Friday, 28 December 2018

Frostgrave setup

I am planning of running a Frostgrave game in the near future. I started with the fun bit and tried to create a proper snowy and icy setting with lots of cover.

The hard part I still have to do - creating some warbands. Does anyone know of a good site with pregenerated warbands?

Saturday, 22 December 2018

An old boardgame ... Armada.

The local 2nd hand shop is right across the local bakery, so every time I stop to buy fresh bread or pastries, I always pop in to check if there's anything useful for my wargaming habits.

So this is the latest acquisition (price: 2.5 Euro). A naval boardgame published in the late sixties called Armada. This is the Dutch version, hence the reference to the Zilvervloot (aka the Spanish Treasure Fleet).

The game itself is rather simple: each player has a number of ships, and you have to move them along the grid (the grid looks triangular, but since you move on vertices, it really is a hexagonal grid) to reach a destination port as soon as possible. Since players move ships in opposing directions across the board, you can also shoot at each other, taking out the enemy ships. As can be expected, the game has nothing to do with the actual history of the Spanish treasure fleet ... the theme is simply pasted on. Nothing new there, as we see this in many modern boardgames as well :-)

I doubt that I will ever the play game (the plastic model ships are nice though ... I can repaint them and use them in a proper naval game), but I was surprised to see a very nice mechanic for determining speeds of the ships relative to the wind direction.

In the middle of the game board there is a large plastic island containing a "compass" marker. There are 6 wind directions (determined by a die roll each turn). The nice bit is that the movement distances are indicated on the rotating compass marker, such that you can immediately read off the movement distances relative to the wind direction. When the wind direction changes and the compass is rotated, these indicated movement distance rotate along as well, and so you never have to "compute" your relative bearing to the wind direction.

The picture below illustrates the idea. The wind direction is direction 3, and you can immediately see that when your ship moves on the grid in direction 5, you get to move a distance of 3 or 1 (2 distances, since merchants and warships move at different rates). Direction 6 does not allow movement at all (0 and 0).

There is a blue and a yellow compass as well, for different wind strengths. The numbers are slightly different, but I didn't check them out whether they all make "sense".

The entire mechanic looks very nice. You can of course do all this using tables and modifiers as well (as you would expect in a proper naval wargame), but having 3 different dials for wind strength, and having movement speeds on the dials such that they are always relative to the wind, struck me as a very clever idea.

I painted something!

It has been a while since I painted some figures, but painting a building is always an easy way to get the painting juices flowing again.

This plastic tower has been on my unpainted pile for too long ... 26 years. It's the plastic tower from the iconic game Battle Masters, which I did buy when it was published in 1992.

It's not a very sophisticated model (nor a very sophisticated paint job :-)), but it is a nice "generic" model that can be used in many medieval/fantasy games - if not as an objective in the game - simply as a quick scenery backdrop to embellish the table. The tower was simply spray-painted black, then grey drybrush was applied, and subsequently some details painted in. The 2 decals finish the job. Total painting time (excluding drying time after the initial black basecoat - probably less than 20 minutes).

The two knights are plastic Bretonnian figures, Warhammer 5th edition.

Wednesday, 19 December 2018

First Fantasy wargaming figures ever?

Over the years, I have become more and more interested in the history of our hobby. Part of that is an interest in old figures, whether proper wargaming figures or toy soldiers.

A recent post on the Playing at the World blog led me to buy the "first fantasy wargaming figures ever" from Historifigs. They have the old Jack Scruby moulds, and the figures are still for sale. So I ordered a set of each one of this old set fantasy figures. As you can see, the figures are rather crude by today's standards, but for me, they have a lot of character.

Jack Scruby fantasy figures.
There is of course a philosophical question here. These figures are newly cast, but based on old moulds. So are these new figures or old figures? Does it matter for the collector? Or is a vintage figure only vintage when it was actually produced back in the day? Etc.

I was curious whether these figures really are the first fantasy figures. They probably are, being produced during the early seventies, along with the fantasy range from Minifigs. But was there anything earlier in the range of toy soldiers - i.e. in toy ranges not marketed as "wargaming figures"?

I started looking in one of my reference books on toy soldiers, Norman Joplin's "The Great Book of Hollow-Cast Figures", always a good source for tracking down old ranges of toy soldiers. Since (classic) toy soldiers and wargaming were very connected hobbies till the sixties, it seemed to me that if there was an interest in fantasy gaming before the seventies, it should be visible in toy soldier ranges.

Browsing through the pages, there weren't that many "fantasy" figures to be found in ranges that were available up to the fifties. There were however, many medieval and antiquity types of all sorts (and which could be used for fantasy gaming -- see also Tony Bath's Hyboria campaign), but not real fantasy as we know it today. The closest were figures based on fairy tales, children's books (Alice in Wonderland, Winnie the Pooh), Disney characters, or figures based on pulp stories (e.g. Tarzan). There is however a significant range of space figures, e.g. Flash Gordon. A few examples are shown below.

In hindsight, this is perhaps not surprising. The "fantasy genre" as we know it today really only gained popularity after the publication of J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, especially "high fantasy" set in complete imaginative worlds (see history of fantasy literature). And since toys tend to follow popular trends (and for wargaming, we need a setting with empires, battles and so on), it is perhaps not surprising that proper high fantasy figures only saw the light of day during the early seventies.

Saturday, 15 December 2018

Shootist at BGG

In our gaming group, we have been playing Wild West games since the mid-90s. Sometimes in 25/28mm, sometimes in 54mm. See our page on Wild West games for a full overview.

Our rules were originally based on a little ruleset called Shootist. We have adapted the rules over the years, but the core is still recognizable.

Some time ago, I noticed that the game was also listed on But apart from a general description, there were no files, no images, no review. I felt a little sad about this, since Shootist has served us so well over the years, and didn't deserve to be orphaned in this way.

So I uploaded some of our photo's, some our materials, and worte a short review. So you should all go to the relevant BGG page and give all that uploaded stuff some thumbs-up!!!

Chain of Command, 1st game

Last night we played our first Chain of Command game. I know the ruleset has been around for a few years, and has built up a loyal following, but our gaming group has always been slow to catch up with the hypes and trends. These days, rulesets (and the corresponding hypes) come and disappear so fast it's hard to keep up. But anyway, we had Chain of Command lying around for some time, so ot was time to try it.

Bart set up a game with his 20mm Arnhem figures. In hindsight, the troop density on the table was probably a bit on the low side (table too large), but it's only through playing games that you learn this.

What was our impression of the rules?
  • The pre-game deployment (patrol markers, drop-off points) was fun, but we kept wondering why we should go through all these motions simply to get our troops into action? Shouldn't a good scenario setup be able to do same?
  • Combat resolution was rather convoluted to our taste. Over they years, we have come to favour "lean and mean" rules. Keep the number of procedures and mechanics as simple, but as elegant as possible, while focusing on the important decisions a player has to make. We felt that the resolution mechanics of Chain of Command were a bit too "fiddly": too many dice, too many statuses to keep track of, a bit too confusing.
To be fair, we didn;t manage to completely read the rules beforehand, so that also might explain some of our impressions. Since this was our first game, so we should give it another try or two before coming to a final conclusion.

Initial table setup using Bart's excellent Market Garden 1944 collection.
Bart and Koen consulting the rules. "Your rulebook says something different from my rulebook?"
British paras taking position behind a wall. Blue marker = overwatch.
German squad taking up position behind a wooded area.
General overview of the table
British paras retreating. Red marker = shocked.
German troops hiding in ruins.
End phase.