Monday, 27 March 2017

Devil's Run

We played a game of Devil's Run, this Sunday. I haven't got the actual game, yet, so used kitbashed models, boards and counters. This was my first game, but it seemed to go pretty smoothly.

We played Run 1 from the rulebook, the San Pedro Pickup, which involved grabbing as many supply counters as possible. We started off in a tight sort of formation concentrating as much on dealing damage as picking up supplies. Pretty much unplanned, once I had taken out Owen's yellow car, my blue car found itself miles out in front and then managed to lose the chasing pack, which is one way to win the game.

The second game I tried a similar sort of thing, and managed to pick up more supplies and tried to make a run for it, but got chased and flamed to death pretty conclusively before the time limit and so Owen won that one, by killing all my cars.

Elsewhere, there were games of HotT going on, with a number of different, typically uncategorisable armies. A game of Warhammer Ancients with Rome vs Carthage, and a game of Alien Squad Leader 3, with a Human Imperial army vs Alien Enslavers.

Friday, 24 March 2017

Poseidon’s Warriors

We played Poseidon’s Warriors for the first-time recently at Lincombe Barn It is a classical naval game by John Lambshead and published by Osprey.  This isn’t really a review, I haven’t read the rulebook and it’s just about one game. We had four players with 18 slow trimarans (capable of boarding actions unlike light ones) per side in squadrons of four or five. These ships are destroyed if they take one hit. This would be a small game under these rules. One squadron moves at a time with no input from the receiving player.

My squadron on the right hugged the coast hoping to catch Craig’s ships in the side, my central squadron continued forward to meet Craig’s corresponding squadron while I moved the two ships from the left, behind the other ships to threaten the flank of Craig’s right hand squadron.  My ally John moved into the centre while his opposite number, Andy, sent one squadron to meet them and the other on a long flanking manoeuvre which lasted the whole game.

The rules are simple, our ships had 5” of movement, with a turn of up to 45 degrees costing an inch, and requiring an inch moved forward first. Ships of this side have one hit point. The problem is that ships have no momentum from one turn to the next, there will never be an accidental collision or a desperate attempt to avoid one by manoeuvre because ships can go from full speed in one turn to a dead stop in the next, and even turn on the spot at the same time.

I got some flank collisions into the side of some of Craig’s ships from both directions, and lost one of my own, and our fleets passed through each other. The opposition made some suicidal head on charges in the centre and attempted an oar raking attack.
We were now in an excellent position to hit the enemy centre from all sides while half of Andy’s fleet was too far out to interfere, and Craig’s left hand squadron needed to turn around.  But we had both lost a quarter of our ships and had to take a morale check. We rolled a 1 and the game was over. This was an abrupt and un-satisfying end to the game as we had taken equal losses and the battle didn’t feel close to being over. 

While the rules would allow a big game to run quickly, the lack of momentum removes what should be a major aspect of this kind of warfare where ships are ramming, raking and boarding. The morale rules seem arbitrary with an all or nothing break test at 25%, while individual ships never take tests for attempting dangerous actions.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Otherworldly Invader vs Department X

Anghenfil Estron has been exiled to the primitive planet Earth for conducting disturbing experiments. Accompanied by his ‘guard dog’ and his chief scientist, he struggles to continue his work. One day he will return in triumph to his home world and regain his seat on the high council.

We played a 75 point game at our club, Lincombe Barn with a heroic cast under Carol and Clive against my villainous cast.  I have an Otherworldly Invader (swapping Spy for Large), a Mad Scientist (swapping Repair for Alien), a Jackbooted Sadist and a Rampaging Monster. My extras are a spy, doctor, technician, 12 minions plus a leader, and some cavemen. Why cavemen? Well they just happened to be to hand when I put my force together on the day.

A mysterious alien satellite has come down in the west of England and parts of it are now scattered around a village. Department X scramble to investigate and finds the brainwashed employees of the alien also searching .

After deploying we each had a Spy placed close to the central objective. The first countdown meant my Spy was knocked down, giving her opposite number a head start to grab the objective.  

I rushed my Jackbooted Sadist and a Minion driver up the road, then stole the Initiative (reversing the turn sequence and allowing me to take 2 turns in a row). I grabbed the objective but was faced with an advancing column of X-Commandos coming up the road. I sent the character to face them hoping to set fire to the special weapons team with a ‘rocket cigarette’ from my gadgets deck (and failing). Meanwhile I also grabbed the objectives behind the houses and in the crop fields.

I expected my Jackbooted Sadist to be killed by the advancing column of X-Commandos coming up the road, but after being untouched by the advanced heavy weapon I started using plot points and a ‘bulletproof umbrella’ as she was shot at by another six figures and survived with one hit. As the churchyard filled with enemies my Spy and a Minion started to harass them but were unable to stop them gaining the objective. A bunch of Minions deployed from their van on the other side of the road, but without a unit leader they were slow to get much done.

On my left the main Minion group headed for an objective and were met by Hugo Solomon who set about neutralising them in various ways. The others started firing at the X-Commandos and were eventually wiped out leaving the objective for Solomon.

My forces at the church were killed and the Minions took up the firefight. Another group clustered around the Mini Moke, taking out the X-Commando’s leader who rushed in. The Rampaging Monster eventually charged some enemies behind the hedge, killing one, before a ‘capture balloon’ picked him up and carried him back to my table edge. Reasoning it would take four turns to get back into action I left him there. On my right the cavemen crossed the road, went round the back of the houses and mobbed an X-Commando.

My leader spent most of the game in a back garden rather than walk into a hail of gunfire to fire his pistol, but he emerged at the end to join in. A countdown card revealed my Spy to be alive after all and I advanced her up in time to get a shot off at the heroic characters who had now crossed the road from the church. Dr Cephalopodis fired his experimental weapon at them to no effect.

At the end (as determined by the countdown cards) I had won due to taking 3 of the 5 objectives and with my characters more intact, despite losing masses of minions. The game was a lot of fun.

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Cyborg Enslavers vs. Rebel Alliance

This was a game of Alien Squad Leader played by Bob Leitch (Cyborg Enslavers) and myself (Rebel Alliance). Two big horde armies duking it out. I wasn't very keen on doing a complete battle report, so, only four pictures. But, it does show off one of the club's new Deepcut Studio's gaming mats, which looks rather nice, even with our very basic felt terrain areas. Also note that our gaming tables are slightly wider, hence the green cloth underlay.

So, how did the game go? Well, I lost, although I did manage to destroy around four to five Cyborg units and had two hits on about another six to seven. My god they are hard work! Mind you, this is entirely in-character for the army. They are meant to be hoards of mindless, clumsy zombies, who are armoured and feel no pain. Think Borg, and you get the idea. Or in Bob's case, think Dalek. So, they don't hurt easy, and they don't run. They can't shoot or fight effectively either, but Bob was using their sheer numbers to offset that disadvantage. Throw enough dice and you will get the odd 10, 11, or double-six. Or, in Bob's case, alot of double-sixes!

Adding to my woe was the fact that (a) my attacking army had to run the gauntlet of his three psionic commanders clouting me with Oscillating Force each turn, that does not require line of sight, and allows no armour saves, (b) on the other hand, Bob's armour saves were +1 vs. Primitives, so that, even though I won almost every close assault, the Cyborgs were saving on a 4+ instead of a 5+.

We think that there are effective counters against the Cyborg Enslavers - Distant Flyers to pick on their commanders and characters? Not close- assaulting with Primitives (so thier armour save is just 5+)? Artillery to pound thier ranked-up formations? Engaging with Primary Weapon Systems (it will outrange them, and gives a minus 1 to thier armour save)? Sounds like a Human Imperial Army is just the job! Preferably not with me commanding it!

Friday, 24 February 2017

First game of Sharp Practice

By Owen_lbws, AKA Olaf the Hairy     

I played my first game of Sharp Practice at my local club at Lincombe Barn in Bristol. I found the rules enjoyable and quick to pick up. The turn sequence meant both players were constantly making decisions. The period was the American Civil War, I was the Confederates and Kev the Union. I’m not sure about the points but the forces were identical except that Union had a unit of cavalry and the Confederates, a gun. We kept it simple for my first game by not spending odd points on upgrades or using traits for the leaders.

The battle field had a single building with surrounding hedges, sitting on a T junction. There were woods to one side of it. There were small hills down either side, flat bad going in the centre and more woods at the far end.  The armies are deployed from a spawning point placed randomly, with mine being behind the house and Kev’s diagonally across the table, this meant we were playing from short edge to short edge.

Actions are driven by cards, one for each leader, 4 flag cards for each player which can be used in various ways and the Tiffin card, which means the turn is over.  I had few cards to activate leaders and bring on my units early on so the enemy were already advancing before I got all of them on. 

The Union cavalry advanced straight up the centre and found themselves in the open in front of 3 of my units. They then didn’t get a chance to activate for another turn or two while taking a lot of fire.  With a huge amount of Shock counters, they withdrew and spent most of the rest of the game in a quiet spot removing them.

On my left Kev’s skirmishers crested a hill and exchanged fire with my skirmishers behind the hedge. He charged them. In his favour he had one more man, a level 2 leader,  and I was unloaded, in my favour I was behind a hedge. My unit lost half it’s men and routed. Kev then charged my other unit of skirmishers but lost. I charged the survivors with one of my formed up units, wiping them out and sending the officer fleeing.

Three flag cards in a row results in an event rolled on a table, the building caught fire and eventually burnt down, and two of my units found palls of smoke hanging in front of them. I had one unit holding the hedge at the house, and swung the other round the side, so that all our formed up units were shooting at each other. Casualties were building up, towards the end of the game I seemed to have a slight advantage.

On my right my artillery had been exchanging fire with Kev’s other skirmishers on a hill. The cavalry finally returned, racing up the flank and with the final card of the game charged my artillery, beating them decisively. With the gun captured, its crew fleeing and my deployment point right in front of them and undefended it was a win for Kev.

Friday, 17 February 2017

Warmaster Late Romans Vs. Egyptians

This was a 1,500 point game of Warmaster Ancients between myself (Alex Self), with Late Romans, and Bob Leitch, with Egyptians. The Late Romans are a typical heavy infantry army, although it is possible to take quite a lot of heavy cavalry if you want to. The Egyptians are a nasty combination of cheap, poor quality infantry, combined with very maneuverable and effective chariotry. The obvious way to beat the Egyptians is to take out their infantry, but this is very challenging as the chariots will move to get in the way and harass at every opportunity!

Fortunately for me, Bob threw poor leadership dice for his chariot reserve, and they did not move to assist his frontline troops until late in the game. The chariots in the centre were effectively tackled with bowfire, and my spearmen were able to advance to smash the Egyptian frontline.

The late game saw me finishing off Bob's second line of heavy infantry, but otherwise the Romans were rather strung out, and not in a good position to face the remaining Chariots. The game ended as a draw, but we felt that if it had continued, the Egyptians would have won.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Northern Lights army for Hordes of the Things

By Owen_lbws, aka Olaf the Hairy

Northern Lights is a novel by Philip Pullman set in a parallel universe where humans are accompanied by their own daemons, in the form of talking animals, and the church is all-powerful. The north is inhabited by witches, and the Panzerbeorn, intelligent armoured bears with opposable thumbs. The Gyptians are river-boat gypsies. It is part of the trilogy, His Dark Materials. The later novels involve traveling between other universes including our own. There was a disappointing film adaptation in 2007 titled The Golden Compass (the American title).

My army is based on the forces sent to rescue the children at Bolvangar. It is 15mm (40mm frontage). Lyra, the 12 year old heroine who uses a mysterious device to discover information does a lot of sneaking around, and escaping and deceives Iofur Rakinson, earning the sobriquet Silvertounge, so she is a Sneaker. I chose to show her daemon, Pantalaimon as an ermine (stoat).

Iorek Byrnison, the armoured bear, is a hero rather than a Beast. He follows a code of honour and regains his position in single combat, but should be more durable than a Paladin. Lee Scoresby’s balloon is an Airboat, note that it is a gas balloon not a hot air balloon.

Shooter General
(John Faa and Farder Corum)@2pts
(Iorek Byrnison)@4pts
(Lyra and Pantalaimon)@3pts
(Lee Scoresby’s balloon)@3pts

Stronghold: Gyptian camp

I made Lyra from a child figure from a sci-fi colonist pack from GZG. I added the hood, fur trim and satchel with green stuff and made Pantalaimon from green stuff too. Iorek is from a pack of dwarves riding bears, from Magister Militum, I removed the saddle and did the armour in brown stuff. It’s my first attempt at plate armour and it looks a bit wobbly.

The Gyptians are mostly from Khurasan Miniatures, based on John Carpenter’s remake, The Thing. Their daemons are from a farm animal pack from Museum Miniatures. John Faa is a medieval man-at-arms with some green stuff. The witches are from Magister Militum, I cut most of them off at waist level and gave them archer bodies, then green stuff robes and hair. Their daemons were 15mm bats that I turned into birds.

The balloon is a Christmas tree decoration; the net came with onions in. It sits on a Perspex rod which goes up inside the balloon. The basket is made from plastic gabions and the ring is cut from the metal grill of a bird feeder. The connections are sewn together and then glued. The stronghold is made from resin tents from several suppliers. The bases were done with a mixture of snow flock from Army Painter, white paint and PVA glue.

The army had its first outing at the 2017 Hott-Barn competition in Bristol