Saturday, 12 August 2017

Lost Tribes vs Stygian Dragon Rampant AAR

We played a couple of games of Dragon Rampant at the club last night with 36 point armies. Henry's Lost Tribes (a mix of Amazons, pygmies and warrior tribesmen) against my Stygian (from the now defunct Chronopia game).  It's amazing how the upgrades just eat points in DR, for my 36 points I just had a wizard, two big heroic beasties and 2 units of light foot. It was also a good excuse for me to dig out my fantasy terrain features that hadn't been used for a while. I've got a couple of burial mounds, a stone circle and stone tabletop tomb which I'd originally collected as strongholds for Hordes of the Things armies.

The first game was the Ringbearer scenario and I had the ring. I gave it to my Guardian (big beastie) but didn't keep him back so Henry assumed that the ring was with my Priestess (General Wizard) who was at the back. It was a fun game, but Henry's deployment let him down. While the bulk of his army attacked across the table, he tried a outflanking march with two units around a wood. Unfortunately he put his heavy foot (slower with better armour) on the flank and his light foot (fast with less armour) in the centre.

While his heavy foot plodded along I cut my way through the rest of the army. The other big beastie, the Embalmed, was particularly effective. Classed as elite foot Manslayer, it just chomped it's way through the pygmy light foot. In one round it scored 12 hits, with an armour of 2 half a unit of pygmies disappeared in one go! The Embalmed eventually died, but not before it had wiped out 3 units. By the time the flank attack arrived, they were all that was left of the army and a combination of shooting and spells weakened both units before closing in for the kill. One tribesman unit made a last ditch attempt to kill the ringbearer, but went for the wrong unit. Fortunately my Wizard was uphill and, although wounded, fought off two charges until help arrived. In the end all Henry's army was dead, I,d lost the Embalmed and a unit of light foot.

Ian joined us for the second game, which was very different, we played the Scared Mole of Ukkert and I had the treasure. I just had to get my stolen loot from one corner of the table to the opposite corner. A really bad leadership roll (three ones!) meant I had to test the loyalty of all my units, on a score of 1 they would desert and I managed to lose the Guardian before the game even started. I gave the loot to one of the faster moving light foot units and tried to rush them across the table. The Embalmed headed off to take on Henry's Pygmies whilst the rest of the army acted as speedbumps against the heavier stuff commanded by Ian. It almost worked but I got caught within a move of the escape point. My light foot got shot up by the pygmy boar riders then charged by a unit of heavy foot and wiped out. Ian then moved the treasure bearers behind a line of units. This time the larger size of the Lost Tribe army came to the fore, as there was just no way I could get to the treasure in time.

Two great games and a lot of fun and laughter. I'd found the magic to be quite effective, especially in the first game. Although Power Bolt appears the most effective spell, I found judicious use of Stronger Shield and Sharper Blades on my best melee units to be devastating in close combat.

 The Embalmed contemplates it's next meal.

 The pygmy boar riders pass a milestone (count the skulls, that's how many leagues to go!)

 Stygian spearmen approach the stone circle

 The Priestess prepares to zap someone

It was a quieter night with only two other games this week. A 15mm ACW Fire and Fury game set in New Mexico, hence the cacti.

And a 40K game on an impressive table (probably requiring a second mortgage)

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Western Gunfight 2!

An alternative view of the action!

The Kidnap of the Bank Manager in Grahamtown

This game was played on 21 July 2017, using Graham’s scenario and his homebuilt rules.
A few pictures depict the action:-

Mark and Alan were both running Mexican bandido gangs, but in a spirit of total lack of cooperation, they quickly started a duel which lasted the entire battle and spelt doom for both sides. Here, Alan’s gang are headed by Vittorio in the centre and Esmeralda, his sidekick; both Vittorio and Esmeralda already have wound markers, and only Esmeralda will survive the battle.  Meanwhile, the henchman Il Brutto fends off a long range attack from Colin’s faction of armed hookers.  Colin’s shooting was phenomenal throughout; his faction accounted for no less than four of Alan’s alone, and also succeeded in holding off both Graham and Bill.

Mark’s bandidos duel with Alan’s, from the other end of the alleys off Main St.  At this point in the fight, Mark’s gang boss has run out into the middle of the street to get a clear shot at Esmeralda, and then fumbled his weapon. Unsurprisingly, Esmeralda took exception to this behaviour, and promptly shot him down.

Another view of Mark’s gang boss, standing alone in Main St outside the Chinese laundry. This end of Main St itself saw very little action until late in the battle;  Mark and Alan’s bandidos were busy duelling in the alleyways on one side, and Mark and Bill on the other.

Here you can see one of Mark’s minions attempting to sneak into a firing position against Bill’s faction.

Meanwhile, at the other end of town, Bill and Graham’s gangs are shooting it out across the side street, near the undertaker’s.

Colin and Bill’s gangs also got into a fire-fight across Main St, by the hotel. Almost incredibly, a couple continued to pose for a portrait photo throughout the battle, despite the bullets whistling by their ears. You can just see one of Colin’s gang in the hotel doorway, using the couple as human shields.

At last the stage arrived, bringing the banker into town. By this time, there weren’t many left of each faction to do much about it. Bill’s gang got the drop on Colin and Graham though, and almost the only figure still standing managed to hold up the stage driver and “persuade” him to drive off the table, for a convincing win.

Monday, 24 July 2017

Western Gunfight!

We played a 5-player shootout at club last week using my homemade rules. The scenario was that a rich banker was due in town on the noon stage and the local bad-boys have decided to kidnap him. They ride into town just before the stage is due, only to discover 4 other gangs have had the same idea. The object is to get control of the stage when it arrives (randomly rolled for after each turn after the third. Unfortunately, no-one knew whether the stage would stop at the hotel first, or one of the livery stables at either end of town. Once the stage was on the table, we would roll to see where it stopped, 1-5 and 16-20 for the respective livery stables and 6-15 for the hotel.

It was a bit of a bloodbath, everyone started off with a gang of 6 and by the time the stage arrived (turn 5) most of us were down to 1 or 2 men left! Colin's shooting was phenomenal, I think he only missed 3 shooting rolls the whole game.

A couple of high points, one of Colin's men jumping onto the back of the moving stage, in best Hollywood tradition, only to be shot off by Bill's last surviving gunman before he could make the driver stop. Then Mark's Mexican gang leader rolling a 20 (jammed gun!) whilst standing in the open, then being shot by Alan to the comment of "What do you expect, standing in the middle of the street fumbling with your weapon!" Cue schoolboy giggles all round.

In the end, the stage stopped by the first livery stable, Bill shot my last gunman as he ran for the stage, used a wild card (everyone got three one-off event cards to use) to frighten the horses so that they moved down a side street, out of view of the other players. He then jumped on the stage, stuck his gun in the drivers face and made him take the stage off the table with the startled banker still inside.

 I'll add some more pictures when I get some close ups from Alan.

Also being played at the club that night were 5 other games.

                                                  10mm Napoleonic using Black Powder.

                                       28mm Napoleonic skirmish in Spain using Chosen Men.

                                                   20mm WW2 using Rapid Fire.

There was also a Warhammer 40K game, but when I got home I realised I hadn't taken a picture of that!

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Trying out En Garde

Played our first couple of games with En Garde, the swashbuckling rules from Osprey. I'd had a copy for some time, but other things kept getting the way of trying them (Frostgrave, The Men Wh0 Would Be Kings, The Pikeman's lament etc)For the first try we kept it simple, 100 points each of Border Reivers with no attributes other than Commander. We also didn't bother with a scenario, just a simple "two gangs come into town and kill each other" set up. The purpose was to get the hang of the rules.

 The peaceful border village of Camkirk on Beckside

                                            The villagers go about their business

                                        Or relax over a pint outside the tavern

                                                           Watch out...Scots Reivers!

                         Too busy at the tavern the Scots do not notice the English Reivers arrive

                                                Fighting in the village square

                                              Get yourselves oot the tavern!                                    

                                                  Trying to sneak up on the Scots

The forces were the same, a rank 4 leader with a sword, one rank 3 with sword and pistol, two rank 2 with sword and buckler and three rank 1, one with halberd, two with sword and matchlock.

We played two games, which both worked well. As with any rules, the first games a a steep learning curve. Most of the rules made sense, although we realised we had missed things in the first game (as usual!) The close combat was a bit clunky in the first game, but much smoother the second time around.

We may well produce our own QRS, as we felt there were various things missing, which we found we would have needed. For example the QRS tells you that a matchlock is Inaccurate but nothing on the QRS explains that effect. In fact there is nothing in the shooting section in the rulebook that explains Inaccurate, we eventually found it in the weapons section. Minor issues, and after a few games we won't need to look it up. But we really did enjoy the games, so much so that Henry is off to buy his own copy of the rules. I've also ordered a 3x3 gaming mat to improve the look!

Next time we will try attributes and scenarios.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Prodos Games “Alien vs. Predator : The Hunt Begins” – Reviewed

Alan has provided his first thoughts on the Alien vs Predator game.

Henry and I have been talking about doing some sci-fi themed wargaming for a while now, and a couple of months back I picked up a copy of Prodos Games “Alien vs. Predator ; The Hunt Begins” board and miniatures game, the 1st edition, and painted up some of the figures. We got our first opportunity for a game last night, so we played the 1st mission from the rulebook.

AvP: THB comes with 23 resin figures representing human Colonial Marines (5), the XX121 Xenomorphs, better known as the Aliens from that movie genre (15), and the non-human hunters from the “Predator” and ”AvP” movies (3).  The figures are very detailed and on the large size for 28mm, probably closer to 32mm in reality, even without their bases. In the 1st edition, the figures need considerable assembly, and I found a modelling drill useful for securely attaching the Alien’s tails. Although the Alien’s tails and claws look very fragile, I have found them in practice to be very springy, and so far, there have been no casualties.

The game is essentially a skirmish-level representation of a confrontation between these factions aboard a spaceship, although it could just as easily be a planet-based colony, such as Hadley’s Hope from the “Aliens” movie. The game includes a set of tiles which interlock like jigsaw pieces, representing corridors and rooms, and which can be mixed up to create a large number of different layouts. There are also bulkheads and air vents, which represent varying obstructions and methods of access to the different species.

Because it is a board-game, AvP:THB contains everything you need to start playing, although Prodos have also brought out a number of expansion kits, which include among others  Sentry Guns and the Power-Loader from the 2nd movie for the Marines, the Alien face-huggers and warriors, the Alien Queen, several different models of Predator warriors, and commandos loyal to the Weyland-Yutani Corporation (i.e. the “company” from the movies).

The 2nd edition of the game was introduced at Salute back in April, with new figures  and a reprinted rule-set, although the differences we have found are just some typo corrections and rule clarifications. There is now also available a rulebook for converting the whole thing into a tabletop wargame.
Vehicle rules are promised for a future release.

With just two of us, we decided to leave the Predators out of it, so I pitched 5 Colonial Marines against Henry’s 15 Aliens. The game follows an “I Go, You Go” format, with each side activating a model, which gets a couple of Action Points to spend. Actions include obvious things such as moving, shooting, and close combat, and less obvious ones such as opening or locking bulkheads, interacting with objects in a room, etc. Each faction has its own special actions too.
There are environment rules which change from turn to turn, and each faction has its own deck of strategy cards, which provide modified move, shooting and close combat conditions and saving throws, to mix things up a bit. The game also comes with a large number of card counters to denote things such as Wounds, Activated models, etc., which we found very fiddly and quickly replaced with plastic counters.

I have played sci-fi games before where it was easy to get bogged down in the details of the weapons and armour, but AvP plays well - all dice throws are D20’s, and each combat is essentially two throws, the Attacker to hit, and then the Defender to save, so it is fast-paced once you get the stats memorised for your faction.

All figures in the basic set only take 1 Wound, so casualties mount fast, and we found the Aliens getting badly shot up in the first few rounds, not helped by some fairly dismal dice-throwing on Henry’s part. The Marine flame-thrower proved extremely effective, easily accounting for the majority of Alien casualties. However, when the Aliens get into Close Combat, their acid blood proves as nasty as it did in the movies; several Marines succumbed to acid splashes, even as they waxed their attackers.

Overall, the game balance worked fine with just two factions. It is hard to predict what would happen with three – I suspect two against three would always prove overwhelming, but since each faction has separate objectives in all of the standard missions, this is unlikely to be much of a problem.
Also, the Stalker and Juvenile Alien types in the game are the “easy” ones – the Marines would certainly need larger numbers or some more firepower if faced with Alien Warriors or a Queen.
Since this was our first time out, we played the Basic Game rules, but the rulebook also contains an Advanced rule set, which introduce some more complex rules as well as allowing for points-based force creation, and campaign play.

Endgame – the two Marine survivors are about to get lucky and kill all remaining the Aliens

In the picture, you can see that I went with a simple shades-of-green look befitting Marines. The only real departure from the colour scheme portrayed in the movies was to make their combat armour olive green instead of woodland camouflage (why assume  green and brown camouflage would work on an alien planet anyway?).  Apart from being a lot easier to paint, I felt it gave better contrast to the figure overall.

I went with two different colour schemes for the Alien types – the Stalkers were given a matt black base coat, dry-brushed with a metallic iron, then matt-varnished, and finally dry-brushed with gloss varnish to give them the shiny metallic highlights of all the Aliens in the movies.
For the Alien Juveniles, I went with a brown-black base coat, and dry-brushed them with metallic silver before varnishing, to give an overall lighter appearance.

As an experiment, all my Aliens have been based on Daemonscape 30mm resin bases, which give a much weightier feel than the rather flimsy, plain plastic bases supplied with the game.  Although they take a bit of extra work to paint up, I am pleased with the results, and will be using them for all my sci-fi figures from now on.  It’s worth pointing out that the 2nd edition game comes with one-part figures with moulded-on, detailed bases, which do look a lot nicer.
Overall, the game was very enjoyable, and we already have a return match planned, perhaps with some Predators if I can get them painted in time?

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Games Day April 2017

Our club Games Day in April 2017 was particularly well attended.
Four of us participated in a re-enactment of the ACW Battle of Cedar Mountain, which occurred on Aug 9th 1862, in northern Virginia.
We used 28mm figures and terrain from a mix of sources, and the Regimental Fire & Fury rules.

A second game featured a reconstruction of the battle of Arras, May 21st 1940, the famous Allied counter-attack during the Battle of France. Four more of us took part, using 10mm figures and the Blitzkrieg Commander 2 rules.

In addition, we had an all-day Warhammer 40K game going on, now becoming a regular feature at the club Open Day. We have the second generation of Tring Club members here, Jon came along with his Dad until his late teens, when he discovered women and beer. Now he's married and settled down, he's become a regular member again.

As it turned out, it was a mixed day for reversing the verdicts of history.
At Arras, the British advance originally went well, pushing the Germans back as they had done historically.

However, the French forces simply refused to move beyond their own start line, and eventually the attack collapsed for lack of reinforcements, as 25th Panzer rolled over the French flank and threatened to cut off the Allied line of communications. Pretty well as actually happened on the day.

Meanwhile, on Cedar Mountain, Early’s Division was held at bay by stubborn resistance from Federal cavalry under orders to slow Jackson’s advance.

A strong thrust on the Federal right met a Confederate riposte from Garnett’s Divn, but the Northerners eventually prevailed, aided by some of the most consistent dice throwing seen at the club in a long time.

Jackson’s superiority in numbers counted for nought as the Rebels piled up at “The Gate” and were unable to deploy. Eventually a resounding Federal victory was declared at 8pm battle time, some two hours earlier than the historical battle ended.

Saturday, 13 May 2017


Another introductory game, this time Frostgrave. Colin had played once before, but about a year ago, and wanted to have another try whilst he was waiting for his copy of the rules to arrive. With the plans for a Frostgrave club league later in the year I can see a lot more people wanted to get some practice in over the next few months.

We played two scenarios, Genie in The Bottle and The Living Museum. Colin had a Enchanter and his warband (made up from his historical Vikings) and I used my Necromancer and his dubious followers (all the warband are orcs!).

                                                   The set up for Genie in The Bottle

Genie in the Bottle was a very one-sided game. Colin cunningly used his Telekinesis to drag a treasure from the open to drop at the feet of his wizard and three followers. Unfortunately, as soon as one of the minions picked up the treasure, POOF!, the genie appeared. I didn't help things by promptly dropping a Fog just behind the genie to make sure that all it ever saw were Colin's men. His wizard spent most of the game running away from the genie whilst it killed his followers.
                                        The Necromancer move forward with his bodyguards

This allowed me to gang up on the rest of his warband and cut most of them down, whilst screening his shooters with Fog. I had succeeded in grabbing 5 of the treasures by the end of the game.
                                            A Viking takes a bird's eye view
                                                                As does an orc!

The Living Museum, was a much closer game. Colin also had the Fog spell, and having witnessed my use of it in the first, game, used it with abandon. With both sides dropping Fog all over the place our shooters were mainly redundant and it was a close combat, hack-and-bash game. We had both got a shooter into a high vantage point, but with all the Fog drifting around all they could see was each other, so spent the game shooting at their opposite number without much effect.
                                                                Fog everywhere!

Eventually, in frustration, Colin's apprentice climbed up onto a wall where he could see my sniper and Pushed him off of his perch. Fortunately his fall was less that 4", so he was unhurt. It was a brave act, but one I took advantage of by having my Necromancer stick a Bone Dart in the apprentice's eye. 19 points of damage against an armour of 10, but as the apprentice had already burnt his fingers failing to cast a previous spell, that was enough to kill him outright!

                                     Now I can see everything, ARGGH!
Great fun was had all round!