Wednesday 31 December 2014

Welcome to 2015!

Whats on the wishlist for the new year?

Well I have done my project update for the new year so this is a list of the things I either have on my wish list for the year already or things that I am currently pondering. Time, funds and family duties will ravage this list as they always do. However, as each year goes by, I find myself with more and more things to look at, play and buy. Compared to even ten years ago (let alone 40) this is truly a golden age for wargamers and long may it continue.


All sorts of rules, old and new, on the menu for the year:

Sample Blucher piece

  • Blucher: A Napoleonic Campaign and Battle game by Sam Mustafa. This is really interesting not least because it appears to be based on a very simple game engine, where units are brigades, and it can be played using cards instead of miniatures. Indeed, there will be a card pack for the 100 Days.
  • Crossfire: Reprinted and therefore back on my list.
  • Bloody Big Battles: Chris Pringle's latest set of rules with scenarios for European 19C battles. He was the author of TAC and Warring Empires, the latter spawned the Principles of War series (which was never as good as the original!). Looks good, from Caliver Books at £18.50 for the rules (including some scenarios) and the same again for a scenario book.
  • Polemos: Yes, must get round to these, ECW and Great Northern War, although the latter is out of print.
  • Hordes of the Future (HOF): I've mentioned this before. Played on a square grid (which takes my fancy) and has some nice miniatures to go with it.
  • Chain of Command: Having encountered Bolt Action with its very primitive game engine, I am more inclined to run with ChoC, especially now is has such well developed scenario support, including the pint sized D-Day campaign.
  • PBI III: Not sure about this at all. I have I and II. I like the grid and think that some of the rules give a most realistic impression of modern warfare. I don't like the pre-game or the buckets of dice approach. Sometimes I think I just need to go back to the original AK47 which, happily enough, Mr Pig is selling as a PDF.

I'm looking forward to all of these greatly:

Fields of Battle Volume 1
  • Holdfast: I got Holdfast Russia 1941-42 for Christmas and am looking forward to playing it once I can get some table space. I understand the next Holdfast episode is Korea so I think I'll be saving myself for the Bulge when it arrives, hopefully in 2015.
  • Fields of Battle: Eight battles of the Great Northern War by Steve Kling from the Historical Game Co. I hear this is nearly ready for release. I'm really quite excited!
  • Stalingrad solitaire: Another one by Steve Kling and I can't wait for this. One of my favourite subjects. Supposedly due out after the Great Northern War game.
  • Espania 20: Just out from Victory Point Games. The latest in their series of small Napoleonic games, this one covering Bailen and Salamanca and looking very nice. VPG are a little pricey so I might have to put this one on the back burner ($44.99 and no mounted map). 
  • Tannenberg 1914 and Masuria 1915: Two folio games by Decision on one of my favourite areas of WW1. I have been lucky enough to get some good deals on folio games in the past so will be looking out for these two.
  • Heroes of Normandy: I got this last year and I haven't really got into it yet but may decide to invest in 21 PD counters and the recently released Commonwealth troops box before they go out of print (which is inevitable).
Stuff to explore

There is a lot of interesting stuff around that bears further exploration, so not recommendations at this stage:

Berserker Games: Operation D-Day

  • Solitaire PnP games: I have just come across a large range of solitaire games by Berserker, new publisher to me. Everything from colonials to sci-fi. They look interesting and I may just try one out (Manchuria, D-Day or Viet Nam?).
  • Billy Bones: Billy makes paper soldiers of the ECW and ACW. What is tempting me is the set of soldiers for Montrose and Covenanters ($7.50 from Wargames Vault). This contains all I will ever need to fight Montrose's battles in Scotland.
  • Five Core Company Command (PnP rules): From Nordic Weasel, the producers of the popular Five Core skirmish rules, these use up to twelve squads/vehicles a side. I'd like to see an AAR of these.
  • No end in sight: Another Nordic Weasel, this time at a lower level covering squad level tactics for any time post-WWII. The reviews look good and note a similarity of effect to Crossfire.
  • Corner of a Foreign Field: Morningstar's dirt cheap two page modern skirmish rules. 
  • 2 by 2: This looks like a little gem. This uses 2mm troops on a 2 foot square table to play quite large battles. And its free.
Things to play

My list of things to get out of the cupboard and play. Actually its not even that far, these games sit on a shelf within arms reach!

Back of the box
  • Manoeuvre: A great little Napoleonic game that I want to use to get my kids into some proper games (i.e. that aren't electronic!).
  • Remagen, Faiaise, St Lo and 1914: Opening Moves: All small Minden Games awaiting a spin.
  • Day of Infamy (Pearl Harbour), An Loc, Fighting Eagles (WW1), Death before Dishonour (Santiago 1898) and Clash of Lions (Sinai 1967): All small games from High Flying Dice that also need some exercise.
  • D'Overlord a Berlin: A Vae Victis area movement game covering 1944 to 1945 in Europe.
  • Four Roads to Moscow: The ATO 2010 annual including games by Mike Rinella, Ted Raicer and Roger Nord. All folio sized games on the Barbarossa campaign.
Phew! My wish for the year is that things go well and everyone has a safe and rewarding year. May the force be with you and may we all get some time for hobby stuff!

Saturday 27 December 2014

2015: What's next?

Well, you never can tell!

I'm up early on an icy Saturday morning awaiting a delivery and have been mulling over the past year. A lot has happened in the last twelve months in my real world, not much of it predictable, and my hobby world has pretty much gone the same way.

In February 2014 I had carefully planned to prepare two games this year, Tannenberg 1914 and Neuve Chapelle 1915. Obviously inspired by the 100 year commemorations. While I have done a lot on both I have not actually finished either of them. The current state of play is:

I'm really proud of this map and can't wait to get it finished
Tannenberg: The map is almost complete, it requires only the addition of the rail lines and some game information. I have learnt a lot about MS Paint this year so I am feeling more confident about finishing this off. The OB research is done and I'm ready to start on the game design. This year I have been impressed with the game systems for Scotland Rising and Holdfast, both by Worthington. Ideally I will use an adaptation of one or other.

Not the Neuve Chapelle map!
Neuve Chapelle: The research is done and an initial map drafted in hex form. My sticking point here is that I really want to use the FoW Firestorm system and have been encouraged in this line of thinking by their release of their free game on Villers-Brettoneux. This is very much on the list of projects for this next year.

So, what have I done instead?

Venture Fair: I spent a lot of time working on my Montrose game at the start of the year but it got overtaken by other things. The rules are done and the scenario research completed but actually coming up with scenario maps has taken much effort.   

Scenario for Kilsyth 1645
Neil Thomas hex grid rules (NTHGR): I pulled together a hex grid adaptation of Neil Thomas' Napoleonic rules over the summer. The reason for this is to give me a framework for building some plastic Napoleonic armies. The real breakthrough on this was realising that I needed only a very small hex grid (8 by 6) as demonstrated by Norm Smith in his Tigers at Minsk rules. 

The answer to almost everything!
These rules are at version 2 and seem to have generated some interest which I'm pleased about. It would be really useful to get some feedback because I still think the rules are too complex (for me at least). My preference is to do a third version that completely finishes the conversion to the hex grid. I also made some counters up to have a go before preparing my plastic types but this just led me elsewhere!

Disorganised Austrians for the NTHG rules, look closely!
Waterloo a la Carte: Yes, this was intended as a scenario for the NTHG rules but I then developed some rules and counters so a complete game could be played. These were based on the Scotland Rising model and were an interesting exercise. 

Waterloo a la Carte map
Plan B: Wargames Rules for Russia 1941: This idea came from a combination of the new Neil Thomas One Hour Wargames Rules (1HW) and the 8 by 6 hex grid. My first step into the world of 15mm and not an unpleasant one! Job done except for the soldiers.

KISS My Arras!: My current project in 6mm and one I'm having a lot of fun with, especially the trees. Based on an absolutely brilliant rule set by Norman Mackenzie. More on this one shortly.

Projects for 2015

Lets look at musts, shoulds and coulds:

  • Tannenberg 1914/Neuve Chapelle 1914: Lets get these finished!
  • Plan B/Arras: Buy some soldiers, paint them up and have a nice game or two.
  • Venture Fair: One last push!
  • Plastic Napoleonic armies: I have the soldiers now for Swedish, Bavarian and and Wurttemberg armies. I'm not far off gathering a Spanish army but need both artillery and cavalry for them (and perhaps some guerrillas). These will be for the NTHG rules.
  • NTHGR: I would like to do a third version to iron out some of the issues that I think remain with the game. Lots of play testing required.
  • Jacobite Risings (various): A straight adaptation of the Stephen Simpson rules. Troops already painted and ready to go!
  • British in Normandy 1944: One of my favourite subjects and one with lots of work already done. I like the idea of a large M44 style game.
  • Firestorm Caen: New counters and perhaps a play with the Cherbourg and Overlord versions.
  • Kursk: I have done lots of thinking on this one and intended last year to give it a go in the BGG solitaire game design contest but ran out of time. I like both Firestorm and Holdfast rules for this design but I wouldn't feel comfortable using them in a game for submission. I'll have to work on some homegrown rules for this one. 

There is quite a lot of stuff that I'm mulling over:
  • Sci-fi: I have Alien Squad Leader and am thinking about HOF Fire-Team. I really fancy blowing away some aliens.
  • ECW HOTT: This set of army lists has got me very interested. I'm a fan of most things about HOTT/DBA apart from the appallingly written rules and lack of hexes. This is a job that needs doing.
  • 2mm: I'm now interested in this again mainly because I have been playing with my old 2mm buildings. I love the idea of 2mm ECW, possibly HOTT, and there is lots of useful reading on the SteelonSand blog.
SteelonSand ECW army
New conflict zones:
  • Bother in the Baltic: I really like unusual Napoleonic armies. The fighting around the Baltic involved Danes, Norwegians, Swedes, Russians, Spanish (!), Dutch, Baden and a British expeditionary force. Lots of ideas here for a NTHGR campaign.
  • 1864 Denmark: This is on the TV next year and I'm sure will require some troops for Neil's 19C rules (on a hex grid of course).
  • The War of 1812: Lots of nice simple battles for a campaign.
  • The Liberators (Latin America): I bought the book by Robert Harvey and am now extremely interested.
Lessons learnt? None. Sorry, I mean lots. While I haven't finished anything this year, I'm really pleased that I have developed my ideas and written them down so I can at least pick them up later. The blog has helped me to organise my thoughts and stay focused. The nice comments and interest have been a great encouragement, so my thanks to everyone who has read the blog.

Wednesday 24 December 2014

Ho Ho HO!

In a very jovial fashion...

Well its Christmas Eve and almost everything is done. One last job, fit a new toilet seat (don't ask) then some hobby stuff and cooking before helping Santa with the presents.

The reason for the joviality is that I have found long lost stuff in the garage during the Christmas preparations. To wit....

My wooden town models (has Arras written all over it).

Wooden trees, H&R metal trees and 2mm terrain.

A box of bases (East Riding and FoW).

And lastly, some extra green procured from Joto Hobbies in Rugby today after a nice trip with my eldest son.

Santa will have to go some to make me feel any happier than this. Lots of food, my family and some old stuff from the garage, top!

My festive wishes to you all, I hope you have a safe, happy and joyful holiday.

PS I must remember to watch Norm's Christmas post tomorrow after the presents.

Tuesday 16 December 2014

Its a long way to Arras

Further than I thought!

Work doesn't slow down for Christmas these days so hobby time has been at a real premium. I have, however, made good progress with my Arras game. Long experience with my foibles and lack of delivery has convinced me that, once I have a good and workable idea, I should go for it hell for leather. This way I at least get to a complete product for play testing rather than ending with a big pile of books on the floor that stay there for several years until I can't remember what I was doing with them.

The story so far:

1. Troops. I have had a go at the OB. Having done some more reading I know now that I have to revisit my first draft.

2. The narrative. I have found a great Marine Corps publication about 7 PD in France and Russia that gives the "other side of the hill" so I'm looking to get a proper grip on the German perspective.

3. A map, nearly completed! I can play on my prototype foam hexes.

4. The rules are KISS Rommel (how appropriate!) with some slight adjustments for scale.

5. Toys. I have looked out some 6mm troops. I have some British and German infantry (H&R) but no suitable tanks. I'm really looking forward to putting in an order for Matildas, Somuas and Pz38ts. That's not to mention the 88s and 2pdrs.

I'm enjoying preparing this game so much that I'm tempted to put together some counters and try it as a board game as well. However, I have also found my 2mm terrain in the garage and its now back in the house (but don't tell the wife). This will go really well with the new shiny tanks. Roll on January!

Wednesday 3 December 2014

Napoleonic hex grid rules get a run out!

AAR published

People playing the hex grid game!
I was really pleased to receive a comment today on my earlier post about the Neil Thomas hex grid rules variant. Mike Lewis and his chums have had a go at v2 and quite like them, which pleases me no end. You can see the AAR here. I'm really interested to see what feedback a few plays will generate.

Tuesday 2 December 2014

A little light housekeeping

My file handling at the moment can only be described as as sloppy. Usually I'm a bit more organised. I have today upgraded the Plan B Russian Front hex grid rules and my first go at the KISS My Arras! OB to PDFs and updated the posts. In doing this I have identified a complete trail of destruction through my folders on my PC where I have been extremely random. I can blame the children, pressure of work and the drink, or in fact all three. A little tidying up job for the Xmas holidays!