking forward to taking them for a run with Clobberin' Time sometime soon.

I also painted five Old Glory Confederate generals for John, but haven't finished basing them yet.
Stonewall Jackson
Lee and his old war-horse, Longstreet.
Hill and Stuart.
The figures were all quite nice and characterful except Hill whose casting was quite rough, with holes and seam lines everywhere. I thought I'd got them all, but this photo proves me wrong.

The payment for painting John's British cavalry last week, these generals and the upcoming German cavalry is the return of several DBA armies that I painted and that ended up on John's shelves. This week, the Philistines were the first to come home:
Back in the promised land waiting for the Hebrews to arrive...
Next week I want to get Craig's 105mm battery and PaK 40s painted so that he can get them before NICon. Then I have John's Renegade German WWI cavalry to paint the following week, followed by some figures for Geoff, followed by some more Japanese tanks for Craig. Things are pretty full on, on the painting front over the next couple of months!