Thursday, 31 December 2015

Review of 2015

Another year has come and gone. Doesn't time fly when you're having fun?

This year has been dominated by Neil Thomas' book 'One Hour Wargames', which I got for Christmas in 2014 and which has provided me with many hours of interesting scenarios and rules tweaking. Machinas has also featured heavily, inspired in part by the wonderful 'Mad Max: Fury Road'. Once again my games have featured actions set in the South American Wars of Liberation, the ACW and the Great Northern War, but the ECW has also made  first appearance on this blog, and looks set to appear again. Club games have seen the usual mix of HOTT, WWII and Napoleonics, plus other odds and ends according to the whims of individual game organisers.

Once again my review of the year consists of selecting the most popular post, in terms of number of views, from each month, in order to generate a snapshot of what I've been up to.


The Missouri Incursion of 1864 - This was an attempt to use the One Hour Wargames scenarios to run an ACW mini-campaign, inspired by Price's Missouri raid of 1864. With hindsight the rules and army lists were flawed in a number of ways, but it was fun to play, and if we're not in this for fun what are we in it for?


One Hour Wargames - Scenario 1 - Pitched Battle (1) - I task I set myself for the year was to document each and every scenario in One Hour Wargames, in order. So, whilst I have played all of them at some stage I have been running through 'official' reports as well. This post is the first of the scenario reports.


There Goes The Neighbourhood - For years I have been using Lego to make buildings for my giant monster games. This year I finally put together a metropolis of paper buildings which look far nicer.


Make Your Own Mauriceburg - More paper buildings! I actually made these in 2014, and they have done sterling service since, but in this post I provided links to files which allow you - yes, YOU - to download, print and assemble your own.


Waterloo - The Action Around La Haye Sainte - Yes, even I got sucked into the whole Waterloo 200 thing. This was a great Black Powder game we played and I think that the title says it all. I have a feeling I was high on cold medication when I wrote the report.


W1815 - More Waterloo! W1815 is a truly excellent little boardgame which allows you to fight he whole battle in 15 minutes of so, and even explore different strategies without straying too far from the original flow of events. Well worth checking out.


Nazis on Skaro - This blog was originally set up to be all about HOTT, something which it almost immediately failed to do. But HOTT still features heavily from time to time, and this post not only features HOTT but has Nazis and Daleks as well. Perfect!


The Great War - We tried out the new boardgame from the Command & Colors stable and really enjoyed it. Sadly we haven't had chance to play it since.


Maurice Marengo - Something of an experiment, this was an attempt to use straight, unadorned Maurice to play a game set slightly beyond its historical coverage. It worked surprisingly well, and looked gorgeous.


MOAB 2015 - The HOTT Tournament - Read about how I got far luckier than I deserve in my one HOTT tournament of the year.


Epic Multiplayer HOTT - Our club's largest ever game of HOTT proved popular in November.


The Battle of Birmingham - The year's final top post saw me back with One Hour Wargames, or at least one of my heavily modified versions of the rules, fighting a skirmish from the ECW set in my home city.

So that's 2015 done and dusted. At the moment I am struggling to find the time or enthusiasm for any of my gaming projects, but I know that it's just a matter of waiting for something to grab my attention and then away I go into 2016.

Monday, 28 December 2015

The Day The Universe Almost Ended

Yesterday the universe almost ended.

Yes, we played Chrononauts again, and we got the board to twelve paradoxes - thirteen would destroy all of time and space.

Fortunately people were sensible enough to patch up history before breaking any more bits.

This was an important game though - the first played in Cei's flat in his new home of Jindabyne. We drove him down yesterday, moved his stuff in, went out for a meal in the evening and then stayed the night, making the five-hour journey home today. So since we had time to kill we played some games; a game of Fluxx in the restaurant (on which, in fact, we have played games in before, when we on holiday there back in 2012), and two games of Chrononauts in the evening. Fittingly Cei won the first, fixing the time-stream to match that of his time-traveller. Catherine won the second, by assembling all of the artifacts needed to stage Shakespeare's last play 'Mona and the Dragon'.

Jindabyne is a strange little town, consisting mostly of rental accommodation for people travelling there to ski in the winter. This is the view from his balcony:

And here he is, master of all he surveys:

He's on air at Snow FM from tomorrow ...

Saturday, 26 December 2015

Boxing Day Games

So far this Christmas my gaming has been limited, with even my presents haul steering clear of that particular hobby and focusing on photography, Lego and frocks instead. In addition we have been occupied with family visits and preparing for the departure of our son to his new home and job.

However this afternoon we visited our friends for an afternoon of boardgames and nibbles. We started off with a game new to most of them and unfamiliar to us, as we hadn't played it in years - Chrononauts. In this game each player plays a time-traveller from one of a number of possible futures, moving around a particular section of our history and trying to alter it in order to create the time-stream that they come from. 'History' is represented by a grid of cards, and altering one event causes ripples into the future, causing other events not to take place. This causes temporal instabilities which have to be patched because too many of the cause the who time-stream to collapse, ending the game with everyone the loser.

Here's the grid, in the early part of the game:

Each player's ID, and therefore the future they are trying to create, is kept secret, so that you are not sure what conditions the another players are trying to achieve Each player also has a mission, involving the collection of a number of historical artifacts (such as dinosaurs, a videotape of the creation of the universe or the Ark of the Covenant). Again, this mission is kept secret so no player knows exactly which artifacts the others are after.

A popular historical Linchpin was the opening of the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, which can be altered to be the assassination of Hitler instead. This causes all kinds of ripples in the time-line, not all of which are beneficial to the players. For example, in the first game I needed Hitler alive, because part of my time-stream involved the creation of the State of Israel, an event dependent on his existence. Yes, it's that kind of game - a later series of events has the Columbine High School Massacre being prevented because John Lennon wasn't murdered; you need to go to the game designer's website to find out the chain of events there.

At this point in the game Hitler was very dead, but came back to life and died a couple of times afterwards. It was all very confusing.

Maya won the first game fairly swiftly after other players patched a series of temporal paradoxes in WW1 and inadvertently set up her time-stream for her. The second game took longer, although the time-stream came close to collapse at one point. JFK lived and died a few times, although Hitler stayed mostly dead in that one. In the end I was able to prevent the Hindenburg disaster and cause WWIII to break out as a result of the Cuban Missile Crisis thus creating the post-apocalyptic future my mutant cockroach needed in order to win.

We then switched to Cosmic Encounter - just the one game. We played a full six-player game, but the result was a bit of a foregone conclusion, with Eric as Virus being difficult to stop with the other powers in play. I played Philanthropist, Maya played Chimera, Marco played Predator, Catherine and Cei played Chosen, and Jon and Claudia played Clone. In fact three of us were on four of the five bases needed to win by the end, but Virus is hard to defeat if  the cards are unkind.

We should be playing more games on New Year's Eve. Stay tuned ...

Update: I also forgot the two games of Uno we played. We. Played. Uno. I won one of them.

Another Update: At some point yesterday this blog quietly slipped past the 500,000 views mark.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

A Couple of Books

This is a quick post about a couple of books.

The first is a new publication by a member of our gaming group, covering Persian armies of the late 18th and early 19th century: The Persian Army of the Napoleonic Era – Qajar Dynasty 1779-1857It's certainly a pretty obscure subject for a book, but if you like that sort of thing I'm sure it's the sort of thing you will like.

The second is one I've just bought, albeit months, nay years, after most other people 'Wargaming: An Introduction' by Neil Thomas.

Since getting 'One Hour Wargames' last year I've been reading a lot about Neil Thomas's books, and this one sounded like it was one I could probably enjoy, if only for the four or five sets of rules it contains. I'm saving a thorough read-through for when I'm on my Christmas break, but I've dipped into it and like what I've seen so far. As with 'One Hour Wargames' the rules seem a little unusual in places, but the introduction to each at least explain why things are done the way they are. Perhaps as well as reading the book over Christmas I'l get chance to pay some games using them.

Maybe I should get a Persian army for use with the Napoleonic rules ...

Sunday, 20 December 2015

One Hour Wargames Variant Cavalry Rules

This weekend I have refined and tested some changes to the way Horse work in my ECW rules derived from the One Hour Wargames Pike and Shot rules. What I have come up with is this. There are three types of Horse:

Horse - Roll 2D6 in combat. If they have Impetus then add extra one hit if the dice score a double. Lose Impetus if either die scores a '1'. Move 10", but can move 12" if this allows them to contact an enemy unit.

Dashing Horse - Roll 2D6 in combat. If they roll a double then they score an extra hit, but take a hit themselves. If they destroy the unit they are fighting then they take a hit (but they don't take two hits if they roll a double as well). Move 10", but can move 12" if this allows them to contact an enemy unit.

Disciplined Horse - Roll 2D6 in combat. If they have Impetus then add one hit if the dice score a double. Lose Impetus if either die scores a '1'. If they currently do not have Impetus then they regain it if either die scores a '6'. Always move 10".

So basic Horse are assumed to have a certain level of impetus which they can lose and never regain. Dashing Horse never lose impetus, but become disorganised by their own combat actions. Disciplined Horse do not get to charge into combat, but may reform, getting their impetus back. Obviously Dashing Horse can represent Rupert's Royalist cavalry, whilst Disciplined Horse can represent armoured Lobsters or later Parliamentarian cavalry. I have left whether the horse are fighting with sword or pistol as their primary army as an abstract.

I am now working on three grades for Pike and Shot - Balanced, Pike-Heavy and Shot-Heavy. Balanced Pike and Shot fight with 2D6 when shooting or in close combat. Pike-Heavy foot also roll 2D6, but get an extra hit if they score a double in close combat, and score one less hit if they score a double when shooting. Shot-Heavy foot reverse this; one extra hit on a double when shooting and one less in close combat.

Friday, 18 December 2015

Night Of The Greek Generals

Last night we played a fantastic  big-battle DBA 3.0 scenario. Here is Caesar's briefing:

"The Athenian and Spartan armies (with their allies) are vying for possession of the auspicious Temple of Apollo, situated somewhere on the slopes of Mount Parnassus and home to the Oracle of Delphi. By holding the Oracle as a distinguished “guest” they hope to influence her prophecy in such a way that neutral city states will side with them in the broader Peloponnesian Wars. Needless to say, he who holds the Oracle can unite the rest of Greece behind him.

Unfortunately for the commanders, their allies are marching from every corner of the mainland and are unable to link up with each other before arriving at the foot of Parnassus. With the coming of dawn it is clear that the belligerents converging on the temple are hopelessly jumbled. This game aims to engage forces quickly and challenge everyone in a multiplayer big battle with an objective, catering for 4-8 players."

This is a diagram of the table setup. We had eight player, each running a single 12 element DBA Greek or allied army, and split into two teams of four. Each four was split into pairs and each pair took a corner of a 4'x4' table, with the allied pairs being opposite each other A1-A4 were one faction, whilst B1-B4 were the other. The temple was in the centre, marked by an area of felt and a building, neither of which had any effect on movement or combat.

Victory went to the side that had undisputed control of the temple for two full bounds. 'Undisputed' meant that not even a corner of an enemy element could be on the area of the temple during that time.

The game made for a crowded table. You'll note that although the map doesn't show it there was plenty of terrain. This was mostly gentle hills, but there were a few rocky hills and some patches of rough going as well.

Here is the temple in the centre of the table.

The armies were a mix of forces from the DBA rules; Athenians and Spartans, of course, but also Thebans and even a contingent of Persians.

It was, as you can imagine, a chaotic game. Trying to keep track of friend and foe was bad enough, without having to also come up with a plan for taking and holding the temple. In the end I just played my corner, and took lots of pictures. I can't offer very much in the way of a coherent narrative.

My cavalry was useful early on, pinning enemy troops and even riding down an element of hoplites at one point.

Utter chaos

Caesar kept a cool head with an ever-present cup of tea

Fighting around the temple


Later on the elements around the temple thinned out as people realised that trying to break enemy armies was the way to stop reinforcements being rushed to the fighting.

Bryan ponders his next move

Geoff consults the Oracle of Barker

My cavalry finally met its end at the hands of some unsporting artillery

Finally the Spartans managed to keep an element in undisputed control of the temple for two bounds, keeping just a toe-hold on the area whilst they moved out to pin the light cavalry that could have contested them.

Casualties were fairly light, aside from Caesar's army, which broke after having its recoils blocked by Geoff's cunning use of cavalry to support his allies.

Thanks to Caesar for designing an entertaining evening's play suitable for our last meeting of the year, and to Peter, and others, who provided the gorgeous figures.
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