Sunday, 21 October 2018

Mr Jack

I found a half price copy of this game in a gift shop last week, so thought I'd give it a try, especially as I have a few days away on holiday. It looks like a neat little portable game with some interesting gameplay elements, so I'm looking forward to trying it out.

Friday, 10 August 2018


I had an original version of this simple but fun medieval board game in the Sandhurst Wargames book as a kid, so was really pleased to find a stand alone version published by the Society of Ancients but now out or print. It was on eBay and one else put in a bid, so I got it for less than the price of pint, which is pretty good. I really enjoyed playing this solo when I had my copy, so I'm looking forward to playing it again. I just hope it hasn't aged as much as the TTG micro games that I've been playing recently that are from a similar era? 

Thursday, 26 July 2018

Micro Fleet Frigate Action

I played out a simple two ship game this morning, with HMS Spartan (38) intercepting the Perle (40) somewhere off the coast of Brittany. The basic set up was a T shape with Perle crossing the T and Spartan sailing at right angles. The wind was from the South so that Perle had the wind aft and Spartan on the bow. 

In Turn 1 both frigates advanced toward each other, with Perle making a two point turn to larboard, Perle loading her port battery and Spartan her starboard batteries with shot, anticipating some long range fire. In Turn 2, Spartan turned four points to larboard and then sailed 200mm forwards, while Perle did exactly the same manoeuvre in order to close the range.

At this point, the issue of simultaneous movement cropped up, with incremental steps having to be taken once Perle decided to fire on Spartan half way through the move. When this fire was eventually resolved, requiring seven different tables to be referenced and four different calculations, Perle succeeded in inflicting sixteen casualties and two destroyed guns on Spartan's starboard side. 

In Turn 3, HMS Spartan turned two points to larboard then opened fire to rake Perle as she passed, resulting in yet more tedious calculations to inflict only twenty casualties and two destroyed guns, one on each side of the hull. This seemed a little light for a stern rake but there you go. The move continued to the end with Spartan moving straight ahead and Perle continuing her three point turn and forward move.

At this point, I lost interest as I had forgotten how much number crunching was involved with this set of rules and decided to call it a day. The game had moved quite quickly despite all the tables and charts, calculations and head scratching, but in the end I had had enough. I declared the scenario a draw but a tactical victory for the Royal Navy.

There are two main problems with the Micro Fleet Napoleonic rules which, for me, made them far too clunky.

The biggest issue is simultaneous movement and firing, which complicates the turn and forces you to take every move one step at a time. This was very tedious and complicated further by the need to reassess move rates due to changing aspect to the wind, as each move progressed. There was also no initiative rule or order of movement as a result, which meant that both the French and British moved and fired together. 

The other problem was the number of tables and calculations required for just the simplest of actions, making anything more than a couple of ships a side far too cumbersome to manage. When I used to play this game solo back in the '80's I seem to remember having three or four ships a side but how I did that I have no idea? 

On the plus side, the components are still very good and the move templates, firing gauge and wind direction circle are all very well designed. There's a potential game in there somewhere, using the ship counters and templates, but it would require a full on rewrite of the rules to make it a decent fast play system including some rules for initiative and streamlined rules for movement, firing and damage.

Oh well, it was worth a try!

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Micro Fleet Napoleonic Naval Components

I spent an hour or so this morning happily cutting out the components for the old TTG game Micro Fleet Napoleonic Naval including the British and French ships from the core set plus some extra Spanish and British ships from the Trafalgar expansion. I have plenty to play with and still have loads of ships leftover, although I will stick to small actions rather than try anything too spectacular! 

The components are exactly as I remember them including the very nifty sailing gizmo, which consists of three separate circles of card held together with a drawing pin. You align the large circle with the compass, rotate the middle circle to line up with the wind direction, then rotate the inner small circle to align with your ship counter to determine if you need to wear or tack. Very clever. 

I'll be setting up a game to see if I remember how to play it after thirty or more years and to see how clunky or smooth it is, although I suspect it will fall foul of the numerous tables and modifiers problem that characterises rules of this particular vintage, even the supposedly fast play variety? It will be interesting to find out if I enjoy playing it as much as I did back in the early 80's?

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Micro Fleet Napoleonic Naval


I used to play this TTG card and counter game all the time when I was a kid in the early 80's but lost my original copy in a house move years later. I have now found a second hand but unpunched copy on eBay, which includes all the card components and the Trafalgar expansion set as well. I'll be taking this on holiday for some old fashioned solo naval wargaming, so it will interesting to see if it stands the test of time?

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Fleets in Profile: The Battle of Trafalgar

I had an Amazon voucher that one of the kids didn't want and swapped for a tenner with the bank of Dad, so I've splashed out on a paper ship book containing all of the British, French and Spanish ships that fought at Trafalgar.

Unlike the other books from Helion, these card models are fully coloured and can be cut out of the book without any need to photocopy anything, so they will be perfect for the holidays. There's a set of simple rules available from the Helion website that you can download:

...or I may just write my own 'beer and pretzels' rules, to use as the basis for some naval skirmishing when I'm in Brittany in a couple of weeks.

I really like the idea of being able to set up a game without the time, expense and frustration of having to assemble, rig and paint fiddly models, although I have plenty of those in at least two scales in the leadpile!

Saturday, 7 July 2018

Exploding Kittens

I picked this up in Tesco's of all places this morning. It's very strange but also very simple, so perfect for a bit of Beer and Pretzels style gaming. The kids thought it looked like a lot of fun, so I'll be taking it on holiday in a couple of weeks time, just in case the weather turns nasty or they get really bored on the ferry over to France. Boom!