Tuesday, 24 December 2013

No Turkeys!

Don't panic, its a game magazine

A fanzine to be precise. I have spent sometime on the phone today trying to track down a parcel which was due to have arrived on Monday. I'm left with a sore ear and no parcel. However, the time spent sitting in front of my e-mails was not wasted. I came across this Italian fanzine called No Turkeys. It is a high quality board wargaming publication produced by a gaming club and some editions come with a game. The magazine and games are free. Not only that but, while the magazine is mainly in Italian the rules are in English. Hurrah.

You can find the magazines and games at the club's website: Valgame. from what I can see there are a number of games tha have been published. Not all magazines have a game and some games have been produced without a magazine. Here is what I have learnt so far:

  • No Turkeys 7: Walcheren 1809 game
  • No Turkeys 6: Agordat 1893 game
  • No Turkeys 3: Au Pont de Lodi 1796 game

The games look very professional but the club do say that they have not been extensively play tested so don't expect them to be polished professional products. Having said that, one of their games Caldiero 1796 (apparently not in a magazine) was jointly designed by Valgames' Enrico Acerbi and Kevin Zucker. That last name having a particular cachet for Napoleonic gamers. Here is the map from that game:

So, if your parcel hasn't arrived, your presents are naff or your turkey is tough, chill out, print out some free games and have a cool time. Cheers.

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Battle of the magazines 2...

Making really unfair comparisons

A quiet month in magazine world. No WSS so just the usual from WI and MW but happily this month we also have an extra and rather long awaited guest publication.

Wargames Illustrated 314 £4.50 120pp: A Spanish Succession issue which leaves me a bit cold. Barry Hilton has an interesting article looking at why wargamers find it difficult to talk about their hobby with outsiders. I share this problem and like to think that it is because I have some self awareness and appreciate that really I am playing with toy soldiers, however one wishes to dress it up. Also, a nice piece on painting the Douglas Skyraider for Vietnam, bringing back some happy childhood memories of making the Airfix kit.

Miniature Wargames with Battlegames) £4.25 76pp: I'm pleased that this issue includes some inspiring writing by Jim Webster with rules for a biblical warlord game. Just the sort of article to encourage reckless (or more reckless) purchasing of interesting biblical plastics from Caesar. Also, the article of the month must be the one by John Treadaway about introducing school children with autism to wargaming. Just brilliant and heart warming!

Ok, so this is where we introduce our wild card!

Battles magazine #9 £22.00  162pp: This is the first edition of this magazine that I have received and it has been a long wait. Pretty much a year as the publishers humorous postmark recognises.

The magazine is produit en France (but is in English) and is run by Olivier Revenu who is a one man band. He has suffered from numerous problems with this issue, including printer foul-ups with the counters for the included game. Oh yes, its got a game! In fact the original reason for buying this edition is the Charles Vasey game, Flowers of the Forest about the battle of Flodden. The game looks great, and I'll get to this in a minute, but just look at the quality....here is a random page from the magazine so you get a feel for it.

Oh yes, this picture also includes top secret information about my Christmas lunch!
This edition has reviews of 17 games plus plenty of game related articles by such luminaries as David Isby (Green Fields Beyond etc). The writing is good, plenty of enthusiasm but with some rough edges and heartfelt opinions. No corporate mush and no filler. Admittedly, if you don't do board games, this isn't for you at all.

In terms of the game, it is beautiful to say the least. BGG will no doubt have some good pictures of this soon but here is my rough attempt to capture the oversized counters in this game.

These counters represent the main battles on the hex map with further counters on a roster showing their strength.

Sorry for the glare

The game looks simple enough and will play quickly. I'm really looking forward to giving this a go.

The comparison of the magazines is grossly unfair, Battles and WI/MW are not in the same market but as a consumer interested in miniatures and board games, these magazine co-exist in my hobby. If I had the remotest confidence in the future delivery of Battles I would sign-up for it now. Having said that, I might just anyway, who cares how long it takes if it is this good.

My Blogging activity has been hit quite hard by the problem with IE9/10/11 which the Googlies are attempting to fix. I have persisted with this post as it has been in draft for a couple of weeks and I have just got the latest edition of MW!. So I hope it works OK, otherwise I'm off to Chrome.

As I may not be able to blog with confidence in the next couple of days, Happy Christmas to one and all, and especially to my very first follower!

Monday, 9 December 2013

Its my Birthday and I'll.....

...have lots of presents please!

And this year I did. I have been taken by surprise by the generosity of my family and friends this year. I have not had much time to spend playing with them yet but I am looking forward to getting stuck into...

Napoleon's War: The 100 Days. On my list for sometime and so far I'm impressed.

A picture from BGG, I've hardly looked in the box yet!

A Distant Plain. Heavy is not the word for this box, packed with mounted map, cards, counters and wooden markers. Brilliant. A gift from one of my oldest chums and a survivor of the original Ardennes Offensive learning experience. Looking forward to playing this one face to face.

And some books....one on a subject new to me:

With two on more familiar territory.

Don't worry, I also got socks and hankies.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Is that a Bulge game...

or are you just pleased to see me?

Its that time of year again, Dark December, and time for romp in the Ardennes. This always brings back memories for me. My first board wargame was Ardennes Offensive by SPI. This came out in 1973 and I persuaded my Mum to get it for me for Christmas. Having spent the previous couple of years poring over my Purnell's History of WW2 battle books, Bastogne, Market Garden and Normandy Beachhead, I'd reached the conclusion that a handful of Minitanks and a couple of boxes of Airfix soldiers were not going to produce the game I was after. I saw an ad in Airfix magazine and for the princely sum of £3.99 I eventually got what I was after. That was a top Christmas and many happy months were spent playing the game.

As an early SPI game it came with a basic three colour map (black, white and blue) and loads of counters. It was, quite simply, the best OOB I had ever seen and immensely changed the way that I thought about WW2.

St Vith and Bastogne hold on, the American southern flank (at the top!) nears collapse
There were some issues with the game, it too easy for the Germans to advance in south as shown in the picture. There were a lot of German assault gun brigades, vastly over rated and a real pain for the Americans. However, the terrain analysis and road movement rules gave a really good picture of the issues faced during the battle. The Germans rarely win in the game which I think sums up its realistic view of the fighting. One notable German win was caused by an error in the timing of the US airborne reinforcements which delayed their arrival in Bastogne. My chums and I thought that showed the strength in the game design.

Although there have been many bulge games since, and I have many of them, this one still holds a real fascination for me. Happy thoughts and memories of family, youth and friends. If I get half an hour this weekend I'll go and have a look at it and say hello. This one is definitely never for sale.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

A new word...

and just in time for Christmas

A heavy weekend on the domestic front prevented any real gaming activity. However, some time in the car yesterday provided some thinking space. I firmly believe that anyone in the world who can be bothered to speak English should be allowed to make words up as they go. Shakespeare did so why not the rest of us?  I have no problem with the work "selfie" recently ennobled by the OED. Not one I would use personally, nor would I indulge in it. I'm sure that selfie should in fact be a verb rather than noun but hey ho.

So, I introduce to you the ......


Pronunciation: /’shelfi/ noun

(plural shelfies)

Informal: a photograph that one has taken of one’s shelf, typically taken with a smartphone and uploaded to a website together with an interesting fact. A shelfie is an occasional diversion, not a hobby, and should only be uploaded if one has added something interesting!

And here is the world's very first shelfie!

there is obviously more than one interesting fact here, whoops!
The interesting fact, apart from this being where the Shermans (some of them) and some Zvezdas are hiding is that the book "The loss of the Bismarck" by Graham Rhys-Jones is actually very interesting. Not being a navalist I didn't volunteer to buy it but got it free in a book club deal. What I found remarkable was the way that British warships shadowed the Bismarck, keeping just out of enemy radar range. A really good story and one which would make a great scenario for a space opera type game. Fact completed and just in time for tea. I'll have to work on the interesting bit tho.

By the way, I've updated my blog list to ensure that I don't miss the latest Archduke Piccolo instalment. Today's is about HOTT and the Seven Years War. Very inspirational, I'm sure I could do something like that, time for the thinking beret!