Monday, 26 September 2016

The Battle of Little Wootton

The sprog missed out on the game of Samurai Blades yesterday, so I set up a game of Cry Havoc for him after school today, using a scenario from Additional Scenarios Book One - The Battle of Little Wootton. This involved two rival knghts and their retainers trying to recruit some revolting peasants from the local village for a pitched battle, which can be played out in the second half of the scenario.

I took on the role of Sir James, accompanied by a sergeant and crossbowman, while the lad was represented by Sir Thomas, a sergeant and a shortbowman. We approached the village from opposite ends and proceeded to persuade the pungent residents to join our respective sides. This was achieved by standing within three hexes of them for a whole turn then rolling a D10 to see how they reacted.


Sir James started out quite well and managed to pick up a couple of the filthy yokels straight away, whilst Sir Thomas struggled to persuade them of the virtues of his cause, perhaps because he parked his trusty steed on top of their geraniums. However, things started to go downhill fast once the two rival gangs bumped into one another in the middle of the village street.

The bowman in Sir Thomas' faction managed to wipe out two of Sir James peasants and his crossbowman in quick succession, whilst Sir James' sergeant lost the gift of the gab and failed miserably to win over any replacements. He was instead surrounded by no less than four opponents and hacked to bits. This left Sir James cut off by the mob in the street, so he decided that discretion was the better part of valour and legged it.

In the end Sir James left empty handed and with his entire force wiped out, whilst Sir Thomas rode away with a seven strong gang of smelly peasants and only some minor injuries. I did manage to wound the annoyingly talented shortbowman but this was too late to make any real difference to the outcome. This was another cracking game and we both had a great time, despite the one sided outcome, so I'll be playing Cry Havoc again soon.

Oi...get off my land!

(and I've also found my old box of Viking I'll be giving that a dust off soon too!)

Airfix Battles First Impressions

I gave in and ordered a copy of Airfix Battles a couple of weeks ago but only just got round to opening the box for a quick rummage over the weekend. On first impressions it looks pretty good, with a sturdy box, robust well-printed counters and a well laid out set of rule and scenario booklets. I'm disappointed by the cards, however, which are a bit on the gaudy side of technicolour and feature generic artwork for the units involved.

I would have thought that, with the extensive range of box art in the Airfix back catalogue, that Modiphius could have designed more appropriate and varied artwork for their cards. A good example would be the Axis Veteran cards which feature the art from the 1/32nd scale German Fallschirmjager  box set but could have used the artwork from the 1/32nd scale multi-pose German Infantry box set instead, which would be far less specific and perhaps more appropriate?

It's just a minor grumble but seems even more obvious with the AFV cards. Anyway, I have some holiday time in a few weeks and will be off to North Wales to climb some mountains, visit castles and enjoy the scenery but, if the weather is as unpredictable as usual, I will definitely be getting some indoor time for wargaming. I'll pack Airfix Battles as one of my boardgames for the trip, so will be able to actually try out the game there and then.

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Night of the Ninja

I had a cracking solo game of Samurai Blades this afternoon, as the sprog had homework and guitar practice to do so was 'hors de combat'. The scenario was 'Night of the Ninja' in which a team of five of the eponymous assassins attempt to infiltrate the night time camp of a rebel daimyo on the orders of the shogun in order to bump him off. The defenders consist of the traitorous daimyo, Misakado, his five samurai bodyguard and three naginata armed ashigaru retainers.

The ninja are to all intents and purposes invisible unless they enter an illuminated hex next to a lantern, try to kill a defender and fail or extinguish a lantern using their shuriken. The defenders cannot take any actions until the alarm is raised as a result of one of these events occurring, which means that the first three or four turns of the game consisted of the ninjas sneaking up to the village. The river was the only major obstacle to their approach but they were able to wade across in two places without being detected.

The first casualty of the night was the samurai Kiyomari, who was killed by a well aimed shuriken thrown by the ninja Tokimasa whilst he was stealthily fording the river. This went undetected by the  defenders, which allowed the other ninja team of Matsuo and Yorikasa to make a silent approach to one of the village huts, the one in which Misakado was sleeping, although this wasn't known until Yorikasa peered through the window. In the scenario, Misakado is undressed so must put his armour back on in order to defend himself.

One of the ashigaru, Shinkuro, was standing right behind this window so the alarm went off and the defenders began to rush toward the hut to protect their lord. Misakado started to get dressed at this point, as he was in his underpants and really didn't fancy being bumped off without his armour on. Yorikasa now found himself surrounded and was wounded by one of the other ashigaru, Yoshitaka, as he had nowhere to retreat to after combat. Things were looking a bit sticky for the ninja but not for long!

However, the defenders now found themselves facing five slighty irate tooled up ninjas, who in true ninja stylee started to whizz shuriken in several directions followed by some fancy swordplay. This left both Shinkuro and Yoshitaka very much dead, followed by the their fellow ashigaru, Masatsura, and the samurai Yoshimitsu, who were both badly wounded. The samurai fought back but didn't manage to inflict even a scratch on either Yorikasa or Matsuo, whilst the other ninja team swiftly approached unseen from the flank.

In the final bloodbath, the ninjas launched a well coordinated surprise attack from behind, bursting through the door of the hut to cut down Lord Misakado, just as he laced up the last bit of his armour, and to take out Yoshimitsu in a hail of shuriken. Meanwhile, outside in the dark the ninja team of Matsuo and Masazumi finished off everyone else with well aimed razor sharp poisoned darts, while the wounded Yorikasa made his escape round the back of the building. With no one left alive from Lord Misakado's retinue, the ninjas disappeared into the night as silently as they arrived.

What a great scenario! I've played it many times before but a long time ago, so it was really good fun to dust off this classic for a re-play. I will definitely be playing some more games of Samurai Blades and Cry Havoc over the next few weeks, when I get the time. It's a shame it is out of print but you can download all of the rules, counters and maps from the Cry Havoc Fan website if you want to give it a try. It's a bit old school but none the worse for that, so I like it!

Samurai Blades

This is one of my all time favourite games, together with Cry Havoc, but I haven't played it for ages despite being pestered by the sprog who absolutely loves it. I thought I'd dig it out of the cupboard today and get a game up and running as a change from Tank on Tank, which has been my game of choice recently. I think we'll have a go at the assassination 'Night of the Ninja' scenario which is one of the best ones in the scenario book, especially as you get to creep about in the dark using shuriken to extinguish lanterns, whilst trying to find the samurai lord to kill while he frantically attempts to get dressed. Brilliant!

Monday, 19 September 2016

Tank on Tank Expansions

I spotted these two up and coming expansion packs for Tank on Tank over on the Lock n' Load website yesterday. There's no further information that I can find about them but it looks like additional maps, counters and scenarios would be included? I'm hoping Defenders of the Rhine will feature some late war British and Commonwealth units but who knows? The Red Storm in the Valley looks like a mid-war expansion judging by the T34/76 on the box cover but again I'm just guessing. I'm looking forward to finding out more, including when they'll be available and how I can get hold of a copy of both expansion packs over here in the UK?

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Tank on Tank: Westfront - Pershing's Revenge

I played the DIY meeting engagement scenario that I devised a couple of weeks ago this afternoon, with a US task force of M26 Pershings, armoured infantry and air / artillery support against a German Kampfgruppe of Panthers, backed by an PaK 40 unit, some infantry and a Tiger Ace. The game was a bit of a walkover for the Americans, who were very aggressive and were able to overwhelm the defending Germans with the firepower of the Pershings and some well targeted P47D air strikes. I had used airstrikes in an earlier game and wanted to see how effective they would be a second time round, especially when doubled up.

In the end, the Yanks knocked out all of the Panthers and the PaK40 which tipped the points over the 50% threshold at the end of Turn 8. The Tiger still held the centre of the map but would also have been knocked out eventually, assuming it didn't take the remaining Pershings with it. It turned out to be a pretty good scenario and great fun to play, with the greater armour and firepower of the M26 really changing the dynamic of the Yanks, who were far less scared of the Tiger for a start. The role of air power in the American victory was also significant, with two airstrikes making life very difficult for the Germans.

(I still keep forgetting to turn the counters facings at the end of each move!)

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Tueday Night is Gaming Night...?

It's been a bit quiet here for a week or so, mainly due to the return to work and busy weekends, leaving no time for gaming. I did promise myself to get at least one game of some description played each week but this hasn't worked out just yet. I actually set aside this evening to play a game of Tank on Tank: Westfront but ended up sitting in casualty for three hours instead, after the sprog sprained his ankle playing football in the park.

Tuesday is the local club night too but this is now block booked for the kids rugby training and ballet class, so I can only get to the club after eight thirty to nine, which is a bit late. It does make it a good evening for a bit of quiet board 'beer and pretzels' wargaming, however, which is what I'm going to try to squeeze in when the offspring are elsewhere. I'll still try to get to up to the club once a month or so but will make the most of the time I have when I can't make it.

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Imperial Veterans

I went to the Colours show in Newbury today and had a great time. The sprog persuaded me to get some more X-Wing models so in addition to a B Wing, which I originally set out to get, I now have the Imperial Veterans set of TIE Defender and TIE Bomber. The boy really liked the red paint scheme on the TIE Defender and I wanted a TIE Bomber anyway, so a win-win all round. I was tempted by the rather splendid 'Hounds Tooth' and the awesome Imperial Assault Carrier as well but they were a bit too hefty for my wallet, which also had to cover the other stuff I decided to splash out on. A good day out!

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Tank on Tank: Eastfront - Unboxed

I ordered a copy of Tank on Tank: Eastfront at the back end of the holidays and it arrived in the post today. I'm a great enthusiast for the Tank on Tank system, so have been reading through the rules and scenarios to plan out a game or two for the weekend. For a start, the maps are double the size of the ones in Tank on Tank: Westfront and could be used for either of the games in the series, which opens up all sorts of possibilities.

The 1'' counters are all completely interchangeable, so I have even more units to deploy on the German side including Panzer IV's, Panthers, Tigers and now Pumas, which is excellent. There are supply dump and command post objective markers to use in scenarios and, at a push, some of the Italian units could even be used against the Americans on the Italian Front. This is a great addition to my beer and pretzels game collection and well worth the price tag!

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Airfix Battles

I've been seriously contemplating getting hold of a copy of the new introductory WW2 wargame, Airfix Battles, having initially dismissed it as just a marketing ploy by whoever owns Airfix these days (Taiwan? China? Canada? Who knows?). The more I've read about it and the more feedback that I've studied from players, the more I'm starting to like the idea. It seems as though it is actually a pretty good game design, a bit like a simplified stylistic version of Heroes of Normandie but with interesting card mechanics, which is one of the things I quite like in a game. You can even download both the rules and the scenario book to see how it works.

The big plus for me is that everything is included in the box set and figures, model tanks and so on are optional extras. I also like the artwork, having grown up on Airfix kits and HO/OO scale plastic figures, although the garish design of the cards and the slightly amateurish graphics of the counters are less attractive. Even so, for about £23 if you shop around, it's a pretty good package and offers the potential for proper 'beer and pretzels' entry level WW2 skirmish wargaming. In the longer term I also have some 25mm Valiant Miniatures US and German infantry left over from an abandoned Rapid Fire! project that would be perfect as a substitute for their cardboard counterparts.


Saturday, 3 September 2016

Tiny Tin Troops Ancient Ship Counters

My order from Tiny Tin Troops was waiting in the post when I returned from my holiday a couple of days ago and I've had the time to unpack the sheets and study them in detail. There are five A5 sized sheets of warships in the Peloponnesian Wars set, with twelve larger galleys and three smaller galleys per sheet. These are all beautifully drawn in full colour and with plenty of detail.

There are several different types of galley in the set including aphracts, cataphracts and pentekonters, so more than enough to equip two fleets for Poseidon's Warriors, for example. The larger galleys are a standard 20mm x 75mm, so I've ordered some 2mm lasercut mdf bases from Warbases on which to mount them, so that they will be more robust, which is what the guidelines recommend.

I can also colour code the edges of the bases to distinguish between the Persians, the Athenians and the Allied fleets. I'm very impressed by these card counters and will definitely be expanding my fleets with some more sets for the Carthaginian Wars. These sets are excellent value for money for such a high quality product and at a fraction of the cost of their metal equivalent.