Monday, 20 February 2017

Secret game.....

no secret any more!

One of my 6 by 6 games was labelled "secret game". It is a bit of a cheat since I had already played more than six times since Christmas.

I have been privileged to have taken part in the play testing of a new game "The Battle of Poltava 1709" by Steve Kling. Steve is a real expert on the Great Northern War. His company Historical Games Co. has published Fields of Battle Vol 1 covering 8 battles of the GNW and also a brilliant GNW compendium in two volumes. 

I'm a big fan of small games which are exemplified by the battles in Vol 1. I'm also a big fan of Sweden and the GNW. So, I volunteered to do some play testing for a post card game which will be given away to visitors to the Swedish Army museum in an exhibition that starts this month featuring wargames through the ages.

As you can see, the game really is a post card game with an A4 map and 30 counters. The Armemuseum Facebook site blows the gaff on the game. 

The game is a mix of the FoB rules and the Postcard from the Revolution series by Mike DeSanto. It is very challenging and historical with a really good combination of strategy and luck. 

I'm massively pleased to have had some involvement in this game. I'm not sure if this game will be available commercially but I understand Steve has intentions to use it more widely. The Battle of Yorktown has been mentioned! Very cool.

As this is a bit of a cheat I may well have to put another game into my 6 by 6 challenge.

Sunday, 12 February 2017


of the earth!

The Duke of Wellington having a ponder
I too have been pondering but not in a picturesque setting. I have been reading the beta version of Scum of the Earth by Nordic Weasel. I don't think this game is a derivative of their earlier Starport Scum skirmish games and it looks like a new system to me, although familiarly weaseley (and don't ask me about the stoat joke again!).
The French system of conscription brings together a fair sample of all classes; ours is composed of the scum of the earth — the mere scum of the earth. It is only wonderful that we should be able to make so much out of them afterwards. 
Duke of Wellington speaking about soldiers in the British Army, 4 November 1813
I'm assuming the title comes from the Duke's famous saying and the game is, of course, about black powder warfare (broadly Napoleonic Wars to the Crimea).

I have to say that I really like this system. The key things are that it is simple, has clever mechanics, low rules overheads and is very, very small. One important thing is that, like the Rampant/Lament system, it allows you to play battles which are not just skirmishes with a couple of bods. But, as it says in the rules, this will look just like Sharpe on the telly.

Broad outline of the game:

  • Played on a 24" by 24" board (DBA sized!).
  • 3-5 units a side, 6 infantry figures or 3 cavalrymen per unit or one gun per artillery unit.
  • Unit can have traits (including scum so watch for looting!) and characters (musicians) which impact on movement or combat.
  • There are leaders (on white horses) who inspire courage tests and combat results.
  • There are simple basic formations, but no facing (yet).
  • IgoUgo with rolling for initiative each turn.
  • Units attempt to roll for movement (d6 plus a modifier e.g. 3 for cavalry) and the total is the move in inches.
  • Crossing bad going or obstacles requires a minimum score on the movement die.
  • Scoring 0 on the d6 (modified or natural) allows the enemy a reaction move by one unit.
  • After movement there is artillery fire, infantry fire and close combat.
  • The attacker fires a volley (d6 plus modifiers) and the defender rolls a d6 (plus modifiers) to see if it withstands the fire or is shaken and retreats with losses.
  • Melee is a similar d6 plus modifiers comparison.
The beta version contains only the basics so far and is not yet complete. It does look very promising though. The reason for this being that it will fit on a six by six hex grid and therefore can be used with the OHW scenarios! I feel a hex grid conversion coming on!!!!

Saturday, 11 February 2017

New stuff.....

its quite nice!

Sci-Fi stuff......A game on a 6 by 8 square grid board with homemade tanks and infantry!

You can see more about this on Vicky's Crazy Wargames World, a very neat blog. I think there is a Japanese name for these cartoon type models (and it's not bonzai). Vicky uses a modified version of Lock n Load's Tank on Tank rules, recently reviewed in detail by Norm. 

Here is a link to Peter's Sci-FI Company Action rules, also derived from Tank on Tank. I don't know if they are the same as the ones Vicky is using but they are pretty cool.

Weasel stuff.......

Two interesting things:

Trench warfare is a campaign game for any FiveCore product, for only $2.99!

Scum of the Earth is for 3-5 six figure units on a 2 foot by 2 foot table. This is a Beta version and is available on a "pay what you want" basis. All I can say about this is that it looks very very interesting.

Both are available from Wargames Vault

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Let's try 6 by 6?

Oh, alright then!

Not that I have had my arm twisted, more like I have already started so I might as well do it properly.

Kaptain Kobold kicked-off the idea and you can find out more about it here. The aim is to play six games six times this year and blog about the plays.

I have decided that I should be clear about the reasons for the type of games I'm including and also the reasons for each game being chosen.

What type of games to play? The idea is that you can play anything you like, rules, boardgames, published or home grown. I have decided to concentrate on my favourite sort of game: small, quick to set up and play with interesting mechanics. So, have some fun and learn from the experience.

I will not be playing my own designs. I have also realised that if I play games by other people which are complete and ready to go I will not be distracted by rewriting anything or realising that I hadn't actually finished designing them or building them!

Which games will I play? After a lot of thought......

My pimped large map for 1914 with my new counters
1914 Opening Moves (Minden Games): As it says on the tin, the opening 1914 campaign in the west. Solitaire game, ready to go!

Remagen Bridge (Minden Games): Another solitaire game, the US take the bridge over the Rhine. Also ready to go (but not pimped!).

Flying Eagles (High Flying Dice Games): A very neat small game about WW1 air combat. Card activation. 

An Loc, nice map
Courage under Fire (HFDG): The battle for An Loc during the Vietnam war.  Area movement and card activation. Originally published by Minden Games!

Manoeuvre (GMT): The brilliant little Napoleonic game using a gridded playing map and card activation. 

The secret last game: Yes, I have been doing something interesting since Christmas, helping to play test a game for a designer in the US. I have played more than six games of this but will not reveal anything until it has been published later this month. It has been a very pleasant and challenging experience and also a great learning opportunity working with someone who knows what they are doing. 

So, some themes here (grids, areas, card activation, solitaire). With an eye on refining my Mosul game, I'll be starting off with Courage under Fire. More later...

Monday, 16 January 2017

2017 Thinking about........


Hmmmh, getting into 2017 is like sliding slowly into a cold bath.....Brexit, Trump, Putin. It ain't fun and it ain't getting any better!

Dangerous places: CTS shooting ISIS drones in Mosul
On that optimistic note I have finally got into gear and done some thinking about what rules I want to play around with this year. As I'm not inclined to play the rules as written I'm looking for stuff that I can tweak and play with.

Old favourites

Having re-read Bolt Action again over Christmas I have put it away again and returned to my old favourites: AK47 in the guise of a modern middle east version (AK74 perhaps!) and Neil Thomas' OHW, especially Peter's AWI version

New favourites?

As belated Christmas presents I got hold of a copy of Rogue Stars (because I liked the activation model) and have pre-ordered Pikeman's Lament (because it will be brilliant).

I have been havering about Chosen Men, I'm not sure I'll like it so I'm awaiting reviews. I haven't got enough on my Amazon card either!

I am also very excited about the latest Nordic Weasel production: From Shako to Coal-Scuttle. Ivan mentions Neil Thomas in his write up so that's good enough for me (I also mucked about with the beta version so I'm pretty keen on this one). Out in a couple of days for $10.

A favourite I didn't know I had! 

Yes, I got this last year and immediately shelved it. I now carry it with me wherever I go. It has the world's best wargame model for suppression fire. You can expect me to bang on about this for a whole year, it's great and I probably will play the rules as written (OK, lying but it will be close).

I also have a new project which will take up some time but which I am extremely excited to take part in. Whatever world leaders get up to, I'm hoping for a kind and memorable 2017 and I hope you have one too. Best wishes!

Friday, 30 December 2016

Free stuff...

it's that time of year!

I'm in that strange space between Christmas and New Year that we might have referred to in the old days as a game turn interphase administration step. Check supply, check reinforcements, advance game turn track marker to 2017. 

CTS light mortar Mosul (a UK 51mm?)
I am doing some thinking, rather than just sitting around (even though these activities look identical!). As the above picture indicates, my Middle East theme continues but with a renewed emphasis on tactical rules (AK47 is on my mind). I hope that a cunning plan will shortly emerge for next year. In the meantime, here is some really interesting stuff (free or as good as) that I have recently come across.

1. Kursk game by Lou Coatney

Lou has designed many free games over the years, some very small scale such as his Tiger Attack! point to point game on the Ardennes and Patton's Lorraine on the 1944 Metz offensive. He has now come up with a two map game on Kursk 1943 (Juggernauts) which you can find here. Well worth pondering on and it's free as well.

2. Peter's AWI rules for OHW

One of Peter's British line infantry units (15mm Peter Laing)
I have been following, and enjoying, Peter's various campaigns over the past year. In particular, his current AWI campaign using modified OHW rules by Neil Thomas has really piqued my interest. Peter has now posted his variant rules which contain some very interesting design features. I highly recommend them.

3. Airfix Battles

Maro Arnaudo has now reviewed Airfix Battles, which you can find here. A nicely balanced review which I think gives a fair picture of the game. 

4. Little Bighorn

Pete Belli is a designer and regular contributor to BGG. One of the things he is renowned for is his series of one minute battles. Latest in the line is One-minute Little Bighorn. The map is shown above. It comes with 28 counters and can be played in 60 seconds. The full details are here. I love the turn record track!

Check out Pete's other one-minute games of Waterloo and The Bulge here.  

5. Christmas at White Mountain (1620)

Holland Spiele have come up with a free game (White Mountain) which they gave away to participants in their winter sale. The good news is that they have also put it on Wargames Vault at the excellent price of $2. The interesting thing here is that they have used similar techniques to the innovative W1815 so for two bucks it is worthwhile checking it out.

So it's an early Happy New Year from me, I hope its good for all of us!

Monday, 19 December 2016

Thinking aloud.....

where to next?

I'm not quite ready for an annual round up, not exactly ready for Christmas either! Before I lose my train of thought during the festive period, and pending more thinking about plans for next year, here are some current things on my mind.

1. Toy soldier stuff

Dale, of Dale's Wargames Blog, has been playing Tin Soldiers in Action. A very toy soldier like game using a grid. In Dale's initial test he has been using these delightful wooden soldiers. All I can say is, very nice!

I'm not so sure about the rules though, a little complicated and pricey. Bob Cordery's blog gives a useful overview.    

2. Tabletop Wargames

This is the book by John Lambshead and Rick Priestley. I mentioned these in slightly disparaging terms earlier this year. I have been spending some time rereading this book. It is quite useful but its focus is solidly on how to produce a game like Bolt Action. I came across this review recently on The Raft with which I wholeheartedly agree. It does a good job of expressing my own unease (not sure that is the right word) about the approach set out in the book. 

3. Norm's Christmas Message

I can't remember the last time I watched Q do her thing on Christmas day. I do however eagerly await Norm's Christmas morning blog and another is promised for this year. Great, really looking forward to that.

4. Point to point

I have been applying my mind to the Mosul game and hope to do some more on it over the holidays. I have been revisiting my Ramadi game and pondering whether point to point might be a better way of representing ground combat in and around cities. I have now come across Khe San '68 from Decision Games. A solitaire point to point game which is card assisted for the active US player and with cards driving the AI for the Viet Cong. It seems to have some real tactical nuance possibilities. The BGG entry is really interesting. Perhaps a little New Year treat!

5. AK47, the original and best!

After finding AK47 Reloaded a little tricky to grasp (I'm getting old!) I have been reading the original rules and the supplement with the Lebanon rules. I still think these are great. Is there a possibility of joining these up with FiveCore? More pondering ahead.