Saturday 30 January 2016

Secret project news......

Stuff is occurring!

Yes, I have made some progress and here is a clue.

I have wheeled out M44 again to help with the design process. I have invested a lot of time on research because I'm having to learn a lot of new stuff. It is a real battle but much of the information is conjectural. This makes it difficult in some ways but it is also hard for anyone to tell me I've got it wrong.

The game system is a very modified Firestorm variant using hexes rather than areas and packing in lots of new things. It is also a solo game and will therefore need careful balancing to make it a challenge to win. 

There is an obvious clue in the map so no prizes for guessing where it is! I understand half term is mid February this year so I may have half a chance of publishing a play test version by the end of the month. Fingers crossed!

Tuesday 26 January 2016

Five Men at Kursk...

Looking very good indeed!

I have commented here before about my interest in the FiveCore family of games from Nordic Weasel, otherwise known as Ivan Sorensen. The latest game in development is Five Men at Kursk. This is, effectively, a second edition of their very first game which was Five Men in Normandy, the precursor of FiveCore Skirmish. Ivan has very kindly let me have a copy of the emerging draft of this game. I have to say that I am quite excited by this so I thought it would be nice to do a brief overview of the rules and include some pictures of the rules in action from Just Jack's very excellent blogs (BlackhawkHet and Cuba Libre!).

Just Jack's latest FiveCore game from his blog Cuba Libre!
Although I didn't get the original Five Men in Normandy, I have invested quite widely in the system:

FiveCore Skirmish Gaming Evolved: A good 20th century skirmish game for 5-10 soldiers a side on a small table (2 foot square). I'm mainly interested in this for modern skirmish games, I have my eye on the Oddzial Osmy 15mm Russian Green Men. I suppose the other rule set that comes close to this is Black Ops, which I have also got. There is an expanded second edition which is also worth getting as it includes vehicle rules etc. It comes with campaign rules and rules for character skills.

FiveCore Company Command: The next one up from the skirmish game with section/squad bases and vehicles covering 1939 and onwards. 5-12 units a side on a 2 to 3 foot square table. I'm looking at using these adapted for hexes for my modern Africa gaming.

FiveCore Brigade Commander: The big one. While the skirmish and company level games can be played easily with 15 or 20mm troops, this one needs 10mm or less. Same foot print (2 or 3 foot square table) and around 10-12 units a side. Not quite a brigade but certainly a battalion a side. I'm as excited about the prospects for using this rule set as I am about Lion Rampant, and that's saying something!

There is a whole lot of other stuff available (and pretty cheap too) and you can easily find out about it from the Nordic Weasel page on Wargames Vault.

FiveCore is based on some core principles (five of them actually!):

  • The true mark of a superior force is command and control.
  • Soldiers will react to things in their field of vision without being instructed to do so.
  • A commander is never able to do everything they want.
  • Conversely, the commander can always do something.
  • If in doubt, roll a D6 and look for a 1 or a 6.

These all ring true to me. The rules are also almost interchangeable between game levels, skirmish, company, brigade. You can add or subtract as you feel necessary. The various optional and add on rules make this a really modular gaming enterprise.

The other thing is that the games all have a common engine. One d6 is rolled at the start of a players turn:
  • 1. Scurry turn: Al your troops can move
  • 2-5. Standard turn: A limited number of units/troops can move or fire
  • 3. Firefight turn: All your units/troops can fire.
In combat, units/troops roll kill dice which cause casualties and/or shock dice which cause a morale impact. The number and mix depend on unit type and target. These two very simple approaches (which remind me of the Ganesha "Songs of...." rules) are very effective. 

Another photo from Cuba Libre!
The common game engine makes it hang together really well and allows you to scale up or down using the same troops. Play a squad game one day and then zoom out to cover a platoon or company game.

In some recent optional FiveCore rules, Ivan indicated that he was looking to change and further develop the core mechanisms. This is in response to feedback about the all or nothing nature of the basic engine, as well as the general lack of differentiation of troop types (a soldier is a soldier as Ivan says).

In Five Men at Kursk Ivan is implementing a major change. A number of dice are thrown at the start of a turn based on the side's cohesion (command and control). In a similar way to the previous engine, 1s mean scurry, 6s mean fire and 2-5s mean engage (fire/move). The player allocates dice to individual figures which then act accordingly. In addition, we have some clear differentiation of leaders and grunts and also characteristics (skills) for individual soldiers. 

There will also be campaign rules, nation specific rules, solo rules and a whole lot more. The downside is that the rule book is 37 pages at this stage and is likely to end up being very chunky. This is not one of my top features in a set of rules. Having said that, you don't have to use it all. I think this is going very much in the right direction and I will certainly be investing in the final version.   

Another Just Jack visualisation!
You can see from the pictures from the Just Jack blogs above how one man has interpreted and implemented the FiveCore system. His games are very rich and move from continent to continent and skirmish to brigade within a cohesive story. If Carlsberg made a gaming system (and I could interpret it like Jack can) then it would be FiveCore. Nuff said.

Friday 22 January 2016

Airfix Battles..............

Time to pre-order!

Oh yes, more exciting news. Airfix Battles is now available for pre-order with a very nice bonus set of stuff. 

Here is the full skinny......
"We're delighted to announce the opening of the pre-order campaign for one of our most eagerly awaited titles the Airfix Battles Introductory Set, allowing you to get first in line and secure your order for the game, including a pre-order bonus worth £10 for orders placed before May 1st! Sign up now to receive your pre-order bonus, exclusively on

Shipping in May this is a fast and fun introductory wargame playable with all your existing AIRFIX figures and vehicles. AIRFIX Battles comes with everything you need to play exciting World War Two battles straight out of the box including die cut cardboard counters for tanks, infantry and guns in case you don't have any figures to hand.

AIRFIX Battles lets you plan your army using the Force Deck. Draw the cards or select the ones you need to build an exciting army to challenge your friends. Set up the battle using step by step instructions in the Mission book and you're ready to play. Each player has a hand of Command Cards to move and fight their forces or bring in artillery support. You'll never know what your opponent is going to do next!

SPECIAL OFFER: A pre-order now gets budding commanders a bonus campaign in PDF: Airfix Battles: Operation Cobra, plus the 24 card Reinforcement Pack 1 consisting extra British units and tanks like the German King Tiger and Sherman Calliope rocket launcher tank! Pre-Order Airfix Battles for delivery in May here.

Game Design by Nick Fallon, Alan Paull & Chris Birch
Players: 1-4
Ages: 10+
Playing Time: 30-60mins

2 x Double-sided A2(420mm x 594mm) Maps
Over 100 cardboard counters of tanks, infantry, objectives and terrain!
1 x 16 page Mission Book
1 x 32 page Rule Book including rules for solo play up to 4 players
1 x 54 Card Force Deck
1 x 54 Card Command Deck
10 x Six-Sided Dice"
And the price is a mere £24.99. Woot!

Sunday 10 January 2016

2016: What's next?

Who knows but at least there is a plan!

And all plans need someone like this.....

Sophers as Mrs El Cid
That's right, a sponsor. This year Sophia is my sponsor and will feature in a number of my projects (one way or another) starting with.....

Lion Rampant (LR): As you can tell, I'm more than a bit excited about this as I think it has some brilliant possibilities for story telling and some really cinematic presentation. There are some great inspirational movies...........
  • El CId: I've always wanted to do this and can now legitimately go out and buy the beautiful Hat El Cid troops. For example, check out these Almoravid infantry here. A pity Sophia doesn't have her own figure in the El Cid command set!
  • Alexander Nevsky: The Teutonic Knights and the Muscovites. Plenty of opportunity for some cinematic painting with some groovy music.
  • Thibaud Desert Crusader: For fans of The Flashing Blade there was also this French children's TV series which has stuck in my mind for decades. There was also the Swedish movie Arn: The Knight Templar which looks pretty cool. Come to think of it, The Flashing Blade would be a great setting for the Pikeman's Lament when it appears.
  • The Hollow Crown: This was the great BBC mini series which did Richard II, Henry IV (Parts I and II) and Henry V. Lots of possibilities for LR here.
  • The Pride and the Passion: Yes, you may think I have gone barking mad here but this brilliant Sophia Loren movie based on The Gun by C S Forester and set in the Napoleonic wars is a real inspiration. Just think how little you need to change in the basic LR rules to make it work for the Napoleonic wars....
Whadaya mean, you losta my gun!
Other new stuff just lifting off:
  • Rembarre! Battles of the Vendee war as a hex grid game for 20mm plastics (plus map and counters version) which will allow several battles to be played out as a campaign.
  • Napoleonic OHW hex grid rules: These are to be used with my 20mm plastic armies, especially for those with funny hats. I'd like to use some unusual theatres for this including the wars in the Baltic.
  • Somewhere in Africa: I'll be following this one up very very soon. 20mm plastics with the Five Core rules on hexes.
  • In a Cocked Hex: I still want to develop this further for the GNW. An excuse to get on and paint more Baccus 6mm stuff.
And then there is the old stuff I need to crack on with:
  • Tannenberg: Not far to go now. Target to complete this by end June.
  • Firestorm Neuve Chappelle: Again, very nearly there. Another end June target.
  • Venture Fair: The scenarios just need time to develop and this is in short supply, lets say end September.
  • Hat, Horses and Hexes: Painting H&R 6mm types for this one. I'll do this as and when. 
  • Plan B: Russia 1941: I need some infantry for this and have now decided to buy PSC 15mm Germans and Russians. Another ad hoc thing when I feel like it. Mind you, I have a nice KV2 to build so that's an incentive!
  • KISS My Arras: This is likely to end up in 15mm so a good job I've got a Matilda I and II to build. 
And some stuff that is just fermenting away on its own:

  • Full Automatic: I like to wrestle with Bolt Action and Neil Thomas' WW2 rules (from Wargaming: An introduction) and think that I can come up with something on a hex grid (and why not).
  • MDF 6mm: I need some little MDF chaps. I could use these for Blucher as others are doing but I wonder.....   
Some MDF chaps by Robert De Angelis
Just looking back at what I wrote year ago it's clear that I can't keep up with my own ideas. The main thing I suppose is to keep cracking on and if I get stuck with one thing pick another one up and run with it.

And finally......

Oh dear, I think my sponsor has dozed off. Maybe she's really into WH40K!

Saturday 9 January 2016

Welcome to 2016!

Whats on the wishlist for this year? Updated...

Apart from love and a peaceful world that is! Well Christmas and New Year came and went in a flash. The weather has been awful and work continues to require a massive amount of energy. Nevertheless, I hope for an opportunity to chill out this year and get some proper hobby time in. 

My first post of the new year (Happy New Year by the way) has been delayed a little. I had a brilliant idea over the holiday period and decided to get cracking on it. This secret project will see the light of day very soon I hope. It is a bit different from most of what I do and a little on the serious side. Some concentrated effort over the next couple of weekends should see it come to fruition with a little luck. Here's a clue.....

Lets see whats occurring on the wider front.....


Well, last year I invested in the Polemos ECW rules. I like them a lot but really don't think they will suit my style of play. On this basis, I probably will not go in for the re-released GNW rules, although I find the period extremely interesting. I also failed to pursue my interest in Crossfire, Bloody Big Battles and PBI III. The list for this year is....
  • Chain of Command: This is still on my list mainly because of the pint-sized campaign books that are now appearing, Operation Martlet and Scottish Corridor being of particular interest. I have failed to get to grips with Bolt Action so I'm perhaps a little wary of CoC and the investment it requires.
  • Hordes of the Future (HOF): Still on my list. A tactical sci fi game played on a hex grid. Check it out here
  • Blucher: Another still on my list. Great rules and now a Peninsular War deck of cards, War to the Death! They also have cards for the Austrians. It just gets better, although the price is a bit steep for me.
  • Osprey wargames:  I got Lion Rampant (LR) at Christmas and they are simply brilliant. I am still weighing them up but I think that for me these are the new DBA, albeit far better written and much more fun. I eagerly await the Pikeman's Lament, LR in the 17th century. Probably not due out till 2017 but a must given how good LR seems. See some preview stuff here. I'll also try Black Ops and Honours of War which I got at Christmas but I'm not as excited about them as I am LR. I will be trying to use hexes with these rules especially as someone has already had a go at it.
  • Nordic Weasel: Another exciting system. My Somewhere in Africa project will use FiveCore Company Command. New up this year is 5 Men at Kursk, basically an upgraded 5 Men in Normandy skirmish rule set. This uses a tweaked game engine which is usable with all FiveCore rules. A preview of the new system was published last December in the FiveCore Field Guide. I'm also tempted by Laserstorm and No End in Sight, both of which look really good.
  • Galleys and Galleons: A rules set slightly below most people's horizon. It comes from Ganesha and features a novel use of the Songs of.... game engine. For $8 it can't be bad.

One of the Airfix Battle maps, nice!
I didn't buy many games at all last year, just Tannenberg 1914 by Decision Games and The Great War. So this year I'm really waiting for the same cool stuff that was on my list last year....   
  • Holdfast: I'm not sure when Worthington's Holdfast Bulge game will appear but it looks as though the next one out is North Africa in 2016 (see update below) and I am certainly up for that.
  • Fields of Battle: Eight battles of the Great Northern War by Steve Kling from the Historical Game Co. Latest news is that it is in pre-order at $50. Lets see what happens.
  • Stalingrad solitaire: Another one by Steve Kling, hopefully still in the pipeline.
  • The Great War: News to me but it looks like a digital release early this year! I may have to go for the PC option.
  • Airfix Battles: We know this one is well on the way and that it will be out in April. The latest news is here. I can't tell you how excited I am about this one!
  • Hold the Line: I have mentioned Sean Chick's HTL look-a-like game before, it is called Horse and Musket and is, of course, all about Horses and Muskets. Worthington may also be refreshing HTL itself which would be good news (see update below). There is extra good news of a Richard Borg AWI game, Tricorn, which will be all about hats! Due out in May from Compass Games. It will include plastic miniatures and is therefore going to be brilliant! 
  • Storm over Normandy: The long awaited Storm series game covering the battle for Normandy. It eventually appeared in Special Operations 6, MMP's house magazine. The other Storm news is that, at long last, a second edition of Monty's Gamble: Market Garden is in pre-order. Both of these are on the list. 
  • W1815: Well, I missed the 200 year anniversary but still want to catch-up with this unusual little game.
  • UPDATE 10/1/16: Shortly after writing this post I received an update from Worthington Games and this is an especially exciting update. It confirms that North Africa will be out this year (hurrah). It also confirms that HTL will be updated with additional scenarios and figures from PSC. Some competition here I think with the new Borg AWI game! It also announces that Hexwar will be producing a digital version of all of the current HTL games. Can you have too much of a good thing? Usually the answer is no!!! Also, at long last, Worthington have come through with maps, rules and counters for the Falkirk and Stirling Bridge scenarios for the Scotland Rising game, well done guys, much appreciated.     
Even with this reasonably short list I know that funds will not stretch to everything so I'll have to be very selective. 

Last year I set out a list of things that I wanted to play. All I can say is that there is no change there! I really must get some playing in. I now have to add The Great War and Holdfast Russia. Fingers crossed for a bit of spare time.

All the best for the new year and I hope this one is good to you!