Thursday, 31 December 2020

Review Of 2020

Well, what a year that was, eh? It all started off really well and then suddenly went ... very strange indeed.

Despite COVID restrictions I managed to fit in what I think was a reasonably full year of gaming. This is mostly due to the fact that, firstly, I have a wife who isn't averse to playing things and, secondly, I'm quite happy playing solo as well. Our club ceased operations for about three months, but otherwise I've generally managed to fit in a game on a Thursday evening as well.

From a personal point of view it's been a bit of a roller-coaster. I took part in my first burlesque competition, and then developed a new act which I was finally able to perform in a show in September. I also marched in Sydney's Mardi Gras parade for the first time. And my son got married. But I also had major upheavals at work which, combined with the general uncertainty and strangeness around June, led to a minor mental breakdown needing regular, ongoing and, in case you're worried, very helpful sessions with a therapist.

But what of the games?

Well, my biggest thing this year has been my HOTT 52 project, in which I committed to play at least one game of HOTT every week. It wasn't as easy as I thought it would be, but I got through it, played all the games and, I hope, used a wide and entertaining selection of armies.

In terms of other games I continued to develop my ECW version of the Portable Wargame, and this is now published as part of an anthology of rules in 'The Portable Pike & Shot Wargame'. It's actually the first time I've ever had anything commercially published, so I was very excited. I also helped develop the sci-fi variant of 'Battlesworn' called 'Challengers of the Great Beyond'.

I have played a lot of Nic Wright's games this year - prehistoric hunting with 'Palaeo Diet', lots of naval actions using 'Galleys & Galleons' (which is fast becoming one of my favourite games) and some gladiator action with 'Blood, Sweat and Cheers'. I've even just picked up his chariot-racing game, 'Faustus Furius'. At our club I dabbled in 'Black Seas' and we've done some more 'Gaslands', whilst at home I did some more development on my WW1 air game, 'Spandau and Lewis'.

Oh, and this year has actually been my most active year in terms of number of posts since I started this blog.

And what of 2021? Well, thus far I haven't set myself any goals. I'm not doing HOTT 52 again, nor another 6 x 6 Challenge. I have a few potential small projects lurking at the back of my mind, but none of them are quite at the stage where I'm keen to dive in and get started on them. We'll see how things go.

So on with the review. As I do every year I have picked one post for each month, it being the one with the most views. This is no assurance that it's the best post of the month, but together the twelve posts create quite a good impression of what I've been up to.


The ECW Portable Wargame - At the start of the year I got my ECW variant of the Portable Wargame to the stage where I was happy to post it online for other people to read. Since then, as I mentioned above, it's been included in the rules anthology 'The Portable Pike & Shot Wargame'. Since then I've had a few ideas for changes to the rules ...


Kobolds! - Despite my nom de plume I'd never had any kobold miniatures in any scale. This year I changed that, buying and painting a small force for use with the skirmish game 'Battlesworn'. They're lovely little figures and include, of course, a Kaptain.


Instant Thunder - Board and Counters - I' not sure what inspired me to get the abstract modern air warfare boardgame 'Instant Thunder' out again, but I did, and I found it as enjoyable as ever. This time I put together a nice board and counters, and in this post I made them available as downloads for anyone else who wats to use them.


Army Showcase - Boxers and Foreign Devils - My first popular HOTT post of the year showcased my Boxer Rebellion matched pair.


Galleys and Galleasses - I started playing more 'Galleys & Galleons' this year, after finishing off a few Renaissance galleys that I'd started last year. This was inspired by my finding an easy way to depict oars and to do more attractive bases on my scratchbuilds. This post is a report of one of the many games I played, and features my galleasses.


Galley Fleets - I liked the ships I'd made in May's post so much, that I made some more, producing two Lepanto-inspired fleets of about fifteen galleys a side. This post was simply the showcase; they had an outing in a full game later in the year.


More Classic Hott - Although most of my HOTT games this year were part of the HOTT 52 project, I did play a few rogue ones. This is the report of one of them, and is a classic clash between Dwarves and Elves.


Burlesque Update #15 - As I noted above, despite various COVID restrictions I managed to fit in some burlesque this year, both classes and performances. This post contained a couple of announcements of forthcoming shows, one of which happened and one of which didn't, plus a photo of my 'new' look.


Hunting Bipeds - The prehistoric hunting game 'Palaeo Diet' has been an interesting diversion this year; I liked it so much that I bought both of the supplements. I haven't done much with the pulp version yet, but the game in this post made use of one of the new creature types from the 'Fireside Tales' book.


HOTT 52 - Week 44 - Aztecs vs Inca - This is the first of my HOTT 52 games to make it to the top post of the month, probably because October was a relatively quiet month in terms of other games related posts.


Blood, Sweat and Cheers - I played a fair bit of 'Munera Sine Missione' earlier this year, but in November I came across 'Blood, Sweat and Cheers', downloaded it and somehow ended up helping to playtest the second edition of the rules, including the solo mechanisms and a campaign game. This post is a review and first impressions of this excellent game.


HOTT 52 - Week 49 - Daleks vs weird WWII Americans - I finished the year of popular posts with another HOTT 52 game. Who would have thought that Captain America and Daleks would be popular, eh?

Here's hoping that, despite everything, your 2020 gaming included some moments to remember, and here's hoping that 2021 will include many more.

Wednesday, 30 December 2020

HOTT 52 - Week 52 - Inuit vs The Inland Dwellers of Etah

And here we are! Week 52!

I made it; I played at least one game of HOTT every week for an entire year. I'd like to say I'm amazed that I managed to finish this project, but to some extent I'm not. I went into it knowing that I could probably fit in one game a week, and that only exceptional circumstances would prevent me from doing it. My greatest concern was going on holiday, but I took figures away with me and fitted in the one game I couldn't avoid playing whilst away. The rather exception disruptions of the year have, to some extent, helped me along, since working from home meant that I could set up and even, in a couple of cases, play games in my lunchbreak.

I possibly haven't been as clever with my choice of armies of pairings as I'd intended; sometimes I simply grabbed what was to hand. But I hope that there's been a reasonable mix of  figures on display over the past year.

Anyway, on with the final game. I decided to go for something wintery, since that's where the majority of you, my readers, actually are at the moment (myself I'm alternating between extreme heat and torrential rain). When looking for something the other day I unearthed the box with my Inuit matched pair in it, so I decided that they could see the year out.

Here are the Inuit: Five shooters (including the general), two riders, a sneaker, a cleric and a behemoth (a shaman shape-shifted into a bear).

Facing them, and the defender in the game, were the mysterious Inland Dwellers of Etah: Magician general, a behemoth (the mighty Kajutaijuq), four beasts, a lurker, three hordes and a god.

The areas of ice-floe covered water were simply bad going. 

The Inuit advanced rapidly The Inland Dwellers had a big hill to their front and the aim was to get there before them. To that end the sled riders sped forward on the left flank.

But that was where an evil spirit suddenly appeared.

The sleds shot over the hill and straight into battle, hoping to inflict som casualties whilst they had the edge. They didn't.

The Inland Dwellers closed in on the sleds and wiped them out.

Undeterred the Inuit continued to close.

This seemed to intimidate the evil spirit, which fled.

The presence of the spirit had slowed the Inland Dwellers' advance, and it was the Inuit who topped the crest of the hill, sending down a rain of arrows into the ranks of the monsters below.

In the centre the Inland Dwellers counter-attacked, led by Kajutaijuq

Kajutaijuq was driven back by accurate archery, but the shape-shifted shaman was overwhelmed by possessed spirit-animals and animated boulders. Kajutaijuq accidentally trampled some of his own side's beasts when he recoiled.

On the hill the Inuit archers were driving back the monsters. But with their sleds and the shaman lost, the Inuit army's morale was starting to look at a little shaky.

The Inland Dwellers pressed the attack on the other flank, but theInuit archers there held off the rampaging beasts, whilst the other Inuit shaman drove back Kajutaijuq.

The Inuit were being pressured on both flanks now, but their archers held off potentially fatal beast attacks.

In the centre the Inuit trickster-hero slipped through the lines, heading for the stronghld, but was ambushed by a water spirit whilst crossing some ice-floes.

He survived the attack, and was able to retire from danger.

He ended up behind Kajutaijuq, just as the massive monster took another volley of arrows. Kajutaijuq retreated and discovered that sneakers are one of the troop types that a behemoth doesn't squash when they recoil. Passing through the trickster, Kajutaijuq hit the stronghold and was destroyed.

The Magician of Etah engaged the trickster in order to drive him away from the stronghold, but was forced to recoil.

On their right the Inuit had lost a group of archers, and were now one element away from breaking. But so were the Inland Dwellers, and the Inuit were pressing them hard.

The archers on the hill had inflicted few casualties, but had been steadily driving back the hordes opposing them. Once the hordes reached the ice-floes they became easier to destroy, and that's when teh Inland Dweller's losses reached the break-point.

This was a scrappy fight, but quite fun and very, very close. Both armies were set to lose on their next casualty. It was fun to see the sneakers have a material effect on the game, threatning the stronghold and causing (albeit indirectly) the destruction of a behemoth. Those hills are really awkward to play on though - I need some snow terrain stepped hills I think.

So that's it for HOTT 52. I hope you've enjoyed following it as much as I've enjoyed playing it. You can find links to all of the games in THIS POST.

Sunday, 27 December 2020

Christmas Games

I hope you all had a great Christmas, how ever you chose, or were able, to celebrate it. 

We were able to get family together -  our children and their partners, plus my new daughter-in-law's brother. And with that many people in one place it meant ... games.

Last year we played pool at my niece's pace on Christmas Day itself. we were unable to go there this year, but Mrs Kobold proposed an alternative - Carrom. This is an Indian game similar to pool/billiards, but using round disks which are hot by a flicked striker disk. We bought a board many years ago - before we were married I think - but hadn't had it out in years. And my daughter's partner also had a board, so we had two games of doubles running in parallel.

We failed to finish either of them; carrom is a game where penalties mean that pocketed pieces are returned to the board, and we were so bad that pieces were being retured to play as fast as we could pocket them. Still, we had a great time.

Our game was hindered somewhat by the board. My daughter's partner's board was quite old, and is probably past its best. My daughter had read that, in order to smooth it off, you could sprinkle it with cornflour. She had a curious idea about how much cornflour to use. By the end of the game we all looked like we'd been snorting cocaine.

After the carrom we opened presents - more about what emerged later. After that it was time for a nap for me, but some of the others played Skull.

And then I woke up and it was on to the main event of the afternoon - Elon Musk's iPod Submarine. Here are the rules: 

People picked it up pretty quickly, and despite some early reservations about how well it would work we had a great time, and played for a good two or three hours. Our problems ranged from from 'A Skyscraper Is On Fire' and a 'World Drinking-Water Shortage' to 'Not Enough People Adopting Puppies' and 'Elon Musk Had Lost His Memory'. The favoured solution to the latter was 'Do Nothing'.

But that stage of the day it was time to get on with some cooking, and then eat the resulting enormous roast dinner. We had also been joined by our tenant and our next-door neighbour. 

That left nine of us playing The Cat Game. This fun, Pictionary-style, game kept is going for most of the evening, until my son, his wife and her brother had to leave. 

The rest of us switched to a push-your-luck dice game called Greed.

And that saw us through to the end of Christmas Day.

Before my daughter and her partner left on Boxing Day we played a game of a an Egyptian-themed tile-collecting game she'd picked up in a charity shop called Tutankhamen. well worth the $3 she paid for it.

And then we had another go at There's Been A Murder. It took us four tries to catch the murderer, but even the failures were fun.

After that there was just Mrs Kobold and I. We decided to look at a game we'd got from my parents (or, at least, pre-emptively bought with money we knew we'd get from my parents - Flamme Rouge

I really fancied some kind of racing game, and had seen this in a shop a few weeks ago. I looked up reviews and play-throughs and felt that it was just the sort of thing I was looking for. Each payer has two cyclists - the steady Rouleur and the faster (sometimes) Sprinteur. On a turn each cyclist plays a movement card from their type-specific deck, then all players move their cyclists along the course. If there is a one-space gap between cyclists towards the rear of the pack and those further forward, then the rear is moved up due to slipstreaming. The combined pack is then moved up if there's a one-space gap in front of it. And so on. Any cyclist with a space in front of them after this gets an exhaustion card added to their deck. The game is very much about managing your limited hand of movement cards, and co-ordinating the movement of your two cyclists to gain maximum movement for minimum effort. 

On Boxing Day we simply played a two-player game. Today I found some AI rules, and we were able to add a couple of NPC teams, which make the game a lot more interesting. And finally we played with ascents and descents, which make the card management even more difficult.

Mr Wednesday liked the box.

My son  bought me the European implementation of 'Ticket To Ride', which Mrs Kobold and I also managed to play today. That's certainly a game which needs more than two people, but at least we understand how to play it now.

So that was our Christmas - mostly games.

How about you?

Tuesday, 22 December 2020

Portable Pike and Shot Published!

Regulars on this blog will know that for a few years I've been playing around with an ECW version of the Portable Wargame. Well, you'll be pleased to know that it's been published as part of a collection of rules in Bob Corderey's ongoing Portable Wargames book series!

It was actually published a few weeks ago, but I was holding off announcing it here for the purely parochial reason that you couldn't order print copies of it here in Australia. However it looks like that's now the case.

It's available through Amazon in both print and Kindle form.

So what do you get for your cash? Well, obviously you get my ECW rules, and that's obviousy worth the price of the book on its own. But, in all seriousness, you get a short piece on warfare in the pike & shot period by Bob, then three sets of rules - one for the period in general, pitched mostly at the ECW and 30YW, my ECW set and a set for the Sengoku era in Japan. The other two sets are written by French gamer Antoine BourguilleauOn top of that you get a series of rules and pieces by Arthur Harman, which include a pre-battle deployment system, rules for sieges and assaults and a strange set of rules, plus a scenario, based around ECW re-enactors.

It's the first time I've had a set of rules properly published in over 4 years, so I'm quite thrilled, and it's a pleasure to be part of a book with some genuine 'names' in the hobby too. 

Obviously I'm biased, but if you're a fan of the Portable Wargame then this is a worthy addition to the series, with some interesting ideas and expansions for the concept.

(Ironically since my author's copy is coming from the UK, I don't have a copy of the book myself. Yet. Looking forward to getting it though!)

Monday, 21 December 2020

HOTT 52 - Week 51 - Asag vs Tiamat

I was thinking of doing a seasonal nod in this week's HOTT game, and playing something involving Elves. But I couldn't find the Elf army I was looking for (we have several in our house). However I did unearth Asag and the Stone Allies, and since Tiamat and her chaos hordes was to hand as well, I decided to have an Ancient Mesopotamian mythology game instead.

On the right you can see Tiamat defending - Tiamat herself (magicial general), hero, four beasts, two knights and four hordes.

On the left were the attackers, Asag and his stone allies: Asag (aerial hero general), a behemoth, three beasts and eight hordes.


Asag deployed well down the line in order to avoid an early defeat being ensorcelled by the opposing general.

Asag concentrated his attack on the grove on Tiamat's left, hoping to avoid Tiamat herself. It did mean fighting in woods, but that was better than being ensorcelled.

The stone hordes went for Tiamat's centre. A pair of hordes were also way out on the left just to screen that flank.

As the rocks advanced Tiamat tried to bespell them, but failed.

Tiamat moved some beasts forward to block the screen.

Asag organised his forces for the attack on the grove.

And in they went! Asag swung across his flanking troops to a more central position.

Asag's forces pushed back those of Tiamat, destroying some of the beasts.

This put Tiamat under PIP stress, leaving her unable to move or bespell as she tried to repair her line. Qingu, the army's hero, was sent into action on Asag's flank.

On her left, Asag's rocks were breaking through and threatening the stronghold.

Tiamat moved across to ensorcell Asag, but failed. 

Asag's largest rocks destroyed the hordes facing them, and their advance now saw them close to the stronghold.

Tiamat tried to ensorcell Asag again, as the remains of her army put pressure on Asag's centre. her magic had no effect. At this stage the Asag's loss wouldn't have broken the army anyway, due the the losses Tiamat had taken. 

Asag ordered an attack on Tiamat's stronghold, which threw it back.

But Tiamat couldn't do anything practical to prevent a second attack, which did succeed, giving Asag the victory.

I thought that Asag would struggle in this one having to dodge being ensorcelled, plus having only a limited strike-force. But everything came together in terms of PIPs with the main attack, and Tiamat never was never successful with her magical attacks (she has a 1 in 6 chance of ensorcelling Asag). As with previous games in this series, the defender went for the high-risk strategy of defending close to their stronghold, and this time it did't work.

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