Tuesday, 17 July 2018

An Early Warhammer Review (2)

As I was entering issue 8 (January 1984) of Miniature Wargames into the database, I came upon a reader's letter by Rick Priestley, responding to the review of Warhammer published in issue 6.

Interesting to read!

Sunday, 8 July 2018

Depth levels for underwater games

I've always had a slight fascination with underwater games, and this culminated in our AquaZone setup during Crisis 2009.

One of the challenges of doing underwater games - irrespective of the actual setting - is to keep track of the various depth levels for swimmers, divers, animals, etc. Just as in air wargames, depth (or height) can be an important factor in conveying the feeling of the particular game. Although many air and underwater games do away with depth (as we did in our AquaZone games), adding depth provides an additional level of gameplay.

However, the main problem is how to represent it on the gaming table. Various solutions exist: some form of bookkeeping on a roster sheet, putting markers next to figures, putting figures on telescoping stands (usually radio antennas, but see also our patent-pending Lego solution here), ... The complexity of doing so often leads to the elimination of depth or height on the wargames table, although the games tend to become more cinematic in nature when doing so.

So, I was pleasantly surprised when I saw a solution on the Chirine's Workbench blog, that still requires bookkeeping, but at least makes it intuitive to use and see. I have copied the picture below from the blog.

(Image from Chirine's Workbench)
At each corner of the table, there is a depth gauge, 6 different levels, and color-coded. Markers in the same color are put next to each figure. That's it.

Now, you might wonder, what's so spectacular about this? Isn't this the same as using numbered depth levels, and put a numbered marker next to each figure? Yes, it is. But somehow, by using colors, and using the depth gauges at each corner, visualizes the various depths much better. I might probably use the same idea in one our future AquaZone games.

Elastolin figures

Last week I visited a local militaria fair. I always find such fairs curious affairs. There a lot of dealers, selling all sorts of military stuff, ranging from modern insignia and jackets to WW1 era rusty items. Occasionally there might be something older, but it's always a lot of guesswork whether the items for sale are rare, indeed worth the asking price, or simply rip-offs. And everything seems to cost 150 or 200 Euro, but everything is negotiable as well :-)

Anyway, I was looking for some decorative items for the wargames room, but given the above, combined with the fact that I'm not an expert when it comes down to judging the originality of certain kit, I sort of returned empty-handed.

However, when I see something I know something about, my interest level suddenly goes up. So I acquired these two 10.5cm Elastolin figures for the decent price of 15 euro each. A nice addition to the toy soldier collection. These figures were produced by Elastolin probably in the 20s or 30s

Saturday, 23 June 2018

Grenadier Music Band

In order to try something new, I decided to start painting these plastic ~54mm toy soldiers. I've had them lying around for quite some time, but never got around cleaning them up and painting them. In the photograph below, I have only removed the flash, so the paintjob is still the original applied many years ago, I guess by the original manufacturer.

I have a small collection of the Britains Ceremonial collection, and these will go nicely with them to make a larger display.

Maker unknown, so any help to identify them is appreciated.

Wargaming Magazines

This was posted some time ago on Youtube, but it's interesting to see how other people approach their wargaming magazine collection.

Sunday, 17 June 2018

What A Tanker ... first game

Yesterday we tried the new tank combat rules What A Tanker, published by Too Fat Lardies.
We were underwhelmed.

Although it was a moderately fun game, we couldn't see why this game gets the praise in some of the reviews published in magazines or in the blogosphere. Sure, it is meant as a light-hearted game, but even light-hearted games should be designed well.

I won't give a proper review here (many of others have done that before), but I'll simply list our observations:
  • The game is quite random. No matter how careful you manoeuvre your tanks around the table, a single hit can mean game over. In one of our games, both my tanks were eliminated on the first incoming shot ...
  • There is a discrepancy in the detail of some of the procedures. Movement is explained carefully in the rules, stipulating how much a tank can wheel, how much your turret can rotate etc,. but then the other procedures such as acquisition of a target and aiming are quite coarse. That doesn't result in an elegant gaming engine.
  • Firing is overly complicated, with a distinction between hits and critical hits, then a save roll, then having to count whether you scored more critical hits than others, which might result in temporary or permanent damage ... the whole procedure was not that quick and not that elegant either. On the one hand you have to keep track of accumulating damage, on the other hand a tank can be destroyed when you score 3 hits in a single shot. That doesn't match well as a gaming mechanic ... 
  • There is a campaign system, getting more skills in subsequent games by scoring more kills. But why bother if the kill rate can be so random?
  • The game felt as one of our Wild West games, in which every player has a shootist, and if you're unlucky, you get a headshot in the first round of the game. Great fun, but apparantly the concept doesn't translate that well to tank warfare. Other people have compared it to a game such as Wings of War.
Overall, I don't think the game would have gotten this much attention if it wasn't published by Too Fat Lardies.  It is obviously an attempt to bring a computer game such as World of Tanks (WoT? WaT?) to the gaming table. But the result is not too much to my liking.

Anyway, here are the pictures of our games. The games were a good opportunity to bring out our collection of WW2 Eastern Front vehicles (which belonged to various former members of our gaming group), which go back a long time. See The Battle for Gross-Untendorf, a game we played in 1997, one of our earliest battle reports published online!

Bart is studying the battlefield. 20mm Eastern Front. The Russian tank started in the far-left corner, the German tank in the opposite corner.
Another view of the battlefield.
Russian T34 hiding behind a hedge and a house.
Russian T34 and German armour - a PzKpfw IV (although we used a different model guess which one :-)) trying to outmanoeuvre each other in the village.
The Germans were able to sneak behind the Russians and hit them in the back. Game over.
Game 2. Same tanks, but we added a tank destroyer on both sides. Both tank destroyers faced each other along the main road. First shot by Ivan, and the Germans were destroyed.
Full hit!
More tactical tinkering ...
The remaining German tank is trying to use the woods as cover.
... but is hit by Ivan the terrible when he comes out of the woods. Game over. The Russians had to fire twice, and twice, the German vehicle was destroyed immediately.

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

An Early Warhammer Review

I was adding issue #6 from Miniature Wargaming (published November 1983) to the Wargaming Magazine Index (now counting over 4000 entries), and suddenly came upon this review of the first edition of Warhammer. Since Warhammer was first published in 1983, this must be one of the earliest reviews of Warhammer available.

Sunday, 13 May 2018

An unexpected find ... more old Citadel figures

Sometimes you discover something unexpected, even within your own collection.

I recently finished the 12 figures in the photograph below. I bought these as a "Pirate" set from Wargames/Guernsey Foundry in 1997, but they remained unpainted in my leadpile for over 20 years.

When I was looking through my collection of old White Dwarfs, to loop up a reference for the Knights of the Cleansing Flame (see this blogpost), I suddenly saw a picture of a fencing figure in White Dwarf 63, exactly the same figure I was painting at that moment (a remarkable coincidence, and completely true!). The photo I am talking about is the photo on the bottom-right of the page ...

Moreover, the photo on the same page, upper-right showed some more figures of this Pirate set I was painting. Quickly reading the caption, it said: "New from Citadel are their range of Rogues ..." (there is also an amusing anecdote about Steve Jackson). It is well-known that a number of old Citadel figures transferred to Wargames Foundry, and apparently, these Pirates must have done so as well.

I quickly went over to the Stuff of Legends website to browse through old Citadel flyers and catalogues, and I found a reference to these Rogues in a flyer from October 1984:

Most of the Pirates in my photograph can be seen in the drawings in this flyer, except for the two figures on the far right, the Town Lady and Powder Monkey. I haven't been able to identify them in old Citadel flyers, so perhaps these are Wargames Foundry after all, and were added to to set when repackaged as Pirates?

So, I have more vintage Citadel figures in my collection than I thought!

Sunday, 6 May 2018

An old toy castle

Somewhere in the mid-nineties, I bought a vacuum-formed plastic castle from a toy shop that was closing its doors. It looks a bit like the old Elastolin castles, but I guess it is one of the later replicas.

Anyway, I kept the castle for many years, and never really used it in a game, apart from the now infamous Lowenheim game I ran in the attic of my previous house in 2006.

Then, I gave the castle to my younger nephews, along with a lot of plastic soldiers, in the hope of planting the wargaming bug. We still have to see about that, but I think the force is strong in one of them - he is addicted to a D&D dungeon-exploration boardgame (also one of my gifts), a promising sign.

Anyway, since those nephews all have reached the double-digit age at which they consider castles and toy soldiers beneath their dignity, the castle has come back to me, still in excellent condition.

Time to set up another game ... ! A siege perhaps?

Thursday, 3 May 2018

Knights of the Cleansing Flame

A recent acquisition ... an unopened blister RR10 (Avenging) Knights of the Cleansing Flame, one of the Regiments of Renown for Warhammer back in the 80s. A nice addition to my Oldhammer collection.

These are the type of figures I drooled over when I was a young wargamer, studying every detail of them in Citadel catalogues and flyers, or in White Dwarf.

Here you see the original advert, in my copy of WD 66 (June 1985):

A full history of Regiments of the Renown, and the different releases and packaging, can be read on the Stuff of Legends website.