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.

Saturday, 10 December 2016


An interesting list!

Well first off, another birthday. The best bit was seeing some of my oldest friends for tea. Second best bit was the pressies....


Plenty of thinking material here, or at least plenty of scope for diversionary activity!

Monday, 28 November 2016

FiveCore Company Command

People's Edition!

There are two reasons for this to be really good news. The first is that this is a major overhaul of the original rules taking account of developments across the FiveCore family. I haven't digested all of the changes but I'm very impressed based on my initial look through.

The second reason is that the upgrade is free if you have already got a copy through Wargames Vault. And even if you haven't, its just $7.99 and well worth it. despite the exchange rate.

Ivan also has a 20th century scenario generator for $1.99 which looks tempting, something for the weekend perhaps!

Saturday, 26 November 2016

"Nineveh, we are coming!"

and I'm back in the fight!

As will be apparent from the lack of posts recently, I have been taken unawares by an illness which has made me re-prioritise my activities. I am on the mend now and should be getting back to normal over the next couple of weeks.

While I have been contemplating my navel, the real world has moved on and the offensive in Mosul has continued to play out. 

Mosul (New Statesman)
I have concentrated recently on figuring out the ISF/Coalition order of battle to get a fix on the scale of the fighting and what level of unit I need to represent. Although it will produce quite a few units, I'm likely to go for battalion. My notes are now complete (for the moment) and you can find them here.  

Advancing ISF forces (NBC News)
I am massively impressed by the quality of the planning that has gone into the offensive and the complexity of the operation itself, especially managing disparate and competing partners, and difficult external stakeholders. I don't think we have seen anything this difficult since D-Day.

Next steps are to finish the map and get on with the rules!

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Its progress Jim...

but not as we know it!

Apart from work, which has me buried at the moment, I have been getting on with the Mosul game. Lots to do but here is a first shot of the map.

Hopefully this looks familiar if you are from Mosul! The bunkers are my attempt to reflect the barricade line that ISIS have built north of the airport. 

As with Ramadi, I'm using the M44 scenario editor to sketch out the map. I have also determined to use the same system as Ramadi. I think it should work well.

Now the framework for the campaign has emerged more clearly I can get designing instead of havering!

A couple of interesting things have also come my way which are worth a look:

  • Crossfire Lite (ugh!): This looks good and is on the Freewargames site.
  • Orders of battle...: A blogspot with Crossfire, KISS and other OOBs. Really good!