Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Papierslag (Crisis 2011)

I made a page from which you can download the rules for our Crisis 2011 game Papierslag. The main feature was that all scenery and figures were made from paper, using the excellent miniatures from Billy Bones Workshop.

Some images from that game:

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Cataloguing the collection ... (8)

The next drawer to be photographed and indexed contained more fantasy monsters. Grand total is now at 1207 miniatures.

Some miniatures in this batch are some of my earliest conversions:

Plastic Atlantic 1/72 tigers, converted to Chaos Hounds for use in WFB.
Note the horns on the leftmost figure and the skaven head on the rightmost figure.
Proper chaos hounds miniatures. Two leftmost from Ral Partha, the others from Citadel.
left figure is a conversion, plastic turtle head.
Citadel chimaera body, and a Marauder spider's head.
Also served as a chaos hounds, but sometimes as a chaos spawn.

Programmed Wargames Scenarios (1): Hill Line Defence

For a variety of reasons, it has been a long time since I was able to play a toy soldier game against a human opponent, so I tried something different: a programmed scenario from CSGrant's book "Programmed Wargames Scenarios" (published by WRG).

For those of you not familiar with the concept: the book provides a number of scenarios, in which the terrain, force composition, initial orders and responses are diced for randomly for one or both sides - all within the bounds of a specific scenario.

Since I never really tried a programmed opponent before, I decided to take the first scenario, Hill Line Defence, but have both sides programmed. Just to see what would happen. I also decided to use our own ACW rules in 28mm.

The lay-out of the table (each third section rolled for) is shown below - although the photograph is taken near the end of the game. The attackers have to capture the hill in the North.

Attacker in front, hill to be captured near the other end of the table.
So, first thing was to roll for the attacker's force composition. This gave me 4 infantry units, 2 light infantry, 2 cavalry and 2 artillery units. These types match to our rules. I also needed some generals (our rules require generals to give orders), and a good rule of thumb has been that for every 4 units, 1 general is needed. Hence, 3 generals. I also rolled for the characteristic of each general, resulting in 2 "cautious" generals, and one "rash" one. I gave them command rating equal to 7, 7 and 10, which also fit the notions in our rules.
Next step, to roll for attacker's plan. This resulted in a deployment of most units on the left flank. Also, the light troops and those not in the main attack (middle and right) would just hold the initial line.

As for the defender, I rolled 4 infantry units, 2 light infantry, 2 cavalry, and 1 artillery. I added two generals, both of them were Deliberate - hence the 8 command rating. The deployment resulted in 50% of the troops in the centre, 15% on the left flank, 35% on the right flank. I translated this as well as I could to the troop numbers available. I placed the artillery on the centre crossroads, and a light unit holding the farm. One cavalry unit was a mandatory reserve in the centre.
The plan was to be content to hold the hill or parts thereof at the end of the wargaming day, provided the forces are still united at that location.

So, the game started. The plan for the attacker was pretty straightforward: attack with all units on the left towards the enemy's right. The defender would just fire back at the approaching attacker. A first response roll happened when the cavalry units charged up the hill. The response generated was that the other flank (defender's left) was to be denuded to contain the attack. After a few more rounds of shooting and melee the fight was more or less over, in favour of the attacker.

Solid arrows indicate major troop movements, hollow arrows major fire actions.
 So, did this provide a good game? I think so. One of the difference with playing alone was that if both sides are programmed, you resist the temptation of throwing everything in the fight. The attacker's centre and right were to remain at their initial positions, and that's what I did. At the moment when the defender's left flank was denuded, a player would go forward with attacker's right, but since the responses did not stipulate that, it didn't happen. The result is a fast game, but also a game that feels more "realistic" - if we dare to use that word. Local unit commanders just sit and wait until someone higher up gives the order ...

Great fun! Up to scenario 2 - Broken Ground!

Monday, 20 July 2015

More AquaZone pictures

Update 21 July: Free rules document is available.

Due to a post on TMP, I realized we never posted our AquaZone pictures on this blog. AquaZone is an underwater skirmish game we ran during Crisis 2009. It uses a gridded surface, scuba-divers (plastic 54mm figures), lot of fish, even a whale, etc.
This is not entirely original, other wargaming groups have done something similar, e.g. the Stingray game that has featured several times at Salute. Actually, the article that describe Stingray in an article for Practical Wargamer 1987 was an inspiration to our game. There's also a Thunderball game, that uses the same plastic figures we did.

Anyway, here are some pictures from 2009:

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

How many terrain systems does one need?

Back in February 2006, I wrote a blogpost on the different styles of terrain systems for wargaming I have used over the years. 9-and-a-half years later, I am still very fond of my Kallistra terrain. In the mean time, I have sold off my Geohex, and have done away with many custom-built boards. The only thing I still have besides my Kallistra terrain are a number of felt mats for various terrain types.

Anyhow, I was pondering on this question again when I saw this Kickstarter for Terra Tiles. There have been quite a number of terrain systems for gaming active on Kickstarter (just do a search on terrain tiles or gaming terrain), but this one looks especially nice.

The tiles are pre-printed, graphically the look very good, but they are still 2D. For the discerning miniature wargamer who likes their terrain 3D, this is a bit underwhelming. But I guess that for the occasional miniature wargamer who wants to play a quick skirmish game every now and then, this might be an ideal solution.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Cataloguing the collection ... (7)

Some minor additions this time ... total now at 1140. I estimate I am about two-thirds through the fantasy stuff, although my large army of Skaven still have to be entered.

Some highlights from this round are shown below.

The first photograph is a Slaanesh Champion of Chaos. I must have painted this figures during the early nineties.

The 2nd figure is one of my early conversions - and an attempt to make a heavily mutated Chaos champion. The body is that of a plastic Genestealer from the 1st edition Spacehulk box, Head is from a giant rat, arms and halberd from a skaven. Wings and long tail are from plastic toy animals.

Monday, 13 July 2015

How many miniatures do you actually need?

Most wargamers I know have acquired "the lead mountain" over the years. The lead mountain is the heap of unpainted miniatures, that easily will give you enough painting and gaming pleasure for the rest of your foreseeable life, taking into account optimistic estimates of life expectancy as well as gaming frequency.

I too have amassed a large collection of miniatures over the years. Several years ago I made the decision to be more careful with what I buy. Since then, the rate of new acquisitions has dropped sharply. But sometimes, there are deals or opportunities that cannot be ignored. One of these was the original Reaper Bones Kickstarter campaign. I participated in that one, and it provided me with lots of nice fantasy miniatures, some of which  - especially the dragons - were used during our Crisis 2014 game. The came Bones 2. Again, I participated. And now there is Bones 3. But this time, I'll pass.

It just seemed liked yesterday when my Bones 2 figures arrived. I feel Bones 3 is coming too soon. Moreover, how many miniatures do you really need? Right now, I feel saturated. I never thought I would reach this point, but I have no problem in saying "no". Enough is enough! We must stop this madness!

Slowly but surely I am converting to a wargamer that only will buy figures is there is a 99% chance probability that they will be painted and used on the gaming table in the next couple of months. Otherwise, there is simply no sense to buying more stuff. Or is there?

Hydra from Bones 1 - and saw the gaming table during Crisis 2015.

Cataloguing the collection ... (6)

The next drawer contains a couple of large monsters, so not too many figures to add, but a large variety. The counter stands now at 1076.

Mostly oldhammer Citadel monsters and chaos figures, but also a few more recent acquisitions ... A sample is shown below.

Citadel, Oldhammer Slaanesh Daemonetters & Fiends
Ral Partha Displacer Beast
Citadel Culchan C29
Reaper Bones Spirit of the Forest & Earth Elemental

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

One of my very first game designs ...

A few weeks from now, I have young nephews coming over to spend a few days at Uncle Phil's house. Of course, they expect to be entertained. They are still a bit too young to be introduced to "proper" wargaming, although I have played simplified D&D with them and some simple move-and-shoot fantasy wargames.

Anyway, I was rumbling through my stockpile of old board wargames from my own  youngster days that might appeal to them, and I came upon Embuscades. It wasn't that difficult though, since the box is large enough not to go unnoticed. Embuscades is a game I have very fond memories of. We probably played this game a hundred times during all those lazy summer holidays.

I opened the box probably for the first time in 20 years, and encountered something I had not expected - my very first own-designed wargame. This was a variant upon Embuscades, which we must have made somewhere around 1980, when I was 13. It suddenly all came back to me: we drew some islands and ship lanes on large sheets of chain paper from the university computer labs. We also built some very crude transport ships out of wood, that could hold 2 vehicles and men. The idea of the game was still very similar as the original Embuscades - capturing your flags before the opponent captures his. I don't remember whether we played this variant (I do remember other games I designed, although these have perished), but the fact it was still in the box after all these years suddenly made me very happy ;-)

 Whether kids from 2015 will still enjoy Embuscades as much as I did 35 years ago remains to be seen ...

Monday, 6 July 2015

Modelkits vs toy soldiers

There have been countless debates about plastic vs metal wargaming figures.Plastic figures have been with us for many years - I still remember the first Games Workshop plastics back in the 80s - and they have seen a real surge through all periods of wargaming.

When discussing plastics vs metals, various arguments are brought forward: number of figures for a certain amount of cash, weight of the figures, crispness of detail, multiposes, ease of painting etc.

However, when I saw the sprues for the new Warhammer: Age of Sigmar game, another thought crossed my mind. These sprues (many pics to be found online, e.g. here) I suddenly thought: these are not toy soldiers, these are model kits.

Now, there's nothing wrong with plastic model kits, and I know that there has been a trend in plastic wargaming miniatures that they do not come as a fully finished soldier in your hands and some assembly is required, but still ... I do feel a toy soldier should be a one-piece figurine, that comes complete out of the box, the blister, the bag, whatever. Otherwise, it indeed feels like a model kit.

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Flagstone Fleets revisited

After we had an experiment 2 years ago with fighting naval battles on my blye/grey patio (blogpost, rules), this weekend seemed like the perfect opportunity to try it again. Hot temperatures, no rain in sight, and a lazy friday evening was the ideal setting for another Flagstone Fleets encounter. For those interested in the full story of how this game came about, I gladly refer to Miniature Wargames w Battlegames #372.

The cast was limited, only 2 players (Bart and Harry), with me umpiring. I also took all the photographs, so you only see both protagonists tinkering about their moves, along with the ships and the islands.

Ships are mostly cardboard ships from the Pirates game by Wizkids some years ago, along with some metal models from Peter Pig. Islands are Kallistra Hexon terrain pieces.