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

Frostgrave

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!

Monday, 1 May 2017

First Time with The Men Who Would Be Kings

I ran an introductory evening of Osprey's Colonial Rules, "The Men Who Would Be Kings" last Friday. Here is Bill's impression of his first game.

Hi All,

On Friday the 21st of April I played my first game of “The Men Who Would Be Kings”. Thinking out of the box Graham put together a great scenario, which was a lot of fun to play. It was based on an American / Canadian cross border conflict, complete with a winter landscape, in the 1920’s, which was great fun. Like most of the rule sets which are produced by Osprey, TMWWBK are quick to learn and are very playable. We were able to get two games in the evening, playing each side in turn.
Thanks again Graham for a couple of great games
Bill

                                 The table with 4 objective markers along the stream.

American BAR team take cover in the rocks.

                  The situation at the end of the first game - not many Canadians left on the table!

Friday, 24 March 2017

Games Day March 2017

We had a great 1914 game at the last Tring Club Games Day, a single platoon of Belgians attempted to defend a village against three attacking German platoons. We played the game using the "Big" version of Chain of Command. I have also used CoC for the 1912 Balkans War and have been very impressed as the rules easily adapt for the earlier periods. The more rigid command structures and larger sub-units make it quite a different game to playing the rules for WW2.

It gave us an opportunity to use Henry's newly-finished, scratch built, Victorian brick buildings. Unfortunately I haven't got any interior shots of these, as he has really gone to town on them. The upper floors and roofs are removable and the interiors decorated and furnished with beds, tables, chairs and bar/shop counters etc. The buildings are intended for playing Frostgrave, but on a "Ripper Street" theme. However it's good to make use of them however we can.

Henry had the camera and was the Belgian player, so the pictures are mostly from his side of the table.

                                      The German players assemble their hordes of dastardly Huns.

                                              Brave Belgians prepare to face the onslaught!

                                                More Belgians race to take up position.
                                               The graveyard is turned into a strong-point.

               A dogcart machine gun deploys. The forward unit of Belgians are taking casualties in a crossfire between the advancing Germans and a platoon in the house at the left of the picture.

The game was an eventual victory for the Germans after a bayonet charge dislodged the last defenders from the house they had occupied. It was a great game and much fun was had by all the players.

Also in the hall was a large Warhammer 40K game (apparently the red cloth was not significant, someone had forgotten to bring the other black cloth!).





Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Roman Civil War - starter battle

This was a simple game representing a Roman civil wars battle using Sword & Spear rules.

Bill has a load of Romans, but so far no opposition. So we split his Roman forces into Red and Blue for a civil war battle.

We played the game diagonally across the table.



The Red forces are deployed outside the fort in the corner ready to defend it against the attacking Blue forces.


On the far side the Auxiliaries and Cavalry forces approach each other. The Red cavalry units are in a line while the Blue cavalry units are still in a column.


As a result the first combat was between one unit of Blue cavalry and two units of Red cavalry which the Reds won.


Auxiliary infantry met in combat. At the same time the Red cavalry hit the second unit of Blue cavalry and soon routed them.


One unit of Red cavalry broke through and threatened the flank of the Blue advance.
In the top right corner, the Red cavalry break through and threaten the Blues' flank.

Blue Legionaries managed to turn to meet the cavalry on their flank and it all got a bit hectic in the centre with Red forces approaching on two sides..


A success for the Blue forces as the Red cavalry charged a unit of Legionaries and a Bolt Shooter and lost the combat.


However it wasn't enough to save the Blue forces who were now out of position to stop the Red advance.


We both enjoyed the game. Sword & Spear are great rules.

The Bolt Shooters didn’t score a hit all game. The only time they contributed to a success was in the melee at the end. Next time we might try treating the targets of Bolt Shooters as "Lacking Protection" instead of just "Ignores Armour".

Monday, 27 February 2017

Arnhem The battle in the town September 19th

This 20mm Rapid Fire game represents the attempt by the British Airborne to break through to the Arnhem bridge along the Utrecthseweg. Historically this ended disastrously for the British and was the final attempt to break through to the bridge.


The full table layout 

Under cover of darkness the South Staffords advanced up the main street.

 The South Staffords come under heavy fire and suffered heavy casualties. They fought their way into the Arnhem museum.

 The 11th Para move up the street in support.

Saturday, 18 February 2017

First Game of The Pikeman's Lament - Ottomans and Poles

We tried out The Pikeman's Lament at the last Tring Club night and were very pleased with the rules. We also managed to get almost 3 games into 3 hours playing time (due to unforeseen circumstances we had to cut the last game short, but I reckon another 30 minutes would have seen us to the end of that as well).

Poles
1 unit Winged Hussars - Elite Gallopers
1 unit Pancerni - Gallopers
2 units Cossacks - Raw Gallopers
1 unit Dragoons - Dragoons
1 unit Haiduk Infantry - Shot

I thought about making the Hussars Aggressive, but decided not to until we had tried a few games out. I'm still undecided with the Polish light cavalry, Tartars are obviously Dragoons, or Veteran Dragoons, but armed with lances I'm not sure whether the Cossacks were primarily skirmish or melee troops.

Ottomans
1 unit Sipahis of the Porte - Gallopers
3 units Feudal Sipahis - Trotters
1 unit Tartars - Veteran Dragoons
1 unit skirmish musketeers - Commanded Shot

Sipahis of the Porte tended to be used as the heavy cavalry reserve, so I felt Gallopers suited them better. I'm not sure about other Sipahis as Trotters, but that suits them better than Gallopers or Dragoons. I may need to play about with the troop types a little bit here.

The Games

The first game was the Ga Pa scenario. For some unknown reason the Polish Commander placed his officer in one of the Cossack units, which made him quite vulnerable. The Poles put their shot in the centre and quickly moved them onto a hill, where they stayed for the game, mainly sniping at passing Turkish horsemen at long range. On the left flank the Dragoons and Pancerni faced off against a unit of Sipahis and the skirmish infantry, whilst on the right flank the Hussars faced the Sipahis of the Porte supported by the Tartars. The Cossacks were in the centre on either side of the shot, facing the last 2 Sipahi units.

On the left the Dragoons hung back whilst the Pancerni rapidly advanced against the Sipahis. The Turkish infantry ducked into a nearby wood, from whence they picked off a passing Pancerni. The Pancerni charged and we followed what was to become the standard format for melees in this game. The Gallopers won the melee, the Trotters failed their morale test and fell back, wavering. The Gallopers used their compulsory follow-up, winning again. I rolled crap morale dice and the Trotters routed. The Pancerni had only lost 1 man in melee, but the skirmishers in the wood picked off another one, so at least they were down to half strength.

On the right the Tartars advanced into range of the Winged Hussars and killed one man. Now the Hussars charged but the Tartars evaded out of range, peppering the Hussars with arrows. This opened up a gap between the Hussars and the Officer's Cossack unit and I threw my Sipahis of the Porte into the gap, supported by another unit of Sipahis. Now my Tartars attempted to Skirmish again, hoping to kill another Hussar and remain out of charge range. This is where things went really pear shaped as I rolled a double 1, then my Tartars went loopy and charged the Hussars! (On a roll of double 1 or 6 for an activation, you roll on a Good/Bad Things happen table). Of course the Hussars counter charged and smashed the Tartars in melee. The Tartars failed their morale roll and fell back wavering, The Hussars Followed up, won again and, guess what, the Tartars routed!!! Sound familiar?

                                               Tartars frustrating the Winged Hussars...

                                                ....then stupidly charging them.........

                                            ...exit stage left, pursued by Hussars!

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

OLD SCHOOL POLISH ARMY

Last summer the club was generously given a load of older wargames figures. I ended up with 2 Renaissance armies, Ottomans and Poles, and I thought it time I caught up on the Polish contingent. Like the Ottomans, they are a mix of old manufacturers from the 1970s/80s, mostly Minifigs and Hinchcliffe, with a few Essex. I quite like this as it's taking me back to the figures I started gaming with in my youth. Again I decided to pretty much leave the painting as it was, other than where an obvious touch-up was required. All I'd do was give the figures a clean, a dark wash and rebase.

The Poles were not a complete army, consisting of about 22 cavalry and 45 infantry, with only 2 Winged Hussars! The infantry would do, but I was way short-handed on cavalry for a Polish army. I've been keeping my eyes open for old figures to fit in with these and had picked up a unit of  dragoons and a unit of Winged Hussars. As I've recently picked up the new Osprey rules The Pikeman's Lament and arranged a game for later this month, I thought it was time to get the Poles into battle order.

Unfortunately I didn't take any pictures of the figures before I got started, but if you look back at the posts on the Ottomans you will get the idea.


                                                 The whole army (so far)
                                     
                                                      The original Winged Hussars

                                                    More Winged Hussars

                                              Panernci/Armoured Cossack Cavalry

                                                        Cossack/Tartar Cavalry

                                                                     Dragoons

                                                                           Infantry

                                                                    More Infantry

Just in time for the game on Friday! A big thanks to Nigel Billington for letting me download his fantastic Polish flags.
Obviously I need more cavalry for a credible Polish army. The Hinchliffe Winged Hussars are still available so I can add a few friends to my lonely pair and make up another unit. I'll just keep looking for some more old Pancerni and Cossack cavalry.